Enemy

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY…  

One year ago today I was lying awake in the middle of the night.

2.15am to be precise.

Suddenly I was attacked by an enemy; an old adversary I had known all my life.

I was hit in the head so hard; so violently that I thought I was going to die right there and then.

The pain ricocheted down through my body and made my heart bang against my chest, sweat pouring from my forehead as warm as blood seeping from my temples.

Everything went so black; so dark that it was as if there wouldn’t be light again – and that was bloody terrifying.

My old foe was back with a vengeance; and though I thought he’d pounced and attacked me suddenly; without warning, and with a strength I was unaware he possessed, I realise now that he had been stalking me for a year or two.

Quietly nipping away, taking small bites; damaging me so subtly that I had changed the way I lived – or rather, didn’t, live my life. I stopped socialising as much, made excuses.

Blithely convincing myself I was content.

Using one of my biggest fears; aging, as justification for my sedentary life. Yet knowing that, at 47 years old there was no excusing the choices I was making.

Comforting myself with food…and drink; blotting him…and myself out.

 Maybe everybody knew?

 But then again, no!

 People were leading their lives, weren’t they?

Getting on with things?

Working, playing, planning, hoping, living.

Being normal.

How COULD they?

Why the hell weren’t they shit scared?

I knew I wasn’t normal but simply couldn’t fathom how everybody else could go on behaving as if they were.

Then I kind of understood that everyone else must have issues.

But they weren’t being me!

The attack that night inflicted injuries I hadn’t ever contemplated.

But it wasn’t sudden.

It didn’t just “happen”!

I had known it was coming – but not how.

A shocking punch in the brain I hadn’t thought possible; seeing me hospitalised miles from home for weeks, medicated long-term, and in psychological therapy for a year.

The severity of my nemesis’ attack was such that I re-evaluated absolutely everything, had to make substantial life changes; quit certain things and embrace others.

I have had to learn to live with him; this angry, destructive, soul sapping, joy stealing old beast.

However much I loathe him he is always going to be there.

Waiting!

Loitering!

The loneliness can be excruciating; the terror exhausting; the blackness so empty; so devoid of colour that it becomes white!

A white depression.

And it’s the loneliness you inflict; the reflected gloom – on a loved one.

Listening to him pierce and microwave a ready meal for one, because you are too full, too engorged with the enemy to have appetite for anything else.

Cast sideways glances and watch him push the food around his plate, lacking any appetite.

Acting like he is one – alone; not two anymore.

Knowing you should eat; you should engage with him when he tries to make you laugh again.

See his brain wishing you better; desperately wondering what to do next.

You should show him you still care; that you love him even more for coping with you.

That you don’t want to drag him into the pit with you.

Wanting to push him away from the enemy; hope against hope he doesn’t hate you for the foul crap the enemy has dragged into your shared life.

But he has never met the bastard. Never seen the beast you describe.

Only what it does…it’s talent for misery.

You lay in bed listening to your loved one’s breathing change, until you know he’s asleep and away from you, not mired in the mud of your mind swamp for a while…and you breathe – grateful to be left alone in your pit.

More than anything you want some strength back, to fight fire with fire.

You want the enemy gone!

But talking about the black dog weakens him. Starts to deny him food, removes the sustenance he craves.

Blunts his bite and muzzles his bark.

Medicating him can help for a while…or longer; subduing him – dulling him just enough to give you chance to think a little clearer.

Makes a bit of room in your mind – space to think about your thoughts; to heal and scab over what you’ve picked raw.

Learning coping strategies give you skills; ways to calm things down enough to live. Like removing the lid from a pressure cooker, it lets off steam for a while and the water stops boiling; quietens…

As with all bullies, acknowledging what they are. Confronting them. Telling people about them and shining a light on them so they don’t have the power they once held.

Get help to calm your black dog; to train it and learn about it. Maybe feed it a little less and walk it more often.

Mental illness prefers the dark to the light – so let’s turn our full beam on it – bathe the black dog in light.

Rather than letting it lurk in the dark.

One year on – and I’m OK…

Kind of…

For now…

 

…and I really, really like dogs!

 

©Billy Reynard-Bowness – pofacedpoetry – All Right’s Reserved – 2019

NOSEY

NOSEY
 
Is there owt more satisfying than a pick of the nose?
I bollock me husband for picking his,
Recoil and gag as his finger does flex.
See him digging for tayties gets me all in a tiz.
 
Urgh, stop that, I saw ya, you filthy old git,
As he rams digit trowel up into the mire.
Swiftly gouging and turning in case I should look,
And brand him a pig with my irate righteous fire.
 
But a hypocrite am I, so quick to berate.
For in dark deeds are done; shameful and sly.
When at night he doth slumber, and I lie awake,
Rising up past my septum antenna creeps by.
 
A dastardly coward; charlatan picker indeed.
Indulge in the act I so roundly admonish,
Excavate the harvest; finger spade with sharp nail,
The inside of my beak gets a soundly good polish.
 
Then to sleep, peaceful dreams, himself none the wiser.
Digging done and disposed, time for blissful repose;
My secret is safe; well unless spouse reads this.
Is there owt more satisfying than a pick of the nose?
 
@pofacedpoetry Billy Reynard-Bowness 2019

Ready, Steady, Go…

Below is a piece I was asked to write for somebody, who has given me their blessing to share it. The piece was meant for somebody they knew who was going through a hard time. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t even grammatically correct, and isn’t meant to be.
 
Ready, Steady, Go…
 
Start…
 
Do we do, or are we are?
Is we is, or be we be?
Could we could, or should we should?
Use we use, or take we take?
Fake we fake, or make we make?
Ask we ask, or know we know?
Think we think, or trust we trust?
Teach we teach, or learn we learn?
Go we go, or stay we stay?
Ache we ache, or soothe we soothe?
Feel we feel, or numb we numb?
Truth we truth, or lie we lie?
Face we face, or deny we deny?
Ask we ask, or answer we answer?
Hide we hide, or show we show?
Seek we seek, or find we find?
Love we love, or hate we hate?
Fight we fight, or accept we accept?
Laugh we laugh, or cry we cry?
Friend we friend, or foe we foe?
War we war, or peace we peace?
Life we life, or die we die?
Live we live or live we life?
Is as was, or was as is?
Human we are, or human we were?
 
Repeat…
 
End…
 
?
 
©pofacedpoetry – Billy Reynard-Bowness (2019) – All right’s reserved

DIE LATER

constellations
and their
covalent bonds
are the foundations
I’m built on
 
the galaxy is full
of my twinkling
molecular compounds
 
and I circumnavigate both
 
they’re one in the same,
the universe
my nerves and my veins
 
and I will die later,
my dilator;
I look forward to seeing
my past self
there with you again
 
BRB – PoFacedPoetry – 2019

TIME

 

Blithely we dance the days away!

   Frittering the clock with gossip, spit and chat.

To have and to hold; bold, surly and gay,

                                Consuming to get fat.

 

The tracks of our years devoured; come quick!

    As we rail against time; passing faster and scant.

Must do and must see; must have. Tick, tick, tick,

                              Need replaced by want.

 

We plot, scheme and plan; fool-proof, so sure!

    Each infinite in wisdom, stand firm on solid ground.

For chattels and glory we kill and we cure.

             Safe and so sound.

 

Yet fleeting are we, specks of dust on the shelf!

   The winds of time; howling cruel as they blow.

Jeering “no destination but the journey itself”.

                              We come, we go.

 

©Billy Reynard-Bowness as PoFacedPoetry – All right’s reserved – April 2019

OBLIVION

I don’t remember sleeping

The act of unconsciousness

An awakening of conscience

A letting-go of stress

 

Becoming something organic

Folded into dotted wood

And fabrics made of ghost

Torpid fibres snake my blood

 

The calendar flicked through days

The clock ticked through time

Smacked out my mind adventures

Back when I was in my prime

 

Thinking way outside the box

Deep slumberer in rictus tomb

At one with earth and universe

As safe as mother’s womb

 

Cruelly wrenched back to life

Birthed hard from safe oblivion

Dreams jet-washed like pebble-dash

Still waiting for event horizon

 

© pofacedpoetry – Billy Reynard-Bowness (2018) – All right’s reserved

 

WHEN WE FORGET TO REMEMBER

The screaming echoes of hell
The echoes of screaming shells
The smattering of wailing echoes
The shattering of human shells.
For decency?
For peace?
For honour?
For humanity?
If? When we fail yet again; once more
Go us into the sea; leave flesh ridden shores
Let briny drink try wash tired hands clean
If there be sea enough to flush man’s grimy pores.
No more!
No more!
No more!
No more!
Or – send us back to the sea; amen
Let the war-weary Earth start over again
Give blood rusty soil time to drink afresh
Forget the blind cruelty; the indifference of men.

©pofacedpoetry – Billy Reynard-Bowness (2018) – all right’s reserved

A BONFIRE OF DARK HEARTS

A bonfire in your dark hearts

Burning bilious with rage

Embered fire-pit in your bellies

Fueled by yob-bullish bigotry

 

“Not so” – you’ll cry – fool

‘Twas a prank; some high jinx

“No real harm was meant”

Ah! Nothing then to repent?

 

Coiled DNA; double helix of hate

Like a serpent it writhes inside

Woven into your very fibre; deep

Written as words in stick of rock

 

YES – a crime, never a joke, NO

Don’t spew forth “innocent fun”!!!

Darkest soul chose for you that night

Your casual cruelty laughed at sad plight

 

Billy Reynard-Bowness – 2018 – For Grenfell

My Interview with “Wombwell Interviews”…

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Billy Reynard Bowness Writer-Poet (The Po Faced Poet)

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Billy Reynard Bowness Writer-Poet (The Po Faced Poet)

Born in Lincolnshire but growing up and educated in Huddersfield, Billy considers himself a Yorkshireman at heart.
Billy is 47 years old, a Pisces, former Legal Executive, now mad scientist and sometime bit part actor. He lives in the wilds of deepest North Yorkshire with his partner, three dogs, ducks and countless chickens.
In any spare time, Billy enjoys walking in the Yorkshire Dales, travelling, gardening and boating.

“Humour and humility will see you through”
FB: https://www.facebook.com/PoFacedPoetry
BLOG: https://pofacedpoetry.wordpress.com/

The Interview

1. When and why did you start to write poetry?

I wrote some poetry when I was in high school after reading and memorizing a poem off the blackboard called “The Scarecrow” by Walter De La Mere! It really impacted on me and stuck with me. However, life and work took over and I didn’t write again seriously until this year. It was the 10th anniversary of my son drowning when he was just 19. Alex would have been 29 this year. I wrote a poem as catharsis and to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death. I have been writing prolifically all year.
Thinking about it I guess throughout life I have been writing poetry on and off (even before I returned to it seriously this year). Whenever there was a family event, a wedding, funeral etc, people would ask me to write a poem to read out or perform.

1.1 What was it about “The Scarecrow” that impacted on you?

My dad’s side of the family were farmers so the story of the poem appealed, but it was the imagery I particularly liked, of childlike innocence juxtaposed with adult duty – of the scarecrow keeping watch, suffering for “his master, man”. The narrative of the scarecrow as storyteller, fixed and unflinching, but vital in partnership with the human being. The description of the winter & the cold mornings – “flame with glittering rime” I found so rich.

2. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I think that, growing up in Huddersfield and attending an “ordinary” Secondary school little emphasis was placed on poetry as a genre. Wilfred Owen was mentioned as poet laureate/a war poet but not delved into with any depth. In English literature we were taught about the works of Shakespeare but not as a poet, strictly as a playwright. As an adult my interests have led me to become more aware of how a writer or music artist can be a poet without being 100% described as such. For example, my love of the maudlin music of Leonard Cohen led me to appreciate his poetry. Returning to the part of the question about “dominating presence” I think that the blank verse and poetic meter used by the likes of Shakespeare and Marlowe are prevalent/relevant today in their influence and continuing performance value. When thinking of the contemporaries such as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes I think their colourful lives and embellished personas define them as much as their poetry.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

It differs depending on how I have slept (how many times I am awake babbling words, ideas or lines into my dictaphone)! Most days after getting the coffee, feeding the animals (chickens, ducks, dogs) I go to my office and firstly type up anything from the dictaphone into my “ideas” folder. Depending on where I am with a particular piece, I may work on a poem or outline – editing – changing – playing with structure. If I have a firm idea for a new project I may spend the later part of the morning researching my theme, history, language. Mornings are more about focused work (as that is when I am most focused). After lunch, which is always accompanied by music, I will give the dogs a quick walk. Depending on how “in to” a particular piece of writing on a given day the afternoon may be spent working on a that poem. If not I will either read poetry, “fiddle with”/edit my growing portfolio…or both. I do have a “day job” as well, working as a biochemistry analyst, but I have described a typical days writing…Which I usually do 3 days a week. I try to read some poetry or prose every day as I feel it is as important to read as it is to write.

4. What motivates you to write?

Gosh – everything! Life. The ridiculousness of the human condition. Our peculiarities, insecurities, silliness, tendency towards superlatives. They are great fodder for somebody who likes to play with words! I think that, of the thousands of thoughts, feelings, emotions, interactions we have every day, at least some of them are worth using in the future. Recording them. Adapting them. Making a story out of them – so that they are eternal rather than fleeting. That is my main motivation, although sometimes simply a word or a couple of words will come into my head and I know that I have to create something around them – build a story wall around the foundation words. I think the drive to write is innate.

5. What is your work ethic?

Try to do even the smallest piece of work really well, and don’t rush. Quality over quantity. If that doesn’t work and you get stuck – maybe it is time to step back, take some time out and wait for the zest to come back.?

6. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I remember reading (and re-reading) a book called “Down The Bright Stream” by “B.B” when I was very young, and being blown away by how magical the language was. How the words combined made me feel warm, excited and created such rich imagery in my head. It was about the four remaining gnomes in Britain; Dodder, Cloudberry, Baldmoney and Sneezewort, and their quest to stop an ancient countryside brook from drying up. The seam of imagery sewed in my mind from that book remains with me to this day. It is something I try to embroider into my work – that immersive sense of being a part of the poem, the story – the words creating almost a “false memory”, as if you’ve been there and experienced what is being written about.
It was the same with a lot of my early reading – such as Tarka the Otter and the Brer Rabbit books. I liked to read about nature, and animals…using their stories as morality learning. I incorporate nature and animalistic terms into my poetry today, particularly when trying to describe certain human traits.

7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Gillian Flynn. Because of her unflinching bravery in her use of language – to shock – to repulse – to excite! She writes as you would dare to be able to speak. Her characters are rarely like-able, but extremely “readable”, and I appreciate how she transcends and upturns the gender stereotypes. Basically, she tells a damn good tale!

8. Why do you write?

Because it is not enough to have the ideas, thoughts, words, emotions in my head! I need to act on them, develop them. Share them! It makes me feel good to do so.
…and I LOVE words, and playing with them, twisting them, juxtaposing them. Writing lets me indulge in my “word play”.

9. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

“Start writing”

10. And finally, Billy, tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I am in the process of developing a poem I wrote into a “poetry play” – a mini epic! I want to tell the stories of the characters I introduced in the original poem from different perspectives over the course of a few years. My idea is to create a story, in verse, with a rich structure and the occasional plot twist, which could (and hopefully would) be developed into a piece of theatre or TV. I am also working on a manuscript of poetry observing the daily triumphs and tragedies in life, the micro-annoyances, laughs and irritants – humorous anecdotal poetry.

MAN-FLU: THE EPIC

 

A Trojan horse. As Cleopatra in a carpet

Enters hidden on a breath

Incubus; droplet alien drawn in,

sets about its work; brooding job to do.

 

Awaken a little stiff, sweat and grog

A scratchy throat; a swollen lymph

Shower power, rinse and coffee makes well.

No. Twas not to be this false alarm, I’d grabbed.

 

Working fast now, growing, flooding

like snow melt hitting parched desert.

Seeping into cracks; changing blood-scapes.

Reprographic virus; dissociative – to thrive.

 

A false pardon was granted this morning

Cruel deception, such as played on Nick Bottom

teased mind into belief; a surge of relief,

Just early morning rust; blow away sleep dust.

 

I am sick of it now, the sickness; the bug.

My alien visitors; my too close encounter

making things smell wrong – like vinegar

and my nose pop as each side turns to unblock.

 

As big screen drama – epic plays out in my mind.

The white cells; the soldiers wiping out alien-kind

Dualling MacDuff and MacBeth in Dunsinane cell

Waging battle within me; my man-flu living hell.

 

©pofacedpoetry Billy Reynard-Bowness (2018) all right’s reserved