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IMG_1313Only In St Leonards: A Year On The Marina

A new book of poetry by Brian Docherty, Only In St. Leonards: A Year On The Marina, (Special Sorts Press, 2017) will be available soon from St. Michaels Hospice, Upper Maze Hill in St. Leonards. This is a signed, limited edition book of new poems, as a fundraiser for the Hospice. 

There will be a Launch Reading at the Hospice, on Wednesday 15 November, 6.45pm for 7pm. Admission is free.

These poems were written in St. Leonards during 2016, and many of them are responses to work in local art galleries such as Hastings Arts Forum and Zoom Gallery. They feature the blend of politics, social comment and black humour for which Brian’s work is noted.

(after Kate Gritton, Sea Change)

Rich and strange, always changing,
practical magic we can never understand,
self-generating, needs no plan or purpose,
if there is one, do we really want to know?

A sea that colour, rocks that colour,
promise more than a simple shipwreck,
or seaweed some TV chef might harvest
and offer up as the latest gastro-treat;

but if the sea is our Mother, does she
still recognise us as descendants
or mutations of whatever single cell
organism made it onto that first beach?

And if Mother is unhappy or disappointed
with what we have become, how much does
that explain of all that has happened since?
Or has she protected us from much worse?

Yet we carry on as if we own our future,
that whatever we do to change the sea
will be alright, that Mother has infinite
capacity to accept this and will live forever.

Maybe Mother sent us out into the world
like any other children, and we can visit
if we behave, but our lives, however strange,
are our own, and if we drown, we drown.

(after Adrienne Hunter, The Path, Glyne Gap)

This could easily be the road to Nowhere,
or the path to Bexhill, lose the will to live,
on to Beachy Head, a path to walk or cycle
stoically, not roar a motorbike or 4×4 along.

If Nowhere, how do I know when I arrive;
what can I do there; nothing, something,
dance a jig on the clifftop, throw my hat
into the wind, keep going or turn back?

If I block the rare birds in someone’s binoculars,
what would they vote for me to do if I turn, wave
as if drowning, and shout You choose, I’m weary,
I’m angry, I ran out of real choices years ago.

Should I walk on to Eastbourne, see what’s on
offer there, something new, or a sheltered home
for smugglers, or go to meet the beach at Beachy
Head, head first? Would the twitchers call 999?

Or do I go the other way to Fairlight, skirt Dover,
spend the afternoon in Margate’s Turner Gallery,
catch a slow train back along the sunset’s track,
meditate those chalky cliffs, Nature’s blank canvas.

If we build our bungalows there to enjoy a view,
we might find ourselves foregrounded in a closeup
of an action painting we can’t edit ourselves out of.
As for me, I have roads to Somewhere to explore.

(after Chris Shore, Abandoned on the Beach)

It could happen to any of us,
and has done for millennia.

We are abandoned, the boats
that brought us this far served

their purpose, money changed
purses, or an exchange was made,

and at least one person walked off
or walked away, anyone watching

has seen this before, knows to do
something or nothing, if you think

a seal or dolphin is not a person,
how little you know of the sea.

The world moves, the sea moves
with or against it, we move or sink,

this boat could make a hut or a cart,
or a long home for anyone lost here.

This beach could be gone tomorrow,
like anyone who ever set foot on it.

Spare me the outrage, unless you have
a hand big enough to change the tides.

Posted 17:36 Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017 In: Poetry

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