I run a small publishing press called Cairn Time Press (Cairn Time is one of the poems in my collection Between Me and You).
I am very pleased to announce a reprint of Early and Late, an excellent collection by Michael Thomas, with illustrations by myself.
Michael can be contacted via his website: www.michaelthomas.co.uk or by email at email@example.com
Early and Late has been attracting some great reviews!
Once upon a time there was an unattainable goal. It was generous in its gifts: dreams, stories, rich metaphors and symbols.
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a great poet of the wild places. The pictures from Everest this year remind me of his lines:
“And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.”
Attainment is for the financially wealthy, on the backs of the indigenous, under-rewarded sherpas. Ha! One more universal metaphor bequeathed by the mountain!
Water. Water is the vogue element. Here is a poem in the voice of Water. It is called ‘Tearjerker’.
I seem to attract cliché upon cliché,
easy words to dilute my power:
but my most important trait
I remember mixing the mud that made
Dust from the sky, grainy gravel
from ground-down mountain ranges,
rivers of lava from grieving volcanos –
I met them all head on,
seeded their sediment into myriad motion.
So do you truly believe I cannot recall
my last wave-glut flood-flash?
I allowed Noah to ride me then,
bequeathed life to you all – again.
God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
no more water, the fire next time.
Your problem is this:
there is no other god but me.
This time I will laugh at your arks,
this time you will fight over me
even as I salt my way to ice-melt excess:
God gave Noah the rainblow sign,
no more fire, the water next time!
Here are the post-apocalypse Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
Peanuts…the comic strip that was everywhere…sometimes funny…sometimes insightful…often bland…but always around and always a part of cultural language…good grief Charlie Brown…Snoop Doggy Dog…feisty Lucy…dreamer Linus…a little scruffy bird called Woodstock…the twenty-first century was bound to catch up with them sooner or later…Lucy is imprisoned in a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia…Linus was killed by an Israeli drone strike whilst working for Medecins Sans Frontieres in Gaza…Woodstock died at Altamont.
John Cale in the song Things:
“I saw the way you looked at her, Charlie Brown, good grief!
She pulled you into the shadows and taught you how to love,
patted you on the head and gave you a shove…”.
My grandson, Freddy, has just celebrated his first birthday. What an incredible addition to life he is!
Fear ate too much of my childhood soul. The following poem is built around my best wish for Freddy, and indeed all children. The first and last verses are in italics and represent me talking to Freddy. The verses in between are about my own childhood.
I Put Away Adultish Things
The larger part, greasy, meat-fibred, is mine –
so here is my wishbone legacy:
I will for you a child-time with no fear.
Right now you are all miraculous warmth,
infinitely watchable, thoroughly edible –
but grow you must and grow you will,
still growing when my clogs go “POP!”
I will for you a child-time with no fear.
“Don’t play near the old pit mouth”,
all innocent hawthorn tangle
hedged with single barbed wire strand
and invisible terrors of deep darkness:
instead, ride your bike up and down
coal gravel banks stitched together,
but only just, by tough tussocks,
“Hope this rain won’t Aberfan it!”
“Stand up stand up for Jesus!”
fish-mouth meaningless hymns
in sneak-kick sly-dig assemblies
and cold chapel soul freezings
among bible-browed Judges:
lie back and think of Jerusalem
while they install the guilt buttons,
atom-ingrained for the next life too.
“Shut up! Go and watch the television!”
Nuclear family mushroom clouds burst
into blind-light certainty of extinction,
death on any horizon though life is still new –
“What will YOU do in the four minute warning?”
Soak up the soporific soaps, opiate screen fix,
binary b/w westerns, cops ‘n robbers:
“There’s a black burglar on the landing!”
“Amo amas amat”…masturbo masturbas
masturbat masturbamus masturbatis
masturbant. Conjugate and decline.
If you wank in Latin will it stop you
going blind so you can still see glory
in the prizegivings on Speech Day?
“Stains on the sheets, on the PILLOWS!”
How will you ever be simple again?
“Clever.” They call you clever. Clever,
the cleverest insult ever devised, hurled
at you as you heart-pound run in real time
from bike-shed bike-chain swaddled fist,
and head-pound run in metaphor time
from the betrayal of becoming intelligent –
fear digs the best escape tunnels,
the ones that let you emerge beyond the wire.
Next time I sit with you, beautiful little one,
I will inoculate you against such dread,
nourish you with confident courage,
make you SuperBaby, SuperChild –
I will amass and destroy the world’s kryptonite,
bodyguard you, heartguard you, spiritguard you.
Let me give you the bigger half of each wishbone,
or, better still, the whole pristine thing…
Childhood exposure to classic western movies has left me with a love of cacti. Best of all are the huge saguaro cacti that stand tall, arms branching proudly, in the desert landscapes of the Americas.
Some cacti attract small insects that damage them, but these insects can be neutralised by careful use of a fine paintbrush and some methylated spirits. When the insects die they turn a gorgeous carmine colour, the basis for the making of the dye cochineal.
This poem makes use of that as a metaphor for a woman surviving domestic abuse, amongst other meanings.
There’s a Big Saguaro Cactus in Her Conservatory
All day she speaks to shadows in her home:
through the nights too she mutters –
each shade hides well in darkness
the candelabra-armed homunculus
thrown stark on moonlight’s wall.
This is Him, arms poised to strike.
Her care for Him is exemplary:
just enough water, just enough fresh earth –
but the fastidious spine-tingling
is her sober, voracious obsession,
her war on each demon insect He incubates.
Delicately dipping fine-point brush
into neon mauve-heady meths,
she dabs and stipples and stabs
with precise pointilist skill.
Nestling and nuzzling in the interstices
and clefted grooves of the cactus
each trilobite bug grinds tiny incisors,
scalpels sump-holes in His succulent flesh.
Until, that is, this feather-touch intervenes,
hand-tinting these literal worms in the bud
with violent fumes of a violet death.
One subtle touch of noxious spirit
and each pale parasite floods red,
cochineals in liquid suffocation,
is marooned in scarlet bead-prick.
A stroke here, a more spreading daub there –
suddenly her terrors rust with richest red,
cease to gnaw and to suckle:
their paralysis is swift, ruthless, writheless.
His dark secret love no longer destroys
when she spirit-quills His piercing threat,
and her own needle-sharp memories.
“It Might Be Your Last Chance”
This new 3-D collage makes use of a model of the Titanic in a glass-fronted box. The ship is meeting the iceberg and the piece is augmented by various images and texts. The text includes the words of the Titanic’s radio operator to his co-worker, advising him to use the brand new “SOS” signal: “It’s the new call, and it might be your last chance to send it”.
Mary Delany, of Collage International magazine, who has commented on my work before (see the Wordpress blog) writes: “This new piece by Ted Eames uses his trademark satirical humour to explore the ecological disaster that humanity is facing. The mythic status of the Titanic narrative allows for a playful, but compelling, symbol of human pride in unwinnable conflict with the forces of nature, embodied here by the rich green Iceberg Lettuce. The wealth of telling detail adds further layers of meaning, whilst retaining a captivating and haunting visual appeal. The political significance of the story told by this piece is taken a stage further by an accompanying image culled from an old advertisement for Iceberg Lettuce, on which Eames has superimposed the class breakdown of the Titanic’s casualties”.
Delany continues: “The polar bear image has come to symbolise the precarious nature of life under climate change. The text Eames has added provides the following summary: in 1st Class 60% of passengers survived; in 2nd Class 42% of passengers survived; in 3rd Class 25% of passengers survived; amongst the crew only 24% survived.
This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that a similar pattern will occur during the world’s ecological disasters ahead”.
I thank Mary Delany for permission to quote her words. More detailed images of the collage can be seen at the COLLAGE tab.
I Am in Love with the Woman in the Serious Light Advert
Alone in my darkness,
benighted with the London Review of Books
or any given Sunday newspaper magazine,
I have lived with her for some years now:
always she sits, bathed in Serious Light,
inhabiting her fit-glow early sixties
with calm assurance and designer glasses,
intellectually inclined, sensuously powerful,
in bed confidently selfish, playfully stern:
for eternity she scans the FT’s How To Spend It –
white halter-topped, bare-armed and poised,
sofa-posed, Windle & Moodie hair styled
for theatre, gallery, restaurant and gym-sweat,
on her wall a shadowful Chrystel Lebas forestscape
and outside her immaculate picture window
gawping for clues, basking in her disregard,
avidly reading her naked warm cold-shoulder.
“A Serious Light will make words leap off the page again with breathtaking clarity.”
Could I ask for anything more perfect?
When did my words last leap off the page
(with breathtaking clarity)?
Quietly cool Coltrane plays on the Bose sound system
just a fraction out of shot, by the Folio bookcase –
I make her a cup of strong, rich roast black coffee,
we exchange observations on the music reviews,
decide which exhibition to see today,
agree which one of us will make that cottage booking,
check whose turn it is to see to the hot-tub
on the roof garden. Make eye contact about last night.
And this morning.
Back in my Serious Darkness I tear myself away
from her attainability, and scan the advertisement:
“Special offer - £150 off with this promotional code”.
No point in looking at the website to see the price then.
Seriously, enlighten me:
where did I go wrong?
“The fledgling website emerged from the waters of the internet and shook its head in a halo of diamond droplets…”*
A warm welcome to new and existing readers.
My blog archive to date will remain available at www.maintenantman.wordpress.com but all new posts will now be on this website, under the NEWS tab.
Please have a browse around the site and put it in your bookmarks. Hopefully it is attractively designed and clear. A huge ‘thank you’ to Jack Eames and to Rosie Harvey-Otway for the build.
Feel free to share www.tedeames.com on social media and amongst your friends and anyone you think might be interested.
Full blog post to follow soon…
*grizzly bear photo part of a sequence taken in Katmai, Alaska during my 7 month journey in the Pacific North-West