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John Clays

Updated: Mon, 18 May 2009 08:59 am

Contact via WOL


John has been writing and performing poetry for upwards of ten years. It all started when after some reluctance he decided he had no choice but to aquatint himself with the electronic technical age and embrace 'The Computer'. He was let loose on a 'machine' with instructions to 'learn by your mistakes'. At that time the nation's favourite poem Kipling's IF had been declared and printed in the national press. For 'key in' practice the poem was typed out five times. Having now become bored with this exercise - an example of limited attention span - he opted to write a poem himself. The Dawning. John has gone on to write and perform numerous poems in different styles e.g. free verse to strict form; the repetition of a villanelle helps to reinforce a point, whilst the tightness of a sestina is a challenge in itself. His work has appeared in numerous small presses e.g. Disabled Not Daft, Nailing Colours and TOPS. He has appeared at many venues throughout the North West. With his wife Sandré he has two joint collections of poetry Rhapsody In Two and Wigan Journey (please see reviewon News View page under Wigan Poets Success). and have guest edited Current Accounts. On an academic front he has completed two modules of the poetry course - BA Creative Writing at Bolton University. In his search to date and continuing John has been a member of and or associated with a number of literary outlets, including the Poetry Day at the first Leigh & Wigan Lit Fest. At present he takes an active interest in DGPS, LAA, WHN & WOL John is available for readings and workshops - initial contact by E-mail.


ON ATTENDING REQUIEM MASS FOR A POET Forget all the pomp and majesty of Mother Church and the holiness of being in God's House as you are left to reflect on being part of a secular spontaneous applause that broke out as one; as all together we responded not once, but the like on three occasions. On singing the first hymn Abide With Me, the space was so full you could be forgiven for thinking you were at a cup final. When the proceedings reached the end game Kevin, with emotion, that came good sang the song inspired on waiting on Widnes railway station that somehow reflected the image of Richard on the reverse of The Order of Service That brought about the first thank you, which had everyone going for it and you acknowledged to your God that you were there. This was not like the ripple that built to a crescendo on reaching the Abbey doors, some years ago; no this was full on, straight in and sustained Phillip, Richard's brother remembered him with such kindness wit and humour that we were off again, same again please. But no, we were not finished yet after some loud noises on the speaker, Richard's voice came to us. Here was his body laying before the high alter whilst we listen to him reading his poem, I Rely On You. This man went out with a bang; we clapped, the third time. POSITIVE IMPRESSIONS The single sharp image of red leather sphere, caught on a green background, legside before wicket, leaves us, never knowing if the target was hit. Marks in the sand worked by wave action, near to stranded jellyfish on their final beach. Past churches, landscapes, lack of houses, and an arc of dolphins, recognisable in shape but of a different form, to confront black cat on black, staring back at visitors thinking, you cannot negotiate Mother's wheelchair around this exhibition. An isosceles triangle of light, framing like one book end; at the close of a procession of varying shades, rough worked rock stacked ready for the next process, which may never come in our life time. Nor perhaps, will anyone pick up the brush, neatly left standing to attention guarding its charges. All cast under the esoteric gaze of Jane as she seeks enlightenment which is not always true happiness. THE BLUE WOODEN BRIDGE arches over the pond to rest beside the willow White water lilies flourish as yellow flags fade Tomorrow/Yesterday Senile decay but I'm not going grey My hair is black always stayed that way What inside has slowed down not work the same? Even so I still recognise my name And is not that floor, parquet? I was supposed to feel better today But I'm not sure I want to go out and play When they act foolish I don't like that game Senile decay Why reminisce, get things for me to say? I prefer to do nothing, like holiday Wishful thinking to put me in that frame I was on the stage you know, I found fame Quick; find me the door to the cabaret! Senile decay A Day To Remember She's going, she's going; then he was gone. First airborne, flipped over, separated on impact, to rest apart on lake bed Bad omens, last night for this speed icon on the day would be exaggerated She's going, she's going; then he was gone. First run exceeded, sweet as a bon bon After turn sequence badly executed on impact, to rest apart on lake bed Written in the cards, had to be brought on Not prepared to wait 'til wake subsided She's going, she's going; then he was gone. Nothing he could do to lift this chiffon could not be disassociated on impact, to rest apart on lake bed Saga still had many years to run on boat and body found, fate determined She's going, she's going; then he was gone. on impact, to rest apart on lake bed In WW1 when the "pals" companies were being decimated, the survivors were asked how they coped with loss of so many of their friends falling beside them. The reply was that they were told to put out their hand, touch them, say goodbye; medics would be sent. In response to this information I wrote the following poem:- ( I had in mind the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916) SESTINA OF FAREWELL; GONE Just put your hand out, touch them, say goodbye Such was their plight, they could not cry When the whistle blew, over the top they went They did not ask it was there they be sent No, volunteered to fight a just cause An adventure yes, but not sent like lambs to die Sooner or later it will be your turn to die Prepare yourself, get ready, say goodbye Having done your bit of valour, die for the cause In daylight, or darkness call out in pain, moan, cry Was it decreed it was the hour to be sent On your way, next stage, come on time you went Fate had come, they all just went Something for which you could die It seems that bit was meant, heaven sent Go on, get on with it, say night-night, bye No point not doing it, why should you cry They were told it was a just cause But many were lost to the cause Others took time, days before they went Their future was to lie wounded, dying, cry Left where they fell, not recover, die For some it was longer before they said their goodbye Leave the wounded, carry on, medics will be sent Despite home views, "stuff" continued to be sent From this distance you may still say it was a just cause Away from their loved ones having bid a long goodbye Not excuse incompetence that required so many went For all killed on the battlefields who had to die It was those left behind, the ones who would also cry Good man, you did not call out, moan, groan, cry They knew it was right overseas you would be sent Come on man, be brave, it is your time to die Britain was proud you gave your lives for the cause No messing, they were told to get there and they went Stiff upper lip, never mind the pain, grimace goodbye Battles cause you to cry, they can be a lost cause It is a time when many are sent away, off they went War is not a game, people get hurt, die, the end, goodbye

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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<Deleted User> (5763)

Tue 27th Jan 2009 15:20

I like your sestina John; 'Battles cause you to cry' -some war poetry does the same to me, and some documentaries -I can no longer bear to watch stuff about the holocaust, because I know I/we are all a hairsbreadth from committing such horrors. I feel that I am one of '...those left behind, the ones who would also cry'.

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