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Taking down tinsel
and other decorations
is the thing to do, perhaps.
can be evoked if they’re left,
dusty though they be.
They speak of the hopes one had
about friends and family-
How sad to dispense with those
festoons of good will.
When you vacuum the glitter,
you eradicate your dreams.
A re-blog from Sat., Nov 5th last year.
(Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007. St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington; Wikimedia Commons)
I visited the church today as I wanted to somehow commemorate five
brothers who were all killed in World War 1. Their youngest brother-
Percy Soul- died of meningitis after the war. He was the sixth son.
Apparently some villagers were annoyed that Mrs Soul received financial
‘compensation’ for her five sons’ deaths in service.
Later she moved to Great Barrington. She had three daughters who must
have been traumatised by the loss of their brothers.
I kept thinking of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate, for some reason and I checked
that it was in production when the boys were young. It was. I hope they
were able to enjoy this childish luxury as they ran around the fields,
scratching their names on the beams of a barn. Maybe not, if they were
(Photo by Kim Traynor, 2013. Own work of enamel sign.)
It was freezing cold today. Inside there were wall monuments to others
who had died – centuries before. One girl had only been 19 when she
There was a little trapped wren inside and an aspiring organist who
arrived for a practice. I don’t know how he could have attempted to play
with cold hands!
Anyway, I went home and thought I’d try a villanelle. The rhymes are
limited, but there are 5 tercets- one for each brother, maybe. It ends with
a quatrain, where the rhyme feels a bit anti-climactic. But then, maybe it
suits the content… All ready for Remembrance Day. Let’s Not Forget.
The Lost Souls of Great Rissington
So, she wouldn’t stand for God Save The King,
though all five sons lay down for him and died.
For each life she pocketed a shilling.
The candle in her window kept burning,
watched by a girl who’d never be a bride.
And a mother and three sisters crying
was no salve for the sharpness of Death’s sting.
Over the cow-common, The Windrush sighed
and, in a drawer, telegrams were yellowing.
The candle guttered- a Soul was leaving.
The Roll Up Yonder couldn’t be denied.
No bugler registered this sibling.
In a village barn there is a carving-
names of hopeful lads which emphasised
desires for immortality. Living
in a peaceful hamlet? No, perishing-
even a twin had no one at his side.
While some entrenched neighbours were gossiping,
lethal as shrapnel and more exacting.
(St John the Baptist Church, Great Rissington
Photo by Jonathan Billinger, 2007)
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With tastes beyond means,
you are asking for trouble.
marriage will bring you comfort.
A man needs backing.
A good father-in-law helps:
on both sides favours.
Settle the verdant foothills
and eschew the volcanoes!
Think of your good name;
moderate your ambitions.
That’s the way to peace.
Overlook minor details
and you’ll see the way forward.
Katsushika Oi – a poem about
Hokusai’s daughter, herself an artist.
He went to brothels
to conduct his art business.
I rode on his back.
I liked courtesans.
In the tea-houses we laughed,
before their pimps came.
I didn’t need you,
so I divorced you.
I laughed at your work.
To me it looked like spilt oil.
Go back to your shop!
I was third daughter.
When both his wives had left him,
he called to me, Oi!
Loyal to Iitsu:
I changed my name to this, but
some called me Tipsy.
I liked alcohol.
I posed for his shunga
and drank a little.
He drew Strong Oei
Pouring Sake as tribute
to my assistance.
I painted beauties
and ghosted his work, dipping
my brush in moonlight.
When my musicians
played their instruments, their wrists
curved like The Great Wave.
Though struck by lightning,
the old man did not die then.
He rose from the flames
like a phoenix. He
instructed me in shadows,
before light was spent.
At last he bowed out
of his studio; Xian-like,
I disappeared too.
‘Old Man Mad On Art’…
Hokusai – my kind of guy.
I was mad on you.