Monday 11 November 2019

Throw a Penny in the Hollow of the Stone

for Wroth Silver 2019 by Barry Patterson

We don’t really know where it all began
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Some protection racket in Saxon times
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

But we honour all those who came before
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

When life was hard for the people of the land
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Now Knightlow Cross is long long gone
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& how many feet have been turned this way
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

In a thousand years of gathering
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

A thousand breakfasts on a Winter’s day
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

A thousand pipes clenched in our teeth
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

As back to the pub we make our way
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone.

In the 21st century we still pay our due
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To those we bless & those we curse
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

While the great & the good in their folly are maligned
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To the burden of their will we are still consigned
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Not much has changed on this island of ours
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Its the rich what gets the pleasure & the poor what gets to pay
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& we become the forebears of the world that will be
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

The unwitting progenitors of future ceremonies
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

For someone will come to count our cows
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& we’ll pull on our boots & pull up our hoods
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

We’ll be out on the road before the sun comes up
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To stand before dawn on Martinmas Eve
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& when the name of our town is called
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

We’ll clamber up the mound to pay Wroth Silver
WITH a penny in the hollow of the stone!

To read my previous Wroth Silver poems & find out more about this unique & ancient event follow these links:
2014: Martinmas
2015: The Road of Time
2016: Wheel of the Year, Wheel of the Land
2017: Eight Decades
2018: Ghosts


Saturday 19 October 2019

Rebellion Haibun for Ecological Justice

In St. Jameses Park there are pelicans & parakeets, geese & dragonflies, pigeons & squirrels, crows & Crew, we are all Crew: The Warriors of the Love Rebellion; inspired & beautiful, doing all the best things that humans ever did, can do, might aspire to
on horseguards parade
we guarded the horse of our
highest intentions

Day & night we sang & played, we drummed & chanted our freedoms forth that we might wake up the world; shine out truth & imagine a future founded upon justice for all beings, that welcomes everyone with compassion & wisdom
like a dakini
above the police & rebels
pink haired girl dancing

On Millbank & Marsham Street we sat singing heart songs; shining through the rain by the river’s great grey presence; we praised the angry cyclists for choosing not to drive & every time that someone was taken away we cheered our thanks to them & joyfully celebrated their offering
cold, hard, wet tarmac
as it began to get dark
it was a pleasure

In the distance we could see the flourescent yellow kettle of the Magic Roundabout, they lasted the night; stalwart exiles of Lambeth’s Bridge of Faith, KT & George standing on a box & yes, again, a message that was, is, will always be primarily about love
it had just begun
much lay ahead of us, yet
I felt that we won

Reciting Blake by the barricade a sudden gust of wind, mighty, raised to heaven, stirred the tents & tarps & pulled furiously at our flags & signs, moaned round the Treasury, stirred the trees with spirited night airs
listen to your heart 

today it has the voice of
a city blackbird

Once we were dancing a spiral dance outside Westminster Abbey inviting the ancient guardians of the land to bless us with their wisdom & strength while tourists forced smiles to take selfies & Abbey Security peered out at us from behind their railings
his fiddle playing
sacred music, overtones
her voice & shruti

& Anne & I hold hands & she has tears in her eyes because none of this is protest, it’s an invocation; tens of thousands of rebels mad with dedication to the Earth calling sanity wisdom & the love of all existences forth into the centre
we shut down the heart 

of the capital city 
with our wild music 
It’s not violent, though it may be righteously angry sometimes grieving, it’s mostly celebratory. It doesn’t name or shame, just demands that the truth be spoken. It’s shows us a new 21st century version of Clarke’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced rebellion is indistinguishable from magic.”

For the record: I particpated in the Love Rebellion of 2019 for three days at the start.

This piece is dedicated to those with whom I shared the experience on both sides of the line.

Tens of thousands of us closed down central London. We are not protesters. Extinction Rebellion is an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

We have three demands in the UK:

Tell the truth

Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

Act Now
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Beyond Politics
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

I am happy to tell you
That justice,
Even if it cannot be perfectly realised in this world
May be pursued & that such a pursuit
Is both worthwhile & meaningful.
It may be sought in the direction of
Harmony, peace & openness;
It is inclusive, not exclusive
& all it requires is that we embody these qualities
As living values
Rather than mythical absolutes.
(From an earlier poem.)

Thursday 18 July 2019

Leamington Poetry Festival July 2019

The first Leamington Poetry Festival was great! I was honoured to be included in The Best of Fire & Dust at the Temperance bar. I read: an excerpt from Land Mandala, Let Everry Particle of Dust Breath Forth its Joy & a new poem about the Beats called Sisyphus Strides Uphill to a Beat.

Monday 15 April 2019

Let Every Particle of Dust Breath Forth its Joy

For Raef, with thanks.

Europa gazes to where the sun is setting
Dust of dusk on Giant Taunter’s day,
Traditional for many kinds of meetings
I hike across the city; down a hill,
Along a railway line; under the ring road
Where they take refuge from Thorsday rain,
Through not so busy plazas of the brutalist period;
Mall trickle with folk whose homes are rucksacks,
Uber drivers, cyclists, students, tired workers;
But none as trangressive as I: I’m going to an evening of poetry!

Let every voice be heard,
Be it of pain or joy, innocence or experience
Cleverness, belly laughter or mind blown surreality,
Let each one be honoured equally.
May we all discover the truest voice we have
That the heart sings through, whatever weather
Might assail it; may we all
Be at one with our microphone stand
& even if not a single person understands
What it is we are trying to say,
May we successfully invoke The Muse,
Banish fear & discover through words what is beyond words.

The world is a better place that we are free
To gather & speak our diverse truths tonight
As passionately & as beautifully as we can
Then go our separate ways, content that we are part of something
Larger than ourselves that we just can’t see
But feel in our body, breath & mind
Some kind of transformation.
And when they use our atoms to make new lives*
Let every particle of dust breath forth its joy.**

* Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
** William Blake, Europe: A Prophecy

My friend Raef Boylan is an editor of Here Comes Everyone an excellent Coventry-based, bi-annual literary magazine of poetry, fiction, articles and artwork. He is also one of the best comperes I've seen in his role as MC at the open mic poetry night Fire and Dust in the Big Comfy Bookshop on the first Thursday of the month. Recently he commented that there are plenty of poems with fire in them but not many about dust.

I immediately thought about Philip Pullman's dust & his reference to William Blake also using of the word in a mystical sense. The two great men are honoured in the final lines of the poem.

Inspired by the Knife Angel

Inspired by Alfie Bradley's Knife Angel some of us Cov poets have been writing & recording poetry about knives, knife crime & the effect the statue itself has had upon us. Here are two poems, on my Youtube channel.

These are the Madnesses.

The video features an extract from this longer poem & the video was made by my friend Russ Berry while I read the poem by the statue.

Teach Your Children

This poem was a direct response to the statue itself; the look of grief on the angel's face & the mundane, household nature of many of the would be weapons (100,000 of them, I believe.) I filmed the statue & added the recording of the poem later.

The Knife Angel is located by Coventry Cathedral, facing in the direction of the University. It is there until April 23rd, so if you haven't seen it you have about a week left at the time of writing.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Not Blindness, Knowing

 Into this well like deep
that has never seen the sun
I found a way within

In the self perfected darkness
of this tunnel, of this final
cavity I feel my way

Held by strengths I cannot see
walls I can barely touch in the flood
I am surrounded by mystery

The felt sense of the secret
the lightless presence
not an absence of sense

Not a blindness
nor a state of unknowing
but knowledge of an infinity

Beyond the abyssal valve
floating in a chamber of my heart
I find that I can really see.

We are never apart
there is no such thing as self consciousness
just an ungraspable, unspeakable, timeless knowing.