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Nigel Morgan Jun 2013
She sent it to me as a text message, that is an image of a quote in situ, a piece of interpretation in a gallery. Saturday morning and I was driving home from a week in a remote cottage on a mountain. I had stopped to take one last look at the sea, where I usually take one last look, and the phone bleeped. A text message, but no text.  Just a photo of some words. It made me smile, the impossibility of it. Epic poems and tapestry weaving. Of course there are connections, in that for centuries the epic subject has so often been the stuff of the tapestry weaver’s art. I say this glibly, but cannot name a particular tapestry where this might be so. Those vast Arthurian pieces by William Morris to pictures by Burne-Jones have an epic quality both in scale and in subject, but, to my shame, I can’t put a name to one.

These days the tapestry can be epic once more - in size and intention - thanks to the successful, moneyed contemporary artist and those communities of weavers at West Dean and at Edinburgh’s Dovecot. Think of Grayson Perry’s The Walthamstowe Tapestry, a vast 3 x 15 metres executed by Ghentian weavers, a veritable apocalyptic vision where ‘Everyman, spat out at birth in a pool of blood, is doomed and predestined to spend his life navigating a chaotic yet banal landscape of brands and consumerism’.  Gosh! Doesn’t that sound epic!

I was at the Dovecot a little while ago, but the public gallery was closed. The weavers were too busy finishing Victoria Crowe’s Large Tree Group to cope with visitors. You see, I do know a little about this world even though my tapestry weaving is the sum total of three weekends tuition, even though I have a very large loom once owned by Marta Rogoyska. It languishes next door in the room that was going to be where I was to weave, where I was going to become someone other than I am. This is what I feel - just sometimes - when I’m at my floor loom, if only for those brief spells when life languishes sufficiently for me be slow and calm enough to pick up the shuttles and find the right coloured yarns. But I digress. In fact putting together tapestry and epic poetry is a digression from the intention of the quote on the image from that text - (it was from a letter to Janey written in Iceland). Her husband, William Morris, reckoned one could (indeed should) be able to compose an epic poem and weave a tapestry.  

This notion, this idea that such a thing as being actively poetic and throwing a pick or two should go hand in hand, and, in Morris’ words, be a required skill (or ‘he’d better shut up’), seemed (and still does a day later) an absurdity. Would such a man (must be a man I suppose) ‘never do any good at all’ because he can’t weave and compose epic poetry simultaneously?  Clearly so.  But then Morris wove his tapestries very early in the morning - often on a loom in his bedroom. Janey, I imagine, as with ladies of her day - she wasn’t one, being a stableman’s daughter, but she became one reading fluently in French and Italian and playing Beethoven on the piano- she had her own bedroom.

Do you know there are nights when I wish for my own room, even when sleeping with the one I love, as so often I wake in the night, and I lie there afraid (because I love her dearly and care for her precious rest) to disturb her sleep with reading or making notes, both of which I do when I’m alone.
Yet how very seductive is the idea of joining my loved one in her own space, amongst her fallen clothes, her books and treasures, her archives and precious things, those many letters folded into her bedside bookcase, and the little black books full of tender poems and attempts at sketches her admirer has bequeathed her when distant and apart. Equally seductive is the possibility of the knock on the bedroom / workroom door, and there she’ll be there like the woman in Michael Donaghy’s poem, a poem I find every time I search for it in his Collected Works one of the most arousing and ravishing pieces of verse I know: it makes me smile and imagine.  . .  Her personal vanishing point, she said, came when she leant against his study door all warm and wet and whispered 'Paolo’. Only she’ll say something in a barely audible voice like ‘Can I disturb you?’ and with her sparkling smile come in, and bring with her two cats and the hint of a naked breast nestling in the gap of the fold of her yellow Chinese gown she holds close to herself - so when she kneels on my single bed this gown opens and her beauty falls before her, and I am wholly, utterly lost that such loveliness is and can be so . . .

When I see a beautiful house, as I did last Thursday, far in the distance by an estuary-side, sheltering beneath wooded hills, and moor and rock-coloured mountains, with its long veranda, painted white, I imagine. I imagine our imaginary home where, when our many children are not staying in the summer months and work is impossible, we will live our ‘together yet apart’ lives. And there will be the joy of work. I will be like Ben Nicholson in that Italian villa his father-in-law bought, and have my workroom / bedroom facing a stark hillside with nothing but a carpenter’s table to lay out my scores. Whilst she, like Winifred, will work at a tidy table in her bedroom, a vase of spring flowers against the window with the estuary and the mountains beyond. Yes, her bedroom, not his, though their bed, their wonderful wooden 19C Swiss bed of oak, occupies this room and yes, in his room there is just a single affair, but robust, that he would sleep on when lunch had been late and friends had called, or they had been out calling and he wanted to give her the premise of having to go back to work – to be alone - when in fact he was going to sleep and dream, but she? She would work into the warm afternoons with the barest breeze tickling her bare feet, her body moving with the remembrance of his caresses as she woke him that morning from his deep, dark slumber. ‘Your brown eyes’, he would whisper, ‘your dear brown eyes the colour of an autumn leaf damp with dew’. And she would surround him with kisses and touch of her firm, long body and (before she cut her plaits) let her course long hair flow back and forward across his chest. And she did this because she knew he would later need the loneliness of his own space, need to put her aside, whereas she loved the scent of him in the room in which she worked, with his discarded clothes, the neck-tie on the door hanger he only reluctantly wore.

Back to epic poetry and its possibility. Even on its own, as a single, focused activity it seems to me, unadventurous poet that I am, an impossibility. But then, had I lived in the 1860s, it would probably not have seemed so difficult. There was no Radio 4 blathering on, no bleeb of arriving texts on the mobile. There were servants to see to supper, a nanny to keep the children at bay. At Kelmscott there was glorious Gloucestershire silence - only the roll and squeak of the wagon in the road and the rooks roosting. So, in the early mornings Morris could kneel at his vertical loom and, with a Burne-Jones cartoon to follow set behind the warp. With his yarns ready to hand, it would be like a modern child’s painting by numbers, his mind would be free to explore the fairy domain, the Icelandic sagas, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Kalevara from Finland, and write (in his head) an epic poem. These were often elaborations and retellings in his epic verse style of Norse and Icelandic sagas with titles like Sigurd the Volsung. Paul Thompson once said of Morris  ‘his method was to think out a poem in his head while he was busy at some other work.  He would sit at an easel, charcoal or brush in hand, working away at a design while he muttered to himself, 'bumble-beeing' as his family called it; then, when he thought he had got the lines, he would get up from the easel, prowl round the room still muttering, returning occasionally to add a touch to the design; then suddenly he would dash to the table and write out twenty or so lines.  As his pen slowed down, he would be looking around, and in a moment would be at work on another design.  Later, Morris would look at what he had written, and if he did not like it he would put it aside and try again.  But this way of working meant that he never submitted a draft to the painful evaluation which poetry requires’.

Let’s try a little of Sigurd

There was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old;
Dukes were the door-wards there, and the roofs were thatched with gold;
Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;
Earls' wives were the weaving-women, queens' daughters strewed its floors,

And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast
The sails of the storm of battle down the bickering blast.
There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great
Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate:
There the Gods were unforgotten, yea whiles they walked with men,

Though e'en in that world's beginning rose a murmur now and again
Of the midward time and the fading and the last of the latter days,
And the entering in of the terror, and the death of the People's Praise.

Oh dear. And to think he sustained such poetry for another 340 lines, and that’s just book 1 of 4. So what dear reader, dear sender of that text image encouraging me to weave and write, just what would epic poetry be now? Where must one go for inspiration? Somewhere in the realms of sci-fi, something after Star-Wars or Ninja Warriors. It could be post-apocalyptic, a tale of mutants and a world damaged by chemicals or economic melt-down. Maybe a rich adventure of travel on a distant planet (with Sigourney Weaver of course), featuring brave deeds and the selfless heroism of saving companions from deadly encounters with amazing animals, monsters even. Or is ‘epic’ something else, something altogether beyond the Pixar Studios or James Cameron’s imagination? Is the  ‘epic’ now the province of AI boldly generating the computer game in 4D?  

And the epic poem? People once bought and read such published romances as they now buy and engage with on-line games. This is where the epic now belongs. On the tablet, PlayStation3, the X-Box. But, but . . . Poetry is so alive and well as a performance phenomenon, and with that oh so vigorous and relentless beat. Hell, look who won the T.S.Eliot prize this year! Story-telling lives and there are tales to be told, even if they are set in housing estates and not the ice caves of the frozen planet Golp. Just think of children’s literature, so rich and often so wild. This is word invention that revisits unashamedly those myths and sagas Morris loved, but in a different guise, with different names, in worlds that still bring together the incredible geographies of mountains and deserts and wilderness places, with fortresses and walled cities, and the startling, still unknown, yet to be discovered ocean depths.

                                    And so let my tale begin . . . My epic poem.

                                                 THE SEAGASP OF ENNLI.
       A TALE IN VERSE OF EARTHQUAKE, ISLAND FASTNESS, MALEVOLENT SPIRITS,
                                                AND REDEMPTIVE LOVE.
Once more the cauldron of the sun
Smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grow strong
And they have fled.

Yes: now the boiling ball is gone,
And I have wasted another day….
But wasted—wasted, do I say?
Is it a waste to have imagined one
Beyond the hills there, who, anon,
My great deeds done,
Will be mine alway?
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
I can imagine her in Aarhus Kunstmuseum coming across this painting, adjusting her glasses, pursing her lips then breaking out into a big smile. The gallery is almost empty. It is early in the day for visitors, but she is a tourist so allowances are made. Her partner meanwhile is in the Sankt Markus Kirke playing the *****, a 3 manual tracker-action gem built in 1967 by Poul Gerhard Anderson. Sweelink then Bach (the trio sonatas written for his son Johann Christian) are on the menu this morning. In the afternoon she will take herself off to one of the sandy beaches a bus ride away and work on a poem or two. He has arranged to play the grand 83-voice Frobinus ***** in the Cathedral. And so, with a few variations, some illustrious fugues and medley of fine meals in interesting restaurants, their stay in Denmark’s second city will be predictably delightful.
       She is a poet ‘(and a philosopher’, she would say with a grin), a gardener, (old roses and a Jarman-blue shed), a musician, (a recorder player and singer), a mother (four girls and a holy example), but her forte is research. A topic will appear and relentlessly she’d pursue it through visits to favourite libraries in Cambridge and London. In this relentless pursuit she would invariably uncover a web of other topics. These would fill her ‘temporary’ bookcase, her notebooks and her conversation. Then, sometimes, a poem would appear, or not.
          The postcard from Aarhus Kunstmuseum had sat on her table for some weeks until one quiet morning she decided she must ‘research’ this Sosphus Claussen and his colleagues. The poem ‘Imperia’ intrigued her. She knew very little Danish literature. Who did for goodness sake! Hans Christian Anderson she dismissed, but Søren Kierkegaard she had read a little. When a student, her tutor had talked about this author’s use of the pseudonym, a very Socratic device, and one she too had played with as a poet. Claussen’s name was absent from any online lists (Were there really on 60 poets in Danish literature?). Roge appeared, and the painter Willumsen had a whole museum dedicated to his work; this went beyond his El Greco-like canvases into sculpture, graphics, architecture and photography. He looked an interesting character she thought as she browsed his archive. The one thing these three gentlemen held in common was an adherence to the symbolist aesthetic. They were symbolists.
         For her the symbolists were writers, playwrights, artists and composers who in the later years of the 19C wanted to capture absolute truth through indirect methods. They created work in a highly metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning. Her studies in philosophy had brought her to Schopenhauer who considered Art to be ‘a contemplative refuge from the world of strife’. Wasn’t this what the symbolists were all about?
         Her former husband had introduced her to the world of Maurice Maeterlinck through Debussy’s Pelleas and those spare, intense, claustrophobic dramas like Le Malheure Passe. It was interesting how the discovery of the verse of the ancient Chinese had appeared at the time of the symbolist project, and so influenced it. Collections like The Jade Flute that, in speaking of the everyday and the natural world, held with such simplicity rich symbolic messages. Anyway, she didn’t do feelings in her poetry.
           When she phoned the composer who had fathered three of her children he said to her surprise ‘Delius’. He explained: C.F. Keary was the librettist for the two operas Delius composed. Keary wrote a novel called The Journalist (1898) based on Sosphus, a writer who wrote plays ‘heavily laced with symbolism’ and who had also studied art and painted in Paris. Keary knew Claussen, who he described as a poet, novelist, playwright, painter, journalist and eventually a newspaper owner. Claussen was a close friend of Verlaine and very much part of the Bohemian circle in Paris. Claussen and Delius’ circle intersected in the person of Herman Bang, a theatre director who produced Claussen’s Arbedjersken (The Factory Girl). Clauseen wrote an important poem on Bang’s demise, which Delius set to music.
          She was impressed. ‘How is it that you know so much about Delius?’, she asked. He was a modernist, on the experimental edge of contemporary music. ‘Ah’, he replied, ‘I once researched the background to Delius’ Requiem. I read the composer’s Collected Letters (he was a very serious letter writer – sometimes 10 a day), and got stuck into the letters of his Paris years when so many of his friends were Scandinavian émigrés. You once sent me a postcard of a painting by Wilhumsen. It was of Clauseen reading to two of his ‘symbolist’ colleagues. I think you’d picked it up in Denmark. You said, if I recall, that you’d found it ‘irresistible’’.
          And so it was, this painting. Irresistible. She decided that its irresistibility lay in the way the artist had caught the head and body positions of reader and listeners. The arrangement of legs, she thought, says so much about a man. Her husband had always sat with the care embedded in his training as a musician at an instrument. He could slouch like the rest of us, she thought, but when he sat properly, attentive to her words, or listening to their sweet children, he was beautiful. She still loved him, and remembered the many poems she had composed for him, poems he had never seen (she had instructed a daughter to ‘collect’ them for him on her passing). Now, it was he who wrote poetry, for another, for a significant other he had said was his Muse, his soul’s delight, his dearly beloved.
          The wicker chair Sophos Claussen is sitting in, she decided, she would like in her sitting room. It looked the perfect chair for giving a reading. She imagined reading one of her poems from such a chair . . .
 
If daydreams are wrecks of something divine
I’m amazed by the tediousness of mine.
I’m always the power behind throne.
I rescue princes to make my own.

 
‘And so it goes’, she thought, quoting that American author she could never remember. So it goes, this strange life, where it seems possible for the mind to enter an apartment in 19C København and call up the smell of brilliantined hair, cigar tobacco, and the samovar in the kitchen. This poem Imperia I shall probably never read, she thought, though there is some American poet on a Fulbright intent on translating Claussen’s work into English. In a flash of the mind’s miracle she travels to his tiny office in his Mid-West university, surrounded by the detritus of student tutorials. In blue jeans and cowboys boots Devon Whittall gazes out of his third storey window at the falling snow.
 
There is nothing in the world as quiet as snow,
when it gently descends through the air,
muffles your steps
hushes, gently hushes
the voices that speak too loud.
 
There is nothing in the world of a purity like snow's,
swan's down from the white wings of Heaven,
On your hand a flake
is like dew of tears,
White thoughts quietly tread in dance.
 
There is nothing in the world that can gentle like snow,
quietly you listen to the silent ringing.
Oh, so fine a sound,
peals of silver bells,
rings within your innermost heart.

 
And she imagines Helge Rode (his left arm still on his right shoulder) reading his poem Snow in the quiet of the winter afternoon at Ellehammersvej 20 Kastrup Copenhagen. ‘And so it goes,’ she thought, ‘this imagination, flowing on and on. When I am really old like my Grandmother (discharging herself from hospital at 103 because the food was so appalling) will my imagination continue to be as rich and capable as it is today?’
          Closing her notebook and shutting down her laptop, she removed her cat from its cushion on the table, and walked out into her garden, leaving three Danish Symbolists to their readings and deliberations.
kg  Oct 2012
brother
kg Oct 2012
he would sit in his room
and draw space ships
that could only be described
as something from star wars
or star trek

and he'd do geometry on the floor
his school books scattered
and punk music
would be playing on his
boom box

game informers stacked high
in tens and twenties
all over his bookcase
cozy against star wars
and hardy boys

the wood frame bed
simple and pure
until tainted by a name
of his first love
scratched in with passion
and heartbreak

he lied quite often
and was a sore loser
his mood usually consisted of
being short fused
and even more short fused

and then he moved
left for good
not visiting for another three years
and then three more after that
each time
he gets older
and less of the thirteen year old
i had known
when he lived
at home
Tyler Zempel Dec 2018
The Explorer

“Good evening everyone!  We are here outside the home of missing serial ****** and kidnapper, Chris Morris.
I’m here with my beautiful girlfriend Rachel and I’m sure being so close to Chris Morris’s house here on 21 Hoover Ln. is making her *******
tingle with excitement at the idea of the unknown we are walking into here.
A cop car has been parked outside the home for the past few hours now and has yet to disappear.
We have been waiting to venture inside just in case cops are inside doing another search,
but based on both long distance and short distance research
of the house and area, we are convinced no one is inside.
The house is dark, no movement has been detected so it’s time to decide,
go inside and explore, or bail and go home.
I’ve been salivating at the chance to explore this house and I’m pretty sure at the mouth I’m beginning to foam,
so inside we are about to go!
I’m your host Andrew Pittman and what we are about to find inside, well no one really knows.
What we discover will be caught on my camera for all of you guys to witness for yourselves.
We are going to video tape the secret room where Chris kept his victims locked up for his own sick ****** pleasure.
Whatever else we may document on this camera will be added treasure.
Here we go, on a grand endeavor,
to document and bring to you this dangerous and risky adventure.”

The cop car sitting outside the house still has me worried.
If a cop is inside combing through the building for evidence, he has not been in a hurry.
We have been parked waiting outside for a good three hours now and we can’t wait any longer.
What exactly are we walking into, well that’s the dilemma we currently ponder.
We approach the house cautiously remaining on our tip toes in order to remain silent and move undetected.
I look over to Rachel, she has to be as nervous as I am, but her face doesn’t look affected.
She’s smiling and in control of her emotions.
My face is a nervous wreck stuck in a monotone blank stare almost as if it is frozen.

We stop our approach at the front door and gather our wits for a moment.
I give Rachel a quick kiss in admiration of her determination, unbroken.
I place my hand on the door **** and hold my breath
as I turn the **** slowly opening the door, exposing a world that feels as if it’s plagued by the black death.
I was secretly hoping the door was going to be locked and we would have to find an alternate route inside or bail,
but I guess inside we go in risk of going to jail.

Once inside, we close the door behind us as quietly as possible to avoid detection if anyone is indeed inside.
I’m instantly hit in the gut with a feeling that someone has recently died.
The house is dark, very dark and quiet, too quiet.
Rachel grabs me on the shoulder, her face is excited.
She can’t believe we are actually inside the home of Chris Morris, no butterflies are swarming around in her stomach.
I, however, feel as if I’m standing on the edge of a mountain and am about to plummet.

I notice the bookcase in the living room still moved aside showing off the entrance to the hidden room.
We will explore there last as that will be the last scene my viewers are allowed to consume.
It will be the ****** of this film after all.
In the comments section below, you guys can debate that call.
Rachel moves ahead of me into the house and stops at the bedroom.
Her mouth drops nearly to the floor; her eyes fill with a sense of doom.
She looks my way beginning to shake, tears beginning to fall from her eyes.
She tells me that we have a problem and I can tell by the horror in her ****** expression that is no lie.

I make my way next to Rachel and look inside the bedroom.
What I witness more closely resembles a tomb.

With the camera still rolling, “What in God’s good name happened here?”

A naked man lies apparently dead on the ground.
A police uniform lies scattered on the floor; we may have found our cop that belongs to the patrol car out front.
A woman is handcuffed to the bed but is not moving.
If this was consensual or not, right now there’s no telling.

I approach the woman and touch her on the face to see if I get a response.
It only takes a few seconds for her to respond.
Her eyes shoot open in panic, she must have fallen asleep.
I’m not sure what we’ve stumbled upon, but whatever it is, it’s deep.

“Are, are you real?  Please tell me you’re real!’

“Yes, we are real.  What happened here?”

“That man on the floor is, or should I say, was a cop.
He pulled me over near the intersection of Bradberry and Hilltop.
He planted ******* on me and told me if I didn’t play along with his game that things wouldn’t end well for me.
He cuffed me and placed me in the back of his patrol car so I couldn’t flee,
then brought me here in order to **** me.
He snorted line after line after line of ******* off of my ***,
then as he began to **** me, he overdosed and died right there on the floor.
Honestly, I thought I was done for.
He died and I was handcuffed to this bed and no one had a clue anyone was even inside this godforsaken house.
If you don’t mind, can you find the keys for these cuffs and get me unchained from this bed?”

I agree to the request and take the keys for the cuffs off of the officer’s belt.
This is quite the unforeseen situation we’ve been dealt.
I take the cuffs off of the woman who gets up and hugs me for freeing her as Rachel looks on with a jealous stare at a half-naked woman hugging me.
I mouth towards her, “she’s just happy to be free.”

“So if you don’t mind me asking, what brought you two into this house in the first place?
I honestly had myself convinced I would never see another living face.”

“We are explorers who like to explore and document our adventures in abandoned or just down right creepy places,
and what’s the top place to hit up and explore right now?
Well…Chris Morris’s house!
So here we are to explore and document our findings.
Didn’t expect to find you and a dead cop here though.
We will cover up your identity in the film, just so you know.
O, and don’t call the cops and report this when you leave.
We will do that for you after we achieve
what we have come here to achieve.”

“Regardless of why you are here, I’m happy you guys showed up.
You just saved my life.
I won’t report this to the police, I’ll leave that for you to do.
This place does give me the creeps so that might be a cue
to not hang around here to **** long,
so do what you got to do and get the **** out!”

With that said, the woman departs leaving Rachel and I alone in the bedroom with a dead cop turned ******.
Time to find out just who this man is.
I locate the dead man’s wallet and take out his I.D. to identify just who he is for my future viewers.
Anthony Armstrong is the man’s name, what a loser.
I recognize the name.
He’s the cop that lead the searches of this house for both of the missing girls but was unable to find either of them each time.
He had everyone fooled thinking he had a heart of gold, instead it’s made out of slime.
The ****** wasn’t even able to locate the girls in this house when he executed the search warrants.
It took outside help for them to be located.
An anonymous tip lead to the location of the girls.
That must have been embarrassing.
And this Chris Morris guy is still missing!
He could be anywhere, even somewhere nearby, but he probably fled the country to avoid going to prison.

“Did you get that viewers?
This cop failed to located the two missing girls who were being held right here in this house, and was only able to finally locate them after an anonymous tip came in alerting the police to their location.
Then, when they arrived to save the girls, Chris was already gone and they have been unable to locate him ever since.
Police work at its finest, I’d say.”

Rachel and I, now tired of being in the same room as a dead corrupt cop, decide to finish up the adventure and check out the hidden room Chris used to keep the girl’s prisoner.
It would be nice to find some evidence pointing to Chris’s whereabouts so he’s finally able to face the executioner.

We exit the bedroom and make our way into the living room where the bookcase that hid the room is still moved exposing the hidden room for us just to walk into.
This is the moment we have all been waiting for, I hope you all enjoy the view.

We walk past the bookcase and enter into the hidden room,
where we are greeted with a nerving sense of gloom.
The room is even darker than the rest of the house.
Hanging on the wall is a skimpy school girl blouse.
The pervert was a teacher and I guess had a fetish for his students.
He probably brought them here to punish them for being truant.
Yeah I see it now, he would bring them here to punish them in hopes they would begin to show improvement,
but all he would do was leave them with their virginity’s ruined.

This room feels like a dungeon.
If I had to choose a way to die, I would have to go with being bludgeon.
I can’t imagine being ******* here, ***** and tortured for months on end.
This man’s actions, no one is able to defend.
The one poor girl gave birth to a baby just after being rescued from here.
That had to be one hell of an ordeal to endear.
After being ***** and abused for months on end,
she finally is rescued just to give birth to a baby that will remind her of her abuser for the rest of her life.
What a cruel ******* fate.
I hope one day she can find a good, loyal mate.

Rachel whispers into my ear…
o…I guess she is dead now…
murdered by the other girl who was kept here…
she was killed by the cops and is dead as well…
**** this adventure keeps getting darker as we go on.

Anyways, the room contains no windows as one would expect.
The one room has a table with straps and I swear it still smells of young ******* being wrecked.
*** toys still line the walls of the room.
I hope one day all of this is used as evidence in the courtroom.

The second room is just a chain attached to a wall.
The one girl reportedly spent many long hours chained up in here with nothing but a hard floor curled up in a ball.
She was drugged for her obedience or so the media has reported.
This is sickening, I wish there was some way it could all have been thwarted.
Chris really does need to be caught and forced to pay for his actions.
He needs to be punished in a merciless fashion.
I would love to have a few shots at him myself.
I would turn his final moments on the flat Earth into a brutal farewell.
This room, and house overall in general, really gives me the creeps.
I can’t imagine staying overnight here to sleep.
A constant, cold, nerve inducing chill crawls up and down my spine.
This place should be demolished and be covered by the local paper as their front-page headline.

Having enough footage between the dead police officer, cuffed to the bed, seminude girl and this godforsaken hidden room, I turn around to head back out of the room to leave.
I believe I accomplished everything I came here to achieve.
I stop in my tracks as standing in front of me at the entrance to the hidden room are a man and a woman.
The woman has a gun pointed directly at my head, wanting to pull the trigger I’m sure, to insert into my brain an life ending bullet.

The man speaks, “What are you two doing in this house?”

“We mean no harm, just came here to explore this house a little bit, to get a bird’s eye view of the set Chris Morris used to torture those poor girls.
This room is beyond disgusting and makes us want to hurl.
We found a dead cop in the bedroom and a young woman who was handcuffed to the bed who we released and has already called the police to come here, so I suggest we all make our way out of here before we get in real trouble.
Once the cops arrive and see their friend dead in that room, they won’t be in a mood to sit around with us to ******* and chuckle.”

The man motions to the woman to lower her gun.

“My name is Nathan and this is my friend Amanda.
We didn’t mean to startle you like this.
We got suspicious of the cop car that’s been parked out front for far too long and got suspicious after your car showed up and remained parked out front for an extended period of time now.
This isn’t a place for people to be hanging around anyhow.
We stumbled upon the dead cop as well so I suggest we do get moving and leave here immediately before trouble happens to stumble upon us.
I see you have a camera and like to video tape your explorations, so I have something I would like us to discuss.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Well, my good friend Dr. James Allen Burke is conducting the most groundbreaking experiment of his life right now as we speak and could use a camera man to capture the moment on tape.”

“James Allen Burke, I’ve heard of him!  Wasn’t he the world-famous brain doctor that was forced into retirement due to trying to conduct very controversial experiments and surgeries on people?”

“Yes, however his experiments have not stopped, he just moved them underground and out of the spot light.
He lives right next door to this house, as do I on the opposite side, so how about you come over with me and use your camera for some good?  I promise you the man won’t bite.
You will be recording an event that will rewrite the history books as we know them.
Too pass on this offer would be mighty dumb.
So, what do you say?
Will you come with us?”

I look over to Rachel who appears unsure of what we should do.
I smile and wink towards her also feeling uneasy about this since this offer just came out of the blue.
But if Nathan is right and I’ll be recording a massive historic event, I can’t pass that up.
Worst comes to worst, we will thank them for their time and leave if this turns out to be a bust.

“Ok we will come with you.”

“Great, let’s get moving!”
"Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative..."

I came home and found a lion in my living room
Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion!
Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut
I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days

Called up old Reichian analyst
who'd kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana
'It's happened' I panted 'There's a Lion in my living room'
'I'm afraid any discussion would have no value' he hung up

I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend
I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye
We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out
I ended up ******* in his jeep parked in the street moaning 'Lion.'

Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him 'Lion!'
He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries
I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn
        Ants
But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom's
        bathroom.

But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat
'I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions
But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father
        hath no lion
You said your mother was mad don't expect me to produce the Monster for
        your Bridegroom.'

Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink
        in Harlem
Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger
He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear outside
        thru the window
My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in
        deafening stillness
We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur
Waxed rhuemy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang
        greeting.
I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove
boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tup under the sink board.

He didn't eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence.
Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out
enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws
by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha.

Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten
        face
stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had
        nightmares
Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by
        Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion's flophouse circus,
I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor--'Terrible
        Presence!'I cried'Eat me or die!'

It got up that afternoon--walked to the door with its paw on the south wall to
        steady its trembling body
Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth
thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in
        Mexico
Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice "Not this time Baby--
        but I will be back again."

Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger
Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen
In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served
Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your
        Mercy.

                                        Paris, March 1958
Nigel Morgan Apr 2013
after the painting by Mary Fedden

I kept seeing her around and about, but mostly on the beach. This is a small community and after five years or so I know who everyone is, except those who visit in the summer, though I am getting to know some of the regulars. I reckon she’s my age. When she looks at me in the store, and I look at her and smile, her smile tells me these things.

I have trouble with my hair. It’s thinned and doesn’t grow quite as it should. When I was pregnant and then nursing my children it was positively luxuriant. But later, and despite medical advice (and treatment I was unsure about and abandoned) it became an embarrassment, until he reassured me (just once) and I became an ‘adored woman’. He never ever spoke of it again and loved me so wholly and beautifully I had no reason for it to matter in his company, in his arms.

But seeing her, and often on the beach, more and more regularly, seeing her with her mane of strong dark brown hair flowing behind her in the wind, I felt a curious desire for such a wealth of hair. In fact, I began to feel something stir in me that was desire of a different kind. I can’t think I had ever looked at a woman in quite that way in any previous life. It was always men I sought, I wanted.

Her name is Sara, no h, just an A at the end. She said that when I eventually introduced myself. We were walking towards each other, barefoot both on that glistening skin of water the sea creates between the tides coming and going. It was about midday and I was, I was thinking and walking. I do this now. I don’t bring my sketchbook, I don’t look everywhere I can and more so, I have begun to retreat into my most private self. Perhaps it’s my age and so many years of feeling I had to be wholly attentive and active. Being in this remote place, almost permanently, has slowed me down, and I have begun to dream, to see beyond what I usually would have seen moment to moment. I’ve been re-reading the prose and poetry of Kathleen Raine, who understood this sea-swept place and was haunted by its ghosts, and who dreamed.

Never, never, again
This moment, never
These slow ripples
Across smooth water,
Never again these
Clouds white and grey
In sky crystalline
Blue as the tern’s cry
Shrill in the light air
Salt from the ocean,
Sweet from flowers

Oh yes,  
‘the sun that rose this morning from the sea will never return . . .’* I have become a watcher, no longer an observer. I put my camera away last winter and now hold moments in my memory. Here I can sketch. I can have all the time I need, and more. And I knew when I began to talk to Sara I wanted beyond anything else to sketch her, to know her line by line with the pen, and later bring the texture of her into paint.

Painting is where I am now. It’s direct, mesmeric, challenging, wholly absorbing. My needles and thread only deal with our clothes, my clever printing and collaging lies dormant in my studio, a studio I rarely enter now. I have a room upstairs in the loft that is all light and sky. There’s just an easel, a table, a chair, a small bookcase, a trolley-thing of paints and brushes. Even that’s too much. I always collected things around me. I brought so much in from outside and now I’m trying, trying to have as little as possible. This is where I will paint Sara. I’m already thinking this as we take the first tentative steps towards knowing one another. Names, where we live, (we both know). Partners, family, children? I have all this, but not here, only my companion, my love who caresses me with such care and attention. There are my cats and my hens. She has no one, or rather she talks of no one. She asks the questions and avoids giving answers. She just nods and doesn’t answer. Otherwise, she’s a straight yes / no person. She doesn’t feel she has to qualify anything.

We’re standing together. We’re intent on looking at each other. Words seem a little unnecessary because what we both want to do is look. ‘I can tell you paint’, she says, ‘It’s your finger nails’. My perfect nails and the pads of my fingers hold the evidence of a morning at my easel. ‘I have seen your work’, she says, ‘One could hardly not. You’re well known beyond these shores.’ I feel myself blushing slightly. I thought blushing had stopped with the menopause, not that it troubled me much, the menopause that is. Blushing though was a torturous part of my adolescence, but let’s not go into that.

‘Your husband,’ she says, ‘he’s up very early. I see him sometimes here, on the beach.’
‘Do you get up at five?’ I am surprised. My husband gets up before five.
‘Sleep is difficult sometimes. I walk a lot. I need to be out, and walk.’

Her face, her head is larger than mine. She is a larger woman altogether, bigger *****, long-legged, but with youthful ******* that seem taut and well-rounded under her brown frock, no, her brown dress. I only think frock because that’s what he says – ‘I love that frock.’ And he means usually whatever I am wearing now that’s old and rich in memories of his hands knowing me through a dress, sorry a frock, which remains for me (and possibly for him) the most sensuous of sensations, still. Au nature has its place, and I love the rub of his skin and body hair. But when we are lovers, and we are still lovers and usually when travelling, in hotel rooms or borrowed cottages, or visiting friends and dare I say it, staying with our various children. Last autumn in Venice, in this large, amazing marble-tiled room, with this huge bed, he undressed me in front of a window opening onto our own terrace, and I was beside myself with passion, desire, oh all those wonderful things. And for months afterwards I would return to that early evening, remembering the lights coming on all over the watered city as he kissed and stroked and brushed my body through my Gudrun Sjödén frock. I would replay, find again over and over, those exquisite moments of such joyful touching as he then undressed me, and with such care and tenderness I felt myself crying out. Well, he says I did. In one of his poems (for your eyes only, he had whispered) he admits to his own celebration of those moments again, again.

Sara’s dress is calf-length. There’s nothing else. As the breeze wraps itself around the loose-fitting brown cotton her naked figure is revealed inside itself. No ring, no jewellery, nothing to hold her hair now flowing behind her. She has positioned herself so it does; flow out behind her. This is so strange. Am I dreaming this? We have become silent and together look in silence at the sea. I can hear her short breathes. She turns to me with a smile and looks straight into my eyes – and says nothing – and then walks backward a few steps – still with her warm smile – turns and walks away.

I tell him I met Sara today and ask if he sees her on the beach in the early mornings. Yes, he has, in the distance, mostly. He has said good morning to her on a few occasions, but she has smiled and said nothing. Five o’clock is far too early to say anything, he says. She swims occasionally. I keep my distance, he says with a grin.

I tell him I would like to paint her. I should, he says, You should go and ask her, do it, get it done and out of your system. It’s time you stopped being afraid of the face, the portrait, the figurative. I’d give so much to have been able to paint you, he says ruefully, my darling, my dearest. And he strokes my arm, kisses my cheek, then, he slowly and carefully kneels down beside my chair, places his arm across the top of my thighs so when I bend to kiss him his bare forearm touches the edge of my *******. He puts his head in my lap, and I caress his ears, his quite white hair.

Sara’s door is open. She’s living in Ralph’s cottage, a summer-let habitable (just) in the nearly autumn time it is. I call, ‘Sara, it’s me’, thinking she’ll recognize my voice, not wishing to say my name. She appears at the door. ‘I have the kettle on, she says, ‘I had a feeling you might be by.’ Her accent is, like mine, un-regional, carefully articulated, a Welsh tinge perhaps. There’s an uplift and a slowness in some of the vowels. ‘You will come in’, she says, more a statement than a question. It’s rather dark inside. There’s a reading lamp on, but she has the chair, her chair, close by the window. There are letters being written. There are books. Not Ralph’s, but what she has brought with her. Normally, I would be hopelessly inquisitive, but I can’t stop myself looking at her, wondering even now, in these first few moments in this dark room, how I will position her to paint her form, her face, her nature. What will I paint? I look at her still-bare feet, her large hands.

And so, with mugs of tea, Indian tea I don’t drink, but here, as her guest I do, but without milk, we sit, I on the only other chair (from the kitchen) she on the floor. And she watches me look about, and look at her.

‘I’m rather done with talking, with polite conversation. That’s why I’m here to be done with all that for a while.’
‘I came to ask you to sit for me. To let me draw you, paint you even. You can be completely quiet. I won’t say a word. I’ve never, ever asked anyone to sit for me. I’m not that sort of painter. But when I saw you on the beach it was the first thing that came into my head.’
‘I should be flattered. Though I have sat for artists before, when I was a little younger,’ surprisingly she mentions two names I know, both women. ‘I know how to be still. But, those are days in a different life.’
‘I only want to paint you in the life you have now.’ And I realise then that what I want to paint was Sara’s ‘aloneness’. I think then I have never been truly alone since he came into my life and took any loneliness I had from me. Whenever we are apart, and still there are times, he writes to me the tenderest letters, the most touching poems, he quotes his Chinese favourites down the telephone. We always, always speak to each other before bed, even when we are on different continents and time-zones. He told me I was always his last thought before sleep. And I wonder if I would be his last thought . . .

‘Do you want to do this formally?, said Sara.
‘I don’t know. Yet. I’d like to draw you first, be with you for a little while, perhaps to walk. A little while at a time. Whatever might suit you.’
‘Would you pay me? I have little money. It would be useful.’
‘Of course’, I say this directly, having no idea about what one pays a model. He will know though. He knew Paula Rego and didn’t she have a female model? I think of those large full-length figures rendered in pastels. Her model’s name was Lila, who for more than 25 years, had sat for her, stood for her, crouched for her, hour after hour and day after day. I remember a newspaper piece that went something like this: since 1985 Lila has helped to give life, in paint, and pastel, and charcoal, to the characters in Paula Rego's head. Lila was all Paula Rego’s women.

‘Sara’, I said, ‘help me please. It’s taken more than a little courage to come to see you, to ask you. My husband says I should do this, finally get myself painting the person, the face, body, not as some exercise in a life class, but the real thing.’
‘Of course’, she says, ‘Let’s go and walk to the point.’

And we did. Not saying very much at all, but I suppose I did. She made me talk and gradually I laid my life out in front of her, and not the life she would have found in those glossy monographs and catalogue introductions, and God forbid, not in those media features and interviews that I suppose have made me a name I’d always dreamed of becoming, and now could do without.

‘I suppose you have a studio’, she said suddenly, ‘Is that where you’d want me to come?’
‘Yes, I have a studio. No, I don’t think I want you to come there. Not at first anyway.’ I was floundering. ‘ I’d like to draw you, paint you possibly on the beach, where we met, so there would be sea and sky and breeze blowing your hair.’
‘And a steamer out on the horizon belching smoke from its funnel and the sea blowing white horses and dancing about. I’d be right by the seastrand with waves and spray and foam, and under a greyish sky. Not a sunny day. A breezy day. In my brown dress, sitting on the sand by the tide marks, looking out to sea, looking at the steamer away in the distance, sitting with my left hand behind me holding myself up, and the shape of my legs akimbo bent slightly under my brown dress. How would that be?’
‘Perfect’, I said.

And it was.
I always thought throwing out books was sacrilegious. You were supposed to pick them up gently by their worn sleeves and carry them home to roost forever on sleepy shelves. To then shoo them out into the cold, in their tattered jackets? Unfeeling, to abandon an orphan like that.

But I recently steeled myself to the task of getting rid of some books and found myself surprised by how easy it was. I was sheltering books regardless of merit (or merit in my eyes anyway – and it’s my house so my eyes that count) and offering them unconditional shelf space. I had a vast collection of awful, one-read crime books. I had ghastly chick lit charity shop smash-and-grabs, from desperate days of long, comfortless commutes. I had books that no one else wanted, that I picked up because I felt sorry for them.

But I feel happy with them gone. They were like sickly relatives who linger over-long. Their languishing was up, and they knew it. Now my books – MY books – all fit nicely on my bookcase.

They are sorted not by title, not by author, not even by genre. They’re organised by how they make me feel. White Oleander sits next to Fuel Injected Dreams because they call to the part of me that lives in Echo Park and drives a ’69 Camaro with holes in the floor. My Series of Unfortunate Events books live with the Sally Lockhart series – both sets conjuring ***** dens, freak shows and gas-lit streets for me, despite being children’s books.

So my bookcase is no longer a rambling orphanage full of trapdoors and ladders. It’s a carefully curated archive; a many-paged history of the building of me.
This is not a poem. I rarely write poems these days. I would say this is the same as a pianist sitting down at the keyboard because they have a little time and they can see blue sky out of the window. An essay, or an exercise. A stretching of the fingers.
Dan Filcek Apr 2015
controlled intellectual tolerance,
considered Golden Age,
became first exchange, wars took their toll
turning point called second Age.
seaside expanding new suburbs
food shortage, riots, rooms had fallen
city invaded, concentration camps
some lived, one girl died, bookcase covered
scarce citizens, countryside foraged
spaces provided improved conditions
restoring entire city
city centre has reattained former splendor
buildings have become new millennium,
flat man is city inhabitant
city limits of foreign origin,
large wave settled asylum seekers
social projects make up the population
eight windmills summarizes open society,
increased influx has strained nationalities,
widest varieties share immigrant ancestry
city centre forms the foundation
Canal boats most popular
million visitors flood inhabitants, travel freely through
only staying for illuminated red lights.
This year for Poetry Month, I decided to post a "found poem" every day. If writing a poem is like painting, a "found poem" is like sculpting. source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam
Terry Collett Jan 2013
In your granddad’s bookcase
was a book you liked
with a blue hardback cover
with German warplane

pictures in it
and you loved to study
the photographs
even though

the words
were too big
or long
for you to read

and on that Sunday
you sat
while the parents talked
and studied

the bookcase
hoping your granddad
would get it out for you
if he saw you

looking that way
long enough
but the parents talked
and the grandparents

listened or talked too
and the book stayed put
in the bookcase
and you stared

and counted the books
on either side
taking in
the various colours

and sizes
on the shelves above
and below
and how neat

they were placed
and tidy
and well polished
it all was

but the book
kind of attracted you
with its German warplanes
with the Swastikas

on the wings and sides
and some pictures
had Spitfires
and Lancaster bombers

with red white and blue
on the sides and wings
but that Sunday
Granddad didn’t

get out the book
and hand it to you.

— The End —