WHO REMEMBERS BRIAN JONES?

The 1960s was a fabulous time to be growing up. Student revolution, flower power, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Spurs winning the ‘Double’.

And with the death of  President Kennedy, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, Marilyn Monroe and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, a time ripe for poetry.

This poem, written shortly after the death of Brian Jones, was published in the poetry magazine, Enigma. I also sent it to the radio  DJ John Peel. I still have the postcard he sent me with his reply.

To Brian Jones

I dreamed your death

before it was conceived

Acid on your mind

Held your hand

limp and flaccid

skin upon skin

whites of eyes staring.

Acid on your mind

stopped your ears with chlorine

feet twitching

in a mad dance of death.

The watcher turns his back

A generation weeps

And I who never wept or cried

I will not dream again.

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems

POST #249: FREEDOM

This evening – Friday 15th April – will be the beginning of Passover, when Jewish families all over the world will be sitting down to the Passover Seder.  Every year, the Passover story is told.   How we, the Jewish people, were once slaves in Egypt and are now free.

Jesus, who of course was Jewish – as were his disciples – was celebrating the Passover meal (Seder) at The Last Supper.

PASSOVER DITTY

When you’re celebrating Easter,

it’s Passover for me,

no bread or cake or biscuits,

just matzos for our tea!

We have to eat unleavened bread

that’s matzo don’t you know,

they’re rather tasty crackers

but for eight days it’s a blow.

We cannot bake with flour

so use substitutes instead,

coconut and ground almonds

because there isn’t any bread.

It’s the festival of freedom

when we fled Egypt long ago

but just as relevant today

with what’s going on you know!

If you would like to know about Passover, here’s an excellent link from the British Library: https://www.bl.uk/learning/cult/inside/goldhaggadahstories/goldenhagg.html

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

© Photo by Andrea Neidle

HOW WE BECAME CAT OWNERS.

It is said that you don’t choose a cat but that it chooses you. This was definitely true in our case.

The story of Jason

When we were first married, a lifetime ago, we lived in East London. Our next door neighbours had a handsome ginger cat called Jason. We mistakenly thought this was after Jason of the Golden Fleece but he was more prosaically named after the Blue Peter cat Jason!

Jason would visit us on a regular basis and our flat became his second home.  We made the cardinal mistake of feeding him which meant of course that he visited us frequently.  We could never understand why our neighbours had bothered to get a cat because they clearly weren’t cat lovers, often leaving him out in the rain where his piteous mewing would mean that we would rescue him and bring him indoors. Sometimes they forgot to feed him altogether (or at least that’s what Jason led us to believe but he might have been enjoying double rations) so we were often doing that too. It was easy to imagine that he was our cat and not theirs. 

Our kitchen had a small breakfast bar overlooking the communal garden. One lunchtime we were sitting at the counter enjoying our tomato soup. It was a bright sunny day and we had left the window wide open. All of a sudden Jason jumped in through the window landing paws first in my bowl of soup. With a yelp of pain he leapt right out again.  He sat outside on the patio frantically licking and licking at his once white paws which were now stained bright orange.  It was weeks before the orange colour disappeared and many months before we ever thought of having tomato soup again!

When our first child was born we began looking to move and found a new home in Hertfordshire.  I could not bear the idea of leaving Jason behind and would lie in bed at night thinking of different ways of taking him with us.  It even crossed my mind to kidnap him. After all, I reckoned, they didn’t appear to care anything about him and he deserved a good home. 

The day came for us to move and I summoned up the courage to speak to our next door neighbour.  I knocked timidly at her front door. “I’ve come to say goodbye Kathy,” I said. “We are really going to miss your cat. I wish we could have him,” I blurted out.  To my amazement she replied: “You can. We don’t want him. We’ve always wanted a dog and now we’ll be able to have one.” So there it was. Just like that. We were cat owners.

The following day, OH (other half) returned to our old address to collect Jason and bring him home where he became a much loved member of our family for many happy years.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

THE POWER OF POETRY

With everything else going on in the world, I somehow managed to miss International Poetry Day on 21st March.

I feel I should be saying or writing something profound.

I don’t have a new poem to offer you. But some interesting news.

It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.

This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!

I  remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud.  It was amazing to see.

So yes, there is power in poetry, prayer and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.

When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson,  Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.

So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.

Here’s an easy one to remember from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The world is so full of a number of things

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Or how about this one – from me.

Poems are very hard to write

I think about them in the night

I wish that I had time to play

Then I’d write poems in the day!

Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

HAS OUR WORLD CHANGED?

“It’s a Wonderful World”, sang Louis Armstrong. I’m not so sure that’s true any more.

Yesterday I came across this poem. I wrote it just over two years ago, at the start of the pandemic.

Reading it again, I felt that this poem could equally well have been written about Ukraine.

What do you think?

Empty

The birds are still singing

No one has told them

No one has told them

Our world has changed.

The sky is still blue

The sun is still shining

But where are the people

Our world’s rearranged.

The flowers are budding

The willows are weeping

Weeping for us

And a world that has gone.

 Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

NEWS FROM MY LIFE IN POEMS

Are you enjoying reading my poetry? If so, you might like to buy a signed copy of my poetry book, Wonderland. It contains many of the poems I have blogged and also some you haven’t seen before. If you live in the UK, the cost is £5.00 plus £1.50 postage. If you are one of my followers from overseas, please contact me in the comment box below. Let me know where in the world you live and I will let you know the cost of postage and packing. With every purchase you make I will be giving a 25% donation to the refugees from Ukraine. Thank you!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems