Hunker Down

Hunker Down

 

Ever feel tempted to just hunker down
When the world around is wearing a frown?
So much is happening that is not to my taste
To a place of refuge I need to make haste

But where can I hide when there is so much to fear?
No place of safety seems to be near
Unless I intend to get out of town
The only choice left is to hunker down

But what are all those menacing threats
That raise the pulse and bring on the sweats
Where does that bogeyman reside
Show yourself – why must you hide?

Perhaps the spectre is all in my head
Fears from the past, long since dead
So why any need to crouch and to cringe
When on my peace they no longer impinge?

The problem today is we are too wide-awake
Newsfeeds from the media drag us in their wake
In every tragedy we must participate
The press conspires to make this our fate

But what are these fears which strike at the heart
And our reasonable thoughts will thus distort?
Some might be just a mere irritation
Others undermining the whole blessed nation

So forebodings about an impending malady
Aches and pains that we claim are agony
Through to major concerns about Brexit
Which politicians are likely to fix it?

Then there are concerns for the life of the planet
And climate change perhaps leading to havoc
Debates about trade bring on endless haggling
Can so easily end up with loud sabre rattling

At the personal level, heavy debt brings on much tension
Finding a job, a home, and affording a pension
So no wonder we feel quite overwhelmed
To take some evasive action we are thus compelled

But if at the end of the day there is no easy cure
The vagaries of life we must simply endure
Hunkering down for the immediate duration
Our only response to a dire situation

But let’s not allow ourselves to get too depressed
And with our problems become quite obsessed
In due time dark clouds are bound to blow over
We will rise from the hunker and regain composure

Ken Fisher

Rant

Rant

Why do I find that sometimes I rant?
Adopting a style that is most arrogant
I can fly off the handle without reason or rhyme
Lambasting my hearers in double quick time

Sometimes my ranting is on some hobbyhorse
Maybe an obsession or perhaps even worse
I feel that I thus might put the world straight
Save these poor souls from their terrible fate

What a pity they seem disinclined to listen
To my warnings spawned from my infinite wisdom
Notwithstanding my earnest pleas from the heart
From my judgment they obviously prefer to depart

I wonder if they are put off by my hectoring style
My angry expression with never a smile
I shout quite a lot when in such high dudgeon
They turn quickly away from a ranting curmudgeon

Perhaps I should try a more gentle approach
Not always my audience trying to reproach
More measured words and kinder expression
Renouncing a stance that smacks of aggression

I need to learn that to ’win friends and influence people’
I must not attack them with a verbalized needle
But adopt a manner that might favour implant
Eschewing all proneness to rave and to rant

Ken Fisher

Chess

Chess

 

The world of chess is a mysterious realm
Whose complexities can quite overwhelm
The laymen who knows none of its charms
May be daunted by strategy and technical terms

But if proof is needed of this game’s acceptance
Down many centuries we note its persistence
Starting in India, along the Silk Road it sped
And in the course of the years its fame widespread

The game is played on a chequered board
Eight rows and columns is how it is floored
On which each side’s sixteen pieces are set
All arrayed in allotted squares at the outset

The King, Queen, Rooks, Bishops and Knights
Each move according to their own special rights
The eight low-ranking pawns are somewhat restricted
But their influence is not altogether constricted

Down the years chess has acquired its own mystique
As champions and experts developed technique
Thus great minds would wrestle over special maneuvers
Eventually pitching themselves against mighty computers

As year succeeded year chess became ever more popular
Competition producing champions quite spectacular
But chess can still be enjoyed as much in your home
As at some mass congress in a huge hippodrome

Of course the digital age has brought us chess electronic
Simultaneous games can prove rather hypnotic
Let’s hope the whole thing doesn’t get out of hand
Chess ending up as mind-games unplanned

So thanks to  those who this clever game devised
Its nuances and potential they first recognized
Chess for many has been a great boon and a blessing
Through intelligent play their strength expressing

Ken Fisher

Placebo – or Who’s Kidding Who?

Placebo – or Who’s Kidding Who?

[Following on a recent TV programme on the power of the placebo
to bring about health improvement]

 

When seeking relief from all of our ills
Maladies of body or mind
We ask our doctor to prescribe some pills
In whose trust we are quite unfeigned

Research is now showing it is this belief
Rather than the medicine’s ingredients
Which brings the patient much relief
And proves to be the most expedient

A placebo is simply a harmless pill
Whose components have no real effect
And whether or not you think you are ill
Your condition should remain unchecked

But that is not the complete conclusion
If the patient thinks the dose is for real
In their mind it is not just illusion
Thus convinced how much better they feel

Now you may think this is a massive con-trick
But who’s kidding who is the question
Why does the patient claim they are no longer sick
Can all this be auto-suggestion?

Ken Fisher

The Meaning Of Meaning

The Meaning of Meaning

In the midst of a debate on the purpose of a university education
some have mused on the value of considering ‘the meaning of meaning’
as compared to more practical vocational education

When reflecting on the choice of university course
One writer mused on what was for better or worse
Is it wise to stick only with subjects vocational
Or risk electing for options less rational?

Doing something practical may seem common sense
Developing skills that can earn pounds and pence
Don’t spend all your time on high-flown theory
Cramming your head, making eyes go bleary

The ‘new’ universities are so down-to-earth
Ensuring you get your full money’s worth
Useful learning is the watchword, every moment counts
Getting you ’work ready’ – they proudly announce

But is there not sometimes a place for loftier thoughts
Eternal values beyond profit and loss?
Time to examine ancient concepts and wisdom
History, politics, science and all kinds of –ism

Indeed above and beyond subjects we can pursue
We need time to consider all humankind can do
And in these meditations and hours of quiet reasoning
We may yet discover the very ’meaning of meaning’

Ken Fisher

Utility

Utility

I wonder if in this modern world
Worth’s only measure is Utility
Unless we can calibrate the gain
It holds little plausibility

In dark days of war and long thereafter
Essentially production was restricted
Utility the hallmark for everything
Lest by waste we were afflicted

Of course the aim of most artifacts
Is to serve our human need
Objects are therefore produced
As the market has decreed

Classical economists propounded
An action is right if happiness it brings
Utilitarianism promotes this belief
Joy the measure of all things

But surely in this wondrous world
Exist things some consider useless
But lacking these elements of our life
Mere production rendered fruitless

We cannot simply stamp a utility mark
On our regard for one another
Art, music, and faith’s eternal quest
Dominant functionality cannot smother

The treasures which flow from the Aladdin’s cave
Of our modern supermarkets
Help to meet our insatiable desire
Our boundless pleasure is their target

But ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ however much
Might try our hearts to please
Yet in our souls we seek for more
To set our minds at ease

And thus we continue in pursuit
Of that whose only function
Is to lift us from mere usefulness
And grant emotion’s unction

Ask not only what something does
What purpose can it serve?
Rather how it might life enhance
And thus our praise deserve

Ken Fisher

Silence

Silence

Silence – the absence of all sound! Blessed peace

Silence! – a command from an irate librarian.  Shut up

Silence – an eerie sensation when returning home to find no-one in

Silence – my response when reluctant to give a truthful reply

Silence – your response when you feel I have offended you

Silence – when I am stunned by what you have just told me

Silence – when I am ashamed to tell you what I have done

Silence – when the car won’t start on a freezing cold day

Silence – we crave when our neighbours are partying through the wall!

Silence – when the letter box doesn’t click with that job offer

Silence – in the early hours when an anxious parent awaits the sound of their teenage offspring returning home

Silence – when listening in at the nursery to find the baby peacefully asleep

Silence – no response to our earnest prayers. Is God on strike?

Silence – when a loved one has gone off in a huff

Silence – in the face of dire tidings from the police officer at our door

Silence – as we shuffle into the crematorium for the funeral

Silence – as we seek relaxation in mindfulness or meditation

Silence – an awkward pause when we fail to find the right words

A pregnant silence    A gobsmacked silence     A disdainful silence

Silence attends so many of  life’s experiences and situations

It accompanies the good times and the bad, pleasure and pain,

elation and shame, bewilderment and sometimes even surprise

The mixed blessing of silence; sometimes chosen sometimes enforced

Ken Fisher

 

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell The Truth?

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell the Truth?

 

A recent TV programme* advanced the proposition
That to sustain daily life we must resort to deception
Apparently social intercourse forces us to lie
To uphold concord the truth we must deny

Of course there is some debate on the nature of a lie
To condemn all false words or actions is to oversimplify
There is a difference surely between a fib or small white lie
And a monstrous whopper which you can rarely justify

Proclaiming the whole truth may well result in hurt
When we make no effort to soften a harsh word
We speak with veracity but how will it be received?
Surely the hearer is bound to feel aggrieved

Research has claimed we shrink from boldly stating
The stark truth to others when we ought to be berating
Afraid of offending  their feelings or causing alienation
We meekly soften the blow, espouse prevarication

We lie most commonly to our own kith and kin
Perhaps we consider that is less a sin
Or perhaps we are too afraid to disturb the uneasy peace
Recognising reality would family discord increase

But in business too we often use fabrication
Describing our products using much exaggeration
Trade descriptions legislation is meant this to prevent
But unhappy customer reports are still widely evident

Another aspect of untruthfulness is the deliberate omission
Thus it is what we fail to say that merits admonition
We sanitise awkward facts and situations
Thus producing false hopes and expectations

Of course in life there are times when truth can’t be avoided
And these situations must never be exploited
Professionals giving advice from truth should not depart
Each in their own field should play an honest part

No matter the extent to which we feel we can be economical
With truth, we must n’er migrate to a world quite mythological
Rather we must seek to live our lives with true sincerity
Truth our moral compass, the bulwark of integrity

Ken Fisher

 

  • Horizon: A Week Without Lying – The Honesty Experiment

Trust

Trust

Trust, a concept vital to our life together
Trust takes time to build up
But can be lost in an instant, with even one breach
That mutual reliance suddenly evaporates

Trusting starts in infancy, a one-way transaction
The toddler grasping her mother’s hand
The unflinching belief in our parents’ love
Yet even then this trust can be broken

And as life progresses we learn to trust
Professionals assure us that our trust is warranted
“Trust me, I’m a doctor!”
Fortunately this covenant is rarely violated

Trust is so vital in commerce and trade
But it is not an equal contest between
Suppliers and personal customers
Hence the need for consumer watch dogs

And what can be said of the current wobble
In our belief that our banking affairs
Are in safe hands? Or even worse
Accurate assessment of medical tests

But nonetheless we must continue to trust
Trust that our food will not poison us
Trust that the MoT testers are not cheating
Trust in all who drive or pilot public transport
Trust in those who design and maintain our roads and railways
Trust in those who provide advice of all kinds
Trust in our politicians and institutions to govern with integrity
Trusting one another in our relationships
We might even find ourselves trusting the weather forecasters!

Ken Fisher

 

See also my poem : Truth

Truth

Truth

Truth

Why do we so often evade it?
Is truth too painful?
Is truth impossible to define?
Is truth only ever relative?

What is truth anyway?

Some say: it is the correspondence
of language or thought
to an independent reality

This seems to assume that reality
is the actual existence, as opposed to
that which is merely imaginary

Does truth matter?

Can we live without truth?

Philosophers down the ages
Have wrestled with truth
Theologians tried to lead us to truth

The Way, the Truth, the Life

Car salesmen may have been economical with the truth
Politicians have their own version (or their party’s) of truth
Good parents implore that we always tell the truth

So truth seems to matter

Perhaps it concerns us more
In the age of Fake News
When prevarication, falsehoods and
downright lies seem to proliferate

But can we afford to dispense with truth?

Trust is closely aligned with truth
And is surely built on truth
When trust is lost what happens to
contracts, social relations, credit,
professional advice, the purity of drugs,
air traffic control, the safety of buildings,
indeed all incorporeal property

Tear up truth and shred the civilized world

Ken Fisher

PS but just sometimes, we need to be gentle with the truth

 

See also my poem Trust

Inspiration

Inspiration [The 400th Poem posted on the Bard of Kelvindale Site]

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Sometimes in trying a poem to compose
I am filled with feelings of frustration
No new thoughts can I propose
Mind blank, devoid of any inspiration

On other days ideas come teeming in
Thoughts tumbling over in profusion
From outside or sometimes deep within
No hesitation, no muddle or confusion

How to account for these opposing moods?
Why at times words readily are found
At others groping for my muse
Inspiration tightly bound

Ofttimes when no shining light has dawned
When no spark fires the imagination
And idea’s seed cannot be spawned
The page kept barren of proclamation

But in due time the muse returns
Muted voice strangely reawakened
Again with yearning the heart will burn
And taciturnity quickly forsaken

Thus o’er these years words shaped into verse
400 poems for your delectation
My thoughts before you I rehearsed
Grateful for your dedication

Ken Fisher

Etch A Sketch

Etch A Sketch

[On Etch A Sketch Day 12 July 2018]

 

I am sure if you recall your childhood days
One favourite toy with which to play
Was the Etch A Sketch tablet, a clever device
And parents were sure it was well worth the price

Because this novel invention could ‘wipe the slate clean’
And then begin to trace out a new magical scene
Using the two knobs to control the direction
We could bring our ideas into graphic perfection

The mechanical workings of the cunning machine
Allowed lines to be drawn thus creating a scene
One knob directs a line on the horizontal plane
The other one, vertical, but just the same

Thus by deft movement and manipulation
We can represent virtually any situation
Landscapes and portraits can all be displayed
And no budding artist will e’er be dismayed

So on this Etch A Sketch Day we fondly recall
Of the times when computers could not do it all
Giving thanks for the joy of this quirky possession
Unlike smart-phone usage – not inducing addiction

Ken Fisher