Wednesday 10 October 2012


Sick Woman, 1665, by Jan Steen
I gave true my faith to medicine,
did not wrap her up in sweet bouquet;
this mix to be the save of us
could not *miasma keep at bay.

Aquavitae, triacle, urine of virgin boy,
we drank of this across three morns,
drunk his receipt against this plague,
yet it stays with her upon this dawn.

She fevers so yet shivers yet,
cries with despair at paining head,
buboes puff pain at armpit, neck,
under skin bleed tokens,  black, purple, red

He feels at her pulse for well o’er an hour,
her plight fills me with awful dread;
he looks at me with sore forlorn
and I await the cry ‘Bring out your dead’

Anna :o]

The above is ‘work in progress’ and was inspired by Tess’ prompt at The Mag.

1665 was the year of The Great Plague, (also known as The Black Death or Bubonic Plague) which although affecting much of England affected London the most.  London was a filthy city (especially the slum districts) where household and human waste was flung into the street – an ideal breeding ground for black rat and its little jumping chums who infected their rat and human hosts with Yersinia Pestis.

The Bubonic plague presents with general symptoms of fever, vomiting and malaise, this followed by lymph gland enlargement (buboes) and the endotoxin of bacteria leading to bleeding manifestations which ultimately may lead to shock.

The above sounds pretty tame and for a better description read an eyewitness account by William Boghurst (an apothecarist and general practitioner) “Loimographia: an account of the great plague of London in the year 1665.  London" and for wonderful preventative and (supposedly) curative measures please read “A collection of seven and fifty approved receipts good against the plague : taken out of the five books of that renowned Dr. Don Alexes Secrets, for the benefit of the poorer sort of people of these nations. London
Both excellent insights into life in 1665 (and I am so glad I wasn’t alive then!).

The Great Fire of London finally brought to an end the ravages of the plague and life returned to its odd sort of normality…

…and if I wasn’t so damned tired (finished five nightshifts this am) I would write more but now need shut-eye and much zzzzzzzz, but would invite you to google and read more for looking back in history is fascinating stuff.

*Miasma: a theory that disease was linked to a noxious form of ‘bad air’ – hadn’t made the rat connection then...

This post also linked to the good folk at dVerse~Poets Pub.

Wednesday 3 October 2012


                                                 Storm-Vivaldi Electric Violinist-Kate Chruscicka
She sets up outside M&S,
feeds in backing tape,
cradles violin (it’s electric!)
and Vivaldi
fills the street with wondrous sounds,
I have to stop and lean against a welcome wall
as the beauty of her music drowns
whatever sorrow’s left in me,
choked (with the beauty of it)
silent tears evoked
slip softly down my cheeks…

It is our first day in the city,
skies hued in grey,
drizzle dampens random spirits,
we take shelter, wait for him,
shaded under green canopy
yearn promised sun.
I love street life, street caf├ęs,
‘people watch’ as we sip coffee,
nibble rocky mountain cake
and talk of love, eyes questioning.

She plays Handel now…
(I become distracted with it.)

We are glad he arranged the meet here;
we can inhale and share our sin. 
Is it possible to love our children differently
yet of equal worth?’ we ponder…

We hear his welcome voice
boom over city sounds,
faces split into ecstatic grins
as we hug, slap backs, cheek kiss,
wonder at the change in him.
‘This is what life is all about,
good friends, good food and bonhomie,’
he says as he taps rollie on the tin
and we reminisce of uni days
and of his once fine physique
now showing girth of gastronomy,
grey wisps’ fly madly
from bushy beard and shock of hair. 
He lights up his cigarette
‘The students make this city’ he declares
and suddenly aware of street melodies
‘God that is bloody wonderful!’

(She is at The Proms now
’And did those feet’ (Jerusalem)
fills the street,
lights up passing hearts…)

We listen for a good long while
(we are all filled with her)
and then he with beaming smile
starts to converse again
and we chat of times gone by
and what we’re doing now
and how life sometimes flings
out cruel blows
and he now relents,
opens up his heart and soul,
tears flood his eyes
as he finally talks about his wife…

(‘Scarborough Fair’
now scents the mourning  air
as if to share our melancholy...)

Distraught for him
(and muddling in our own lives),
tears flow deep from all of us.

‘If we could somehow know’ he chokes
‘what fate has in store for us,
would we be afraid to fall in love?’

Anna :o]

A good friend and I recently met up with an old chum (we hadn’t seen for many moons) in the northern city of Newcastle, he recently bereaved, had requested the reunion as we had met (all those years ago) via his good lady wife in this wonderful city.

It was a wonderful, emotionally charged reunion and allowed him to release some of his pent-up emotions and for that, he realised and appreciated that the wonderful music of Kate Chruscicka had played a part as she opened up the very heart and souls of all of us.

Totally enamoured with Kate and her music I invested in a CD and googled her when I returned home.  Number two son listened when visiting and took her CD home with him.  The joy she brings is spreading…

A special thank-you to my two excellent friends for their kind permission to allow this post.

Shared and linked to the good folk at dVerse - hosted by the lovey Joy aka Hedgewitch