Fire Art

That troglodyte I egged him on as quizzically he held
The brand that fell from cavern hearth just as a quake occurred
He focused on the smoldering tip, brow furrowed, stick upheld
I screamed out in my voiceless dream and magically he heard.
He took a sheet of withered bark and peered as if amazed
Then with the firestick in his hand he drew across the grain
With one more geometric stroke a thickened eyebrow raised
As there before his startled eyes a crooked cross was stained.
I bellowed, woke and all the blankets from my bed were cast
I’d seen the perfect pyrographic act my dream had urged
A fire now blazes in my blood to learn and use his craft
It’s in my DNA, our genes through double helix merged.
I still can sense his firestick though I use electric brand
I drew another cross today, his touch cloned in my hand.

Crois Ard copyrighted bright

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

by Jack Weatherford

The Mongol Invasion was a mere apostrophe of history during my schooling and I dimly recall mention of a particularly savage slew of terrifying tribesmen from the esoteric east who touched a handful of easternmost European cities over a relatively short period before disappearing back into the vague lands that spawned them. Jack Weatherford’s book was recently recommended to me and immediately dispelled that notion. It exposed the panic propagated throughout Europe by ignorant, superstitious and hysterical Kings or (drama-) Queens.

Weatherford is an American anthropologist and ethnographer who got side-tracked into a fascination with Mongol affairs while on a research expedition studying the role of tribal people in the development of trade along the Silk Road between China and Europe. He diverted his attention to compiling a history of a Mongol boy named Temujin, born in 1162, who grew to annex the diverse central Asian tribes into one Mongol nation.  As Genghis Khan, Temujin went on to conquer the land from China to Hungary via the Middle East and Russia. As Weatherford points out, this is a greater land mass than any other conqueror in history – including Alexander the Great. Continue reading

The hearth

For at least nine months of the year there was always a fire in the hearth in the Living Room. The tall coal-scuttle always shone in contradiction to the begrimed contents while its mouth yawned at the ceiling as if bored with staring at it. A large brass dog sat to heel in opposite alignment across the grate, cleverly concealing the four tools hanging behind in his hollow shell; tongs, poker, brush, shovel. Continue reading

An overdue letter.

Dear Vincent,

As we are unacquainted it is somewhat presumptuous of me to write this unsolicited letter. I felt compelled to do so following my visit to the Museé d’Orsay this afternoon, where I had the pleasure of viewing the gallery dedicated to you.

Like many of my generation, you were humanised for me in Don McLean’s 1971 tribute composition ‘Vincent’. The song described you, your tragic life and a number of your works, in particular ‘The Starry Night’ 1889 which has since become the most representational of your works worldwide.

Currently on display at d’Orsay is ‘Starry Night’ 1888, Continue reading

A sensory monologue

I am sitting at a promenade table beside the river at Southbank, scribbling with a pencil into a little notebook. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan, the mood stimulating, the people animated, the venue, trés-chic. I write, enduring the minor discomfort of the restaurant chair, which is of course designed to maximise customer turnover. Only in Paris can you own a restaurant chair all day for the price of a cup of espresso. I can feel the organic texture of the lead pencil traversing the fibrous paper, sending a tiny reverberation through my fingers. Continue reading

A happy new year.

I am a humanist. My life has become one year shorter. The elegies for 2010 mostly depress but serve to increase my resolve to further develop my self in humanist philosophy.

I love mankind, womankind – or to simplify, humankind. At its best, it gives life meaning and measure. At its worst, it identifies the potential for enrichment. In particular I hold great confidence in young people. They will demand reason from a world where antique notions stubbornly cling to the edge of the abyss with obstinate fingernails.

I will divine cells of Hope to populate my veins, to proliferate in my heart and to polish the patina of my aura for the approaching year. This may or may not ameliorate a finer humanness in myself and those I reach out to, but I will have the satisfaction of knowing that even in the worst eventuality, Hope always dies last.

I invite you to make this a happy new year.

On the Shannon

Early winter evening. An orange sun was about to meld with the horizon. Suspended so, it reflected on the entire width of the broad estuary, its colour diluted to yellow. The fog from my breath feigned a resembling hue.

A swan burst from the reeds and cracked the chill air with the heavy draught from its massive wings. The sound decreased as it became a silhouette across the face of the orange orb. There were water sounds too, gurgling’s and lapping’s. There was the sound of air heaving into my lungs.

Cox bellowed, “Forward,” and our seats slid on their tracks to the position that mirrored his command. Bodies froze with knees against chest, our eight feathered oars maintaining equilibrium as the perfectly balanced, pencil-slim craft sat poised. Continue reading