November

From my poetry blog.

Coronets For Ghosts

November


The wind in hollows unfrequented,
gathering the detritus
among bare-branched forms.
A copse; a corpse,
the land lies dead,
the grass sullen and yellow;
the day stunted and short.

We peel back the veneer
of discarded hours,
the gusts in our hair
and sombre halls,
confessing ageing sins
in rescinding echoes,
the shadows lengthen;
the evening falls




©AndrewJamesMurray

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Winter Coughs To Announce Her Presence

Officially it is not winter for five weeks or so, but the seasons sometimes blur the calendrical boundaries and fixed points that we like to attribute to them.

Yesterday was the first real cold morning of the year. Crisp and clear, a light frost covered everything, a promise maybe of what is to come. And, perhaps with a sense of the shift in things, it seemed that my Facebook feed was filled with photographs by people drawn to mark this liminal time.

An old school friend by the name of Dave Wright lives up in Inverness, in Scotland. He has two things up there that I don’t have: a decent camera and the northern lights.

He took this photograph as a cold dusk fell upon the land, he himself hunkered down for the night. The tree serves as a point of focus in an otherwise horizontal sweep.

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And then, as he quite aptly described it: the moment the sky danced. 

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Further south, across the English border (how we like to divide and designate, whether with land or time or people) another old school friend, Derek Bates, paused to take in the view from his works window. This was in Duckingfield, a town in Greater Manchester, with light struggling slowly over the bare hills, the low-lying land shrouded in mist.

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To the east of Duckingfield, in my hometown of Middleton, the temperature stubbornly refused to rise. The mist appeared hesitant beyond the trees.

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And then the school run beckoned, drawing us out of our heated home. Ignore that sun, it may as well have been a snowflake.

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“It’s cold,” my daughter exclaimed as we hurried along the main road. “I can’t feel my legs.”

“They’re still there,” I replied. “Keep going!” 

No More

From my poetry blog, written fourteen years ago on the death of my father.

Coronets For Ghosts

This poem appeared in my book, Heading North. Though it 
doesn't explicitly say so, I wrote it on the 
death of my father, fourteen years ago today.

No More


No more. No more bleaching white

the nicotine stained flesh

of your fingers,

picking at the sterile 

veneer of cordiality 

amidst the well-thumbed

scattered deserts

from which ruins strive to rise.


No more counting down the markers,

elbows jostling territorially,

courting, sequential swans

rising in toasts, triumphant.

Your slow, inexorable withdrawal 

left behind a vacuum,

the equilibrium of a table

out of kilter.


No longer the trumpeted parading 

of the heir apparent,

the tedious repetition 

of vine and tongue,

reproduced seasoned lines 

framing the true inheritance 

and held to likeness.

Casual comparity no more. No more.



©Andrew James Murray

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Mural

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Russ Meehan, aka Qubek, is an artist whose work can be encountered during any walk around the Manchester area.

His murals feature throughout the region, including a huge image of 22 bees in the Northern Quarter, which represents the 22 killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

Meehan was asked to do the mural by Marc Gallanders, a graphic designer who set up the Bee Strong MCR in a bid to spread positivity in the wake of the Manchester bomb, and help children and adults have conversations about what happened. His project supplies worker bees which will be placed across Greater Manchester in a show of condolence and solidarity.
The 22 bees mural – a tribute to those killed at Manchester Arena was created in Monton.
Gallanders says: “We decided on Monton as I live there and a lot of the local schools had children directly affected by the attack, and we wanted to spread the love and the message of togetherness beyond the city centre.

“As months have gone by since the attack, we wanted the piece to help move the city and the community forward with a symbolic design.”

The new painting gives the illusion that bricks have been taken out of the wall, revealing a garden with bright flowers, blue skies, and of course – bees.

Meehan explains some of the symbolism in the work: “The flowers have all got meanings – I went through a library of flowers and read through what each of them meant.

“Snapdragons, they symbolise grace and strength, and in the same family there are some statice – which aren’t fully in bloom in the picture, they’re just behind the daffodils – they are a symbol of remembrance and symbolise sympathy and success.

“The rose at the bottom symbolises love, when you think of all the love which poured out of Manchester I thought that was a nice symbol to put in there.

“Also the rose is red because of Lancashire. Daisies symbolise innocence and purity.

“On the left hand side there’s a flower called the king protea, that stands for change and transformation and it signifies daring and resourcefulness.

“The daffodil, it’s indicative of rebirth, new beginnings, and eternal life. Now I’m not really very religious, but I think that’s a nice meaning, it’s like the flowers and the piece is in remembrance to those who have passed away. It’s almost like they’re living on through the art work.

“The bees represent the people of Manchester: hardworking individuals around the city. I didn’t want to drag it up again… I wanted to make a piece of art that celebrated not just the people who were there on the night but everyone in Manchester.

“It’s an overall celebration of people, and the love that people have for each other in this city.”

 

Homeward Bound

I’m sitting in a railway station, got a ticket to my destination 

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I know I’m a poet, but the credit for those lines goes to a certain Paul Simon. I thought of them today when in Victoria Station.

It is said that Simon wrote that song while waiting for a train at Widnes, which is not too far from here.

And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories

certainly has a period North-West feel to it.

Everywhere we go; everything we read; everything we listen to: there are always connections.

Except when the trains are on strike.

Indian Summer

Something new (and late) over on my poetry blog.

Coronets For Ghosts

Indian Summer

Indian Summer,
golden and implausibly charred.
Only one pot holds flowers 
to reach for the sun,
all of the others contain
withered wraiths
of long-spent blooms,
their calendar clocks
denying the possibility
Of these late September days.




©AndrewJamesMurray

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City Escapes, In Starbucks

I’ve been in Leeds for a few days, but I’m hoping return to Manchester tomorrow. Hope my usual seat is free.

City Jackdaw

Today was a good day.

I spent much of it in Starbucks, in Manchester, drinking spiced pumpkin latte and reading accounts of adventures in such far off places as Tangier; Haiti; Ischia; New Orleans.

Sitting directly opposite me, oblivious to my mental escapes, was a young woman, wearing a blouse of long, black-laced sleeves, locked in an insular world with her bespectacled beau. She looked comfortable enough in their interactions, but had enough self-conscious affectations to suggest that their love story was still in its infancy.

Whoever they were, they weren’t local, and their story had brought them here.

Perhaps they were from Tangier, Haiti, Ischia or New Orleans. You know how sometimes coincidence plays itself out.

Sometimes I find myself people watching, wondering, creating, until I realise I am in danger of becoming the Shopping Centre Creep and shake myself back out of my reverie.

I plunged myself back…

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