Turn Left at Orion


Another one for National Poetry Day. I used to do a fair bit of amateur astronomy so this is where this poem came from.

There was an astronomy book, titled, Turn Left at Orion!

Turn left at Orion forty years ago

I tried my best to follow directions

but the vast empty spaces proved

difficult to navigate. The hero’s belt pointed somwhere:

go straight on at Gemini, turn right at Taurus; going by the book

I was at home splitting double stars and measuring

eclipsing binaries, but still wobbled

when I came down to earth. How I longed

to feel solid ground beneath my feet.


Today I wander into my back yard and greet

constant Orion again but know eventually

the pattern will change, that his belt will loosen,

that even a Greek hero will drift apart.

Fassbender’s Macbeth


As it is National Poetry Day in the UK, on Thurs 8 Oct, I decided to commission myself. You can read the resulting poem below.
Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth made great use of location cinematography at Bamburgh Castle and the Northumberland coast (UK) – only an hour’s drive from me!
Critics seem divided about the film, either raving about it or denouncing it. I enjoyed it but am somewhere in the middle, neither thinking it was a great film or massively inferior. I don’t think this film is alone in not conveying the poetry of Shakespeare’s language. Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare’s bleakest play and Kurzel portrays the bloody violence and the dark tones, both visually and symbolically.

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Silver Screen is a film club for the over sixties.

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An afternoon at the cinema

Today I joined Silver-Screen – paid at the desk
grabbed a tea and biscuit along with
my concessionary ticket and edged along
row R to my seat. It’s a film noir – there’s dark
within and without I see – or is it a dagger (?)
it’s a pivotal point – my neighbour begins
to snore – a counterpoint to the minimal score.

Fassbender’s Macbeth is macho; testosterone-fuelled,
sleeping Duncan soon despatched. He’ll snore
no more. There’s no porter at the doors of hell
to offer comic relief; cut to blood and fleshy
apparition at the creaking dining table in the hall.
My neighbour’s crunching crisps; more minimalist
seasoning to the soundtrack. Murder most foul.

The credits go on and on – then we discuss the tragedy.
One woman thinks the death agonies of Macbeth
Pythonesque, all the women drool over Fassbender –
I wonder about the milk of human kindness. Yes,
it’s a film noir; get over it one man says
it was dog eat dog in those days, you had to have
your wits about you no time for sweet airy nothings.
Amen sticks in my throat. My neighbour stands,
coughs and shuffles towards the lighted Exit.