Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Avast 2021!

Resolution


Make no resolutions.
Do not even make the resolution 
to make no resolutions.

Step into each minute wet, naked, newborn
stripped of expectation
empty of judgement.

Place a wobbling foot forward
and simply explore
  the weight of your body
on that foot
in that moment
among this world.


Then, once the wind and light
have woven this world
about your existence,

have made a you-shaped space
in which to be,
spare a prayer for when 

you’ll not be here; for all the other 
hearts that did beat,
but then became thin air.

Breathe in. Let time slide through you 
like a wind through a wood.
Feel it. Be tree and breeze.

Sway till you still. And then, 
only then,
take another step.
                                                                            BS 1 January 2016 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Solstice 2020

The pen rests horizontal on the desk 
while thoughts fly, 
defy capture among page lines. 
Ill-defined intention washes over 
my lightening happy heart, 
flooded at last with hopeful inspiration. 

Oyez oyez hear ye
the young ones yet might save the way 
we live and love our world but, 
before we curl to sleep away 
in abject irresponsibility, 
let’s grasp their giggling shoulders, 
turn towards today’s astonishing star, 
sing hurrah! 
How wondrous we are!
The world and our hope, a loving song goes on… 

… if only we pick up the pen dear friends, 
that I nearly left lying today.



 

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Friday 11th December Gerry Loose Water Story

 Water Story was delighted to have guest author Gerry Loose zooming in for this session this 


"Without Words"

was the title of the session and he certainly gave the industrious Water Story writers a good crafting workout before heading off Eswatini for a gathering of southern African poets. Here's the link via facebook for that session if you'd like to hear it (you need to click the link on the same device that you have facebook connected to...).

Seeing Gerry puts me in mind of a wording duel that Gerry began with me in 2012 when I moored up next to their residential narrow boat in Bowling. 


I was embarking on my Clyde to Caledonia Odyssey and had those words attached to the side of the barge in giant magnetic letters. Of course this was more of challenge than Gerry could bear and the next day I discovered his new anagram of moved letters:

led on a city dale co

There ensued a scrabbling duel with Gerry and I taking turns and the standard of anagram stepping up daily. 


Did I ever tell him what a fine distraction this was from the terror of the imminent journey and the agony of waiting for just the right weather and tide to take a canal boat to sea.... not that this proved to be a brilliant idea...


Many thanks to Kate Lindsay for the following contributions:

Water Story 11 Dec 2020 – Gerry Loose Workshop

Prompt: I as she who …

 

I am she who dances

alone  in the kitchen

I am she who dances

with weans as well as  wolves

I am she who dances

in the morning to greet the day

I am she who dances

whether …. or not …. folk are watching

I am she who dances

without sequins and sparkle

I am she who dances

while she can

 

 

Kate Lindsay


Water Story

11 December 2020

Workshop with Gerry Loose

Prompt: an encounter with someone or something that meant a lot but did not involve words

 

Small Encounters

The hand on my elbow as we make our way along the corridor

The glance of understanding as we wait

The step aside in recognition that to go on unhindered is easier than beginning again

The nod of acknowledgement to experiences shared 

The arm across my shoulders while emotion abates

The cold air on my face as I open the door

The sight of the red breast of the robin

 

 


Water Story Xmas Perty ~ 27th November 2020

What a time we had at the Xmas Perty - all dressed up with a "wee refreshement" and plenty of cheer. Not quite as Diane remembers in her exquisite painting (hidden talents Diane!) or Sheila with her less than flattering photo of the inebriated captain!



Pat started us off in stitches with her take on TS Elliot's Journey of the Magi


The Journey of the Lifebelters

by Pat Sutherland

A cold Christmas we had of it
Just the time of year
for going arse over tit on the ice
and doing battle in the supermarket
for the last loaf.
There were times we regretted
ever getting involved
in all that tinsel tawdriness
and the highway robbery of Festive Menus
full of reconstituted turkey
and khaki knackered sprouts.
Still we soldiered on,
to the soundtrack of Slade
with the voices singing in our ears, saying
that this was all mince.

The on-board Christmas party brought relief, however,
Captain Bev pouring libations topped with Cointreau,
Aileen impersonating The Laughing Policeman
And Pat setting fire to the mince pies
And the barge rocking to our tuneless singing.
Then came January and hacking coughs
And we all learned the word ‘pandemic’
But there was no information, though Boris said
It would all blow over, which it did, from Glasgow Cross to 
Auchtermuchty and beyond.

New rules followed; we washed our hands 
And closed our doors, but set down 
This set down 
This: Bev and Larry
Saved us from ourselves
Not a moment too soon,
Finding Zoom, (a cloud-based video communications app that allows you to set up virtual video and audio.)

Meetings had a new dimension: 
Can you hear me?
No, Put your face up to the screen! Where’s Kay gone?
I’m stuck out here in the ether; get me back! 
My screen’s gone blank, no, I can see your feet!
What’s a screen shot? Fuck’s sake! Pat can’t find the link AGAIN…

All this has carried on to the present,
And we’ll be glad when it’s over
but set down 
This set down 
This
out of Covid new poets have sprung,
Lifebelters have written their way through 
House arrest and endless grey days
Prizes were won and pieces published
Lesley has woven magic words and music
Kay has walked through four pairs of boots 
And we have kept each other afloat
In our lifebelts.

Here’s tae us!

*************************

The event fell short of authentic Water Story festive spirit, simply because our atmospheres were not suffused with the smoke of Pat's culinary responsibilities... it just isn't the same if Pat isn't setting fire to sausage rolls, croissants or mince pies. 


The festivities came to a natural halt and this wayward captain realised that yes, even in the midst of this hilarity, there was writing to be done. And so it was. I'm still waiting for contributions from the crew but here is one from your captain. 

Merry Christmas all x 


The Thirteenth Day of Christmas   

by Pat Sutherland (Apologies to Dave Calder)

Whit you aw aboot?
A should be gratefu’??  
A’ll gie ye grateful
a partridge ye say, aye right
bit a perr tree an aw?
It’s oot on the sterr heid 
wi the bunker
cannae squeeze it in the door

thae turtle doves huv shat 
big wallopers oan ma laminate
the hens are roostin oan the duvet
an the geese are bowfin,
layin eggs oan the sofa an honkin 
thae drummers are gein it welly 
in the scullery wi the ladies
dancin tae the pipers pipin
an mad mental lords a-
leapin aff the sterrs
knockin the maids a milkin
aff their stools
the cludgie’s flooded from the swans
flappin in the bath –
it’s a pure stramash

aye, A’ll grant the five gold rings 
did nae herm but
the partridge ett thaim
an the perr tree’s deid
wi the coal dust

so thanks a bunch


Cheeery Me!
A salute from Cap’n Bev (hic)

Cheery me!
My penpals all are here
in party plumed regalia 
and Christmas paraphernalia

How I love this scribbling crew!
How the sailoring sense of waterway muse 
is hoisted aloft as writers gather on screen
to sail our sea of words.

Just for a while we forget the beloved green and wet 
of loch and canal, zoom into the cheering plasma glow
knowing the welcome that waits.

Was it ever the water, the boat, the ben 
as much as the soaring souls 
of these writers I’ve come to love and know?


Epilogue from Pat:  

Lines for a Christmas Card  by Hilaire Belloc

May all my enemies go to hell,

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Friday 13th November with Cap'n Bev

The usual incisive converstion started the session with no depth too deep to plumb and now foundations too solid too challenge; Socrates would smile at our Water Story exploration.

As soon as I could drag my unruly crew to literary attention we dived into David Whyte's 
Everything is Waiting for You

and wrote for 7 minutes on the question

"What is your life conversation?"... right now.


Sandra Birnie nailed it - here is her piece:




Life Conversation

by Sandra Birnie

Take a look around and touch the

timber, cloth and textured wool of it.

Your space has weft and warp

shade and stripe.

Notice the piercing sun slice centre stage on carpet.

There is drama here.

Blinds angling to be drawn.

Windows where spider nests are safe at least until the spring.

Ticking, whirring clock and laptop motor overture your day that mounts to

full crescendo of crashing and boiling cleaning machines.

Breathe.

Sit.

Take it in.

There’s a lot going on. 

Thursday, 12 November 2020

30th October Live Session with Lesley O'Brien

The blog simply has to start with a hoorah for another two Water Story writer successes, congratulations for:

Another publication on Dear Damsels for Giovanna McKenna, "Perhaps"

A win for  Louise Terry's poem "In the beginning" that was selected by the RSPB for their monthly competition.

How happy is your captain? : )  : )  : )  



Now here, lest we forget Water Story's connection with boats here's a view of the poorly Waverley in Glasgow city centre this week along with the Queen Mary paddle steamer that is permanently berthed in King George V dock.





Lesley O'Brien and her Leprechauns

What a treat of a session we had on the 30th October with the marvellous storyteller Lesley O'Brien who took us for a singing walk seeking leprechauns and  berries for our bucket with this piece:


Hey Little Leprechaun

Hey little leprechaun where have you gone?
I am still looking for my pot of gold
I tied a ribbon to a treasure tree
If I turn my back, you will try to fool me
 
Please don’t take my gold
‘cause I know your little heart can be cold
 
One for the bucket and one for me
Two for the bucket and two for me,
Three for the bucket and three for me
Four for the bucket and four for me
 
Granny told me all about you
With a beard the colour of Irn Bru
Please don’t take my gold
‘cause the end of the rainbow has been sold
 
Hey little leprechaun where have you gone?
Into the hillside you have run
Oh, for a year and a day
Now I must wait and pray
 
One for the bucket and one for me
Two for the bucket and two for me,
Three for the bucket and three for me
Four for the bucket and four for me


As always some stunning writing came out of the session - here's a taste:

Rations

by Catrice Greer

("I kept the lyrics and credited to Lesley properly but, I've changed the delivery to an early 40's jazz standard delivery when sung so I won't come off as a marauding thief in the night of her beautiful brilliance.")

“Please don’t take my gold * 
because the end of the rainbow has been sold
we’re told.” 

Is there an amber dewdrop left for me,
the honey-sweet nectar, 
a tear of agape? 

Where did you hide it in these brambles, tumbleweeds? 
Under the brush where no one can see?

In between the double-talk, 
the words of silver-tongued politicians 
recklessly carved in trees, signposts to destruction  
or paving the way forward? 


We are at the fork in the road
that feels more like the knife that cuts us 
out of Eden’s fecund well-nested garden 


Get in!  We are chasing rainbows, hurricanes, and tornados 
funneled by their own grinding compass
unhinged un-screwed 
at least they have some direction
follow a path Mother naturally carved 
in the dust tracked footsteps 
leveling sleepy towns so we can see plain


Taste the manna, sip the dew 
on unfurled petals and leaves
we’ll eat our daily bread, nibble our cud 
from delicate seedlings sown 


Here, I’ll give you one, and you give to me*
“One for the bucket and one for me *
  Two for the bucket and two for me” 

“Please don’t take my gold *
because the end of the rainbow has been sold,
we’re told.” 

* Inspired by the lovely dramatic work/song  “Hey Little Leprechaun” by Lesley O. Rutherglen


  

Here's one from Cap'n Bev for a change!

Filling my Belly or Filling the Bucket?
by Bev Schofield

How full need my belly be till I begin to fill the bucket?
 How big a bucket do I snatch from the bucket hanging rail?
Should I take a tiny one, quickly filled, job easily done, 
then I can skip and guzzle, love the living sun-filled 
lazy days. But the world needs me to do my part…
so much need… I should take the largest bucket
 and pick and pick and pick, though I know it
 will never be filled, till I collapse in
 exhausted starvation, letting all
 the berries in the bucket spill.


I must find the right size bucket.
Am  I  the  bucket?
Or is the bucket me?

Our Helen, a teacher, has been much busier than the rest of us through lockdown but has found time to submit a piece of prose quite apt for Water Story... thanks Helen!


Lifejacket

 by Helen Elsley

The smallest and most recent swimmer, I was the only one who had to wear a lifejacket. I slipped it off whenever their backs were turned, walked sure-footed and free over the roof of the barge, stepped off at bridges and trailed along the towpath half-drunk on head-high meadowsweet.

My mother fell in first. Pushing off from a mooring, she made the rookie error of leaving her feet on the bank. “Frank,” she snapped, “Frank. Do something!” Her body slowly went horizontal between towpath and departing boat, before she had to step inevitably off into cold wildfowl-scattering water up to her waist.

Next, my brothers. Given free rein in an inflatable dinghy, they paddled blithely under the run-off from a lock and were swamped, slowly sinking side by side until only their crew cuts were visible, dark and fair among the foam.

My big sister, schlepping along the side wearing the last word in seventies Swedish clogs, slipped wooden-soled into the industrial waters of Birmingham at the back of a sanitary-ware factory. A row of toilet bowls along the edge of the yard looked down on her floundering as the buoyant clogs bobbed to the surface.

My father seemed safe enough, feet planted, hand on tiller, pirate king for a week. But spectacularly, impossibly, he managed to steer into a flooded field and waded off to fetch a farmer with a tractor and a towrope. I surely cannot remember this, and yet I do, and he is not here to ask. I remember him humming, tuneless as the 4-mile-an-hour engine, happy.  At the swing bridge where he had hung about to help as an evacuee, his own long-ago canal summer was close enough to touch in the handle on the winding mechanism.

Lifejacket spurned, I stayed bone-dry and told-you-so triumphant.





Thursday, 8 October 2020

2 October Live session with Lynnda Wardle ~ "Write around the Room"

Lynnda's theme today took inspiration from the classic 'Journey Around my Room’ 1794 by Xavier de Maistre (a soldier confined to his quarters for 6 weeks because he was caught in an illegal duel) we will explore our own surroundings to uncover material for intense, focused writing.


"Walk around the edges of your kitchen keeping you back to the wall. Notice everything. Touch the surfaces, notice how the surface feel. Notice what you see, both ordinary and anything you haven’t noticed before. Look at how things are arranged against the wall. What is in the middle of the room?  Spend a few moments looking up at the ceiling what do you notice?"


"Imagine the room is a landscape. Think of the floor: is it a forest floor, a desert, the sea, a bog? Describe this imagined floor. 

Thinking of the furniture: what kind of shapes do they form? Mountains? Icebergs? Giant trees etc?

Tall objects like cupboards or the fridge? What form do they take? Cliffs? Etc

Ceiling? What kind of covering? Sky? Or something else?

Now take these elements and thread them together as a short piece of writing in any form. Include your souvenir object. What is its function? What could it be used for in this new landscape? Does it have a story of its own?

Catrice's found object was this poem she wrote at the age of ten:





You can see some of Lynnda Wardle's writing here





Fire in The Void 
by Catrice Greer


Be functional. 
Pack it here. 
Tuck it there. 
Small and compact hovel in the dark
an unnatural void  
everything lined against the walls of it 
caverned in 
unhinged photos leaning 
on each other for support 
conspicuously bare walls say 
I am not sure I want to be here 
half in half out
building the storied wall 
dripping with packed stacks 
like stalactite stalagmite 
stacks from the floor 
minerals that have fed me 
in the years of starvation
bibliophile, these bookish gems 
sparkle-encrusted with bits and bobs 
telling the stories of my life 
with no room no more room to share
Yet so many stories
wainscoted sealed in the ceiling of this cave 
a craggy space 
this feline, green glass-eyed partner 
slinking here and there,
we are squeezed in 
safe 
this workstation piled, peppered 
with delicate pressed wood pulp stacks
styluses for stoking 
a fire pit glowing in the center
churning the lighted mind 
the electric of every thought 
lightening 'round the voided space
I find myself 
set up to live 
hoveled in the dark 
A fire bearer