Turn right at the crossroad.

Infinite space and time separates what I was then to what I have become now.

I don’t even know if I became what I was supposed to be,

Or if I was always supposed to be what I became.

It is as if the space I occupy is still connected to the child that I was but my awareness of who I am has given me a different form. A different format.

I am learning that the only thing that is truly certain is that nothing will remain the same, it never does.

Our time on earth is so short, and how strange it is that a life can come and go and there be so very little left to demonstrate it’s existence. A tombstone, a photograph, a name in a narrative. Most of which will be erased with time and have no connection to the real essence of the person that lived and breathed and walked the earth.

When mum died she lived on in our memories, and possibly in some of our actions. Part of her continues to stretch into the future in what can be remembered by those she left behind, but what about when we are gone, and our memories are extinguished, eventually even the photographs will become meaningless, they will gather dust in some box and occasionally see the light of day as someone struggles to identify who these people were and what their link to the present and the future is.

Earlier this month her eldest sister Rita passed away and it was like losing another part of her, almost like whilst Rita was alive there was still some small connection back to that house in Waddington Street, still someone alive who remembered mum coming into the world and shared childhood pleasures and treasures, someone who shared part of the same story.

They lived in post-war poverty in the back streets of Salford. The kind of poverty they endured would be difficult to comprehend in our modern world. Perhaps it was this poverty that gave them the drive and resolution to step out and walk tall and try to make their own way in the world. Which all three of the sisters did, Rita Shirley and Anne. (my mum).

It was the same urban landscape in which Greenwood was to depict the impact of the Great depression in Love on the Dole. The same urban landscape that was demolished and swept aside in the slum clearances of the early 1960’s to make way for high rise suburbia and what became the equally tarnished Salford Precinct.

Eventually these stories will be cast aside, abandoned, no longer memories but trash that is no longer connected and meaningful to anyone left alive.

How sad. Done. Gone. Cleared. Deleted.

It feels like I am the memory keeper and that I have to keep some of the stories alive.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Past One O’Clock…

SO I am doing my own version of poetry month and this is a poem that will always have meaning for me and when she was younger this was my Ellen’s favourite….don’t want to break any copyright so here is just a snapshot:

“Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.”

Taken from Vladimir Mayakovsky– Past One O’Clock.

We love the whole poem and everything it represents, it is a very tragic story and the poem was found amongst his papers following his suicide and also formed part of the epilogue of his suicide note.

Mayakovsky was a leading poet during the Russian revolution and was jailed several times and reputedly began to write poetry during a spell in solitary confinement.

Past One O’Clock

Pakaru

For a tiny while I was extinct.

Kaput, derailed, unhinged and pakaru.

Afraid that the slightest breeze might sink me.

I lost all grace, all meaning, all love of life.

The empty skin where my laughter used to rise

Fluttered lifeless in the wind.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

this is for d’verse quadrille. the word this week was extinct.

The image is my own, it is a Westerley Pentland near Glasson Dock earlier this year, it seems abandoned. At the time I was struggling with my own dereliction. It broke my heart seeing it like this, as my Dad had one just the same and we spent many happy times aboard, Dad’s Pentland was called Tolivar.

Not so lost in translation

At d’Verse this Monday we were discussing translation and poetry.

My daughter Ellen’s favourite poem as a young teen was the translated version of Past One O Clock by Vladimir Mayakovsky and it has also become one of my favourites. Mayakovsky was a playwright as well as a poet, he often satirised aspects of “the state” and found himself in conflict with the authorities. He reportedly took his own life in 1930 aged 36 although there had always been some doubt cast over the timing and nature of his demise. Both he and Lilya Brik had affairs but even after the relationship ended they remained close.

I have no idea if it is a good translation but feel that it is most beautiful. Having lived in NZ I realise that often it is not possible to create perfect translations, so for example some phrases in Maori are more than just translatable words, a poem is a Taonga, which literally means a treasure or something that is highly valued, but the word Taonga is a much more accurate description it carries a sense of the sacrosanct.
Anyway I have to let you read the poem to understand its poignant beauty. It was left as part of his suicide note.

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

Past One O clock
Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.
©Vladimir Mayakovsky

With love to you all. XXXX

Light and shadows of loneliness.

As the day casts its long shadow homeward

I recognise that so much of it has to do with the light.

They say it is always darkest before the dawn and perhaps that dawn is the realisation that the fear, shame and guilt linger longest in the hours of darkness

and they dance and pirouette amongst the silhouettes and shadows to a tune that beguiles and steals the light.

We light candles, we whisper of hope and future happiness and draw circles in vain to cast aside the demons.

We crave love and long to belong to another so that we have a hand to hold in the darkness a kindred spirit to guide us through the pain and suffering and lamentable servitude to solitude.

Sunrise.

Night yields to day and despair drifts away and the endless ebb and flow brings us slowly to the shores of our halcyon dreams.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

This is my contribution for World Mental Health Day. I think loneliness is a huge issue for so many people young and old alike and I think the hours of darkness are able to bring/conjure up their own unique set of torments.

For those who struggle to sleep it seems a long night.

For my girls.

Submitting this for open link night at d’Verse.

Summer sunshine

I have had a break from writing. This is largely because I was exhausted and needed to use as much energy as possible focusing on recentring and bringing some sense and order into what had inadvertently become a very complex and draining period of my life.

From this I have learned that shutting down has some favourable benefits so long as you continue to give yourself time to reenergise and re-focus.

There is only so much that one brain and one body can handle without exhibiting signs of stress and wear. Things were going wrong at every turn. It seemed like there was no end in sight nor even a small glimmer of hope on the horizon. I had to cut back to the bare minium, doing the things that needed to be done and prioritising aspects of my life that would enhance my ability to survive and bring solutions to our immediate problems and needs.

After two months of gruelling toil we seem to have at least some solutions in hand. Yesterday I started a new job and hopefully this will provide the stability and purpose that has been needed to fulfil the desire to belong and be of value.

Returning after such an extended period of time away brought with it a huge reverse cultural shock and I discovered the qualities that were of value in NZ were not of the same value here and that times had changed and that my place in society was no longer that of respected citizen of value and worth and that to all intents and purposes I was replaceable, aged and worthless. My survival therefore depended on my ability to adapt and accept the changes and get on with it to the best of my ability- regardless of any hopes, dreams and aspirations that I had thought realistic before we returned home.

There were days that my awareness that this might be as good as it gets was the best I could muster. Days where potential tragedy loomed large around the every corner and the fine line between survival and anihilation was rendered invisible.

The sun shone, life moved on. I lived and breathed and took time to value the world before my eyes, trusting that one day there would be small opportunities for change that would help open new doors and windows to let the sun stream in and liberate the gloom.

Hopefully this is the first page in a new chapter that will bring peace, friendship, connection, love, purposefulness and place.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

A stitch in time…

They say a stitch in time saves nine

But who knows that we are broken

When our smiles catch the light and we mesmerise with our stories of hope

And our lives unfold like a picture book

Full of Princes, Princesses and perfection

No poverty here, no lack of good cheer- no sleep deprived hell

Or whispers of madness.

 

They say a stitch in time saves nine

But who knows we are broken

When we give with compassion

And our public persona is playfully convivial,

Full of charismatic colourful conversation disguising the trivial.

No hidden hopelessness here, no silent solitude, no depth of despair

Or signals of worthlessness wounding within.

 

We march on.

We playfully tease.

We make small talk

With skillful ease.

 

We wish you had seen our innermost thoughts.

We wish you had been a true friend of sorts.

We wish you had held out your hand to take ours.

We wish you had noticed that whilst we spoke through flowers

We were broken, bereft, beyond all life’s care.

All we wanted was you to be there, to lift up our spirits

Make the sun shine,

And be the stitch in time that saves nine.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

I wrote this for a prompt earlier in the week at d”verse but missed the widget, so here it is for open link night. Love to you all. XXXXX Love for the lost. XXXX

 

 

 

June already….

This is my first post in quite a few weeks. It was a glorious May, the weather was sunny and bright and the fields, shrubs and trees blossomed. For me though, I needed to conserve energy, close in and give myself room to breathe.

It was a time of despair, frustration, discord, reassessment, consolidation and repair. It took time and it took silence. Time to listen to the sounds and focus on the real things and let go of the white noise and the humdrum and the background churnings that distract and destroy.

I continually ask myself what it is that is important- to me, to others, to our world. I am not sure I have the answers, I am not sure they are the right questions, I just know that the disillusionment of the last year sapped my energy greatly and I must remember not to let myself get sucked in again by its draining darkness. I can still believe in what seems right to me, it is not for others to decide by either their actions or inactions, I still get to choose what I feel, how I greet each day, how I process the events that happen to me and around me. This helps me get up and reach for a new day, a new dream a new horizon. I am not broken, just bruised and a little misshapen and the bruises will heal in time.

Carpe diem- seize the day. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Voices of Whittingham….Past lives in an Asylum.

This is again for mental health awareness week. I spent some time today at the archives in Preston. I am currently participating in a local history/arts/creative writing/mental health project. It is based around the Whittingham Asylum at Preston and it aims to give a voice to the lives and stories that played out there. It was a very large Asylum and Preston was very proud of it, there were about 500 staff and often as many as 3000 inpatients.

Whittingham Lives Project.

I have learned a lot in such a few sessions and certainly had some of my own assumptions challenged. The Asylum opened in 1873 and had patients sent there from all over the north-west of England, many of the other Asylums, workhouses, almshouses were already bursting at the seams. It was regarded as a model Asylum and postcards of its external facade were sold as memorabilia. There were extensive gardens where fruit and vegetables were grown and it even had its own orchestra. Underneath this facade still lurked the very real horrors of Victorian poverty and the mental health of a scarred nation. End-stage syphilis was one of the significant causes of the mental and psychotic decline that resulted in many people spending their end of days in the Asylum and in the period of World War 1, both shell-shock and a form of hydrocephalus resulting from the Spanish flu were  responsible for increased demand for spaces and places within the Asylum. The superintendent’s journal from 1873-95 was stark to begin with detailing the very worst events including the frequent dismissals of staff for what can only be described as physical abuse of the inpatients and the frequent outbreaks of scarlatina, diarrhoea and typhoid, whilst rules and regulations resulted in greater detail in later entries, including the deaths from misadventure, poor health and at their own hand.

The Asylum had its own cemetery. People came and went though, it wasn’t always the end of the road and when the photographer that came to capture the newly admitted, those well enough would ask to have images taken to show they were well and recovered to send to their loved ones with the plea to come and take them away.

Today we were considering restraint, emotional, physical and chemical.

I wrote this for Charlotte.

 

In Chains

Into the light, beyond the bands that bind me tight,

Into the dawn, beneath the hands that hold me down,

Into the sunlight, the stench of starch and sulphur stings my eyes

Into the madness, my muddled mind festers in fetid fettered manacles.

Deliver me.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

 

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Mental health Awareness Week 2018- Procrastination

Thirty-three things to do

Each one causing stress

If only I could get off my butt

Step up and procrastinate less.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Procrastination- the action of delaying or postponing something usually related to depression, anxiety or psychological distress.