Lazy Poet’s Thursday Poem

poppy

Petals of loss

Have we forgotten?

So it would appear.

One hundred years and no lessons learnt.

How many images of atrocity

must we see before enough is enough?

Mankind has battled since time began,

does that mean we must until the end?

And womankind, we’re not without guilt,

warrior queens were not legend but manifest.

Leave battles to the playground

To the realms of history, herstory,

fiction and myth.

Cease now,

while a poppy still blooms on this earth.

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100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups Week# 66

THE SILENCE WAS DEAFENING. Ah Julia I like this prompt, I always observe the silence. Those who have followed me for a long time, will know how moved I was when I visited Gallipoli, and may have read my poem.

11 am November 11th

The silence was deafening. But I heard the first whisperings in my head as I stepped out of the car; Anzac was like an echo chamber full of young men.

Tell my wife I love her, kiss my little girl, tell mum my savings are in a box under the floor, dad I’m sorry, Mary forgive me? I didn’t confess Padre.

Yes, I’ll do my best. One at a time, I’ll make a list.

They always laughed when I said I hear voices, keep taking the medication, they said. Now, finally, I’ve found my vocation. Spirit messenger.

Come and join in  with the challenge here,

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week66/

Gallipoli and Anzac Cove, in remembrance

I was privileged to visit Anzac and Gallipoli on the Dardanelles earlier this year and found it an incredibly moving experience that remains with me still. As tomorrow is November 11th I thought I would share some photos I took there. I think you will agree it is beautiful, the Turkish people have made it a protected area with only people whose families have farmed there for generations allowed to do so. They are a very generous people with no bitterness only a deep compassion for those lost.

A Summer of Boats, England and Turkey

For someone who doesn’t do boats and knows nothing about them, this has been a boaty summer. It began on a glorious April day with a short trip across the Tamar River in Plymouth, Devon on the Cremyll ferry with my lovely daughter in law and granddaughter.

One of the best things that Plymouth has ever done was to buy the Cremyll along with Cornwall Council, for fifteen minutes you have the most wonderful view of the Sound, Royal William yard and the spectacular coastline.

The boat was full of day trippers who like us were heading for Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, on the Rame peninsula that’s actually in that foreign land of Kernow.

Plymouth is a bustling city with little charm having been badly hit in the blitz, but stepping onto the ferry really is another world.

Everyone is excited to be going on a mini holiday to the countryside, the ferry ride is less than five pounds for a family of four and the destination has acres of grounds and gardens to walk, picnic and relax for free!

My next boat experience was crossing the Dardanelle straits, which both connect the Aegean to the Sea of Marmara and also separate Asian turkey from European Turkey. The Dardanelles have been an important stretch of water throughout history and strategically relevant in the Crimean and First World War After an emotionally moving time in Gallipoli I crossed to Canakkale on a large boat where I’d foolishly chosen to sit upstairs for the best view and nearly froze in the draft for an hour. Soon after landing my travelling friends and I reached the site of the ancient city of Troy but that’s for another blog.

Ten days and around eighteen hundred miles and I’m back at another ferry port, this one takes me back to the European side of Istanbul. It’s a large ferry this time with lots of strange chunks of metal, cables, ropes and good strong coffee. The view in all directions is amazing and it’s a real thrill to arrive in a cosmopolitan city I have waited so long to visit.

Later in the day it’s time for a cruise on the Bosphorus, we are just a few on Edim, a posh boat that had the capacity for fifty people with a bar and café. We cruised along one bank beside painted wooden houses, stylish restaurants and clubs frequented by Istanbul’s’ glitterati.

Pootling along for what seemed like hours, the waterway was busy but with space enough for everyone it was quiet and relaxing. The size of the city became apparent from the perspective that the water gave, I lost count of the number of domed mosques and minarets.

Some of the grandest buildings were foreign embassies, palaces and military colleges. The Bosphorus was a lovely place for a relaxing cruise, next time I’ll go by night.

In August I had a brilliant day out with friends in Gloucestershire, a couple of hours on the train. Gloucester Dock, a very ‘Gentrified’ area has the prettiest of canal barges,  well   maintained with shiny bright paint jobs. I’m very curious about who lives here and just what they are like inside. I imagine it’s like being in a wobbly caravan,lovely in summer but a bit bleak in winter especially if the canal froze.

A complete contrast for my last boats of the summer, on Exeter quay where there is a working boatyard. It’s one of those places that look out of bounds and until last year I had only stood at the gate to peep, until one day a man said that it’s public and okay to go in. It looks like a very male environment until you see pots of geraniums flowering their little heads off. A very sensory place with smells of engine oil mixed with oily fry-up, sounds of oars, hammers, rap and classics and boats of all shapes and sizes. I’ve watched this one

develop and now it’s nearly completed it may be gone next time I go down. I’d love to see it hit the water.

This one saddens me, the council have deemed it rubbish and an eyesore.

An official letter is pinned to it stating that they will dispose of it unless the owner removes it by a date that has now passed, and they will charge for doing so. Someone has been working on its restoration, just not as quickly as the council would like, it’s a massive money pit of a project. I talked to one of the boat owners and he said that the mooring fees had been paid and apparently it’s a trawler, obviously very old. Who knows what its history is?I believe it would be beautiful once done, surely the purpose of a boat yard is to mend and build boats? Bureaucracy drives me mad.

A reluctant time traveller

I stumbled across a prompt, what period of history or event would you like to time travel to? It sent my mind butterflying through the centuries and around the world, to Egypt when the pyramids were being built and then feeling a touch guilty, back closer to home and Stonehenge. I didn’t linger in either place; gruelling physical labour in either climate would have meant an unpleasant life and an early death. The story of the stones arriving from Preseli 150 miles away is known to be a myth but someone still had to shift them upright. Naturally as I would be arriving via time machine they might revere me as a goddess, but more likely they’d torture and punish me as something demonic. So, an alternative? I live in a city founded by the Romans around AD50, the arrival, overthrowing of the Dumnonii tribe and establishment of a fort overlooking the river as part of their march westward would have been terrifying to the locals. Some of them still get a bit anxious when tourists arrive for a bank holiday to drink our most expensively rated and billed water for free. Would it be worth cranking up the time machine for? Only for the wine they brought with them!

Many years ago I devoured a series of books, ‘Earth’s Children’ by Jean Auel. The heroine, Ayla manages to tame a young horse, the first step towards domestication of an animal. Since then I have often wondered about that period when other creatures started to share our lives, to mutual benefit – maybe, and carried to the extreme with the training of cormorants to fish for us. That’s quite high on my list of who, why, how did someone first think that up questions. This all takes place 30,000 years ago when the oral tradition of storytelling was probably flourishing but I’d probably miss my shelves of books and the Kindle app on my Android.

Take a quick step forward. I’ll disembark from Viator, as I’ve named my time machine, to the industrial revolution, the nineteenth century and the wonder of the first railways. To be among the first people to travel on, to be propelled from place to place, by a beast of a machine belching steam with a smell that I can conjure in an instant. Suddenly machines were making farm workers life easier, productivity increased and many moved to cities and factory jobs. Would I want to be there? Child labour abounded, workers were exposed to dangers appalling to our health and safety conscious society, exposure to toxic chemicals, I don’t think so.

The end of World War 2 in 1945, elation, sorrow, grief and loss. Children without fathers, women without husbands and mothers without sons. A time to rebuild and move forward with hope. What was there for women? To make way for the return of the troops they were forced into a backwards move to hearth and home, to being the housewife scrubbing the step instead of making ammunition and aircraft. Making do with food rationing for another decade and for those able to work the inequality of being paid at a lower rate than men for the same job, a situation my daughter couldn’t imagine, but was still in place when at 15 I had my first Saturday job. The joy and relief of peacetime would quickly dissipate under the daily struggle.

History is littered with war, destruction, misery, brutality, with a sprinkling of beauty and creativity for the rich, usually the perpetrators. If I’m correct in believing that I’ve been round a few lifetimes already, than I’ve experienced enough of history and I don’t think I want to travel to any past life anytime soon. Can Viator please take me to the future? The future of beauty queens where there is world peace and no-one is poor, hungry, at war or living with oppression.

Anzac Cove

A single satin poppy like a drop of blood on innocent sand.

As far as the eye can see, empty turquoise, peacefulness,

In the loveliest burial ground in the world

For the thousands of ghosts of lost boys

Who were sent here to die.

Stones pierce the green like rows of shark’s teeth

Stones that name Anzacs in their teens and twenties

Few old enough to be dads, all young enough to be sons.

Antipodean voices whisper as they search

Emotion choked as names are uncovered

And Rosemary battles for remembrance

Against the fennel scorched air.