Talking Words Blog

Message to Mars

 The sky turned blue as the MARSO, an official order from Mars Command, flashed across the sky:

‘Urgent request for water, supplies are running low.. Blink! Blink! Blink!

MARSOs logged directly into the mainframe, so the operating team didn’t need to do anything but watch through the clear glass screen, as the giant subterranean reservoir four hundred metres down the corridor, filled with water. The reservoir, RES1, was supported by steel girders, due to the extreme pressure it contained.  Earth Command Crew watched the process intently; most of them had family on Mars; who had been elected to live there by State One, because they were either over sixty or critically ill.

It was a long time since this process had been activated and the anxiety of it made the atmosphere in Command Centre sticky. A few of the crew noticed that as the reservoir filled, large green areas of planet earth on the monitor, started to turn brown. Species Watch was starting to glow orange, as earth’s reduced water levels signalled automatic extinction for a variety of critical sub-species in our swamps and riverbanks, invisible to the naked eye but vital to our eco-structure.

Marion started to laugh uncontrollably. At 59 and clinically depressed, she was the perfect candidate for the next batch of Mars migration. Her heart racing wildly, she slipped out of Command Centre. No one noticed her leave, slim with shoulder length dark-hair and glasses she was used to disappearing into to the background, not being listened to.

Slowly at first and then with increasing urgency, she broke into a fast trot, sprinting down the long corridor towards RES1. It was a six minute walk from Command Centre, but she needed to be quick before her absence was noticed. The heavy grey slab door was bolted, but Marion had been entrusted with a microchip implant when she passed Security Level Three, as well as a slim iron safety key. She was given this before her beloved aunt was sent away. Aunt Sarah had believed in her as a child, encouraged her interest in science at school, paying 80% of her undergraduate tuition fees and had been a stalwart supporter of her career. She had also counselled her through her divorce. Her love for Aunt Sarah rivalled the love she felt for her parents, her selflessness, her spirit of adventure.  She was doing this for her.

She scanned her wrist, punched in the code and the giant door pad seemed to  glowed a green smile at her. The key slipped into the lock like a ring on a bride of many years. As it turned, Marion released a primordial scream that ricocheted across the complex, amplifying the security alarm’s siren. Within seconds she had pressed system over-ride, enabling full capacity for the last of earth’s water reserves to flow to Mars via the reservoir.  The water in RES1 danced in wild abandon, away from earth, gaily through the reinforced channels to hydrate the red planet, unaware of the devastation that would befall planet earth.

The rest of Command Crew could see what was happening, but they were frozen, blinking in horror at earth’s imminent demise. No-one else on the planet knew it, but it was just  a matter of time before the water shortages became commonplace and the rioting would begin.

Deranged tears ran down Marion’s face, she could think and feel more clearly than she had in years. She felt she was rebalancing the injustice of the universe, giving something back, this one’s for you Auntie! And for the others like you who didn’t have a choice.

It was 3018. Earth glowed another red hot summer. There were only two seasons now: winter and summer. This summer was causing earth dwellers some problems.  Earth Command Crew beamed a blue message across the sky to ROSS 128b.

‘Urgent request for water, supplies are running low!  Blink! Blink! Blink!

© Suzy Rowland

 

 

 

© Suzy Rowland

 

 

 

 

I am NO longer invisible [REVIEW/VIDEO- Gal-dem, Weekend Guardian]

‘Sunday morning

hot coffee and granola

your pink cover jumps into my space,

no bubble gum pencil thin barbie here

by the Grace of our Lord,

hot black talent with attitude (TWA),

grins at me, a cover full of promise

revolution in my bedroom by 07:35

my private world of black womanhood in typescript

knowingness of other

everything laid bare

I AM no LONGER inVISIBLE!

replace coffee cup on table with extreme care

in case the words disappear when I look away.’

© Suzy Rowland

 

A smudge of yellow. [WRITER’S LIFE/FLASH FICTION]

In this moment, she felt like an imposter… ‘Who do I think I am, calling myself a writer?’ Where’s the deal, the positive acclaim, cosy interviews on TV sofas, headphones on, waiting in radio studios for the ‘on air’ button to glow red? This is my life! she whispered to herself through frustrated tears.

She had visualised it clearly, rehearsed her life story line-by-line: the longing, the personal and financial struggles and finally  – the success! It’s so funny, she grinned – flirting with everyone in the studio – achieving your big writing break when you’re in your fifth decade…flutter, twinkle, wink. Everyone in the studio laughed along with her, but silently they were thinking, ‘It won’t take me that long to get to the top of my game!’

Her gloomy thoughts were a reflection of a sky-full of rain, after a string of endless sunny days. This mood will pass, she said inwardly, closing her eyes in micro-meditation. I will poke my head through this web of despair, but today is a wallow sort of day.  Eyeing her white bookshelves groaning with self-help books, she realised there was wisdom in occasional surrender to the drunken master of insecurity. She smiled at this thought, reminding herself that these funks were transitory and usually  followed by periods of frenzied activity, globs of creativity and furious link-making with fellow writers, poets and disruptors.

The room was quiet, as her eyes moved from the bookshelves to the window, where a smudge of yellow in the grey clouds threw her hoops of optimism. The soft yellow grew lighter, shining directly onto the rage and beauty at her core.

© Suzy Rowland

Summer 2018 [INSTApoem]

So far, 2018 is turning into a mega Summer for heat and the extreme impacts of the heat, it will become one of those years that become fuzzy and pretty in your head if you let it. Save this summer, in the memory bank marked ‘good times’.

The light and heat of the sun can be harsh and dangerous, but if we treat her with respect goddess sun is life-affirming, energy and vitamin providing, endorphin-generating. Even when you’re feeling hot and uncomfortable, close your eyes and say ‘thank you’ for the heat and well-being you feel in that moment.

Happy Sun Day!

© Suzy Rowland

Asperger’s [POEM]

Relentless pursuit of one goal

One, goal. Pure focus

‘what? we can’t cross the river here

let’s build a bridge or a tunnel

there must be a way!”

An unbending line

from here to my destination

details to be written, recorded

stored on plates, words, dates

please don’t distract me

with daily life

I’ve a job to do

stories to be consumed

by everyone I never knew

and you.

Burano, Italy

 I cannot stop, not no, cannot,

until the desire of my brain,

is sated, released of its many thoughts about

one thing, many things that are, the same thing

calmer then, until my eye

catches a new target:

‘Go, go go!’

there is no other way.

Continue reading Asperger’s [POEM]

The Wedding [Services]

For a poet – love, marriage and weddings are perhaps the most inspiring, romantic and universal subjects to write about. You can stay with the personal, but stray into the spiritual, global, life-affirming, existential. So it is with this in mind, that I thought I would set up a wedding poetry service. Selecting poems for lovers to read to each other, poems for renewals of vows, poems to convey the depth of feeling and passion that another human being can evoke in you.

Love knows no colour, or boundaries, or prejudices. It finds you when you least expect it, much to the annoyance of many of us when we’ve been single for ever and a day! And love loves food and nourishment like any living organism. Feed your love with kind words, encouragement, praise, laughter, tenderness and understanding and they will stay with you until the last pulse of your heart beats feebly in your veins.

A bride, a vintage gown and a pint of orange juice..

A wedding close to my heart:

https://www.summers-photography.co.uk/2016/09/28/church-richmond-littleton-park-house-shepperton-studios-wedding-suzy-clive/

Click here to find out more about the wedding poetry service…

Doing it wrong/doing it right [CAREER]

Have you ever been in a job that’s wrong for you, but you tell yourself it’s right? When we don’t listen to our instincts, the universe finds a way of EJECTING us, sometimes brutally, from a situation, so we can get back on track, back in alignment with our true purpose in life.

Don’t take that rejection personally, or cry too much after that kick in the teeth… it’s just a prod from your guides, trying to tell you…‘don’t waste your time doing that…. you need to do this!’

Accept the changing situation with grace, write down what you’ve learned and move on quickly. It sounds like a cliche, but if you play to your strengths and listen to the strong pull of your instinct, your next gig, opportunity, job etc., will be more in line with where you need to be and what you need to learn to fulfil your purpose in life!

‘Right now you have the opportunity to transform your life!’

© Suzy Rowland-Rigg

Remembering Windrush 1948 [VIDEO]

If you like this poem and would like to buy an A5 copy as a momento, copies are on sale at the Black Cultural Archives shop OR click here to purchase online.

Windrush poem on sale at Black Cultural Archives

© Suzy Rowland-Rigg

 

 

Windrush 48; Spirit of Windrush

I was fortunate enough to attend the service at Westminster Abbey on 22 June to mark Windrush Day. Me and about 2,000 other folk. The steel band playing in the church by Shern Hall Methodist Youth Steel band, set the scene. The harmonic twang of pan never fails to lift the spirit, and the mix of hymns and spirituals they played was a joy to listen to and even dance to as Baroness Floella Benjamin, did on her way in, with a willing member of the public! She received a hearty round of applause from the crowd, as she sashayed to her seat.

The atmosphere in the abbey was interesting: a mix of celebratory, joyful, respectful and thankful. Westminster Abbey  – seat of the British religious establishment, where graves of diplomats, politicians and British royalty are buried and royals have married –  was to host a service with a difference. I sat with Karen Roach, a pastor at St. James Church Hampton Hill, as we watched key names in British politics enter the Abbey: Prime Minister Teresa May, Home Secretary Sajid David, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Diana Abbot, Paul Boeteng.

Rev Joel Edwards gave a stirring address

The hour long service started with a solo of Jerusalem, sung by a girl with locks, followed by an enactment of Caribbeans coming to this country, some who may have perviously served in the war, detailing their thoughts and feelings as they came to Britain to help re-build the ‘Mothercountry.’

The Abbey begins to fill up

The service was led by the Very Rev Dr. john Hall, Dean of Westminster, and the Rev Joel Edwards gave an address, which intimated that the setting down of the ship had not been an entirely welcome arrival. “The children of Windrush have experienced over-representation in Britain’s prisons and mental health institutions, underachievement in education and in the job market.” He described Windrush as a spaceship and invited us to think about what where we would be in 2088, what shape would we be in then? “Settlement has meant racism, sometimes too much policing and not enough protection, and Stephen Lawrence,” he said.

Baroness Floella Benjamin, A cultural entertainment icon

I was so grateful to be there, and know that, in memory of my ‘Windrush’ ancestors (actually, my grandfather came over in 1955 on a ship called the Reina Del Pacifico), I still have much work to do.

© Suzy Rowland Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS EMPIRE WINDRUSH [Windrush Day poem]

Windrush 1948: Coming Home

 “London, is the place for me
London, this lovely city
You can go to France or America, 
India, Asia or Australia
But you must come back, to London city.”

(Calypso: Sung by Lord Kitchener)

A leap into the unknown,

hundreds of men, women, families

loyal subjects of the Queen of England

wait patiently for their boarding cards

passports to a new land, a new life –

sunny determination in their veins

spirit of slave rebellion dancing in their hearts

centuries of cutting cane without shade

pulls their backs tall,

enslavement courses their DNA

fires the desire for a better life:

 

Britain won the war

her Queen, stole Caribbean hearts.

 

 

Leaving the hot sun of home

waving goodbye to warm seas

bearing bruises of the Atlantic slave trade

borrowed names: Williams, Beckfords, Campbells,

from Trinidad, Jamaica, Bardados,

waiting on the gangplank of British warships

on request of the British government

many with a one way ticket to England

a one way ticket to cities with strange names,

 

Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, a one-way ticket…

‘….tickets please’ ‘Tickets please!’

shouts the bus conductor

in a broad Bajan accent, with a broader smile,

he was ‘home’ a new land, a new life.

My grandfather, Wilfred N. Walker, came to England from Jamaica on the Reina Del Pacifico in 1955. My grandfather’s brother Lester, is the handsome man in the  black and white photograph, alongside his wife, Julia, who was known in the family as ‘Cookie’. The rest of his family, his wife Maud (my grandmother) and the children Colin, Aston, Valrie and my mother Dorcas, came to England on the Reina Del Mar, docking in Liverpool in 1956.

Whenever I read this poem, it always stimulates a reaction; I have seen people cry, and many of a certain age, like to join in with the song which I try to sing acappella, but sometimes emotion gets the better of me. At my last reading, at Hampton Hill Theatre, Noel Coward Suite, one woman approached me afterwards and said that she was there to see the ship arriving. A young 87, with bright green nail varnish and dyed red hair, she said that the signs outside of houses, saying ‘No Irish, no dogs, no blacks’, were not racist, but a symptom of the desperate housing situation in bombed post-war Britain.

I read this poem to remember my grandfather, who died in 2012, after receiving a telegram from the Queen for his 100th birthday. I read this poem to assert that I’m British, born and bred in Birmingham, and this is my home country, although I am often asked where am I from. I read this poem out of pride for the many positive contributions and efforts, my ancestors, and people like them have put energy into crafting, building, railway-ing, nursing, musician-ing, and generally seasoning this country to make it one of the most amazing, dynamic and forgiving places to live – in spite of the difficulties many of us still face. I see all of this as cause for celebration.

This poem is available to purchase as a commemorate A5 card, please click here to continue

© Suzy Rowland Rigg