A map is a best friend: key to unlock knowledge, journey planner, street locator, petrol pump finder when tank is low, useful guide or tantaliser, geography teacher, rescuer in inclement weather: instigator of quarrels, bringer of hope, beacon of light in the dark. Read them spread out, folded, sideways, upside down, with specs on, with torch, by the light of a match on a campsite, in bed with partner planning next trip. They could be pristine, dog-eared, yellowing, foldable, laminated, in a book, a brochure, a leaflet, on film, slides, photos, videos, micro-fiche. Used by ramblers, scramblers, tourists, gliders, skiers, sliders, scouts, guides, railway enthusiasts out at weekends. Found in hostels, hotels, stations, airports, bus shelters, market halls, schools, gardens, hospitals, surgeries, town and city centres, village greens, beaches and promenades, museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, public parks. How many do you have? And where do you keep them? In bureau drawers, cupboards, Filofax, cubbyholes under stairs, folders, holders, glove box in car, jacket pocket, rucksack, handbag, boxes, suitcase, attic or bookshelf? Yet the map we use most frequently today is probably the satnav, (Tom-Tom or Garmin). Call me old-fadhionef, but I prefer the real thing, requiring the use of a brain!
NONET: SEEKING PEACE
What can we do when peace talks fail us ? Who can we turn to in our need? Do we call up the peace-gods To save our fading hope? Or, are we the ones To take the call? The hopeful, Forging Peace?
TIE YOUR CAMEL FIRST, PLEASE!
A seething cauldron; vibrant, pulsating, shimmering. Touts in shady corners, danger in murky passageways, drug dealers selling grass, emerging like eels from the shadows, faces hooded, rubbing weed between grubby fingers that recently doled out meat in Marrakech’s famous Jemaa El Fna Square, ‘Hey mon, why not live a little tonight? Why you so sad? Yeah mon…give it a try!’ False teeth, microwave ovens, viagra (enough to launch a rocket), piles of woven Turkish carpets, ‘Yours for a few dirhams, Sir. Feel the quality, Sir’ Tourists haggle, imagining they’ve secured a bargain, but the touts are wily.. The square changes at night: street artists, performers, Chleuh, acrobats, pedlars of everything you don’t want but can be persuaded you need; food à gogo: bowls of hariri soup, merguez, fried fish, khobz, tajines… delicacies that are unpronounceable. It’s all here! Stunning architecture, wide ornate gateways, slant doors with knockers fashioned after Fatima’s hand, searing heat at midday, yet icy chill after sundown. Marrakesh is a melting pot where anything goes….the weirdest the most wonderful, bizarre and amusing; every nuance of life. But Moroccans are cautious, preferring to live by the maxim ‘By all means trust in Allah…..but tie your camel first.’
Margaret’s work has featured widely in journals and anthologies, both in print and online, most recently Impspired, Dreich, Black Bough Poetry and Sarasvati. She has five books of poetry to her name, 2 collections and 3 pamphlets plus a memoir in prose and verse. She won Hedgehog Press’ collection competitions in May 2020 and ‘Where Flora Sings’ was subsequently nominated for the Laurel Prize. Her memoir ‘The Road To Cleethorpes Pier’ was published by Crumps Barn Studio in May 2020. She has won or been s/listed in various competitions and featured as a guest on popular blogs. Her latest publication, ‘Immersed in Blue’, from Impspired Press, came out December 2021.
A regular performer at open mic events, she leads a Nottinghamshire women’s poetry group and can be found on the following platforms:
Author blog page:Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall