“Birmingham, 1931” . . . and other poetic responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

“For the city, his city, stood unchanging on the edge of time: the same burning dry city of his nocturnal terrors and the solitary pleasures of puberty, where flowers rusted and salt corroded, where nothing had happened for four centuries except a slow aging among withered laurels and putrefying swamps. In winter sudden devastating downpours flooded the latrines and turned the streets into sickening bogs. In summer an invisible dust as harsh as red-hot chalk was blown into even the best-protected corners of the imagination by mad winds that took the roofs off the houses and carried away children through the air.” Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera



Cities certainly do stir the emotions as you’ll see from the passionate responses to the last prompt, Ciao Bella, Beloved, July 11, which was to write about the city in which you grew up or one that you grew to love.

Thanks and a warm welcome to newcomer Lexi Villa and thanks to stalwart regulars: Paul Brookes, Isabela DeLa Vega, Sheila Jacob, Frank McMahon, and Sonja Benskin Mesher.

Special acknowledgement to debasis mukhopadhyay, between ink & inkblot: Debasis’ latest collection is “kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context(2017, Finishing Line Press ). I am unable to include his poem today due to some technical issues, but I hope to bring you more from this acute and prescient poet soon. Meanwhile visit his site and …

… enjoy these offerings below.

Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome no matter the status of career: novice, emerging or pro. Responses to tomorrow’s prompt will be published here on Tuesday as is tradition and this week’s responses will also be considered for inclusion in the September issue of The BeZine, which is themed social justice.


Devastation to My Happy Place

I remember running across the street to the little old lady’s tiendita.
After a long day of exploring canals and giving in to vendors (who definitely overcharged me because of my pale skin), I was hungry.
Can you hear the rain tapping against my window?
Can you hear that old lady’s silence from across the street?
Can you hear my stomach growling?
It was cloudy & dark, but I wanted to continue my adventure.
I only had that interaction, or rather transaction, with the old lady.
But as I lay here in my home, I think about that sandwich I bought from her.
Ham, cheese, & jalapeños. No condiments.
I’m laying here now, where the worst I’ve experienced is 125 degree weather.
What happened to that city the day the earthquake hit?
What happened to the businesses run along the canals?
But above all, what happened to that little old lady?

© 2018, Lexi Villa

LEXI VILLA: “Hey! I’m Lexi, just turned eighteen and decided to participate. I only really dabble in poetry, I am not a professional. However, something I entered in a competition did get picked up for publishing. So I guess I must have a knack for it to catch the eyes of publishers right? I look forward to participating :)”


Even More Invisible Town

A paragraph/stanza difficult to read, then urge/ntly to know widens eyes, detail foregrounds, colour sharpens, shadows acute

No electric/gas light. Wood fires flicker at street ends, in single rooms shadow on walls, glorious stars and robbers abound

Every street must be a wasteland: broken bottles, discarded rubbish, rusty nails, decaying carpet. Belonging is discouraged.

Amount and weight not quality of jewellery you wear is sign of wealth/prestige. Piercings/tattoos admired/flaunted.

Violence is always acceptable. Non violence is cowardice, defeat admitted. Only big, strong survive. Bullying praised.

Freezing cold is welcomed. All animals slaughtered, every part used to build shelter, skins warmth, bone tools, percussion.

All surfaces are child friendly soft. All houses have slides, all workplaces ball pools. Play is work. Riotous creativity

dark corners are encouraged. It is an architectural trend to see how many can be made in one building. Cleaners despair.

where a buildings decay is encouraged as a haven for wildlife. People born/live/die in hides, record wildlife as heirlooms.

Nobody puts things back correctly. Compensation is unknown. Goods on wrong shelves. Kids to wrong houses. Fiction in non

.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

A City In His Pocket

Searched his donkey jacket,
business suit and blazer.

Nowhere. In his dreams hand
in pocket it felt smooth like wet cobbles

his hobnail boots slipped on and faltered,
clattered and echoed in a cave of streets,

crammed with bread on the bake,
spicy curry and sweet dark chocolate,

or the top of a Christmas dome
you upturned to see snow fall

on gothic spires and picket fences,
or hand in pocket spiky and harsh

like police speed traps or his wife’s voice.
Pick pocketed now empty pocket.

Gust blew across the abandoned threads.
Aha! He’d put it in his hi viz jacket.

Previously appeared in The Coffeelicious

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

More Impressions of Wombwell

Backyard, eye swag silver, two joy, pica pica purplish-blue iridescent sheen wing feather green gloss tail

on train squeal chatter, vivid, green, blue, beavers, cubs, scouts, ventures: anarchy in uniform

unshaven bald man, open green raincoat, brown leather shoes, hauls local paper packed lime green trolley

old folk bench gab, mothers stroll babies down funeral paths eye gambolling squirrels, cemetery a parkland

bright cemetery leaves behind dark, Bakers window 6 loaves, 1 burnt, nurse boards bus, ‘I was miles away’

sunstruck leaf bunch drips bright molten green glass, other leaves luminescent silver stars in green matter, shade cut

patient silver hubcap rests under stone cemetery wall behind blue bus stop halo, full moon fall: day waits

Shadows pass over bus as if it is stop motion animated. I get on the animation. Hand held camera glare work journey

Town a small canvas tent unzipped tied back crowcall, fragrant grass, earth close, sun blue. Is on holiday

light quality early noon than morning, 3 patient full brown potato bags by grocers, cloud dispersal pends

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

Invisible Town on the Cards

At bus stop 6 playing cards played 3 of Diamonds, Queen of Diamonds face up. Empty coke can: a bus on the cards

Bus stop other side from morning Ace of Hearts 7 of Diamonds 5 of Spades 6 9 of Diamonds face up. Afternoons hand

Hill top Mrs Wood, grocers, coming down street cemeteries avenue hill bottom where pit used to be a lush forest.

In siling down bus is a big kid in wellies a splash laugh in every pothole puddle, hurriedly shops import goods

Slanted rain rolls down slanted roof slanted street each angle geometric downpour wet arithmetic blatant flashes

Estate Agents white box A4 copier paper door stop charity shop rush takes green leather sofa armchair out of rain

‘value’ ‘bonus’ ‘Low, Low Prices’ big on bright blue next to ‘On Offer’ ‘To Let” boarded, flagged market forces

Pale blue sweatered woman bent at right angles pushes her brown tartan square four wheel shopping trolley up hill

Greenery now over spoilheap less work less danger canal no longer used all leisure, industry moved into headsets

Young man in flak jacket grey snapback struggles to attach long fishing rod rest and shopping to bikes handlebars

Bright cool blue sky cafe puts out green plastic chairs stacked like plastic cups bakers window 4 loaves 2 burnt

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration. History. Imagination.)


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A tree grows in concrete

As such, a sight to see

I hadn’t given much thought

To how lonely it might be

One tree, weatherworn, twiggy bark

Hardly standing, day in and day out

Alone, trying to be burly strong

In need of care, no one did

City life, concrete at its’ feet

Rain, sleet and snow

No breaks, nothing but woe

Yet, there it stands for all to see

© 2018, Isadora DeLaVega (Inside the Mind of Isadora)


Birmingham 1931

I’ve come at this a bit slantwise. I see the city through my father’s eyes.

From the terraced
back-to-back
where he was born.
The poor end of town,
near Saltley gasworks
and sluggish canal
under the railway bridge.

Pigeon-roost on slate
roofs, sheen of starlings
in rain-puddles, hoot
and hiss of steam trains
spiralling smoke and grit,
roar of Saturday’s home
crowd at Villa Park.

Trams and buses trace
the city’s inner circle,
drop workers off
at Ansell’s Brewery,
Lucas’s,HP Sauce, streets
humming as he meanders
to school with his mates.

They’ll be fourteen, soon,
time for first suits
and steady jobs, they dream
football but know their
future’s in a car factory
needing ambitious lads
eager to learn a trade.

© 2018, Sheila Jacobs


QUIET CITY

Paris, Venice, Udaipur: noise, rainbow
glitter, sensory orgasmatrons yet
nothing called serenity or the bliss
of a child carefree on a swing.

Here is my city, patient work of seeds
and seasons, pink campion, knapweed
and hawkbit’s yellow, filling the meadows’
edge around the solitary ash. High

ridge on a clear day, chalk or clay
underfoot, silent, watch the hawk’s lift
and stoop to the clustered oaks, sheen
on clear spring water bubbling. Cross

an open field where the breeze lifts away
the dreck and bric-a-brac of cares and toils,
open and be filled with birdsong,
float in moments endless ethereal.

Here is my city.

© 2018, Frank McMahan


harrogate in the rain.

cheap umbrella broke,

a delightful shade of pink,

abandoned.

abandoned the street

for the parlour, the crown.

mourned my shoes, wet

and ripping.

dripping

white nubuck.

watched the trees,

falling leaves.

good coffee

opposite

the pumproom.

harrogate.

© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher

20161016_115926

. oswald’s tree .

never fails to excite .with all the talk of leaves

here, falling, i am interested to see another breed

of folk that love and gather.

remind me of roseberry road, the younger days.

 

sat in the upper room, read a letter to his mum,

about the trenches, the first world war,  wished

to drown his sorrow in  that bloodied mud. the floor

tilted, a scrap lay crumpled.

 

each room has a different door.

we left, fell the last few steps.

© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher

1002690_10152906887796177_5370599434980022329_n

# Oxford

lost in the ashmolean, lost
in antiquity.

i may have paid the price.

the museum is free.

accordingly.

as i spoke,
i could not help
but cry.

we do not often talk of it.

bound.

© 2018, poem and illustration (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher

shot_1410090348561[1]


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

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