Monday, 12 August 2019

Sift It, See It, Swig It, Say It, Salted...


'I see…I think.'
'Heavens, Pooh, it's quite straightforward. Top security for our Wood in just five words, Tigger says.'
'Just go through it again, Piglet.'
'Anything you see that looks amiss, you just say the magic…oh, you know, like when you repeat a spell over and over.'
'Decanter.'
'Decanter, exactly.'
'See It, Say It, Sorted.'
'Bravo, Pooh. You've hit the Nile at the flood.'
'Suppose you weren't ready.'
'Weren't ready?'
'I mean, there you are, having a leisurely cup of tea, you look out the window, you sense that something's wrong--'
'Oh, well, then it would have to be Sip It, Sense It, See It, Say It, Sorted.'
'Or if it was a really leisurely cuppa, I suppose it would have to be Sip It, Swish it, Sense It, See It, Say It, Sorted.'
'Pooh, you really don't have to overthink--'
'And if the urgency of the situation overwhelmed you all at once, it would have to be Sip It, Swish It, Sense It, See It, Swig It, Say It, Sorted.'
'Actually, I think we can just stick with Tigger's five words, Pooh--'
'Or you might be in the middle of preparing a cake when you spot whatever's up--'
'Pooh--'
'I mean, still with your trusty cuppa--'
'All Tigger said--'
'Sift It, Sip It, Sense It, See It, Swig It, Say It, Sorted.'
'I wish I'd never--'
'Not to mention Christmas variations.'
'So don't, Pooh--'
'Old Santa Claus, he's a busy man, you know, shooting hither and yon up there in the filament, some of the presents are bound to fall to earth while he's urging on Plaster and Blister and Dimsum and all. So if one falls at your feet, what can you do but drag out the old toboggan and help him?'
'Tell you what, Pooh, leave it to the rest of us to--'
'See It, Sleigh It, Sorted. Nice ring, that.'
'Pooh, let's be silent, eh? Let's practise minefieldness.'
'So there you are, leisurely cuppa, cake on the go, present falls past your window, out with the toboggan, present delivered, back home, whimsical afterthought of adding some savoury to the mix--'
'I wonder if the Foreign Legion is still recruiting--'
'Sip it, Sift It, Swish It, Sense It, See It, Swig It, Sleigh It, Salted, Sorted.'
'Pooh, for the love of--'
'And as for old George squaring up to the Dragon, with tea to drink and a cake to bake and a toboggan to fettle and a pressie to reroute and a bit of savouriness to chuck in--'
'Mum! Mum!'

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

'Port Winston Mulberry'

This is the title poem from my 2009 collection (England: Littlejohn and Bray).
 I post it here in commemoration and heartfelt thanks. If it weren't for that astonishing push, we wouldn't be as we are, here and now.

'Port Winston Mulberry'
(Considered by Evan Statler, sometime private, Canadian Armed Forces)

('Mulberry’ was the name given to artificially constructed harbours towed over to the Normandy coast to facilitate the D-Day landings, 6th June, 1944. Two were constructed. Remnants of one, nicknamed ‘Port Winston’, are still visible at Arromanches, itself codenamed ‘Gold Beach’, where British forces came ashore. Further east, around Courseulles, was ‘Juno Beach’, on which the Canadians landed at 7.55 am, in the last phase of the offensive.)

Look at Winston. Exploded sausages
floating in soup. That’s what Lauren’s youngest said,
and he should know--at ten,
commander of all knowledge
in this torn and herded world.
Then he took off, to where his mom
was seeing to a double-scoop pistachio,
leaving me on this beach,
postnuclear with its teethed ledges, sucking holes.
Back then it was just a moonscape,
but those were smaller times.

I should be at Courseulles,
where the guys hit the ground.
But this is as far east as I can push;
so I stand and let the breeze
haul me back the voices:
Cal D’Entremont setting up a jive
just before the tailgate flew,
screaming ‘Saskatoooooon’
and haring down ahead of me.
Hours on he was half-off a stretch of sack,
jolting through an archway:
a fazed lemur losing it on a branch,
no tail left to ring salvation in iron.

Rod McKercher stared at the sands in disgust,
thinking of another ring,
his Prince Edward Island beaches:
“Call that surf?”--and he was gone,
walking a straight line through the business,
strafing just so many gnats
crowding his rifle butt.
Top of the beach, I fouled a line,
thought I’d be shaking hands with The Man
in a foot of scummy hereafter;
McKercher dragged me up like I was
a pretty marker on the tenth green:
“You West Coast guys,” he cried
and motioned me to swing into his shadow,
to enter the books and the footage
in water-clawing step.
He dropped. I was blasting alone
till I wrenched my left foot
and had nothing but a hobble
and a dead man to scare Adolf
back down the road to Caen.

Lauren’s youngest appears
with a chocmint, single scoop,
which he aims at my mouth.
The gang want to turn inland;
the tapestry at Bayeux sounds cool.
I toss the keys to whoever can catch them,
request they report back at six:
“That’s 1800,” I tell the blond fire
on the youngest’s head, and rake it.

I’ve seen all the tapestries foolery can weave.
I’ve seen them pinned down on the linen,
two dimensions the only available space
for death: D’Entremont derelict on a stretcher,
McKercher jitterbugging into dust,
soaking on the sand that curled his lip.

The Espace disappears--and here’s a guy peddling flowers,
wheedling about my sweetheart in African French.
Why not? As he steps away, I pull the wrapping flat,
flower by flower, and pitch them at the Mulberry.

And they land and float
and rock and go under,
all the sweethearts who got serious
and drove an endless howl
through yawning June,
with its petals and its moons.




(Infantrymen going ashore from the H.M.C.S. Prince Henry. June 6th, 1944. Image: PO Dennis Sullivan / Canadian Department of National Defense / Library and Archives Canada / PA-132790.\r\n. There were more than 18,700 Canadian casualties and over 5,000 Canadian soldiers died.)

Saturday, 30 March 2019

'Clear the Lorry!'


'Well, Piglet…'
'Well, Pooh…'
'Looks like proper chaos in their country.'
'I'd say so, Pooh.  Tigger reckons they're now in unchartered accountants.'
'Heavens! What does that mean?'
'They'll just have to get themselves chartered.'
'Ah, career change.  Well, they were obviously rubbish at being MPs.'
'And Old Bill was defeated three times.'
'Back to traffic duties for him, then.  So what will happen next week?'
'Well, Laura Carlsberg--'
'--Probably the blondest political editor in the world--'
'--says they'll be opting like it's gone out of business.'
'Just ahead of their country, then.  So how does that work?'
'Ah, now, the biggest Bercow--'
'The what?'
'His real name's John Speaker but he's the biggest Bercow in the House.'
'Stiff competition for that.'
'Oh, he just blinds them with precedent and neckwear.  Anyway, Ms Carlsberg says that he'll
arrange for a pantechnicon to be reversed up to My Lady's Lower Chamber.'
'I don't think I wish to--'
'I don't wish to tell you. '
'And then?'
'Ah, then, the biggest Bercow gets the list of the different optics ready and yells "Clear the Lorry!" and the doors open and they all scurry out.'
'Who do?'
'The indicative voles.  And then he yells out an optic and they all run and hide.  Then someone finds where the largest number are hiding.  Then they all come out again and he yells the next optic and they run and hide again.'
'Till the optics are empty.'
'Completely.  And whatever the largest number of hiders…or hideaways…I don't know the right--'
'Heidelbergs?''
'That's it…whatever the largest number of heidelbergs is at the end, that's the optic they choose.'
'What a lot of optics.'
'A vital part of Westminster life, Ms Carlsberg says.'
'No wonder they don't get anything done.'
'And apart from all that, someone might move a motion at any minute.'
'On live television?  Disgraceful.'