About the Author

 

Charles Worth lives in Newport, Shropshire, and started writing poems and short stories when he retired from full-time work in 2008. He has contributed to the Shropshire Butterflies collection and Three Poets on William Penny Brookes, both edited by fellow BWG writer Nadia Kingsley and published by Fair Acre Press; We're All in this Together - environmental poetry from the West Midlands published by Offa's Press; Wenlock Poetry Festival Anthology 2012; Olympians published by BWG . His poem Murmuration was commended in the Westhope College poetry competition 2014.


 

 Examples of Work

 

 Murmuration

 Coming out of the Co-op

something flickers in the wintry sky.

Looking up, a swoop of birds

across the car-park. Along the street,

a dark smudge above the cemetery,

a shoal of starlings clustering.

They come in compact handfuls

and great gauzy shimmers of flowing scarf

colliding and dividing

in and out of focus.

The afternoon is hushed, in awe -

they stoop, and whisper overhead,

a rush, a visitation, a thousand beating wings as one

passing over. Angel host

or plague of locusts, round they swirl,

droppings puttering in white splotches

on the road. Light congeals,

eyes strain to watch the mystery play out,

the shifting shapes, one into many,

collective brain scanned on a darkening screen

in a different element until,

near dark, birds

pour down from the sky

and jostle headlong into the conifer hedge

like dead leaves shaken from a sack.

On contact such a clamour breaks

from every beak the bushes shake.

The sky is empty. Orange street-lights

repossess the town.

  

Reality Czech - a tourist's guide to Prague

 1.

Good King Wenceslas, Czech patron saint,

wasn't that Good,

though better than his brother,

Boleslav the Cruel, who murdered him

in 929. The famous Square

named after him is actually

a rectangle.

 

2.

The Charles Bridge

is definitely a bridge, but Charles

was christened Vaclav, another

Wenceslas, did time in a dungeon

at the age of three, was sent to France,

returned as Holy Roman Emperor,

and collected relics - thorns from Christ's crown

and one of Mary Magdalene's breasts.

 

3.

The Emperor Rudolf was paranoid,

into alchemy, stayed holed up

in the castle with Otakar,

his pet lion. They got him in the end -

another brother.

 

4.

Jan Hus, the radical reformer,

wasn't that radical, but the Catholics

burned him at the stake all the same.

 

5.

When Protestants threw Catholics

out of the window, no one knows

if they survived Defenestration -

some say the moat hadn't been cleared

so they landed, literally, in the shit -

but that did start

the Thirty Years War.

 

6.

Which dingy room in Old Town Square

was Kafka's where one morning

he woke to find he'd turned into

a cockroach?

 

7.

In an old synagogue

all the walls are painted white

and you can read in gothic script

of red and black some 80,000 names

with dates of each one's death

or disappearance in the Nazi camps,

like pages from a monstrous holy book.

 

8.

 Across the river, in a public park,

you can still see the empty plinth

where once the Stalin monument,

the biggest in the world, was visible

from every part of Prague.

The sculptor killed himself

and left his money to blind children

who wouldn't have to see his work.

It took two weeks to blow it up

seven years later.

 

9.

In '89 the whole of Europe

heard the people shouting 'Havel to the Castle!'

The Velvet Revolution

wasn't that soft, the elected president

a playwright, an absurdist,

a mocker of authority, myths and lies

the bread and butter of his craft,

a wit, an old lag, intimate

with fear, who knew precisely

when to laugh and when

to cry.