We turned its global head as babies,
Saturday, 28 January 2017
We turned its global head as babies,
traced its edges onto paper,
of that old familiar spotted face
shaped up, boiling for a fight.
Hung on walls,
it looked so static
but in its latitudes and longitudes we knew
that people moved,
and cliffs broke.
we stepped out
across the sheet,
skipped the Channel,
Then creeping back
we folded up this map,
packed away the ice
and sunny beach,
stuck it all in a small back pocket
and shrunk back
into our own world’s frontiers.
That tiny territory
of our scars.
Sunday, 22 January 2017
(in memory of Stella Cartwright, 1937-1985)
“Dear George, it is so strange, our souls seem to fly together joyously over mountains and seas while each of us in our mutual way suffers agonies.”
"An orgasm with Miss Cartwright was metaphysical, transcendental, like nothing else you can ever imagine. She seemed built for love."
(Stanley Roger Green)
“You placed me on a pedestal / according to my lights / but what you didn’t know, my dear / I have no head for heights.”
It was so much gabble,
fantasies of genius in the Little Kremlin.
Once, I fell for it myself,
tottering along the red carpet,
poetry dribbling into my own vomit,
or maybe it was Hugh’s,
all mixed up
in the whisky of empty promises.
I talked in Milne’s Bar to a shop steward
who’d help build MacDiarmid’s bog.
He said the workmen had their tea in Grieve’s posh wee cups
and saw the reckoning in the leaves.
He yapped as auld poets glowered from their photos
and we downed chilled ale
to drown the memories of a Juniper Green girl
with a pint of that Muse again.
They must have seen joy in you our Stella
to wrench them from their word play,
to take a lovely shag to brighten up their anxious lines.
Och the happiness and the pain
that smiler with the knife
come to get us all.
And that lonely honey George
must have driven you nuts
romancing you in the Pentland Hills
and kissing you full on your lips
one damp Saturday afternoon
by the Water of Leith.
They say ‘the best poem is silence’
but you were a shriek in the ecstasy
of loving and of agony,
a naked drunken howl.
The saintly saviour of hurt animals
and a shopper for the sick,
you wanted to wrap yourself around
something you could trust,
wanted a photograph of a true poetry lover
held to your lovely breasts
to make a change from the piss
of Milne’s Bar
and the daily Abbotsford drivel.
What you found was madness in a Zimmer Frame at thirty,
splashes of alcohol and tears lit
by the sudden flashes of beautiful orgasms,
the sunshine today
in all the muck
along Rose Street.
As published in Scottish Review 16th December 2010
Sunday, 15 January 2017
Keith Armstrong and the Don Forbes Trio
The Sawdust Jacks
Ann Sessoms (Pipes)
THE RED HOUSE, QUAYSIDE, NEWCASTLE WEDNESDAY 25TH JANUARY 2017 7.30PM
FURTHER INFO: NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS TEL 0191 2529531
from the archive: poetry meets jazz
LAUNCH OF A UNIQUE POETRY & JAZZ COLLABORATION
THE NEW SAFE SEXTET
WITH NORTH EAST POETS:
KEITH ARMSTRONG, JOHN EARL , IAN HORN , MICHAEL STANDEN.
SPECIAL GUESTS: JACKIE KAY, FRANK MESSINA.
BRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE , THURSDAY 5TH DECEMBER 2002.
Trumpet Don Forbes
Tenor Saxophone John Rowland
Alto Saxophone Paul Gowland
Baritone Saxophone Danny Veitch
Guitar Andy Pattinson
Bass Guitar Stuart Davies
Piano Alan Laws
Percussion Dave Francis
POETRY & MUSIC SET:
1. ‘Because I Drink Too Much’ by Keith Armstrong; music composed by Don Forbes, using ‘Bah Lues For U’s’.
2. ‘Afternoon In Amsterdam Bar’ by Ian Horn; music ‘Little Blue Eyes’ composed by Don Forbes.
3. ‘Sugar Daddy’ by Ian Horn; music composed by Don Forbes.
4. ‘The Poet Of Rain’ by John Earl; music composed by Don Forbes.
5. ‘Drips’ by Michael Standen; music ‘Rollano’ composed by Juan Lazaro Menadas.
6. ‘New Idea’ by Michael Standen; music composed by Don Forbes.
7. ‘The 8.5 Brought Us Ears And Feet’ by John Earl; music ‘Mark Time’ composed by Kenny Wheeler.
8. ‘Lockerbie’ by Keith Armstrong; music composed by Don Forbes.
Saturday, 7 January 2017
My father worked on ships.
They spelked his hands,
dusted his eyes, his face, his lungs.
Those eyes that watered by the Tyne
stared out to sea
to see the world
in a tear of water, at the drop
of an old cloth cap.
For thirty weary winters
through the snow and the wild winds
of loose change.
He was proud of those ships he built,
he was proud of the men he built with,
his dreams sailed with them:
the hull was his skull,
the cargo his brains.
His hopes rose and sunk
in the shipwrecked streets
and I look at him now
this father of mine who worked on ships
and I feel proud
of his skeletal frame, this coastline
that moulded me
and my own sweet dreams.
He sits in his retiring chair,
dozing into the night.
There are storms in his head
and I wish him more love yet.
Sail with me,
breathe in me,
breathe that rough sea air old man,
and cough it up.
against the dying
of this broken-backed town,
of its broken-backed
Allan Dennis Brockbank I always did like your poetry how you doing?
Mo Shevis Bought 'Imagined Corners' recently and was pleased to see this poem there, having read it previously online. When I read it last week at my poetry reading group it was very well received.! It is a powerful piece Keith. We are all of an age to remember the old industries,proud of our heritage and those who worked in them. Thankfully we have people like you to record such images and memories for posterity.
Derek Young What a poem. So evocative of those days. I worked at Parsons Marine Turbine Company as an apprentice marine engineer. My girl friend was a trainee tracer at Swan Hunters.
Michael McNally Hi Keith,Thank you for sending this wonderful piece of work in my direction.
HAVE YOUR SAY
IT’S gratifying to see that on-line readers have taken an interest in one or two topics recently
One was that smashing poem, My Father Worked on Ships, by Keith Armstrong, in which correspondent, Geordiman, reckons he recognised himself in its depiction of an old shipyard hand.