Saturday, February 10, 2018

Scott Thomas Outlar writes

Across the Pond  

London lights
flash neon blue
emblazoned with the phoenix
in Piccadilly Circus
where energy is manic
and creativity burns
straight through the heart
of a city without fog…
if only for one night

Every language
becomes crystal clear
in a melting pot
where mussels are served
with fish and chips
and wine
and wine
and wine
that flows
along the River Thames
with accents from regions
both near and far…
if only for one night

Voices from the crowd
surface upon the stage
of The Poetry Café
where society converges
around the comforting caress
of art that slips
carefully off
the tips of tongues
teasing the promise
of renaissance
in a culture renewed…
if only for one night
Image result for poetry cafe london


  1. The Poetry Café is in Covent Garden, London, in the building that houses the Poetry Society. In addition to Poetry Society events, the cafe has poetry readings, book launches, and music gigs nearly every night. The Poetry Recital Society was founded in 1909 with Margaret Sackville as its president, a role she maintained when it became the Poetry Society in 1912. Joy Grant wrote that she "spoke well and to the point at the inauguration, hoping that the Society would 'never become facile and "popular", to turn to a merely trivial gathering of persons amiably interested in the same ideal'. Her half-expressed fears were unfortunately fulfilled: the direction in which the Society was heading soon became obvious — poetry was made an excuse for pleasant social exchanges, for irrelevant snobbery, for the disagreeable consequences of organised association." Though she was the daughter of the 7th earl De La Warr, from 1913 to 1929 she had a passionate love affair with widowed Ramsay MacDonald, one of the founders of the Labour party and its 1st prime minister, but she rejected his proposals and never married. They were both pacifists who opposed World War I, and in 1916 she published the antiwar collection "The Pageant of War." One of its poems was "Nostra Culpa" (Latin for "our Fault":

    We knew, this thing at least we knew - the worth
    Of life: this was our secret learned at birth.
    We knew that Force the world has deified,
    How weak it is. We spoke not, so men died.
    Upon a world down-trampled, blood-defiled,
    Fearing that men should praise us less, we smiled.

    We knew the sword accursed, yet with the strong
    Proclaimed the sword triumphant. Yea this wrong
    Unto our children, unto those unborn
    We did, blaspheming God. We feared the scorn
    Of men; men worshipping pride, so where they led
    We followed. Dare we now lament our dead?

    Shadows and echoes, harlots! We betrayed
    Our sons; because men laughed we were afraid.
    That silent wisdom which was ours to kept
    Deep buried; thousands perished; still we slept.
    Children were slaughtered, women raped, the weak
    Down-trodden. Very quiet was our sleep.

    Ours was the vision, but the vision lay
    Too far, too strange; we chose an easier way.
    The light, the unknown light, dazzled our eyes. -
    Oh! Sisters in our choice were we not wise?
    When all men hated, could we pity or plead
    For love with those who taught the Devil’s creed?

    Reap we with pride the harvest! It was sown
    By our own toil. Rejoice! It is our own.
    This is the flesh we might have saved - our hands,
    Our hands prepared these blood-drenched, dreadful lands,
    What shall we plead? That we were deaf and blind?
    We mothers and we murderers of mankind.

  2. In 1663 Portugal Street was named after Charles II's wife Catarina de Bragança, who introduced to the English court the popular Portuguese custom of drinking tea. Due to her Catholicism and alleged involvement in "Popish" plots against her husband, she was an unpopular queen. So by 1743 the street was popularly named for a house on it which belonged to a noted tailor of piccadills (collars). The circle known as Picadilly Circus was constructed in 1819 at the junction of the new Regent Street beig built by John Nash (and was known for a time as Regent's Circus) but its lost its circularity in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue.

  3. "The Pond" is the Atlantic ocean and is especially used to refer to Anglo-American references. An earlier expression, dating from at least 1742, used "the herring pond" in this context, especially as a term for the transportation of prisoners to Georgia ("crossing the herring pond at the king's expense"). The phrase eventually became "the big pond" or "the great pond" and lost its attachment to punishment. Occasionally the "pond" was another body of water, including the English Channel, the Irish Sea, and the Pacific ocean.


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