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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

When the bones rose up...

From grave to grave the ringtones rang,
the bones as one, sat up and sang.
With times and venues quickly fixed,
the paint put on in blobs and licks,
the chains unrolled for one more year
and rattled for a night of fear,
bones salivated at the thought
of what they'd do to those they caught.

Returning calls, the plans were laid,
more paint applied - but this time sprayed.
Werewolves and ghouls were asked to meet
with witches who'd an extra teat
and bats who'd flown that day from hell
and corpses still with dead man's smell
and photographs of targets sent
on Blackberries and i-pads, meant
their fates were sealed with mal-intent
to post them on the internet.

That's when the sky went black as jet...
a thousand brooms were sweeping by --
two thousand evil, bloodshot eyes
to curdle blood, turn men to flies
or leave them with deep mental scars.
The i-pads on their handlebars
now blazed with light and -- fright on fright --
arising from the blazing light
and soaring skywards from each screen
came zombies every shade of green, 
vampires, phantoms, wraithes and ghosts,
demons, devils, hell's worst hosts
with brands to burn the stars on high
and mummies that refused to die,
all spreading out across the town,
infernally  to track men down
and sacrifice them in the name
of all that speaks of death and shame.

And last of all, from broken graves
came ghosts of those still living, slaves
of death who'd come to find
their other selves, though lame and blind.
Should these two creatures ever meet,
flesh to soul or tweet to tweet,
and if these two should ever meld --
a meeting quite unparallelled --
if into spirit blood should flow
(or vice versa spirit go)
this world (and more than this, the other one)
will be as though they'd not begun.
They both will go into decline
and every force there be malign.
The world will end --
be sure, my friend --
not with a bang,
not with a rhythm
not with rhyme,
and definitely not on time,
not even with the merest whimper... 
think instead: a low,
and infinitely slow...

I have linked this poem to dVerse Poet's Pub Open Link Night Trick or Treat hosted by Tashtoo

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Words fall in
and words fall out
they're just like you and me.
Some get on and some are wrong,
some are right
right from the start -
some have drawn the humble part.

Most get by, 
though some are fly
and take us for a ride.
Some will mourn the loss sustained
when some old meaning died.

Some pair up
and some are cliquey,
some are bonding,
some are hippy.

The poet threads them into strings
to sing of things that nature brings.

Some trickle from the poet's pen
like an escape of gas:
alto, tenor, contrabass.

The painter's brush
with blobs and flicks,
the maestro's booms and clicks,
the wine press of the poet's mind
all turn words to fluid thought,
each of its special kind.

Graffiti give them second birth.
Alive they are, and doing well
in the bowels of the earth.

Some jump up 
and some fall down
(they're frail as frail can be),
some will build their holy city,
some a Godless town;
some are writing their new rules -
see the way the meaning spools
out beyond the shitty.

Some will dance
and others prance,
meanings come
(though most by chance),
other meanings go,
carried in the awful flow
to worlds that hardly spare a glance
and hardly want to know.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Political Catch Phrases

No comedian or entertainer, 
with any self respect,
my granddad told me once,
would ever go on stage
without a catch phrase - and
expect success.

     Can you hear me mother?
     Didn't he do well?

The audience was trusted to react
like Pavlov's dogs reacted to their bell.

The catch phrase has been hijacked.
It's men of state who use it these days...
a tad less catchy than it was...
stretched out a bit beyond a phrase
but trotted out ad nauseam.
It's all political and thorny now, like:

     Lessons will be learnt!
     We shall make certain sure
     that nothing of this sort
     can ever happen again!

How can they?
Who are they
to make such promises?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Trying to Know Myself

If as a new born babe
I was a blank page
to be written on

I have become
a note-book, spiral bound
and scribbled on all through.

Do not write off
my crossings-out.
They are the better part of me.

(not so much the roads
not taken, as the by-ways tried,
found wanting,

crossed by others
which I took instead --
or walked back on myself.)

All this is written on
one part or other
of the I that I know

or the me that others
meet from day to day:
face, psyche... heart perhaps.

it's there in conversation,
in writing, on a walk,
in dreams or idle thought.

I'll recognise in some
unguarded moment, threads
long buried, briefly brought to light.

But no one ever was
a blank page
to be written on.

Some things were there
before I saw
the light of day.

Others came as a response
to my environment.
My father's craftsman's hands

did not come down to me --
unless from them came art.
For sure from them:

a strong sense of
inferiority -- today
how flat-packs panic me.

A D.I.Y. refuse-nik,
product of the myths
the family concoct.

So when the small boy said
I'll be an artytett
the myth was born:

my brother was to build
the houses I designed.
(It might have come to pass.)

Was I as would-be artist
damaged, incomplete?
Perhaps - the theory's rife.

From illness and from myth and self-
fulfilling prophesies came
emphasis on inner life,

abhorrance of conformity
and love of books and poetry,
heresy in faith,

dislike of uniform
and uniformity.
The child is still in me;

I feel his impish ways,
his love of the irreverent,
his prompts to artlessness.

Face to face at times we stare
as to and from a mirror,
broken, multifacetted:

a nose, a broken piece of mouth,
an ear, a cheek bone out of place,
and all of them irregular.
Hobgoblin2011, at dVerse Poets' pub, prompting for Poetics, set us to compose a self portrait.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

A post, the post and what have they to do with metaphysics?

The P.C.'s booted up
and I am settled back, when:
Are you very busy? Wife
from the next room.
Not terribly,  I lie.
Look out the window then!
I do. My, my!
Great Jeosophat! I cry -
or something, not a bit like that.

Nailed to the front gate post
another, thinner, ten feet tall
atop of which, a shining board
that reads FOR SALE - a bigger lie
by far, than any I have told.
My wife is on the 'phone, and I
am on my way with tools enough
to do the job - the crow bar, though
has taken off, 
gone A.W.O.L. on its own.

Insert the battered chisel. Prise.
Lever. Swear. No go. A few 
sledge hammer blows
should do
the job.
Surprising me, the post and board
spin through the air
and come to ground
just where I stand.

Next thing: the postie calls
with packages to sign.
Did I just see... he asks,
your house for sale?

You did. It's not!

I see...

You don't! 

I've recently
debated with him 
about a football referee:
how one might come to "see"
a thing that didn't happen.
I take him back
to our discussion,
point out the similarity.
The metaphysics slows him down.
The round will take an extra hour.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Replying to Dylan Thomas

Though that dark night invites us all to pray,
its coming is no time for mortal fear.
Be glad you will escape eternal day!

If day was bright, then we should hymn its ray,
but could you face it endlessly lived here,
with no dark night inviting us to pray?

Life's glories are a transient bouquet
and life that was not fleeting would be drear.
Be glad you will escape eternal day.

The ancient wheel revolves, I've heard men say -
and shall it be your treadmill, your whole sphere,
though that dark night invites us all to pray?

Earth moulds us as a sculptor moulds his clay
yet does not cast, thinks permanence severe.
Be glad you will escape eternal day.

The best is this: sound sleep beyond the fray
and knowledge of a loved one very near -
though that dark night invites us all to pray,
be glad you will escape eternal day!

Written for Semaphore's (Samuel Peralta's) prompt at dVerse Poets' ~ Pub asking that we attempt the Villanelle form, and giving as his model the world's best (probably) and best known (certainly) example, Dylan Thomas's Do not go gentle (read it here)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fragmentary Ruminations on The Natural Man and Nature

A Möbius strip (image from the Wikipedia web site)
Did you ever imagine
yourself in the tenth dimension?

(Super strings
vibrating in the tenth dimension
create the sub atomic particles.)

Suppose yourself a cube.
You were born a sphere.
but in growing you have morphed
into a cube.
Imagine your life in time
stretched out behind you
like the projection of a map...
that's the fourth dimension!

Or add one more dimension
to a Mobius Strip/

A brain contains a hundred billion cells,
the Milky Way a hundred billion stars.
Your brain has more connections
then the universe has galaxies*

We speak of Nature's Laws
but are they Nature's Laws
or the laws of someone/some-
thing else -- a supra nature --
that's controlling it?

In any image 
lovely to the eyes
a rhythm lies.

*For "universe" read "known universe".

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Gospel According to a Rat...

...who, by chance, had been there,
snuggled deep beneath a pile of straw
and minding his own business
in the byre at Bethlehem, 
the time it all kicked off. He saw
it all in black and white -- well,
dark and light, to be exact --
which we have never done.

We gasp and lightly talk of awe
at Bethlehem's romantic pinks,
its royal blues and rustic light,
while all the while it is our vision
blocks the beauty from our eyes.

The rat had great advantage over us:
vision blurry. 20/700. Less,
as he got older -- well, in fact
he was quite elderly, and wise enough
not to believe his eyes.

Consequently. Rattus was rewarded
with a panoramic blueprint -- rodent-friendly schema --
chart of smells and their locations in the byre.
Nose-tickling smells, exotic smells and baby
lactose -- not to mention body sweat and dust
aromas. Stink of twenty different kinds of flesh.

The way a bat or dolphin limns its world
with echoes that come back from clicks and whistles
in the dark, rat did the same with pongs and reeks and perfumes 
by the score. Old smells and new smells, plus a thousand
put-your-nose-down-on-the-floor smells;
odours which have never bothered our olfaction, whiffs
and bouquets undetectable to our equipment, scents we never
have -- or could -- experience, for which we do not even have 
the words, at which we cannot guess, not in our wildest 
dreams -- these smells his rat brain shuffled and assembled
the way our brains must shift and sort the visual bits
of landscapes, intricacies of our human sight. Our brains --
that have not seen them -- know exactly where they go!

Later, back at base, faced with the sceptical reception of his 
peers -- and unbelievably loquacious for a rat -- he gave 
his testimony -- his Gospel as he'd smelt it at first hand.

The humans have a baby in a food container, he began --
a baby that has magic powers. A few days old and with its eyes
it shines a light up to the heavens and picks out a star!
I knew it was a light beam that I dimly saw, because
it had no smell, and I caught glimpses here and there in my
few ultra-violet cells. The baby's parents
are from priestly stock. Sorcerer and sorceress.
They're holding court to commoners and Magi
from around the world. You just would not believe your nose
if you were there! The byre has never known the like!

Beside the courtly people you'd expect to be around,
the rich, the self-important, others educated in 
the occult ways, I sensed a group of men
who stank of sheep -- no doubt in ceremonial grease
and fleeces, dressed up to the nines, so I deduced
that sheep are holy animals. I did at one point
think the baby had a smell of lamb and wondered --
could it be half human and half sheep...? but then
a flight of eagles, stunning bright with bodies
far more human-like than bird-form... and again
I wondered... could they be... 
a half-and-half creation? They sang --
and from the night sky... the strains of music.
The whole thing then was magical, but no one and no beast
so much as raised their heads to look. The focus still
was on the baby in the food container -- so much so
I thought perhaps they were about to eat or sacrifice it.
Foolish that, for it was clear that it had magic powers.

I tell you, friends, this thing is big and when it kicks 
off -- as it will, and very soon -- it will go viral!
It will shock the world. Even now my whiskers tremble
at the shock waves it could bring.
This is the gist of it:
a human child is to be worshipped for itself.
Not just sacrificed or eaten out of hand -- for that
would be a sin -- exalted on the meanest 
altar you can find -- a cattle feeding trough
would seem ideal. Sheep are holy unto all.
Shepherds are a priestly caste --
more worthy of respect than human eagles in the sky.
Docile sheep and a human child are all you need
as patterns for your lives.
Cleanse the world with perfumes --
most of all, exotic ones that irritate the nose.

Become a lamb, and if not that,
a friend to lambs. Protect them from the foxes.
Warn the shepherds when their enemies are near.
Frequent those places where heavy, sweet perfumes
might vie to cling to you. Become
dependent -- as a body is --
and grow again from there.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Art School -- could boost or bugger you

Art School my Eden
playground after sixth form
wild, chaotic, spin drum of a place,
mangler of a self still waiting to be formed
in which I lost my innocence.
No longer one
to fit himself into the world, now out
to recreate the world
in my own image. God-play. Hard dice
beyond what I'd thought possible.

This was a world where I was in control.
What was impossible before
was manifest.
There had to be a catch - I'd long been warned:
forbidden fruit somewhere about!
And there it was...
The life class with its one constraint
the only stricture I could find
in the whole place:

All else was laissez-faire
but this was not a Biblical encountering,
here were no stirrings
of the flesh, we wanted only
a forensic scrutiny
to take the world apart, to find
the building blocks, the forms
that crop up everywhere. We were
no more than cooks; the world a meal
gone slightly wrong and we would rescue it.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Time is always tense.

If we could see the whole of time through one
small lens, one single, panoramic view,
we'd see an ocean, broad and deep as it
is stretched. We'd see it wrapped around our world,
and infusing all creation; we would 
see ourselves, frail craft, upon its waves. We
meet with whirlpools, adverse currents, tides and
sluggish seas - not all of time is seamless, 
some runs off in contrary directions. 
We have our landfalls, ports of call; unload; 
conduct affairs; load and set sail: we see
such visions of delight - or we are swamped,
or overturned, receive such frights... and so
we find ourselves in timeless moments, give
our local time to them - we have our small
chronometers; they work quite well(we'll say)
on board, but cannot read the greatness of 
the greater time abroad. Only from the
single viewpoint of the passenger or
sailor do we see time as a ruled line
that connects an end to a beginning 
and we ourselves as plots along that line. 
As many in the past have pictured time 
as circular - the poets  Eliot
and Muir, for instance, believed time past
and present would come back again -, perhaps
we'll find the ocean empties back into 
itself. The old man is the child again,
the buried dead make possible new birth.
Eliot could write about the moment 
of the rose and of the  moment of the yew 
tree, how they have the same duration. So 
time in the whirlpool and beyond our craft
is not equivalent. But still in our
beginning one can find the end of us.
My references are to T. S. Eliot's Little Gidding (here) and Edwin Muir's The Recurrence (here) ............................................. Written in response toMary's prompt It's About Time for Poetics (here)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Predestination - or what?

I thought one morning as I burnt the toast:
if time could be run backwards for a bit --
to just before I filled the room with smoke --
what mighty benefits might then accrue
for man and for the universe at large...
But then I thought -- and, Oh, that little word,
the torment of that saddo little but! --
Suppose I've crashed my car, head on into
a tanker filled with highly octane fuel...
suppose some good Samaritan has moved
time out of forward gear into reverse...
the day is back to happy, carefree ways.
But then I thought -- the way one does -- the way
one should think on, more deeply I suppose: 
the accident has been averted. Time
is back in Forward Drive. What then? Does it
resume its former course? Is déjà vu --
that sense that memory is lost -- what we
two drivers feel? Must we collide again?
Oh, no! My toast! Predestined to be burnt!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Autistic Boy

A purple hexa
gon has pride of place. Born
of a certain violence,
a rash of squares and 
triangles cascades towards
a yellow egg. On this
a skeleton is etched. But look 
again. The white bones 
form a face - and not
what we had thought. So quick
ly now, before his thick black zig-
zag - like chain saw's teeth -
the features scratched there
with such care.
Above the scene, a net. Below
a dense criss
cross of railway lines. All this:
the alpha
bet and syntax of
his lone attempt
to reach our minds with his.
a cut and thrust of cut
and pasted cross
word bits filled in with
signs and symbols, al
ong with pictures from
his book of trains.
Prefix and suffix to his
private words, are
special clues he keeps
for those he trusts.

Another time 
he shows his jig
saw skills. Assembles
a large puzzle -
upside down he'll say,
but means inverted - picture
to the floor - then picks,
unerringly a piece which is
a further clue - an eye - could we
but understand. He studies us
to see if we can tell... gives up
and shows instead
a photograph. Himself in
football gear. He holds
a cup - and from each face,
that rarest of all things:
a smile.
Written in response to Victoria Slotto's rich selection of prompts, Steampunk and Enjambment - but there's more than this on offer - at dVerse Poets Pub. Go see, why don't you?

I chose to work with enjambment and to write again about a boy who was the subject of a post almost exactly four years ago. You can read it here.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Two Ages of a man
( I don't know how it is for women...)

Who opted for
the age I am -
my inner age,
the age I've 
always been?

Who decided at my birth:
This child is forty?
Did someone rubber stamp it?
did it go by 
on the nod?
or was there consultation?
Was there crap!
(Well yes, 
there was a lot 
of that,I'm told!)
I'm asking:
did anyone ask me?

When my
accruing(outer) age
reached forty
I realised 
that I was feeling 
that I had always 
felt that way.
And now
I have done ever since.

The ageing 
of the body
changes nothing...
but the body -
and a few concomitants.

Within the flesh
the rubber stamp
holds true.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

She's Just a Paper Angel...

She's a tissue paper angel,
more fragile than the light --
a whisper of a wind
would blow her out of sight.

She's a daily paper angel
(always breaking news)
she free falls from the stars --
a Baumgartner with the blues.

She's a silver paper angel --
just a sliver cut from God
with a mandate to redeem us
with her wand of goldenrod.

She's a sugar paper angel
with a country pad on Mars
who has built us all a heaven
within a crystal vase.

She's a paper tiger angel,
the Almighty's strict enforcer,
but with thistledown for claws
she'll do no more than purr.

She's a blotting paper angel
who will mop your every tear --
and as an extra bonus
will pulp your darkest fear.

She's an origami angel
whose madly into art
thinks her Sister of the North
has far the hardest part.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Gaps the Great Storm Left

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the great storm - the hurricane that cut huge swathes across the South of England.
Among the beech this patch of birch
that seems to radiate its light
into the darkness of the beech
the great storm left untouched. Man's gift -
for man it was who made these woods,
and in that gloom no undergrowth
succoured those other forms of life
which here are manifest. Here birch
is thin, allows the wood to breathe,
and welcomes brambles, bluebells and 
a score of other plants. It throbs
with life - the life of butterflies
and bugs of every shape and size.
Among the brambles : burrowings.
And on a sandy patch, a snake -
a grass snake (was it?)- slithers from
my view. Everywhere is movement.
Life forms I cannot recognise.
Yet from the ways they come and go,
their oh, so strange activities,
I'm sure there is a fairytale
enacted here. The birds are part
of it, for they are full of song.

Away from here, are other lands
the great storm cleared, not left to heal
themselves with nature's help, but by
the hand of man. They have regained
their former beechy darknesses,
their former states. I do not put
to you, dear reader, which is best,
but only the point a difference
between the ways of God and man.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Quick and the Dead

Dead, I am teleported
out through time and space, courted
by the stars who make advances
with advanced displays of dances
choreographed in light.

Then looking down,
the dancing done: my funeral
in funereal glow
extinguishing the brilliance
of an hour or so ago.

But no, not so, I tell a lie -- 
not interment or cremation,
but creation's celebration at my wake.
The two collided somewhere --
down there...
I guess between 
the host and salmon sandwiches --
and on the way to somewhere else,
I do not doubt.They fused,
I'm told, 
in one great whiteout.
Completely blown off course.

It was my choice to come,
to see. I had to see, to know... have
always wondered, but...
it's exactly as I'd wished, but couldn't tell.
Every one is there. All present 
and correct, as ever were.
All together. No outpouring, no great stir.
The stars as individuals - as mourners,
if you please -- have begun to shine again.

seducing those I've left -- or trying to...
but even so...
everyone and everything 
as I remember them. 
And no great do
but just as they should be. 
So very right and proper --
so disappointing to the wayward likes of me.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


The young, who ought to fear death most
(for having most to lose) are in denial -
as are we all to some degree,though differently. 
As for the young,
they are immortal, deathless and undying -
as were we.
Death, if it comes, is accidental and bad luck.
Later, death becomes/became
the great taboo - the elephant
that sneaks/ or sneaked its way into the room
and would not/will not
Death up to now has been a silhouette,
but closer to the end we draw its finer points,
sketch in the detail, find
we can distinguish with more clarity between
regret, relief and fear. We can
regret the leaving of our loved one/s;
fear the manner of it; dread
the great unknown, the losing of control,
perhaps the confrontation with our God -
and yet find glad relief that death exists
to save us from the hell of thinking

Written for Stuart MacPherson's prompt Poeticaphobia for dVerse Poets Poetics.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I Graduate at Last - Total Idiot: Class A1+

__Good morning, young sir,
and what exactly is it that I see before me?
What fascinating object have you brought for me today?
Is it, by chance, a shell that you have there?
[He is feshly from the school coach that brings pupils from outlying areas. Known to me as a frequent visitor to Hankley Common, an area still used by the military for training purposes. He looks for "stuff" - and seems to have mounted a successful expedition recently, for he cradles affectionately in his arms a serious looking piece of ordnance, a tordedo shaped object with fins at the non-business end. One of the fins is deeply scorched. He has a crowd of interested admirers surrounding him.]
--Nah, sir, nuffink like that, sir!
It's a fire bomb.

__Ah, well, that's all right then! Even so,
I think I'll take it into my protective custody 
and pop it in the sick bay - just for safety's sake.
Meanwhile you all will pop yourselves into the playground -
also for safety's sake. Miss Thisk will see you there.
And maybe Mrs Wisdom would like to see
that EVERYONE proceeds there? - promptly please!
[They all leave for the playground and I do as I've said I would, but in the sick bay change my mind. Reassured by all the scorching that whatever was inside the thing is "spent", and warming to it, I'll make it - I decide - a visual aid, and use it in a lesson for the children. Now wrapped in sick room blankets and some fluffy pillows, it is ready for its transportation to the field. I lay it on the grass, and round it place four chairs to which I tie some yards of tape to fence it off. Then I have my next quite brilliant idea: I call the bomb squad. They arrive - to great excitement from the children - in a remarkably short time.]
-Really sir, what I most would like to do
would be to simply detonate it with no frills,
but if I was to do so, all those houses...
[and here he points, in a one fingered fashion, to the first house in The Close. His thumb is raised, as though he means to simulate a gun, and now he sights along it as his finger points to each house in its turn...]
...would lose their windows.
That would never do.
[I heartily agree. He compromises, says he'll go for a diminished bang. Sandbags the incendiary and prepares a controlled explosion.
Now he yells to the pupils 'Everyone shout "Berrrrrrrrumph!"'
they all do, and coinciding with their interpretation comes
a deep-throated, strangled thump; a high decibel, real life,
no messing "Berrrrrrrrumph!"; an impressive sheet of flame
threatening to set the trees alight; a gentle rain of mud;
and at the end, a crater fit to please the eyes of any child -
and not a sign of my four chairs!
He'd had the "fire bomb" underneath his bed for months. He found it where I'd thought - on Hankley Common. The coach driver had taken it from him at one point - and dropped it!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Out of the wood two women came.

I saw two women come from the wood,
both looked evil and both looked good,
both of them glowing, black as pitch.
Mother and daughter, angel, witch -
and no way of telling which was which.
Mother or daughter,
lover, bitch,
both familiar with kiss and switch -
and no man knowing which was which.

Many a man had tried his luck -
Dumb cluck, Moonstruck. Ever the awe struck. -
for the whisper grew that the two were four.
The mother virago and paramour;
the daughter a shrew and one to adore.
Mother, lover,
harlot, amor
whatever one was, she wasn't before -
and no man living could keep the score.

One thing was clear as they came from the wood,
both were evil and both were good,
yet neither was either - so far as things stood.
What should man do, but return to the wood,
to the light of pitch, to the dayglow dark,
to the wood that for man is his friendly ark
where sun and moon rule all that there is -
each of itself its antithesis -
where that is ever a form of this?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Meetin Up Between the Acts

Richard lll as magnet. Chaperone.
Him bringing us together one more time...
How apt, us meeting in his shadow --
you a shadow of your former self,
a shadow that had fallen half across my life.
And what an irony that it should be the bar!

A jealous and ambitious man
who, like yourself, unable
most to prove (himself) a lover,
so out "to prove the villain," prove
how physical infirmity
does but reflect the soul.

He, too, would marry for advancement -- so
"I'll have her, but I will not keep her long"
(He'd take her in his madness for the throne.)
How apt you liked the part of Clarence best
whose vision was like yours -- of wealth,
of fortune unattainable by man.

So to return: the hunchback King,
tormented by his victims, found
at last reality. He came to realise
that if he died "No soul"
would pity him. How brave he proved at last --
if only he had not been murderous!

If only you had not clawed viciously
your way to win your far ambitions -- which
I fell for when you laid them at my feet,
but later saw their worth and was afraid.
Why let the one misfortune of your flesh
have too much sway on its young soul?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Hiatus

It was, they said, a conjecture,
a supposition, no more than that,
something that might have explained
a few perturbations they'd found
in the movements of things in the sky.

Suppose, they said, a hiatus...
The universe might have stopped for
- for a what? - a second? an hour?
a decade? millennium? more?

Problem then is: when it stopped -- 
that is to say, for the time it was stopped
there was no time at all. Time failed to exist.
It was stopped for exactly 
zero time. What, therefore,
we all of us now need to know, is this:
if no time passed
for the time it was stopped,
then did the universe stop - or not?
Where did
the time go
that was nowhere

Monday, 8 October 2012

Porn: an ugly introduction to a world of beauty.

Brown paper parcel
damp from overnight dew. Left 
in our camp - but
by whom?

Beneath the brown,
some white sheets.
Delicate as skin.
Old people's skin.
Tattooed in black.
Cats and aeroplanes
for the most part,
as I remember them.
Bone dry -
although the bone lies deeper
than you'd think
beneath the skin.

I strip the flesh away.
Reveal the bone -
a soldier's pay book.
British. Inside which:
six German bank notes.
I wrap the brown around them all --
but hide the white sheets
in our secret place.

You found it where?
the sergeant wants to know.
I tell him haltingly.
That's private land!
(I knew!)

Back at the camp
unfolding the white sheets
(Two of. I now discover
they are folded one
more time than I had thought.)
They reveal what's real -
something from the adult world,
ergo the real.
Two prints. Top one
(Both senses.)
Crucifixion --
of a female Christ. 

I'm far too early on in life,
religion, faith, and other things
to contemplate such heresy --
And far too innocent
to take on board
what Roman soldiers 
at the cross's foot
are doing  to her. 
My friend arrives
and helps me out.
Then I throw up.

The other sheet 
a man and dog....
some time it takes
(the two of us)
to work out what is going on.
Then when we do I retch --
quite violently.

And so
an ugly introduction
to what will later be
a world of beauty.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Plum Crazy (FoodLoose)

Ah, all those plums! The tree was mine --
well, in a sense... and so I thought --
told all my friends -- that all the plums,
those glistening taste bombs of delight,
those shiny-skinned, those waxy hand grenades,
were mine. The basis of my claim was this:
the tree was planted on the day that I was born.
So not to worry if we lost the war,
for none of us would starve. I'd take the plums --
just like the barley loaves and fishes --
and feed whoever came. But there was more:
we had a game. We'd heard about the U-boats
and the North Atlantic run. Seen pictures --
maybe torn from Picture Post -- and found
that we could re-enact the drama with...
Those glorious, golden-red-black-purple plums
were all we'd need. You bit the plum along 
its seam, exposing in your wake -- like
a torpedo makes -- an amber pulp,
grainy, firm and juice filled -- which would squirt.
(The depth charge going overboard, that was!)
And then you'd gently squeeze along its base --
and watch with bated breath until...
the sharp stone surfaced like a wounded submarine.
Another oldie (part of)! I happened to be in the process of taking down and dusting an early poem (version 2: on how the German Luftwaffe gate-crashed my sixth birthday party)when Claudia posted her prompt for Poetics over at dVerse Poets. My original poem can be found (here)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Calling

Someone is calling me. Sure of it. 
Someone or something. Calling.
Not to a calling. No, nothing like that,
this calling's a verb, not a noun.
Calling me, calling, but
not to a lifetime of servitude
(an industrial missionary, say),
never to something like that.
Sacrificial - that isn't what's meant.

It's a voice in a wilderness calling,
not calling by name - but by what?
It's a word in the wind that I catch,
but then in a moment is gone.
No, but almost I hear what it says.
Almost, but not quite. The words slip away.
I'm left with their shape. Their substance is gone.
It's the way that a poem might start.
Or a painting, an image of sorts,
an aside from a passing - a what? - a
something that called. Indistinct.
That caught me off guard. Out of touch.
Like a cricketer dropping a catch.
Inattention the devil to blame - unless...
could it be that the shape is enough?

Someone will ask where it came from.
What shall I say? That something  or someone,
a pick-pocket maybe (in contrary mode), 
left it, lost in my pocket, to surface one day -
me thinking it mine all along! Indistinct.
(it). Inattentive. (me). With nothing
on which I could focus. It never reveals
where it came from. All I can say
is where it was found. It's an aura,
a will-o-the-wisp, a spectre, a ghost,
a spirit, a spook, a glimmer, a trace,
a homeless something that's pleading with me
to be given a home, to be taken on board.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Two Dead Penguins and an Iron Lung

On the square, tucked away beside the willow tree, the chalked outlines of a hopscotch game. All afternoon the skipping - more like dancing - had gone on, the children's numbers slowly swelling amid much laughter. All this between the showers, which as you might imagine, only magnified the children's sense of fun.

It is after one such shower that perhaps the smallest girl of all successfully regains her pebble and dances back, but fails to stop, dances on in fact, as though in celebration, as though to do a lap of honour round the square. In fact, once in the open, unobstructed area, she stops, produces a few sticks of chalk from her coat pocket, stoops down and begins to draw on the grey stones - what? - her own, private hopscotch court? If so, a hopscotch court out of this world. Overblown. A hopscotch court for giants, perhaps. Soon it becomes clear that this new figure is voracious, a land grabbing monster that has designs on the whole square. And as it grows,it takes on aspects of a landscape - a rather surrealistic landscape, home to denizens and features in need of some interpretation.
Where yesterday the empty grey 
of paving stones, today
two dead penguins and an iron lung. 
Newly chalked, a river flows uphill -
to run along the elevated section by the shops, 
and tumble down a flight of stone cold concrete steps.
It finds its end in its beginning - the penguin lake.
A ship of flowers descends the cataract.

From out the iron lung, the pink head of a mouse.
He's looking round to see what's what. 
Look closer, though, you'll see it's not continuous 
with what's inside! Decapitated patient in a bygone lung... 
End of!
Sure, there are figures here I can't decode - the iron lung, for instance - and the whole ensemble seems something more organic than a simple hopscotch matrix. An environment in which strange artefacts and creatures might take form - are taking form. Are having their mysterious geneses.
A mobile phone with painted face and paper skirt
is propped against the fence. In front of her
a faded flower and three rose petals ring a stone,
while just above the waterfall, dangerously close,
a tiny plastic baby on a matchbox raft.
She skips back to the game she left. The little girl invites her former playmates to her new homeland, though they are having none of it. They laugh and turn back to their game. But by tomorrow they will be victims of her web, caught up in a game whose rules and object are too complicated and involved, far too sophisticated for the likes of me.
Then will I be as I am now, a tourist in a land I cannot grasp. 
I see a mix of portents, charms and signs 
as in the world I know. They share 
the same two mysteries, my world and this: Creation how & why.
First there was not, and then there was; 
a magic wand scenario: a wave, 
a flash, and all is changed the way an island suddenly appears 
at sea, crop circles on the land or new stars in the sky. 
At least we know what those things are, or were, 
but this! Is this a game for children or much more?
Is this enchanted place for all? 

................................................................................ This poem was written for the dVerse Poets prompt - more than a prompt, a mastercless - by Anna Montgomery on Prose Poetry. Do go over and read the piece for yourself.

Some of you may have had a feeling of Déjà Vu reading this. I did post a version (without prose) back in February. (Here ) I was dissatisfied with it. Reading Anna's post it struck me that a prose/poetry version might hold some hope of salvation for it.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My Computer Is My New Teddy Bear

My computer has become my Teddy Bear.
I hadn't noticed just how much I'd missed him - 
all those years without him... withdrawal symptoms
all the way - and all ascribed to something not poor Ted,
to something other than the little bear who gave me joy.
What a waste of earthly bliss! What a damned fine mess this is!
And then the lap top came - a great buzz in my life -
and willingly became his substitute...
It aint the same, it aint the same at all,it aint!
I cannot punch it when I'm mad - 
or cry all over it when lonely or afraid.
(The crying bit is much too dangerous.) 
I cannot bash the bloody brains of it 
when the world around me puts me in my rightful place.

And often now I find the lap top is the one,
the guilty one that's driving me insane.
(Now that is something Teddy - bless his heart - 
has never ever thought to do to me!)
Now understand me when I blame the lap top for my woes:
I'm not just talking lap top, but I'm talking lap top plus!
I'm talking more than lap top - all its devilish extensions,
the gadgets and the passwords - with security the biggest 
thing by miles - all those endless numbers, all unique to me, 
and that is just for starters. The main course is not yet.

And yet I love my lap top (am willing to forgive 
the CAPS key,even - something dear old Teddy never had!)But
there is hate in this relationship that doesn't come from me. 
It's the lap top that at times cannot stand me. 
It will show the world who's boss -
say, when I've moved the mouse a tad too slow
or lingered with my finger on a key
or I've wandered over links I really didn't know
were there. So, because of some small cock-up down to me,
screens I haven't summoned gallop past my eyes
and like genies from an ancient lamp, they flow
in never ending cavalcades of hate
with messages that threaten. 
And in their lexicons of gibberish,
ERROR is the only word I know.

Then when I get to Blogger, they have changed it all again
and so I'm lost in a new, endless, alien terrain.
And most of this is down to my new Teddy Bear!
It's the lap top's way of saying I'm upset
or Get your finger out, you silly kid, and move us on!

Of course, I get frustrated, and would like to bite its ear -
the way I would have done with Real Ted yesteryear.
but it's really such a dear, I just stroke its virtual back
and whisper all the nasty names I know.
Love/ Hate relationships are the theme for this week's prompt at Poetry Jam

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

One Guy's Whacky... Another Guy's Scoot

A small boy on a scooter on  a bollard,
balancing with one wheel out in space...
well, it hardly gets a mention or a glance,
it is so commonplace around here, and so cool.

But this morning's scooter perched up on a porch roof...
well, that made me turn my head to steal a second look!
Admittedly, it lacked the human interest -
the small boy had deserted and gone home...
at least, that's what I'm tempted to surmise,
for the scooter-decorated house is childless
and the occupant a child-unfriendly sort of soul.

So the puzzles I am posing for this morning
are: whose red scooter is it up there on that roof;
and where's the boy who jumped it eight feet high?
And if it's true that balancing on bollards
is easy peasy, baby brother stuff round here,
then to see the way they land on them is somethin else.
It's cross your fingers, hold your breath and say a prayer.

I saw a boy a week or so ago, 
scootering (they call it) on the square
whilst whirling scooter number two around his head.
And from the elevated section of the square
I've seen them leap the steps, the ramp, the wall
to land with great aplomb among their friends,
but still I have to wonder which bionic boy
can leap the eight feet (upwards) to my neighbour's roof.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Science Competition

I discover in The Times this morning that a science competition has been running to explain why a beaker of boiling water freezes more quickly than one of cold. It seems that science has only recently accepted this fact of common experience, and no one is sure why. They had expected about 200 entries, but received over 20,000. Therefore (as from mid-day today), they are inviting visitors to their site to help them choose the winner from a mass of songs, poems, dissertations of all sorts. Too late for the comp', I offer my humble solution here. The website, should you want to to take a peek, is at www.rsc.org/mpemba-competition/
Imagine two roads side by side,
a motorway, a country lane,
the cars are running parallel
but at vastly different speeds.
On the highway and the byway,
both at the same time,
we find a driver fluttering his brakes.

On the highway and the byway
the cars behind brake hard.
Those on the country lane slow down,
but on the motorway, Oh dear!
There's chaos and confusion
and prangs and bangs galore.
They're frozen to a stop.

Now think of matter for a moment.
(Which matter doesn't matter much)
It's mostly space, and in that space
are vehicles - are particles - 
which chase each other round.
It's temperature that sets the pace.
And as for cars on motorways...

too rapid de-acceleration
sets in train a similar confusion. 
The particles collide and jam.
They judder to a freezing stop!
(Okay, they may not judder,
they may not even jam. 
This 'ere's poetry, not science Ma'am!)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Who sees the abuser abuse?

Whos sees when the parent abuses the child? Does the sun or the moon or that creature cringed in the corner, in some darkened cave of a room? Whos sees in a state of impotence against the tide of guilt? Who was it saw the abuser abused, that time when the groundwork was laid, when a brand new abuser was made? Who saw its first public appearance, who saw it rolled off the line, the last nut tightened, each screw in its place, road-worthy and ready to go? Did the stars in the sky, their trajectories set or some creature up on the cornice spinning its web for a fix? Who hears the whispers, the secrets, lies, that God it is who wants us to... and who's the special girl of mine?? Is it the woolly elephant - the one with its ears ripped off? Or the victim - thumbs in hers? Is it the brother curled in his bed, or the matchbox pet smothered to make the nightmare pass? Who sees without understanding when the parent abuses the child, Who fails in the test of feeling suffering's secret degree? Is it the owl, so proud in his wisdom, the comet that's gone in a flash? Is it the window, washed by the rain? The mother, the father, the uncle, the aunt? The one who is close, but not close enough - or someone too close for a small child's comfort? And who will tell of these things? The Teddy, the doll on the pillow, the action man? The clown torn to bits in distress? The headless soldier, the wooden horse, or the frightened boy with a fork for defence - in thirty years time, as a man, of course.
Submitted to The Mag as a (somewhat off-piste) response to Tess Kincaid's thought provoking prompt.