Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Opportunities Like Seagulls

—Poems by Louis Kasatkin, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England
—Photos Courtesy of Louis Kasatkin


mythic streets evaporate at dawn,

leaving only complacent memory

to recall imperfectly those scraps

and oddities of ephemera that

defy rational explanation;
a pristine franked letter posted

in Folkestone 1841; several ornate

glass marbles that were a birthday

present to some Rhineland princeling;

the signature of Thomas Alva Edison

on a page awkwardly torn from a

Hotel register omitting its name,

the building itself demolished long ago;

a skeletal frame of a Penny Farthing

half buried amid the inconsequential

detritus of the communal refuse tip;

a yellowing poster of a once well known

brand of cough syrup, the discernible lines

of a now defunct city tram route;

And somewhere, the presence of an

inveterate aesthete and poet of civic

renown struggling to evoke a nostalgia

amongst those who had not read Borges

nor knew of his blindness.

June 2008, The Right Honourable Walter Harrison 
(former Member of Parliament for Wakefield), Mary Creagh 
(current M.P. for Wakefield), and Louis. A formal inauguration 
of Mary as Official Patron of the Black Horse Poets of Wakefield.


There’s a face in the Picture,
there’s a face in the picture that’s just faded out;
there was a face in the picture that you could clearly see
there was a face in the picture that was standing next to you and me;
the face in the picture was smiling, laughing, grinning,
the face was doing what most faces do;
the face in the picture had a name, had a life, had a home, had a child
but the face in the picture doesn’t “have” any of these anymore;
it’s another face in a newspaper
a face that’s a story,
a face we won’t see anymore;
“4 buckets of vodka and red bull,
20 bottles of lager,
shots of Sambuca and Jack Daniels
during a 36-hour binge”.
The report concluded:
452 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine
death from alcohol toxicity are expected at 350 microgrammes.
But the face in the Picture didn’t know that.



Smoke wreathed distant battlements,

skies flecked with iridescent amber,

fluttering banners and icons held aloft;

in the foreground

clad in burnished breastplate,

circumferenced by a scarlet sash

a warrior’s imposing stature unfeigned,

lacking the air of braggadocio

conveyed in earlier portraits,

pensive eyes glower from

the bearded visage

its contours grown greyer;

his right hand grasps the

ostentatiously plumed helmet,

in his gauntless left hand a

crumpled map torn at one corner,

overhead crows circle,

to his right riderless horses

are being led away,

his own steed lost amidst

the onslaught that some would

of necessity deem glorious,

lest they unlike the artist

cause posterity to question.

 September 2002, launch of the Cathedral Poets at 
Wakefield Cathedral. The man in the clerical collar was 
the Dean of the Cathedral.


lemonade on the verandah after supper,

discussing Rousseau and Voltaire

before retiring to the soft embrace

of an easy langour;

expecting tomorrow and its harvest

of promise, the lush savannah

the tall sheaves and sturdy horses;

and yet that tomorrow never came,

no matter how much we believed

and what we believed was enough,

but what they believed was much more;
so we recall with wounding monotony

the men of honour whose sabres broke

too soon, the chivalric figures whose

steeds wearied in the long campaign;

we recall shards of splendour smashed

held captive in museum-cased aspic,

marble, ballroom, chandelier, satin, lace, and

a haunting echo of terpsichorean melody

vanished and gone into The Wilderness;

“mene mene tekel upharsin” those heirs

of promise, weighted in the balance those

inheritors of substance and found wanting;

the vision of Daniel, the words of Ezekiel,

prophetic and predestined, and…

lemonade on the verandah after supper,

discussing Rousseau and Voltaire

before awakening to the dawn of

a day resplendent,


and grey.



Shall we fail or shall we
try to achieve a little before
we fail in any case;
If we forget the words
to a song won’t it
get sung ever again?
Putting our hand up first
with the answer
we invariably incur the wrath
of the dullards behind us,
who wait in perpetual dread that
they might be called upon to think;
Do we try to extinguish the candles
on our birthday cake one by one
or all at once?
what gain is there if one is left
to flicker flicker alone and serene
amid the encroaching gloom.

 April 2005 Official launch of "Poetry Wakefield" magazine, 
a quarterly publication for all schools in the city and district 
and Diocese schools. Deputy mayor and mayoress 
in attendance, together with the Dean and 
an official of the local Council's 
education department.


Did they offer you a thought
for all your pennies?
did they want your gold
in exchange for a goose’s egg?
did they swap your silver linings
for a sky full of clouds?
Would you trade your last dollar
for their word of honour?
Do you keep all of their promises
in a jar ready to use on a rainy day?
and all of these things
they saw but they did not see,
they heard but they did not hear,
and they knew,
they knew it all
but still they tried not to know.



Opportunities like seagulls in flocks
have flown by,
precious moments and chances
whipped away suddenly from our grasp,
sent whirling skyward
into ethereal anonymity,
revealing an emptiness
of purpose
exposing a hollow shell
cracking at the seams;
whispers shall be our deliverance
but not for a while yet,
and the mists of morning
accompany us with their dull cadences
which we often mistake for unwarranted approbation;
there is neither failure nor success,
neither defeat nor triumph;
our gilded shields and splendid spears
have rendered nought
but an inheritance of tears;
Somewhere in the drowning stream
as the Sun sets and encroaching night
begins its long slow asphyxiation
of what we thought was our day,
a solitary flower is placed carefully
on an unmarked grave in a church yard
at the edge of the coming Storm.

Louis with an Honorary Civic reward made by 
the Mayor of the City of Wakefield at a Civic Reception 
hosted in honour of his Black Horse Poets group in March 2008.


There is a ticking sound
and it is the slow ticking
ticking away of our lives;
each day is a ticking bomb
which we need to defuse,
and having accomplished that
the very next bomb starts ticking;
What life actually is,
is not about dealing with
one bomb at a time,
but rather
we are confronted by,
and find ourselves
in the midst of,
a whole room full
of ticking bombs;
and theirs is the slow
ticking away…


Today’s LittleNip:


A drop is rainfall

Rainfall is a drop,
A leaf is windfall

Windfall is a leaf,
A grain is harvest

Harvest is a grain,
Lack is plenty

Plenty is lack,
Absence is attendance

Attendance is absence,
Happiness is suffering

Suffering is happiness,
Achievement is failure

Failure is achievement,
All is nothing

Nothing is all.


This morning’s poetry brunch is from England, clear across the pond! Welcome to the Kitchen, Louis Kasatkin, who writes: in my spare time I am a civic, community, and political activist, a blogger and general nuisance to the status quo! I’m currently Editorial Administrator at, which is the growing and successful website of Destiny Poets UK, of which I'm also the Founder. This particular groundbreaking project/undertaking comes in the wake of and as a qualitative development from all my previous successful works and promotions. I was the very first Poet-in-Residence to be appointed to such a post anywhere in the World of Professional Rugby (both Union and League) in November 1999 at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. As a follow-up to that, in April 2001 Wakefield Cathedral appointed me the very first Poet-in-Residence at any Church community in the UK. In 2002 with private sector corporate funding, I founded the The Cathedral Poets at Wakefield. I'm proud to be serving currently on the Board of Senior Editors at episteme, the online academic journal of Bharat College, Mumbai.

Thanks, Louis, for the poems and for the snapshots of poetry life in Wakefield, England—and don’t be a stranger!

—Medusa, noting also that NorCal's Paco Marquez Reyes announces that the fifth issue of OccuPoetry is now available online at

  Louis, inaugurating a dedicated Poets' Corner exhibition space 
at Destiny Christian Church, Wakefield, January 2012