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    • Celebrating the Northern Hemisphere Spring 2021
      • 2 Mar 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   Ode to the West Wind Percy Bysshe Shelley - 1792-1822I  O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves deadAre driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,   Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,Each like a corpse within its grave, untilThine azure sister of the Spring shall blow Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)With living hues and odours plain and hill: Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!   II  Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,   Angels of rain and lightning: there are spreadOn the blue surface of thine airy surge,Like the bright hair uplifted from the head Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim vergeOf the horizon to the zenith's height,The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge Of the dying year, to which this closing nightWill be the dome of a vast sepulchreVaulted with all thy congregated might Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphereBlack rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!   III  Thou who didst waken from his summer dreamsThe blue Mediterranean, where he lay,Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,   Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,And saw in sleep old palaces and towersQuivering within the wave's intenser day, All overgrown with azure moss and flowersSo sweet, the sense faints picturing them! ThouFor whose path the Atlantic's level powers Cleave themselves into chasms, while far belowThe sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wearThe sapless foliage of the ocean, knowThy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!   IV  If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share   The impulse of thy strength, only less freeThan thou, O Uncontrollable! If evenI were as in my boyhood, and could be The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speedScarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowedOne too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.   V  Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:What if my leaves are falling like its own!The tumult of thy mighty harmonies   Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universeLike withered leaves to quicken a new birth!And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearthAshes and sparks, my words among mankind!Be through my lips to unawakened Earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? FROM THE WASHINGTON POST https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/03/01/lenten-rose-how-to-grow/?arc404=true https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/03/01/meteorological-spring-2021/
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    • 'All that you've loved is all you own'. Solveig Slettahjell - Take It With Me
      • 1 Mar 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      • Solveig Slettahjell - Take It With Me (live, Til Radka, 2009) Take It with Me Tom Waits The phone's off the hook, no one knows where we are It's a long time since I drank champagne The ocean's blue, as blue as your eyes I'm gonna take it with me when I go Old long since gone, now way back when We lived in Coney Island There ain't no good thing ever dies I'm gonna take it with me when I go Far, far away a train whistle blows Wherever you're goin', wherever you've been Waving goodbye at the end of the day You're up and you're over, and you're far away Always for you, and forever yours It felt just like the old days We fell asleep on Beaula's porch I'm gonna take it with me when I go All broken down by the side of the road I's never more alive or alone I've worn the faces off all the cards I'm gonna take it with me when I go The children are playing at the end of the day Strangers are singing on our lawn It's got to be more than flesh and bone All that you've loved is all you own In a land there's a town, and in that town there's a house And in that house there's a woman And in that woman there's a heart I love I'm gonna take it with me when I go I'm gonna take it with me when I go. Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Kathleen Brennan / Thomas Alan Waits Take It With Me lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
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    • As alertness ebbs and presence fails
      • 28 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      • Living on to Dissolution  ROUGH TIMES TO FINALITY I had a pretty rough night the other night with nerve and bone pain and am becoming more sceptical about my ability to keep writing and publishing on this Website - I'll just have to follow the advice of my wonderful step-father Horace Darlington (1917-1968): 'Do your best in the circumstances - angels can do no more!'Kindly forgive the inadequacies of writing and publication!And my cockamamie statistics from last year which now seem far too optimistic! LUCKY FOR SOME? When I celebrated my 70th birthday back in 2014, I wrote a poem under the title 'Final Sovereignty' imagining what might happen moving towards to my statistically estimated demise at 87-88 years of age. And I took some heart from the lives that were still being led by many of my older friends and relatives. Ah Man Proposes - God Disposes! It now looks as though I will be extremely fortunate to live to 77-78 years of age - and I have become increasingly aware that very few make it into Older Old Age seriously unscathed. Back in mid-February, I presented at the Emergency Department of Wellington Hospital and finally got catheterised after failing to pee for around 8 hours. And, after an X-ray of my pelvis, it was confirmed that I had a worst case scenario for Prostate Cancer of 5:5 on the Gleason Scale, my advanced and aggressive tumour having metastasized to the point of threatening my spinal column. Search Results I had passed the normally reliable Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test on a number of occasions, being a highly aberrant 'No Response' case - and months had passed exploring other options for my symptoms - such is life. Anyhow, I now find myself having undergone the 4th of 6 chemo treatments at our excellent Blood and Cancer Day Clinic, after having been given a modal or most likely initial survival of 3 weeks. Following holding treatments to slow the cancer - and surviving - I started my chemo course on the 21st April. [My treatment is being based on the results of the STAMPEDE (Systemic Therapy in Advancing or Metastatic Prostate Cancer: Evaluation of Drug Efficacy). 'This is a large clinical trial that aims to assess new treatment approaches for people affected by high-risk prostate cancer. The trial has been open since 2005 and has tested many different ways of treating prostate cancer and some results are now already known.  Each new or alternative treatment is compared with the current standard approach, referred to as a "comparison". More than 10,000 people have joined STAMPEDE so far with answers becoming available throughout the trial as information on life expectancy and disease control rates are gathered and compared. A full description, with explanatory and illustrative videos is available at: //www.stampedetrial.org/participants/about-stampede/] The modal or most likely initial survival period during this second phase is 3 months. Successful completion of the course and follow-up suggest this moving out to 18 months at end March 2022, if all goes well - with an eventual possible extension [very unlikely and no doubt dependent on other interventions] to August 2023, given the Poisson Distribution that I have employed:My statistics is more than a bit rusty so I don't guarantee my interpretations but I think the overall drift is right. Which brings me back to my reflections of 2014. Since then I have become more observant and more conscious of the uncertainties faced as people move into Older Old Age - noting the presence of chronic and intractable conditions like heart failure and dementia.  I have also seen a number of colleagues and friends die over the last six years - sometimes of extraordinary events like allergies to jelly-fish stings by a very fit 68-year old long-distance sea swimmer; one from a more predictable lung cancer death by a heavy smoker of my age; and in another case the stretch from diagnosis to death from pancreatic cancer well within my diagnosis-to-current-survival window [again my age]. And my 16-year old son is currently in the After Hours Clinic having a wrist X-ray [fine now thanks] after having had to take avoiding action on his moped in heavy traffic! All of which reinforces the realisation that we all wish to avoid - life is tenuous. Especially as I have lived this last four and a half months in an extraordinary situation in which coming close to 10 million people have faced premature death worldwide as a consequence of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It has been so strange to follow the international catastrophe as it mirrored my very personal challenges. And I am not of course immune to earlier impending accidents and additional medical events, even though I can play with survival profiles for my apparent disease. But having thought things over though through the last four and a half months, I have to say that I am reasonably reconciled to being bracketed with some sort of deadline - as someone who is increasingly entering Older Old Age - rather than being faced with an open-ended but much more debatable final obsolescence. But always hoping for a longer tail, of course! Final Sovereignty SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD Now a second testing adolescenceBeckons with its trials and pitfallsOf rage and loss and acquiescenceAs alertness ebbs and presence fails. Seventy now - immaturity ahead -I look to my elders for consolationOn how ten or twenty years are shedPurposefully to dissolution. Across the threshold of obsolescenceI pay court in admirationTo those who deny decay deferenceAnd live on with quiet determination Their indignities suffered and withstood,In sovereignty the end makes good. Posted 1st August 2015 by Keith Shorrocks Johnson Aware of the transience of life, he lives obliviously ...  Everything on earth and in the sea dies. But man is more severely condemned: He knows about this death sentence, It was signed when he was born. But, aware of the transience of life, He lives obliviously - contrary to everything - As if his life is forever And this world belongs to him. Samuil Marshak [Russian Poet 1887-1964] Posted 8th February by Keith Shorrocks Johnson
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      • 27 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •  Preview YouTube video Chris de Burgh - Don't Pay The Ferryman Chris de Burgh - Don't Pay The FerrymanPreview YouTube video Billy Joel - Piano Man (Audio)Billy Joel - Piano Man (Audio)
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    • Do you hear the dragon howl in the dead tree?
      • 22 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   Desolate Dragon Raging Lion DESOLATE DRAGON RAGING LION Do you hear the dragon howl in the dead tree?Listen to the lion’s roar within a dry skull?Is there joy after the death of awakening?A dragon will not bide stagnant waterThe still pond cannot contain the dragon’s coils.
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    • For Christchurch - ten years past
      • 21 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      • A CITY FROM THE HILLS There lies our city folded in the mist Like a great meadow in an early morn Flinging her spears of grass up through white films, Each with its thousand, thousand tinted globes Above us such an air as poets dream The clean and vast wing-winnowed clime of Heaven.
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    • This is my heaven, making all things new
      • 20 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   What if I should come to trust more of love The summer is loveliness foregone, Leaving its glories in sunset glow, And now its deep-felt warmth is almost done, Which autumn’s excess tints for show.
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    • The story will fall short - forget regret
      • 18 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   Feel the Pulse of Life  FEEL THE PULSE OF LIFE The arc of character’s a simple mythThe arrow of time will find no target -No bow is drawn that brings a point to lifeThe story will fall short - forget regret.
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    • My Son Theo's 17th Birthday
      • 18 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   On the Occasion of my son Theo's 17th Birthday - Shakespeare's Sonnet 17 Sonnet XVII Who will believe my verse in time to come, If it were filled with your most high deserts? Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
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    • Echoes of the Sagas
      • 16 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   'The drum needed a blood sacrifice': the rise of dark Nordic folk Heilung jam with Siberian shamans and play with human bones, while Wardruna record songs submerged in rivers and on burial mounds.
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    • '.... this is real life so far removed from a disgraced bunch of cronies flogging tattered reputations to protect a despot flying in face of constitution and conscience'.
      • 14 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   Ho Hum in Washington They are bopping and swooping out there in the cold as I binge-watch a lost cause impeachment with less optimism than our hummingbirds who seem to think I will thaw out their sugar-source well aware and that this is a better use of my time much less stressful than political posturing more productive than naked self-interest and likely to help small technicolor creatures survive. So I leave my fire-side and go into a late afternoon as snow-clouds roll in like politicians promises to bring in a frozen vessel and warm it up as they jet around and window-zip the kitchen sink and rawness brings back school-boy memories of boot-walks into transitory white canyons as I stretch and fiddle half-frozen fingers to fix up the feeder and finally fulfill my obligation. They gather at once into dipping and head lifting as I make tea and watch their essential feast rejoicing in the thought that this is real life so far removed from a disgraced bunch of cronies flogging tattered reputations to protect a despot flying in face of constitution and conscience flailing puny wings as the world looks on and failing to effect justice flashing in their eyes. Frank Wilson frankwilson.ca [From my good friend, former colleague at the University of Bradford, UK, and current resident of British Columbia, Canada - and fellow poet Frank Wilson]
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    • Mitch McConnell - 'my heart belongs to Daddy'
      • 12 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      •   McConnell not pressuring GOP to acquit Trump BY Jordain Carney, The Hill, 11 February 2021 https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/538358-mcconnell-not-pressuring-gop-to-acquit-trump Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn’t pressuring fellow Republicans to acquit former President Trump as the impeachment trial appears poised to wrap as soon as this weekend.
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    • Murmuration by Linda Francis
      • 11 Feb 2021
      • Keith Johnson
      • MURMURATION by Linda France 1 * Because we love watching the flock’s precision glide        upstroke for height, tilt of wing spun mid-flight just for a moment               we’re in the frenzied swirling rush               home for the winged        owls hoot their love through the dark                      chiffchaff creeps up stalks               fennel and flow dipper and wagtail               Arctic terns like darts geese honking              each note weighed a duck sits on top of the bowling club out king of the world        if you love the bird, don’t cage it               we’ll miss the starlings when April comes * on any high hilltop, breathing this air, this precious air, remember those who lost their breath        if you love the flower, don’t pick it a sudden sweep of daisies in a green field like counting stars        losing count               starting over again more shades of green than words scream Life! life, damp grass between bare toes light passing through poppy petals the slow unfolding of a rose               home for the prickly, those that slither                      climb or crawl                             for us all        atom by atom        cell by cell        what else matters we cherish these conversations when the vetchling speaks the lavish eruption of nasturtiums, weaving ropes of white stems orange flowers        lush leaves               hearts burnt open        if you love wild things, let them be * follow the almost invisible path through the heather summer’s easy grin, the slow smile of autumn gaze of winter starlight               isn’t this how we learn not to fear change        the seasons               that mark time shape our lives        spangles of sunlight on a river        otters rippling the sting of cold sea on tight, red skin        we feel it all, drink it in and love it love honey, love bees the smell of dust, hot rain a damson tree        dripping purple fruits        love the kiss of a dandelion clock wind-suck and time disappears the pull of the moon        waves that crash with forgotten history               the rubbed edges of the world                      a spider crab scurrying sideways        we love the roaring isles        the taste of a peach        our neighbours busy in their vegetable patch        the daylit gate               tunnel of trees               those little paths one-person-wide               between hazel and ash               warm bark        in the city that birthed us        bright tufts that grow in the cracks * because we love the way dawn wakes up and switches night to day        the twist and fall               the surging sweeping joy of it all               the visceral thrill how dusk strips away the waste of worried days        as birds yield to their roost        and leave the night to moth and bat beyond day, beyond everything        we know we too are rock and star but now              on the tip of our tongue        even love’s not enough 2 * At the midnight of the year utter darkness a million compasses fail and the starlings don’t come empty sky no swallows, no swifts no summer nests in the eaves threads looped in the blue a blackbird that isn’t there opens his throat into silence, thin air no golden note you wake to a dawn unheralded dusk, uninvited, doesn’t know where to begin ghost calls echo in the trees dogs and deer stop barking rain forgets to fall its rhythm broken, lost oak and elm hold their breath you will never see another flower the stars’ last vanishing act no words left 3 * April high tide hurls driftwood        oarweed               sea-glass a wreckage of shells tomorrow comes soon        how much would you pay to hear the sound of rain        or birdsong what if couldn’t-care-less cared more and we let the murmur of change               change our ways hear the roots of trees                      whispering dark soil’s cavernous memories        tectonic plates shift sit like a mountain all weathers in our hearts        what if our flutterings become feathers               the starlings lend us their wings till we trust enough               to fly together        synchronised       one vast voice all different, all the same               to mend our wounded earth ballads of continents crossed        comrades lost to storm or predator               the shockwave moving through the flock see how we flit        twist swell                                    dive co-mingle       co-exist       co-inhere belong together * imagine we’re made of those slivers of sky        know all the colours of light hitch a ride on the bees’ flight go to earth with badgers        small as Alice       catch the worm the keys of the ash        rise like a dandelion               the promise of a peony bud where heather meets heaven               home this is the patience of the albatross        a cormorant’s hunger craning for a flash of silver        beneath the water the good omen of a crescent moon        milky stars               set in new stories meadow orchids        skeins of geese a chance to constellate honesty               justice escape heroic fantasies        gravity’s boots so what if’s rubbed out        and becomes what is                      the path between               then we can hear the hiss of rain * what is        is more than the ear can hear or eye see — we will never have this time again               can never rewind this moment all the maybes, all the small things        we touch               gentle, curious and let pass like fruit in season the secret language of earth                      underland of coal, uranium, oil               indifference banished by love power to the parliament of rooks it’s just this       us        the people               our footsteps walking into all this wonder        every day through every weather               solidarity                      the planet’s rage making a stand               for a different future it’s just this               our words        building this home we share        these bridges nowhere else to go        here we are               turning over        this tainted page to start again        and healing the earth               the earth heals us our better place               not a destination a method        common ground * ask        what if words could fly               and this poem rose into the blueness                      a whirr of black italic wings breath by breath        a prayer               to give life back to life                      all of us        pieces of the world what if all the time we were searching        the sky               the birds        were watching for us what, if not cartwheeling        what, if not care               what, if not a cadence        like love               held lightly
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