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Saturday, 27 April 2013

"My Fortune Beckoning Cat"

I changed the batteries in my
Fortune beckoning cat,
And set him in my window,  beckoning again.
Then I asked Barclaycard to repay all the
Personal Payment Insurance
That had been wrongly sold me!

Wrongly sold?
I believe that is a euphemism for theft!
“Wow!” said the man from Barclays.
“That’s a good pay-out!”

But I’d had three of his colleagues
On the ‘phone only a month or two before.
Demanding that I give them the few pounds
That I send to Médecins Sans Frontiéres
Each month. And what I send to Unicef
And WaterAid and Macmillan and a few more.
They said they had a higher priority than
The starving millions in Africa and Asia!
They said they could have me evicted!
Thugs in suits!

“Go ahead and evict me,” I said.
“See what bloody fools you’ll look,
Evicting a 70 year old Disabled Veteran
Just because you stopped
Lending ‘Interest Only’ Mortgages
To people of my age.
You’re not dying from dirty water
Or lack of medicines!  Though your lack
Of manners may be terminal!”

They reluctantly agreed to let me stay
For a short while,
Provided I increase my monthly payments
By six hundred and twenty five per cent!

I was forced to sell my house!
And promptly rented it back!
I paid off my mortgage and all other debts.
Barclays didn’t even say, “Thank you!”

But then I changed the batteries in my
Fortune beckoning cat!
“Wow!” said the man from Barclays.
“That’s a good pay-out!”

“That’s not a pay-out!” I said,
“That’s you paying me back
All the money you’ve stolen from me
In the last eighteen or twenty years!”
And then I went out and bought another
Fortune beckoning cat…..
Just in case!

No wonder the Chinese
Are so enamoured of
These ‘Lucky Cats!’

Now Barclays keep asking me
To transfer any balances I might have
To them!
‘More neck than a brass giraffe,’
Springs to mind.

One cat beckons…
The other waves Barclays off….
It reminds me of the legendary bird
Whose cry sounds remarkably like
“Fuggoff… Fuggoff!”

Copyright © Res JFB 27th April 2013

"Wintry Sunshine"

Wintry sunshine
But oh such bitter winds
Spring so shy this year

Copyright © Res JFB 27th April 2013

Saturday, 20 April 2013

"My Place"

My place now is Cornwall
I was drawn here by the clean air and the sea
Driven by that heat-wave we had back in ’76.

Cornwall is where the granite spine of England
Lies exposed to the wind and the weather
Before dipping below the Wild Atlantic Ocean.

It is a hard county. These Celtic people lead hard lives.
It breeds strong, brave men, wide of shoulder.
From mining tin from the granite, wresting a living
From the sea, or crops from the land.

When a lifeboat is lost here, with all it’s crew
From one small village, they’ll spend a day
Looking for bodies or survivors.
The next day a full crew of volunteers
Report for duty on the next lifeboat!
I’ve seen this happen and their courage still astounds me!

Here the old boys talk to the granite!
They have built houses from it
And Cornish Stone Hedges
Since the Stone Age. They’ll cut it
And split it at will. Only telling it first
What they want it to do!

It is a poor county. Most of the wealth
Was torn from the ground and the sea
Generations ago.  But the prevailing wind
Has the whole Atlantic over which to purify itself
Before  reaching here.  Sometimes it will storm in,
Hurricane force winds, but the air is clean
And the water is soft.  And so are the accents.
And I’d rather be poor here, than rich in a city.

It’s a fine place to raise your children.
There are many things that will kill them…
But not so many that will sully their souls.
They learn to swim early, and surf and drive tractors.
Most boys sit their driving test on their sixteenth birthday.
And with narrow lanes they often drive as fast backwards
As they do forwards!

It is a place of rugged cliffs and rolling hills
Green pastures with dairy cattle always ready
For a conversation over the field gate.
Dogs at heel and friendly neighbours… well mostly!
Narrow lanes where bramble,  hawthorn and blackthorn grow
Swampy lowlands rich with lemon balm and orchids!
And rugged moors, purple with heather, sharp with gorse.

The place is littered with Standing Stones,
Iron age forts and villages.
Legends that on a misty night you might swear
Were coming true. Great inventors like Humphrey Davy
And Trevithick and Old Henry Trengrouse,
Who invented the ‘Rocket life-saving apparatus’
After watching the whole crew of HMS Anson
Drown down at Loe Bar, below Helston.

If you imagine England as a Christmas Stocking
Cornwall is right down at the toe.
And like a Christmas Stocking
This is where all the nuts collect!
Artists love the light here and the blue of the sea.
Sculptors settle, witches brew, old soldiers come to rest,
Musicians pick,  writers write and poets bloom
Which may be why I’m so happy here!

 Copyright © Res JFB 20th April 2013
Written for a Poetry Challenge on Elbow Lane Poems 
Top photo This morning's view from my attic window.
Bottom photo Armed Knights Rocks at Land's End


As the sun lifts
Swirling mist up from the sea
Does Spring arrive?

Copyright © Res JFB 20th April 2013

Thursday, 18 April 2013

"Remembrance Sunday"

“Remembrance Sunday”

Was it the throbbing in his head
Or the growling in his stomach
That woke him?
He didn’t want to wake up.
He was cold and hungry, and with sleep,
At least sometimes, came oblivion.
When it wasn’t fiery nightmares
And for that the drink usually sufficed.

He pulled the thin blanket around him
A’top his cardboard mattress.
The throbbing grew louder.
He’d had a warm sleeping bag
Until last week when he woke to find
Drunken teenagers pissing on it,
And, not knowing if it was piss or petrol,
He ran, in terror, leaving all behind him.

That night he’d spent cowering behind
A waste bin, near a Supermarket
Trying to master his terror
While the sores on his legs
Itched and festered!
Still the throbbing in his head
Grew louder.
Reluctantly he crawled
Across the cardboard
In the shop doorway.

And there, marching to the beat of a drum,
Be-chained and resplendent,
Pompous and portly,
Marched the Lady Mayoress,
And the Aldermen,
And the town council
Attended by Army Cadets
With a banner
With  Sea  and Air Cadets
And a single bass drum that
Throbbed throbbed throbbed
In his head.

Old habits die hard.
He snapped to attention
And saluted the flag!
He would have worn  his medals
But he sold them long ago
For the price of a full English Breakfast
With a fried slice and a cup of tea.

His jerky salute caught
The Lady Mayoress’s eye,
She took one look and turned primly away
Her chins quivering !
They were, after all, honouring the gallant dead
Of two World Wars and many smaller ones.

They had no time for the survivors
Or those who merely crawled away.
They who had sacrificed their courage
Upon the Altar of their Nation’s Wars.
And having spent it had nothing left for themselves
It was clear, the Nation had forgotten them
The Nation didn’t care.

As the parade drew away
The throbbing in his head died away too.
And he sat, wrapped in his thin blanket
On his piece of cardboard
And he remembered the fallen.
As though it were yesterday!
More vividly than the Mayoress
Or her minnions.

The Mayoress was dry eyed but he shed tears
They dropped on the sores from his last burning
Which were on the skin grafts he had earned
Wading through liquid fire on Sir Galahad
In Port Pleasant, trying to rescue his mates.

After the parade, and a wreath and a hurried  prayer
The Lady Mayoress sat down to a hearty lunch.
“Remind me, dear,” she said to her husband,
“Remind me to phone the Chief Constable
To ask why our Remembrance Sunday parade route
Was lined with drunks and vagrants”

But she needn’t have worried
The receding throbbing wasn’t the drum
It was his tired heart finally giving up
To septic shock.
Burns on skin grafts do not heal
Especially when one is unwelcome
At the hospital, and the disapproval
Of the nurses and doctors
Frightens a man who spent all his courage
Years before  in the service and uniform
Of a grateful nation!

Copyright © Res JFB 18th April 2013