Tag Archives: Ray Stearn

Dear Life by Ray Stearn

In October 2021 we shared our last workshop with Anthony Costello. After writing this poem we talked about how important a title can be. In this poem, without the title it is simply a travelog. Add the title “Dear Life” and a completely different piece emerges.

 

Dear Life

 

Driving North it is well hidden,

Until that final bend in the road

Where it dominates the view.

The Angel of the North.

Ugly slab of rusting metal

Or iconic, beautiful sculpture.

After all these years I still can’t decide which

But

That simple act of driving past

Takes us North,

Northumberland, Beadnell,

Seahouses,

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Here our dreams are met

In serenity, beauty, solitude.

For Northumbria is yet to be discovered,

Even through the pandemic,

By the Ibiza crowd.

Seals sing at Seahouses.

Buntings bathe at Bamborough,

Home of the famous Bamborough Banger,

Smoked, like the Craster kippers

And the Swallow Fish prawns.

The Angel, going North

A beacon for happiness,

Relaxation, rest, peace.

 

A week later

We travel South.

Southward, The Angel is visible

From a distance.

Growing reminder of the return

To daily tasks.

Living, breathing,

Paying bills mending ills.

Does The Angel frown as we pass,

That smooth, expressionless face

Above the monoplane wings

The car climbs the hill

The Angel disappears

Until the next time

When

Driving North

The Angel smiles again.

 

©Ray Stearn 7th October 2021

 

Ray Stearn I have found a black briefcase and it’s ticking

 

“I have found a black briefcase and it’s ticking!” I sang to Dave, the next tenor along from me. We were in mid performance at the Town Hall, all the great and the good were there.

Ten bars later, after I’d repeated the message several times he sang back, all along to the Alleluia chorus we were in the middle of, so as not to cause a riot,

“Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick it if it’s ticking. Don’t kick, kick kick, kick kick it if it’s ticking!”

Nine bars later I heard the sopranos pick up on the concern,

“Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!” “Ray’s found a bla-hack briefcase and it is a-ti-hi-hicking, ticking! Ticking Ti-hi-hicking!”

Eight bars on and the altos, ever thoughtful, sang.

“It could, it could just be, just be,  a metronome-ome-ome, A me-he-he-he-tronome?

A metronome it could just be, could be could……be!”

Seven bars passed and the basses suggested.

“Are there any wires showing through the leather, black,black,black? Any wires, any wires showing?”

After six bars the altos, still very concerned sang.

“Don’t try to cut them, or dash them like a potter’s vessel, cut them, cut, cut, cut them.”

Five bars on and the Mezzo Soprano soloist was trying to help.

“I have some nail scissors here in my handbag, with a blade of iron, a blade of iron. Shall I pass them through the shadow of the valley of the string section, then you may safely snip.”

Four bars of this and the basses encouraged me,

“Be bold! Bold be! Dash the briefcase like a potter’s vessel, you should dash it, like a potter’s vessel.”

Three bars later Dave had managed  a look inside the briefcase, after considering for what seemed like eternity but was only

Two bars he sang

“It is a metronome, the trumpet shall sound, oh metronome, oh metronome!”

And in one bar, when we all realised the panic was over, we all sang

“Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.

Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia.”

Well, that’s how I remember the evening anyway. Funny thing is no-one in the audience for that performance of Handel’s Messiah seemed to notice the difference. Well, that’s charity do’s for you, all champagne and arias, all metronomes and alleluias.

© Ray Stearn 1st July 2021

Shared Story by Eileen and Ray

 

Eileen and Ray, Shared Story

 

So, there I was, hanging off this cliff. Not exactly part of the day I’d planned. Thank goodness the strap of my binoculars had held. For some reason, a line from Dad’s Army hit my brain whilst I was dangling.

“They make very good binoculars, them Germans!” Only now the strap was slipping, slowly, slowly, through the piece that adjusts the length. No point in shouting, I would never be heard above the gulls.

“Kittiwake! Kittiwake! Kittiwake!” I calculated that I had about 18 centimetres to live, not inches, these were German binoculars after all. My fingers were desperately searching for a hold on the millstone grit but the sea had worn it smooth. If only  I had listened to my mother! I don’t know what she said, I never listened. 16 centimetres to go now. I couldn’t get hold of the strap at all to slow it down.

My feet scrabbled against the cliff face, or rather my boots did. My feet were playing cowardy-cowardy-custard and hiding inside the boots. I could hear loose stones and shale bouncing off the rocks below and my heart pounded with the rhythm of the sea. I felt my fingers loosen and I fell down, down.

The strap had given up its last 15 centimetres in one short, fast “Zzzzzzzzp.” I didn’t feel I could fly, I only had time to think “!” before I hit the water, cold and salty, then went under. I know now how difficult it is to breathe water and it’s not that I am a swimmer of any note but I was then and I reached the surface, I saw the stars.

Most of them were round my head, like a bad cartoon but some shone in the sky above.

My saviour had a name, written on every part of their body, the name, difficult to pronounce, was Rnli! Rnli had saved me, Rnli had protected me, Rnli had rescued me. I felt like shouting their name.

RNLI! RNLI RNLI

Rnli was my guardian angel, granted, there were no wings and not a sniff or a sign of a golden aura but angels come in  many shapes and sizes and if it happened to be an overweight man with a boozer’s nose and a hook – he was an angel!

 

© Eileen Earnshaw & Ray Stearn 1st July 2021