Hospitality

Hospitality

As we enter the season of advent, with its feverish activity
We hear distant echoes of Bethlehem, home to the nativity
And we compare our modern world of sumptuous hospitality
With the those far off rustic scenes of poverty and frugality

Hospitality given to strangers is a revered ancient tradition
To those who travel, driven on by a  determined mission
Pilgrims, intent on arrival at some holy shrine, their ambition
Travel weary refugees, claiming sanctuary is their petition

Hospitality today has moved far from simply the provision of a home
For Holy Family, shepherds and wise men beneath the celestial dome
In the dazzle of Christmas celebrations light is no longer monochrome
And to join in the fiesta no obligation on us to roam

Hospitality now manifest in food and drink and warmth and friendliness
A congenial welcome, a re-discovery of neighbourliness
An opening of hearts to show the milk of human kindness
So in our celebrations let love be the ever-present witness

But the spirit of advent exceeds mere hospitality
Or modern Christmas fun with tinsel and triviality
In essence it renews the desire for hope and peace and joy and love
Incarnate in that Infant come to mankind from God above

Ken Fisher

 

Black Friday 2017

Black Friday 2017

Black Friday is about to dawn
Indeed it seems never to have gone
This mad scramble for bargains
Gives birth to rugby scrums in shopping malls
And melt-down on computer networks
As search engines and eager bargain-hunters
Hit the town centres and the web browsers

I wonder if this whole exercise has some cathartic purpose
Pent-up emotions being released in some orgasmic frenzy
But who stirred up the desire in the first place?
Did we harbour some deep repressed longing to buy, buy, buy
Or was it the wiles and blandishments of the advertisers
On behalf of the retailers in their constant quest for profit
Who ensured that we would not remain lethargic

Well whoever is to blame, ourselves or the market place
We are assured that Friday will produce record-breaking turnover
Shops may be crammed with customers
And the on-line trade will ensure the white-van army
Of delivery agents will shift the goods from anonymous
Warehouses up and down the land, to your door and mine
And we will jump for joy at the ring on our door bell!

Happy shopping!

Ken Fisher

 

 

History

History – ‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’

It was apparently Henry Ford who sagely declared
That “History was just one damned thing after another”
And I don’t think there is any way we can refute that
Because we think of history as moving with time

At school we were sometimes told that Geography is about Maps
And History was about Chaps
(Ignoring the enormous contribution of the female sex)
Anyway History is generally expressed as a reflexion of  peoples’ lives

Of course the timespan of human existence in terms of
The whole history of  the earth is limited to perhaps
About 200,000 years, and we don’t know much
Of the story of the very earliest chaps

But nonetheless it is a long time from 200,000 years ago
To our present day – a very large historical tome
would be needed to tell that story
And perhaps a little boring – let’s try it on Facebook!

But what did Henry Ford mean by just one damned thing?
It sounds as if he had a troublesome life
Well he was a brilliant engineering innovator
And his problems were more with the unions than engines

Anyway Ford, in using the epithet about History
Seems to me to have succinctly summed up
The nature of life and living down the centuries
Never easy for the human spirit, but triumphing through it all

But I wonder if we ourselves would put such a negative judgment
on our view of history. Some might prefer to say it was the constant
march of progress* down the years from the darkness of ignorance
and superstition to the light of knowledge and rationality

But this seems to overlook an endless succession of really damnable things!

Ken Fisher

  • Interestingly, I read that Marx took from Hegel the sense that
    progress is inevitable, and that history has a pattern and is 
    not just one thing after another.

As a Revolutionary, Guy Fawkes was Relatively Tame (2017 version)

As a Revolutionary Guy Fawkes Was Relatively Tame!

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Who can doubt the treachery of Guy Fawkes in days of yore
As audacious as any revolt that had come before
To kill King James and those then sitting in Parliament
Was the purpose on which these bold plotters were bent

But the plotters were ‘foxed’ when the cellars were checked
And their malicious intentions did not go unchecked
Thus failed the plan to divert history’s direction
With the death of those who foment disaffection

Fast forward from those events of 1605
The desire for reform is still much alive
Perhaps gunpowder no longer the agent of change
Other forces at play can  our lives rearrange

Politics, the modern weapon whereby changes are wrought
Citizens express their desires through the ballot box
So elections now ignite the volatile spark
Resulting in changes that may be quite stark

The referenda can trigger demands quite explosive
As feelings are stirred making tempers emotive
Demands for freedom from the yoke of the oppressor
Those perceived of our rights to have been the transgressor

And so on the  European Question there was little doubt
Deeply divided opinion on whether IN or OUT
Brexit is bound to bring far-reaching change
Who yet knows if these will be losses or gains?

While at this time of year Guy Fawkes may be fondly recalled
By contemporary scandals we are not quite so enthralled!
But one thing is sure, changes will come, and we’ll have to cope
So keep your powder dry and don’t give up hope

It is odd to reflect that the prestige of Westminster
May be tarnished by the new sobriquet ‘sexminster’
Let’s hope MPs can revert to propriety
And I don’t simply mean maintaining sobriety!

Ken Fisher

Halloween 2017

Halloween [Tuesday 31st October 2017]

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Trick or Treat I hear them ask – what should I reply?
As on the threshold of my door the guisers I espy
To ward them off I pay their price as if it were a ransom
With fruits and sweets and even nuts a gift that I thought handsome

But before I let my ‘guests’ depart I ask them in return
What entertainment will they provide, what act will they perform?
It is in times like these I find that suddenly they’re silent
Unable to convince me that Britain has still Got Talent!

However, eventually together they muster up some courage
One even recites a bawdy poem – not really with much flourish
Two more play on the ‘air guitar’ a stimulating riff
While others mouth imagined lyrics, standing there quite stiff

The performance duly over towards the door they shuffle
And in sharing out the Treats try to avoid a scuffle
It was then I notice their costumes quite exotic
Theatrical to say the least – some even psychedelic

These young celebrants in this ancient hallowed festival
Of evil spirits, ghosts and some things quite heretical
Are really just out to have fun with all their many friends
And despite their spooky garb they bring no ill intent

So when our doorbell rings with the challenge ‘Trick or Treat’?
Let’s welcome them with open heart – and with a smile do greet
‘Cause on the eve ere All Saints’ Day it’s best that we been seen
To welcome visitors e’re so strange on this night of Halloween

Ken Fisher

 

Clocks Go Back 2017

Clocks Go Back [Sunday 29th October 2017]

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The days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in
In no time at all we will arrive at Halloween
Darkness is descending, as we struggle through the gloom
Look out for the guisers draped in their costume

‘Ere we reach that ‘hallowed’ eve the clocks must be turned back
Between Saturday and Sunday an hour they give us back
For last Spring those same clocks were moved an hour forward
To rectify that change now the movement will be rearward

It seems to me this time of year might make you feel depressed
And sometimes negative feelings can be manifest
Some people think this clock change is the harbinger of doom
And thoughts of hibernation fill their hearts with gloom

But most of us will soon accept the changing of the light
Brighter in the morning, then dark earlier at night
Nothing’s really changed, it’s ourselves who’ve played a trick
Tinkering with the clock hands but letting it still tick

So with the changing of the hour we revert to Greenwich Mean
British Summer Time left behind till Spring’s green shoots are seen
But at least we know now where we are, the timing quite official
No fiddling with the hours of day or night, no changes artificial

Ken Fisher

And on Tuesday 31st

Life Will See You Now

Life Will See You Now

Your heart jumps
As the receptionist calls your name
Doctor will see you now!

You throw down the faded magazine
And make your way to the inner sanctuary
Arraigned before the professional

Sometimes life is like that
Waiting in suspense
For whatever to happen

A sort of apprehension
Hanging in the air
A mixture of fear and excitement

Life lunges towards us
We feel we need to dodge
In case something unexpected

Hits us

Ken Fisher

 

Heavy Cold

Heavy Cold

Perception of the world dimmed
Felt-like ears muffle sound
Nose congested, breathing strangled
A constant trickle irritates the tubes
Paroxysms of coughing deny all rest
Overall sense of discomfiture

How can the body find itself besieged?
Slowly but inexorably the enemy attacks
And soon the equilibrium is disturbed
An armoury of sprays and pastilles
Pain relievers and inhalers
Seem impotent in the face of this onslaught

What to do when one defies the existence of illness?
Pretend this visitation is mere phantom
But clearly it manifests itself head on
The only wise and honourable course
To accept reality of this plague
And bear the trial with fortitude

Ken Fisher

Harvest Thanksgiving

Harvest Thanksgiving

I wonder if anyone, other than farmers, gives thanks
For the in-gathering of the harvest?
Yet it is that time of year again when churchgoers
Are reminded to be grateful for the yield of the earth
Perhaps we are so removed from it that pumpkins or pineapples
Flown in from China and Colombia don’t have the same impact

But we do realise that we all have to eat and it doesn’t
Materialize by magic on to supermarket shelves
Like sanitized meat portions of which we decline
To enquire further of their provenance, so too with the
Fruit and vegetables and everything else we consume
Our only thanksgiving is by paying the price demanded

Of course in the background we are aware that
all this is not achieved without multiple efforts –  physical,
logistical, technical and political – perhaps spiritual
if we credit God with any participation
And this may introduce a moral dimension as we consider
Climate change, migrant workers, and fair trade, even Brexit!

Of course our problem is that for most of us
We are remote from ever getting our fingers dirty
By the soil, or raising a sweat by physical labour
Perhaps our greatest suffering is backache caused by
Squinting at computer screens, and frustration
At slow down-load speeds and threats of hacking

And yet economists will tell us that all our efforts
contribute to the national ‘harvest’. Whether simply the classical
Factors of production – land, labour and capital
Or the new ‘knowledge economy’ which seems
To conjure wealth from mere ideas
And in the future will there be thanksgiving for
the robots who will take our work?

Ken Fisher

300th Poem

300th Poem [Published on my website]

 

 

Poems about people, poems about places
Poems about gadgets and modern living
Poems about planets and the moon’s phases
Poems about a treadmill, quite unforgiving

Poems about philosophy rather high-minded
Poems about gardens and plant cultivation
Poems about history of which we are reminded
Poems about politics affecting our nation

Poems about health and our well-being
Poems reflecting contemporary issues
Poems about concepts we have difficulty seeing
Poems that are so sad we resort to a tissue!

Poems about commerce, banking and trade
Poems about geography and environment
Poems about materials and how things are made
Poems that commemorate some special event

Poems that recall peace and strife
Poems trying  to make some sense of society
Poems about the useful Swiss Army knife
Poems on religion that advocate piety

Poems written about yearly times and seasons
Poems about weather forever changing
Poems written to appeal to our reason
Poems that just ramble and are far too wide ranging

Poems about insects and our friendly birds
Poems about clocks and old radio sets
Poems on obscure topics rather absurd
Poems about the credit crunch and paying our debts

Poems about holidays and time spent away
Poems about the media and all things artistic
Poems about churches and ancient abbeys
Poems for the present day and some futuristic

Poems about rail travel on the continent
Poems on photographers and the paparazzo
Poems about housing and the high cost of rent
Poems that urge you to get up and go!

Poems that reflect on industrial decline
Poems that explain about our Parliament
Poems that declare everything’s just fine
Poems about devices that people invent

Poems that try to show a keen sense of humour
Poems about architecture and building design
Poems that aim to inform the naive consumer
Poems best accompanied by a glass of wine!

Finally there are poems about poetry which I try to write
Explaining blank and free verse and meter and rhyme
I am unsure if these efforts will ever delight
But there is no one to blame as they are all mine

Well I think that’s enough to explain the wide choice
Among these three hundred poems I’ve put on display
I hope that with me, you too might rejoice
‘Cause all this is for free, you have nothing to pay!

Ken Fisher

The Party Conference

The Party Conference

Have you noticed how the political party conferences
Have all the hallmarks of an old fashioned religious rally?

Speakers are primed to maximise the hype
And minimize the problems of every party policy
Prospects of a new utopia are revealed
To an expectant audience, eagerly receptive

Like seasoned preachers playing with the emotions
Slogans substitute for well-loved Bible texts
The committed are encouraged to have implicit faith
In the party apparatchiks, like disciples of old

The conferences are rallying points for the likeminded
But that is not to say there is never dissent
For sometimes festering internal disputes
Can be aired and wounds inflicted in internecine strife

And of course the press and media tribe run riot
Picking fights with politicians and holes in every pledge
Demonstrating virility in unbridled antagonism
All in the name of greater awareness and public accountability

But the dominant theme of the party conference
Is unity of aspiration, solidarity in action,
Determination to defeat the opposition
And ultimate triumph of the common purpose

After all is said and done, the aim is
To ensure that the delegates go forth
Single-minded, convinced of the virtue of their cause
And determined to manifest their version of a better world

Ken Fisher

 

Freedom (for National Poetry Day 2017)

Freedom (for National Poetry Day 2017)

On this the national poetry day, Freedom is the theme
For many this is our reality, for others just a dream
Although no-one lives without limit or constraint
Our bonds and strictures bring no real ground for complaint

Freedom is a high ideal, a noble aspiration
Of democracy it is judged to be the very firm foundation
As with egality and fraternity, three virtues fundamental
In pursuit of good governance these are elemental

But not only in lofty ideals and concepts philosophical
Freedom matters to us in things mundane and practical
The liberty to go where and when we please
To choose to work and how to take our ease

Freedom of speech, to declare the truth, express our own opinion
Whether the highest authority or a simple humble minion
Freedom to worship, to assemble together, to move about the land
All forms of slavery or coercion we always should withstand

But in pursuit of this worthy paradigm we must remain alert
In defending our freedom, the rights of others we ne’er should subvert
Because true liberty demands mutual love and respect
Only thus can we aspire our fragile freedom to protect

Ken Fisher