The Sea(ls)They Cure Everything

We’re just back from a restorative weekend in Norfolk, and I can safely say that we needed that. As we were driving back earlier we went past the sign for Stanta

I always allow myself a little chuckle and think that it’s meant to be Santa or perhaps more poetically, Stanza. Sadly, I couldn’t take a picture of the roadsign (road safety, driving, etc), but at the time we were listening to the new album by Cassandra Jenkins, ‘A Phenomenal Overview On Nature’, and the song ‘New Bikini’ came on. The chorus of this song is

“Baby, go get in the ocean
If you’re bruised, you’re scraped, you’re any kind of broken
The water, it cures everything”
Cassandra Jenkins, New Bikini

You can hear it here from 3.30 – 7.52. You may as well just buy the album though.

As I heard those words, that if I’m honest I hadn’t noticed when I’ve played the album so far, I feel a little twinge of agreement.

Yesterday afternoon we’d walked along the beach at Horsey, and my wife turned to me and said “I feel better already”. That’s the kind of review we should be leaving in a guestbook—if beaches had guestbooks. Perhaps we should have just scratched it into the sand as a temporary review, and perhaps we would have done if a) we’d thought of it at the time and b) the beach wasn’t lined with seals. Horsey is famous for this, and it is one of my favourite places in the world, even though I don’t get there much.

Seals at Horsey Beach
Look at them…aren’t they just amazing creatures

The seals there are a magnificent sight, and the sea air was the perfect tonic after the best part of a year in the city. At the risk of being incredibly self-centred (and hey, why not) It reminded me of my poem, ‘Horsey Seals’ – can you tell why it reminded me of this??

I first wrote this about 12 years ago when Flo was really young. The poem was taken by Ben Banyard at Clear Poetry, and I was very happy. I have, however, re-written it in the meantime. I’ve not looked at it in two years, and as such would probably change it again now, but here it is.

One old version of the poem described them as “writing their own hieroglyphics” on the beach, and I liked the line a lot, but it was a darling that had to go. In the video above they look like tally marks on the beach, and I wish I’d thought of that when I was working on the poem.

Seals

We’ve been awake for hours, the tension telling us
we need to get out, to leave the nest of the car
and feel different air on our faces. We take turns
with your small and unfamiliar coat buttons

while gulls scribble pencil-line shrugs across the sky
and follow straggling trawlers back from early starts.
In this light it’s hard to see what’s rocks, damp driftwood
or seal pups sheltering in the lee of parents.

They spread themselves out along Horsey Beach, making
their own constantly moving languages to tell
each other how to stay safe while we pass through.
We stay beyond arm’s length behind wooden fences,

huddled to shield you from stinging rain. The wind drowns
the words and nicknames we’ve coined just for you — salting them
away for a time when we can give them meaning.
We pull you in closer to spell this out in full.

Mat, it’s time to stop and let the professionals takeover.

I’ve had a scan of my bookshelves, and Norman MacCaig leapt out at me. A cursory flick through his Collected Poems has lead me to this poem, ‘On A Beach. I’d not read this poem until about 30 minutes ago, and now I think it might be one of my favourite poems ever.

Norman MacCaig, On A Beach. Collected Poems, Chatto & Windus

As we drove back towards my Mum’s house, Rachael spotted an enormous Hare ducking for cover into the hedgerows between Horsey and Waxham. This is fortuitous as it gives me the chance to hamfistedly point you towards a poem I’ve had published at One Hand Clapping this week.It’s called Lucky Foot and is not about a Hare, but it is about a Rabbit. Well, it’s not really, but it does feature a rabbit, so I’m calling that close enough. I’m in among some quite luminary names (Julia Copus, Samuel Tongue, Rosalind Easton, some bloke called Matthew Stewart and many more), and this is the issue before the penultimate issue of OHC..(Pre-penultimate??), so go and have a look.

There’s a different photo of me up there to the one I normally use.

I normally use this one:

However, Alan felt it wasn’t serious enough. I can’t imagine why. So we went with this one that I’d taken for use in some promo for a work-related thing.

I think I prefer the older one, but perhaps it’s time to start taking the author photo thing more seriously.

Perhaps that’s a post on its own.

Finally, bon voyage to Bad Lillies. I hope the champers was suitable smashed across the bows for Kathryn Gray and Andrew Neilson. Issue One looks like an absolute corker, and is the very next thing I will be reading once I’ve pressed submit on this nonsense.

No, finally, finally I have to push you towards the lovely Mark Antony Owen’s own poems. Mark does so much for poets with Iamb, but it’s good to remember he’s an excellent poet in his own right. So, it’s awesome to see he’s put out wave two of his ongoing collection, Subruria.

THE WEEK IN STATS

36.5k running – Inc 30k yesterday
1 trip to Norfolk
1 visit to see my mate Geller and his family
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
2 x rejections: Got the answer I was expecting from 192.com, and I think the deadline has passed for the Brotherton Prize, so I’m calling that a loss.
0 x acceptance
1 poems worked on: Gentrification
0 new Submissions:
19 poems currently out for submission.
66 Published poems*:
40 Poems* finished by unpublished
30 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 Review* written and submitted. 3 to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 7 weeks without cigarettes…
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!

TITLE GIVEAWAY

Ramekins
I sometimes find myself looking for Global Hypercool T-Shirts on eBay
Walking in Hot Coals
You And Your Fucking Gonk
A Slowly Melting Fox (H/T to Florence)

READ/SEEN/HEARD/ETC

Read
Will Harris: Rendang
Luke Turner: Out of the Woods

Music
Balmorhea: The Wind
DNTEL: The Seas Trees See
Cosmic Rough Riders: Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine
Henry Mancini: Hatari! OST
The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (Live), Teeth Dreams, Thrashing Thru The Passion, Heaven Is Whenever
Holler, Wild Rose: Our Little Hymnal
Kate Rusby: Make The Light
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: The Echo Of Pleasure
Saloon: If We Meet In The Future, (This is) What We Call Progress
Art Pepper: Intensity, Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard, Smack Up
The Left Outsides: Are You Sure I Was There?
Barry Manilow: 2AM Paradise Cafe
Beck: Colors, Morning Phase, Mutations, Delay, Sea Change 
Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready
Explosions In The Sky: Friday Night Lights (Demos), Friday Night Lights OST, How Strange, innocence, Live @ Capitol Theatre 2017, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, The Rescue, Take Care X 3, Those Who Tell The Truth..
Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladders
Billie Marten: ST
Cassandra Jenkins: ST, A Phenomenal Overview of Nature
Tara Clerkin Trio: ST
Tall Ships: Impressions


TV/Film
Walking Dead S10 E17-20
Shetland S1, S2 (E1-4)

Zooms, etc
Three Hounds Poetry – Bad Betty evening

Radio/Podcasts
The Foxhole Companion- Commandos Strike At Dawn
The Archers

Arrived
My new glasses and sunglasses
A sweatshirt

Ordered
Nothing, I don’t think

Any excuse to play some That Nguyen..Also, worth signing up to her emails as she works on a new album.


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