Romancing the Gibbet (4) The Morrismen Murder

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‘Romancing the Gibbet’ is a collaboration between poet, Ralph Hoyte and historian, Steve Poole, exploring ‘dark tourism’ at sites of extraordinary public execution in Georgian Britain. Poole explains the historical background of a single public hanging. A case from 1772, when William Keeley was found guilty of murdering Joseph Dyer after spotting him flashing his money at the old Fish Inn on Broadway Hill. Evidence old and new was shown, and the site discussed. Amazingly despite the cost, Keeley was hung at the site of the murder and put on display. Having a hanging gibbet was both fascinating and appalling to folks at the time, and oddly the act of displaying the dead as a deterrent to crime has not proven to lower nor raise the area’s crime rate. The Oxford Journal at the time commented: “It seems that Keeley is a famous Morrice dancer, and on Sunday morning before the fact was committed, he was teaching a set of fellows to dance. Warner used to play on the tabor and pipe to the dancers. It is to be hoped the Justices will suppress such nurseries of idleness and drunkenness as morrice-dancings have generally proved!”, in other words, they considered Morris Dancing especially on a Sunday to be a waste of a good mans time. Hoyte then performs extracts from his poetic responses. Together Poole and Hoyte play some spoken-word imaginative responses too, Influenced by the works of the romantics Coldridge and Wordsworth; their study of nature and human nature combined and compared in verse. We listen to the Ballard and mixed voice performance with a sense of the subline. The project has four free audio trails. At this event, a sample audio-trail was relocated in and around Broadway Tower for us to try out. Adding the performance elements and music to the location even if you are listening through your phone was something extraordinary and very atmospheric. With the day we attended filled with cold mists and temperature in the low 2 degrees, it was easy to imagine being on a ghost trail of long ago folklore.

Remembering to download the app to your phone or GPS-enabled tablet beforehand would have helped me keep up. However, this event has inspired me much on my search for local history stories and folk tales to find and preserve for the next generation of creatives to use.

Apocalypse Poem

Don’t stop and let me off

By SB

 

The force that kept me on my feet

now is causing my days to lengthen.

The year’s long day of so much heat.

The nightmare of the lasting darkness.

 

Life giving waters that flow away from us.

Now group at the far north and south.

We must mass and move to new countries upon

Sea-less equator that none can own.

Land that was once deep sea is the only

home left to those of loss.

 

The forces whose core carried on

to quake and rip our towers of pride.

The moon that left us for mercury,

centrifugal gravity abandoned.

 

Beta-blocked gravity sicken us more

than ever life’s spin could have.

So, away we must flee, for the sea

who rises up, swallow Northern-hemisphere

and her friend Australasia disappear.

 

I pray for 1,040 miles per hour a day.

 

 

(apocalypse poem– about the earth’s rotation slowing)maxresdefault

The Prize-winning Poem

The Prize-winning Poem

It will be typed, of course, and not all in capitals: it will use upper

and lower case

in the normal way; and where a space is usual it will have a space.

It will probably be on white paper, or possibly blue, but almost

certainly not pink.

It will not be decorated with ornamental scroll-work in coloured ink,

nor will a photograph of the poet be glued above his or her name,

and still less a snap of the poet’s children frolicking in a jolly game.

The poem will not be about feeling lonely and being fifteen

and unless the occasion of the competition is a royal jubilee it will

not be about the queen.

It will not be the first poem the author has written in his life

and will probably not be about the death of his daughter, son or wife

because although to write such elegies fulfils a therapeutic need

in large numbers they are deeply depressing for the judges to read.

The title will not be ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Life’ or ‘I Wonder Why’

or ‘The Bunny-rabbit’s Birthday Party’ or ‘In Days of Long Gone By’.

‘Tis and ‘twas, o’er and e’er, and such poetical contractions will not be

found

in the chosen poem. Similarly cliche´s will not abound:

dawn will not herald another bright new day, nor dew sparkle like

diamonds in a dell,

nor trees their arms upstretch. Also the poet will be able to spell.

Large meaningless concepts will not be viewed with favour: myriad is

out;

infinity is becoming suspect; aeons and galaxies are in some doubt.

Archaisms and inversions will not occur; nymphs will not their fate

bemoan.

Apart from this there will be no restrictions upon the style or tone.

What is required is simply the masterpiece we’d all write if we could.

There is only one prescription for it: it’s got to be good.

 

Fleur Adcock

 

Adcock, Fleur (1983) Selected Poems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Animal Prose Poem

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Dad’s dog Max

Mad Max the Scarlet Fox, is not a fox but a Rough Spanish Collie dog. But, when he’s running towards you bounding out of the bushes you can be forgiven for thinking you were under attack by a beast of the forest.

Mad Max can dance and roll over for a tummy rub. Mad Max loves the ball throw it as much as you like. Mad Max will walk to heel, Mad Max will carry his own lead and fetch it if you tell him to.

Mad Max waits for you to say “yes, you can have that” before he eats his treat. Mad Max is nice to children and always loves to play. Mad Max will fetch a stick from out the undergrowth, maybe even half a log and expect you to throw it; say another dog comes along he won’t mind he’ll leave that stick and be by your side.

The Scarlet Fox goes dashing through the bog. The Scarlet Fox will swim in streams, ponds and canals. The Scarlet Fox chases pigeons and catches magpies with savage stealth. The Scarlet Fox he guards the yard against grey squirrel invaders and evil Scarface cats. The Scarlet Fox does not go back on the lead unless it pleases him. The Scarlet Fox will drink pond water and snack on frogs he cares not for your disgust. The Scarlet Fox having seen me attacked by a large dog once, now defends me with teeth and bark and snarling rage.

I love my father’s faithful dog and I will not allow him to be taken under the ruse that he cannot be cared for by the Man. The Man who calls him, with a grand bellow

“Maximus Reddishius, mighty Caesar of 58 Chestnut Grove. Let us venture forth.”

To which the dog bows low and then prances behind the Man like a white Arabia mare.

By S.Bryant

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A love Poem

1          Love poem

 

My butterfly life, never settling with the flower of a wife,

I wonder if I am capable of true love or if I am cursed to wonder.

How my arms ache to hold, how my lips burn to kiss

But, I do not want a butterfly wife.

I don’t want a pretty little miss who doesn’t mind who she kisses,

I am a man who needs a real wife.

 

I am a man with a butterfly life. I am not a gypsy,

nor travelling salesman who sells potions and lotions from door to door.

I do not hunt for a wife only long for a love.

I don’t just want some other cute young tipsy,

nor a woman who has a tendency to mother.

I don’t want women who constantly smother or call you guilty.

 

 

Oh my butterfly life I need an anchor.

Life so fleeting, that it is constantly moving and never settles too long.

I have been through so many changes and have had so many stages.

Some say I am pretty, and for my flesh hanker.

Say that I am infamous, that I’m famous, because I own many pages.

Oh, but, I am also lonely, and desire only her.

 

by S.Bryant

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Poem’s to praise something common

 

Brother’s bruise

So round and blended edges fade
blue and mauve and purple shades
into fair skin, slightly indented in.
Badge of honour, badge of pride,
mother says you should hide.
I look at your bruise and then I say
“Your are the proof he did not sway.
She’ll not mess with you again
or she’ll get more than proof and pain”
so round and bold you are
next time i’ll get you a scar.

Poems from writing retreat

Mum

Her home in two places can be

One her family, is she?

The other a mother.

Life can be smothered

I ritual suffered.

Her fresh bread dedication

A clean house meditation.

Church and then home

Regulated, lovingly grown.

I fail.

I fail the ‘I do’s.’

I fail to choose.

I’m wanting more

I’m taking it all.

She is not me.

By SB

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