Easter Sunday; Devizes

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for John (Ted) Dexter

*

no cars on the road

all of the town sofa bound

food lulled and sleeping

walking home, a man

evensong’s slow gentle peace

on him like monks’ robes

old man and poet

meet in quiet communion

by the graveyard gate

souls of the same shade

in unspoken fellowship

watching the birds fly

on the bridge, silence

white blossom, silver water

Easter Sunday light

*

© Gail Foster 17th April 2017

The Ancient Bitch Of Days

for Chad Bittner Hurt, an American poet

*

It stood a while, alone, the perfect phrase

Entire and beautiful upon the stage

As lovely as two words could ever be

‘Till came the muse, the ancient bitch of days

Demanding blood and ink upon the page

Insisting passion and complexity

And sacrifice, and violent hymns of praise

Her hunger and her ardour to assuage

In wild defiance of simplicity

The poet quaked in terror, and betrayed

His words to slake her raw and awesome rage

In her cold hands they cried for company

 *

© Gail Foster 13th December 2016

Fiona In The Night

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for Fiona Meyrick, poet and musician; a Petrarchan sonnet

*

Fiona, in the silence of the night

Sings songs of sorrow soft in minor key

That sigh above all formal melody

In cadences that dance like birds in flight

She rests within the dark, composing light

In subtle shades of sweet philosophy

Transposing on the stave a mystery

In spills of sound like ink on paper bright

Fiona, at the stroke of midnight blessed

Plays pianissimo the ocean’s rage

Transforming all the sins of man confessed

In gentle rhythms traced upon the page

A modern muse, an ancient truth expressed

In lullabies to sooth our restless age

*

© Gail Foster 2016

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast and the Curious Cocks of Brownsea Island

*

an epic tale of innuendo

*

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast

Philosopher, poet, and muse

Wore Victorian skirts that swept up the dirt

And peculiar button up shoes

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast

Found herself suddenly slighted

Bereft and bemused, and less than amused

And suffering love unrequited

The effect on her verse was dramatic, and worse

‘Twas inspired by horns and baguettes

As hysterical rage seeped through pen to the page

Like some awful poetic Tourettes

Eyebrows were raised as her work was appraised

It was said she was caustic and crude

A potty mouthed tart with a poisonous heart

Who was totally randy and rude

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast

Watched her story unfold with dismay

Watched her petticoats slip as each vulgar quip

Made a whore of her more every day

So she packed up her quill, and pink ink for a thrill

Spare petticoats, perfume and papers

Her smelling salts, eye mask and lavender bags

For random attacks of the vapours

I will go to an island, Fantasia said

I will contemplate beauty, and truth

I will take me a train, travel far, and regain

The lost innocence of my youth

The romance of islands, Fantasia thought

All lost in the shine of the sea

Supernaturally kissed in a glimpse through the mist

How inspiring, how perfect, how me

The day on the train was a bit of a strain

There were some sticky moments with tunnels

And the bit where the guard blew his whistle real hard

Made her tears of mirth flow in runnels

Much to her shame, the boat was the same

Flushed her delicate cheek to a bloom

Oh, the sniggering joys of seamen and buoys

Being tossed on the wave and the spume

The island was lit by a mystical light

And the breezes blew scents warm and heady

Like a virgin, she thought, that has never been caught

Although many had been there already

She started to feel profound and unreal

No man is an island, quoth she

An island’s an island, a man is a man

And neither’s the other one, see

She undid her bonnet, inspired, and on it

Licked her quill and began to create

A verse about loneliness, islands and stuff

Solemnness, sorrow, and fate

It was peaceful and sweet, there were flowers at her feet

And the soft sound of sea through the trees

All became gentleness, sweetness and light

Purity, poetry, ease

For a moment, a moment, Fantasia there

Channelled a serious grace

Although anyone else would have just seen some bird

Looking mad with a gurn on her face

Gone was the gut churning river of smut

That had streamed from her mouth and her pen

I am making a vow, Fantasia said

No more innuendo or men

The universe heard, every well-meaning word

‘Tis the way that the universe works

And God likes a joke, like a mischievous bloke

Who plays practical jokes upon jerks

What sound is that, our Fantasia thought

Absentmindedly watching a deer

Like a low distant grumble, a curious rumble

Got louder, and odder, and near

Suddenly, far in the distance, a herd

Of curious cockerels appeared

Oh my goodness, she said, and reached for the salts

For a sniff’s always good when a-feared

They’re coming, they’re coming, the curious cocks

They’re growing, they’re growing in size

Not surprising as they were much nearer by then

Running swifter than any crow flies

The cocks are upon me, Fantasia cried

Like a rabbit in lamplight she froze

As, eager to play and all puffed in display

They peck, pecked, at her skirts and her toes

They were all shapes and sizes, blue, green and red

Some aggressive, some shy and retiring

Some had a wild beady look in their eyes

And one had no cylinders firing

It was surely a shock, the appearance of cock

In the midst of the island idyll

Ironic in fact in the light of the pact

Fantasia had made with her quill

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast

Suddenly knew what to do

For all that was needed to scare off the cocks

Was the swish of her skirts and a “Boo!”

Growing smaller, and smaller, the curious cocks

Disappeared as fast as they came

‘Twas all quite astounding, Fantasia thought

And the universe reckoned the same

*

Fantasia Lavender Fortescue-Prendergast

Philosopher, poet, and muse

Inspired by the tale of the curious cocks

Penned a verse to surprise and amuse

The wink of the sailor boy on the way back

Made her flush with a blush that was red

There was something about him that floated her boat

“Just call me Fanny” she said

*

by Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satire and The Soul

Kevan Manwaring, in his book The Bardic Handbook, suggests that we

satirise ourselves in order to see how it feels…

 

With satire comes responsibility

Thus spake the bard, regarding cosmic law

‘Tis true that thought and act and speech are free

But heed the truth learned by the bards of yore

What goes around and round will soon return

To that dark human place where it began

And pain shall be the lesson he shall learn

Who points his pen in anger at a man

Lest he forget, we none of us shine bright

That are not sullied by some silent shade

And he who seeks another man to slight

May curse the pen that bore the words he made

For what we see in others, we have known

Some simple human neediness or greed

The weakness we perceive is like our own

Who knows a tree that has not seen a seed

So satirise yourself, so spake the bard

Before you dare another man to mock

And turn upon yourself a light as hard

As that with which you wish a man to shock

Unshadow your shortcomings, write them true

Or fall upon your failings like a sword

For this is what you would to others do

And thine own self hast thine own pen ignored

Now weigh the pain you draw like blood from light

With cut of blade, of swift and vicious pen

Look down upon yourself from lofty height

As you would fain look down on other men

What do you see, but merely flesh and fear

A naked frightened soul that cries for love

All sorrow bound and clothed in darkness drear

With eyes up turned in hope to light above

Have pity, spake the bard, for every word

You wield will have the power to wound or heal

Remember what you here have seen and heard

Think twice before you cause a man to feel

The lacerations of your jagged wit

The schadenfreude of your savage ire

Lest you be made to join him in the pit

Lest you be so consumed in that same fire

He snuffed the candle flame, picked up his book

And left the poet, wise from sorrow shown

An unveiled mirror’s face in which to look

At imperfection that was his alone

 

With satire comes responsibility

For what goes forth returns, of that be sure

And you are that which you in others see

The naked frightened soul the poet saw

 

by Gail