BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

30.11.13

BACK FROM DUBLIN!












































IN THE GALWAY HOOKER BAR


(Heuston Rail Station, Dublin)



I’m back in the Galway Hooker,
heading out to the west
and, as usual, it’s teeming
with the scheming 
pond life of Dublin:
the newts
and wits
who twinkle 
in this bowl 
of moving humanity,
at swim
in sunlight,
slumped
in a beaten economics
and those boom days 
that are past.

And Jimmy Joyce and his literary travellers
leer at us from a corner 
of streaming consciousness
and bad girls’ skirts
drift upwards
in an afternoon 
with miles ahead
and the promise
of a kiss 
of Irish Coffee.

I’m crawling
today along
this beaten track to Limerick,
the chance occurrence
of a poetry event,
the opportunity for fickle friends
to catch my dreams
in inquisitive ears
and despatch 
my skimming words
to the gutters of shot memories.

‘By God she’s a looker,
that one on the stool,
making an awful fool
of  a lad in the Hooker.’

‘Her legs go the whole way,
her terrible sin,
she sings
from here to Galway.’

And then The Boys from Tipperary 
they’re here
in a clump of blazers and ties
and every one has a lass
on his hurling arm
and a pint of Guinness in his face.
We envy them
their youth and not their sense,
we wise old men of Heuston
who’ve seen the heroes come and go,
heard the guns ring out
across the Station
and learnt 
to savour
the slaughter
in our glasses.

But now friends 
we must be 
heading off 
to the dawn
and hope 
that these trains 
we leave behind
can find their way
to that which our history 
sheds.

So remember
Sean Heuston,
the railway clerk,
a crucifix he kissed
and the freedom he died for,
every drink
that you down 
in the Hooker. 





KEITH ARMSTRONG



The Galway Hooker is a traditional fishing boat used in Galway Bay off the west coast of Ireland. The hooker was developed for the strong seas there. Its sail plan consists of a single mast with a main sail and two foresails. Traditionally, the boat is black (being coated in pitch) and the sails are a dark red-brown.


27.11.13

THOMAS SPENCE (1750-1814) - THE HIVE OF LIBERTY



(AFTER THE NAME OF THOMAS SPENCE’S BOOKSHOP AT 8 LITTLE TURNSTILE, HIGH HOLBORN)


I am a small and humble man,
my body frail and broken.
I strive to do the best I can.
I spend my life on tokens.

I traipse through Holborn all alone,
hawking crazy notions.
I am the lonely people’s friend.
I live on schemes and potions.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.

I am a teeming worker bee.
My dignity is working.
My restless thoughts swell like the sea.
My fantasies I’m stoking.

There is a rebel inside me,
a sting about to strike.
I hawk my works around the street.
I put the world to rights.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.




KEITH ARMSTRONG





Thomas Spence was born in Newcastle in 1750. Spence was the leading English revolutionary of his day, with an unbudgeable commitment to individual and press freedom and the common ownership of the land.


His tracts, such as The Rights of Man (Spence was, perhaps, the first to use the phrase) and The Rights of Infants, along with his utopian visions of 'Crusonia' and 'Spensonia', were the most far-reaching radical statements of the period. Spence was born in poverty and died the same way, after long periods of imprisonment, in 1814. 







24.11.13

THE BREAKING WHEEL



I follow your blog. And I liked very much your article THE BREAKING WHEEL. I´m Rosa Ulpiano from Spain. And I´m art critic. Nice to meet you.

This is the place of torture.
Life is not easy.
Look at your own face,
it is lined with the worries
of those long flown away;
their lives,
for what they’re worth,
lie stretched across history,
stinking of injustice.
This is more agony
than smiles.
Sip your coffee
and think
of those who died making it.
Soak up the warmth of the sunshine
in this carcass of a town
for we are just fleeting meat
on the Catherine Wheel of centuries,
simply dust
on the sheen of the river.
That man walking
across the marketplace
looks kind
but underneath it all
he is a murderer of insects,
an officer
who’ll break you on the cross
with his sturdy provincial mallet.
It’s a race of rats
scurrying past the Stiftskirche window
in a frenzy stripped of meaning.
Do not trust a judge,
he will crush you
to save his own wig and skin.
The Law is an ass
and lawyers are donkeys
in fancy gowns,
feasting on slaughter
and leering
among the carnival crowds.
And don’t even think
of trusting a crow,
it will feed on your pathetic verse
and hockle out the crumbs of words
into the Lange Gasse gutter.
Can you even board a plane
without thinking of the dead on battlefields?
Can you sit in an airport lounge
without seeing the severed limbs
strewn around you?
Is that a swastika logo
in McDonalds?
Helmut Herzfeld eat your heart out
for they are still
going about their duties,
breaking spirits with missiles,
hammering the humanity
from loving communities.
Let me show you
the hillside
where they displayed the broken body
for the world to scoff at.
Let me remind me you
how cruel the bastards are,
how ugly that Nazi is at the bar.
You know we are fragile,
passing butterflies
in the appalling rush hour
of the dying day.
Please please cling to me,
cling on to the immense value of your own dark dreams;
instead of a simple carnage,
think of your complicated beauty.
That way it wil be easier
to walk along Wilhelmstrasse
in the flowing rain,
to love a girl called Catherine
for her caring spirit
and a refuge seeker
for his marvellous poems.


KEITH ARMSTRONG

The breaking wheel, or Catherine Wheel, was a torture device used for capital punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by cudgelling to death.
It was a crude implement of torture reserved for commoners who had killed their families, committed murder during the course of theft, betrayed their lords, or otherwise outraged the community with excessive crimes. The condemned prisoner was lashed to a large stout wagon wheel and an executioner broke all of the prisoner’s limbs and joints with a cudgel or metal bar. The broken limbs were secured to (or threaded through) the spokes of the wheel and the prisoner was hoisted into the sky on top of a pole to contend with dehydration and the birds.
In a window on the north east side of the Stiftskirche in Tuebingen

(today the Protestant Collegiate Church and, before that, the Catholic Church of St. George) is the carved stone image of a man on a breaking wheel.

Legend says that two journeymen went on tour in the woods near Tuebingen, but only one came back. As he had a dagger with him that the other man had once received as a gift, he was thought to have murdered his missing companion and the Duke of Wuerttemberg had him broken on the wheel. When the other man turned up alive and healthy a week later, the Duke was directed to do penance by paying for a window to commemorate the martyrdom of St. George, which also took place on the wheel.

The window was used by the exiled German printmaker and photomontage artist John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld) in 1934 as a template for one of his political photo collages - "As in the Middle Ages ... so in the Third Reich" - against the Nazi regime.
Heartfield (1891-1968) is now regarded as the inventor of political photomontage.
He skillfully adapted the swastika (itself an image adopted and misused by the Nazis) to picture what was happening to the German people under the guidance’ of Adolf Hitler and his cronies. Some might say that this image of suffering is a little generous to the German people, portraying them as the victims of Nazism, but once Hitler had secured absolute power for himself and with no way of democratically – or governmentally - relieving him of his position then victims is exactly what they were.
Heartfield employed the actor Erwin Geschonneck as a model and instructed him to writhe naked in various poses around a specially made wooden cross.
On the finished glued two-part assembly, you look down on the wheel and also see a man, as in the church window, depicted as a martyr to the swastika.















































Dear Keith, your poem is a very beautiful one, we thank you very much for it. And we sent it to some of our friends! Yours Heidi and Wolfgang

23.11.13

VEITCH




































(in memory of Colin Campbell McKechnie Veitch, 1881-1938)

‘One man that has a mind and knows it can always beat ten men who haven't and don't.’ George Bernard Shaw 

Football brain,
you thought with your feet,
treading the boards
in a dynamic theatre
of passing action.
A winning way,
love of the glorious day 
and a sense of history
from Heaton Park
to socialism.
Your story,
from the pulsing Tyne
to the Geordie trophy room,
keeps us hoping
on Gallowgate,
alive with dignity
and strong respect
for the ideal of community
and the black and white love
of fairness.
Battling away,
in a skilled midfield 
and in the stinking trenches,
you fought
for your troubled lilting city
and all of those 
who ever kicked a ball
in its intimate soulful avenues.


KEITH ARMSTRONG


Colin Veitch made a total of 322 appearances for Newcastle United, scoring 49 goals. He  captained the United side which won League Championships in 1905, 1907 and 1909, the FA Cup in 1910 and were FA Cup finalists in 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1911, and also represented England on 6 occasions. 

Heaton History Group and Chris Goulding successfully campaigned for a commemorative plaque to be displayed on Colin Veitch’s former home in Heaton, Newcastle. The unveiling took place on 25th September 2013.

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