Approaching the End of the School Term

Approaching the End of the School Term

Towards the end of June we approach the close of the Scottish Schools’ term
This time frame must produce mixed feelings for pupils, teachers, and parents
Relief for the teachers once all the marking and assessing are processed
Release anticipated by the pupils as they exit the school gates
Concern in the parents as to how their offspring have done
And also the perennial problem of child minding in the long break

Of course it is true to say that most kids today do go away, at least for some time
Whether on holiday with family and friends – and many of these are overseas vacations
to destinations that earlier cohorts could only dream of
In fact in common with many others of my generation the Scout Camp
At Crieff or Moffat was our most exotic prospect – ten days under leaking canvas!
Still, we survived (the midges) and were not subjected to the temptations of Magaluf

I suppose there is a sense of life in transition at this time
Some moving from Primary up to the ‘big school’ with all its unknowns
For others the prospect of progressing to college or university
In the hope of training for an uncertain future ‘career’
And teachers wish their charges all the best for whatever lies ahead
No matter they are inwardly glad to be seeing the backs of some!

And for all, pupils, parents, teachers, and those connected to them
A sudden increasing awareness of the very transitory nature of life
Perhaps even more so in this modern age where everything seems
Somewhat provisional.   The old certainties swept away
In jobs, in marriage and relationships, in housing, in the economy, even faith

Perhaps we no longer live under the shadow of the 1960’s Cold War
But do we feel secure as the schools are out – how can we feel calm?

Ken Fisher

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“Wake up and smell the coffee” is apparently a call to action
A set of circumstances, an affair, demanding our reaction
It would appear that we might have been caught sleeping
Time now for us to act, and wake from idle dreaming

Some say the expression is used to tell us we are wrong
Time for a sharp rethink to move our thoughts along
Others say it is just a phrase to say we must wake up
To harsh realities, so many problems piling up

Wake and smell the coffee tells us to become aware
Not hide below the duvet or even turn to prayer
For although prayer may have its rightful place
Nonetheless these issues we simply now must face

So when someone reminds us of that beverage we should smell
It’s obviously something helpful that they wish to tell
And if we are truly wise we will produce a prompt reaction
A timely answer to advice which springs us into action

Ken Fisher

Summer Solstice 2017

Summer Solstice 2017

A glimpse of sunshine warms our heart
Flowers and leaves reflect the light
The gentle rays caress our brow
Our lips widen with a smile

For now the daytime stretches out
Filling each hour with gentle light
Dark days of winter long forgot
We rejoice in life outdoors

From this ‘crows nest’ of the year
We scan the horizon fore and aft
Behind long hours of winter gloom
Then spring pregnant with promise

But this year we feel melancholic
Mood saddened by tragic events
We pause at this solstice moment
Praying that fortune may have turned

Ahead the prospect of summer warmth
And autumn’s gold and russet tints
But winter’s spectre lurks beyond
Vaguely threatening summer’s calm

Ken Fisher

The Aftermath

The Aftermath
[The day after the General Election 8 May 2017]

Well it’s all over now
Ballot boxes unlocked, their contents strewn
Eager hands have sifted and sieved, unfolded the leaves
Attentive eyes scanned, sorted and stacked these expressions
of the democratic will.   As each separate pile is then
aggregated for the various candidates. Height of bundles
a barometer of popular support for each protagonist

As the feverish activity reaches a climax checks
and even double checks will be made, a recount may be demanded
The final summation then reported to
The Returning Officer, whose fiefdom for the night
Is the Counting Station for that Parliamentary constituency

When all doubts are resolved the Officer will
Call for silence and then, arraigned with all
the aspiring candidates, a pregnant calm will descend
And with due solemnity, the result will be announced
Amidst cries of triumph and groans of dismay
The winner will receive the congratulations
Of losers who will shake hands, with rictus smiles
Ill disguising their disappointment – at least
If they had believed victory had been possible

The winner, as if at the Oscars, will pronounce a long
litany of thanks to everyone – from the dutiful spouse
to the intern who made the tea at the Party Office
Of course, not forgetting, you the voters!

And so off they go into the dawning light
Some to party as they celebrate success
Others, whose expectations have been dashed,
Or even as unseated MP’s to an obscure uncertain future
And what of us the voters? We have done our duty
Do we believe that the new incumbent will fulfill
Their promise of being the Member for all their people?

But none might easily have predicted the actual outcomes
Only the Exit Polls were able to alert us to the likely totals
And as the night wore on the correlation between these indicators
and the eventual reality became quite stark for all to see
Some famous familiar faces suddenly stripped of power
Years of thankless service gives no immunity
Other aspirants thrown into the limelight
Even some actors who had been hiding in the wings recalled
to play their part

Thus a new political landscape took shape in which
we discovered that the people had made choices
which our politicians had not expected or not desired
And once again the shape of the future even  more uncertain
But that’s democracy – we must live with it!

Ken Fisher

Election Time Yet Again

Election Time Yet Again
[The moment of decision is upon us]

 

Time has arrived when voters must make their choice
All sides in the debate near exhausted by the fray
Arguments finely honed and rehearsed so many times
So that, if prompted, even we might quote their party lines

This time around, some major themes have emerged
Brexit and its potential effects have dominated
And if only we can assure ‘Strong and Stable Leadership’
‘For the Many not the Few’ we can assure ‘A Brighter Future’
[Please don’t mention IndyRef2]

But all debate has been hi-jacked by the tragedies
With which terrorists have caught us unaware

Perhaps it is therefore all the more essential
That we do not allow the democratic process
To be sidelined, despite the ideological mayhem
Thrusting the crime scene into our cityscape

Politicians seeking comfort from the pollsters
Turn to the pronouncements of psepholigists
[Modern custodians of the Holy Grail]
But interpretation of results they reserve as their own

Although it is probably true to say that like the jilted bride
Political parties have lost their trust in these predictive gurus
As past experience has shown the pollsters’ crystal ball
Proved somewhat cloudy to say the least

The journalists like ‘war’ correspondents
Have not been afraid to enter in the fray
They have even been the cause of skirmishes
If seen to favour one party o’er the others

So TV political anchors readily bare their fangs
Determined to prove they show no bias, and give no quarter
They attack with unbridled vigour, candidates of every hue
Their confrontations show no favours, make no concessions

But the TV broadcasts of the leaders’ debates have often palled
As participants talk across each other, stifling free speech
Nipping their opponents like ferrets fighting in a sack
Each must display the dominant voice no matter what

And this time we have been subjected to a sort of Star Chamber
Grilling by audience, then broadcasting anchors, of those
Who would seek the highest offices when the ballot is over
And the final verdict has been pronounced

So here we are, it is ‘Make Your Mind Up Time’
As the quizmaster used to say on TV audience participation shows
You’ve heard all the arguments, been given all the promises
Now you must be the judge, let’s hope you are still awake!

Alas all that each of us must do now
Is exercise our hard-fought right at the polls
Enjoy the excitement of the night
And accept the result (and the consequences) with equanimity!

Ken Fisher

Time Uninterrupted

Time Uninterrupted
[Written on the morning after the London Bridge attacks]

The clock nestling in our garden ticks uninterrupted
Unperturbed by this world’s events
Time is merely measured, not judged
But for some, time has come to an abrupt halt

A new reality is dawning on our nation
The fragility of life in the face of terror
Our vulnerability, caught off guard
As we take our leisure

How can we fathom the minds of those
Who perpetrate such deeds?
What force impels them in their mission?
Random victims who will see no tomorrow

In the tranquility of the sun-drenched garden
The clock ticks on with measured beat
But for the dead no mere interruption
And we who remain, ask why?

 

Ken Fisher

Get Wired In

Get Wired In
[for National Paper Clip Day]

I wonder if like me, you had no idea
That there is a useful device that brings us cheer
It’s a humble item of office equipment
Which ensures our papers get proper treatment

I am referring to a widget often overlooked
But is ever so useful to keep our sheets hooked
Together in some storage container or file
Where they need to reside for quite a while

This simple device, just a bent piece of wire
To greater fame it would never aspire
But the service of the humble paper clip
Is vital to ensure that loose pages don’t slip

So today I am told is National Paper Clip Day
And coincides with another office holiday
So perhaps all the paper clips will straighten themselves out
And leap from the desk-tidy as they dance and shout

For we certainly should celebrate the paper clip
Whose value our minds will often let slip
We should rejoice in its power to keep things together
An example we humans might sometimes remember

Ken Fisher

 

When the Light Darkens, yet once more

When the Light Darkens yet once more

I find it hard to realise that I am posting this poem yet once more.
It appeared after the terrorist attacks and bombings in Paris, Brussels and Nice,

and since then we have had the runaway car on Westminster Bridge and now this atrocity in Manchester. Will there be no end to it?
[I have added a new final verse]

When life seems good and full of light
How can its days turn into night?
But that it does there is no doubt
And inwardly we have to shout

What has gone wrong, who can we blame?
Why can’t our path remain the same?
A life of praise for all its joy
No longer does our heart employ

We seek for reasons why things change
And far and wide our thoughts do range
But contemplation brings no balm
It does not cheer or bring us calm

We agonise o’er words and deeds
O’er failure to confront the needs
That might these tragedies divert
And so our sorrow thus avert

But in this time of sad reflection
No nostrum found for lost affection
And only sadness is in sight
No early hope of love or light

Thus we must journey on our way
No cure for pain our fears allay
Our only hope that time might ease
And thus restore our inward peace

But just as night will turn to day
We’ll find again the sun’s bright ray
Will slowly mend our broken heart
As warmth and love it does on us impart

But while this may be true of the nation
What of the bereaved and wounded, where consolation?
The balm of time may bring its healing
Not before much abject weeping

Ken Fisher

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

Congratulations to this old friend
Providing such pleasure and satisfaction
For two centuries you have been our pride and joy
Playground and classroom for successive generations

Thanks to those whose foresight became our legacy
Benefactors and botanists who nurtured this grandiose project
The City Fathers in their own time too
Who promoted the development of the gardens

History tells of the sub-terranean railway line
And the old bandstand at the crown of the hill
In more recent times the Kelvin Walkway
Arboretum and Bard in the Botanics

In the wide pathways and greensward
Now liberated from restrictions of an earlier age
Children of all ages cavort quite uninhibited
While others meander along riverside walks

Surely the crowning glory of this renowned parkland
The glasshouses, Kibble and Main Range
Custodians of exotic plant species
Promoter of science and art together

Past venue for political diatribes to sway our views
And religious rallies to stir the heart and save the soul
Meeting point for horticultural aficionados
And platforms for booksellers and plant societies

Couples newly wed parade quite unabashed
Along the main pathway’s wide expanse
As photographers like the paparazzi
Seek the image that will surely flatter

And tiny tots with their attentive guardians
Flex youthful muscles while learning how to balance
In the play areas especially designed for them
A kindergarten for growing minds and bodies

Behind the scenes at the Botanics
Much serious work is undertaken
While visitors refresh themselves in cafes
The cultivation of the plants is centre stage

So thanks to those who had the vision and the will
To establish this treasure trove in our green space
We salute those pioneers and innovators
And pledge to do our part to honour their generous legacy

Ken Fisher

Cyber Safe

Cyber Safe

 

All of a sudden we have become more aware
Of the potential dangers lurking out there
When we had assumed that all our data’s secure
And of our privacy we felt we could still be sure

But news of the latest world wide hacking
And of storage devices the blatant ransacking
Our sacrosanct records hitherto inviolate
Some unknown intruder sought to liberate

And not only did these felons seek to gain access
Their aim was by blackmail to achieve much success
And by extortion derive a profit quite handsome
By demanding from us a large bit-coin ransom

If we did not accede to their outrageous demands
They would wrest possession out of our hands
And we could no longer govern our business affairs
Or financial assets held in banks, bonds or shares

And health authorities that maintain records of patients
Found that not only people but systems acquired complications
And so the way in which we run things in all organisations
Were subject to widespread data starvation

And when we reflect on the risks around cyber security
When so many computers now have little immunity
One wonders if perhaps we should take a step back
And use chalk and slate – much less easy to hack!

 

Ken Fisher

Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus

Today there was a celebration
Of music heard throughout the nation
When birds awoke from restful sleep
As in field and tree their watches keep

Around the globe as light returns
Each line of longitude in turn
From darkest night to radiant day
The gloom of night is chased away

Earth’s eyelid is slowly teased awake
As rays of light announce daybreak
Consciousness returns to the globe
From the shroud of night disrobed

And gradually with illumination
Awakes the avian congregation
And as the dawn chorus our ears caress
It’s melodius sounds our hearts will bless

This harmony surrounds our world
Like in each land a flag unfurled
And we awake to this new day
All dark foreboding cast away

Ken Fisher

Discernment

Discernment

Cleopas and the other disciple meet the 
risen Lord on the Emmaus Road
[Luke Ch 24 : v 13 -35]

How might we discern the meaning of events?
Sight alone will not provide the answer
The inward eye is needed to reveal the truth
Insight slowly gained to travellers on the Emmaus Road

Intuitive sight awakened when bread was blessed and broken
Realization dawned on their benighted hearts
The gloom and despondency uplifted
Joy returned and faltering faith restored

Just as in times of old we too must seek perception
That moves away the clouds of doubt and disbelief
And life’s experience is seen in clear significance
The purposes of the providence of our God

Grant that we might discern the meaning of events
The little incidental chips that form the overall mosaic
Thus trusting despite our  opaque vision
That God’s overarching purpose will not fail

Ken Fisher