Poetry and prose

Spontaneous poem and a glocal writer’s short story

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I think someone else at Finding Home did this too? Was inspired and wrote a poem about a literary concert?

openclipart.org
openclipart.org

Or did the wine go to my head, and I heard it wrong when one of the emcees said it? Anyway, that’s what I ended up doing too when contemplating how to write about the Finding Home event.

In a chaise longue indoors listening to writers, by Ana Ribeiro

So Friday night rolled
around and I
went to the joint where we
have all our Christmas parties
and where writers and other
artists now convene
regularly –
lots can be done at
Poniatowski
besides drinking vodka
but that too
is worth a try
or two.

My artsy friend and I
sat comfortably
in a chaise longue
drinking wine
joking around
talking about good
talkers until the first lady
poet took over the mic
with her dark Victorian-style
garb and told us about
war
in Ukraine
where she comes from.

We were touched and the
limelight changed
colors again and
then my pierogi came
and a guy wearing a hat
took over the mic and
told us about
a sad old woman
and an Australian lady
took us back
to a happy road trip and a
compatriot could relate
and the mood changed
and I finished
my pierogi and licked
the plate.

A British lady sang
a capella a song that
almost everyone but me
seemed to know and
sang along with
and by the end of
the literary concert
the audience was sounding
cheerful and drunk
and I think perhaps
at least some of these
glocal folks felt closer to
“finding home”
through their fellow writers’
or dreamers’
words.

Now, for the good part, I “pass the mic” to Leipzig Writers’ Stewart Tunnicliff, one of the event’s performers and emcees. (Ah! And for pictures of the Finding Home event, visit its Facebook page.)

Stewart Tunnicliff performing at "Finding Home"
Stewart Tunnicliff performing at “Finding Home” (photo I took myself, trying to be artistic)

From Stew: “At the moment with all the notions of nationhood, Pegida/Legida, anti-European, anti-Islam, anti-this, anti-that, anti-whatever you think you’re not, I thought it was a perfect time to frame an event about the notion of home, and flip our normally English orientated and successful Leipzig Liest event to both German and English. Again it was a great success, competing against an ever fuller 4 day programme of Buchmesse events. We had both a German section and an English section, we had 7 distinct cultural voices (DE, ENG, AUS,UKR, IRE, BRIT, AME) and amonst them a couple of “double-bürgers” (dual citizens). The venue, the Poniat was a perfect place to find home and give me yet another opportunity to try out new challenges. I do see myself as more a poet than a short story writer and certainly not a MC (host). For the latter people say that I am not like I normally am, whatever the normal Stew is. But I know at heart I am more a natural performance poet than a host. Likewise it gave me my another chance to air my third text in a series of ‘shorts’”.

“’Comes in 3s’, is semi-autobiographical and dedicated to Jim, my grandfather, who despite passing away when I was quite young made a lasting impression on me. It also may form part of a project that is a collection of texts that are being co-written by myself and Fiona Pattison, of thefactoryline (our NPOs partner in the UK), who is also a graduate of MMU in 1999. The compendium which has a working title of “Finding home” will be my first attempt to get prose published, having only previously been published through my core creative passion of poetry.”

*Comes in threes, by Stewart Tunnicliff

Everyone said Jim was a great guy. With his large back garden that was a bee-hive of activity. He had a converted coal house and a tool shed that was used by local kids for electrical and mechanical tinkering. Full of parts, components, bits-and-bobs of used or in-repair gadgets, bikes and the like. Kids would come round to learn how to use the array of tools, or take them out to those in need of DIY, maintenance, quick fixes or odd jobs in the neighbourhood. At intervals in the year, except in winter when the soil suffered from its very own frostbite, kids could be seen sowing or picking their own fruit and veg in his, typical for the village, large family garden. Right down the back of the garden Peter Pan, Elven or Goblin like dens and tree houses had been built around and in the two fruitless trees. The kids knew to leave the others alone for better scrumping from August to mid-september for Bramley and Cox apples, likewise Williams pears scrumped from mid-august to October. Simon found the Coxes and Bramleys a bit bitter, but the juicy speckled green pears had moorish pale insides with a fleshy feel to them when you bit down hard and the sappy, pulpy, yummy juices dribbled onto your chin. One late Indian summer under the heat of weighted thoughts he wondered just why fruit insides were called flesh. He could only just about imagine what it would be like to be a cannibal, but as he fathomed it human flesh must be a bit tougher than the soft fruit flesh, especially if the person was well built or plump as a plum.

Number 1; flicking fresh peas from pods. Simon had delicate hands that he did not mind getting dirty in amongst the weeds and roots of the garden, but the excitement built when pea-picking time came around. Pinching the pods from the vine, tracing his thumb nail down the middle of the pods and splitting, spreading the pods ready for the pick. For him nothing beat holding the edge of the pod in a thumbs-up shaped hand, then taking that thumb and running it along the length of the pod to flick the peas into the metal colander. The bonus encore was a tenner pod; full of small, succulent fresh peas, that ended up chasing each other round and round the metal wide funnel like outer rim until they settled in a heap with their pod-buddies. He even trimmed and manicured his nail to be the best tool for the job, and this would serve him well when he used it later in life to pluck guitar strings. Most of the young kids loved to get dirty, digging the spuds out of the ground, or fishing out the grubs from the full-headed broccolis, caulis and cabbages. But for Simon nothing beat picking peas. Jim showed him how to sneakily hide from beady eyes the smaller ones in the cup of his hand to snack on later.

Jim explaining –

“Keep tha fresh uns, get rid o tha shrivelled up, bitter, bad an stale uns, kiddo”.

For Simon the garden was not only an educational playground, but one for the rough and tumble of battles fought out with his toi soldiers, his action force figures and even between the smaller more expensive transformer armies of the Autobots and the Decepticons his family could barely afford and which he saved up his paper and milk round money for.There was a no mans land near the back wall, where the hose pipe tap was, an upturned crate and the seasonal, varying in size, soap bars. Only as he got older and his smurf world turned into garden staged battles did he wonder just why the soap was there, even at the cold snap and thaw end of winter.

In his Uni years Steve his estranged Uncle told him “Jim, now he is a proud man, probably washed and scrubbed up at back o house after a hard graft down mines, so no speck of grime and dirt could be seen on him when he entered the house“.

This ticked off one of the many open questions that were left unanswered and cut short by Jim’s cancer.

Number 2; catching snowflakes on the tip of your tongue during the powder dusting of a second or third snowfall. In his childhood it seemed that there was more and ever more snow around, deeper, thicker and whiter, but maybe it was cause he was smaller, more easily impressed by a thick white carpeting . Running out of snow for his snowman was never a problem, even when he needed a stool assist for his short round legs so he could top off the head with his makeshift stuffed carrier bag hat. Coal for eyes and a three button jacket, a mangled carrot for the nose, and pebbles for the grinning teeth of the mouth. In his later teens he would build from snow the same kind of castles on Orchard Avenue hill that he built in sand at the beach on the East Coast, trying to out do each by a larger scale every time and then go all the way back down to miniature. Using cardboard, wood, lollipop sticks and his Uncle Jed’s windscreen wiper scraper as tools to sculpt the turrets, moats, drawbridges, fortifications and towers.

In Autumn the top of Orchard Avenue was used for a kids version of parachuting. A bunch of the kids would get the anoraks or such like winter coats off their larger relatives, unzip them and opening them arms-length chute-wide perch on the edge of where the road met the hill on the curb. Toe teetering, waiting for the wind to pick up enough gust to lift them off their feet, topple them over or if they were well lucky carry them off and drift their fall down the hill.

But in winter the hill was used for sledging and for Simon something completely different. He would hold his arms out, exposed palms so his body formed an arrow pointing towards where the snow came from, his head tilted back and with his tongue stuck out wait for a flake or two. Once when doing this he nearly bit the end of his tongue off. A heavy adult hand tapped him on his left shoulder, but no one was there. Automatically his first thought was fear of being in the wrong, but as Simon turned his head to the right he saw Jim playfully mirroring his stance. They stood there for fleeting moments waiting for the tingle on their tongue tips, to Simon it seemed like those precious few minutes elongated into an eon, time like the Granddaughter clock in their house stuck hands at quarter past nine.

As Jim brought him under his wing and taking him back up Orchard Avenue he rounded off with,

“Ya know, each an ever flake is different an unique, but just liek us each an every ones made e tha same stuff son”.

(*This short story is still a work in progress; it actually has three parts, as the title suggests.  You can hear Stew perform the rest of his story, and even perform your own, at Poniatowski’s next open mic, on March 27.)

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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