Monthly Column from author and poet Sue Gerrard
In the wake of National Poetry Day which was celebrated on 28th September it is time to celebrate the work of St. Helens poet Len Saunders, who sadly died this year. Len gave these poems to read earlier this year and I am pleased to be able to share them with you.
Thirty pieces of silver
Thirty horses charge
On high grey hill
As from Whitechapel ramparts
Uncrowned victors plot ruin
Want to pick the bones
Of a strike.
Broken and smashed
By hammers forged
In the blood of power, corruptions
Family torn asunder to time
Stormed as fallen trees
Never stand against the maelstrom
‘No such thing as society’
Division, hunger, pain, pride
Surrended to the rattle call
Of soup kitchens comfort
As comfort rives, in a last death thro
Voices that once spoke as one
Are lost to the victors will
As defeat is played out
To the marching step of the collier
As still Judas coat hangs heavy
On those who could not share the cost
‘Government or mob rule.’
The coal miner, the coal hole cavalry ride on!
Against the ebb of an economic social tide
A new generation knows they walk tall
That their courage and pride do not make them fall
Orgreave, will reflect a truth of unbroken men.
Len Saunders aka Len Banana©
Please don’t forget that there will a special Len Banana Day on December 7th (Len’s Birthday) at Lucem House Community Cinema. This will be a celebration of Len’s life and legacy.
Halloween is on the horizon and on the night itself, Tuesday 31st October, I will be presenting an evening of ‘Tales to Chill’ which includes some local ghost stories. This is at St. Mark’s Lodge, Victoria Park from 7pm to 8.30pm. It is £5 including tea and biscuits; booking is essential by ringing 07985556539.
Here is a poem to get you in the mood
STRANGE HALLOWEEN MEETING
Men in swirling capes and top hats
Roamed the park like the wildest bats;
Ladies in deep black mourning veils
Accompanied these sinister males.
Children in Victorian dress
Followed them causing much distress
To all those who did not belong
To this Halloween Party throng.
Today’s modern park had been made
To turn back time for this parade
Of Jack O’ Lanterns and witches
In search of all these souls’ riches.
Victoriana ruled supreme
And fun was here, so it would seem.
But close by Murdoch stood afraid
Time was up on the deal he’d made.
This was the night to pay his debt
Of his soul, how could he forget
His loan to devil’s soldier,
For which he’d asked to be bolder,
Richer, better than those around
Whose lives he wanted to confound
With vengeful pestilence and woe,
So, they would have nowhere to go
Only the path to sad self-harm
Where demons wait to kill with charm.
Now amid the fun and laughter
He was waiting his new chapter.
As the devil’s unwilling slave
Twenty years ago, did crave
To be an almighty winner,
Now he was only a sinner.
On this night twenty years ago
He had been on suicide’s shore
When Fleet, the devil’s man, had crept
Upon him lakeside, as he wept.
Sinister Fleet had offered all,
Invited him to life’s great ball.
No more envy or wretched strife,
He could have his full perfect life,
Just by signing his soul away
He could have treasures every day.
For a naive youth on death’s brink
He did not even stop to think.
He slashed his wrist, the blood ran red,
He signed the deed, nothing was said.
He thought the time would never go
But days became years and so
Here he was and Fleet was about
To claim his soul there was no doubt.
Moonlight spun a milky trap for
Him to step into, as he saw
Fleet approach, yellow skin glowing,
Black eyes and tombstone teeth showing;
Mouth salivating at the thought
Of claiming the soul, he had bought.
There was nothing more to be said
As sad Murdoch bowed his head.
He thought that Fleet would strike him dead
All he could see was blood so red.
‘No, my friend you shall not die
But lonely roam the park as I
Have done these past years until you
Can claim a soul and have them do
What you have done, then you can take
Their life’s riches make no mistake.
For this is what I claim as mine
Now that you have run out of time.
I thank you for the life I claim
I shall enjoy it just the same
As you and while I’m living on
I shall think long about the one,
Sad soul whose place I have taken
While you wander so forsaken.
Murdoch, you should have kept the life
You had and not troubled such strife,
As I have brought upon this night
For you must wander out of sight
Every dismal Halloween Eve
Till you find a soul to believe
As you did all those years ago,
But now as I leave, you must know
How heavy this long curse will be;
I thank you, you set me free
To do the devil’s work worldwide
And leave you here to be my guide.
Burnley Literature Festival
Writer Ash Nugent will be taking part in the Burnley Literary Festival on Sunday October 8th. He will be talking about his novel ‘Locks.’ Further details and ticket bookings at www.burnleyliteraryfestival.co.uk
An Exhibition in Two Halves
My solo exhibition runs until Monday 30th October at Shevington Village Art Gallery. Full details available from Shevington Library.
St Helens Creative hub
If you’re involved in the Creative sector and live, work or study in St Helens, join the St Helens Creative Hub https://www.facebook.com/groups/127034061273125