The Unexpected Chime

James Taylor “You’ve got a friend”

This is a track of its time. I have sometimes thought James is a little too “middle of the Road” for my taste but this track means a lot. Like me James Taylor is in his 70th year and is one of the best selling

jamestaylorfolk singers of all time selling over 100 million records. He is a prolific songwriter but I have chosen this track which was written by Carole King. King said the song was inspired by James Taylor song “Fire and Rain” which contains the line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend” 
The track reminds me of all the good friends I have made over the years and also of those I have lost, some because they died or those friends who drifted away because their lives changed or mine did.

Yesterday I went to a hospital to collect a friend whose husband is terminally ill. She cannot drive and relies on others to give her lifts. She says she has been cheered by those who have stepped up and supported her and saddened by those who did not.
There have been times in my life when friends have stepped up for me. When the first Mrs Price left I was devastated but also amazed at the small acts of kindness that meant so much. The friend who came around with some food and a bottle of wine and listened while I wittered on about how sorry I was for myself.
On another occasion, after my second marriage broke up, a random woman in a pub chatted me up and although it came to nothing and was no more than a flirtatious few moments, I remember even today how I felt as I walked home with a smile on my face for the first time in ages. She will have no memory of it and doesn’t know that all those years ago she gave back hope to a broken-hearted stranger.
There are friends who you don’t see too often but when you do the years just seem to fall away. There are those who, although they are gone, you still remember with love and affection and one in particular who still visits me in my dreams.

My poem this week is about the spaces left by absent friends.

The Unexpected Chime

 

They’re are shared secrets in my house
Talk of things that have passed
and of things that are to come

They’re are empty wine bottles in my house
Crushed cans of Bavarian Beer
and discarded pieces of chocolate wrappers

They’re is music in my house
From bands who broke up years ago
and singers who sing no more

They’re are empty places in my house
Stacked with silent dining table chairs
and food strewn plates and stained coffee cups

They’re is poetry in my house
In books that line a bedroom wall
Signed by poets who write no more

They’re is hope in my house
From half forgotten small acts of kindness
and the unexpected chime of a doorbell

 

This Poem

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: The Message

This song is from 1982 and is widely acknowledge as the first Hip Hop song to make it into the charts (or the first Hip Hop song). This video is a bit dated but worth a watch. The lyrics are amazing:
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with the baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

Despite the fact this record was released thirty five years ago nothing much seemed to have changed for people of colour in the USA. The Black Lives Matter campaign has highlighted the fact that police seemed to have a shoot first ask questions later policy for black people.

A disproportionate number of young black men end up in prison and the number of black homeless people is now estimated at 500,000. African Americans are only 12.6 percent of the country’s population and yet account for more than 40 percent of its homeless population.

My poem this week is about a teenager called Napoleon Beazley a young black man who

beazley008a

was involved in a car jacking during which a man called John Luttig died. It happened when he was 17 years old and although convicted as a minor he was still executed by lethal injection after spending eight years on death row. Napoleon said at his appeal.
“It’s my fault,” Beazley said at a court hearing , at which a judge set his execution date. “I violated the law . . . and I violated a family — all to satisfy my own misguided emotions. I’m sorry. I wish I had a second chance to make up for it, but I don’t.
Although Beazley had no final words, he left a written statement in which he accepted responsibility for the crime but opposed capital punishment. “No one wins tonight,” he wrote. “No one gets closure. No one walks victorious.”

The quotes are taken from an article in the Washington Post by Paul Duggan. For the full article click here

This is not to say that Napoleon Beazley should not have been punished or in any way to mitigate what he did but to execute someone is not the answer. I have always opposed the death penalty, it does not make people safer or deter those who would kill. The law rightly acknowledges that murder is a dreadful crime and that it deserves a severe sentence but to kill someone because you believe killing is wrong is nonsensical.

Eight countries in the world allow the execution of young people who have committed a crime when they were age 18 years of less Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Yemen, Iraq and USA.
Since the USA Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1990 over 1,500 people have been executed.

This Poem

This poem shot John Luttig during the theft of his car on April 19th 1994
This poem was one of three men involved in the attack
This poem admitted that in the instant after it killed Mr Luttig
This poem was full of regret at the stupid and pointless waste of a life
This poem was seventeen and wasn’t old enough to buy alcohol or cigarettes
This poem was old enough for The State of Texas to sentence to death
This poem took only a few seconds to kill John Luttig
This poem was kept for eight years on death row in a cell 6 x 9 feet
This poem admits the killing of John Luttig was a senseless and heinous crime
The killing of this poem by the State of Texas was premeditated and in cold blood
The State of Texas executed this poem for a crime committed by a child

© Jeff Price March 2018

Making a Spectacle of Yourself

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra “Perpetuum Mobile”

Something very different this week. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra is a band from the 1980/90’s with their own very different Avant-Pop style led by English guitarist Simon Jeffes and cellist Helen Liebmann.pco

I first came across this band watching the Australian stop animation movie “Mary and Max”. The “based on fact” story is about an unlikely pen-pal friendship between a young Australian girl and a morbidly obese 44-year-old Jewish atheist from New York. It is at times wonderfully funny and a desperately sad film. It is beautifully rendered and well worth a watch. You can see a trailer by clicking here

mary-and-maxOne of the issues the film deals with is the fact that Max is on the Autistic Spectrum. Mary sees that as a disability and Max sees it as an integral part of his personality and not a disability that needs to be cured. It made me think a lot about difference and how we perceive it in a increasingly segmented society.

We all are individuals with our own distinctive personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies that makes us who we are. For most it makes little difference to our day to day lives, for others it creates huge problems that can make life almost impossibly difficult.

Making a Spectacle of Yourself

 

As a child his fat spectacles would frequently slip from his pustulated face 

Picked last at school sports with a reputation as the world’s worst goalkeeper

 

The cock eyed pictures on the pub wall distract him to the point of anger

He makes a mental note to bring a spirit level to the next boys night out

 

He would prefer a world where beauty was literal and people were honest

Deviousness can catch his ankles and send him crashing to the ground

 

He takes an eternity to be spontaneous and can quickly prevaricate

He can feel awkward and unsure in the company that he so often craves

 

Words dance on book pages and the order of their letters often eludes him

But he loves them with a passion it took him years to acknowledge

 

His world is a one man play were he has many parts, none of them suit him

Yet he is the sum of all of them and an eager apprentice at each one in turn

 

©Jeff Price December 2017