JINGLE ON MY SON!

JINGLE ON MY SON!

27.2.18

WHITLEY BAY: POEMS BY DR KEITH ARMSTRONG































FRIENDS OF ST. MARY’S ISLAND

Around the low water mark,
kelp beds grow.
Network of rockpools,
boulder shore.

Long-legged bar-tailed godwit,
expert
at finding
mud and sand-living worms.

Seabed of rocky reefs,
shipwrecks dived within and around.
Wrasse and lumpsucker.
Seashore Code.

Remembered rambles,
geology jaunts.
Soft coral communities.
Relic dunes.


 

KEITH ARMSTRONG


THE BEACON
 

A St. Mary’s Light
incandescent
with rage.
A three ton lens,
balanced
on a trough of mercury,
kept revolving,
round the gas mantle,
by a simple pendulum
wound up
on the hour.
A climb
up 137 steps,
inside the 120 foot tower,
a hiss of flame,
clamping
of a prism
constantly
turning.
Since medieval times,
across the ocean fields,
this beacon
has burned,
blinking
on the drink.
Years sailed by,
memories
of shipwrecks,
of Russian soldiers
cholera-wracked
in 1799,
of the ‘Gothenburg City’
and rats with chewed tails.
These heartbreaking waves,
the illumination
of shafts of history:
the rays
and days
of a shining Empire
sunk.



KEITH ARMSTRONG



GARCIA LORCA IN WHITLEY BAY

"I’ve come to devour your mouth
and dry you off by the hair
into the seashells of daybreak."
(Federico Garcia Lorca)

In the rotunda,
your voice lashes out at war.
You
sing
on the crests of the girls,
streaming up the Esplanade.
You
scream under a parasol of gulls,
skimming through the fairground,
on a mission to strangle
flying fish.
Haunting poetry
in the dead ghost train,
the palms of the fortune-tellers,
dust.

Lorca in a broken-down ghost town,
scattering your petals:
Garcia up against the wall
of last night,
eyes shot;
blood from the evening sky,
dripping down an ice cream cone,
down a sweet lass’s blouse.

Saw you on the Metro, Federico,
saw you in Woolworth’s.
Saw you in the crematorium,
on Feather’s caravan site.
Saw you drown
in a sea of lyrical beauty.

Lorca,
like Community,
you are gone;
ideals
torn into coastal shreds.

Still shells
glisten,
lips on the beach
ready
for kissing again
ready
for the re-launch
of childish dreams,                                                            
sticky

with candy floss
and cuckoo spit.
                                                                                              



KEITH ARMSTRONG
The Spanish City, Whitley Bay.
                                                                                                                   
 

LIKE THE SPANISH CITY


The days have gone;
the laughter and shrieks
blown away.
We have all grown up,
left old Catalonian dreams
and the blazing seaside bullfights.
We are dazed,
phased out.
Spaces where we courted
bulldozed
to make way
for the tack of tomorrow;
the hope in the sea breeze;
the distant echo of castanets
and voices scraping
in a dusty rotunda.
I remember where I kissed you,
where I lost you.
It was in Spain, wasn’t it?
Or was it down the Esplanade
on a wet Sunday in July?
Either way,
we are still
twinned with sunny Whitley Bay,
and flaming Barcelona too;
and our lives
will dance in fading photographs
from the pleasure dome,
whenever we leave home.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

22.2.18

FALLING IN LOVE IN THE CAFE PICCOLO

 



























I am crouched over my sparkling glass
waiting for the sunshine to come through
to join me on a winter’s day in Tuebingen,
for a leaf to fly through the door
and show me its intricate patterns
in my penetrating stare,
to skip and dance
and float away

like me
in a trance
in a delicate romance,
a rush of poems,
a sudden surge of booklets
in my travelling bag,
a dream packed into a KLM briefcase;
the tightness of a blue skirt,
the glance of a flashing winged eye
heading towards me,
threatening to make love to me,
to blow away this dark news
pushing its way into my anxious face
from a complete stranger’s daily paper.

And Juergen is rocking tonight in a corner,
sharing his energy with the moon
and I have the smell of a coffee on my sleeve,
the evil taste of last night’s schnapps
on this stooped boy’s lips,
the hysterical melancholy that only Tuebingen brings me;
along the cobbled path outside the Piccolo window
prances chance
and that girl I’ll never ever know
teasing the slipping tears into my scribbles,
her picture forever in my twitching English heart

saying:

‘Ciao!
I’m never really going to leave this town.’

A delicate grip
on reality.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

Tuebingen,
November 2017.

21.2.18

DAWN CHORUS, CORRENSSTRASSE 45






























Last night’s red wine,
thrown to excess
down the throat
of this flowing town,
throbs in my startling veins
as a thousand blackbirds
ring in the early hours
with a cathedral of singing bells
rising though the green mist
of these fertile hills.
Careering down
Tuebingen’s stooped lanes,
I want to scream
wild hymns
for Johannes Kepler,
throw open
the window of my heart,
let dreams spin
completely
out of control,
making love on the morning’s wing.
For I am a singer too,
sending my lyrics
across an outstretched Germany,
my wet lips seeking
those of distant lovers
waking like me
in a strange and thrilling land,
full of soaring music,
full of blackbirds
lush 
with song.


                                                                           

KEITH ARMSTRONG

20.2.18

NEWCASTLE: A POETIC STROLL WITH DR KEITH ARMSTRONG


































I WILL SING OF MY OWN NEWCASTLE


sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night
 
sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence

sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind


KEITH ARMSTRONG

(as featured on BBC Radio 4)







WILLIAM BLAKE IN THE BRIDGE HOTEL


A few pints of Deuchars and my spirit is soaring.

The child dances out of me,

goes running down to the Tyne,

while the little man in me wrestles with a lass

and William Blake beams all his innocence in my glass.

And the old experience sweats from a castle’s bricks

as another local prophet takes a jump off the bridge.



It’s the spirit of Pat Foley and the ancient brigade

on the loose down the Quayside stairs

in a futile search,

just a step in the past,

for one last revolutionary song.



All the jars we have supped

in the hope of a change;

all the flirting and courting and chancing downstream;

all the words in the air and the luck pissed away.

It seems we oldies are running back

screaming to the Bewick days,

when a man could down a politicised quip

and craft a civilised chat

before he fed the birds

in the Churchyard.



The cultural ships are fair steaming in

but it’s all stripped of meaning -

the Councillors wade

in the shallow end.



O Blake! buy me a pint in the Bridge again,

let it shiver with sunlight

through all the stained windows,

make my wit sparkle

and my knees buckle.



Set me free of this stifling age

when the bland are back in charge.

Let us grow our golden hair wild once more

and roar like Tygers

down Dog Leap Stairs.






KEITH ARMSTRONG





GRAINGER MARKET

 

(1)

A city
within a city

light cage

bazaar and blind
these swollen alleys


flow with a teeming life’s blood

Geordie  !

Swim for your life  !




(2)

this is life
the gloss and the flesh
weigh-house of passion and flame

you can get lost in this market’s amazement
but you can never lose yourself

sometimes
a sleep-walk in these grazing crowds
can feel like a stroll through your brain





 

MAUD WATSON, FLORIST





bred in a market arch

a struggle

in a city’s armpit



that flower

in your time-rough hand’s

a beautiful girl in a slum alley



all that kindness in your face



and you’re right



the time are not what they were

this England’s not what it was



flowers shrink in the crumbling vase

dusk creeps in on a cart



and Maud the sun is choking



Maud this island’s sinking



and all that sleeping sea is



the silent majority



waving









Keith Armstrong




GREY’S MONUMENT

 

Grey –
this man and his brain’s conception,
clasped in stone.
Disdainful figure
raised
on a firm dry finger;
proud-stiff
above a time-bent avenue of dwindling lights.

The Earl’s pale forehead is cool and cloudy;
unblinking,
he views us all (as we view him)
in the same old, cold, way –
through the wrong end of a battered telescope,
through the dusty lens of history.

Strip away the tinsel
and this city’s heart is stone.



Keith Armstrong





BLACK GATE


Black Gate,
an oxter of history,
reaches for me
with a stubby finger,
invites me into Old Newcastle,
its vital cast
of craggy characters,
Garth urchins,
dancing blades
and reeling lasses.
Black Gate,
I can read
the lines
on your brow,
the very grit
on your timelined walls,
the furrowed path
down the Geordie lane
where Alexander Stephenson stoops
to let me in
and the merchant Patrick Black
still trades in memories.
Once
there was a tavern
inside you,
that’s why
the bricks cackle
and the windows creak
with the crack of old ale
and the redundant patter
of publican John Pickell.
Black Gate,
you could say
my childhood is in your stones,
my mother and father figures,
my river
of drifting years,
waiting to greet me.
Hoist up your drawbridge,
in the startling chill
of a Tyne dawn,
this boy is with you
and with himself
in this home city
of old bones,
new blood
and dripping dreams.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

*The Black Gate is named after the seventeenth century merchant Patrick Black.





CASTLE KEEP


Keep,
this history by the river.
Keep,
the stairway to the past.
Keep,
the memories singing folk songs.
Keep,
the cobbles wet with blood.
Keep,
those ballads down the centuries.
Keep,
the ancient voices in your head.
Keep,
these stones alive with music.
Keep,
the wind howling in the brick.
Keep
the days that speed our lives.
Keep,
the rails to guide you there.
Keep,
the people that you meet.
Keep,
the children's faces dancing.
Keep,
the devil in your fleeting eyes.
Keep,
the bridges multiplying.
Keep,
the moon upon the Tyne.
Keep,
the flag of lovers flying.
Keep,
your feet still
Geordie hinny.


 

KEITH ARMSTRONG

THE SUN ON DANBY GARDENS


The sun on Danby Gardens
smells of roast beef,
tastes of my youth.
The flying cinders of a steam train
spark in my dreams.
Across the old field,
a miner breaks his back
and lovers roll in the ditches,
off beaten tracks.
Off Bigges Main,
my grandad taps his stick,
reaches for the braille of long-dead strikes.
The nights
fair draw in
and I recall Joyce Esthella Antoinette Giles
and her legs that reached for miles,
tripping over the stiles
in red high heels.
It was her and blonde Annie Walker
who took me in the stacks
and taught me how to read
the signs
that led inside their thighs.
Those Ravenswood girls
would dance into your life
and dance though all the snow drops
of those freezing winters,
in the playground of young scars.
And I remember freckled Pete
who taught me Jazz,
who pointed me to Charlie Parker
and the edgy bitterness of Brown Ale.
Mrs Todd next door
was forever sweeping
leaves along the garden path
her fallen husband loved to tread.
Such days:
the smoke of A4 Pacifics in the aftermath of war,
the trail of local history on the birthmarked street.
And I have loved you all my life
and will no doubt die in Danby Gardens
where all my poems were born,
just after midnight.


 

KEITH ARMSTRONG



NEWCASTLE IS PICARDY
































 





Grainger Street hums
and bakes
in the peeling sunshine;
this walled, world weary city
adopts a certain Latin glow:
car drivers swear more brilliantly,
girls giggle louder
and trap my eyes
in the flash
of their hair.
The world is simply
passing us by.
And who cares,
in this haze
of a burning Empire?
So long as
the sunbeams 
swim
in our beer
and the roses
are blooming
in Picardy.


Keith Armstrong

17.2.18

AND PIGS MIGHT FLY






























(for Helmut Bugl)


On this evening flight,
necks stuck out,
we dart in formation
to a Stuttgart dream.
Complete strangers,
we share a common French wine
to celebrate clouds.
With your rough words,
you ask me what I do.
“Write poetry”, I say,
and sign away a verse or two for you,
hovering in mid-air, between snow and sun.
“And you?” “I breed pigs I do”,
flying home from a swine seminar in Montreal.
To prove it, you sign me a photo of six of your litter,
the Swabian breed of Helmut Bugl.
It’s a flying cultural exchange,
a rhyme for a slice of time.
The stars are sizzling in the thrilling sky
and, tonight, pigs might fly.
Tonight, pigs might fly.





Keith Armstrong




‘PIGS MIGHT FLY’ – KEITH ARMSTRONG COCKS A SNOOK AT POETRY READINGS

Not long ago, I was on a flight to Stuttgart on my way to give a poetry reading in Tuebingen, Durham’s twin-town.  Normally, I’m not given to chatting to strangers on aeroplanes, it’s calculated to be strained and, above all, boring.  This time was an exception – I got talking to a pig farmer.
Helmut Bugl was his name and he was on his way home from a ‘swine-seminar’ in Montreal.  Over a glass of wine or two, he asked me my role in life.  Being in the mood, I responded ‘Poet’.  And it turned out that he lived just up the road from one of the English lecturers I knew at Tuebingen University.
Helmut invited me for an ‘English’ breakfast so it was the least I could do to autograph one of my poetry book (‘Dreaming North’) for him, hovering in mid-air as we were.  Feeling the need to reciprocate, brother Bugl reached into a pocket and drew out a photo of six of his litter, which he promptly signed on the reverse.  I still treasure it.
The plane duly landed and we waved goodbye as a pretty lady friend drove me off to pretty Tuebingen.
Naturally, I got a poem out of all this.  The title (you’ve guessed it!): ‘Pigs Might Fly’.  I hadn’t the time to take up Helmut’s offer of breakfast as it turned out but, once home, I popped a copy of the poem in the post to him.  I never heard back from him.
Until, that is, a trip to Tuebingen one July.  I was performing with the North East folk-singer Jez Lowe at the University’s English Club, a gig arranged by the English lecturer referred to above.  Whilst I was nervously getting my act together in the seminar room, a character bounded towards me in a suit, firm hand extended in greeting.  After an awkward pause, the pfennig dropped.  Yes, it was Helmut Bugl, pig farmer, come to hear me read.
Naturally, I delivered ‘Pigs Might Fly’ to our special ‘guest of honour’.
It had all come nicely full circle!
I’ve recounted this little anecdote in some detail because it raises some interesting points about ‘poetry’ in this country and attitudes towards it. It pleased me, indeed inspired me, to make contact with Helmut Bugl.  After all, you don’t get many pig farmers at Newcastle’s Morden Tower these days!  And, so far as I know, the Arts Council isn’t issuing bacon and egg breakfasts to deserving writers!  Perhaps because they’re mostly vegetarians, I don’t know.
For the truth is most poetry is most boring to most people.  It doesn’t very often strike a chord with their lives.  And a poetry reading isn’t their idea of a night out. 

I have fond memories of being physically ejected from a ‘New Generation’ reading at Newcastle’s Bridge Hotel by a smooth-talking steward from Bloodaxe for muttering dark thoughts at the bar during a mumbled reading by a ‘New Generation Poet’.  Maybe this happening livened up the show.  It certainly needed a kick from somewhere.  In fact, I once heard from a reliable source within the sanctum of  the Arts Council that such incidents have become known on ‘the scene’ as ‘that Keith Armstrong moment’!
The idea that ordinary/real people are going to sit on their butts for up to two hours to hear an indistinct reader render incomprehensible verse from inside a book is scarcely credible.  Especially when ‘SILENCE’ is the order of the day, when there is no space for dispute or discussion and, above all, no music and very little booze.  One must, apparently, revere the mumbling poet and the imprecise wisdoms and insights they are supposedly imparting.  Strictly no heckling and certainly no instinctive behaviour!
Of course, it’s not always like this.  I remember, for example, helping to organise a reading by the Russian poet Yevtushenko at a packed Mining Institute in Newcastle during the seventies.  His passionate rendition was memorable.  I’ve also heard the reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, Scots writers Liz Lochhead and Edwin Morgan and, of course, the great Adrian Mitchell, put it across with real verve.  And I’ve enjoyed the humour of our own shipyard poet ‘Ripyard Cuddling’ and Wallsend’s ‘Herbert Mangle’.  I’ve even seen an Edinburgh poet read whilst standing on his head! Yes, poetry readings can be memorable.  

I recall being in Iceland with fellow poet Peter Mortimer during the Cod War and hitting the headlines there with my treasonous poem ‘Cod Save The Queen’!  I love poetry when it connects with everyday life, when it is song-like and echoes the lyricism you sometimes hear in pub conversations.  Gone, I hope, are the days of the egg-head poet reading only to fellow poets.  Let’s celebrate the music of words, the flow of wine and good conversation.
Let our poetry dance!
Back to the seventies.  I’m with the Tyneside Poets in Elsinor, Denmark.  The poetry evening’s wearing on as only poetry evenings can.  ‘Cullercoats’ Mike Wilkin is on stage.  The organiser’s worried that we’ll miss the last ferry back to Sweden.  ‘Please finish now!’ he shouts to Mike.  ‘Poets do not have watches,’ comes the response.  ‘But if you don’t finish now we’ll miss the last ferry home.’ ‘In that case, I’ll finish,’ says ‘the poet’, sobering up somewhat! Yes, even poetry has its limits!
Once in Georgia at the ‘Palace of Culture’ in a provincial steel town, after much wine, I swapped shirts with a well-built worker-writer.  His shirt was like a tent on me, and he couldn’t fasten the buttons on mine.  But what a great night out it was! :
‘Last night we swapped our shirts.
They didn’t fit our bodies too well,
But they fitted our mood exactly.’
Now that’s the spirit!  As an ‘Old Generation’ poet, I remember launching a booklet called ‘Giving Blood’, with blood dripping from my upper lip, having been attacked by another poet before my reading!
Those were the days! Poets for the Revolution! Maybe they’ll come back? Yes – and ‘Pigs Might Fly’!
   
                           

Keith Armstrong 


FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE PIG MUSEUM IN STUTTGART!:
http://www.schweinemuseum.de/ 

16.2.18

DOCTOR ARMSTRONG'S TUEBINGEN POETRY TOUR!





































photos: otto buchegger & christoph melchers





GIRL IN HOLZMARKT
(for Susanne, from a photograph)

Near Heckenhauer’s snoozing bookshop,
where Hesse once shelved poems,
you are standing
frail,
arms crossed lightly
in the pouring sun.
Your fine cheekbones
in shadow,
drenched face
in thought,
you listen deeply
to the bright street-harpist
plucking music from the day.
Your hair is flowing
black in the fine afternoon;
you are obviously a thinker,
fragile as a cloud;
withdrawn you are
yet still stand out
in this basking, strolling, crowd:
I think your name is Susanne
and I see your skin is milky;
and I wonder,
twelve years on,
where you have gone.
I sense
that you’ll have babies,
they are plainly in blue eyes,
and, in that filmic moment,
you do look beautiful to me:
a precious one, you’re trapped
in this snapshot album,
delicate
in not knowing
that the wall has been
pulled down.

 

                                                                            
KEITH ARMSTRONG






WOODEN HEART: A NEW SONG IN THE MORNING FOR PHILIPP FRIEDRICH SILCHER  (1789-1860)*

Through an arch of towering plane trees,
I reach to touch the hips
of an upright Swabian girl,
her lips
fresh with strawberries
from a breakfast bowl of kisses
sprinkled with sugar
and yesterday’s cream.
The birds of the Platanenallee
fly on the wings of melancholy,
the breeze of history
scenting their songs.
It dawns on me
that the rain
will lash against our faces
as we push our way
through the saluting wood.
The day is crumbling already
around us
with the leaves memorably
crunching under our futile tread.
Half way along the soaking avenue,
the sun like a song
sparkles in my eyes
and lights my last hours
with the beauty of skies.
And suddenly
you are there
your lump of a statue
bursting though the leaves,
a kind of terrible stone
trapping your crumbling tunes
inside rock.
To take a frail life
and carve it into something immortal
is a folly as well as a tribute
to the hypocrisy of pompous little leaders
seeking to employ music
for their brutal ends.
So I say
and so we sing
of beautiful glances
and military funerals
of dead songbirds
in the path of bullets.
I climb in spirit
to reach the flesh of this lovely girl,
for a moment
I am happy and then it is gone
behind the clouds of war.
And this is for you Friedrich
from my fluttering heart
in a sea of shaking branches,
reaching out
for humanity
to triumph
over the horror
of the mundane,
a gift of a song for you,
a lovely glass of wine
as the armies march again
into the blind alley
of a bleak despair:

Can't you see
I love you?
Please don't break my heart in two,
That's not hard to do,
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.
And if you say goodbye,
Then I know that I would cry,
Maybe I would die,
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.

There's no strings upon this love of mine,
It was always you from the start.
Treat me nice,
Treat me good,
Treat me like you really should,
'Cause I'm not made of wood,
And I don't have a wooden heart.

Muss i denn, muss i denn
Zum Staedtele hinaus,
Staedtele hinaus,
Und du, mein schat, bleibst hier?

Muss i denn, muss i denn
Zum Staedtele hinaus,
Staedtele hinaus,
Und du, mein schat, bleibst hier?
(Got to go, got to go,
Got to leave this town,
Leave this town
And you, my dear, stay here?).

There’s no strings upon this love of mine,
It was always you from the start,
Sei mir gut,
Sei mir gut,
Sei mir wie du wirklich sollst,
Wie du wirklich sollst,
(Treat me nice,
Treat me good,
Treat me like you really should,
Like you really should),
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.

 


KEITH ARMSTRONG

*Swabian musician Philipp Friedrich Silcher originally composed the tune, based on a folk lyric, used in the pop song ‘Wooden Heart’. His statue by Wilhelm Julius Frick (1884-1964), erected in 1941, is in Tuebingen by the River Neckar.








UNDER THE TREE: A LULLABY IN STORMY TIMES

(in memory of Ottilie Wildermuth, 1817-1877)

In the ‘Seufzerwäldchen’ (Small Forest of Sighs), at the end of the avenue, is the memorial for the writer Ottilie Wildermuth, the only memorial in Tübingen dedicated to a woman.

Even if thunder rolls,
lightning quivers,
may my little child
fall quietly asleep......

May the little bell sound for me
a quiet peal of funeral bells
when I lay to rest
my brief happiness.



Under the tree,
reading Theory of Colours.
Under the tree,
the light in her hair.

Under the tree,
the birds bathe in dust.
Under the tree,
Otto is breathing.

Under the tree,
the bells in the sun.
Under the tree,
her eyes flash at me.

Under the tree,
her young hips sway.
Under the tree,
sipping days.

Under the tree,
news is poor.
Under the tree,
there is wine.

Under the tree,
no bullets.
Under the tree,
my heart singing.

Under the tree,
Tuebingen lives.
Under the tree,
Tuebingen groans.

Under the tree,
I see for miles.
Under the tree,
I float on the clouds.

Under the tree,
blackbird’s throbbing.
Under the tree,
love life.

Under the tree,
this poem.
Under the tree,
I can sigh.

Under the tree,
feel a moment.
Under the tree,
beauty.

Under the tree,
sense the pity.
Under the tree,
touch this city.
 

Under the tree,
find distance.
Under the tree,
miles away.

Under the tree,
thinking of you.
Under the tree,
learning Goethe.

Under the tree,
drenched in years.
Under the tree,
drunk
forever.



KEITH ARMSTRONG
 




ELEPHANTS IN TUEBINGEN


Such a postwar circus,
swill of pigs and drawn out cold war,
the bleeding never stops.
Under the straw,
the claw of a miserable history
grabs down the years
at the young who are innocent
of all the butchery and whoredom.
Imperial Germany is a fagged out colonial office,
a sweating prison
of bashed up ideals,
a broken clock
covered in ticks and leeches.

The animals have escaped
and invade the Market Place.
Elephants sup at Neptune’s old fountain,
spurt out the foam of stagnant days,
trunks curling to taste the Neckar water.

This Tuebingen is a surreal pantomime:
barmaids swing from ceilings,
policemen hang from their teeth.
Frau Binder throws them buns.

And our Max Planck is a dream inventor.
Some boffin of his crosses a peach with a tulip,
the genetics of a bayonet in a breast.
The menagerie moves on to the Castle,
a giraffe nibbles at a church.
The sun gnaws at the clouds.

Like a clown,
I leap to down beer.
And a hideously sweet lady cracks a whip
and flashes her milky thigh at me.
It is no good.
I cannot raise a glassy smile anymore.
This circus is a tragedy.
The animals are sad
and rotten
with the stink of carnage,
seeping
from your television screens.



KEITH ARMSTRONG


 

I LOVE THE LIGHT IN TUEBINGEN

I love the light
in Tuebingen
streaming down Marktgasse,
flooding in my beautiful blue eyes.

In this light,
I see
the good times
I have dwelt in here
over the bowling years:

the chemistry of Goethe,
the love of books
and poetry that sings
with the joyous swifts,
screeches with
the very pain of life.

This town
casts a glow
in me,
throws me lifelines
to write with,
fishing for ideas
in the sweeping river:

boats
of finished pamphlets
nodding at me
in the sunshine.

I love the light
in Tuebingen
streaming down Marktgasse,
flooding in my beautiful blue eyes.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

14.2.18

NIGHTJARS AND THEIR ALLIES












































LAS ZUMAYAS Y SUS ALIADAS
 

(Autor: Keith Armstrong; Traducción: Javier Aldabalde & Marcelo De Maio)

​​
(Para K).


Las zumayas y sus aliadas

se posan en el bosque esta noche

soñando con noches salvajes,

una oportunidad de cantar en el vuelo titilante.

Y tú mi hechicera de pelo oscuro

podrías retorcerte desnuda en una cama de plumas

mientras mis manos persiguen

las cimas de tu inmensa dicha

que desborda entre los árboles trémulos.

Porque eres oscura,

de cola de seda

y blancas alas;

eres mi zumaya europea

que trina mientras te hago

brotar en escalofríos de luz de luna.

Dorada y de garganta blanca,

estrellada y de hombros negros

extiendes tus alas alrededor mío,

envuelves mi corazón en cintas de carbón,

me elevas sumiéndome en una bandada de pájaros negros

y me inundas

de canción nocturna.


©  Keith Armstrong.


 






THE NIGHTJARS AND THEIR ALLIES

(Keith Armstrong)


(For K.)


The nightjars and their allies

have their heads down in the woods today,

dreaming of wild nights,

a chance to sing on the flickering wing.

And you my dark haired songstress

could writhe naked on a bed of their feathers

as I touch with my aching fingertips

the tips of your sprawling bliss

in all that lushness between the trembling trees.

For you are dusky,

silky-tailed and

white-winged;

you are my European Nightjar

churring as I make you

spring to life in shivers of moonlight.

White-throated and golden,

star-spotted and black shouldered,

you straddle your strapping limbs around me,

wrap my leaping heart in charcoal ribbons,

fly me screaming in a flock of black birds

and drench me

with jars of night song.


© Keith Armstrong.

12.2.18

THE LIGHT IN THE CENTURION































THE LIGHT IN THE CENTURION


I drink the sun,
I booze the moon,
I throw planets down my neck.
In the Centurion Bar,
a thirst rages
for the sunshine in my jar,
the songs in my roaring throat.
This beautiful day,
cascade of ale,
chorus of clouds
flooding through the roof,
I think
I am very much alive.
My blood is full
as the Tyne in heat,
as the veins of Neville Street
coursing
with my misspent hours.
This temple
of Bacchus,
this church of drunkenness,
fills my head
with poems,
my eyes
alive with comely lasses,
the gleam of full and emptied glasses.
An old man sits
remembering
when he could run after them,
when he could
drink a vat of beer in anger.
Near him,
there’s Susan
who is going places,
who is bonny as the sky today.
Friends, don’t be too sad,
this life is fleeting,
this love is deep
like the light,
the light in the Centurion.


WITH JACK DANIEL IN THE CENTURION


(for Jason)


It had been a long wait,
through difficult seasons,
months of dull days
lit only by cackling Geordie girls
and the odd artistic lady
with eyes like paintings.
No sign of Jack
off the train
though I knew
he was well worth waiting for.
Then all of a sudden,
with a flourish
and melting of ice,
he came
and soaked the room
with his impeccable taste,
a bitter wit that warmed your soul
in a state of Tennessee.
The Centurian
can be a lonely place
to pass the time
with only your own
aches and pains
for primitive company.
Jack could change all that,
burst open the door
to an altered
consciousness,
make the barmaids dance
for you
and the rest
of the human race.
Jack, you are a good friend,
fickle though you are.
I shake your open hand
and give you my true respect.
You are comradeship
in a sunny glass.
I wish you well,
a big well,
a fount
of joyful
kindness.



KEITH ARMSTRONG





"There are those who tell the terrible truth in all its loveliness. Keith Armstrong is one of them, a fine poet who refuses to turn his back on the wretched of the Earth. He is one of the best and I hope his voice will be heard more and more widely."
Adrian Mitchell







the jingling geordie

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whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur