I was discussing the damage that man was doing to the environment with a friend of mine this morning, part of the discussion likened man to a parasite or virus which was slowly killing off the planet it lived on. This gave me the idea for a poem; I hope you like it.
The infection started slowly,
but that did not last;
Lungs weakened by the continuous onslaught began to fail.
Life giving gas now bore pollutants which weakened the body
and made the virus’ attack deadlier still.
The beating heart now forced polluted blood
through clogged and damaged veins.
Kidneys and liver began to fail as the antigen’s onslaught
outstripped their ability to cleanse.
The skin’s surface took on an unhealthy pallor
Sores broke out, black, yellow and red puss bearing carbuncles
An unhealthy cloying stench hung around the body
And still the virus continued its attack.
Finally unable to function the fabric of the body broke down
And there hanging dead in space where the blue planet had hung
Was a smog covered grey planet destroyed by a virus called;
H U man.
When I was seven I was sent to boarding school, I have three memories of my first day; the first was calling the housemaster 'Sir', it was the first time I had ever called anyone Sir, and for some reason it made me feel grown up.
My second memory of that day was falling out of a tree house and splitting my head open within about half an hour of my parent leaving me there. My parents only found out about this when I mentioned it some forty years later.
The overarching memory was being left, and the following poem describes how the excitement that my parents had built up turned into a feeling of being utterly alone, but also being aware that I must not show I was upset. I hope you like it.
Early Memories Guernsey I
Today was the day I’d been prepared for
I was bubbling with excitement
as we neared the big blue door.
We were met by a teacher
my Mum my Dad and me,
he was going to be the Dad
of my brand new family.
Later on; that same day
my parents said goodbye
and I was left, a little boy
determined not to cry.
As a child I was abnormally strong. I was walking at eight months and soon after that climbing and lifting things I shouldn’t be able to. My parents had all sorts of trouble with me as I had a normal child’s intellect and understanding, but the strength which was significantly stronger than my peers. By the age of six I could lift an adult from the ground and by my mid-teens I could beat most adults at arm wrestling.
As part of my on-going mission to redefine myself as someone living in spite of CRPS, I have had to examine and challenge many of my core beliefs. Among these is a self-image based perhaps too heavily on my physical abilities. Having had that prowess removed so abruptly, my self-image was effectively destroyed.
I wrote the poem ‘Early Memories UK IV’, intending it to be another of my early memories series. Having written it I realised that worse than my ego being destroyed; it had actually fallen below the zero of destruction into a bracket which I always had a problem understanding or even liking. This realisation has helped me to understand part of the self-loathing I have been living with since the accident. In effect what I am saying is that my poetry has, once again, helped me to take a step forward.
As for the poem; the event it relates is true; having discussed it with my mother she remembers the teacher being somewhat shocked. I hope you it;
Early Memories UK IV
My teacher needed to move the piano,
she asked the class to help her
but by the time they were ready
I had put it in the corner.
She couldn’t come to terms
with a five year old so strong,
but to my mind, an adult so weak?
it just seemed; so ........... wrong!
The Sensei said I was too young
The starting age was seven.
But when I lifted him off the ground
he thought he’d gone to heaven.
For here before him was a little lad
with strength enough for two
and with all this pent up power
I didn’t know what to do.
Nothing seemed too much for me
I’d always have a go.
I knew that I could do it
and this knowledge made it so.
To me, my strength
lay harboured in my brain.
If I could see it in my mind
I could lift it like a crane.
It made me pretty dangerous
at play with other lads.
I tended to overdo it
and this concerned my Dad.
So here I was in front of Sensei
being invited to ‘have a go’;
his aim to teach me self-control
by teaching me Judo.
I quickly learnt the basics
as through the belts I rose.
That timing, technique and balance
can any strength oppose.
But there’s one important lesson
The one that’s really key;
It’s better to avoid a scrap
then to engage an enemy.
I learnt all this at age of six
and I watch with desperation
as government after government
sends troops on Operations.
Our Armed Forces are amazing,
They’re brave, well trained and strong.
but they’re ham strung by politicians
who so often get it wrong.
Its not that they’re dim whited
or that they’re often bent,
it’s just that they can’t balance
party line and sense.
They’re so concerned with scoring points
across the Commons floor
That they seem to forget the basic rule;
Is walk away from war.
A recent study concluded that one in four homeless people in the United Kingdom are ex service personnel. This result is made more disturbing when it is set alongside the facts that there are 2,500 ex-servicemen in prison at the current time and it is estimated that about one in ten prisoners has served in the Armed Forces.
Such a high proportion of ex-servicemen among the homeless and prison population is a clear indication that the Military Covenant, that those who have fought for their country should receive the best possible health and welfare support for the sacrifices they have made, is not being met.
I wrote the following poem to in an attempt to describe what ex-servicemen might feel like when they find themselves in this situation.
Saddened by loss
He lived out his days writing
Gone were the races
Gone were the family
Gone the faculties
Gone the camaraderie
Where used to be so strong
All is now gone
The heart – a stone
Unlike my other early memories, this one can be matched to an exact date; the 20th July 1969, which would make me five (and the all-important third) years old. The event was man's first landing on the Moon.
In all there were 6 manned landings which means that only 12 people have ever had the privilege of looking back at the Earth from the moon's surface.
I remember watching the Eagle landing, and Armstrong descending the ladder and making his famous "this is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" speech. I can also remember watching splash down several days later.
People talk about those momentous events where everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I believe there have been three such events in my life, The moon landing, Princess Diana's death and the events of 9/11.
The poem below records my memory of the first of these three. I hope you enjoy it.
Early Memories – UK III
Mum and Dad let us stay up
to watch it on TV.
We snuggled round the living room
as Neil made History.
A grainy black and white image
held us all spell bound.
as far above upon the moon
the Lunar Module hit the ground.