richard pierce

richard pierce

31 December 2010

orion's belt

holy orion’s belt
the ancients’ wind chime
suspended
to illuminate their sky
drags its buckle
across late evening
a million years ago

slow light to travel
bears down on dawn’s red eye
before night ends

miles between fingers
hiding the light
when dusk eases

watch the stars change
in the grass
on your back
wide open eyes
never sleeping
focus on the black
its pinpricks an echo of passing

21 December 2010

Time

Time to set aside the thoughts of greatness,
To cast away the dreams of acclaim, wisdom,
And knowledge, to let the mundane take me
Away from the open skies, and tie me down
In its boredom, worry and lies.

Time to run from the words in my head,
From the delusion of making a difference,
Of thinking my voice would be heard and
Heeded, to give up correcting the mis-spelled,
Stop righting the wrongs committed.

Time, there was a time, when all was clear,
The capacity for happiness endless, when
A smile was the beginning, not the end,
And purpose was selfless and kind and meek,
Breathing without effort.

Time to put down the tired pen, clear away
The crumb-filled keyboard, extinguish the screen,
Delete the files full of visions and never-to-be-got
Illusions, to settle by the fire, pull on the slippers,
Wait for the scytheman to release me.

Time, there comes a time in every man’s life,
When he has to turn and see where he’s been,
Realise that time’s wasted and gone, that
Nothing will change; bitterness the only fruit
From the withered tree.

2 December 2010

125

Bed-time.
I stroke my children’s backs, arms, legs
to help them sleep, in multiples
of onehundredandtwentyfive,
each multiple to be complete
even if they’ve fallen asleep while I count.

I’ve always done this,
don’t know why,
since the first of the four changed my life.
My parents never comforted me with caress.

The youngest has woken.
She wants more milk, and while I listen
to her hungry gurgles, I think

Upstairs there are sheaves of untouched paper
waiting for me to fill them,
and a computer with words to be assembled;
uneaten food whirring with wasps.

She’s asleep, finally. They all are.
I’ve lost count
of the words, caresses, thoughts,
bottles of milk, wasps.

I forget the night.

Just dawn, and I’ve slept for three hours.
The house is still.
Another hour before it stirs.
I grab a piece of paper and begin to write.

28 November 2010

A complete life

I’ve locked myself away now.
Finally.
Being on the outside was too much to bear.
All the wind and noise,
All the confusion of living,
Of loving and being loved.

That’s over.
The pain is ended.
The glistening torture
Of dreaming shadows into being
Has gone.

A single room.
A single bed.
A single light.
A desk.
A chair.
A book.
A pen.

This is where I live now.
This is where I die
When the last page is turned.

24 November 2010

streets

streets
scratch the surface
of history

streets on sand
shift
with regiments of memory

this was my street
i kissed him there
made my love in that dark corner
before i was born

layers of life
have built what’s here now
dig down below

another time
we walked arm in arm
past the crumbled walls

the past is my companion
rises from the foundations
the damp soil breathing
above the hidden

streets on land
fields
that fed our people

streets
angry stretchmarks
of our progress

22 November 2010

why i love poetry

because verses bound and wrapped
on a page of many colours
sing new voices

because one word
is better than thousands

because reading beats hearing
when the letters make
their own meaning

because small words can change big things

because the wind and the rain
and love and hate and fear
and tragedy and joy

because the world outside
is so huge and round

because inside each song
there is true greatness
and great truth

because words are the warmth of life

because brevity is our breath
in the scheme of all the gods
and we their scribes

because faith is a promise
regardless of belief

because each poem is
a life-time on its own
a summary of all we can

11 November 2010

This day, of all days

Rain, outside, leaks
in, with the wind,
grey, too much alive,
while we remember
the dead.

Sudden light, a hole
in the sky, exploded,
restless cloud, too
much brightness for
today.

Nothing new, in
the cold, all old
and trapped in the
past, the grief,
the lost.

Some celebrate, some
mourn, amongst thatch,
tiles, clay lump,
tradition, and bile.
For what?

What we remembered, we
forget. What we learnt,
we unlearn. Humankind
is a greedy beast, for war,
for sacrifice.

30 October 2010

From father to son, from son to father

What shall we do as we grow older?
Cantankerous – and son;
Cantankerous – and father?
Shall we laugh together again?

Love is always muted between father and son,
By the smallest things,
The most unimportant of arguments,
The largest of all questions.

Will there be that embrace,
That hug to say what’s never said?
Will there be an emptiness when either of us
Travel to opposite sides of the earth?

What shall we do, when the leaves grow pale
And memories paler, when we are both men
Of unequal strength? Will you hold my hand
When I am weak?


Richard, 30th October 2010. For Oscar, on his 18th birthday.

26 October 2010

Charlotte's 14th birthday poem

For You

Look, I have a rock
In the palm of my hand.
I carved it for you.

Look, its shape is not usual,
Nor its colour one we have grown
Used to, in this time.

It is warm, shaped to our heat,
Comfortable, and smooth.
It is.

No-one else can see it.
You know that, and
Reach out to touch.

Feel its weight, grasp
Its perfection. It is yours
Alone, always.

It is the most precious
Of things, a diamond
Of the soul.

Richard - 19th October 2010

5 April 2010

Kara's birthday poem

Today

Tomorrow is a wall we cannot climb,
A field we cannot cross until today.
Time is a hiding beast,
Beyond us before we know,
And gone.

We watch days and waste them,
Pick hours and taste them,
And throw them all away,
Unspent.

There is nothing past that wall,
No soil on that field to till.
They don’t exist, those dreams,
Until we make them real.

Grab today. Make it yours.
Hold it to yourself and let it last.
Share your wisdom with everyone.
Don’t let this day pass
Without your mark.

Richard - 30th March 2010

17 March 2010

One of us (in memory of James Grigg)

James Grigg died in action in Afghanistan on 16th March 2010. He played cricket with me, and was a good friend to me, and to many others in Stradbroke Cricket Club. This poem is for him, and of him.

One of us

He walks among us,
The twelfth man on our team,
With that invisible loping gait,
That dangerous mouth.

Low to the ground,
His hands ready,
A predator, an undefined haze
In the afternoon sun.

He chases from one to the other,
Whispers encouragement,
Barks at the opposition,
A smiled challenge.

Always in white,
Always in whites,
He claps us in,
Dares us to begin again.

2 March 2010

On passing the buck - the BBC and the banks

I had intended to blog about this last week, but now I'm glad I didn't, as the BBC's announcement today of swingeing cuts puts what I have to say into even better perspective.

Let me start with the banks, though. It is no secret to those who know me that I was let down very badly, at the last moment, to a mortgage lender owned by a bank. All the complaint letters I sent to senior management of that bank were pushed down the food chain to flunkeys to answer. I didn't receive one single letter of acknowledgement signed by a senior executive. That's passing the buck - and the matter is now with the Financial Ombudsman, so I can say no more about it, except that it stinks. Men on bonuses paid by tax payers regarding themselves as above normal people like me.

So let me move, seamlessly almost, on to the BBC. When I heard that Jonathan Ross was not going to negotiate a renewal of his double-digit million contract with the BBC for making three shows (two TV, one radio show), I thought I would write to Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC (who has today personally announced the cuts which will affect the amount of new music played on BBC Radio, and which will reduce the amount of ethnic music played on the BBC), to offer my services as a replacement for Jonathan Ross on the Saturday morning radio show. Here's a copy of that letter:

Dear Mr Thompson,

Following Jonathan Ross’s decision not to renew his contract with you, which expires in July, you will be looking for a replacement for his Saturday morning show on Radio 2.

I would like to suggest myself, for a number of reasons:

• I think the public is tired of celebrity nepotism, and would like new talent to appear on the radio and television.
• I think the public wants mainly music, not inane chat and call-ins, on national music radio at the weekend.
• I have a distinctive voice and a catholic taste in music, always favouring the new and innovative, whilst embracing the past.
• I would be much cheaper than Mr Ross, and much less likely to cause public offence; I’d probably be more popular, too.

I am a regular presenter with Radio Stradbroke, and I believe hiring me to do the Saturday show which Mr Ross currently presents, would significantly combat current negative attitudes to the BBC, especially viz exorbitant presenters’ salaries and quality of output.

I have enclosed a CD with an mp3 file of me presenting an August bank holiday special on Radio Stradbroke. If you wish to find out more about me, my web site is www.tettig.com, and you can follow me on twitter @tettig.

I would like to make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that I am not looking for full-time employment with the BBC. I am very happily employed at the moment, and would not change my current job for love nor money. I am offering my services, as a private person, to the BBC for the purposes of presenting the above-mentioned radio show for an annual fee of £30,000.

I very much look forward to hearing from you.


I sent that on 4th Feb, and on 24th Feb, I got the following letter (and I quote it verbatim):

Dear Richard

Thanks for your letter regarding BBC Radio 2.

I understand you are keen to become a BBC presenter and feel that the position that Jonathan Ross will soon be leaving on BBC Radio 2, would be ideal.

I would like to advise you to call the BBC Career Information on: 0870...

I wish you all the best with your presenting career and thanks again for taking an interest in the BBC and for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely

Cxxxxx Sxxxxx
BBC Information


Now, apart from the grammatical and punctuation errors in the letter, and the fact that the number supplied doesn't work, what irritates me about this? Doesn't Mark Thompson have a secretary who can get his signature on letters? Should a man earning almost a million a year have time to at least be seen to be personally responding to letters? Should a man who is contemplating and implementing massive cuts at the BBC, and who is about to state that one of the BBC's priorities is "inspiring knowledge, music and culture, consider directly an offer to present, at a miniscule fraction of current expense, a prime-time Saturday morning show, and respond to it after having listened to the CD sent to him? Or should such a highly-paid operative (paid, by the way, by tax-payers money, a bit like the bank mentioned at the beginning), just pass the buck to a flunkey with an uncertain grasp of the English language? You tell me.

By the way, you can listen to the CD I sent to Thompson on www.tettig.com/player.html

And I've started a group on facebook, if you want to become a member, which, simply put, says I ought to replace Ross.

8 February 2010

The desolation of words

The last four months have been difficult, to say the least. Not difficult in the struggling to make a living sense of the term, but in the where is this life leading me sense. I have lived through a period of constant doubt and almost despair, rewriting one book, thinking of another, and plagued by a dearth of words.

Although many people mock those of us who have pets, the death of a pet strikes at the very heart of us. Just after Christmas, just after we had all spent all our emotions on making a nest of an already cold home, Zebedee, our 3 and a half year-old rescue cat, died of kidney failure. I had just bought one of my daughters an illustrated copy of T. S. Eliot's Book of Magical Cats because she got on with Z so well. What can you say or feel or do when life deviates from its course so suddenly abruptly? Nothing. The grief of others is often more striking than your own. I am very grateful to Steve (you know who you are) for providing us with a beautiful spot in your pet cemetery for Zeb's final bed, and for consoling my daughters where I could not. Zeb's sister, Florence, still roams the house, confused.

Rewriting Bee Bones has been a trial in many ways. The original was flawed if the reader could not suspend disbelief, if events more believable than any episode of CSI didn't ring true. These weaknesses were ones I myself had thought of, but which I had ignored because of the emotional strength of the piece. I believe both versions are valid, although I do believe that the second, most current (completed on 4th February) version is more rounded, more mature. And caters to those who are addicts for an absolute reality. I am on tenterhooks to see how agents will react to it.

My thanks to all my friends from authonomy and facebook who have kept me going with encouragement, bullying and taunting over these past months. It would have been impossible to complete this journey without you.

The cold has not helped, this invidious East of England cold. The house I live in has no protection against the damp this land produces, and the only time I have been warm has been when it's been minus 7 outside and there has been a foot of snow on the ground. Working and writing when you're shivering within walls is not pleasant.

This inarticulate, incoherent, fragmented post has to conclude with how bereft and desolate I feel now, after deciding to take two weeks off from writing, before I start on rewriting the first draft of Too Far For Dead Men To Walk. The writer is incomplete without the characters he has created, and, who, after their creation, talk back to him.

That is the desolation of words the title of this post refers to. The desolation of the writer when he denies himself his craft.