Of Autumn

Thank you for stopping by to read the latest Lion Hearts essay. A little bit of background can be found at the end (but only just a little bit).

How insidious this beauty as cloaks all ending, the reapers breath frosted by the first light of morning.

I ache for thee, as the bare limbs of oak should miss their cloak in winter. For no man can know love as I would know her, cruelty in distance yet warmth as swells my heart.

Moments as passed once so fleeting, lounge reluctant in their lethargy now. If this is waking, then let me sleep – for it is better to know you in dreams, than wake to a world without light.

Foul this biting cloth of carmine and blush – flaming in swirls as caught by the air. A spiralling tempest, on golden wings, from naked branches weep. No value have this gold of fools, in waves awash the path of man.

Rage these daemons as cast from Gehenna, their shadow in cloak of a bitter bleak sun.

I distance not in tread by foot but reach for thoughtless dreaming – drifting warmth of summer days and filled by times unending. Rise these tides as filled with hope and love. For you are my wings and I shall not yield to darkness.

Yet roused by impish horns and the baneful sighs of winter, as blustered by hades while shackled from my flight. Cursed to waking and time without dreams – an autumn to our summer, to thought without end.

I tread now the deceit of a dying season – wrapped golden in the rust of heavens tears. Beauty yet soured, as fallen these fruits of a time once warmed.

And so to longing, a new friend as found from old – in yearning of days as sweetened by summer and the warmth of your touch as felt by my hand.

Spring shall rise but for now I know winter – this moment shall pass, while it’s scars will remain.

How insidious this beauty as cloaks all ending, the reapers breath frosted by the first light of morning.

I am hoping that for a start, this essay aptly portrays my well known hatred for Autumn while not losing its over all meaning in the series as a whole.

Those who know my Lion Hearts work will be familiar with the story but for those who are not – Merek is a young knight separated from his true love by the crusades. In this instalment he has woken from a dream of his love to be surrounded by the bitter cold of an October’s day (and by his lonliness).

He tries to return to dreams so to again be with his beloved Lilly, yet he cannot quite succeed. With time he likens his hell to the cruelty of the season. He does not see beauty but instead death hidden by gold. He feels great loss while his heart is in torment.

This is not a warm and fluffy work but I hope that it does do justice to my view of Autumn, to Merek’s feeling of loss and to my aim to contrast the cliché of typical autumn art.

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A Letter to Lilly (The deception of marriage)

Work on Lion Hearts is now well underway, with the excellent prose of Maree Ward Russell bringing chapter after chapter of romance, tragedy and adventure. I am very proud to be working with such an accomplished and successful novelist and prouder still to see my work included into the story in such a skilful manner.

It’s been a while since I published anything, so an apology for that – but here is a letter I wrote recently for the book – you will have to buy it to find out what chapter and how it fits, but for now you can have at least a taste. I hope you like it!

Lion Hearts will be out later in 2014!

Dearest Lilly,

Weep not this moment, bound by duty – but retreat all love and fall not to battle. The body may serve the wish of fate but a heart will always beat free! Your will cannot be signed to another, not by covenant, ink nor blood. Passion burns true from longing, while devotion cannot be forced.

I feel your burden as it would be my own, in obligation to the people without service to self. Their eyes see that which suits, as garlands made in hemlock. They wish not the grace of your happy heart, but feast hearty on your labour.

I call the morrow, for this day is dead, my heart in shreds and weeping. Yet my heart you have, as yours to keep with no need of bands to prove. The death of instance leads only to moments new as the fall of dusk calls only the dawn with hope. Let us wait our time, for it shall surely be, as fate cannot be so cruel.

I ride for you and ask only your token, my breath as drawn from your glory. In your name and by your honour I pledge my life, my freedom, my toil.

Blood cannot match the riches of gold, yet it be better to weigh my love than in wealth. I may fall but shall never falter; I may doubt but shall never give in. In times of health and those when ailed – in case of wealth and when yet still poor – to you I swear always my love!

By words he may swear, yet his heart knows only the business of contract. What sanctity the deceit of conquest, the deception of marriage by forgery of love.

The sweet warmth of a smile well meant, the touch of a kindly word – would he know these friends as we have known them, will he greet them as they deserve?

Darkness falls, but know the sun shall rise, for no winter may last through spring and we shall have our summer. Have hope my lady, for even a day lost to duty lasts only the time of sun in turning and such duty follows not to dreams.

I remain your loyal servant, now and forever,

Yours,

Merek

You can find out more about Lion Hearts by clicking here! You can find Maree Ward Russell on Twitter @mibbymw and on her website here! If you like my work, you may like to visit my website here!

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Nanny

A few weeks ago I dedicated a blog to my paternal grandfather. Sadly, just two weeks short of his 104th birthday, he had decided it was time to leave us and join my grandmother who had been waiting very patiently for over 30 years!

The wonderful response I received from readers was so heart warming that I feel that I simply must say thank you. Your words of comfort, your tweets, your messages of support – they made a real difference.

Now I need your help again!

Through Lion Hearts, Maree and I recently became involved with the Healthy Living Club – a Lambeth (London) based charity that works with those suffering dementia. Over the weeks that have followed I have been reminded of my brush with this condition and the impact it has on so many lives.

Last year I lost my maternal grandmother to Alzheimer’s and I would like now to dedicate this blog to her. To do this I am taking a chapter from my book, Me, My world and I, the lines of which were written for her.

Groups like the Healthy Living Club do so very much to help improve the quality of life for those who have dementia as well offer relief and hope to their loved ones. If you live in or around London, please, please, please come along to the concert – it’s important and your support would mean so very much! (Details at the bottom of the blog)!

In Grandmother’s Arms
Cry not for me,
For I have lived.
And with age came wisdom,
And this wisdom a gift.
A life well-acted,
Is not without sorrow.
But reach out beyond,
And seek joy to borrow.
For now is certain,
Tomorrow, less so.
Give all to the moment,
And let the rest go.
Fear not to dream,
And follow your heart.
Live life to the full,
And from love never part.
Give with sincerity,
And know what is true.
Be good to others,
And they will love you.
Work hard for a living,
To avoid a hard life.
For life without money,
Has plenty of strife.
I am here,
And always will be.
Just close your eyes,
And there you will see.
Cry not for me,
Don’t shed a tear,
These words now spoken,
You had to hear.

I recall my parents telling me that the days of my youth would be the best of my life.

Of course, at the time, I thought that I knew better. I strongly disliked school, and I dreamed of the supposed freedom that age would bring. What I didn’t realise was that I actually knew nothing, and pride always comes before a fall.

This is all very cliché, but with time, I have come to realise that foolish thoughts are often the result of ignorance. With experience grows wisdom, and the wise always listen.

With that in mind, I expect that this poem will be totally ignored by most youth as they venture forth, guns blazing and ready to make their fortune. But the poem is not meant as a self-righteous lecture to be forced upon a young and mostly unreceptive audience. Most of the lines reflect advice I myself so readily ignored, so I have no expectations that the young will receive it well.

I have, with time, found these words to be wise. They are a tribute to the experiences of those who spoke them. And now I, in turn, pass them on to the next generation.

One of those wise enough to see that I knew less than I understood (and bear in mind that I actually understood very little) was my maternal grandmother.

Sadly, she now suffers from Alzheimer’s, a disease that has robbed us of the benefits of her wisdom. For this reason, it seems only fitting that her words are now immortalised here.

I am very fortunate to have grown up knowing both my mother’s and father’s parents. And at the age of forty-two, I still have two surviving grandparents.

My grandmother was both strong and outgoing, and she was an uncompromising business woman who helped make a success of the family’s market gardening business. She wasn’t afraid of hard work, but she loved to travel, dance, and have fun.

I have many fond memories of spending time with my grandparents on their farm and helping out with their market stalls in King’s Lynn, Long Sutton, and Peterborough. I would sell flowers to their older patrons who seemed to find me quite adorable. Of course, I was very young, but I took it all in and loved every moment.

When I wasn’t accidentally helping the pigs escape or pilfering oranges from the store sheds, I would accompany my grandparents to the local auctions or assist in loading the lorries for market. I was just a child, and it was a truly marvellous experience – one I would not swap for anything.

As I have now reached my forties, I have started to see those heady days of carefree childish abandon as something akin to a lost treasure. Until now, I guess I saw myself as somewhat immortal: life goes on and you tread its path exploring whatever it brings your way. Then odd aches and pains start to appear, you find yourself out of breath walking up the stairs, and the family around you (people you also viewed as immortal) suddenly appear to have aged.

Seeing my grandmother again after being away a few months was a real wake-up call. She is a sad shadow of the woman I once knew, crippled by a disease that is surely straight from hell. She is still my grandmother – and I still love her – but in some ways, it’s almost as if she’s already gone.

I have to confess that, when reading this poem through for the first time, it provoked a genuine emotional reaction. I have never been particularly moved by anything I have written in the past. Consequently, I found myself feeling a little surprised. I am glad, though, because (to me) the poem catches the essence of exactly what I wanted to portray.

Even though the poem is dedicated to my grandmother, I feel sure that many who read it will find familiarity in the sentiments being portrayed.

I believe that, even after my grandmother has gone, in many ways her presence will remain. As long as a single heart beats that has been touched by the memory of another, that memory will live on.

The Lambeth Concert in aid of those with Dementia

October 31st – Adults £5.00 Concession £2.00 Tickets here: http://www.lionhearts-tour.com/?page_id=14 or DM me on Twitter please

Concert Venue:  Cressingham Gdns, Rotunda Hall, Tulse Hill, SW2 2QN

Flamenco from a top dancer, a wonderful singer, poetry, literature and fun!

Details: http://www.lionhearts-tour.com Video Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aHZp0SOQNI&feature=youtu.be

The Charity: http://healthylivingclub.org.uk/

Please come along, you really will make a difference!

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A Letter to Lilly (Of Autumn)

Dearest Lilly,

As I would miss to breathe the sweetest breath or feel my heart as not to beat, as shade would bite in frigid kiss and light be lost to shadow – I miss thee!

I count the passage of days in tread – Each moment unto the next and lost to the ramble of seasons. For I have known spring, as tied her cloak of emerald green, by blossom fair her crown – And I have felt the touch of summer, in foster of such gentle grace, in solicitude of life.

Yet now the light through cloud doth wither, upon these tears as washed by tide. The sufferance of gilding brush, and rust by time with carmine blush – the summer is all but done.

But should tomorrow fail to be, should the sun not rise on me – then still I smile at winter’s rush for I have known true love in brush.

In reverence of the stars, countless to the heavens, love shines exempt of distance and I shall always feel thee near. For I dance the blades of nights grey shimmer and leap in dreams of love.

In sympathy of hearts, I battle not for the glory of fools, but for the passion of one sweet kiss. For I would know peace in love, and this is my grail – your image my sword, your word, my glory!

Beyond parchment, as stained with tears – beyond battle as lasts these years, to a day with promise met – again our lips in touch and set.

No battle shall endless be, yet my love be endless.

Your servant,

Merek

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Rapture

For today’s blog I have decided to make a return to Lion Hearts and another poem for the coming tour.

Rapture is a bitter sweet story of sensuality that finds its raison d’être from the Lion Hearts essay Departure.

For those unfamiliar with Lion Hearts, I will quickly fill in some gaps. We have two lovers, parted by war and distanced by miles, they battle winter with lonely hearts and by spring are reunited.

But after a summer of wonderful memories, the sands ebb and war calls once more. Our lovers embrace, their moments racing, night tripping toward new light. Dawn will bring a departure, and another season of missing.

Extracts from the Essay
But for the grace of days in turning, such memories should be lost. Yet now, I would stop time in sacrifice of morning, and all for the preservation of a moment. I yearn once more the passion of night’s glory and the crush of ardour before lust.

I challenge the sun, transient before dawn, to sink from the heavens and I charge the moon to muster the stars. But I command not the heavens – and the cruel truth of light casts shadow most felt.

The Poem

Rapture
Oh the light through cloud doth wither,
Upon these tears this shadow clings.
Yet moon in shine with silver slither,
Your hope my sword, your love my wings.
And for my heart, mourn not the morrow,
Of season past, these days in yearn.
While blaze this love, I know not sorrow,
Your kiss, your touch, your hold in turn.
Now sweet this crush, two lips in calling,
In twist with grace and brush while blow.
Then rise to heave as waves in falling,
As tide meet tide and passion flow.
Rapture stirred, in flame and burning,
Then whispered words so softly meet.
Beating hearts and gaze in turning,
The warmest smiles, so honey sweet.
Yet onward now these moments hither,
These ebbing sands while fools as kings.
Still the light through cloud doth wither,
Still these tears, and shadow clings.

The poem, like the essay on which it is based, carries far deeper metaphor than that found on the surface – but I plan to leave the digging to your will, as you may see no reason to stretch further than that which lays at the surface.

As you might expect from a Lion Hearts piece, its sensuality is in no way corrupt by exposure to lewd phrase. I prefer the romance of obvious but carefully seductive lines that lap gently in tease. For me, the course tumbling of the crude and the obvious somehow removes the romantic essence of the scene.

I am not the biggest fan of the ACBD rhyming scheme (the first and third and the second and fourth lines rhyme). For one, it can lead to the rhythm becoming somewhat predictable.  But sometimes it just fits, and this is a piece than needed a wave to carry lines in rise and fall of its delivery.

Rapture can be as deep or as shallow as you wish, but I like most the essence of a breathless moment caught between lovers, two hearts in blaze and never to be parted. But then I am a romantic with a love of happy endings!

Rapture will be performed by myself and my writing partner, Maree Ward Russell, on the coming Lion Hearts tour this autumn. For more information about Lion Hearts see http://www.lionhearts-crusade.com/ To link up with Maree see http://www.mwrussell-books.com or follow @mibbymw on Twitter

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1909 – Granddad

My Granddad was a great man; there are no other words to describe him! He was both gentle and generous, with impeccable manners and kindly disposition! He was, in short – knightly!

Sadly, on Tuesday of this week, he was lost to us and to the world – somehow the sun now doesn’t seem quite so bright. But I would rather celebrate his life than dwell in words of sadness.

A light shines despite the shadow and heaven cries not, for now it be graced by the greatest of the good! And to each year a gift was given and with smiles my heart be filled with love.

Last week, for the first time ever, I published excerpts from Me, My World and I. Today, I will honour my Granddad by publishing a full chapter!

1909 was written for my Granddad, and while on reflection, it carries some sadness – it seems a fitting and respectful way to show my great pride in the man I considered my best friend.

My Granddad treated the world as if it was his family and they responded with love. If I could be only half the man he was, I would be a better man by far!

Before sharing the poem and chapter with you, I would like to thank all those who have tweeted with their kind support, I am so very grateful.

1909
Black and white to colour fades,
A heart beats while time moves on.
This life well lived now just lingers.
He mourns a moment,
For the moment’s gone.
Looking back through life’s adventure,
In his prime, when once he shone.
Souvenirs of life’s fond memories,
And still he mourns,
For those moments gone.
As when young, now still he dreams,
With moments still to call upon.
For in these dreams, he is a young man,
He mourns not moments,
For no moment’s gone.

My paternal grandfather was born in the September of 1909, and as I write, he is in the year of his 103rd birthday.

In 1910, Thomas Edison demonstrated the world’s first motion picture, and in 1911, for the first time, cars had electric ignitions. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until 1913 that the crossword puzzle was invented and women started to wear bras. I can’t even imagine how men spent their spare time before then.

By the time my granddad had reached his sixteenth birthday, canned beer was on the shelves. And within a few years, we had ballpoint pens. By the time he was my age, he had seen two world wars and the invention of jet engines, Teflon, atomic bombs, and microwave ovens.

He witnessed the birth of modern aviation, space travel, and computer technology – all while eating innovations in fast food and watching television.

These days, of course, we think nothing of frying our food in our Teflon coated frying pan or drinking a can of beer while watching a live football match from the other side of the planet. We take for granted our holidays in the sun and think nothing of the satellites that deliver entertainment to our front rooms. We complete crosswords with ballpoint pens, and we know nothing of air raids, ration books, or blackouts.

He has lived through a truly historic era, a golden age of invention and scientific advance. I wonder how many inventions and events during my lifetime will – sixty years from now – be seen in quite the same light.

I have a really hard time coming to terms with just how quickly life is passing me by. Even at forty-two, there is a real feeling of chapters ending way faster than I would like. But then I spare a thought for my granddad and how little life must seem to offer.

I can’t imagine how it must feel to know that nearly everything is behind you. Of course, nobody knows how many tomorrows will come, but at 102, you are probably sure that there are not as many as you would like. I believe in God, and I believe in life after death … but I am not ashamed to admit that I fear death and its cloak of great uncertainty. I love life and am sure that, if faced with my grandfather’s predicament, I would surely go mad with fear.

I know that my granddad spends a lot of time looking back, and I am not sure which is more cruel: being able to remember or (as with my maternal grandmother) being robbed of all that has been. What I do know is that, when dreaming, we are all still young. And when lost in slumber, I am sure my granddad is still enveloped in life’s great adventure.

I don’t want to feel sorry for my granddad. He has lived a very full and active life, he has known love, and he has known happiness. I want him to go on and live forever, I want him to always be that great man I grew up thinking of as my best friend. I do feel sorrow at his passing years, though, and I do wish sometimes that time would just stand still. That’s not to say it’s all selfish on my part. My sadness stems more from the fear of how he must now feel than of my fear of losing somebody very dear.

I console myself with the hope that, in his dreams, he finds contentment. And I know in my heart that his wife is waiting, and that too will make him very happy. She has waited a very long time, but I hope she won’t mind waiting at least a little longer.

Of course, my granddad’s life has been far more than just a sum of his experiences. He was a brother, a devoted husband, and a father. He is a loved and much respected grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. Over the years, he has touched lives and become a friend to many.

Perhaps that’s the point. Life is not just about what we do, but also about the legacy we leave behind. My granddad is one of the last remaining sentinels of a bygone era. His polite language and sunny manner is a shining beacon in a time when such virtues seem to have been lost. Perhaps my concern should be less for the time I may have left and more for the impression I may one day leave behind.

This poem is dedicated to my granddad and the massive part he has played in my life. I give him these words, and I do so with love.

Rest peacefully Granddad, you live on always in my heart xxx

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Time for Tea

How sweetly the light doth shine, as summer warms from winter’s rhyme! This week we have another poem, an update on the tour and for the first time ever, an extract from my book!

The Lion Hearts tour is a week closer and an opening date in Lambeth has now been confirmed. The gig will kick the tour off on October 31st and is currently the only London date planned.

It is an honour to be working with the Healthy Living Club at Lingham Court and helping to celebrate age in a positive light. Click here for more details!

All proceeds from this concert will go to help those with dementia, so please stay tuned for more details and support this event in any way that you can.

So sticking with the tour and our focus on age, I am this weekend presenting an extract from my book “Me, My World and I”. This is the first time I have ever published from these pages.

Last week we looked at my writing partner, Maree Ward Russell’s, excellent offerings to the world of dragons, ghosts and fairy dust and the temptation this week was to follow up with my poem The Coming of Fairies. But in the end I have decided to present Time for Tea.

For some, this poem will represent a shift from that to which you have become accustomed. The fact is that unless you have ever read my book, you could be forgiven for thinking that I only ever write romance.

Not so! This is a poem with a clear metaphor and supporting prose that hopefully will jolt you from your armchair as a double dose of smelling salts taken deeply to the airways.

Time for Tea
One day, I’ll climb a mountain,
Or swim an open sea.
But for now, I think I’ll sit here,
And maybe drink some tea.

Today I’m kind of busy,
But still I’m in my prime.
I’ll put it in my diary,
And fit it in sometime.

I know I’m getting older,
Not beating round the bush.
But I have still got ages,
There’s isn’t any rush.

I know what you are thinking,
Things still are left undone.
But then there is tomorrow,
While for now I have to run.

I never climbed a mountain,
Or swam an open sea.
The time, it went so quickly,
While drinking lots of tea.

Extracts from the accompanying chapter in my book Me, My World and I

“Time for Tea”, takes a serious subject and delivers it in a light, bubbly manner. The quatrain stanzas (verses of four lines) simply bobble along. It’s an easy read with no real baggage, but its meaning is in your face without any real brain power being required.

With little effort, you’ll find the cliché: never put off until tomorrow what can be done today. It’s wrapped in verse and presented in five easy to swallow slices. This is “all mouth and no trousers” alive, kicking, and in your face. No more excuses; we are all guilty!

From the moment we are born, the clock is ticking. None of us know when our time will be up. We all know this, and yet we nearly all put off until tomorrow what we perhaps could do today. Who thinks his or her dream is a priority? Who explores their dreams regardless of expense and consequence?

The truth is that the pressure of everyday life means that the majority of our dreams are impractical, unaffordable, or unachievable.

But strip back the fact that we are so often slaves to our wild imaginations. Remove the debris of the impractical, unaffordable, and unachievable, and we are still given to putting what’s left on the back burner. We are totally obsessed with saving money while looking forward to what might be. True, we all have to live – and we need money for that – but as I asked a little earlier, what if tomorrow doesn’t come? What then?

“Time for Tea” is less about the emotional aspects of being stuck in a routine and more about its consequences. That is to say, if we become a slave to life, when will there ever be time to realise dreams or become more than we already know ourselves to be?

So I say, rise up against the grind and strike out against making do with things as they are! It is time to reach out and grab your dreams by the throat. There will be plenty of time for tea later!

You can read this chapter in its entirety in my book, Me, My World and I
Click here if not in America and here if in America

You can find out more about Lion Hearts here: http://www.lionhearts-crusade.com and you can hook up with my wonderful writing partner Maree here: http://www.mwrussell-books.com Maree can also be found on Twitter: Follow @mibbymw

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