JINGLE ON MY SON!

JINGLE ON MY SON!
A doughty champion of his local culture.(Poet Tom Hubbard)Your performance at the city hall was soooooooooo good! Christoph thought it was excellent! (Carolyn)

24.3.20

KEEP AN EYE ON THE MARTINI TOWER FOR ME





 Groningen, The Netherlands, twin city of Newcastle






Keep an eye on the Martini Tower for me
while I struggle with my life.
I still miss the smell of fish
and the smoke of the Huis de Beurs.
I will be back, with another song,
for Mister Wilcox’s Liberation Tour.
I will be ready for that Pancake Ship
and the drunken stools of O’Ceallaigh’s.

Keep an eye on the Martini Tower for me
while I work out which view to see.
I will be shouting in a twin-town
and killing my time with romance.
I will be smashing through politicians
and drowning in red lights.
I will be rehearsing poems,
forgetting how real life hurts.

Keep an eye on the Martini Tower for me,
I’m tearing up coasts to greet you.
You’ll see my ghost in Schipol,
with a pint of strong blood in a glass.
I’m on my way back to Groningen ,
with the smack of three kisses on me,
to shake the warm hand of a city poet,
to piss in the face of a heckler.

Keep an eye on the Martini Tower for me,
I was happy in the Land of Cockaigne.
I could see clowns on a dismal day
and blondes in a sea of black.
I met a Grey Man with a girl of nineteen
and I asked him to show me the way.
I saw an old hand hack the guts from a beast
and sucked a cigar to be kind.

Keep an eye on the Martini Tower for me,
don’t let her fly away.
I need her to hold my life together,
I crave her to show me the way.
I want her to lean my fragile bones against,
I need history to guide my feet.
I have left a careworn scarf with you,
keep it warm for when I come back. 



KEITH ARMSTRONG 

19.3.20

WALLINGTON MORNING






























 







(for Peter Common & Dan Pinnock)


'But the thing I saw in your face

No power can disinherit:

No bomb that ever burst

Shatters the crystal spirit.' (George Orwell).



I stood at your door,

knocked in the English sunshine,

bowed to greet you

but could not hear

the chatter

from your typewriter

or the rain pecking

at the tin roof,

only the plummet of the leaves

brushing against my face

and the birds

falling over the fields.



Thought of you and Jack Common,

shaking hands

in open debate,

patched sleeves

damp on the bar counter,

ploughing through

tracts of history,

eyes on the horizon

looking for War

and bombs

over Datchworth's spire.



This magic morning,

clear sky in our hearts.

No September showers,

only goats bleating,

a horse trotting

down the lane

and, in the day dream,

St Mary's bells

glistening

with Eileen asleep

in the clouds.



What should I say?

We are weak.

I know you were awkward

but, like Jack, full of love.

Out of bullets,

flowers may grow;

out of trenches,

seeds.

The roses

and acorns of thoughts 

you planted

those years ago

in Kits Lane,

nourish us now

in these brief minutes,

gifts

from your writing hand

farming for words,

the eggs of essays,

the jam on your fingers.



You were scraping a book together,

smoking the breath 

out of your collapsing lungs,

taking the world

on your creaking bent shoulders,

riding across fields

for friends,

bones aching,

fighting to exist

in the cold breeze.



Still the Simpson's Ale

was good in the Plough,

the old laughter still

flying down this Wallington lane,

with the crackling children 

sparkling

on an idyllic day.



Enjoy this beauty,

it will turn to pain.

Sing your folk songs,

dig your garden,

dance in your brain.

Graft and graft

until all the breath is gone.

Leave a brave mark

in the dust

round Animal Farm.



What a good thing

to be alive

where songbirds soar

and daffodils nod.

Over the slaughter

of motorways,

we are following 

your large footprints

into this bright countryside

where good people

adopt another's children

and still 

fall in love 

with England.







KEITH ARMSTRONG













Written after visiting Orwell’s cottage in Wallington, Hertfordshire, where he lived with Eileen O’Shaughnessy and which was looked after for him in 1938 by fellow writer Jack Common.


'The more I read ‘Wallington Morning’ the more I like it.  Very well done, an extremely clever and well written poem!' (Peter Common, son of Jack)

'I love this! Very emotive! Draws pictures in my brain and melts my heart. Thank you.' (Denise Byrne, daughter of Peter).

11.3.20

TRAVELLING POET - GO WELL!































TRAVELLING POET

He travels by plane and train.
The words travel in his brain.
And if we sit in the Karpershoek,
the beer travels in us again.


(Martin van de Vijfeijke) From my friend Martin in Amsterdam, a long term companion in one of my favourite (and one of the oldest) Amsterdam bars, the Karpershoek!

Here's a random list of all the places where I've performed my poetry over the years!:



ROUND BRITAIN & IRELAND

Cheltenham
Glossop
Manchester
Liverpool
Sheffield
Bolton
York
Leeds
Harrogate
Lincoln
Lancaster
Leicester
Leigh
Burnley
Shrewsbury
Boston
Kidderminster
Bristol
London (Greenwich) (Little Turnstile, Holborn)
Preston
Alnwick
Berwick
Spittal
Wooler
Alnmouth
Beadnell
Bamburgh
Newbiggin
Morpeth
Castle Eden
Blyth
Middlesbrough
Stockton
Kilburn
Richmond (Yorkshire)
Penrith
Carlisle
Lockerbie
Kendal
Preston
Stourbridge
Hexham
Haydon Bridge
Haltwhistle
North Shields
South Shields
Tynemouth
Whitley Bay
Killingworth
Cramlington
Percy Main
Gateshead
Blaydon
Peterlee
Easington
South Hetton
Seaham
Hartlepool
Darlington
Durham
Newcastle upon Tyne
Byker
Loughborough
Leicester
Louth
Houghton le Spring
Sunderland
Washington
Chester le Street
Kendal
Ledbury
Bradford
Edinburgh
Aberdeen
Norham
Druridge Bay
Low Newton by the Sea
Cullercoats
Wallsend
Newburn
Jesmond
Heaton
Scotswood
Gosforth
Kenton
Seahouses
Bridgnorth
Telford
Liverpool
Tamworth
Hebburn
Jarrow
South Hetton
Stanley
Consett
Pelton Fell
Trimdon
Spennymoor
Fishburn
Thornley
Crook
Willington
BishopAuckland
No Place

Douglas, Isle of Man


Limerick
Dublin
Cork
Galway
Fermoy
Kinvara

Belfast


DUTCH TOURING

Amsterdam

Delft

Leeuwarden

Den Helder

The Hague

Rotterdam

Maastricht

Venlo

Katwijk

Groningen

Haren

Utrecht

Breda

Eindhoven

Hilversum

Tilburg


GERMAN TOURING

Hamburg

Stuttgart

Trier

Frankfurt

Neckartenzlingen

Freudenstadt

Melchingen

Lauffen

Nordenham

Tuebingen

Reutlingen

Kiel

Oldenberg

Stockach



ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE

Moscow,
Leningrad,
Rustavi, Tblisi (Georgia)
Molle, Sweden
Elsinore, Denmark
Amiens, Strasbourg, France
Prague
Gothenburg


Reykjavik


CULTURAL VISITS

Poland - Warsaw, Zakopane, Wroclaw, Poznan, Crakow, Lublin
Luxemburg
Salzburg
Milan
Germany - East and West Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Meissen, Spremberg, Lake Constance, Luebeck, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Munich, Garmisch
France - Paris, Halluin, Lille, Ivry-sur-Seine
Bulgaria - Varna, Sofia, Rila, Tvardica
Greece - Thessaloniki, Volos, Argalasti, Delphi
Oslo
Yugoslavia - Porec, Pula

WORLD

Kenya - Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru, Mombasa
Cuba - Havana, Santiago da Cuba, Matanzas, Varederos
Kingston, Jamaica

10.3.20

TüBINGEN DREAMS - CHAPTER TWO - PHOTOGRAPHS: ULRICH METZ; WORDS: KEITH ARMSTRONG

'Only now do I understand human beings, now that I live far from them and in solitude.' (Friedrich Hölderlin)



(period photo by Alfred Göhner of circus elephants drinking at the Neptune fountain in Tübingen Market Place, April 23rd 1963)

 
ELEPHANTS IN TÜBINGEN


Such a postwar circus,
swill of pigs and drawn out cold war,
the bleeding never stops.
Under the straw,
the claw of a miserable history
grabs down the years
at the young who are innocent
of all the butchery and whoredom.
Imperial Germany is a fagged out colonial office,
a sweating prison
of bashed up ideals,
a broken clock
covered in ticks and leeches.

The animals have escaped
and invade the Market Place.
Elephants sup at Neptune’s old fountain,
spurt out the foam of stagnant days,
trunks curling to taste the bitter water.

This Tübingen is a surreal pantomime:
barmaids swing from ceilings,
policemen hang from their teeth.
Frau Binder throws them buns.

And our Max Planck is a dream inventor.
Some boffin of his crosses a peach with a tulip,
the genetics of a bayonet in a breast.
The menagerie moves on to the Castle,
a giraffe nibbles at a church.
The sun gnaws at the clouds.

Like a clown,
I leap to down beer.
And a hideously sweet lady cracks a whip
and flashes her milky thigh at me.
It is no good.
I cannot raise a glassy smile anymore.
This circus is a tragedy.
The animals are sad
and rotten
with the stink of carnage,
seeping
from your television screens.

































HIER KOTZTE GOETHE (GOETHE PUKED HERE)

‘About Goethe, the legend says that he was invited to stay here in Tübingen for a while but on the very first day that he was walking around he couldn't stand the smell of the open channels and did what he had to do.’

Goethe puked here
he did.
Poured out a tide of words
on the street.
Couldn’t stand the smell of war,
the decay of stinking empires,
ugly whiff of bad poetry.
He did,
he puked on Tübingen,
on all the drivel
coursing from the normal text books.
He had to.
To keep his guts open to the theory of beauty,
vomit out the wretched ugliness
from this town’s pouting ulcers.
Clear ‘Coin Alley’
for all the shouting children
to dance along,
for his mate Schiller to rhyme by,
for the swifts to sing
over it all,
over and over again
in this distinct order of loveliness. 



WHIRRING OVER THE MOON FIELD


On a Monday,
with fruity schnapps
boring away in my gut,
I scraped along,
through a bloodstained subway,
into a grizzly Tübingen play.
Through this fine mist,
the blessed slugs slid
in the park of
lovers and drifters;
with the clap of a scream,
the hungover day
came dawning
into our lives.
The stretch of Wilhelmstrasse
poked out my eye,
my tongue slurped around
in my brain,
looking for verse
to drown the old pain
in the mouth
of a beautiful
waitress.
‘Kiss me out of my misery,’
I breathed in her delicate ear;
she gave me a flash
of a Swabian smile,
a hint of Württemberg lace.
I stared at her eyes the whole morning,
alone by the cafe door;
I injected my coffee with whisky
as crazy clouds winked
through dark blinds.
‘Eines Tages als die Gurke sirrend über das Mondfeld haspelte.’
(‘One day when the cucumber reeled whirring over the moon field.’):
I had had too much to think,
needed the touch
of a swallow in sunlight;
the love of a sky blue hostess
on the wings
of this wasted day.








THE MONTH OF THE ASPARAGUS
 


It was the month of the asparagus
and you kissed me by the river
with the rain flowing down your face.
It was the day you burst
like a volcano,
gushing all over me
as we ran
down Neckargasse,
exulting
in the sky weeping all over us
and in the laughter of children
splashing in the damp raging day.

It was the month of the asparagus
when our dreams landed
through the attic window of Lange Gasse 18.
It was the day my heart rang
with all the bells of Tuebingen
and my bones ached
with the weight of memory,
the sad loss,
hanging over us
a mountainous cloud of longing,
full with the tangy moisture
of new songs and poems.

It was the month of the asparagus
when I zoomed in to meet you
with my arms open to the grand afternoon.
O what a day
when I came again to see you
with my heart heavy,
riddled with the seeds
of creative delight and the light
of a stream of wondrous moments
pouring,
the length of Wilhelmstrasse,
into the very realms of hope.





THE YOUTH OF THE POET OF YOUTH - Die Jugend des Dichters der Jugend

(Hermann Hesse in Tübingen, 1895-1899)

The sunflower opens as does my heart,
Longing,
Expanding
In love and hope.
Spring, what is your intent?
When will my thirst be quenched? ...

(Eduard Mörike)


Today a prayer
in my nervous heart,
starting the tasks of the day
at 7am
with the edge of a warm coffee
on my silent tongue.
Through the window,
people’s bodies stir
leaves
and beating birds
swim in the fresh daylight.

‘My growing wings should carry the songs’
on my way to work
in the beautiful city,
smitten with melancholy,
no spring in my shoes,
back to the yawning books,
back to the cellar of Hades.
7.30,
another stretch of a morning,
Carl August Sonnewald
and his Swabian breathing,
Henirich Hermes
and that cough thick with the phlegm
of heavy tomes;
the ethic of work
rampant,
all-consuming,
eating away at joy,
sucking the melody
from the throats of songsters.

O painful youth
where will it all end?
Where in this cosmos
is the love?:
‘My gods are better and more faithful
than that Sunday God.’
I scramble up the hill
for lunch
taking the air within Castle walls,
Father Goethe keeping me company,
clinging to the beauty
of butterflies
in the gardens,
something to hang onto
to get through the afternoon with
at the enduring bench,
overfowing with commerce
and the daily grind of monotonous money.

Sometimes
a swim in the Neckar
is the only way to cool off
and midnight walks on sleepless nights.
Writing means singing,
poetry is song.
Chopin
ripples in the trees
along Herrenberger Strasse,
dances in Lauscher the Listener’s
lonely little room.
A sip of Frau Leopold’s bitter cider
makes me drowsy,
ready to cave in,
looking for love
in the strings
of a violin.
Student suicides,
funereal music
waft by,
a fraternity carousing
in the dirty street.

Half the night,
I lie at the window
reading Mörike
and Novalis,
surrounded by books
all the time;
and that bastard Herr Christaller upstairs
whistling at night,
bumping about
in his boots.
Swabian stories
at the Swabian Clerks’ Club,
startling misadventures
and fairy tales
keeping me awake in bed,
unused kisses on my bachelor pillow,
moths of poems
taunting me
down centuries.
And Otto and Ludwig and Carlo, Oskar and Wilhelm,
‘Le Petit Cenacle’,
surrounding me at another Last Supper,
sinking in the beer-soaked words
of this pissing city.
Life is so lonely for us all in the end
with only the glint of a smile on the face of Helene
or the hint of a tune in a line
to redeem it:
the smile on a mother’s glad face,
the grace of a feather in sunlight.

I am looking for a lake
to rest my Romantic Songs by;
I am looking for a cab
out of town,
a way of leaving Tübingen
without ever leaving it.
Step out of my way,
a writer is coming.
Let me reach for the sky
with the fountain pen
of a spirited man,
grown beautuful
from the twitching bones
of shy youth.

One day the stars above
Shall flow in golden wine,
We will enjoy it all,
And as stars we will shine.

(Novalis) 




FALLING IN LOVE IN  THE CAFE PICCOLO
 


I am crouched over my sparkling glass
waiting for the sunshine to come through
to join me on a winter’s day in Tübingen,
for a leaf to fly through the door
and show me its intricate patterns
in my penetrating stare,
to skip and dance
and float away

like me
in a trance
in a delicate romance,
a rush of poems,
a sudden surge of booklets
in my travelling bag,
a dream packed into a KLM briefcase;
the tightness of a blue skirt,
the glance of a flashing winged eye
heading towards me,
threatening to make love to me,
to blow away this dark news
pushing its way into my anxious face
from a complete stranger’s daily paper.

And Jürgen is rocking tonight in a corner,
sharing his energy with the moon
and I have the smell of a coffee on my sleeve,
the evil taste of last night’s schnapps
on this stooped boy’s lips,
the hysterical melancholy that only Tübingen brings me;
along the cobbled path outside the Piccolo window
prances chance
and that girl I’ll never ever know
teasing the slipping tears into my scribbles,
her picture forever in my twitching English heart

saying:

‘Ciao!
I’m never really going to leave this town.’

A delicate grip
on reality.




 

the jingling geordie

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