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

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

31.12.16

OLD STATIONS






































(for Kathleen Sisterson)




There’s an old station

I keep dreaming of

where I wandered

as a child;

flower baskets

seep with longing

and engines

pant with steam.

It might have been

at Chollerton,

in a summer’s field,

when I realised

how good 

life could be,

in the sunshine

of my songs;

or it might have been

at Falstone

where the roses

smelt of smoke

and I felt

the breath of railwaymen

wafting in my hair.

This little boy,

with his North Tyne lilt

and the dialect

of ancients,

ran up the platform

of his life

and chased

the racing clouds.

It was a first taste

of Kielder Forest

and the light

that skimmed the hills

and the engine

rattled through the day

to drive me 

to my roots:

to Deadwater

and Saughtree,

the hours flew

for miles

and the railway

ran into my veins

and sparked 

history in my soul.

In this album

of a fragile world,

I’d like to leave 

these lines 

for you to find

in Bellingham

or Wark,

a tune to play

in Reedsmouth

in Woodburn 

or in Wall.

Along this route, 

I hope you'll find

a glimpse of me in youth;

the smiling child,

inside the man,

who took the train

by chance

and found his way 

with words

and leaves

to Thorneyburn 

and Riccarton,

along the tracks

of dreams.







KEITH ARMSTRONG




Beautiful and evocative. (Conrad Atkinson)

Thanks for your wonderful poem 'Old Stations'. It's a truly moving piece of work, tapping childhood nostalgia but in away that seems naturally to a young imagination being born of the lore and physicality of the trains and railway stations. (Noel Duffy)

Really liked that one, so descriptive, I could see it all in my mind’s eye! (Marie Little)




Wonderfully evocative, Keith. (Sid Smith)


Like it! (Pete Thompson)


It's great Keith! (Peter Common)

As ever, a lovely poem & one I can easily relate to. (Geoff Holland)








(from forthcoming book and film -
written for an exhibition at Bellingham Heritage Centre, June 2013)

27.12.16

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 tenant, merchant Patrick Black.

21.12.16

BURNS NIGHT EVENT

































BURNS NIGHT: A LITTLE CELEBRATION - WITH POEMS, JAZZ AND FOLK MUSIC!


FEATURING:

JAZZ POEMS:
Keith Armstrong and the Don Forbes Trio

FOLK MUSIC:
The Sawdust Jacks
Ann Sessoms (Pipes)

POETRY:
Dave Alton
Robert Lonsdale
Gordon Phillips
Katrina Porteous
Paul Summers
Trev Teasdel
Rob Walton
Dominic Windram



THE RED HOUSE, QUAYSIDE, NEWCASTLE WEDNESDAY 25TH JANUARY 2017 7.30PM 

ADMISSION FREE

FURTHER INFO: NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS TEL 0191 2529531

YEVTUSHENKO IN NEWCASTLE - SOMETHING WE ORGANISED BACK IN 1976!


19.12.16

DREAMING OF JACK COMMON



 








































I dreamt I glimpsed Jack Common on a train.
He had his nose stuck in a book;
the Newcastle rain seeped from his eyes.
Jack looked sad
and I dreamt he sleepwalked across the station bridge
and staggered down The Side;
he’d had a drink,
and couldn’t believe
the things he saw.
He bowled along the corridors through Milburn House
and stalked the nightmare of his past;
all around him fell bulldozed history
and his suit shook with soot.
He sensed a shallowness in the air,
a city with its guts ripped out.
He blinked at the scale of the new Law Courts
and thought of battles the workers lost:
Sons of the Battleaxe,
bands of brass.

The Tyne slid by him
and his big heart
swelled with the agony of years;
a great history swilling in his veins
and the banks of the river cleansed
for millionaires.
We live in hope I would suppose
but how many games must we Geordies lose?
Jack looked down at his shredded roots
and felt his home city shudder with pain.
It was the ache of the starving in an age of plenty,
the shudder of a rudderless future:
the Johnny Riddle trickle of the lonely Ouseburn
running
down the drain.


 

Keith Armstrong

17.12.16

HOTEL UTOPIA




(for Tony Whittle)


In the Hotel Utopia,
we’re as happy as mortal sin.
You can hear an old man crying
through the city din.

There’s a tap that’s always dripping
and walls that are paper thin
and, in this Hotel Utopia,
we’re really dreaming.

There’s a picture in the bathroom
of a resort miles away
and the stairs creak like the old man’s lungs
as he lives another day.

Outside, the trams go tumbling past
and a young girl lights the glass.
It’s Amsterdam and more days lost
on the streets that run so fast.

Yes, here in the Hotel Utopia,
we’re as happy as mortal sin.
You can hear an old man crying
through the City din.

There’s a tap that’s always dripping
and walls that are paper thin
and, in this Hotel Utopia,
we’re really dreaming.

Remember Anne Frank passed this way
so you could grab some Speed,
get high on Sex and learn tp pray
for this City of Eternal Greed.

Take a canal boat, a Rembrandt Ride,
take a hippie down a diamond mine.
I’m a happy man but this City’s sad
and we’re running out of time.

Here, in the Hotel Utopia,
we’re as happy as mortal sin.
You can hear an old man crying
through the City din.

There’s a tap that’s always dripping
and walls that are paper thin
and, in this Hotel Utopia,
we’re really dreaming.

You can lose your eyes in a haze of dope,
you can drink your life to death.
Lying down, in these days of hope,
you’re running out of breath.

So pack your bags and fly away,
through the crowds on these Amstel streets.
Just one last whiff of a Tulip Day
and the weight is off your feet.

In the Hotel Utopia,
we’re as happy as mortal sin.
You can hear an old man crying
through the City din.

There’s a tap that’s aways dripping
and walls that are paper thin
and, in this Hotel Utopia,
we’re really dreaming.





KEITH ARMSTRONG



'Well Keith your beautiful poetry melts my heart, you know that don't you?

Good to see you writing about current politics, don't stop, our country may be depressing politically but the things that are happening are still brimming with meaning and young people today especially need to believe that poetry can be powerful.'
(Jen x)


14.12.16

IN THE FIRE STATION, WHITLEY BAY


























photo by dr keith armstrong







The screen
in the corner
flashes celebrity images
above the hunched heads
of craggy regulars.
Subtitles punctuate
the horror of Syria,
shallowness of Beckham’s mouth
gabbing
like a demented fish
over supping plebs.
Their talk is of aches and pains
and scraping through,
their question time has no answers,
only weary
resignations.
The TV mocks
the ordinary
struggles
to bring up soft babies
with tough futures.
The thing
is forced upon us,
dumped upon us,
scoffing
at the weak
on cheap beer.
It says:

THERESA MAY IS IN INDIA.
Well, we are drinking in Whitley Bay
and SHE,
she can piss off.
In the Fire Station,
we have thirsts to slake,
bets to be placed
on whether we’ll make it
through to another tomorrow
just the same
and just as unjust.

 


KEITH ARMSTRONG


11.12.16

ELVET BRIDGE


























 








(inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire)


Under Elvet Bridge the rain
flows with our loves.
Must I recall again?
Joy always used to follow after pain.

The days pass, the weeks pass
all in vain.
Neither time spent nor misspent
nor love comes back again.

Under Elvet Bridge the rain
flows with our loves.
Must I recall again?
Joy always used to follow after rain.




Keith Armstrong






Durham photos by Peter Dixon

MELLY!




Something sad about clowns;
something thin between laughter and tears.
Pity the dignity, the love and the hate,
the twitching wire between body and soul 
and you on that stage,
drunk on rum and borrowed blues again;
unique in the balance you keep to yourself -
never quite losing it,
never quite making it;
bawling out between Magritte and Morton,
playing the droopy-drawered clown
with yourself,
you
do the Melly Belly,
the Ovaltine,
big brash belly laugh blues.
                                                                                                    




Keith Armstrong



4.12.16

DURHAM


2.12.16

AFTER THE UK










































 
 
 
Shreds of the UK
flapping in the downturn,
decayed Britain
broken into smithereens.
No Kingdom now,
no United State.
We are
citizens
with no obligation
to genuflect
in front of an overstuffed Queen.

Get the UK out of your system,
no going back.
We take the power
to rule ourselves,
make community,
build our own spaces.
Break
the hegemony
of dead parties,
lifeless institutions,
let debate flower,
conflicting views rage.

We want to breathe
and strip away
executive power,
share
the beauty and culture
of these islands
around.
Make good things,
good love.
Empower ourselves
with an autonomous freedom
in a new England,
in a new Europe,
in a New World
of real ownership
and delicate emotion.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

the jingling geordie

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