North and South

Labi Siffre
Something inside so strong

Labi Siffre “Something inside so strong”

This has not been a couple of good weeks for our country with the appalling attack on Westminster and the divisive Article 50. On Facebook I see friends argue and insults flying between people who should be working together. This week I wanted to write something that reminds us all we are not perfect and yet we have more in common than divides us. At the same time I draw huge comfort from listening to “Something inside so strong” by Labbi Siffre. It is a song that gives hope and is as beautiful as any poem I have ever read.

Labi has a blog at http://www.intothelight.info/ it is well worth a visit. He remains as clear and incisive as ever.

If you would like to hear me reading the poem click here

North and South

 

We all have that mental list of hurts and grievances

The memories of the bullies bitter words and fists

Lover’s parting accusations and cruel put downs

Scar tissue whose details are undiminished by time

 

We are a nation of differences North and South

We are a complex of languages East and West

We are Sunni and Shia, Protestant and Catholic

We are roasted vegetables and grilled steak

 

We all have a mental list of our mistakes and regrets

When we accused the innocent and ignored the guilty

The incautious remark and the insult we do not remember

But sits like a stone wedged in the heart of others  

 

We are a nation of similarities Laughter and Smiles

We are a complex of shared experiences

We are a stranger’s smile on a sunny afternoon

We are Curry and Chips, Sunrise and Sunset

 

We all have a mental list of what make us stronger

When we stood up to those who point the finger

When we championed the blameless against the accuser

When we held hands and not grudges

 

We are a world of divisions that need healing

We are British and Europeans, Women and Men

We are Scottish and Irish, English and Welsh

We are stronger United and Weaker divided

 

©Jeff Price March 2017

 

Poverty intrigues her

 

Cheap Trick “I want you to want me”

A few years ago I was at a poetry event at Morden Tower and started talking to a youngcheap trick woman about her teenage years. She told me of her experiences in the nightclubs of Middlesbrough. She loved the rough clubs with their pasty faced boys who were out of their heads on Smack and Es. Then she said the phrase that stuck in my mind “Poverty intrigues me I don’t know why?”

This was the first time I had come across what we would now call “Poverty Tourism”. She also mentioned dancing to a band called Cheap Trick and their track “I want you to want me” . I have combined the lyrics of the song into her story. In case you have forgotten this 70’s classic click the song title above to hear it. If you would like a download PDF of this poem click here or if you would like to hear a sound file try this link (which after listening to it I have to admit sounds a bit like John Cooper Clarke).

Jeff Price

 

Poverty intrigues her

The doorway of the nightclub stinks of piss and sick

Inside the teenage rebels are dancing to “Cheap Trick”

Smackheads cruise the car park pouncing tabs and change

Fifty pence for an dodgy E is the current rate of exchange

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.


Black sludge running down the wall looks like Miner’s spit

Inside you can be whatever you want, no one gives a shit

Cross dressing boys in polka dots would fail a fashion test

And every girl wants to have Jim Morrison on her chest

I’ll shine up the old brown shoes, put on a brand-new shirt.
I’ll get home early from work if you say that you love me.

A sweet suburban girl is dancing with smack addled boys

She like the taste of danger mixed with the deafening noise

They move to the same rhythm but it’s a different beat

She knows the taste of winning, they only know defeat

I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.

She’s a character she’s created, an urban disguise

She just wants to see the world through different eyes

If you get to close to her she’ll just say good bye

Poverty intrigues her, she doesn’t know why.

Feelin’ all alone without a friend, you know you feel like dyin’.
Oh, didn’t i, didn’t i, didn’t I see you cryin’?

On the red spiral staircase time has slowed

The boom box beats out in binary code

Her head is pulsing between shivers and sweat

She thinks she’s dying but she hasn’t started living yet

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.

In a couple of years she’ll leave it all behind

This town just makes her feel too confined

But there will be one thing she’ll never deny

Poverty intrigues her, she doesn’t know why

©Jeff Price 2017

Schrödinger’s Lottery Ticket

Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon”

 

Thanks to all the people who visited my first blog poem last week. I was stunned by how many of you there were. The stats section in the blog told me which countries the visitors were from (not who they were). Unsurprisingly, most were from the UK but who were the five people in New Zealand and the two in the US?

This week’s poem is based on the work of Pink Floyd. I  love the album “Dark Side of the Moon.” I would play it  at home over and over again usually by putting a single bed between two great big Wharfedale speakers and lighting up a big fat joint and let the album flow over me like a wave.

In July 1975 I went to see them at a festival at Knebworth Park. It was a riotous weekend and my overwhelming memory is that of a fly past of spitfire planes and a rocket that ran down a wire from the back of the park to a hit a giant moon suspended over the stage.

For the second of my poems I chose “Money” as the track from the album to inspire a poem. I do the weekly lottery online and pick two random lines for the Saturday night draw. If my ticket wins the lottery people send me an email.

To hear the track click the link above and read the poem.

 

Schrödinger’s Lottery ticket

 

The email arrives at four o’clock on a Sunday morning

It will be titled “Good news about your lottery ticket”

In the last decade it has appeared four times

On every visit it has been for the minimum amount

 

Before I open the email I play a game

It is called Schrödinger’s Lottery ticket

My good news exists in two separate states

Either for the minimum amount or the elusive jackpot

 

As long as I don’t open the email I can dream

of the riches I will bestow on friends and family

The gratitude and the acclaim I will receive

The everyday differences it will make to my life

 

Then the doubts creep with the tales of betrayal

Broken friendships and fractured families

The heart breaking begging letters from strangers

The spoilt and rudderless offspring’s decline into drugs

 

If it is a really big win, I’ll need bodyguards and accountants

The big mansion on the hill will need an army of servants

In exclusive holiday resorts I will mix with golfers and freemasons

The three star Michelin dinners will make me as fat as a hippo

 

A speedy stab at the screen will resolve the paradox

Then reality collapses and the superimposition ends

One again I am poor along with my relatives and friends

But at least my children are safe from indolence and drug addiction

© Jeff Price March 2017

 

The Unnoticed Shadow

Steve Earle: Galway Girl

On 27th November 2018 I  reach the grand old age of 70. I know, I know “How can that be true, Jeff?” I hear you all cry but it is and it has taken a lot to get my head around it as well.

Rather than shrink away and gather dust in a corner, I thought I would do something different to celebrate the inevitable. My plan is to publish over the next 70  weeks, 70 poems. These poem will take as their inspiration 70 songs by 70 different artists or groups.Jeff north shields.jpg

I listen to and read a lot of poetry but I also love to listen to music and over the decades that music has been a back drop to my life and many of the lyrics and sounds have inspired me as much as poetry and literature. The blog is a celebration of those songs and artists.

My method of writing these poems is very simple, I take the track that I want to be the inspiration for the poem and I listen to it, taking notes all the time and then from those notes I write the poem.

The first poem of this series was inspired by Galway Girl by Steve Earle. I love Steve’s

2012-new-orleans-jazz--heritage-festival-presented-by-shell---day-7.jpg
Steve Earle

songs and they also remind me of a good friend, Howard Richardson who passed away a few years ago. Howard was a great guitarist and singer and Steve Earle’s songs were a big part of his repertoire. There is more about Steve at steveearle.com

I was brought up a Catholic spending my Sunday Mornings at St Robert’s and Wednesday evenings at the Youth Club. The Catholic population of the West End of Newcastle was mainly of Irish extraction, as was my Grandmother, as a youth I yearned after the girls with their dark hair, ivory skin and blue eyes, an image that became imprinted on my young mind.

The Unnoticed Shadow

I ain’t seen nothin’ like a Galway Girl” Steve Earle

 

Sunday morning St Robert’s Catholic Church 1960

She is thirteen and I am twelve and I am in love

Complete, undiscovered and unrequited love

Her crown of twisted black curls, her steel blue eyes

Have seduced me, stolen my heart and taken the strength from my bones

A glimpse of her knee socks makes my knees knock

The click of her heels is symphony on the stone slabs

The choir’s hymn a hallelujah to her beauty

She is an Angel

She is my salvation

She is out of my league

I am invisible as dust

I ask you friends what’s a fellow to do

because her hair was black and her eyes were blue

 

Sunday Morning O’Connell Street 2000

The airport coach drops me off by the Old Post Office

I blink in the sullen sunlight of a Irish morning

There she is, waiting for me on a Dublin Street

She’s sitting on a bench on St Stephen’s Green

She’s serving my pint of Guinness in Slatery’s Bar

Her skin still pale as paper

Her dark blue eyes still drown me

I am seduced again, tumbling through time

The heady smell of incense mixed with her perfume

Light dancing through the stained glass windows

Fifty years ago I lost my heart to a Galway Girl

She is still out of my league

I am still an unnoticed shadow

I ask you friends what is a fellow to do

because her hair was black and her eyes were blue

©Jeff Price