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Anton Floyd – By What Measure?

Profile Anton Floyd LE Poetry & Writing September 2017

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By What Measure?, poems by Anton Floyd

He was born in Egypt, a Levantine of Irish, Maltese, English and French Lebanese descent. Raised in Cyprus, he lived through the Cypriot struggle for independence and the island remains close to his heart. With the outbreak of intercommunal hostilities in 1963, his family was evicted at gunpoint from their Nicosia home by Turkish Cypriot militiamen, making them refugees in a divided capital. Despite this trauma to the city Nicosia has remained an international capital. Friends came from all over the world so that it became second nature for him to view the earth as one country and humankind its citizens.

He studied English at Trinity College Dublin and continued his post graduate education at University College, Cork. Having lived and worked in the Eastern Mediterranean, variously as a teacher,  school principal, artistic director and producer, he now teaches in Cork city and makes a renovated farmhouse home in West Cork. With his wife, Carole Anne, he gardens organically transforming a rocky and watery place into their own Eden.

Poems have been published in The Stony Thursday Book, the Ghent ReviewLive Encounters, The Shot Glass Journal, Crannóg, Visual Verse, Contemporary Haibun on Line and haiku in Shamrock. He won the IHS (Irish Haiku Society) International Competition (2014), prize winner (2016), honourable mention (2015) and was runner up in the Snapshot Press (UK)  Haiku Calendar 2016 Competition. He’s a member of the Irish Haiku Society. A selection of his haiku is included in Between the Leaves, edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, an anthology of new haiku writing from Ireland (Arlen House). Most recently a poem was selected by the Limerick Writers’ Centre for the April Poster Poetry Trail 2017. A selection of his poems appeared in the poetry trail of the Kilkenny Arts Festival Fringe -2017. Forthcoming, poems in The Inisheer Zibaldone Notebook.

What did you do in the war daddy?

My father was reticent
about his part in the war
oddly quiet to a boy
of five or six or seven
longing for an answer.

His old army trunk
name and rank stencilled
in white capitals on the lid
was a boy’s treasure trove
some trappings of world war two:

his helmet and gas mask
a sam browne belt
khaki tunic with pips intact.
These became a set of props
to tell a “boy’s own” story.

Easy for my wizard dad
in a tale of derring-do
set behind enemy lines
to rescue Wolf and Chung
who’d lost his clicky bat!

Years later he said
talking won’t allow me
the burial of my dead.
I let a pall of silence fall
to honour all who fell.

In Honour of Mahvash Sabet*

im Violette and for Ali & Bahiyyih who shared her light

In her prison cell
she writes recounting days,
cruel years within those walls.

There time itself plays
tricks and all she ever knew
is now a distant haze.

There where hopes are few
and life made sere and rough,
her lucid words speak true.

Against this hell – enough
to recall a friend’s kind hands;
her shining eyes the proof –

proof against this living hell.
Her eyes shine on and in kind hands
she finds the light and in that light
she presses on, she presses on.

 

*Mahvash Sabet was once a leading figure in Iran’s Bahá’í community. In 2010, having already been imprisoned for two-and-a-half years, she was convicted of fabricated charges and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment: an all-too-common fate for Bahá’ís in Iran. Her book, Prison Poems, in English translation by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, was published by George Ronald, Oxford, in 2013. PEN INTERNATIONAL has campaigned consistently for her release.

Friends

flowers in the bud
that will never bloom
Thomas Hardy The Dynasts

i

There was nothing
mathematical that
Roger couldn’t do.
He risked the draft
to get back home.
Twice his number
came up – first
in Boston then
Vietnam, in ’72.

ii

When Arthur served
his first tour of duty
in southeast Asia,
flying Huey warbirds,
he witnessed there
his close friends dead.
A second tour then
was a dice with fate.
He gambled on snake eyes
and by living lost.

iii

Phivos was good at school
a body like a Greek god
and an athlete too.
Primed for the starter’s gun
he changed his lyre
for a bow of fire
when he took to sea
to halt an invasion.

The report of the shot
that finished his race
reverberates round
the crusader walls
of his harbour town.

iv

Anyone could see
that for bookish Chris
the idea of military life
was an odd match.
He did his duty
by his country
yet the men
who bullied him
left his body
in the camp margins
a scibble in the dust.

v

Mikis was the hero
of our playtime wars,
in his element
ambushing us with
pine cone grenades.
When the time came
it was no surprise
he made the grade
a commando and
efficient at what
commandos do.
On that first raid
how could he know
when he drew his blade
he was cutting the voice
out of his own throat.

In that dawn’s early light – 20 July, 1974  

In that dawn’s early light
a set readied as for a masque,
cue cicadas and birdsong.

Across a terracotta roofscape
the view from Nicosia
to the Mesaorian plain
was a canvas stretched
imbued with glowing amber
and men were drifting on it
like thistledown on the air.

Absurd this surreal imagery.
A dirty trick of the mind
to tell delicately how deadly
parachutes filled the sky.

 

 

Three Triolets 

Time’s Plague

prompted by Gloucester’s line in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

It’s the time’s plague when madmen lead
the blind blithely towards the cliff
and blame’s their one and only creed.
It’s the time’s plague when madmen lead
and clowns are licenced to proceed
with truth set rudderless adrift.
It’s the time’s plague when madmen lead
the blind blithely towards the cliff.

 

Crossfire

The innocent all have voices.
The sounds replay inside my head.
Their futures and all their choices.
The innocent all have voices.
Hope is gone when fear eclipses.
The exile path fills all with dread.
The innocent all have voices
the sounds replay inside my head

 

For the Just

For the just held in unjust lands
plain words contest the stranglehold,
speak the thoughts the unjust would ban.
For the just held in unjust lands
just words must wrestle rigged commands
to write the wrongs of fear control.
For the just held in unjust lands
plain words contest the stranglehold.

 

© Anton Floyd