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PEACE AND WAR


Copyright © Nigel Mellor 2017

All rights reserved


First published 2017 by

Dab Hand Press

Newcastle upon Tyne

http://sites.google.com/site/dabhandpress/


ISBN: 978-0-9513862-8-6


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PEACE AND WAR

Nigel Mellor





For Kate and Joe


Many of these poems may be best appreciated when read aloud.

To get a feel for the rhythm and accent of North East speech visit

http://bit.ly/Jazzcafepoetry





PEACE


Peace is rarely peaceful


1. ENVIRONMENT AND IMPERMANENCE


The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026


There is no more terrifying sight

Than the middle classes

Short on

Fuel


Settle


The ringing drew me


I’m certain I hadn’t heard a blacksmith working since I was a child, and can’t really recall one then, living in the town, not the country, as we did


But the ringing drew me


That special sound of the beating on the anvil while waiting the next beat on the metal, to keep the rhythm going


You see, the ringing drew me


We got return tickets on the Carlisle to Settle line, but couldn’t get steam. And the viaduct is not so impressive from the train window (you have to get out and walk back, which we didn’t)


Which is just as well, because the ringing drew me


We poked round antique shops and picked up some curd cheesecake, which we’d been looking for, for years since we found a monastery on the moors and bought a cheesecake, and loved it. Then lost it for ever. The monastery, that is


And all the time the ringing drew me


Even when we climbed the crag and watched the quarry lorries almost meeting on the tightest turn – the up-wagons slow and dragging, the down-wagons fast and bouncing – on the busiest road through what should have been calm


The ringing drew me


The smith was happy to stop and chat, and we took photos, and a business card. Not that we intended to have fancy wrought iron railings made, but we wanted to look as though we just might. In thanks


As I remember it, it was the ringing that drew me


To a past I never knew I knew


The gateway: at the confluence of the North and South Tyne


Where peat-brown water off the border

Rages down

On the soft, sweet stream from the south

At that mingling

I knew the Roman who stopped to drink his fill

And all the ghosts to come.


Windermere


Leaving

On the quarter to four

The forward motion of the boat

Exactly balanced the wind


The bow flag stilled

And with engines on half-ahead

All was hushed

As the ferry slid

Into a time gone by


The appearance and disappearance of birds


The death of her mate

Upset the swan watcher

Not the swan

-o-

The seagulls’ cries

Of drowned sailors, by day

Become the silent shades of night

-o-

And my kestrel has gone

From the field

Where the new B&Q superstore lies

-o-

But I know the branch

Where the kingfisher sits

On those rare occasions

When he crosses my route.

I am blessed

I can say no less.

And I can say no more.


In an easterly light


About nine tenths of the way

By my reckoning

At the very limit of my eye’s reach

A speck twisted

Now with sails, now without


But the harder I strained

The harder it was

To pick out that struggling

Between sky

And the waiting sea


The rescue


We could not stare

At the rescue

And we could give no help


If the worst that could happen

Did happen

As we watched

Would we have felt unclean?


Incident in the fishing grounds


Cromarty Forth Tyne

Severe gales increasing to hurricane force twelve

Imminent


The cabin light

Was twenty feet off


He was wet beneath the oilskin

His hands were numb


He did not see

The wave from behind


Cromarty Forth Tyne

Severe gales increasing to hurricane force twelve

Imminent


Gene story*


I am the last of my kind

Chipping on rock:

“Once were humans”


*it is now possible for backyard chemists to switch genes around, with no regulation


At the rising of the seas*


Warnings came and warnings went

You still wanted everything


But when we lost Manhattan

They even listened in Beijing


*with apologies to Leonard Cohen


The noble sacrifice of whales


With no way to cry “stop”

They came, silent

To die on our beaches


If you’d just told me


Look, the oceans are finished

The land is gone

The air isn’t fit to breathe


If you’d just told me


Of course I would have done anything

I would’ve stopped driving

Or flying

Or … something


I just didn’t know


You can’t blame me

What was I supposed to do?


If you’d just told me


We all hate flies*


No one worried

When the flies went


But quite soon after

We went too


*for Silent Spring


Go forth and modify


Across all the lands

The new corn grew strong

Until the twentieth generation

When crops simply failed


Then we begged from the poorest

Seeds from the old days

Too precious to eat


Return


A century we thought them done


But now we’re digging out pits

And building up the fires


What we tried to kill

We only made stronger


It is the plague times, again

It is the plague times


The walk


He walked for two weeks

Carrying his brother

They ate when they could

Mostly there was nothing


A child himself

All he had was the walk

His brother

And the rumour of a camp


Chapter and verse


And they shall have dominion over

every thing that walks and crawls

and slithers and slides

and swims and flies

and grows in tangles on the good earth.

And that dominion shall be as love


2. TO INDIA WITH LOVE


Mumbai, late


From darkness

So small and dusty

Holding hands through the traffic

They walked off

Into India


We didn’t want the Taj hotel


Just a few yards along the shore

The carpet was threadbare

And the sheets needed mending

But when we opened the shutters

A warm wind blew in from the Arabian sea.

In that one movement

The country was ours


Big city


A water buffalo and her calf wading the river

Sheets drying on rocks

Cries from the circling kite hawks

And twenty four hour traffic on the bridge


Village


Shiva’s temple by the haystack

Stone steps to the river

A sari of crimson and gold


An infant in the sunset

And a dog left dying on the road


Near Osho International Meditation Resort


Holy Western guru

Saintly face

Loving the poor fruit seller

Buying nothing


Gin and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune


As we signed the photo

“Gina and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune”

(a gentle joke for friends)

We became my parents

Under the Raj


But then the image changed again

To a picture in a scrapbook

Discovered by grandchildren

Yet unborn


Jai Hind


We are the children

Of the lost Empire

When we go

It goes too


It is not the fashion these days

Nor is it politically correct

To talk of


Leaving Simla on a mule

Sunrise over the Taj Mahal

A glimpse of the Himalayas

Dinner under the moon

And the infant who died in the heat of the South


All that is left

Is to whisper at Ghandi’s tomb

Jai Hind – long live India


3. RELATIONSHIPS


The rosewood casket


I like the metric system

It’s sensible

It works

It’s plain as plain can be


But for that rosewood casket

Hand carved with feeling

Inches and eighths

Were the language of love


1950s


I recall

In a lane

Two boys with sticks

Whacking an ancient hedge

Which hurt neither hedge

Nor boys

-o-

Empty, quiet streets

Cold breeze

Hot tar

Back from the park with wet feet

And Davey

-o-

Tinned salmon

Cucumber, thinly sliced

Neat lettuce

Tomatoes with no taste

Talk at tea time.

And nothing ever said


The point


Why were you so awful?

Made me feel small,

Uncomfortable.


We could have been colleagues.

Dare I say it,

Friends?


Forty years on,

Now I can see

The dying in your face,

And the problems gone

(whatever they were),

What was the point?


Control freak


I did not know

There was a wrong way

To blow dandelion clocks


Model


what she really

really wanted was

someone to

walk beside her night

and day carrying

a full length

mirror


The sand wiggler


Under the beach umbrella

After too many margaritas

Than was strictly sensible at my age

I spied the sand wiggler


Over dunes and rocks he followed a random tack

Chasing food? Water? Sex?

I suppose he had a Latin name

But had not learned it


My glance was taken by a dancer

And children playing

Then he was gone


Returning to the hotel

From the furthest corner of my eye

I think I saw him, one last time

Going about his life

As I went about mine


Before getting in


This stretch of coast

Is particularly treacherous


They say

When the tide slips in on the surface

Quiet, sly

Strong currents drag

Whatever lies beneath

Up the bay

Then down

Sometimes, simply, out


It is important to know the sea

Before getting into the water


The Cluny, Ouseburn Valley


There is a grassy bank outside my pub

Although it’s not properly a pub

More a “venue”

And the bank is pretty boring


But the glass you look through isn’t


The windows are old

Very old

And some panes remain

From the day


Watching him

Coming down the bank

Bent this way and that

By the faulted glass

I wondered what was real

Him

The bank

Or the glass?


By Constant Rise


I watched you as you climbed that hill

Now clear

Now hidden by a bush

Now a turn in the path


I watched you long after you had gone

Even when the way itself could not be seen


I watched you till the stars gave out

And the birds brought back the day


I watched you till my eyes hurt

And my body grew so very, very cold


I watched you

Because the watching was all I had


Dreams of Polly Toynbee


On my bus-pass-birthday trip

To Eastern Europe

She kept to herself


With a smoky laugh

And quick temper

She liked a drink

And was the spit


But at the border

Needed to complain

That Birmingham, with all the robes

(she meant the races)

No longer looked like England


So, gone my dream of Polly Toynbee

And gone my chance of fame


That man


Mark that man

Plot his course

On maps and measure well

Chart his destination


Take down every syllable

And carefully note

Each gesture, hint or finger raised


Don’t let one breath

Of that man’s passage

Escape your close attention


Because that man lies


His words are screens

You may forget


Then he will act


Chains


My walls are open fields

My chains are winding roads


How can I go to my love

When I do not know if my love loves me


My father would ask, my brothers would mock


If it were market day, we’d be there by dawn

If it were wedding day, we’d be there by noon

But to go without reason

To go without knowing

Just to go!


The village has no locks

My walls are open fields

My chains are winding roads


Christmas


I had forgotten

So much


But that tree

In the back of the old Volvo

Had the scent


I drove home

Disturbed


Negativity


I am really not bothered what you think

And although your words depress me

They will not stop me


Because all my life

I have seen distant hills


Right on


He had dealt

amazingly successfully

with sexism racism

classism ageism

and even able-bodied-ism

but at the end of the day

he was still

a total

shit


On the naïve belief in the transformative power of pop records


We were so young


With all that music

We thought we could

Change the world


We couldn’t even

Change ourselves


Semi on the Coast Road, 1973


Old fashioned Sunday

Cuddled in the fire glow

Mary and her cat


Listening to the sound of radios and rain

Listening to the sounds

Listening to the sound of night cars hissing by


These matter


After all I’ve done

And all I’ve been

Only these remain


A hand in mine

A track to nowhere on an endless day

A blackberry bush


And her silly joke


On silence


There is the quiet

Of an empty house

Then there is the empty quiet

When the children have gone


4. ON MORTALITY AND RELIGION


Nursing Home, 1991


Try a drop of tea, Pa. I’ve

Put a bit of sugar

In, I know I shouldn’t. They

Brought me a full pot on

A tray with two rows

Of biscuits on a plate in

Circles and a glass

Of sherry. Hope it’s not

South African

-o-

No, I’m the younger one, my brother’s

The older one with

A beard. At least I think he’s

Got a beard. It’s funny, I see him every

Day and I can’t remember


Yes it has turned

Cold in here. I didn’t notice you

Opened the window. I covered him

Up, he seemed cold

-o-

They’re coming to turn

You in a minute, Pa, they

Like me to leave then, I

Get in the way and they need

To wash you

-o-

They call him Bill and

Talk to him while they do

Their job and now they’ve asked that

Young nurse to look after

Someone in the next room – he’s

Been coughing again and

Through the night I can hear them talking gently

To the others as

They put them to bed, and it’s

Not put on for my benefit

-o-

I wonder where the rest of your

Cups and medals are. Ma brought them

In with a picture of your dad and

The children were pleased to come

Today although we all just sat

And cried, but they weren’t too young to

Understand that moving

To the hospital with tubes and drips

Wasn’t right. They

Said you wouldn’t want that

-o-

Can you hear me

Pa? It’s me. Hold

My hand. I love you. And

Thanks.


The hawk moth


Beating itself against the window

The hawk moth

Despite my fond desire

Could not live

But would not die


The tin plate from the Victorian mine


Mines used to be so much simpler


There was one way in

And one way out


But when the tunnel collapsed

There was no way out


Months later

The recovery team found

Beside the bodies

Scratched on a tin plate

“I don’t want to die in the dark”


August 1999 – an earthquake in Turkey


My sister was called Tasneem

She was named after the fountain in the garden of Paradise


I remember the shaking most


The man who used to live in the other room

Cried a lot

He died the first day

I knew it was day because the blackness was not quite so black


We shouted

But could hardly make a sound

The second day


I think I heard her cry, when the bulldozers came

There was so much noise


My sister was named after the fountain in the garden of Paradise


Appellation Contrôlée, wine label ‘Minervois’


Under a warm sea

The shells of dying creatures

Laid down the soil

Of Minervois


It is recorded that


In the year of our Lord

Twelve hundred and ten

Men, women and children

Of a peaceful faith

Threw themselves on the fires

Of Simon de Montfort


Now

They kiss cheeks

In greeting

And the land is still


Getting older


My enthusiastic

friend

said give it

a go, you’ll regret

it if you don’t

so I did and I

enjoyed it

now I’ve done it

and I’m still not

famous

I wonder whether being

left with

my illusions

would have been

the kinder thing


An excess of miracles


I’m bored with miracles


What I mean is

The first one was, well, miraculous

And the second

Right up to about number eighty three

But then it started to get a bit

Repetitive


Don’t get me wrong

It’s wonderful and all that

But you can’t spend your day

Just marvelling


Life has to go on

Miracles or no


On medievalism


There must be

One hundred books on gods

And one hundred books on goddesses

One hundred books on devils

And one hundred books on angels

One hundred books on wizards

And one hundred books on witches

One hundred books on heaven

And one hundred books on hell

One hundred books on cherubs

And one hundred books on demons

One hundred books on telepathy

And one hundred books on levitation

One hundred books on astrology

And one hundred books on reincarnation

One hundred books on miracles

And one hundred books on spells

And they can all simply be

Wrong


I believe*


I believe

Beliefs bereave

Bedevil. Besmirch.

Betwixt. Between.


Be without end.

Be upstanding.

Bewitch Bother and Bewilder.

Be grateful for.


Be gone Beelzebub and all his works.

Be still, the voice of calm.

Beware.

Be everywhere.


Be mine.

Be thine.

Be on time.

Be the best you can.


And

Be a man my son.


*from a workshop on “be”


Say a silent prayer


I prayed the bus wouldn’t be late

But maybe I should have

Prayed I hadn’t lost the tickets

But maybe I should have

Prayed he would get his job

But maybe I should have

Prayed the baby would get well

But maybe I should have

Prayed they caught the bomber quickly

But maybe I should have

Prayed the ice caps wouldn’t melt

But maybe I should have

Prayed the meteor couldn’t get us

But maybe I should have

Given up on prayer


Seaton Delaval hall


From Laval in France

They conquered with William

The wild Delavals

Had competitions in grinning

And biting the heads off sparrows


Now children run in their empty halls

How the flighty are fallen


Why did Di die?


I didn’t spy

With my little eye

Or cause her to fly


I didn’t buy

The journals that pry

(and pay the paparazzi guy

to take pix from the sky)


I didn’t sigh

Or identify

Or drool over lie

After lie after lie after lie


And I know you’ll deny

(as you openly try

to deify Di,

while all on the sly

you’d read how she’d cry)

It was you made her die


Toddler Alan Kurdi, 2015


He lay there

To open our hearts

And sleep forever on a foreign shore


After visiting hours, 2014


Towards the end

There are promises

That will not be kept

Remembrances taken away

And one last skill to learn:

To drive and cry


A church service


The only important mystery

Is life

From font to tomb


The times before and beyond

The mouldering church knows well

But wisely remains silent


Funeral gathering


We think we are

The centre of the universe

But what it comes down to

Is scraps of people

Tears

Sandwiches

And a nice cup of tea


In passing


You can measure a life

In plastic bags


Ornaments

That aren’t worth much

Clothes that no one wants

Photos that might mean something

To somebody

A battered brass pot

From the mystic East


Soon the memories will go too

Out with the bags


Gods


Children need adults

The way adults need gods,

To take away the pain

And answer the question


There are, however,

Only children and adults


5. ECONOMICS AND POLITICS


Heroes*


There are no guarantees


It’s great at the end

When the heroes come out

And everything’s put to rights


But what about the start?


You’re like me, my friend

I waited twenty years

Till it was safe to be brave


*following a revolution in Eastern Europe


Memo to the informer, now*


When we are old

And you want my forgiveness

And you try to explain the pressures you were under

I might listen


But, then again, I might not


* after revelations of extensive secret files in Germany and Poland


Human Rights


When the bombs go off

The gloves come off

Then the only thing we have to stand up for

We throw out in the uproar


Justice is top prize in the dirty war


A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973


In my head it was right

In my heart it was right

But I did not know it was right

Until I heard the soft warm voice of Africa


Beware of words


To kill them

You must first

Make them less than human


And all that takes

Is words


A reflection on the irony surrounding the long delayed trial of the Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair at the International Criminal Court


The one time

He told the truth

The whole truth

And nothing but the truth

Nobody believed him


Iraq Libya Syria Brexit…


Bring up, bring up the guilty men

Who fooled us all along

Without a plan if things went right

Or a plan if things went wrong


A modern cook book


Starters


Take one dictator

Arm to the hilt

Suppress the news

And all opposition

Sprinkle with spies

And secret police

Leave in a dark space to ferment

Then complain about the mess


Main course


Take one nuclear reactor

Place on active fault line

Give a bit of a shake

Rely on hose pipes

When the cooling system fails

Call on the state to clean up the mess

Thank heaven that no one dies

Then announce “nuclear power is safe”


Dessert


Take one Tory government


No, stop! I feel sick


Songs of praise (for a guy)


Obama

O charmer

Osama (not)


O dreamer

O schemer

O George Bush (not)


O walker

O talker

O Gordon Brown (not)


O leader

O pleader

O Cameron (not)


O Dancer

O Prancer

O Santa Claus (not)


And you can’t help liking him

Even if he is American


The peculiar similarities of 1939 and 2017


It feels strangely like


The unsettled peace before

THE BIG ONE

Before

THE BALLOON WENT UP

Before

ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE


The difference is

We know we survived that time


Nation state


It takes a lifetime to build a nation

Sadly

It also takes many lives


Reason


There is always a good reason for


Detention

Closing newspapers

Secret trials

Assassination

And the pulling out of fingernails


The thing is

Never

Accept

The reason


The way


’tis the way of the rebel

to cast off the iron chains

of oppression

only

to slip into the shiny plastic suit

of commerce

which grips

just as tight


How the West was lost


When politicians cheat and bankers lie

And newspapers won’t fight the good fight

The man in the street joins the army’s old cry

For a strong man to put it all right


Trickle down


The spectacularly fraudulent trick

Behind the theory of trickle down

Is that money is actually persuaded to flow

Uphill

From poor to rich

Not t’other way round


Destitution


The road from welfare

To workhouse

Is very short

And it goes via shame


Austerity


There will come a day

When you will work

Not for wages

But just the bread to fill your belly


And on that day

Banks will, as usual,

Fail disastrously

And ask you to eat less bread


Private Health Providers


First they came for the glasses

And I said nothing because I could afford glasses


Then they came for the teeth

And I said nothing because I could afford teeth


Then they came for the warts

And I said nothing because I could afford warts


Then they came for the heart surgery


What I find annoying on reading autobiographies of Important People


It’s not that

They had money

And connections

And servants


It’s that

We didn’t have

Money

Or connections


And we were the servants


It starts with the libraries


Few of the gentle

Little things

Survive the crushing wheel

To market

Which is, perhaps, the point


When the flowers have gone

Can the oaks be far behind?


Transformation


The only way to make the poor richer

Is to make the poor richer

Making the rich richer never works


Crisis management


When bankers riot

And investors pull down the City of London

We calm them with trillions


When youths riot

And children pull down the inner city

We calm them with truncheons


Economics


Imagine the impact

On the dismal science of economics

If, in standard text books,

Whenever we saw the words “the markets”

We substituted the, admittedly rather cumbersome, phrase

“a small collection of highly paid men”


Mr. President-for-life


Rule by fear

Can be remarkably successful


I know that

And so do you


But there is one tiny, weak link

In this whole enterprise


Fear can leave

Then so must you


Lessons

Fascism does not come

With horns on the head

Cloven hooves

And a tail


No


It comes with smiles

And votes

And hatred in the heart


AND


A few friends, in strictest anonymity, have alluded to what bubbles up beneath.


Becoming


You are tough

I can see it in the way you look

In your voice

You are the kind I cannot hurt

My words have no effect

Neither have my deeds


But you

You hurt me

You can break me with ease

And you have done

Many times


But I have survived

I have learned

Slowly

Each time a little more


Now I am steel

Broken, but re-forged


You have not yet been tested


WAR


We can be proud of that golden generation who served. Pa loved the army, but war is another matter; and, perhaps unsurprisingly, women’s voices are often missing. Some of the following pieces attempt to correct this.


The tile maker of Darnac


I came to know this man

The tile maker of Darnac

As we moved one hundred hundred

Of his curved French tiles

To roof the old barn


A tall man, I sensed,

The clay shaped over his thigh

Tapering to the knee

Trimmed and fired red

To last through time


A few shorter and finer

Perhaps his partner’s

All strong yet easily broken

But no matter how small the overlap

They cling to protect the layer beneath


Are their names now

In the pilgrim’s church

With the fallen of the Great War?

Listed, not as soldiers,

But as “children of this parish”


A letter to the recruiting sergeant


From the way you talk

He could have been stamped out in a factory


But he’s mine


Eighteen years of work

That’s six thousand five hundred

And seventy days, to you, mister


And you’re not ’avin’ ’im


Edith Cavell, October 12 1915, dawn


I don’t care

What you call them

Or what uniforms they wear

To me they are just men

In pain

Though some are hardly grown


Perhaps they will fight again

That’s not my decision


I am a nurse, nobody’s saint

Not afraid of death

I have known so much

Just let me see the sun one more time


Then shoot


This and that


People on this side

People on that

All found the same ways of dying


Some did it quick

Some did it clean

And some did it slow while crying


Poppy Day


We remember the soldier with a gun

Who is such a brave fighter


Not the mother with a child

Who can only hold tighter


I seem to see


I seem to see

Through the long strands of mind


A war

Not my father’s

(which ended just as I

was getting going)

But the one before

With greatcoats

And gas


A park

With railings and wardens


Dark, heavy rooms and

A woman

In a long costume


Not paintings

Not engravings

No

I see through memories


The final Samurai battle


Drawing their swords

They ran at the guns

It is said that the soldiers cried

As they shot them down


When war comes


When war comes

(and it will)

Those you now despise

(the unemployed, the riff-raff)

Will become your legends


All it needs is war


Long, long ago


Things were much slower then


It took ten thousand men in one army

To slaughter ten thousand men in the other

And the whole bloody business took days


Peace


It is sad but true

For peace to reign

Finally

The weak must forgive the strong

And the wronged, the wrong doer


Philosophy for soldiers, level 1

Re-sit, September.


You have one question.

Time 45 minutes.

Please use both sides of the paper.


In a crisis

Economic or otherwise

Should you

A. Shoot unarmed civilians

B. Desert


DISCUSS


Leftie


I’m a leftie

And a pacifist

And to be quite honest

A bit of a wimp


To me the average squaddie

Is, well…


But when push comes to shove

You know who’s got your back


Civil War


The tighter the ties that bind

The deeper the cuts when torn


An old woman climbs Starshaw Bank


Thank you kind sir

But I’ll carry my own bag

Up Starshaw Bank


My father fell in the Great War

My husband died in Normandy, I kept his medal

My lad, it was the Falklands

They say he had courage


You see, I’m a real army wife


And each day I must carry my own bag

Up Starshaw Bank


The mother’s tale


He will always be a hero to me

My son

Although we don’t talk about

Such things these days


I found out how he died

The exact time and place

I’ve even met the regiment that did him in


But I don’t hate them

They’re friends now

The British


Stand up*


“It couldn’t happen here”

You say


“We wouldn’t let it”

You say


But you don’t even open your mouth in staff meetings


You don’t say


*for the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz


The cornflake man*


Lenny was a poor shot

So they gave him a flame thrower


We had the heavy machine gun

As we went through towns and villages


I don’t like to think about those times


Now I am in the factory

I make your cornflakes


I am the cornflake man


*for much older friends, 1939-45


Control*


sometimes they left

their radios

on, those poor

boys we heard

them as they

went

down

screaming


* for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain


Libya: mission creep


look out for

that subtle point

when “Just War”

becomes

just war


Saddam


We rejoice

Over the death of one man

But before we declare the world

A safer place

We should be sure

That we know the nature of

The man

The world

And the meaning of the word ‘safer’


A small town on the river


Tonight the beer is dark

I don’t understand why


The barges are low in the water

Waves wash along the decks


I share a word of pleasure with a stranger,

In her language,

As we watch a heron pose


The accordion player smiles right into my eyes

In thanks for a coin


In the crowd the football songs are the same


Students, well drunken

Ask the way to the old town

And apologize for their schoolboy English


Over fish soup

Two businessmen write down where to visit,

Discuss the war

And Clint Eastwood, who they’d met on holiday


Why should anyone want to kill these people?


Revenge


Revenge

Is understandable

(and can we disagree?)

But what gives hope

Is the woman whose husband

Never came home

Yet can say

The killing

Stops

With

Me


Holiday in Andalucia, Spring 2011


In the small towns of Southern Spain

Drivers stop

To let you cross the road


We choose to eat

Spaghetti Bolognese

On the beach


The air is fragrant

Orange trees

Have both oranges and blossom

At the same time


You can see the coast of Africa


When the wind drops

The sand is too hot for bare feet


And not too far away

Across the ancient Mediterranean

Men are trying to blow each other to pieces

And families are drowning to be free


Sergeant Bill


Where are you lying now, my sergeant Bill?

They sent me back your letters, sergeant Bill

Sent me caps and sent a kitbag

Sent me boxes and a bold flag

But no one thought to send me sergeant Bill


Shipped you off like cargo, sergeant Bill

Stamped and documented, sergeant Bill

Gave you boots and gave you Blanco

An old rifle and some ammo

But no quartermaster gave me sergeant Bill


Where are you lying now, my sergeant Bill?

Telegrams forgot to say, my sergeant Bill

Said how proud they were and grateful

Great deeds you did, but fatal

But paper’s not the same as sergeant Bill


I suppose you did your duty, sergeant Bill

Still I’d rather have a coward, sergeant Bill

To hold me and to need me

To love me and to feed me

Through all the years you leave me, sergeant Bill


If you enjoyed this book the author would welcome a review. These can be posted on Amazon or any site where you downloaded an ebook.


Nigel Mellor’s Reviews

Reviews of For the Inquiry: Poetry of the dirty war. (Dab Hand Press)


An excellent collection. Tribune

There is a special ring to Mellor's poetry. It's a unique compelling, boiled-down style which manages to convey a deep sense of cultural unease that many will surely recognise . . . a collection to establish his work among the first rank. 7 Days

Honest, straight talking . . . political in the best sense . . . keeps the human perspective firmly in view . . . A timely reminder that poetry has an important role . . . Should be read by all who share the author's fear that 'the freedoms we have . . . become a way of forgetting. Carol Rumens

If the Inquiry is no charade, it will take these words to heart. As will the reader . . . A plain man's guide to political breakdown . . . This is caring unsentimental poetry. Gillian Allnutt

Mellor has a clean, sparse ... engaging style. For the Inquiry... is a beguiling collection, its poems ... deceptively simple ... their subversive nursery-rhyme style charm cradled over deeper wells of meaning, even occasionally, of the sublime. Alan Morrison

Available on Amazon and www.nmellor.com


Reviews of Buddhism#now: Big Questions. Inner Peace. LOL. (Dab Hand Press)


Dr. Mellor really knows his stuff ... entertaining ...unique and amusing ... brilliantly diverse coverage ... thoroughly enjoyable. The Courier

This world needs more authors like Nigel Mellor. He brings such light and explanation to serious questions. Amazon

A good read ... combines slapstick humour with everyday life experiences ... without jargon or mysticism. NSU/Life

With this gem of a book Nigel Mellor has delivered something that is simultaneously light and funny and packed with sincerity and wisdom. Amazon

Crystal clear jokey writing, cartoons and snappy dialogue. Engage

Fantastic, funny, insightful read. Amazon

Informative ... find the distinction between pleasure and long-lasting happiness ... readable. Lifestyle

A beautiful book … for serious thinkers and for people who want to know the secrets and meanings of life. Amazon

Fresh, original, captivating and insightful. Amazon


Reviews of The good, the bad and the irritating: A practical approach for parents of children who are attention seeking. (Sage)

Over 20 years Dr Mellor has developed strategies that ... effectively change the child’s behaviour. The Independent

Full of hope ... for parents [in] a desperate world. Advice is given with understanding, warmth and a real appreciation of what life is like when you have an impossible child. Times Educational Supplement

A very practical, down-to-earth and humorous approach… techniques that harassed parents can use … this book is impressive. Educational Psychology in Practice

Extremely useful… I recommend this book as a manual for parenthood. Humour makes it an entertaining, yet informative read. The Teacher

Highly enjoyable …delivers key messages superbly well… points are delivered with warmth and sensitivity. British Journal of Special Education

[Mellor’s] techniques will help you to turn your child from a monster into an angel. Daily Express

Who’s pulling the strings? ... strategies [for] exasperated parents. Yorkshire Post

They are driving parents mad ... but there is a consistent approach that helps. Birmingham Post

Back to your granny’s wise words - the book is packed with real life examples ...[from] families and their moments of sheer desperation. Sheffield Star

The parents [Dr Mellor] sees are in a terrible state ... [his] help is practical and focused on the future rather than past mistakes. Newcastle Journal

I immediately felt a lot of empathy. All in all an excellent book. Special

Up-front and practical approach to this all-encompassing challenge. Education and Health

A very valuable resource. Children are Unbeatable Alliance

Empowers parents ....would be ideal at parent workshops. Special Needs Information Press

A panacea for many parents ... an immensely readable book. Young Minds

Mellor’s easy-going and empathetic style of writing [is] both refreshing and eminently readable ... the book is shot through with humour, modesty and encouragement and I highly recommend it. Contact a Family


Reviews of Attention seeking: a complete guide for teachers. (Sage)


Help is now at hand ... for the teachers ... driven to despair… gives teachers a way of gaining control. Times Educational Supplement

Practical strategies [to counter these] weapons of mass disruption. The Guardian

Even makes enjoyable bedtime reading, since Mellor’s style is easy and interesting ... case studies ... bring the book alive. Special Children

Good, sound advice ... a valuable book for those involved in teacher-training. Educational Psychology in Practice

An abundance of common sense. Education and Health

For the harassed teacher ... invaluable. Child Care Forum

Advice… is well-founded and user-friendly. Bridges, Northumbria University

They drive adults up the wall… attention seeking children have so far struggled to find a category of their own in the experts’ text-books. Education Journal

A pioneering book … from a wealth of practical experience. Herald and Post


Acknowledgements


Go forth and modify Militant Thistles (2017 forthcoming)

Sergeant Bill The Great British Write Off, Forward Poetry (2016)

Iraq, Libya, Syria, BrexitCulture Matters http://bit.ly/2lRp8d2 (2016)

Beware of words Simona Wallace plus 470 others http://bit.ly/2jVXLNE (2015)

A small town on the river; Private Health Providers; Beware of words; How the West was lost; Austerity Militant Thistles http://bit.ly/2jABu7g (2013)

It starts with the libraries; Crisis management The Robin Hood Book, Caparison (2012)

Sergeant Bill; Negativity Voices from the North East Radio broadcast on NE1fm ( June 22 2012)

The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026; Economics; Trickle down; Transformation; Go forth and modify Emergency Verse, Caparison (2011)

A modern cook book The North East Poetry Journal (2011)

A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973 Poetry Marathon, Brian John Allen (1993)

Heroes Guardians of The State, Poetry Now (1992)


With thanks to: Carol, Fleur, Fran, Ginge, Joe and Carlotta, Kate and Adrian and Jack, Keith, Mark, Mary, Peter, Rosemary, Shaun and Molly, Yvonne.


Other Publications


Poetry

For the Inquiry: poetry of the dirty war. Dab Hand Press.


Buddhism

Buddhism#now: Big Questions. Inner Peace. LOL. Dab Hand Press.


Practitioner books

Attention Seeking: a complete guide for teachers. Sage.

The Good, the Bad and the Irritating: A practical approach for parents of children who are attention seeking. Sage.


Contents

PEACE

1. ENVIRONMENT AND IMPERMANENCE

The great Sainsbury’s petrol station massacre of June 2026

Settle

The gateway: at the confluence of the North and South Tyne

Windermere

The appearance and disappearance of birds

In an easterly light

The rescue

Incident in the fishing grounds

Gene story

At the rising of the seas

The noble sacrifice of whales

If you’d just told me

We all hate flies

Go forth and modify

Return

The walk

Chapter and verse

2. TO INDIA WITH LOVE

Mumbai, late

We didn’t want the Taj hotel

Big city

Village

Near Osho International Meditation Resort

Gin and Tonic at the Residency Club, Pune

Jai Hind

3. RELATIONSHIPS

The rosewood casket

1950s

The point

Control freak

Model

The sand wiggler

Before getting in

The Cluny, Ouseburn Valley

By Constant Rise

Dreams of Polly Toynbee

That man

Chains

Christmas

Negativity

Right On

On the naïve belief in the transformative power of pop records

Semi on the Coast Road, 1973

These matter

On silence

4. ON MORTALITY AND RELIGION

Nursing Home, 1991

The hawk moth

The tin plate from the Victorian mine

August 1999 – an earthquake in Turkey

Appellation Contrôlée, wine label ‘Minervois’

Getting older

An excess of miracles

On medievalism

I believe

Say a silent prayer

Seaton Delaval hall

Why did Di die?

Toddler Alan Kurdi, 2015

After visiting hours, 2014

A church service

Funeral gathering

In passing

Gods

5. ECONOMICS AND POLITICS

Heroes

Memo to the informer, now

Human Rights

A Johannesburg farmer discusses resistance, 1973

Beware of words

A reflection on the irony surrounding the long delayed trial of the Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair at the International Criminal Court

Iraq Libya Syria Brexit….

A modern cook book

Songs of praise (for a guy)

The peculiar similarities of 1939 and 2017

Nation state

Reason

The way

How the West was lost

Trickle down

Destitution

Austerity

Private Health Providers

What I find annoying on reading autobiographies of Important People

It starts with the libraries

Transformation

Crisis management

Economics

Mr. President-for-life

Lessons

AND

Becoming

WAR

The tile maker of Darnac

A letter to the recruiting sergeant

Edith Cavell, October 12 1915, dawn

This and that

Poppy Day

I seem to see

The final Samurai battle

When war comes

Long, long ago

Peace

Philosophy for soldiers, level 1

Leftie

Civil War

An old woman climbs Starshaw Bank

The mother’s tale

Stand up

The cornflake man

Control

Libya: mission creep

Saddam

A small town on the river

Revenge

Holiday in Andalucia, Spring 2011

Sergeant Bill

Nigel Mellor’s Reviews



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