Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Iconoclast


a1487522799_10

Iconoclast, smashing the marble statues
In the halls of the Palace
Slashing the Titians with the butcher’s knife
Painting the gilt frames with spray can Dayglo
Pink
Daubing the priceless furniture with superb graffiti
Hanging from the ceiling famous designer
Running shoes
And calling it Art.

Malcolm D B Munro
Friday 24 June, 2016

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Filed under: Arts, Media, poetry, songs

What is your earliest memory?


WDF_2570031

What sparked this off, is when talking to a friend
Four or five days ago, I asked, “What is your
Earliest memory?” She paused in thought
And appeared not to have an answer, at least
Not an immediate one. And the conversation
Moved off to something else.

Outside just now, reflecting on other matters,
An image came to me that may answer my
Question for myself. There may be one or
Two memories which stand for answers and one
Can settle for one of them.

I traveled to my birth home a number of times
Over the years of childhood. Always on my own
With my mother. I certain my brothers never
Accompanied us. I can’t say why. They never
Later reported any memory and, since Mother
Was a painful topic for the three of us, I never
Mentioned my experiences in the country of
My birth.

The childhood home was in Rockferry, which
I remember to be a delightful place. I have
Always liked buses, and the myriad colours
Of the double deckers from the various towns
And regions seemed to congregate there.

Red, blue, cream. These colours overall.
No stripes or anything. How old I was for
The following memory I cannot say but
The behaviour suggests quite young indeed.
Readers can decide for themselves.

What sparked this memory is, that while
Musing, as I have been doing for some days,
Pondering on weighty decisions affecting
Me and others far into the future, my
Eye was caught by what appeared to be
A window cloth cleaning the inside of a
Window. Quite small. But then the cloth
Appeared to hold stationary for a moment
And I thought, no, no one cleaning a window

Would hold steady in mid clean. I adjusted
My vision to make sense of what I was seeing
And saw that what I had thought a cleaning cloth
Was in fact a set of leaves with their underside
Towards me, gently swishing in the breeze, which
Is light in this part of the world. And intermittent.

*     *     *

When we sleep as young children we settle down
Blissfully. Those who love us dearly are around
Us and houses, homes, seem secure and cosy. We
Feel secure. Bedtime stories may be read, but
Always at tucking up in bed will be a goodnight
Kiss accompanied by some phrase such as
“Good night. Don’t let the bugs bite.” We
Never ask about this but feel that this is
The signal to enter that comfort of a world
Remote from this, untroubled.

I awoke one night to a tapping on the window.
I imagined that someone, a girl perhaps, was
Tapping on the window with a metal lipstick
Cover. I don’t recall whether I called out or spoke
Of it next morning, having drifted back to sleep,
Feeling there was no danger.

Whatever the case, it was explained to me,
By my maternal grandfather, but more
Likely my grandmother, that the noise
I had heard was of a tree branch tapping
In the breeze against the window. I would
Imagine that those trees line the road still
To this day. But I haven’t looked and I don’t
Intend to.

Malcolm D B Munro
Wednesday 15 June, 2016

Filed under: Arts, Media, poetry, songs, stories

The Birds in the City


great-blue-heron-anna-bronwyn-foley

I suppose I can list them by
Prevalence. I don’t know all
The birds’ names so you will
Have to bear with me. I am
No ornithologist. Grackles;

There is no getting away from
Them. They are everywhere
Particularly at cafes where they
Have outdoor tables. They are
Aggressive and ugly. The males

Are larger than the females and
Strut around with their beaks
Held high. At some places the
Tables are not cleared quickly.
And these loathsome birds

Peck greedily at the plates left
With food in them. At one of these
Places I have breakfast, usually
Outside, and throw my keys at
Them. But they are not easily

Scared. Then starlings. Only in
Downtown for some strange
Reason. They come to roost  in
The trees. And a cloud of them
Will fly swooping back and forth

And gather in the trees on the
Sidewalk. Pigeons are not as
Numerous as grey doves. These
Latter have a stupidity that I
Only know of in turkeys. They

Will wander around in the middle
Of the road of quiet neighborhoods
And walk in the face of oncoming
Cars. Somehow or other the vehicles
Miss them.

This more by accident than by design.
This must be the only bird on the
Planet that does not make a nest
And the their single eggs will fall
To ground and smash. One never

See the yolk. I suppose it is quickly
Eaten by something or other. Then
Less frequent are blue jays. These
Have a particular kind of squawk.
They are usually solitary and take

Delight in swooping on squirrels.
Robins are seen only occasionally.
Then there are grey parrots. Hearing
One outside is what prompted these
Musings. They are never seen but

That special sound of the craw craw
Betrays their presence. We had a
Woodpecker in the back yard, the
Only one I have heard in my time
Here in the city. We removed the

Tree for safety reasons. Storms
You know. And that was the end
Of the pecking. The strangest is
A grey crane which wanders around
On its own at dusk in one or other

Of the streets a mile or so away. I
See it only from time to time but
That is probably because I don’t
Drive the street it happens to be
In on any one evening.

Rounding a corner, and it is hard
To see in the twilight; it will
Slowly and disdainfully walk to
The side of the road. I assume
It is always the same crane

For I have never seen another.
Perhaps it is somebody’s pet
But that seems unlikely, doesn’t
It? I have never seen them on the
Few lakes we have in this area.

So I have no idea where it comes
From.

 Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 28 June, 2016

Filed under: poetry

The Man in the Black Hat


 5124367_orig

The man in the black hat sitting
Opposite me on the train is staring at me
balefully.

I had seen him on the platform before
We boarded. He came rushing in as
If he were scared he would miss the

Train despite it having to wait a further
Twenty minutes. I had paid him no
Attention but carried on reading my

Newspaper. He caught the corner of
My eye despite my concentration on
The news of the day. He was clearly

Jittery. He had run in with his black
Coat flapping open and flowing
Behind him, wet from the morning

Rain. Now, sitting opposite me, he was
Still enough. But that stare continued.
Disconcerting.

I considered moving to the next carriage
But continued to study the stock prices
which were

Sullen at the news of the previous day.
I had hedged so I wasn’t worried. I
knew that others

In the office would be. Jittery. It wasn’t
Going to be a pleasant day. I folded up
My newspaper

And tucked it under my arm. How
Distressing the fellow’s still staring
I hadn’t noticed before but he had what

Looked like one of those doctor’s bag
Between his feet. Enough, I thought,
And got to my feet and stumbled

As I made my way to the adjacent
Carriage trying to avoid my fellow
Passengers’ feet. My god, the fellow’s

Behind me. I can feel his breath on
My neck. “Herr Stimmler?” he asks
In a guttural snarl. “No, no, you are

Mistaken,” I blurt out. I am out of
Breath and I almost choke on the
Words. “No, I don’t make a mistake

Like that,” he says vehemently. I
Feel a panic. I want to run but to
Where? The train jerks to a sudden

Stop. This is unscheduled. The train
Has never stopped at this station
Before. The fellow staggers forward

As I brace myself on a stanchion and
Step briskly aside. He falls to the floor.
The doors hiss open.

I dash out. There is something evil about
This man. The doors hiss shut. I see him,
Face against

The door glass. I hurtle outside And skid
On the wet pavement and stumble into a
Taxi. This

Is a small station. I didn’t think there
Would be any. I am gasping for breath.
“Where to?” the driver

Asks in that strange lisping speech
Of the Turkish who have learned the
Minimum of German. I blurt out the

Address of the office. The diesel engine
of  the Mercedes roars into life. I sit
Back in relief but still

Shaken. There was something really
Menacing about the man then I remember
Who he is.

Malcolm D B Munro
Tuesday 28, 2016

 

Filed under: poetry

Today we are going to talk about Bitcoin


19

Today we are going to talk about Bitcoin
You don’t know what they are?
Well, you soon enough will.

I don’t know about you but I don’t
Carry cash anymore. You used to have
To pay road tolls and parking by cash

And all that. But not any more. They are
All electronic.  I use a debit card but now
They have a chip in them. Actually, it is

Like the SIM chip in your cell phone. Pretty
Soon we’ll be using that instead.

You are going to be relieved because I am
Not going to explain what bitcoin is any
More than I need to explain pounds, dollars

Euros and yen. Except that bitcoin don’t have
A nationality nor are they controlled by
Banks. Any bank, or government for that matter.

No, we’re talking about bitcoin because
You and me are going to be using them soon,
Very soon.

How do I know? Well, that’s how the world
Works now. You and I will access bitcoin
Using our cell phones and we won’t have a bank.

There are questions I can’t answer so don’t
Ask them. But here’s how I know. There are
7 bn cell phones in the world and there are

4.5 bn bank accounts. That you don’t need
To be Einstein to see the logic. That, and the
Fact that technological takeup is now so fast.

So, yes, we have talked about bitcoin. Painless
Wasn’t it? They explanation as to what they are
And how they work is difficult.

Don’t even think about the math involved
With the encryption. You don’t need to know
All that. All you need to know is that you

Will be using them and using them soon. After
All, we all know how to spend money, right?
And if you can spend bitcoin does anything else
About them matter?

Malcolm D B Munro
Monday 27 June, 2016

 

 

 

Filed under: poetry

Code


20

A decade or so ago
I had a book which,
Between red covers,
Had about 360 pp.

Written by a woman
From UT Austin it
Had a paragraph for
Every computer
Language that has
Ever existed.

I would suggest that
About 1/4 or 1/2 of those
Languages no longer
Exist and, although
I haven’t done a search
I suggest that such

A book written now
Would be 2 or 3 times
That length, listing
Many more which
Have also gone out
Of existence or use.

I am familiar with upwards
Of 20 computer languages
And am on nodding terms
With 20 or 30 more if we
The various flavours of
C.

Code is what we write
Using a computer language
I suppose it is best thought
Of as the stuff that computers
Understand – if you get it
Right, that is.

When I first started writing
Code using FORTAN it was
Hard to think of it being
A language. Object oriented
Language has changed all
That. Each computer language
Has a set of rules which don’t
Differ very much from one
One to the next.

Computer languages have
Evolved as with C and natural
Language and some die in
The same way through
Lack of use. Computer language
Still uses a keyboard which in
The majority of  natuaral
Languages is the QWERTY

Your cell phone uses the same
One thing that does not change
When you learn first learn a
Computer language; your first
Programme is Always, “Hello world.”
Of course I have never learned why
That is.

Malcolm D B Munro
Monday 27 June, 2016

 

 

Filed under: poetry

π


π is a peculiar number not divisible
Nor ever a whole number.  With our
Obsessions we have calculated its
Value into the trillions but without
Reaching an end.

π is all around us but we never give
This singular number a single
Thought. Perhaps we met this
Essential number at school where
We laboured and sweated to calculate
The area of circles and circumferences.

If we were lucky we got to measure
The surface of a sphere and its volume
But since then we have been more
Than happy to leave its arcane
Intricacies to mathematicians

And got on with our lives without
Giving this perplexing number
Further thought. Maybe that is
As well for why would we wish
To be encumbered with what

We think of as the unnecessary?
After all, π continues to be just
As does gravity which we know
Is not likely to disappear either.
And it had better not.

Malcolm D B Munro
Monday 27 June, 2016

 

 

Filed under: poetry

Pitch


deep-sea-photography-aglantha

Pitch here is not to refer to the motion of a ship
Where roll and yaw also play a part, but to the
Pitch used to caulk the planking of the hull
Whether of clinker or carvel construction.

The pitch is used to provide waterproofing
Which deteriorates over time causing the
Ship to leak progressively as the caulking
Ceases to provide sufficient barrier against
The ingress of water. The deterioration
Occurs partly through wear as the ship
Glides though the salty sea but also
Because of the stress on the planking.

A point is reached where the bilge pump
Will not provide sufficient carriage of the
Water from the bilge overboard to keep
The interior of the ship both dry and to

Stop it from sinking. The caulking will
Have to be replaced as part of the ship
Repair. In addition, barnacles will
Accumulate on the exterior of the hull

With a resultant loss of efficiency. So
It is with people as they get older.
This same  process occurs and the
Person ceases to be and perform

As they once did. The pleasures once
Known are lost and life ceases to
Offer the rewards it once did. Just
As with a ship, work is required to

Effect the repairs what will restore
The pleasures of old. Few of us,
However, are willing to put in this
Work since, for a human, the process

Is painful and we settle for less.
The joy of earlier life has been
Lost and life is no longer as
Much fun as it was.

And so we sail on through
Unable to weather the storms
We once did and therefore
Hug the lee of the shore

To end up sooner or later
As hulks in an estuary
Eventually to end in the breakers
Yard from which we join the
Other dismantled ships in the sky

Or we sank without trace or
Mourn.

Malcolm D  B Munro
Monday 27 June, 2016

Filed under: poetry

Dood hangt lusteloos


eraxion copy

Dood hangt lusteloos
bijna ongevoelig
Zijn ogen gepikt door kraaien
al blind.
De heldere bloemen van somberheid
zijn bezaaid over zijn pad.

Gelach hoorde eens in de nacht
Ontblote tanden in een lome glimlach

De Lijkwade weemoedig flappen
De lichte bries op de kale wang
Het klinkt een pijnlijke zucht
Een gefluister.

Het hoofd onlangs geschoren
Voor de ingang
Alle deuren eenmaal geopend
Zijn nu gesloten

De sterren waken gretig
Om te leveren voor zonsopgang komt.

smarten afwezig
Niemand mag
niet aangekondigd
geen gevierd
Want wie zou naar het feest komen.

We wachten vergeefs op het kielzog
Met het verstrijken van eeuwen.

Malcolm D B Munro
Vrijdag 10 juni, 2016

Filed under: Arts, Media, poetry, songs, stories

Der Tod hängt lustlos


Der Tod hängt lustlos
fast unmerkliche
Augen von Krähen pickten
Sind bereits blind.
Die hellen Blüten der Finsternis
sind über den Weg gestreut

Gelächter einmal gehört Nacht
Zähne in einem schmachtenden Lächeln entblößte

das deckband Klappen wehmütig
Die leichte Brise auf dem nackten Wange
Seine Töne ein schmerzliche Seufzer
Ein Flüstern.

Der neu rasierten Kopf
Für die Einreise
Alle Türen einmal geöffnet
sind nun geschlossen

die Sterne beobachten, eifrig
zu liefern vor der Morgendämmerung kommt.

keine Teilnahme
nicht proklamierten
kein gefeiert
Denn wer zum Fest kommen würde.

Wir warten vergeblich auf die Kielwasserr
Im Laufe der Jahrhunderte.

Malcolm D B Munro
Freitag, 10. Juni 2016

Filed under: Arts, Media, poetry, songs, stories

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