World Poetry Day

When I posted about Gwendolyn Brooks, I did not realize it was World Poetry Day. Apparently, it is. Fortuitous. I am always writing poems, most of which are kind of cruddy. Here is one that isn’t so bad, which I wrote a while back about my time living in Istanbul. True story.


In the small shops

in my old neighbourhood in Istanbul

the shopkeepers would use a battered shoebox

as a cash register. They would leave me alone

with it – no locks

in sight, as they went down the road to get me a tea, a cay,

sweet and dark like amber fossilized into stone.

They had faith that I was good. They were lucky. In the main

I was. I was me: not perfect but never one

to spit at trust.

Gwendolyn Brooks

How had I not heard of Gwendolyn Brooks, dear readers? Had any of you? What beautiful poetry. I discovered her, of all places, on Instagram, where I follow an account that posts poems.

when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story

– And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,
And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—
When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon
Looking off down the long street
To nowhere,
Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation
And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why?
And if-Monday-never-had-to-come—
When you have forgotten that, I say,
And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,
And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;
And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,
That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner
To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles
Or chicken and rice
And salad and rye bread and tea
And chocolate chip cookies—
I say, when you have forgotten that,
When you have forgotten my little presentiment
That the war would be over before they got to you;
And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed,
And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end
Bright bedclothes,
Then gently folded into each other—
When you have, I say, forgotten all that,
Then you may tell,
Then I may believe
You have forgotten me well.

The H&M Circus

What a vile pair. Prince Philip is in the hospital and there is a worldwide public health crisis but it’s all about H&M. Forgive me if I blame Meghan, though – Harry was once a young man who served his country and founded the Invictus Games, so there was a kernel of decency there. Now he has Stockholm Syndrome, from what I can see. Interesting to me is the amount of support the couple are getting in the U.S. I am not remotely anti-American – unlike so many of my compatriots – but I am truly disgusted with the fact that so many Americans, including rather prominent ones, simply believe what Meghan asserted in the “interview.” (It really wasn’t the latter, at all. An interviewer would have challenged what were clearly some blatant falsehoods.) Anyway, the brilliant Melanie Phillips knocks it out of the park here, and Rod Liddle gets a touchdown here (see what I did there?).

Of the truly evil suggestion that someone in the royal family was worried Archie might have dark skin, Liddle writes: “So — who asked about Archie’s skin color, then? Not naming the supposed miscreant was another act of self-indulgence and cowardice from Meghan and Harry. Besmirch the entire royal family by not providing a name.” Indeed, the passive-aggressive nature of the accusation boggles the mind. There is real weaselish-ness in not naming a name and of not being specific about the alleged comment and the context of it. Now the public will wonder – was it William? Kate? Charles? And what was the comment, exactly? Way to smear people, Megs.

I hope Harry’s family will be forgiving, because after the divorce he will need support.

Sir Michael Caine Reads “If”

It’s my birthday and my gift to myself is this – Sir Michael Caine reading Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” This was a poem we had to memorize in junior high school. Sadly, it is probably no longer studied by kids as it was written by an old British guy. What a shame – it really contains perfect lessons for life.