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25.5.15

DURHAM




























Cobbled webs of my thoughts
hang around your lanes.
A brass band nestles in my head,
cosy as a bed bug.
I’m reading from a balcony
poems of Revolution.
It’s Gala Day and the words are lost
in the coal dust of your lungs.

Your dark satanic brooding Gaol
throws a blanket over blankness:
a grim era of second hand visions
aches like a scab in a cell.
And rowing a punt up your Bishop’s arse
a shaft of sunlight on the river
strikes me only as true,
shining into the eyes of all the prisoners
swinging from Cathedral bells.

Old Durham Town, you imprison me
like a scream in a Salvation Army song,
release me soon:

someone 
get ready to hug me.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

16.5.15

THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY BAY























Photo by Tony Whittle 







THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY BAY


She is out feeding the birds,
on the dot again,
in the drizzle of a seaside morning;
the seed 
cast fom her hand
to the jerking beak of a cock pheasant.

She is alone 
in a flock of dark starlings,
scattering crumbs to make them shriek.

She is a friend of spuggies,
gives blackbirds water.

Her eyes fly across the garden
to catch a quick robin,
to spot a wee wren,
to chase a bold magpie.

She is innocence,
she is a lovely old lady;
still giving,
still nursing.

She deserves heaven,
she deserves a beautiful nest
to dream out her last hours 
in bird song;
in the rich colours of music,
in the red feathers of sunset,
she is my mother,
she is a rare bird
who fed me beautiful dreams.

Thank you for letting me climb 
with the skylarks.

Thank you
for the strength of wings. 




KEITH ARMSTRONG





13.5.15

WOODEN HEART: A NEW SONG IN THE MORNING FOR PHILIPP FRIEDRICH SILCHER (1789-1860)*










Through an arch of towering plane trees,
I reach to touch the hips
of an upright Swabian girl,
her lips
fresh with strawberries
from a breakfast bowl of kisses
sprinkled with sugar
and yesterday’s cream.
The birds of the Platanenallee
fly on the wings of melancholy,
the breeze of history
scenting their songs.
It dawns on me
that the rain
will lash against our faces
as we push our way
through the saluting wood.
The day is crumbling already
around us
with the leaves memorably
crunching under our futile tread.
Half way along the soaking avenue,
the sun like a song
sparkles in my eyes
and lights my last hours
with the beauty of skies.
And suddenly
you are there
your lump of a statue
bursting though the leaves,
a kind of terrible stone
trapping your crumbling tunes 
inside rock.
To take a frail life
and carve it into something immortal
is a folly as well as a tribute
to the hypocrisy of pompous little leaders
seeking to employ music
for their brutal ends.
So I say
and so we sing
of beautiful glances
and military funerals
of dead songbirds
in the path of bullets.
I climb in spirit
to reach the flesh of this lovely girl,
for a moment
I am happy and then it is gone
behind the clouds of war.
And this is for you Friedrich
from my fluttering heart
in a sea of shaking branches,
reaching out
for humanity
to triumph
over the horror
of the mundane, 
a gift of a song for you,
a lovely glass of wine
as the armies march again
into the blind alley
of a bleak despair:


Can't you see
I love you?
Please don't break my heart in two,
That's not hard to do,
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.
And if you say goodbye,
Then I know that I would cry,
Maybe I would die,
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.

There's no strings upon this love of mine,
It was always you from the start.
Treat me nice,
Treat me good,
Treat me like you really should,
'Cause I'm not made of wood,
And I don't have a wooden heart.

Muss i denn, muss i denn
Zum Staedtele hinaus,
Staedtele hinaus,
Und du, mein schat, bleibst hier?

Muss i denn, muss i denn
Zum Staedtele hinaus,
Staedtele hinaus,
Und du, mein schat, bleibst hier?
(Got to go, got to go,
Got to leave this town,
Leave this town
And you, my dear, stay here?).

There's no strings upon this love of mine,
It was always you from the start,
Sei mir gut,
Sei mir gut,
Sei mir wie du wirklich sollst,
Wie du wirklich sollst,
(Treat me nice,
Treat me good,
Treat me like you really should,
Like you really should), 
'Cause I don't have a wooden heart.

KEITH ARMSTRONG

*Swabian musician Philipp Friedrich Silcher originally composed the tune, based on a folk lyric, used in the pop song ‘Wooden Heart’. His statue is in Tuebingen by the River Neckar.

'Beautiful poem, most moving and made me think again. It should be sung.' (Gitte Schwarze).

5.5.15

WALLACE'S RIGHT ARM


On 23rd August 1305, William Wallace was executed. At that time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Edward may have believed that with Wallace's capture and execution, he had at last broken the spirit of the Scots. He was wrong. By executing Wallace so barbarically, Edward had martyred a popular Scots military leader and fired the Scottish people's determination to be free.

WALLACE’S RIGHT ARM

Wave goodbye ye oafs of culture,
let your rootless dreams drift away.
History has come to drown you in blood
and wash up your empty schemes.

Yon tottering Palaces of Culture
are seized by the rampaging sea.
They are sailing back to the Equator
to burn in a jungle of fear.

Three hundred million years me lads,
unseen from these high rise days:
an ice sheet thick as an ocean,
all those hours just melted down.

Into rich seams of coal,
tropical plants were fossilised;
the sandbanks grew into sandstone
and the mudflats into shale.

And the right arm of William Wallace
shakes with wrath in this firework night.
It is waving goodbye to your history,
it is saying hello to Baghdad.

All the brains of your Labour Party
are stashed in a carrier bag.
Down Bottle Bank in the darkness,
you can hear Wallace scream in a dog.

And will you hang, draw, and quarter my home street?
Will you drop bombs on the music hall?
You have taken the bones from our loves
and taken the piss from the Tyne.

So give me your arm Good Sir Braveheart,
I’ll take it a walk through the park
and I’ll use it to strike down a student
with an empty shell of a soul.

And I’d give my right arm to make ships,
my left to stoke dreams alive.
And I will dance on in the brilliance of life
until oppression is blown away.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

4.5.15

NEW CD FROM TIM DALLING


Eve's Bonie Squad


Official launch date: May 15th 2015.
I watched a documentary called 'The Secret Life of Waves' in which a scientist used the metaphor of a wave for human life. A wave doesn't really exist as an object, it's just energy moving through water particles. It's not an object, it's a process. So humans are just processes, forms of energy creating, building and discarding cells until we eventually crash on to the shore. I've found this metaphor really helpful as I've started to se the first faint outline of land up ahead.
So I'd like to dedicate these songs to all those waves in front and behind, from William Dalling, Nellie Maud Palmer, Eileen and Alan Baker to Tom, Rhona and Ailsa Dalling and the waves behind them.


To buy Eve's Bonie Squad for £12.50:
  • Send a cheque for £12.50 payable to TR Dalling, to
    Tim Dalling,
    2, Stratford Grove West,
    Heaton,
    Newcastle upon Tyne   NE6 5BB
    UK
    with your name and address, and saying you'd like a copy of Eve's Bonie Squad.
  • or click the link to buy using your debit or credit card:
    We use PayPal to collect your payment, but you do not need to open a PayPal account to pay this way. Nor do we see your card details, as PayPal deal direct with your bank.

Track listing and samples

1.Picture of You
2.Poison Hand
3.Where I Want To Be
4.Mr Michael Marra
5.Hey Burro
     - poem by Nigel Wild
6.Song of the Lower Classes
     - poem by Ernest Jones
7.Two Lighthouses
     - poem by Julia Darling
8.Eve's Bonie Squad
9.Shy Bairns
     - poem by Dr Keith Armstrong
10.They'll Never Come Back
11.Indelible, Miraculous
11.Song of the Wind
     - poem by Julia Darling
11.Enivrez-Vous (Get Drunk)
     - poem by Charles Baudelaire
11.Thalassa
     - poem by Louis MacNeice
All songs by Tim Dalling



30.4.15

RAINBOW, FREUDENSTADT





























A rainbow
curved above us all.
It stretched
from the North Sea to the Black Forest.
It arced over ancient walls
and, beneath its spectrum,
birds mocked aeroplanes
and pecked
at a mad Professor’s brains.
KEITH  ARMSTRONG

25.4.15

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 jingling geordie

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