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Wednesday 9 October 2013

Hello everyone who follows David King (My Father). On behalf of the family this post is to let you know that Dad sadly passed away, peacefully, on Friday 4th October; following his recent illness. I know that he really appreciated everyones feedback and support. Kind regards. Gavin King.

Monday 16 September 2013

Why can only the living mourn?

What makes us suppose
that only the living grieve?

Now all but lost in this new
and familiar world
of tall, leaning-together buildings,
grey and grubby as they are.
I walk between them in the rain,
tasting the water, soaking it in,
into the pores of my skin,
into every sensation.
Pure water. Holy water. Water for baptism.
Water enough to end a world
or build another drop by drop,
enough to bring world peace,
enough to wash the old one away.

I know these tenements of old,
she lives in one of them, she whom I mourn.
All around me the echoes of water. Water running.
Water splashing and gurgling.
Holy water to bless my mood.
Not to rubbish or vanquish it,
but to fashion and welcome it.

And she, does she grieve for me?
she in her tall, dark world,
topped by the light of the sun?
Does she hear my rain. Or even see it?
Does she know that I grieve?
that not only the living can mourn?

Sincere thanks for all the kind and interesting comments on How do I prepare for death? and huge apologies if I frightened anyone. It was, as always, interesting to hear of the beliefs of our Druid, Hindu and other friends. Again, today's poem was not specifically addressed to my present condition, but I guess must have been influenced by it. Hope it was not another fright or a poem too far!
As for the even more appreciated enquiries and good wishes for my health, I cannot begin to tell you how much they mean to me. I did manage to type out a personal reply to each one -- and forgot to save it!! That is about the measure of my present state of mind. I was warned that I would feel exhausted towards the end of my treatment, but in fact I did so from the first day, and still do beyond midday. That might not have mattered, as A.M. was when I mostly worked, but A.M. now seems to be taken up by a steady stream of medics of every hue and tint. I will now do my best to get round to you all. Please keep the comments and posts coming, and I will continue to attempt the same. It is just weakness, sleepiness and a lack of opportunity preventing me from doing more at present. Thanking you once again.

Friday 13 September 2013

How do I prepare for death?

(Not to read too much into this.)

How do I prepare for death?
I asked a wise man long ago.
You don't, my son,
the wise man said:
Let Death prepare for you.

Her laundered sheets
and candle lights
or spring flowers round the bed
will take you back
to early days...
How bright the vision then!
How clear the way ahead!

She'll sweep the house
of all those fears
accrued along the way:
the frights that have no form.
Not dreads of death,
but worse than those:
to not exist;
the aweful void.

Such terrors follow the more solid ones,
those obstacles the world threw up
to make you doubt or start again,
to hesitate.
Each in their turn depart.

(Always the optimist, I hope to be around a little more hereon than just recently.)

Friday 6 September 2013

There was a witch

There was a witch once lived in a tree,
as witchy as any old witch could be --
not that you'd know, for she dressed quite so,
sometimes as duchess, sometimes as queen,
but never were witch's rags to be seen.

The bones of the tree were as dry as hers,
but she'd wrap herself in some sumptuous furs
(under which she'd wear but never a stitch)
and fly to her mansion of musty smells
in the land of voodoos and spells.

The twigs of her broom were coming apart.
They should have told her. They hadn't the heart.
So the three pet birds she kept in the tree --
Tax and Id and the long-dead Dermy --
tweeted to warn: Stay away from the sea!

But slowly the witch lost power to the deep.
(Old adversaries these, concerned to keep
their secret enigmas inviolate.)
(It seemed inevitable that the weight
of Nature's mysteries would seal her fate.)

A late submission to This week's prompt at The Mag.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Silly Little Nonsense Poem

Down in the left hand corner of the world,
beyond the rows of buttersplatch
and gongoliferous trees,
beyond the stirring spoonpools
where the sizals ooze their way
and all the lochs are tightly locked
except on Turtle Day,
'tis there my granny taught me
how to whingel whingels in --
and please to whingel whingels in
before they start to spin.

'Twas when whingelling a whingel
that I almost met my match:
its krox had ripened early
and was hanging off the catch.
With lowered cranial blubberbutt
it came at me like frrruck --
which is whingel for the best of rotten luck.

I jumped a passing songtrain
that the frangle bird had sung
and clung on to the clutchets
(which tell us right from wrong)
'till we got To Pokeham Arrberry
where I watched them ghoul the sun.
And having ghouled the sun they went
and ghouled the blood red ocean espcially for me.

Thursday 29 August 2013

So who did Raphael Paint
if not Isabel de Requesens,
wife of the viceroy of Naples?

(see here )

One thing that you should know about this portrait,
deemed by many, the world's most perfect yet:
the sitter and the artist never met.

Commission 199: Portrait: Lady
Viceroy of Malta: a.k.a. The Ice Queen...
But Raphael was busy, so dispatched
a Jack-the-Lad assistant from the ranks
to sketch the high born lady from the sticks
while he made hay with nobles grown near home.

It's here I interject my small conceit:
Jack tarried in the local inns a while,
boasting wildly of the fortune that would follow
when once he'd lifted this old dame to fame.
Then on the very eve of the first sit
a ne'er-do-well who'd overheard him, spiked
his ale with something clearly meant to put
Jack in his his power. Jack hardly noticed
how brush and silverpoint found harmonies
of flesh and hue which only The Divine
had seen before. He painted like a man
possessed, a man possessed of every skill
and passion which the artist craves, the like
of which were never in his bag before.
And none could say the model's likeness had
in any truthful way been captured in
Jack's image. But neither could be found just
one detractor who would say the two were
not the same. From fevered art a beauty
radiated that was never in the flesh

And then there was the business of the eyes.
As Jack unrolled his work to Raphael and
the studio, it would become quite clear
that Jack had changed, not once but many times,
his subject's eyes from straight ahead to left
or right then back again -- details all of
iconography to show her status.
How come her status was not known to Jack?
How come her beauty paled Jack's art?
Who was this dame he picked up at the inn?

Notes: The third line of this poem is the only trustworthy one. The business of the eyes is factual, but relates to Raphael's (?) final painting and not Jack's sketches.

From The Sleepy Zombie.

Sunday 18 August 2013

The Kaleidoscope and the Microscope

My body had died
and only my head and two hands were alive.
So what can a head and two hands do
when that is all there is of you?

The head can think and the hands can move,
you could imagine a world more in the groove,
more open to all the needs of man
and sketch it there where your world began.

You could paint all the pictures in The Louvre
in alternative hues, in DayGlo bright
or Virgin white with just a touch of celestial light
and newly constructed, enlightened views.

Trite images from yesterday, perhaps, but in the plan
displaying all the powers and skills of old
Renaissance man. His masterpieces all survived
traumatic lives, endured abuse, are damaged souls,

are halfmen walking in the light,
conquerors of their own, more personal night.
But damaged people just might ghost
the blueprints for the world that lies in limbo now.

This wasn't a dream or a reverie
or a nearer to death experience,
but the bump of a spacecraft back on Earth
and I the only occupant -- Pro Tem disabled by the bump.

As with The Louvre, so with the forest and the high rise town:
look where you will, in church and factory,
in school, on playing field, in airport lounge
and shopping mall, on road and rail, in hospital

and swimming pool, you'll see
the blueprints for a better deal.
These are the ghosts that haunt the now,
the dead men live on tomorrow's page.

Saturday 17 August 2013

I Miss Me Hot Flushes!

They're changing me treatment,
me hot flushes have gone!
With side-effects missing,
it all feels quite wrong.

There's nothing to kid me
this thing's on the run
without a small heat wave
to rival the sun.

There's no reassurance
that the plan's still on track...
has it simply stopped working,
or found a new tack?

Can you not fix it
that when it kicks in
it will give indications,
say a flush or a spin?

There's nothing comes back to me
as sign from the war
to say how it's going,
to let me keep score.

Could you speak to the doctors,
have some flushes restored,
something to stop me
getting anxious or bored?

I miss me hot flushes,
I miss 'em like hell:
a quickie at bedtime
would suit me real swell!

Friday 16 August 2013

Teaching the Kids to Cheat

We took the kids to the beach for a week.
My brother, having lost his wife, came too.
We thought the kids might have a role to play,
and so they did, they played along just fine
and asked us for the biggest castle ever!

My brother found enormous chunks of flotsam
timbers of all sorts. We laid them on huge rocks
to hold the walls and towers high above
long rows of flimsy arches, gates and roads.
We'd been early to the beach that day and long

before the other children came, the timbers
were well covered by the sand. Kids gathered
to admire -- and to make pleas for castles
of their own like ours. We watched them all collapse --
until our two began to feel the guilt.

Finally, tears led them to the secret shown,
and queues of kids requesting photo-shoots --
posing in our castle grounds, and even on
the battlements. Then when the sea came in
all helped it lay siege to The Castle Cheat.

Thursday 15 August 2013

I am far less visible in Bloggoland

than I was when I was far more visible than I am now. Furthermore, numerous kind -- and tactful -- fellow bloggers have given me opportunity to tell why, and although I have been very moved by your concerns, I have mostly not answered them, certainly not adequately. So time is, I think, to give some indication of what is going on.

In March of last year I was diagnosed with terminal prostrate cancer, the tumour having already spread to various bony bits. I was put on a course of hormone therapy, and for a while this worked splendidly. Then the tumour went out of control and spread to my liver and into the bowel. It was at this time that I haemorrhaged and was hospitalized for six days, having various scans and blood transfusions and so on. Next week I start a course of radio therapy and may disappear from the scene completely for a while -- or maybe not!

It is not that I am too ill to work, or anything like that, though reading anything longer than poem length becomes an effort at times. Meanwhile, your blogs are a vital part of what keeps me going! Thank you all so much. I have no plans to drop completely off the radar in the immediate future or to do so without a hint of some kind in the future.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

The Original Dancing Bear

Spirit Bear from Wiki Commons

This is the bear not forced to dance,
for this is the bear that was born to dance,
this is the bear that brought the dance
to a race called man that had yet by chance
to discover the rhythms of heart and breath,
but moved as if to a timely death,
each step the same as the one before,
not faster, not slower, not less nor more.

This is the bear that could vary its gait
from heavy to light, and with change of weight
express the vicissitudes of fate.
This is the bear that could shuffle or spin,
the second for virtue, the former for sin.
This is the bear whose movements would tell
all the dramas of Heaven and deepest Hell,
born of the spirit with us to dwell.

This is the bear that was in the groove,
who taught the rest of the world to move,
the first of its kind, with nothing to prove,
it danced for itself, 'till the world fell behind --
and movement at last was quite unconfined.
Then from seeds called art, being sown in mankind
came wild things tough as the redwood trees
and others with grace that danced in the breeze.

Submitted to dVerse Poets Open Link Night

Friday 9 August 2013

A Funny Thing

In a week or so
children in the playground
will flee before him
like chicks before
some predatory bird --
or stutter to a stop
by threatening looks.

Now here he comes, the new
alarming deputy,
to share my dinner duty
for the first time. Beneath
his arm the sin-black... what
this time? A Bible? Prayer Book?
Hymn book? Or Detention Journal?

The children wait with patience
to queue up at the serving hatch
one table at a time. But first,
the Holiest of matters: Grace.
All eyes are closed -
except of course, for a few sinners.
I'm looking at you bunch of miscreants
back there! Delinquents..! reprobates..!
and I'm not liking much
the transgressing that I see. And
what occurs to me is that
Almighty God is looking at you too -
and He's not liking what He sees,
and your immortal souls are hanging
in the balance here!

Thwack! The hymnal lands a direct blow.
(On what I cannot say,
but the whole dining hall
is suddenly electrified.)
The children shiver in their most
impressive Holy Manner.

So now you've met him:
Mr Fulcher, Responsible
for discipline around the school.

Fourteen Christian names, he has --
Which maybe why I can't remember one
of them! Each one a saint, none known to me.
The children have their own,
a fifteenth name for him.
To them he is The Vulture.

Now here's the funny thing:
while all but one class in the school
will hate and fear the man
that one small group (his class --
and later on, all those who ever
were in his class)
will see a different side,
will come to love,
adore the man, and hear no wrong
in him at all.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Boys Run a Dolls' Slave Market.

Against the fence are dolls arrayed:
rag or china, wood or bone,
never a doll stands there alone,
and in their hands are signs displayed
of what you might give to make one your own.

Role model X stands third in line --
though on his shirt a number 9 --
strikes his pose: the Alpha Male...
The price for him? A pint of ale!
(Or a pair of boots of exclusive design.)

Or what would you give for The Evil One,
for his brand of nonsense to enlighten your fun?
For hours of unrivalled iniquity?
To complete each each day with such devilry
the ask is a Nat King Cole C.D.!

There's a dragon on fire (seems a strange device)
with a list of apps as its bargain price.
So what should one do with a dragon on fire,
but use it to light the funeral pyre
of the dead girl begging a bowl of rice.

There's a skeleton rising out of a grave
bristling with sensors and weapons of death.
He's come to destroy or he's come for to save.
he's hero or villain, but don't smell his breath!
He's yours for a Batmobile and cave.

There comes a small girl with dolls in a pram --
F1 vintage and faster than that. Stops with a slam.
Dolls tumble together. Beware of whiplash.
Displays for the boys a purse full of cash.
I'll buy them all, boys. Wham-banger- Bam!

They laugh at her then, so she goes in the shop,
comes out with a box of small bags of sweets,
hundreds and thousands and toffees that pop
and liquorice boot laces and faces and teets.
The deal is soon done, the air full of tweets.

Friday 2 August 2013

A Love Poem

Do you remember how it was?
It was not always hearts and flowers
and sunshine through the trees.
The clich├ęs sometimes passed us by,
but that first handshake fast became
two hands of friendship -- and the start
of all my happiness to come.

And then it was that joyfulness
slipped by unnoticed for a while,
the way it often does.
Not just contentment: beauty,
and a kind of bliss I had not known before.
Dormant at times beneath a heap of cares --
the mortgage, job security, the kids --

but there as ever was in that same hand
that shook my world
when nothing seemed it could.
And now it is that all is treasured
dearly once again, and known for its true worth --
and tightly clutched as in two hands.
A drowning man, I will not let it go.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Two Poems

Where To?

With our new technologies,
awareness of the pitfalls
of attempts to re-tune nature,
new understandings
of the ways that nature works,
we should be heading for
a new age of enlightenment.

I do not think we are.

I think we're heading for a new dark age
and taking all our gadgets with us --
which will make the new dark age
much darker the old.

Special Delivery

Delivered just this morning
by courier
(Stork Logistics Inc)
a wooden crate
stuffed with straw:
the very latest
new idea.
Not in solid form,
no clever
the newest of ideas
still at its inception,
lost among the straw.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Conversation Piece

Too far-fetched by half, it seemed,
to those whose births had been less public,
that you could bolt a man together.

But so he'd been;
assembled there from six steel bars,
their eyes by turns
amused and disbelieving.

The one raised from a bag of dust
had found it most incredulous,
the other two seemed not to care,
were happy to enjoy the show.

One against each wall they stand,
too far apart for intimates,
yet visitors can plainly sense
there's dialogue between the four.

The steel man
in new zinc coat
and pastel shade of patina,
rings forth his voice
(as well he might)
whenever small boys
(armed with questionnaires
and drawing books)
tap him with their pencils.

The woodblock man
happy to be free
exhumed at last
to be himself
not part of something else,
shaved to a baldness that is sensuous,
invites the hands of visitors
to assist their eyes,
range over contours
and discover forms.

And from a hundred hands a day, he learns
the image that is new to him,
the image of himself.

The man raised from the dust,
mixed with water, pummelled
to a new consistency and shape,
with every birth pang left --
a kind of hall mark --
on the surface of the clay.
He is the guru of the four:
too old, too wise, too holy
for the straying hands to touch.

The stone man is the most remote of all.
Has most in common
with the wood block, I suppose.
Except he is aloof, a world unto himself.
Perhaps his birth was just too difficult,
the trauma just too great to overcome.

Friday 26 July 2013

The Great Exchange

You are lost in a wood.
It is a real wood,
a wood you thought you knew --
that was until a moment back
when all the trees changed places
with their cousins from your dream.

Now here you are,
facing all the threats of dream
in vulnerable life.

You start to panic,
though in truth
not all the panic's yours.
Some comes from the wood.
There's panic in the leaves.
Which way will you go? they say.
Not this! Not that! Not there!
Not if you want to live!

There are whispers all around,
the snap of breaking twigs,
but you are frozen
in the moment of
The Great Exchange of Trees.

The trees are busy
(as they always are).
You are a paper cut-out
from another land.

The wind is slowly rising
and for sure will take you
to a place where what is real
is only dreamed about.

You see a thorn tree,
visualise yourself
impaled upon its horns.
You've seen the tree before.
It features in your dream.
There, the thorns are quite benign,
but here they drip with blood.
You wonder if it's yours.

A feather reassures.
The impaled one was a bird,
and you remember now
how in the dream the sky
was never crossed by birds.

Dream was a no-fly zone.
Birds need reality
the way reality needs birds.

You see a nest,
some fledgelings
and a kite.

The leaves are calmer now,
the birds are coming back.
The wood is less frenetic.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Trees Are Pulling Up Their Roots

The trees are pulling up their roots,
not waiting for the end.
They always did have cultures of their own,
could calculate at dusk how much
of every vital nourishment they'd need
to see them through the night. Not only that,
they knew to make the hard decisions
when reservoirs ran low.

And now in pulling up their roots
they have a purpose loud and clear --
though quite mysterious to us.
They've pushed their complex mathematics
far beyond their world, investigated ours
and made their careful audits, sensed
what we still doubt -- or so dishonestly debate.
They've fixed their faith in life's finality.

Perhaps they've other thought forms underground --
their leaves a product of some secret art,
and not what we had thought. For sure
they had their land art long before
we had the nous to think of ours.
The oaks and redwoods lead the way,
the smaller trees, like children in their play,
do what they see the grown-ups do.

They were the first to feel earth tremble at the thought
of what must come to pass, the first to catch
the note of grief the trembling portrayed,
and were the first to say 'tis time to go at last!
They'd watched the birds fly off much earlier this year,
leaves drop like dead flies shrivelled by the sun;
they'd caught the resignation that we fear
when what's to come can't hold a candle to the past.

Friday 19 July 2013

Three Short Poems

New boy on the block
CostCutters shop
has opened on the square
and for our anniversary
(Doreen's and mine)
bedecked a corner
that was looking bare
with buckets full of flowers!


Ask any local, he will tell
how she has always had
that evil glint in her blind eye
when she been 'bout to flood.

Below the cataract
in that dark pool
you'll see the bones of her
before you see the glint --
the bones Dark Jesse laid
before he had his way with her.

The glint's to say
she's tucked her skirts up high
around her waist -- as Jesse did --
her eyes are down,
the flood of retribution
still to come.


I thought the kids had lost it on the square.
High voices raised in squeaky rage:
Fxxx off home, you fXXXXXg wXXXXXr! --
Stuff I'd not heard since playground duty days.

But now, from where I've come to watch -- small
bedroom eyrie looking out between
the acer and the tall (unpruned) forsythia --
an old man slightly staggering,
adjusting spectacles and finger combing hair
makes for the safety of the shop.

The shopkeeper comes out to comfort him --
arm round the shoulder sort of thing --
before a youth (inelegant) appears.

The two men remonstrate. He starts to sing.

Written for Tony's Mix and Match prompt at dVerse Poets. It relates to the "Short Poem" prompt of March 3 2013.

Tuesday 16 July 2013


The neural net
sifts ocean depths.
Catching what?

Old ideas,
offspring of those old ideas,
what is or was,
of the days before
their time had come.

These throwbacks hope
to come into their own
the second time around;

seem larger now;
ARE larger -- in their context --
than before.

a sleep is long enough
for offspring to mature;
assorted flotsam
show its provenance;
a harvest wave
wash through the mesh.

So listen as you dream
how gently rocks
the harbour buoy;
its solitary bell,
soft hollow toll
monotonous low DONG!

(which means in dreamspeak that
the fish are up
and answers the soprano TING! TING!
from the altar boy's new hand bell
in the church)

The net is fragile --
there's the rub.
Ideas have heft
have life:
a momentary
change of colour
and they're gone.

They've slipped away.

Not having notions, then,
but landing them,
is all the thinker's task.