High in Wicklow’s Lugulla Mountain you were born slipping to life, they named you after Sláne, son of the First High King, whose sword welded Leninster in being. You scroll your way from your birth rock nestled by fey trees, lush farms: the towns: Ballincorty, Enniscorthy, Tullow, Ballinglass — I know them well — rising stronger, wider till you fall to Wexford, die in the sea.
You are a symbol of life, Slaney as they call you now in that tongue he never spoke, yet still holds meaning: you are the river of health and wholeness; something we seek but never find in these times as the earth cries; even the trout, the salmon do not rise as one they did.
I played upon your banks, learned the art of tickling trout and crossed you every time to visit old family places, my mother’s trip to lay flowers on her parents’ grave. We’d gather round the fire in my Aunt’s long house, swam your waters as at Rosslaire where they met the sea .
Now in a foreign place I see you framed on a wall, the Forth Mountain rising above your wide waters, and catch your eye as he did when he swam ashore. I’m once again in Sláne’s arms immersed in those times: with those people now gone, healed by your waters — my being, soul returned to strength, to wellness.
Sitting in the shade I dream of that beach of silver sand, walking dunes where grass grasps back the wild waves. A path winds between wildflowers blue, gold, reds patterning a bedspread of dreams, desires: freedom from the presence of fears, surrounding silence capturing my heart.
I turn toward the cobbled streets: the red roofed houses, clustered as they cling a narrow path, to open to a cobbled square dressed with trees, geraniums.
Cafés spread welcoming awnings. I take a seat, order fresh croissants a coffee, sit, watch the busy crowds gather on this market day. A glass of wine, why not? time has no meaning on this day! The waiter chats inquiring “would Madam like another glass, or cholate?”
I can taste, feel the hand of the chocolatier, the tongue of the vintner blending, fashioning this sunlit town.
This is the latest post by Sue on the continuing effect of the loss of her son Dr. Mark Sims and his legacy. He still inspires others after his death and this blog is both his journey and active life after diagnosis. Its a wonderful positive read for anyone who feels overwhelmed by a limited life diagnosis and how to live positively. I never met him but through Sue, who I know well, I feel that I knew him.
So much has happened since I last posted so where do I start? Chris and I are settled now in Beaminster Dorset and running Tangerine Cafe and Gallery which we love.
Soon after our move to Dorset we were were invited to the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge for the unveiling of a new plaque for Mark. I have also spoken at CRUK events and talked to Skin Cancer specialist nurses at one of their conferences. I try as much as possible to continue to raise awareness of cancer generally and skin cancer in particular as Mark is no longer here to do it and it meant such a lot to him.
We are touched that so many people still think about Mark and miss him as we do. So many lovely friends, ours and Mark’s have come to seek us out at Tangerine Cafe and many keep in touch…
Last Monday I had every intent to join the monthly zoom meeting of VWRG but all of a sudden about twenty minutes before it was time – which had been moved up half an hour to keep Bob in Cyprus in the loop – I was distracted into something else and didn’t end up checking in. I knew I’d missed some kind of chaos though, when a couple of hours later an email came in from Bob, apologizing for having missed the meeting and he couldn’t fathom how it had happened. I began laughing, bouncing about the sofa and just said “another MR strike!” We all know Bob is a super reliable, conscientious president who has always gone out of his way to accommodate many people in an organized, present style. He of course has good…
This poem is now pinned on The Places in Poetry North-West Section during the Lancashire Lit Fest. the pin is Bolton. Thanks to Paul Farley & Andrew McRae for accepting it
They lay where his roses once grew beside an old chapel named New, watching a loved panoramic view scene from an old wall to the Irish Sea.
Memories sweet I hold of that spot a cottage where love sprouted twice, it’s rocking chair and a special cake; walks up to the moor rising high above.
Tobogganing on tea trays or hessian bags was a Boxing Day ritual when snow spread its blanket on fields above River Douglas, Easter walks on the moors to gather wildflowers and climbing the Pike was a ritual honoured.
Summer brought trips to sea at Southport or Morecombe, buckets & spades, swimsuits fish & chips, rides and ice cream brought delight we’d return after picnics & a wander of shops.
The cows graze in the green valley
on grass studded with wildflowers,
drink from a river where trout play
voles dance on through its banks.
They walk to parlour when they want
when their bodies say they need to be milked
hitch themselves to the robotic machine
that cleans udders, sucks the milk away.
There’s little labour for the farmer
no need to round-up, milk or carry
or spray pesticides as his father did:
he’s alerted to all twenty-four hours
for the land looks after itself, rain or shine.
He’ a happy man for his milk sells
for premium prices, he exports it
for its value for its great goodness,
filled with nature’s gentle bounty
and tuned to the season’s rhythms.
The cows, and the productive land
he’ll pass in perfection to his children.
What happens when you vaguely ask a Zoom full of writers to submit three lines, or sentences, or thoughts, or whatever?
I can see fellow inmates through the bars of my cell, people sitting in front of curtains and bookcases. I see a live picture of myself as well, my hair is long and I’ve gone slightly mad. (Definition of open-ended sentence: a set of words without a full stop; incarceration with a fluid parole date.)
Oh no, they’re asking about the blog again. I always feel guilty whenever they bring it up. What on earth could I write about?
I click and you all appear on my screen, you’re there: we laugh, exchange news just as we did in The Blue Cap – then down to business with News, David’s new Community Project and that his books are to be relaunched, also Peter’s success – his book Bosnian Dawn is…
Romalyn Ante was born in Lipa Batangas, in the Philippines, in 1989. For much of her childhood her parents were absent as migrant workers and the family moved to the UK in the mid-2000s where her mother was a nurse in the NHS. Ante herself now also works as a registered nurse and psychotherapist. As a result, this debut collection has multiple perspectives running through it: the child grappling with the parents’ absence, the mother’s exile, the daughter’s later emigration and a broader, political sense of the plight of migrant workers. The economic driving force behind such movements of people is recorded in ‘Mateo’, responding to the Gospel of Matthew’s observation about birds neither sowing nor reaping with this downright response: “But birds have no bills”. So, in poem after poem, the need for money, for a roof, livestock, fruit trees, medical treatment, even for grave plots back home is…
The Quality of Mersey Film The Quality of Mersey project stems from the creative groups that attended the Everyman Bistro spoken poetry nights during 2018 and 2019. First the anthology of 36 poets and now the short film that was created as lockdown restrictions were easing. The Quality of Mersey, the collection that details the cultural, spiritual and physical journey of the river from mouth to source, was curated from many submissions by Birkenhead poet Barry Woods. Woods says; ‘It was exciting to see the high quality, diversity and range of submissions we received for this book – we were overwhelmed with the response from such a poetic city. John Gorman and myself have been regulars on the local open mic circuit for a long time in Liverpool and he came up with the idea of having poets write about their respective areas and to give us some shared sentiments.’ Film makers Tristan Marshall and Leonie Abisgold-Rayner showed a keen interest on developing the idea and so the project was taken on visually. It has drone footage by Paul Conlin and a musical score by Dora Kmezić. The film has both shades of light and dark, with 8 poems from the anthology that we felt contrasted each other.