WORD SHARING!

WORD SHARING!

31.3.17

HEXHAM RACES - DR KEITH ARMSTRONG'S POETRY RESIDENCY




























HEXHAM RACES POEMS INTRODUCTION


The following poems are by Tyneside writer Dr Keith Armstrong. They were first written in the year 2000 for his poetry residency at Hexham Racecourse and an exhibition of the poems with artwork by local artist Kathleen Sisterson was launched at an event at the Racecourse in September of that year, introduced by Hexham based sports writer Harry Pearson, with readings from Keith and folk music from Mike and Peter Tickell and Ray Sloan on Northumbrian Pipes.
Since 2000 Keith has been a regular visitor to Hexham Races and continues to find inspiration for his poetry in every visit.

Other commissioned work by Keith includes ‘Fire & Brimstone’ the story of Tynedale artist John Martin and ‘The Hexham Celebration’, both for the Hexham Abbey Festival.
He also has also compiled and edited a local history book ‘The Town of Old Hexham’ and organised a festival celebrating the life and work of Hexham born poet Wilfrid Gibson.





UNSTABLE GIRLS



I am drawn to them
by the luck of the draw:
unstable girls
who roll me in the hay
and romp
across the bolts of lightning in my head,
their hair flashing
through all my racing
uncertainty.



LAMENT FOR A TIC-TAC MAN



Tick tock
the tic-tac man
once waved
his white gloves
in my dreams,
signalling
the end
of lost ideals.
One of the old gambling school
he was,
his hands
flitting
across the dashing fields.
Riding
thin air
with his monied semaphore,
he guided life,
against the odds,
to a chancer’s death;
a Ladbrokes’ graveyard,
where all the old tic-tac men
lie buried
and uncomputerised.


LIGHT HEAVY



Light
from the steppes and plateaus,
heavy
with the weight of forests,
these proud ancenstral beasts
come galloping
through my dreams.


PRAYER  FOR THE UNKNOWN HORSEMAN



Let my breath
catch the sungleam
on an elegant head.
May my heart
soar,
my eyes burn
with the joy
of a hot day.
Horses are harnessed wind;
let me not frighten or harm them.
Show me ways
to understand them.
Let the scent of fresh hay
always be sweet to me.
Let my blood
stampede
with horses.


 

KEITH ARMSTRONG




 


RACECARD POEMS
 

The Federation Brewery Amateur Riders’ Selling Handicap Steeple Chase

THE GREEN FOOL
OLD ALE
GONE AWAY
 

The Buchanan Ales Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race

ETERNAL CITY
ON YOUR OWN
FASTNLUCE LADY
 

The Keoghans ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle Race

ONE STOP
THE SNOW BURN
SIT BACK
HAPPY BLAKE
FOREVER GREY


The Levy Board Maiden National Flat Race

FOR CAROL


VALLEY OF HOPE
THE OTHER HALF
GLACIAL PRINCESS
LITTLE TWIG


The Federation Brewery Novices’ Steeple Chase

AIDE MEMOIRE

SIX CLERKS
SUPREME SOVIET
PATTER MERCHANT


The Grant Williamson Chartered Accountants ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle Race (Div 2)

JUST HUSH
DANTE’S AMOUR
NAUGHTY FEELINGS
FIERY BELLE


The Service Welding Novices’ Hurdle Race

EVENING CHORUS
CLASSIC BLUES
CHOIR BELLE


The Keoghans Novices’ Hurdle Race

DARING NATIVE
CHERRY TART
ANGEL IN DISGUISE
FROSTY LIGHT
GOLDEN MEADOW


The Consett Printing Company Standard Open ‘National Hunt’ Flat Race (Class H)

WILLING
PRIMITIVE COUNTESS
GOLDEN GROOVE
DANCE N’ SKIP


Hexham Courant Novice Handicap Hurdle Race (Class E)

NORTH MOSS
COOL MINER
LOOKING MAGIC




The Carnaud Metal Box Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Hurdle Race

BLOOD BROTHER
HAND OF STRAW
INTO THE BLACK
GALE AHEAD


The Pensher Security Doors Selling Hurdle Race

ENERGY MAN
BALCONY BOY
SINGING PROFIT
FLUTTERBY LADY
PETITE BUSH
LA PERDOMA


The Consett Christmas Novices’ Steeple Chase

SLAUGHT SON
UP FOR RANSOM
HALF EACH


The Tote Handicap Steeple Chase

BLAZING DAWN
SUPER SANDY
SINGING SAND


The Founders Ales Novices’ Hurdle Race

SOUTHERN BELLE
BIG TARGET
ONE FOR ALL
IN DEMAND
THRASHING
BORDER FARMER


The Federation Brewery Standard National Hunt Flat Race

YOUNG RAB
SILVER REBEL
SILKEN MEMORIES
MIGHTY FINE

25.3.17

THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY BAY





















Photo by Tony Whittle 















She is out feeding the birds,
on the dot again,
in the drizzle of a seaside morning;
the seed 
cast fom her hand
to the jerking beak of a cock pheasant.

She is alone 
in a flock of dark starlings,
scattering crumbs to make them shriek.

She is a friend of spuggies,
gives blackbirds water.

Her eyes fly across the garden
to catch a quick robin,
to spot a wee wren,
to chase a bold magpie.

She is innocence,
she is a lovely old lady;
still giving,
still nursing.

She deserves heaven,
she deserves a beautiful nest
to dream out her last hours 
in bird song;
in the rich colours of music,
in the red feathers of sunset,
she is my mother,
she is a rare bird
who fed me beautiful dreams.

Thank you for letting me climb 
with the skylarks.

Thank you
for the strength of wings. 




KEITH ARMSTRONG









































 



Thank you very much for this poem. Ever since I have heard you reading it out at “Poems, Prose, Pints” it has been on my mind – it’s written in such a gentle and honest voice. The poem may be dedicated to your mum, but, as you said in the pub, it’s something you could say about all mums. I certainly feel reminded of my own mother, who died not so long ago, when I read the poem.
Love
Brigitte

Hi Keith

Thanks for this beautiful poem.

Tim G

Dear Keith ! Thank you very much. You read this poem when you were here in Groningen. It moves me each time I read or hear it. Nice talking to you on the phone yesterday. All the best, yours, Henk

Thanks Keith - you moved me.

All best
Chrissie

The Bird Woman of Whitley is a lovely poem, Keith.  Beautiful tribute.

Trish.

You amazing poet YOU
- thank you for that that poem - it deserves a very good moment, but I will translate it.
Uwe

Lovely poem!
Keep sending them!

Julie

Good poem, Keith
Cheers
SallyE

Thank you, Keith, thank you –
 For bringing a fulsome tear to my eye with the sad and beautifully-crafted The Bird Woman of Whitley. How amazingly coincidental and serendipitous that you should have numbered me amongst those privileged to receive it because, just this afternoon, I have put in the post to you my Christmas book (in Irish) An Nollaig sa Naigín (Christmas in the Noggin [my homeplace]), which has in it the story Céad Sneachta na Nollag (First Christmas Snow), which features my own mother feeding two birds, they being the Robin and the Wren!!!!
 Bravo, my friend, and thank you for giving me the delight of reading so beautiful a poem.


Thats a nice poem Keith. Is that lady really your mum?


Mick

Thanks for sending me this beautiful poem. It really moved me. I have a special Mother too, she hasn't a selfish thought in her body. 

Cheers
Catherine Graham

Hi Keith loved the poem

Mike

Thanks for your beautiful poem Keith. I must write something special to my mum. 

Paul

23.3.17

THOSE BALD BARBER BLUES






























Bald Barber’s going to carve up your fantasies,
Bald Barber has you down for the chop.
He’s jealous of your haircut,
He wants your lovely locks.
Bald Barber is up to trimming your love,
Bald Barber is at your ear.
He’s covetous of your flowing dreams,
He needs to tie your feelings up.
Bald Barber is afraid of your stare.
Bald Barber is in your way.
He’s trampling on your curls.
He’s touching your mutton chop burns.
Bald Barber is seeking your waves,
Bald Barber isn’t keen on your looks.
He wants your hair in his eyes,
He’d love to comb it like you.
Bald Barber is fed up to the skin,
Bald Barber has his eye on you.
He aims to make a splash,
He’s going to cramp your style.
Bald Barber will nab your crown,
Bald Barber wants to scissor you up.
He’s dying to swim in your stream,
He’s after that long last parting.
Bald Barber is giving you the snip,
Bald Barber’s got a tip.
He’s found something for the weekend,
He’s cut you out of your will.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF POETRY



‘Our paths may cross again, they may not. But I wish you success for the future. I don’t think you are a person who is easily defeated through life as you are by nature a peacock which shows at times its beautiful feathers.’               
(Margaretha den Broeden)


In the Department of Poetry something is stirring:
it is a rare bird shitting on a heap of certificates.
He bears the beautiful plumage of a rebel,
flying through the rigid corridors,
the stifling pall of academic twaddle.
He pecks at the Masters’ eggheads, 
scratches pretty patterns along the cold walls of poetic power.
He cares not a jot for their fancy Awards,
their sycophantic perambulations,
degrees of literary incest.
These trophies for nepotism 
pass this peculiar bird by
as he soars
high
above the paper quadrangle,
circling over the dying Heads of Culture,
singing sweet revolutionary songs, 
showing off
his brilliant wings
that fly him
into the ecstasy
of a poem.
KEITH ARMSTRONG

I WILL SING OF MY OWN NEWCASTLE







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) 

"I heard the broadcast. You should be congratulated on your contribution. It was certainly more enjoyable than a man describing the photographs he'd taken on the wireless." (Brian Bennison, North East Laboury History Society).

20.3.17

PUTTING KATWIJK ON MAPS





















 















There is always a night in Katwijk,
Forever a moon in the daylight.
And its rain belts down just the same,
Pouring our loves down the drain.

And the darkness can last forever
Like the mist in a cold September.
The sea sails along in the winds
That batter our Katwijk blinds.

And yet this Katwijk will stay
Forever and a livelong day,
Reminding us of gulls on the swell
And larks in the sound of church bells.

We danced in the Katwijk streets,
Her eyes alight in dark sheets.
I thought she would never die
In the rolling of her thighs.

These little avenues reel
To the clatter of her high heels.
And it will always be the rain
That soaks me through to the brain.

So let us put Katwijk on maps
To honour the love that it mocks.
There’s a joy to be felt in its trees
Alongside the pains in its seas.





KEITH ARMSTRONG





 





18.3.17

MY FRIEND JACK COMMON (1903-1968)










































 








Ever since the sixth form,
when I found you, 
a kindred Novocastrian
in a library book,
I seem to have followed in your steps,
stumbled after you 
in rain soaked lanes,
knocked on doors
in search of your stories.
For over forty years,
I have tracked
the movement of your pen
in streets you walked
and on cross country trains
from your own Newcastle
to Warrington
Malvern,
Newport Pagnell,
Letchworth,
Yetminster,
Wallington 
and back again.
I have given talks about you,
supped in your pubs,
strode along your paragraphs 
and river paths
to try to find
that urge in you
to write 
out of your veins
what you thought of things,
what made you tick
and your loved ones 
laugh and cry.
I tried to reach you in a thesis,
to see you as a lad in Heaton,
but I could never catch your breath
because I didn’t get to meet you
face to face,
could only guess
that you were like me:
a kind of kindly 
socialist writer
in a world
too cruel for words.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

Peter Common Well said Keith!



Dear kindly socialist writer - this is great - thanks a lot for sending it

Love
Pat


the jingling geordie

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