a lottery winner texts his future

(Sings) I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly … or maybe just content myself with another acrostic poem in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt Elixir:

 

e vry fule no u dont get sumthin for nuthin in this crule
l ife & if u want 2 liv 4 eva u got 2 pay thru the nose 4
i t so i went & spent the hole stinkin lot on 1 teenytiny bottol ov fairy dust from
x anadu where old kubla khan still alive & kickin on milk ov pairadice & hunnydew &
i t sure in hell beats freezin yr bits off in a gr8 big fridge or beatin yr brains out 2 be
r emembered by folk that only want 2 no u cos they think u loaded

 

Image result for vial of perfume

 

Image: Pinterest

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Empyrean

When the superlatives are all used up, where next? A Deeper Purple?

P rose puffs
U p like candycushion clouds,
R eflecting the last rays of
P oetry’s noble Apollo* and
L usting after His
E verlasting laurel crown.

Image result for purple sunset clouds

*God of music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, light and knowledge

Smudged

Rash promises being the order of the day, thought I’d join in by undertaking to write a brand-new acrostic poem every day for a week using the WordPress Daily Prompt. The first one is Meaningless, if you see what I mean …

M aking sense of our world is your natural
E ntitlement, the new-life guru promised on his poster,
A nd only he held the keys to the kingdom of true knowledge.
N o-brainer, we thought, and mortgaged the house just
I n case he really had stumbled across the golden portal to
N irvana – committed ourselves to a new-life sentence with time off for
G ood behaviour. No pain, we chanted, no gain. Let it cost an arm and a
L eg if paradise beckoned. For months we watched the guru smile, his happy
E xample fading as our bank balance
S lipped into the red. Turned out he was just a new life guru,
S ame as all the rest. The hyphen wasn’t even hype, just a random fly-speck.

 

Image result for fly specks

 

Image: Ask an Entomologist

Gone West

Recently I was asked to perform a 10 minute sketch at a local music pub’s Americana night. My brief: you are Marshall Amp (geddit?) and we want you to devise a story to illustrate a line from a traditional American song. Oh, and you can do a harmonica solo …

Image result for marshall amps

Always game for a laugh, I agreed. I found a risqué old blues and wrote a cod-Western script to accompany it. Now, two days before the show, I learn it’s been cancelled. I reckon the promoter and the landlord have fallen out … again!

Shucks!

Now it’s no skin off my nose.  I don’t sing and play for money – they do buy me the occasional beer – but just because I like doing it. However this time, because I’ve gone the extra mile and devised a little routine, thought I might as well make it the basis of a blogpost. So here, my friends, is an exclusive preview of the sketch that never was …

Image result for sleeping cowboy

(Marshall Amp, star pinned on his check shirt, leather waistcoat, jeans, boots, ten-gallon hat over his eyes, asleep)

Hunh? Uh … yeah … howdy! Mus’ say that it’s a reel honor and privilege to be sat here in the world-famous Runnin’ Horse listnin’ to me … Marshall Amp … kinda well-known hereabouts on account of that byoootiful big beast up there on the wall behind y’all …

(Points at the life-size facsimile of an American bison head)

… yup, that’s the very las’ prairie buffalo of ’em all and it was yours truly what pulled the trigger … got the pictures to prove it, too, put ’em up all over Facebook … you seen ’em, ain’tcha?

(Adopts smug pose with foot on imaginary dead animal)

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it, Co-chise! … Now folk always tellin’ me – Hey, Marshall Amp, how come a lawman like you always out huntin’ endangered species like that? Well, I tell ’em, I reckon it give me summat to do since they stopped all that bounty huntin’ for lawbreakers … y’all seen them posters … Wanted, Dead or Alive!

‘Course the little woman always bitchin’ I ain’t never home, where’s the money comin’ from, all that stuff! You heard ’em – How’m I gonna make ends meet, Marshall? Well, take ma word for it, she know how to make ends meet! My back turn no more’n a minute on the trail o’ everlasting glory in shootin’ circles, know what ma wife done? Only high-tailed it downtown, cruisin’ all them there juke joints, fulla men with big pockets and no morals! You know them places …

(Looks suspiciously round audience)

Y’do? Well, I got my eye on you! You know Bootleg Sal? Howzabout Little Suzanne? Y’ever been down Django Hill?

Yeah, see, there’s this song they wrote about it. Kinda public-service warning to stay away from all that stuff. So I aim to sing it and all the while I’ll be watching out for signs o’ guilty knowledge. All you poker-faces out there, here come a li’l musical lie-detector test! Maybe you better join in with the chorus …

(Sings)

You know Bootleg Sal she used to live cross town
The law went there and he closed her down

Now you can’t get the stuff no more
You can’t get the stuff no more
No matter how you try
You can’t buy
You can’t get that stuff no more

You know that place on Django Hill
The law shut the gals and the liquor still

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

Little Suzanne used to sell hair grease
Got in trouble with the Chief of Police

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

(harmonica solo)

There go Amp with a great big knife
Somebody been foolin’ round with his wife

Now you can’t get the stuff, etc.

Old State street girl used to give it away
Now you can’t get it if you offers to pay

You can’t get the stuff, etc.

All the girls used to walk the streets
The law done put ’em off his beat

Now you can’t get the stuff no more
You can’t get the stuff no more
No matter how you try
You can’t buy
You can’t get that stuff no more

You get the message, people?

(Another hard scan of the audience)

Well, I guess you passed that test! So I aim to make some o’ you ma deputies ‘fore the night is out. Eyes an’ ears on the street, see … an’ hear? We gonna clean up this town, make it fit fo’ families, yeah? Make it a place where good ol’ private enterprise can flourish again.

So any o’ you folk wanna open up a house o’ ill-repute, won’t get no trouble from li’l old me, jus’ make a decent donation to the M.A.F.F.K.W.H. … that’s the Marshall Amp Fund For Keeping Wives Home. Don’t want no more How’m I gonna make ends meet, Marshall? Her end gonna stay jus’ where it is, thank y’very much, so howzabout a li’l old goodwill contribution?

(Holds out upturned hat)

Kinda shy, huh? Well, it’s not every day you meet a gen-u-ine hero. Jus’ think of it, folks, the very las’ prairie buffalo an’ I’ll be posin’ right next to her fo’ all o’ your pictures in two shakes of a –

(Promoter calls out “It’s plastic!”)

Whoa, baby, best not tell Ranger Rob (indicates pub landlord) or he’ll be asking me for his money back! Anyhow, I’ve been Marshall Amp and you’ve been … kinda patient!

Image result for Tumbleweed Animated GIF

Me again! On second thoughts, perhaps it’s just as well they cancelled. They probably wanted a nice little fireside chat conforming to cosy 1950s stereotypes, Burl Ives meets Gene Autry …

O ma darlin’
O ma darlin’
O ma darlin’ Clementine
You are lost
And gone forever
Dreadful sorry Clementine …

 

Images:

choiceguitaramplifiers.com    

zillustration studio news        

gifbin.com

Life Sentence

A child discovers wonders every day
And paints a golden picture of his world,
As stepping-stones to island haunts make way
For archipelagos and tales untold.
O where can he belong who seeks from birth
The answers to all questions – keys of mind
To treasure-chests of truths – but here on Earth
In free and equal friendship with his kind?
Though walls arise imagination soars
Beyond their shadow to a sunlit land
Where smiles greet strangers, sorrow opens doors
And dreams come true by popular demand.
The child I was once painted this in gold
And will not let me rest now I am old.

 

I’ve written this sonnet to try and encapsulate some of the themes that have been swirling around my three previous posts, best read in sequence – Art Attacks # 1,2 and 3. Probably tried to cram in too much but, heigh-ho, you only live once!

 

Image result for child in meadows

 

Image: EnviroMat

Art Attack #3

Hmm, time to pull this rambling argument with myself together! Ah, time

The poet Andrew Marvell, frustrated by his lover’s reticence to commit herself, gently reminds her they’re not getting any younger:

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime …

… But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

And the elephant in the room is … well, here’s a selection of euphemisms from those clever Monty Python chaps:

Image result for dead parrot sketch

Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.

Mr. Praline: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? … ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

The English language probably has more ways to avoid this subject than Eskimos have words to describe snow. Which subject, you ask? Well, er … look, I’m not being coy, it’s just … you see, moving from funny to serious ain’t easy! Right, deep breath, dive in …

Image result for blackadder goes forth

Laughter can be nervous. There is such a thing as gallows humour. Blackadder Goes Forth found plenty in trench warfare to laugh at but the final moments were filmed with admirable solemnity, ending in a memorable still frame which dissolved to a field of poppies:

Image result for blackadder goes forth ending

Image result for blackadder goes forth ending

Philip Larkin puts it as well as anybody:

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

from ‘MCMXIV’

Time heals, they say, but public feeling about World War One seemed to intensify in recent years. Was this because Old Soldiers approaching their natural end of life at last broke traumatised silence to speak of less fortunate comrades? Perhaps it was the sheer number of WW1 centenary events after 2014, its battles engraved on monuments and hearts in so many nations – the likes of Mons, Liege, Ypres, Anzac Cove, Suvla Bay, Verdun, Jutland, the Somme, Arras, Passchendaele.

Premature death is always shocking – a loss of human potential which prompts urgent political questions about the denial of entitlements. What, we wonder, might those young people have contributed to the common good? And where, we ask, is the machinery to stop such pointless suffering?

Death on such an industrial scale is a shared agony and betrayal and shame that creates a public demand for a community wider than the flag-waving armed camps that march to war. The cry goes up: Never again! And how often we hear of friends and families campaigning to protect the safety of strangers in the name of a loved one who has suffered an avoidable death … Never again! 

No one should live in vain. All life has value. And I would suggest that all death has meaning because without it life would have no shape, sweetness or intensity. Would each day be so precious if we could live for ever? Each day we hold others in our hearts who are not with us, dead or alive, and so become temples of eternity. We honour the living and the dead, even those ancestors we never knew, because they have fitted us for this moment.

Realising this can be an epiphany leading to a kind of apotheosis. The words may be religious but the ideas aren’t, though they are sacred to me. As Nietzsche said: Be faithful to the earth. I also take heart from novelist Lawrence Sterne:

When we are – death is not; and when death is – we are not.

Live in the moment and last forever. Growing older, I find, most desires fade away but one burns brighter: the desire for remembrance. I would like people to have a good time at my funeral, remembering they are still alive. And I would like to produce something which has a value to others after I am gone. Re-enchant the world, maybe, or at least give somebody a good laugh.

Ha, just remembered my previous post promised to answer this question: if nature is broken, can art mend it? Nah, is the obvious answer, but DH Lawrence offers a crumb of hope:

It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead.

Include poems, songs, plays, films and other art forms and you could get something going to win hearts and minds for the good fight. If nature is broken, only we can fix it – if we’ve a mind to give up shopping and go living instead. Could the aesthetic rewards of friendly art wean us, perhaps, from the addictions of lonely consumption? Art is story and stories make good signposts.

Art, like love, can even transcend death. This is because art, like love, can only exist between us – a sacred unity, the two that is not two. I find paradox miraculous because it breaks down oppositions. Without Contraries there is no progress. It takes a writer and a reader to create meaning. Anger can become Compassion. Death and Life are one.

Image result for paradox

 

‘Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be.’    – John Lennon