BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN SEPTEMBER! LIMERICK IN OCTOBER!

BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN SEPTEMBER! LIMERICK IN OCTOBER!

21.8.16

TUEBINGEN 1989




(to Alfonsas Nyka-Niliunas)
 

‘My heart cracked
Like the window pane
from the bell‘s thrust.’
 

Oh Jenny
you walked with me in your dreamy way
along Hauffstrasse,
my lady out of a fairy tale,
blonde hair shimmered
golden
in the Neckar breeze.
And what exactly were we doing
together
sharing those crazy moments?
Wild flower
plucked from Friedrich’s grave,
you wanted something more tangible
I fear
in your oh so sensual way.
You intoxicated me
with the strange fragrance
of your long sexy fingers,
the depth of your lips.
But you couldn’t understand
why I called you ‘Caroline von Schlegel’,
why I wanted to make love to you
in smutty Amsterdam
on a creaking canal boat
on soaking Prinsengracht,
when I could
have had you
simply,
basically,
all to myself
on your bed
at home.



KEITH ARMSTRONG


Alfonsas Nyka-Niliunas was born in 1919 in the highland region of Lithuania. He studied Romance languages and literatures and philosophy at the University of Kaunas and the University of Vilnius. In 1944, as the Soviets encroached upon Lithuania, he escaped to Germany, where he lived in Displaced Persons camps until 1949, furthering his studies at Tübingen and Freiburg universities. In 1950, Nyka-Niliunas emigrated to the United States, He is considered to be one of the main émigré poets. He has published a number of books of poetry, has translated Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Baudelaire and other important European poets into Lithuanian, and has been awarded many prizes, amongst them the Lithuanian National Prize for Literature.

16.8.16

FOLLOW THE SUN - COMING SOON!



13.8.16

SPLINTERS



























 



 



(FOR MY FATHER)



You picked splinters

with a pin each day

from under blackened fingernails;

shreds of metal

from the shipyard grime,

minute memories of days swept by:

the dusty remnants of a life

spent in the shadow of the sea;

the tears in your shattered eyes

at the end of work.

And your hands were strong,

so sensitive and capable 

of building boats

and nursing roses;

a kind and gentle man

who never hurt a soul,

the sort of quiet knackered man

who built a nation.

Dad, I watched your ashes float away

down to the ocean bed

and in each splinter

I saw your caring eyes

and gracious smile.



I think of your strong silence every day

and I am full of you,

the waves you scaled,

and all the sleeping Tyneside streets

you taught me to dance my fleeting feet along.



When I fly, you are with me.

I see your fine face

in sun-kissed clouds

and in the gold ring on my finger,

and in the heaving crowd on Saturday,

and in the lung of Grainger Market,

and in the ancient breath

of our own Newcastle.







KEITH ARMSTRONG



'This is one of the poems I'll never forget. I see the struggling of my own dad in your words. 

Thanks for your fine poem.' (Klaas Drenth) 



Beautiful poem. Loving, moving memories. Most excellent Keith.’ (Strider Marcus Jones)



'Love the poem Keith. That’s my dad.’ (John McMahon)



Annie Sheridan 'Beautifully visual Keith ,nice to share your memories.' x



Imelda Walsh 'Lovely poem, loving memories too.'



Kenny Jobson 'So, so good, Keith - I'll share this, if you don't mind.'

8.8.16

LA CONCHA WINE BAR, LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY


It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them. (George Orwell)

An unseasonal sun
fires the little socialist in me.
Just off the train
and staight into the red wine
in the La Concha Bar. 
My first time in Letchworth
and such a thirst
for deeper knowledge
in this Garden City.
I’m in Orwell’s footsteps,
no street bears his name,
my brain
strides in his shade,
on his way to a Summer School
and to war in Spain.
I’m keeping that aspidistra flying
in the torment,
scanning the Letchworth Citizen
for any news of the Labour Party 
turning left.
I will announce myself
to the girls in the garden,
go red in the afternoon,
sneak into David’s Bookshop
for a preview of the blueprint
of the new dawn.
For now,
this day is dancing
flamenco in the warm skies
of flown illusions.
Let us create
a festival for George 
in the prickly heat
of a place 
where ideals 
lie gathering bluebottles
on a traffic island
while castanets flicker 
like precious minutes 
spent
in Barcelona.

KEITH ARMSTRONG

Letchworth Garden City, September 2012

A lovely day and a superb meal we enjoyed there! (Peter Common)





6.8.16

SO DON'T COME TO MY FUNERAL


THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY BAY


2.8.16

28.7.16

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).

23.7.16

TUEBINGEN (AND A TRACE OF COFFEE)




Tuebingen (and a trace of coffee)
invades the edges of my agitated tongue
as I glide through the empty stools
of the moments gone
and the sensational waitress
picks at the tips
of those forgotten days,
the wasted breath
of political song.
I have lost something
that poems can’t define:
the warmth of my mother’s smile in the shivering moonlight,
the love of a lifetime
and the ways my young feet
ran along in the summer breezes.
But my friends (those who stand by me) I tell you
I shall rise,
I shall rise again at Newcastle Airport
and greet the runways of Europe
with kisses fresh
with longing
for the ache of adventure,
an air hostess’s hand in mine
as I cling to the sunshine in her eyes
and the golden memories
return
to force me to laugh again.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

21.7.16

WE CHANGE AT LIMERICK JUNCTION































We change at Limerick Junction.
Rain knocks the smiles off our faces,
the sun glows and exposes the dust in the faint traces of our poems.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Weather makes our eyes fade,
the hours grow tired of breathing in the pain of the world.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Hearts thunder along the crazy rails,
the weight off our feet lands with a thump on the daily platform.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Carry gifts for old friends,
the urge to go on trailing poetry along the lines.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Girls get too young for us,
the flesh weakens with the passage of whiskey.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Air races in the manes of horses,
the money drains from our exhausted pockets.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Jump from one train to another,
the inexhaustible desire to write a better verse.
We change at Limerick Junction.
Words are why we laugh,
beauty is what makes us want to live.
We change at Limerick Junction.



 


KEITH ARMSTRONG

14.7.16

AND PIGS MIGHT FLY






























(for Helmut Bügl)


On this evening flight,
necks stuck out,
we dart in formation
to a Stuttgart dream.
Complete strangers,
we share a common French wine
to celebrate clouds.
With your rough words,
you ask me what I do.
“Write poetry”, I say,
and sign away a verse or two for you,
hovering in mid-air, between snow and sun.
“And you?” “I breed pigs I do”,
flying home from a swine seminar in Montreal.
To prove it, you sign me a photo of six of your litter,
the Swabian breed of Helmut Bugl.
It’s a flying cultural exchange,
a rhyme for a slice of time.
The stars are sizzling in the thrilling sky
and, tonight, pigs might fly.
Tonight, pigs might fly.





Keith Armstrong

the jingling geordie

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