Castaway

Restlessness without bounds
echoing across ocean sound.
A ship on turbulent waters
without pilot, mate or anchor.
The heart does hanker;
its engine stutters and falters.

Merging with a vivid horizon
fuelled by its seductive tones.
Territory, coloured by each season
drowned by the clamour of reason.
Understanding the complex
will only confound and perplex.

Depths unchartered;
A mission over the seas
provides depth and meaning.
And a pilot, mate and anchor
on the ocean’s cut and thrust.
Leads me towards
peace, love and trust.

2nd December, 2001

Detroit, A city not to be understood

Marcus Ampe's Space

Last week, the mayor of Detroit, America’s 18th largest city and the home of the flagship of Main Street America, the US auto industry, filed for bankruptcy with debts hitting $18-20bn.  On the same week, the behemoths of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan etc announced profits nearly back to their pre-crisis levels.

A few days ago I looked at may beautiful photographs of the spook-town, which looked worse than the spook towns I encountered a few years ago in Sicily.

I let my head turn round thousands of time, imagining the opportunity of certain groups finding a heaven on earth, making it possible for them, and also for me, to crate there a new community. I saw a beautiful house for only 15.000 American dollars.

Detroit, the proud of the American nation, once the most flourishing and promising city, pulling eyes from as far as…

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“It’s a small world”

You know, it’s funny how the experience of parenthood shrinks your world. The carefree days of long haul travel seem light years behind me. Local is the new global. For a worldly soul, this is a juxtaposition that can be challenging one day and invigorating the next.

The idea of a small world was something I was born into. Being part of a multicultural family that had experienced both emigration and immigration, I seemed adept at embracing cultures that felt strange or even threatening to others. Nothing or no one seemed strange to me. Even my shyness did not prevent me from immersing myself effortlessly in other cultures. The evils of bigotry and racism were always beyond my comprehension; each capable of sickening me, quite literally.  It was interesting to view the world though this kaleidoscopic lens. Whilst innocence and naivety may have accounted for this as a child, this inter cultural awareness helped me develop tolerance for others that has endured to this day.

“It’s a small world” my mother would say, on meeting a stranger or a mutual friend for the first time. This was a time before Facebook and other algorithms computed what we have always known. That through seven different people, we can know the world entire, in all its flesh and blood. Of course, It wasn’t just the words that struck me. It was the manner in which those words were conveyed, for they reflected my mother’s joy in relating to and connecting with others, regardless of their background. Cultural barriers simply did not make up any part of her psyche. And in these meetings, I sensed that those she met, felt her warmth and sincerity. Looking back, it reinforces something that confronts us daily. That a stranger is a friend we have not yet met. It is a refreshing thought at a time when so many parents experience anxiety over the safety of their children. The streets not being the playgrounds they once were. Not to mention the sinister elements that inhabit the cyber shadow lands. The media’s obsession with the dark side has, I think, served to cramp the style of those otherwise gifted in the art of relationship building.

On the brighter and more expansive side, the emergence of the public internet was a revelation to me as a young man. As an inquisitive student, the global village enabled me to interact with and learn about the world. And all from the comfort of a desktop. It reinforced by experience of childhood. That the world was indeed small and that regional and international boundaries could be traversed with ease. It wasn’t that the world was lacking in physical dimension and complexity. Those journeys into other worlds, either real or imagined, energised me. They somehow galvanised my very existence.

Fast forward down the information superhighway of life and the world is now a very different place. It is shrinking in ways that I find disturbing. As a parent and global citizen, I am all too aware that depletion of the world’s resources is threatening the very eco systems that have enabled humanity to thrive. The threats posed by climate change will grow in severity and frequency as today’s children advance towards middle age and mid century.

Of course, it’s not just the green hue and depth of my conscience that limits how and when I travel. It’s also the depth of my pockets. Thus far, they have failed to escape the clutches of austerity. And there is the overriding imperative to meet basic needs and take life easy. Even the free spirits of this world can be brought back down to earth by the needs of their children. Peer inward, into space, or into the future for just a few moments and your offspring soon ground you. They keep me centred. They keep me close to home, regardless of any aspirations. Moreover, my children are deeply entwined in those aspirations.

Amongst the many silver linings is the rediscovery of my adopted city and county and the beautiful environs it nestles in. ‘Staycations’ and days out in the country have helped me develop an intimate knowledge of Gloucestershire. Perhaps it has equipped me with something that is beyond the grasp of the better heeled; the better travelled; and the native who kindly shares this place with me and his ancestors.

So becoming a parent has not made me any less or more worldly. By remaining open to new people, new situations and, yes, new technology; my horizons have been expanded in a way that does not burn a hole in my pocket, nor the biosphere that nourishes me, my children and the seven billion other souls. It has also awakened me to the true meaning of community. Ex patriots and the jet set may take their passports and their worlds with them. But if they cannot assimilate other cultures and languages, what are they bringing back apart from a few memories? So what of this poorer, simpler existence? I’ll tell you. A life based on an open mind and a warm heart is a life where the world comes to you. It’s a world that comes to me. It’s home.

Gloucester, England.
28th September, 2013

Funky Chicken

Introduction

‘Everyone clap their hands. This song, goes out to our good friend, the amazing and marvellous chicken. Now I know that many of you, like me, have become acquainted with him over the past fortnight. But right now, I need some vocal support, so when I hold up the mike, I want you to make like a funky chicken whilst we sing the chorus.’

Verse 1
Whilst writing my journal
‘Chicky’ gets close and personal
A poultry meditation
But a new life situation

Chorus
Hey little chicken
Get out of my place
Right now I just need my own space!!

Verse 2
Whilst searching for meaning
My chicken is preening
Faced with life choices
All I hear is clucking voices

Chorus

Verse 3
In the corner of my vision
This bird’s on a mission
In search of some calling
Two spindly legs go walking

Chorus

Verse 4
Crazy thoughts start in my head
What would be good on sliced bread
An omelette would be egg-citing
But a chicken sandwich, appetizing

Chorus

Verse 5
My temperature is rising
This bird thing, surprising
My hut aint bijou
But this aint no children’s zoo!

Chorus

Verse 6
Disturbed in good karma
I make for the farmer
With not much vocabulary
I’ve a burden to carry
In no way of a word
He gave me the bird!!

Ending (thank goodness!)
‘One last time, people in the house,
Let’s hear it for Chicky’

Chorus
Hey little chicken
Get out of my place
Right now I just need my own space!!!

Performed in front of a startled looking audience
Written and Performed
By Rap Star J McK all the way from smoky London Town, England
Backed by DJ Ko, on Synth, hailing from the windy city, ChicaGo, US of A
Venue – Atsitsa,
Skyros Island,
Greece
September, 1999
http://www.skyros.com/skyros_island.htm

Please note: Evidence may yet soon come to light that will bring the one-hit wonder back down to earth…
for this was considered to be a grievous crime against the performing arts.

If you see this man, please feed him a chicken sandwich and
under no circumstances, let him go anywhere near a microphone.

Thank you 🙂

The Software Generation

ecophilosopher

I was released into the wild during the summer of 1968, some 11 years after my predecessor. My world was and is based very much on software downloaded from my parents, who were born into a very different environment. I was marketed as the 2GI68, the fifth in a series of six diverse products. Alas, the 2GI68 has experienced a number of compatibility issues over disparate networks. However, its general performance has improved with the welcome addition of JO75. She is a nimble model and very well equipped. She benefits from extensive functionality and is quite adept at multi-tasking. The JO75 is also very aesthetically pleasing; a rare combination of elegance and performance.

Anyway, back to the 2GI68. Although he has benefitted from the interface with a younger model, he can still experience defective thought processes that sometimes stretch the wider network. He needs to recycle more and store less…

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Cute but Astute

One eve as I sat and watched TV,
As night had all but fallen on me.
Was reduced to a state of semi-comatose,
Something only TV programmes can impose.

But in the corner of my right eye,
I sensed something waddle right by.
Now this feeling I have sensed before,
But have always chosen to merely ignore.

Through the patio window,
A sniffing hedgehog loitered; real slow.
Now these creatures may seem really cute,
But a prickly defence makes them astute.

For if you approach them in any way,
They will make like a ball,
But with one you can’t play!
So if TV makes you dull and downtrodden,
Remember the garden you had long forgotten.

24th July 1998

Homeward

To those of us who have strolled through fertile corridors,
And wondered how this world came to be,
Her sounds of freshness greet each passing action,
The sweet air restores lustre to my being,
As animal world springs to life to remind us of her glory.

Hindered by another world that waits impatiently to consume me,
Tainted; burdened by mankind’s greed and folly.
Tired and exhausted am I from frantic urban pace,
Its squalid queues, smells and other crimes,
Lead thee to yet more broken hearts.

Like lemmings bruising down the highway,
Only for yet more wasteful starts.
From that Monday-Friday drudgery they call modern ‘living’,
Thereof breed hedged cities, malls and urban sprawl,
Nurturing city satellites for headless urbanites to brawl.

Uproot them for rural splendour,
So once again, creatures of God can freely crawl.

December 1995

Sky Fire

Part I

Sheets of fire
Rolled red across the sky.
Shrouding a sparkled ceiling; blue.
Nautical landscape; inverted.
The winter moon is hers,
Not the Zodiac’s; terse.
Red ribbons of moistened light,
Streak across the cold horizon.
A bitter light, bold and brazen.

Part II

Stars to throw
Up into the sky,
Falling around me.
Making me dizzy,
And the night mist; sparkly.
Colour festival,
Exploding light, into the night.
My face beams a smile,
Brimming with delight.
Like party glitter,
Against a chill; bitter.
I spend and fritter.
Angel of the dark,
She ignites a dormant spark.

Part III

Stars in my hand,
As I glide on gold sand.
Those stars, like gel.
Keep me from hell.
Because you’re up there,
I know I’m here.
Wide horizons beckon,
They birth dreams
I have slept on.
Heaven sheds a tear
Into my mortal sphere.

Dublin, December 1998

Winter Bay

Shadows streak across rippled sand,
Etching patterns on the land.
Palm trees dance as silhouettes,
Led by a mild winter breeze
Carved by what the journeyman sees.

In a storm, he lets out a howl
And the bayside dogs
Can only stomp and scowl.

Along the horizon, neon lights up the coast,
But the moons smile beams uppermost.
The sea glides in,
Once bronzed by a setting sun.
Moving like solder on iron,
A broad shoulder for heaven to cry on.

 23rd January 1999

Garden Spirit

The garden lawn, clean shaven and freshly mown.
Reflects the shadows of birds,
From where they’ve skimmed and fancifully flown.
An audacious pair of Robins red,
Court before me, by their nesting bed.

Under dead grass, the top now revealed,
The moist green grass it once concealed.
Is that what lies under my skin?
Burgeoning youth trapped within.

I rest my head amongst evergreen,
To taste a life not yet forseen.
The trees and bushes we must control,
Else darkness clouds the lawn’s green soul.

For sun and shadow creep from one end t’other,
Shifting light across Earth, our Mother.
Through the course of just one summer’s day,
We see past, present, and then,
Come what may.

9th June 1998