Slattocks Canal

from my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

Slattocks Canal

The sedentary

figure of a fisherman

by the redundant waterway.

Still nothing has he caught.

Could it be he’s been out-thought

by such a tiny brained foe?

— He doesn’t think so.

Beneath the carpet

of conquering weeds,

between the barbs

of needle-reeds,

their number is smaller;

the water shallower,

and strategically placed

shopping trolleys,

half-submerged,

contribute to the clogging

of this coagulated artery.

A train thunders past,

the fisherman shifts,

night drifts in, reluctant.

©AndrewJamesMurray

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Death Do Us Part: A Letter From The Trenches

I read this moving letter, with a moving conclusion, on a FB post for Valentine’s Day. It is taken from the Imperial War Museum.

A letter from the trenches. 1917

Private Albert Ford wrote to his wife, Edith, on a scrap piece of paper before going ‘over the top’.

“My darling if this should ever reach you it will be a sure sign that I am gone under and what will become of you and the chicks I do not know but there is one above that will see to you and not let you starve,” he wrote.

“You have been the best of wives and I loved you deeply, how much you will never know.

“Dear heart, do think sometimes of me in the future when your grief has worn a bit, and the older children, I know won’t forget me, and speak sometimes of me to the younger ones…

“Dearest, if the chance should come your way for you are young and good looking and should a good man give you an offer it would please me to think you would take it, not to grieve too much for me…

“I should not have left you thus bringing suffering and poverty on a loving wife and children for which in time I hope you will forgive me.

“So dear heart I will bid you all farewell hoping to meet you in the time to come if there is a hereafter. Know that my last thoughts were of you in the dugout or on the fire step my thoughts went out to you, the only one I ever loved, the one that made a man of me.”

Albert was killed in action on 26 October 1917. His last letter was treasured by Edith until her death. She never remarried and as she lay dying in February 1956 she said she could see Albert in the corner of her bedroom.

By The Routes

So, after my recent documented escapades along the Manchester-Leeds train routes, I could be forgiven for making the trek again on Thursday afternoon with some trepidation. But it all went without incident. There were no out of place tornadoes, no suicidal badgers along the line.

But my travels wouldn’t be my travels without at least one memorable passage, and it was when I was returning home from Manchester on the 163 bus.

The bus pulled over at a stop and a woman got on, leading behind her a rather thin, mangy looking mongrel dog. “I’ve been waiting half an hour for this bus! I was gonna get on the 162 but the driver said it didn’t go to Heywood.”

“It does go to Heywood,” this driver replied.

“Well he said it didn’t.”

“Well it does.”

“It had Norden on the front.”

“Yes, but it goes to Heywood too.”

“I don’t even know where Norden is.”

“You could have still got on it,” he persevered.

“If I want to go to Norden then I’ll get a bleeding Norden bus!”

We curious passengers watched this exchange as she showed the beleaguered driver her ticket and moved along the aisle. The woman took a tartan rug out of her bag and spread it on the floor. “I have to do this so he will lie down,” she said, gesturing to her dog. “If not, he will stand all the way there.”

A man sat near the front asked “What, all the way to Norden?”

“ALL THE WAY TO HEYWOOD!!” she spat.

On we went.