Alexander Averin

Friday 30 May 2014



Having had a rootless  life,  too often
lived at random, he scrabbles where he can,
for curios, bibelos and  trinkets.
He roots amongst  bric a brac, seeking out
objets d’art, finding beauty amongst junk.
His car, his home, his clothes, his rescued dog,
even his childhood’s  memories, all are
second hand.  Practical, adaptable,
he has learned to scatter fairy dust and
turn trash into treasure.

He spied an ancient  dulcimer hiding
shyly, amongst the bespoke furniture,
A rare musical instrument,  shapely
and sexy, past it now but with youthful
and endearing charm.  He will tune it, feed
it on beeswax and restore it with his
gentle  touch so it it will become transformed,
until, like all he gathers  around him,
it will become serenely  harmonised,
mellow and tempered totally  with love.

Cait O’Connor

Latest  Magpie Tale, more here.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

RIP Maya Angelou

Only love will set us free.

RIP Maya, with the angels now.

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage,
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies,
old memories of pleasure,
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave.
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou

Monday 26 May 2014

Sentenced to Life

Once, I would not have noticed; nor have known the name for Japanese anemones, so pale, so frail. But now I catch the tone of leaves. No birds can touch down in the trees without my seeing them.
I count the bees.

This morning I heard James Naughtie read the poem Sentenced to Life on the Radio 4 Today programme and it moved me to tears, it was read so well and the words....... well the words speak for themselves.  The poet is the great Clive James.

I don't always enjoy poems being read aloud, I know a lot of folk prefer it but I nearly always like to read them aloud myself in my own head but in this case there was some kind of magic afoot as I listened while washing the breakfast dishes at the kitchen sink.

Here it is:

Sentenced to Life

Sentenced to life, I sleep face-up as though
Ice-bound, lest I should cough the night away,
And when I walk the mile to town, I show
The right technique for wading through deep clay.
A sad man, sorrier than he can say.

But surely not so guilty he should die
Each day from knowing that his race is run:
My sin was to be faithless. I would lie
As if I could be true to everyone
At once, and all the damage that was done

Was in the name of love, or so I thought.
I might have met my death believing this,
But no, there was a lesson to be taught.
Now, not just old, but ill, with much amiss,
I see things with a whole new emphasis.

My daughter’s garden has a goldfish pool
With six fish, each a little finger long.
I stand and watch them following their rule
Of never touching, never going wrong:
Trajectories as perfect as plain song.

Once, I would not have noticed; nor have known
The name for Japanese anemones,
So pale, so frail. But now I catch the tone
Of leaves. No birds can touch down in the trees
Without my seeing them. I count the bees.

Even my memories are clearly seen:
Whence comes the answer if I’m told I must
Be aching for my homeland. Had I been
Dulled in the brain to match my lungs of dust
There’d be no recollection I could trust.

Yet I, despite my guilt, despite my grief,
Watch the Pacific sunset, heaven sent,
In glowing colours and in sharp relief,
Painting the white clouds when the day is spent,
As if it were my will and testament –

As if my first impressions were my last,
And time had only made them more defined,
Now I am weak. The sky is overcast
Here in the English autumn, but my mind
Basks in the light I never left behind.

Clive James

There will be an interview with Clive James on the programme tomorrow, I look forward to that.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Coffee Talk

This is another take on the picture below, not my work but I liked it and wanted to share with you.

Coffee Talk (a poem)

Plain people
In their tailored suits
And perfectly polished dress shoes,
They tap manicured fingers
While waiting for stiff drinks
And wonder what poets across the room
talk about over the messy edges of café tables,
Toppling bottles of half-drank wine,
And the coffee-stained pages
We exchange as if sharing secrets:
That an unleashed mind is a happy life,
How the whole world spins,
A shedding wilderness of words
From a vortex in the frontal lobes
Of our dishevelled brains, so full
Of good films and literary autobiographies
That there’s no time left to lend to reality TV,
How fluid the body is when words
Become art and the pen fills the skin,
How sustainable love lives when veiled
In the expression of shameless creation.,
How strong the pull of death
Into so many notebooks,
Brash handwriting of well-lived moments,
The grand metamorphosis immortalized.
How meaningful the lonely moments
Of this night can stretch themselves
Into the star shine of a haiku or soliloquy,
Ink-covered hands and blood-shot eyes
Crossing themselves like prayers across
First drafts and pages full of paragraphs,
my crusted coffee cups spent of words,
Those blue, curvy mamas who open
morning windows and warm my wintered hands.

 Stacy Lyn Mar

Written for a prompt at Magpie Tales.

Sunday 18 May 2014

New York, 1922

New York 1922

It was the noon hour, the time for protection.
I was wearing my favourite apricot 
cloche hat, everything seemed just perfect; 
it was all about the light.  The light and 
the moment the light shone upon were both
golden, so all about me was glamour,
jewel-like, atmospheric, their colours 
matching my Parisien hat and my mood. 
I did not know that my image was being 
captured; I would  have protested but to 
be painted thus did thrill and move me in 
an equal measure. On that day in New
York in 1922, when he and
I took tea together, we became as
one, isolated in our togetherness.
The crowd receded and time paused for me,
so that in its stillness I could no longer
fear my past or worry for my future.
I knew somehow, from that  golden day on,
there was only ever going to be the now.

Cait O’Connor

This week's Magpie Tale.  See more here.

The fine painting is by Edward Hopper.

Sunday 11 May 2014

My Dream

My Dream

This is my dream now.
I can now escape night terrors and the Dali dream which was delirium.
I am single-handed, yet feeling closely-held and not forsaken.
Out, out into the thistledown, featherlight and floating,
I am carried on Etesian winds;
caressed by raindrops, watched  over by angels.
I can see a rainbow but now in fade-out
I am seen in sweet sepia, softly sleeping.
I am unique and special, solitary but safe.
I am high-flown now, carried away like a poem.
I fly below doves, follow in the wake of clouds
and nothing can stop me.
I am to be cherished forever.
This my dream now.

Cait O’Connor

This is written as a response to another Magpie Tale. Read more here
(The photographer is Martin Stranka.

Friday 9 May 2014

Friday Musings

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. 

Oscar Wilde

I am starting a collection of my favourite 'back view' paintings or photographs. This is my first.  It is by Andrew Wyeth who painted quite a lot of back views.  I agree it is not strictly a 'full body' back view but the head is turned.  Do send me your favourites if you have any.

Dear Diary,

Just a poem, a picture, a quote and a piece of music from me today.

The poem I should perhaps be writing for Magpie Tales just won't come.  Apart from being under the weather at the moment I have never been a fan of Salvador Dali and feel only bad vibes when I look at his work, so instead I am going to post a poem which landed in my Inbox recently.  It is by a Vietnamese poet and has inspired me to write on a different subject which can't be a bad thing.  It is a sad piece but I hope you like it as much as I do.


There is the rain, the odour of fresh earth, 
and you, grandmother, in a box.
I bury the distance, twenty-two years 
of not meeting you
and your ruined hands.
I bury your hair, parted to the side and pinned back,
your áo dài of crushed velvet,
the implements you used to farm,
the stroke which claimed your right side,
the land you gave up when you remarried,
your grief over my grandfather's passing,
the war that evaporated your father's leg,
the war that crushed your bowls,
your childhood home razed
by the rutted wheels of an American tank—
I bury it all.
You learned that nothing stays in this life,
 not your daughter, not your uncle,
 not even the dignity of leaving this world
with your pants on. The bed sores on your hips
were clean and sunken in. What did I know, child
who heard you speak only once,
and when we met for the first time,
tears watered the side of your face.
I held your hand and said,
bà ngoai, bà ngoai
Ten years later, I returned.
 It rained on your gravesite.
 In the picture above your tomb,
you looked just like my mother.
We lit the joss sticks and planted them.
We kept the encroaching grass at bay.

Cathy Linh Che

And the music, Night Sky  from Paolo Nutini, with text below on which the song is based.

The Great Dictator's Speech from the film of the same name. Charlie Chaplin played the Jewish barber in the film,

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Thursday 1 May 2014

A Room of Her Own

A Room of Her Own

Would-be poet,  would be writer-woman
whose tales must not be sepia, black and
white or second-rate. Her needs are few: warmth
quiet and sweet solitude. Candles, a
notebook and pen, a place for her wolfhound
friend, who is squashy, soft and nearly as
long as the sofa she dreams and schemes upon.
She will confide in him, he reads her mind
and loves her in return. From an ancient
attic room, an eyrie under the beams,
only colourful words are created,
poems fly out of the ether, stories
descend upon her through the skylight.
When times are hard she gazes at the booklined
walls which set the would-be woman-writer’s bar.

Cait O’Connor

(It's Magpie Tale time again, read more here).