Special Occasion Poems

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Sometimes it is lovely to write a special poem for a friend to mark a significant event. Here are three I’ve written. If you’d like to use them please feel free – I only ask for credit and a donation to www.saidiacc.org. If you’d like me to make them more personal just email me at brionybax@yahoo.com and we can work on it together.

FOR A FRIEND’S 60TH BIRTHDAY

LIVING FEARLESSLY by Briony Bax

Through all the years of families and work,

of travels, husbands, sisters, pets and home.

Lovers, divorces and the demons we cannot shirk – 

our patchwork ways of living – see what we’ve sewn.

And through the years our friendship stays strong,

though distance weaves her inevitable spell.

Now dear friend let all self-doubt be gone,

your intelligence and strength will serve you well.

What adventures will we have from here?

How will we use this precious time?

Grab the future – let us ditch our fear.

Just do the things you want. Don’t toe the line.

So, raise a glass to courage and heed the rallying call.

To living fearlessly, the muse that conquers all.

FOR A RUBY WEDDING

LONG LOVE by Briony Bax

It began many moons ago with that heady kiss

The memory makes us tingle and yearn to reminisce.

The blushing bride now a wise and elegant granny

The groom confident and patient – far from that nervous laddie.

But what of long love and how does it endure?

In these days of high divorce rates is there a cure?

We can’t pretend that all married life is blissful

Sometimes we trip up and err on the sinful.

Sex becomes akin to Victoria sponge cakes

Nibbled at weekends and enjoyed after wakes.

After a skinful one sometimes gets frisky

Men, for peak performance stay well off the whisky.

Our bodies change and develop strange bulges

We try hatha yoga and green smoothy indulges.

Doctor’s surgeries are places we now frequent

On-line bridge keeps us all quite content.

Our children grow-up and decide to multiply

We tend our gardens and grapple greenfly.

But just what is the secret to keeping a spouse?

It’s cheaper to stay married – you won’t lose the house.

But for reference, I suggest that we examine our hosts

While not perfect, they try their upmost.

I say be thankful and follow their lead.

Practice respect, kindness, and anticipating need.

So, raise a glass to a miracle and the lasting of things.

And drink to long love and the joy that it brings.

WEDDING POEM  by Briony Bax          

Within the ancient walls of this historic church

Whose paths so many in our wake have trod.

Where roses tumble and branches dance,

We gather in soft afternoon light to witness the age-old ceremony,

Of two lovers pledging their lives to one another.

Our wishes for them could not be simpler:

Hold each other tightly but not so you cannot breathe.

Wallow in your love but never to the exclusion of others.

Be honest with each other but chose your words wisely.

Debate your opinions with passion

and open your minds to big ideas and adventures.

Save for your future by being thrifty but

Be generous in times of good fortune.

During the bad times be patient and hopeful.

During the good times be humble and grateful.

Your love will shift with the seasons and change

through the years.  Treat it with care.

Give it the attention it deserves – even in busy times.

Love is the most precious thing you have – cherish it.

Be kind to your elders – they may not be here for long.

And always, always respect your parents.

So, within these well-worn walls,

Where history walks beside the present,

Where roses tumble and branches dance,

Let’s celebrate the joy of today.

In this marriage let your two hearts blend

and may your enduring love inspire us all.

Poetry in Aldeburgh – podcast

It was my pleasure to participate in this talk at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival in 2021 with Andre McMillan, Rachel Lewis and Louisa Campbell. Mental health is a tough subject but all the poets approached it with such empathy and honesty. Be warned there are triggers and my own work deals with schizophrenia, incarceration and evaluations. You can listen to the podcast here https://anchor.fm/poetry-in-aldeburgh/episodes/Poetry-on-Mental-Health-e1c0pd7

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Ambit podcast

For the last eight years I have edited 30 editions of Ambit Magazine and it has been such a pleasure to see so many people grace its pages and work with such lovely colleagues. However, since turning 60 I’ve decided to spend more time on my own work and studies. I’m delighted to hand the reins over to Kirsty Allison who has been managing editor for the last year and a half. In this recent podcast Kirsty talks with me about my pamphlet Lament and all things Ambit. Enjoy.

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Wells of Human Kindness

Here is my poem that was inspired by the stories of acts of kindness as submitted to the Museum of Kindness and the exhibition at The Wells Maltings in Norfolk organised by the artist Kazz Morohashi as part of the Museum of Kindness.

The Sound of Human Kindness                                              

Dedicated to the community of Wells-next-the-Sea

This town sits nestled on the North Norfolk Coast.

Its quay bristling with lobster pots.

See plastic catch trays stacked along the sea wall,

The fishing fleet, salt marsh beyond,

The endless beach, wind farm harbour,

and generations of lifeboat crew.

A town with butchers and bakers,

Well used pubs and tea-rooms,

fish and chip takeaways with a ’99 flake,

ancient walkways used by smugglers,

higgledy houses with priest holes and

brightly painted beach huts, legs buried in sand.

Covid-19 struck Norfolk early that Spring.

Doors were locked, public meetings cancelled.

Only essential shops stayed open.

Fear tore down Two Furlong Hill, up Burnt Lane

Through Jolly Sailor Yard

And whistled around Northfields.

Wells became a ghost town.

Gone were the tourists, the crabbers,

The day trippers and the beach combers.

Furtive shoppers slid quietly between 

Howells, Nisa and Jaggers.  Shopped quickly,

Anxious to get back to the safety of their homes.

Outsiders were banished.

Police received complaints from suspicious neighbours.

They knocked on doors, sent rule-breakers home.

Masks were worn, the two-metre rule enforced.

Church communion was suspended.

Kissing, hugging and singing, all were banned.

But while the town was in the silent fog of fear,

Skeins of hope wound through the streets.

Like shafts of sun on sea after a storm.

People looked outward and offered their help.

Children of essential workers went back to school.

The Carnival Committee entertained on-line.

A schoolgirl wrote poems for nurse’s funds.

Flowers decked graves for absent loved ones.

Lifeboat teams volunteered at vaccine clinics.

Roasts were delivered to NHS workers.

The theatre streamed at-home offerings.

The god of Zoom became the saviour of connection.

The self-isolating and shielding were supported.

A widow found friends she hadn’t know.

A gluten free loaf was baked for a paramedic.

Small and personal tasks would be completed unasked,

Not for fanfare, money or fame,

But the simple goodness of the thing.

A new heart was heard beating,

In the clinking of masts on a quiet creek.

The tap, tap, tap of East wind at keyholes.

Footsteps on cobbles, a sea shanty beat,

Sweeter than a high tide in summer.

Human kindness reverberated throughout the town.

By Briony Bax

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Wells of Human Kindness

I’m delighted to be featured poet in the exhibition ‘Wells of Human Kindness’ organised by artist Kazz Morohashi in July 2021 at the Wells Matings. We will be asking people to send us their stories of kindness and then poet Sally Festing and I will be weaving them into a poems commissioned for this exhibition.

As part of this I’ll be hosting two workshops at Alderman Peel High School, one on writing about kindness and one on performance and then we’ll have a public reading at the Wells Matings and a prize giving.

Community projects like this are a joy to work on. They involve listening, researching, creating, collaboration – all of my favourite things. I can’t wait to share my poem with you.

Lament

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My poetry pamphlet Lament will be published by Rough Trade Books in May 2020 and I’m delighted that the virtual launch will be on 6th May 2020 at 6pm London time at http://roughtradebooks.com in their Events section. Here is the publisher’s blurb:

‘Briony Bax leads the reader through the brutal world of mental illness and specifically an account of an individual’s journey with schizophrenia. A world where sections, court rooms, locked wards, tribunals and assessment centres form the backdrop of the daily living of sufferers and caregivers. Through honesty and testimony, it shines a light on the disastrous effects of government austerity measures on the mentally ill.”

You can purchase a copy at http://roughtradebooks.com/editions/lament/ and all money I receive will be donated to MIND. I’m available for readings both virtually and in person after lock down.