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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Sirens Don't Sit Demurely on the Rocks These Days

The light awhile too bright to look,
the blackness folded in upon itself
and darker than the darkest text in a closed book;
the sea erupting with volcanic force.

Has she a voice to lure stars down onto the rocks?
the force of personality to stretch or bend
the wavelengths of the ocean's echoes, thus to send
the dolphins distant on a wayward course?

And is her voice, the bleep, bleep, bleep, the digital deceit
of interference, satellite experience,reflecting back the songs
of cultures long gone now to the long house under the sea?

Dig this! she says, Dig what the ocean brings you, dig
that the souls roll on, burrowing deep in the rollers 'till
the rollers break in a shatter of spray at the lone land's edge

Yeah, I dig the deep bass of the soul of the beat, the beat
of my soul that I meet in  the roll of the waves;
the rhythmic mix of infinite beats that I draw from the graves,
the watery graves of those from the land who couldn't be saved.

But over it quietly, softly there flies, flows
fathoms that many have set to nought: a new stress:
a trip, a tremble and treble, all mellow as sunlight, 
laid-back as spring - and forging like it, a new way to begin.

The title was given to me as I went to collect the morning papers. I opened the shop door as another customer said it over his shoulder as a parting remark. A remark right out of context for me, but it suggested the poem.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A Groovy Kind of Love?

This is what we meant by spin
before the doctors of politics
collared it
made it their own --
us whiling away
days to remember at H.M.V.
feeling the way of the vinyl
as slowly it turned
into something more final.
Spinal perhaps,
like the spine of a book
that neither had read
or a cord that ran through it.

Then spin letting sin
creep into the frame.
Two partners in crime
but under the skin.
Not knowing the rules of the game. 
Well trusted friend
grooming me. 
I know now -- though he,
I am sure, did not see it so.)

Bach. Brahms. Beethoven. Britten. Liszt. All
of them tarred with the same brush, kissed
by the devil. But fit to fight back --
and how fit they were!
He bought me my first new L.P.
my earliest Britten
and first symphony.
(My very first set)
Yet no one suspected a thing.
Did they know, I wonder,
that such things were?
The world was different then.

Looking back, it was spin
and spin time I valued,
remember the best.
The time in the cubicle,
sound-proofed and bullet proof
just he and I
spinning the discs,
trapped by the vinyl
lost in the sound.

(Serving in Italy
during the war
he'd seen too much
of what happens to guys
who go with girls.
Hence, I suppose, 
there was me. I was clean.)

Later. Unease.
Feeling something was wrong.
Keeping a distance.
Later still. Guilt.
I'd taken his gifts,
but giving them back
would involve explanations.
Image as prompt from Tess Kincade at The Mag

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Thaw : Tanka and Haiku

beneath the downpipe
yesterday's solid ice block
tiny fragments now
fracturing the early light
sparkle there like diamonds

the children's snowman
runnelled by its melt water
becomes a snow sphinx

in the snow's slow thaw
tracks suggest a beast on stilts
half-crossed the front lawn
stopped at the magnolia --
before melting like the snow

spots on cars and doors
the children have played snowballs -
infectious frolic!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Going Viral

You want a youthful view on social networks, Gov?
It'll be the fifteen days of fame syndrome for sure --
was fifteen minutes, but that died a death.
That's what the young kids cut their teeth on now.
But us, the grandees of the game, we're more extreme,
we're after more -- We're in it for to win it, Guv'!

I see the social network as a broadsheet, no?
A democratic paper, not one that spouts democracy.
Everyone writes his or her own column, yeah?
No editors to keep us all in check with That
aint policy, old son, you can't write that! 
So! -- Full of all the  stuff then, that the public wants.
Gossip is my speciality. And crime. 
I do a lot of crime from time to time.
I find it very popular. Now say
I write tomorrow how I aim to kill
the cat in Downing Street -- but wrap it up, like,
so as no one understands it 'till I do --
but when I do... then Bingo! I go viral, see?
And all the world knows who and what I am!
My readership goes stratospheric, man!
The noughts go running off the flippin' chart.

That's what it's all about. To be there at the death...
All papers have to boost their circulation. no?
Im' just the same as any big sheet up in town.
Some guys are into sexting now. Not me!
I leave that sort of shit to them. That's like
your page three boobs and bums. That's common, man.
I'm more your classy writer with an intellectual edge.

They tell me I'm abusing what I love,
a medium of value to mankind.
But everything's abused these days because
the world has changed while things have stayed the same.
Abuse or do not use it, that's the choice, 
coz that's the way of things these days -- things as they are.
We play with words, so words don't mean a thing.
That's why I stick to pictures, man. Know what I mean?

Written for Brian Miller's beautiful prompt Reaching the Masses for Poetics at dVerse Poets.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Building Worlds : Crystalia

The glazier
who replaced my broken window pane
used fairy glass. Now when I look
at midnight
or when the moon is full
I see a landscape I have come to call  

The apple tree,
its branches woven into wings,
has taken flight.
The apples, green and red,
are navigation lights,
are naked flames
that take uncommon shape
from movements of the wings.

The ethereal glow,
much brighter than the moon,
appears to flow 
from every object in my view,
and if I close my eyes
and wander out and through the copse,
the change is more complete,
for looking up, the stars, 
I see, have left the sky.
They hang now from the branches 
like a thousand chandeliers.

Sometimes a star falls from a branch
and fiscles on the ground
and earth turns slowly round 
the sprijly, sprounding thing 
until it cristles out.
But all the while it fiscles there
a silent music fills the air
and I am more content;
content with earth and fellow men
and what life holds for me.

It's winter now, 
and rainbow coloured snow falls,
glowing, on the fields.
Some rises up in spectral forms
to whisper up the distant peaks
like mountaineers together roped
with twisted tongues of fire. 
Some merely lies, heaves, smoulders, 
shines, like a great sea
of coloured mercury.

Sometimes the dreaded Tube will come,
building slowly like a summer storm
as black clouds round its edges spin
and mix the elements of good and bad
that threaten from within. I've seen 
it swallow oak trees whole and spit 
out animals as big as cows. But then,
when Graunules swim above the trees,
you know the tube has spent its ire
and all is well again.

Written for Kerry's Wednesday Challenge , Building Worlds at imaginary garden with real toads though regrettably written a few days late.

Friday, 25 January 2013

On Creativity
Notes Towards a Poem

Creativity comes
when what you have controlled for long, escapes
and does the thing it always meant to do,
the thing it had been nudging you to do,
but you were somewhere else, your mind on other things.

There was a shape emerging from my thoughts
that changed profoundly when I looked away.

Sometimes the best lines are written while I sleep.
I go to bed with them rattlling around in my mind, not quite working,
and in the morning they are there, waiting for me in final draft form -
but so ephemeral; the act of writing down the first of them erases all 
the rest. And needless to say, the original lines, unless I wrote 
them down, are gone for good. I am amazed at Coleridge's tale of 
The Visitor from Porlock (here), how he (Coleridge) could have 
remembered so much for so long and in such detail.

I'd worked all evening on the two ideas, could not resolve them,
went to sleep still playing with them in my mind. What happened
while I slept I cannot say, only that the brain must have gone into
its processing mode, so that by morning they were mixed in great
confusion. I could not even think them back to how they'd been.
But now they fitted easily together.

A shape, a colour or a sound, they all may change in some
altered status of the mind: asleep, awake, distracted or  intoxicated.

The inspiration moment always catches me off guard.
I cannot ever say what I'd been thinking at the moment that
it struck. It is as though I've hammered out an artefact and cannot  then
remember how the metal was.

Inspiration is seeing beauty change its shape

If an artwork does not feel finished and I cannot take it further, 
either I have not worked hard enough on it
or else I have not waited long enough.

Sometimes it feels as though you're fighting with the angel

Looking back over these notes I am struck by the the realisation that
they mostly seem to involve looking away or an absence of the mind or
some such state or action. 

Written for Anna Montgomery's Meeting the Bar prompt on Creativity at dVerse Poets

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Breaking All the Rules

It's how he sees it!
runs the comment often heard
of too-demanding art.

For centuries the rules
were there to guide the brush --
rules that trammelled thought.

Marcel Duchamp with
a urinal -- pet named Fountain --
broke them all at once.

That art is not art
except demanding of  technique 
and great proficiency.

Art is something made
by artists according to
set rules and guidelines

to find an object
then to claim it as your art
insults the viewer.

Duchamp did not see
a world made strange from ours, but
thought with a new set of rules.

Look at some child art.
The house is not a house you know.
The child has formed the rules,

has not learnt ours
but once it does, our scales will fall
upon its eyes  -- and
sadly then, upon the pearl
of its imagination.
Written as a second submission to the Poetry Jam prompt Breaking all the Rules

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Artist Must be Free - or:
The Practise of Practice

Two years into the piano
and not much further on
I take up violin -- and
what a difference!It sings!
My instrument, no doubt!
A maestro in the making,
I am sure of it -- that is
until my teacher, saintly,
white haired, gentle, kind
and ancient Janet Lawson,
terminates the lessons on
hearing that I practice it 
in bed. does she not know
art can't be bound by rules?

She's still will teach me
the piano, though... happy
in the thought, no doubt
that given its great size
and weight, there's little
chance that I'll be tempted
back to my Bohemian ways...

A little belatedly submitted to Poetry Jam's prompt Breaking all the Rules

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

4 + 1

his hand soft in hers
her thumb lies butterfly-like
on hard bare knuckles 
love can cuts us to the bone
love is us most tenderly

hands light in contact
what are they to each other
siblings lovers friends
these two who hardly touch yet
have spliced their worlds together

are they now meeting
or about to take their leave
of one another

look at their thick sleeves
see how very cold it is --
gloves lose out to touch

The poems above have been written for the prompt at The Mag, to whom thanks for the image.
You will find the + 1 below.
snowman needs a hat
dad declines to donate his
child in tears of rage

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Metaphysics and the Monkey

The monkey climbing down the Mayan megalith
knows nothing of the powers in the stone,
what a being must believe to carve it so,
how a carving may breed faith in flesh and bone.

He's looking down and back across his shoulder,
searching for the safety of the ground.
There's fear etched in those eyes. Anxiety
Why did he ever try to climb
this chunk of God-knows-what-with-nothing-to-hang-on-to,
this bald and bony rock that's nowhere like a tree?
Unclimbable, that's what!   
He's sure he'll tumble off it soon enough
into some purgatory.       
But now look carefully,       there's something else:
there's sorrow in the eyes at having left
his comfort zone, his loving home.       His tall tree 
is a memory.       Its canopy, his warm and cosy wife --
both figments from a dream. 
The sadness comforts fear. Sadness and fear.
And something else again,
something that we humans know as prayer.
Prayer offered in extremity. 

Like all best heavenly communions, 
his cry is silent. Wordless. Imageless. A mystery at source.
A lifting of the soul to God or to the void.
Translated though, it roughly goes like this:

Please let the world be tree-like underneath,
not flakey like the croissants humans eat
(discarding lives like sun-burnt flakes of skin --
a psoriasis afflicting everywhere I look),
but let us live like ancient trees,
forever deeper in the earth and closer to
yourself above the sky --
                    And let it be like this for all --
not simply the elect.      
And then, please let
the limestone penis on that fabled bird 
one step or so below me, thin
and convoluted, interwoven with a snake, 
support my foot... my body-weight... my life... my all --
my afterlife, if that's to be --  and whatsoever
might come jogging after that. Here ends my prayer.

It ends with life's original hypothesis. He has two choices. 
Always there are two and only two. (The world 
is simple at its core.)
He knows the great philosophers by heart:-
Something either is, or it is not. (that's Socrates)
Branch will hold you, dear, or if it won't,it won't.(Aunt Flo')

No more ado. A single monkey-weight transferred
from dragon's tongue to cock of fabled bird.

Dendrites in his brain light up
like street lamp filaments
illuminating neural pathways
mapping those in the real world.
And as with all such modelling, such calculating,
testing, forging of new links, new phrases come
(wordless again) (and imageless) (half-formed) (unformed) 
into the Holiest of Holies in his mind 
                             (where even he 
has never dared to look) (but where 
he's forced to meet them now, 
                        these alien perturbations, 
ruffles to his natural rhythms),       oddities      like: - 
world is:-    locust on a strawberry 
              inside a lotus blossom
              in a dented can of butter beans.
The label reads: "Made Somewhere Else."
                                                                                      Or: -
world is jungle-friendly path of broken glass. 
                                 Anomalous ideas 
to conjure with      
like:      world is 
sun-dried purple roasted peanuts wrapped in haggis (which
in common with the rest of us, he's never known
but just concocted in some kitchen of his brain).       
Or: -
world is pollen clouds above the canopy.       
Or: -
(coming down to earth and walking on the canopy),
 a trapdoor made of mould, with
a deep pit beneath.      
Or: -
world is root canals in mud and slime 
and sound of sap a'roaring in the roots
                               like water at the falls. -- 

But these are insights he could never own 
or formulate.
He smells them out, like jungle smoke --
like irritations in the nose or throat,
an autonomic thing that happens to the mind.
Time to decamp the hippocampus says, that has
already struck more cells than anyone can count.

By-products all of life's involuntary 
mental exercises. 
              For example, this: what chance
the limestone penis carries all his weight 
for as long as he might take
to work out his next move?
(Or the next two) (Or three) (Or four) 
(How far ahead a monkey thinks, is hard to know.)

These are matters then, that occupy his mind,
that stretch his intellect. They are 
the metaphysics he has made his own.
And all the learning in his head
(which we can hardly know),
cannot quite grasp -- the way his fingers do --
the two millennia of culture in the stone.
This is a new poem offered to Poetry Pantry#133 at Poets United

Saturday, 19 January 2013

They don't make snow the way...

The children playing in the snow
are half a world away
from me at the same age.
So generation equals world
and world spins on,
pursues agendas of its own --
to hell with you and me.

The children playing in the snow
have a whole world of points to prove:
the games they play are not the same;
the same games are played differently.
The difference is quite plain --
They plainly are not quite the same
as we were at their age.

The children playing in the snow
have missed the point of it --
the artlessness of snow.
Girls bury tokens in the drifts
whose meanings are not clear to me --
nor yet, I bet, to you --
a sort of Arctic treasure hunt?

Snow games were guiless in my day,
were open to the sky. Had nothing buried,
out of sight -- though one might fall
and turn the snow bright red.
The boys scrape snow from cars to throw
at windows and front doors...
so nothing changes through the years --

except the years have changed for me.
The balls disintegrate in air,
the snow is dry and will not cling,
and one lad in a fury kicks
at sight of anything -- 
except, thank God, the cars.
He stubs his toes against the kerb.

A blizzard once, wind blowing snow
away from me, me chasing it!
I was distraught. Perhaps 
I sensed life's slipstream would
be always whisking stuff away.
But we knew snow (or thought we did):
good snow from bad;

soft snow, ice-free for balling;
icy snow for igloos in the sun --
though then we well might cheat:
with snow chunks hard to find
we'd use some planks of wood.
The world was white and fluid then,
would change beneath the snow.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Semi-Homeless of Our Day

Have you heard where youngsters go
when they should be home in bed?
how they ride the night away
on many a small hours bus?
How no one wants to know?

Have they told you why they ride
as they did once for their play,
before pretend ran into status,
camaraderie and cred'--
that their oyster cards provide?

Have they told you who they are,
these youngsters deemed as surplus
to our culture, the severely underfed?
They are the semi-homeless of the day --
who with their oyster passports travel far.

Did they tell you - quite downbeat -
did you hear all that they said,
how to bus it to next day
while dodging all the hassle, all the fuss
of a night spent on the street?

Written in this form (The Karousel) for Gay Reiser Cannon's inspirational prompt at dVerse Poets (Form for All). The subject matter, though, was already on my mind after reading an article about these youngsers in yesterday's (Thursday's) Independent Newspaper.

The Karousel is distinguished by the manner in which the middle three rhymes rotate in each of the stanzas. For more info' please follow the link above.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Safety First

Change down... NOW!
Ease it into second... 

Approaching crossroads,
Lights. And a pedestrian
standing on the corner.
Waiting for the lights,
think I. Not so!

Watch him... him on the corner.
Potential suicide, for all we know!
He waits until you are right there
on top of him -- then: Bingo! 
Throws himself full length in front
of your front wheels! Believe me,
you never will get over it!

An early driving lesson. My first
experience of rush hour traffic
on our busy by-pass in the rain.

Looking back, it seems
our little town was home
to multitudes of suicides
just waiting for my car
to come along. And then
there were the muggers,
car-jackers, rammers,
maniacs of every hue
and size -- Some visible,
most hiding out of sight
behind a haystack, car,
or street sign saying STOP.

One time I knew his clone.
A school inspector known 
to us as Risky Biz 
I could not move move without
I'd done a risk assessment first.

Did I decide to go into the playground... where,
if I please, my risk assessment for the plan?
Not just the admin areas, the whole school, each
area collected its own paper mountain. He came
one time to give a presentation. Assessing Each
and Every Risk . Fell over the projector lead,
and would have lost a lot of cred', had it been there.

Written for Poetry Jam's inspired prompt DANGER.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Road Rage

on the corner      in the snow
road rage

Corner blind
they came from north and west
both on a slight      downhill
both heavy laden      both
a shade too fast.      Neither saw
the other.

Trying to slide past
both lost control
off-side and near-side 
wheels were firmly locked.

Both now      facing the wrong way.

Their minders squaring-up
both also      losing it
kicking wildly      at each other's 

Their methods      proving unsuccessful.
Wheels remaining      firmly locked.

I watched this from a bedroom window.
Words were hurled      from one to other
lost on me.

What might have happened next
I wondered      but just then
the van appeared
collecting      rubbish
for recycling.

They eased their bins apart
and made for home. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Middling Poet

A Middling poet...
He thought it of himself.
Most everyone agreed.
He wrote for a small circle
and was happy with his lot.

But then, with his first --
and his last --
long poem
his  prospect changed.
He saw at once --
no missing it! --
he'd sired a masterpiece.

What should he do?
Attempt to publish it?
Cold, uncomprehanding eyes
might rubbish it...
He kept it to himself,
sharing it with no one.
Not a soul.
Not family or friend.

He gave up other reading,
lived inside its pages
began to read it constantly,
and tweak it as he read.
A word, a dot, a comma changed;
but nothing changed 
as much as he.
Each cadence savoured...
and then savoured once again!

He had no time for eating  now.
Washing, sleep, T.V. and radio,
all things of yesteryear.
And then one day
a new obsession struck:
verbose, not dense enough,
needs paring down.
He'd make it lean and hungry like.
And this he did.

They found him 
and the manuscript
like double suicides,
together on the bed.
The two pared down
beyond the point
at which life might survive.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Body Sock

An artist
may use clothing
to disclose
or hide a form.

Henry Moore used shelter drawings
to do both at once.
Here, a performance artist
uses hers,
not to reveal,
not to conceal,
but to confuse us about form.
A stunning set of visual puns
from our most alien world,
the sea
mixes metaphors
as she moves
frog man becomes a tube anemone,
a snorkel mask 
evolves into a tunicate's 
sack-like morphology with filter feeders
(rather like a periscope),
and then become a seal. 
the ambiguity of form
gives rise to ocean-going

It must have been quite magical,
the rock pool of her origin.

Much thanks to The Mag for both the image and its inspiration.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Growing Up

We ought to get a signal, I said once,
to say we're grown (or growing) up. 
My friends all had their signals:
height, weight, bum-fluff on their chins
(invisible to me),
but these were unreliable.
(I trailed on all of them.)
Then someone quite avuncular explained:
You don't GET signals, silly boy --
you're meant to send them out. 

That very day I visited 
our local sweets and paper shop.
Don't send me "Film Fun" any more,
I told the friendly man.
Please send me "Punch" instead. 
Then later at my recently discovered,
smelly book shop (second hand) I dug a bit
and found the Penguin Classic, "Plato's
Dialogues" by E. V. Rieu and "Microbes 
by the Million". Job Done, 
I thought, I'm home and dry!

(The Rieu translation was in verse -- 
my first encounter with 
what I decided was true adult poetry.
It set me on the road.)

The clincher came a few weeks later, though.
A thick fog - a real London smog. Conductors walked
in front of buses. My mother met me after school...
Oh, the shame of it! My vindication, though:
my mum was lost. I had to take her home.

Written for Start McPherson's prompt at dVerse Poets Poetics

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Mason

The mason's hammer scribes a perfect arc,
the pin rings out a perfect note
an octave down from middle C.
Much lower than the rest.

Twelve pins there are in twelve drilled holes,
even-spaced in a straight line.
In turn the mason plays them all,
but hits the high notes first.

And so the hammer rises, falls...
the stranger hears a tune.
The mason, though, brings all twelve pins
to ring out clear with one sound note.

Soon, as he taps them evenly, 
together down the scale, a crack appears --
thin, wiry thing, like a shy mouse 
that scampers pin to pin.

Yet still the mason taps: the crack runs down
the marble block at either end.
Still must the mason listen to the pins
until the block comes clean away.

Severed from its mountain home,
it groans down to the ground
and rolls before the mason's feet
and those of him who first selected it.

The master carver sees within
the shapes that wait for their new day.
But for the mason every day is as this one,
and every night he dreams his one sad dream.

The pins are choristers whom he conducts;
they sing the same cantata time and time
again, until the point at which the notes
become the only note in town.

It is a sort of death. A crack runs through
the ground. It opens, swallowing the pins.
He knows for sure, the day will come
when it will swallow him.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Conundrums come in threes.

I see it now:
exotic jellyfish,
it rode the waves
and rode them with aplomb;
re-shaped itself
for trough and crest, its broad
black brim spread wide
to stabilize it, take
it drifting weight
through every change of shape.
Its lemon crown
collected-in the stares
of sunbathers
and promenaders, both;
its double prow
of sculpted net and lace
had two blue eyes
which as it twirled in wind
and tide were set
to scan the whole wide world.
Below it hung
the lower net of lace
and bits and bobs
where feelers should have been.

Frinton sea front.
My aunt has taken me
to convalesce.

Another image comes
and lays itself
above Aunt Julie's hat.
Best hat. Reserved
for most auspicious times,
not everyday!

Now on the promenade
in contact with
my chunky wooden train.
Red engine -- lodged
against the hat -- green truck,
grey carriages
and guards van midnight blue.

Final image.
Composite. The same two.
Black-and-white. Cut
from a local paper,
but now torn and
incomplete. No wording --
and no me! No
clues to the mysteries.

Victoria C. Slotto for dVerse Poets, Meeting the Bar has been giving us a master class on the Imagists and communication under the title of The Medium is the Message. Please do go and have a read of it.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Artists Beware...

Be careful what you write,
be careful what you draw,
the world with which you start,
the world you leave behind
are there in every word
and there in every line.

Stay with the everyday?
You will transcend the known
It is as though we live
in each of these two worlds
and every line and word
reflects the truth of each --
or if not, misses both.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dawn Vocalists

my first dawn chorus of the year.

Not quite dawn...
the year too young for such bird song -

even though,
not quite the full orchestral bit.

A quartet...
sextet -- that's pushing it a tad --

warming up
a wintry auditorium.

Who would sing --
I asked myself -- at such a time?

Who would trill
for joy in weather such as this?

Someone with
a nest to share perhaps? -- I'd chirp

with someone
snuggled close, feathered just like me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Real Bird of Paradise

The universe
the bird proclaims
in versions
without number.

With parrot beak
she picks its secrets
one by one:
from black starred skies;
from ocean foam;
from rocky blobs
that break the surface
of an angry foam;
by breaking ice
on frozen seas;
from desert sands...

unrolling them
before the lovers' eyes.

This is
the arcane knowledge
of the want-to-know
not need to know
obsessing Eden
then and now,

the venal sin
of self-importance
how the mystery compels:
shown must be known
known must be used
used is abused
the world is bruised.

Where flies
of all infinities,
love being one?
(Love being the essential one.)
How many
in how many versions
of the bird
the woman
and the man?

The bird is birthplace of
the constellations
still to come.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Angel of History

Looking back on what is past, 
were're apt to see:
disasters by the cart load,
catalogues of tragedies,
errors by the score;
so many reasons to be sore,
so many crimes against our nature --
too many to be sure...
a video for ever playing
of individual failures,
each person with their fatal flaw.

In contrast stands the angel of our history. 
Face for ever turned towards the past,
she sees it differently: sees
a single car crash on a motorway --
and an endless stream of vehicles
for ever piling in.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Peace Within and Without

(The title was set by Mary in Poetics at dVerse Poets)

a peaceful scene
gives space
to rest the eye

a tranquil scene
small waves
that kiss the land

the distant hills
of restfulness

the only sound
to gliding birds

long sleepy waves
of flight
take mind in tow

but active minds
for inner peace

do not require
or stifled cries

to life - all life -
they give

play host and put
to rights
the mess of its

its noise
and bafflement

its rooms set right
the heart
content at last

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Thoughts on Old Christmas Day and the Christmas dec's

(My second attempt this century at a prose poem!)
The sixth of Jan', Old Christmas Day
Your decorations stowed away
or some great evil will, I fear
dog your steps this coming year.

(Well, that or something like it.)

As I was growing up, we lived with my maternal grandparents, and Gran lived and breathed those old superstitions and folk wisdoms - especially those that were encapsulated in verse. As, indeed, they all seemed to be. But it was not Gran, but Dad who was a terror for getting the stars and tinsel and other stuff away in good time - and a less superstitious person would be difficult to imagine.

The reason for his insistence went back to his own childhood, to the one and only Christmas when everything was not stowed away. As a consequence of that oversight the River Wandle overflowed its banks. He used to tell of watching from his bedroom window as his Dad waded down the garden path to rescue their pet dog - and watching him disappear below the murky waters down an open man hole, invisible to him. So not getting the decorations down in time became a non-starter.

No such dramas for us this year - for which, much thanks. Nothing of note beyond one small incident connected with getting them down in a totally different context. I keep them stowed in four large stackible crates in the attic. Anno domini having made some inroads into my physique of late, I now stack them beside the access hatch to the roof space. This allows me to bring them down without the need for aerial gymnastics on my part. I simply position the step ladder, push the trapdoor open - and help myself. That's the theory.

This year the trap would not open. I heaved and I pushed and then I pushed and I heaved, but no, it would not budge. Finally, by dint of putting my repaired hernia at some risk, I persuaded one side of the door to rise. The mystery was solved. We have fallen into the habit of having our friend the painter and decorator in to work his magic whilst we are away on holiday. This year he transformed the stairs and landing - and in a burst of excessive zeal apparently sealed the trapdoor with double-sided draught-excluder.

With some difficulty I managed to ease enough of the hatch cover away from it - but still I could not lift the wretched thing! Further investigation revealed that the crates containing the decorations - two of which are heavy - now rested on the hatch itself! I still have not worked out how he managed this. It was one hell of an intelligence test, working out how to manoeuvre them away from the hatch. It must have taken far more ingenuity to position them there in the first place. Doreen is convinced we have an uninvited lodger up there.

Ergo I am under strict instructions to get them down today - just so there are no last minute slips-up.

Well no, maybe not. Back to the drawing board!

Friday, 4 January 2013

10 Lunes : a potpourri

written for Samuel Peralta's (Semaphore's)prompt for Form for All at dVerse Poets.

grammar school taught me
one of life's
great lessons - french kissing

the first light of day
appears where
most esteemed - outside

night: a lit house is 
like a cup
brim full on bare boards

twelfth night - was the byre
this barren
when the christ child left

pen on paper sparks
a faint light -
often overlooked

all men need a hand
to hold them
with light fading fast

whoever is at
the centre
of all things, loves all

with afternoon sun
we forget
the morning's dullness

beyond life lies its
not death - nothingness

one summer rose buds,
clings to life,
wonders: should it bloom

The above are attempts at one of two kinds of Lune described by Semaphore, having syllable counts of 5 - 3 - 5. Please click on the link to learn more.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Football Fanatics

I'd tossed the coin,
the teams had chosen
and changed ends
when there she was:
tall, willowy, with mucky face,
a teenage lass with grubby pram
in which -- it soon transpired --
a grimy, grim-faced child
with grubby dummy in her mouth.
Small sister. Not 
a baby  and not yet visibly
revealed -- as she would be --
beneath the piled-up
objects in the pram.

They'd come to see their brother score a goal.

Ten minutes later he obliged.
As if by magic,
in big sister's hand:
a rattle -- not a baby's rattle,mark you!
One of those old football rattles
that you never see these days.
Its sound was of a flock of geese
at war with robot ducks.
A world of objects left the pram
on trajectories through the air.

And so for the duration of the match
she ran the line,
kept up with play
whilst pushing pram in one direction;
and pulling it the other,
always with one hand.
And all the time, both pram 
and sister bounced and lurched alarmingly
on the uneven turf.
And every time she whirled her rattle
round her head the pram was emptied
of its objects -- liberally provided
for that purpose,as I had
it told to me between the halves.

He loves his football,
sir, she said. Gets so excited,
so he do!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Janet's New Year Party

It always reminds me,
New Year's  Day,
of that party of Janet's --
you'll know the one!

Like all of her dos
it began after dark --
that was to catch
all the hung-over ones,
so I'd always thought.

This was the one 
when most esteemed
Chinese Gentleman,
Mr Ly, got it off
with the dreaded 
and feared adverbial game.

New twist for new year:
each word had to do
with an end or beginning,
an old or a new.

Mine? I forget
which word it was won.
I simply remember 
the fact that I did it -- 
and how it was done! --
in stark silhouette
with a knife through my spine.

Bloodily! -- You.
Posthumously! said
Janet's mulled wine.
Deservedly! then
the resident wit --
hungover, no doubt! --
Efficiently! later.
But Crudely  was greater
when we added the scores.

But when we moved on
to adverbial phrases
I regret to report
all sense went to blazes!

You started it off
by burning the toast.
You being you, 
you did it twice over:
first in the kitchen
and then in the lounge --
an encore, by gad!

With evident ease --
from the twins, I believe.
Then carried away
as the fire brigade came --
none too quickly, I fear,
though the blaze was the smallest
they'd seen for a year.

Still, the party broke up
in an orderly way
each one telling each
that they loved them to death --
and they'd guessed every word,
and that straight away.