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Saturday 31 December 2011

Crystallines for the New Year

A form of couplet expounded by Denis M Garrison on dVerse Poets among an intriguing collection of couplet forms. Do pop over and have a browse through them. The crystalline, I learn from Denise, was inspired by the haiku, has 17 syllables, combines Japanese clarity with English sound harmony and has a turn between the lines. It also takes a title. I did not find the form easy, but here goes:-

Chalked daffodils on pavement stone
cut vapour trails where planes have flown.

Four tiny roses opened this last week -
winter's rags are touched with chic!

A Father Christmas out of time
remonstrates with children for some crime.

Church bells ringing loud and clear...
could we but practice for the whole new year...

To all good souls who've walked this way,
to all good soul's who've not,
a sparkling New Year's Eve and Day.
For twenty-twelve a brilliant lot
to you and all those dear.
That's it for now, see you next year!

Friday 30 December 2011

Crimson Lake

Francis Bacon's
Portrait of Pope Innocent X
from the Wikipedia website.

His name was Crimson Lake.
Parental joke, maybe...
more than enough to drive
a lad like him towards
a life of crime or drink.

It pushed him into art,
he found a refuge there
and soon declared himself:
Bacon was his hero,
he planned to be like him.
("A name must have a name
or no one gives a damn!")
Michael, he'd been meaning
(rock guitarist, 3D
animator, Sony
games designer, builder
of environments):
but found himself nonplussed
when critics asked "Which one?"
Recovering at speed:
"The both of them," said he.

He had to look up stuff
on Francis. After which,
"Their influence," he said,
"was of their words, not works."
Francis gave the thought that
"van Gogh's fields give off
the violence of grass"
from which a small step took
him to: "magnetic fields
will sizzle, done in paint!"
"Man is an accident,
life is accidental,
my work shall be the same!
I'll paint the plight of man
stuck in this godless world
of widgets and white coats."

And he was proved correct:
a kind of half-connect
was made between his work
and his two guru guides.
Apparent, visual
not of the essence and
not real. An accident.
That was it. Nothing that
was consciously achieved.

For Michael Bacon's work click here

Thursday 29 December 2011


He was always at sixes and sevens.
"Awkward sod," said his father.
"Worse than the cat for getting
under yer feet!" - Well,
that was his mum.
It made me wonder: did anyone
bat on his side?

"Don't get it from me, that's a fact!"
(And that was his Dad.)
"I don't have bother with words!
Never did have!" All true.
They were all lined up at the ready -
ready for picking on Sam:
"Ham-fisted, cack-handed bugger,
no son of mine. Left-handed, see. Evil -
don't forget evil, not when you're
pointing your finger at me! Mark
of the devil, that is.
And none of my doing!"

For "evil" and "awkward" read eyes
and the limbs not fully in synch.

A difficult birth; some damage was done.

"Why can't you let him just do his drawing?
Stick him somewhere out of your way.
Paper and crayons, he's happy for hours!"
There was no going back after that.
What had been between them was gone.
Sam abhored drawing,
so how could his dad
imagine he loved it? Sam was distraught
and outraged, convinced
that his father knew nothing of him.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Talking to Children

Early sixties
talking to children
eight to nine years old.
Subject: the newly
opened Coventry

the blitz, the glass
end wall engraved
with saints and angels,
and beyond, the ruins
of the old. The architect,
Sir Basil Spence, explains
how he'd imagined
standing outside looking in
and seeing the great works
inside through bodies
of the saints. But Martin
has a different take: thinks
it was to let the worshippers
look out and see the world
they're praying for. I wonder

then, how often do we see
the object of our prayers
and all the saintly and
angelic powers that stand
nearby to intervene.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

The Dark Side of the Moon

I am the moon's dark side,
ashamed of what might be
if I should face the earth
and earth face me.

Once known as Satan or the Devil,
but now with many an alias,
I hide my true self from myself,
from each and every one of us.

I am the darkness of the moon -
not dark as in a lack of light,
but unfamiliar and unexplored,
where all that's undesirable is stored.

I am known only in my sleep,
in your analyses of probes you send,
in what you're pleased to make
of each robotic bleep.

You ask what you would see
if you could meet me face to face -
You've dreamed, I hear, of moonscapes
full of poetry and grace.

Not here, my friend; here you will find
those things that you call base.
This is a land where decency
has vanished without trace.

I am the rough side of the moon,
more mountainous and pock-marked than the rest,
abused by asteroids from birth
and left for dead, unburied and unblessed.

This is a recycled, slightly re-edited poem first posted back in May and now entered for Poets United's Poetry Pantry

Sunday 25 December 2011

A Local Mall

No shopping days left. No more opportunities to join the happy crowds!

Me, I'm taking a few days off the pooter. Hope to resume normal service Tuesday-ish.

So here's wishing the very best of the season's blessings to all who've trod this way!

Friday 23 December 2011

Light and Dark

dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar challenge for this week is to write a poem around a pair of opposites.

Half in, half out of a bad dream,
the moonlight playing tricks,
a glimmer here, a shadow there
and not a switch in sight
when from the darkest corner of the room
a figure glides towards him, stands,
occupies the moonlit patch
where moments back his wife had been.

This face he doesn't know:
long black feathers fringe her head,
woven in the many draughts.
A long black beak... a flood of light.
His wife revealed, the room laid bare.
He knows it now: The Queen's Hotel.
The feathers: pampas grass in jars.
The beak, a stork of porcelain
on which, last night
he'd hung his snowy coat to dry.

Christmas Tipples from the Poets

To help the season along a little, I thought I would recycle this very ancient post devoted to the poets as they might have been had they been not poets but fine wines. What sort of wines would they have been, with what sort of characteristics? A very happy, imaginary Christmas to you all.

Seamus Heaney
A strong, no-nonsense spirit with a distinctive, peaty flavour.

W.B Yeats
A somewhat grandiloquent wine, at times having more the characteristics of a slightly sticky liqueur. Ideal for the grand occasion, though be warned that this fine, slightly hallucinatory drink, has suggestions both of majesty and rebellion in its heady bouquet.

George Szirtes
An honest, slightly gritty wine that requires a serious meat dish for the drinker to appreciate its full authority.

Hugh MacDiarmid
The product of a robust grape that thrives in either of two soils, the one resulting in a refreshingly wild and unambiguous flavour, the other in a cloud of hints and associations.

W. H. Auden
A serious taste beneath a lively, jovial bouquet. A wine for either public or private occasions.

W. S. Graham
The punch with a punch. The first draught may be totally befuddling, but eventually - probably a day or two later - a cold clarity will hit. And you will never forget that you drank!

T.S. Eliot
One for the connoisseur, having in both taste and bouquet many associations to be enjoyed by the acquired palate.

R.S. Thomas
A severe wine with an enduring, uncomplicated flavour. A happy complement to simple fare.

Marianne Moore
Edith Sitwell once referred to this wine as "thick and uncouth", which is strange, considering its allusive and tantalising nature. Perfect with a light meal.

Robert Graves
A traditional wine, though with more than a touch of the free spirit. Ideal for the picnic hamper on a hot, sunny day, or to accompany a Mediterranean-style meal. A wine for lovers everywhere.

Thursday 22 December 2011

School Advents - Highlights in Haiku and Tanka

The Virgin Mary
lifts her skirt, shows her knickers -
to scratch beneath them

The cheerful landlord,
asked if he has rooms to spare,
says: I've loads of them. Come in

After class parties
wishing them all happy times.
Boarding the school bus
a small boy turns to whisper
I've just now had my Christmas!

A wise man grumbles
We're following the wrong star -
this one says Woolworth!

School Christmas Dinner
and I'm playing Santa Claus.
Distributing the gifts.
A small boy calls out loudly:
Why's he wearing Miss Gray's boots?

Wednesday 21 December 2011

The Next Great Extinction Will Be Words

Words are birds are minibeasts
syllables   animals amphibians
and pollywogs,
utterances   insects and ophidians. 
Snakes whispering together
in the jungle of my mind.

When the trees were juvenile
youthful full of vigour
new species on a daily
basis would appear.
The pool of all created things
got larger by the hour.

Then came the time of mellowness
of seasoning and balancing
of species from the crucible
with others to the dump.
Deaths come with births
my gran would say.

The time of clearances
is here now in this not-so-jungle-
more-a-forest, where
like lemmings, species only disappear.
The pool shrinks constantly.
There's no replenishment.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

The truth about dad and Sam

That's it, the one, the famous one, the photograph.
That's dad, of course, though looking more like mum.
It set the fashion for while, had everyone cross-dressing.
Became for dad life-changing when he took it up for real.
Joe Public saw the figure as some sort of cross
between a spy and a cross-dresser - and not far wrong, at that!
A stunt it was to start with. To advertise his book:
Spies, Moles and Sexual Peccadilloes.

Good title that, I thought, had every one a-flutter, wondering
and wanting just a bit more info than the book would give.
He went too far. Over-cooked it for the photograph. The wig,
the long, dark curls... did not sit well with the rough beard!
The there's the shadow of the man about to rape
or murder him or her - or so Joe Public liked to think!
And as for that great hole in him... don't ask. A camera lens!
Supposed to be a secret camera. The fashion then - for spies.

But it was Sam who turned Joe Public fully on.
He took her everywhere, his doll with porcelain-smooth skin -
and God-alone-knew-what on the inside.
Mechanical transexual.
Capable of Masturbation,
which she would demonstrate on cue
until the microfilm appeared
from God-alone-knew-where, somewhere deep inside.

He took her on his tours to publicise the book
and waited for the world to come,
to beat a pathway to her door -
which soon enough, they did -
especially security, the counter-everything brigade.
The photograph's iconic now,
worth a pauper's ransom, shouldn't wonder!
Pivotal it was in their divorce.

The image is this week's prompt on the Magpie Tales blog.

Monday 19 December 2011

Leonardo's Virgin and Child with St Anne

Leonardo at his peak
pulls out all the stops,
light and dark
to modulate
length, breadth and height
while background melts
to haze of greeny-blues.

Mary melancholic,
Anne benevolent,
are given slight
indefinitions -
Mona Lisa smiles.

The distance to the hills
is measured here
in muted tones
and subtle hues.

The Christ Child
holds a lamb -
symbol of
His suffering.

Rocks and mountains
earth and vegetation
have sworn themselves
to silence
hold the trio
in a firm embrace.

Mysterious, the light
seems charged:
low tension current
suspended here
like slight
will soon engulf
and power
the world.

The image is from Wikipedia

Sunday 18 December 2011

Rock Solid

Submitted to dVersePoets Poetics : Out the sketc boook

Trembly as rocker arms
were the formerly rock solid rock dwellers,
the Rockabillies of Rockall, when
their rock-bound, rock-hewn homes
took off, rocketing skywards,
past a small boy fishing for rock salmon.
Fuelled by their heavy rock oil deposits,
their rock caves and rococo palaces,
together with the rocks containing them,
had suddenly grown lighter than air.

With their own heads lighter than Brighton rock,
they leaped now from their rocking chairs
and rocked 'n' rolled
to avoid hitting rock bottom.
Out, round their rock gardens they rolled,
out among the rock plants and rock tripe,
(not to mention the rock roses),
joined by a few rock rabbits
and even the odd rock-borer,
together with flights of rock pigeons.

They well knew that it wasn't rocket science
or even rock mechanics
that would rocket them back to earth,
for in the stables the rocking horses
that would tow them back rock-by-rock
(with the help of a few rock lobsters)
were already champing in their rock shafts
when for good omen a roc flew by.

Saturday 17 December 2011

the mountain and the tree

There is a tree I know, a favourite tree, beneath which tree I love
to lie, and focus on a mountain far away.
And as I look I hear the tree creak like my garden gate
and I imagine I have walked the so-familiar path
and now am opening the gate and passing through,
and wonder: where will I end up? where now, my destination?
and: does it only creak, this tree of mine, when I am here?
and: could it be my thoughts that make it creak?
and: what part does the mountain play in this?

You will agree that these are hefty thoughts...
and I must tell you that I think the whole of life
is punctuated using transcendental ands. Like bells, they toll
to draw attention to life's solemn and most Eucharistic parts,
parts not to miss if we would fully grow into ourselves.
The ands make life continuous, joined-up and pliable.

But now the mountain beckons me, and as it beckons, so the tree
creaks loudly once again. I hear the hinges speaking to each other
and to me. The tree no longer feigns to be a gate, but has become
a portal for perception to pass through - it swings, in fact,
to let the whole of me that is the true me through.
The tree's my tree of life, of knowledge, good and evil as they were
before we mixed them both together in our special human brew.
The mountain is life's ands and source of ands -
the source of all those Eucharistic bells.

Once, when I was sick and feverish, I flew
above, beyond the mountain, wondering what I'd find.
(Before the days of Google Earth, this was - though in this context,
what would that be worth? No option, but to go myself.
No other agent could have prophesied - none even tried.)
I saw a wonderland of white, a landscape in its wedding dress -
dressed not by nature, not by falls of snow, but at its quiet centre, by
The Riddlesdown Cement Works in full flow
the chalk dust from its quarry spreading out across the hills.

(I've often noticed this in life, that at the very centre of a waking dream:
the workshop that's creating it.)

I've tried a few times drawing them, the mountain and the tree;
it's never really worked a treat, the tree still looks a tree
and the mountain keeps its daily guise and is a mountain still.
Neither ever looks the thing essentially it is.

Friday 16 December 2011

Alba Madonna by Raphael

Not in the gospels,
Leonardo's bright idea:
John the Baptist,
playmate for
the infant Christ.

Raphael endorses it;
gives the two of them
a plaything cross
as augury.

Mary's finger holds
the place of older
prophecy - Isaiah's;
yet to be fulfilled.

The composition's style
again, is Leonardo's.
Not the light.
Gone, da Vinci's mystery,
this light is bright
and even. Democratic,
even. Mellow as befits
a rural idyll,
rolling hills
and everything

The image is from Wikipedia.

Thursday 15 December 2011

the coffin kept changing its colour

The coffin kept changing its colour.
In the snug - for the wake - it was a dark mahogany
but as the bearers lifted it, I saw it turn to honey.
Out in the street, it was more like oak,
but winding our way to the chapel gate -
the chapel on the hill - I wondered:
could this be his ultimate joke?
or had he another, perhaps, up his shroud?

Well, I'd known, I suppose, the answer to that all along.
I was right: as the coffin was carefully set on its bier:
PING! it went, PING! Very loud, very clear.
LIFT-OFF that was, for a chrome coffin nail. Straight up!
Into orbit, no doubt, no messing about. Soon followed: the rest...
PING! PING! PING! PING! (Though each to its different note.)

It took me a while to fall-in (there were a large number of nails):
the tune was his numero one: Cabaret.
I looked round the chapel, but only to see
they all were still serious - looking at me! I took off the grin.
Had I imagined it? Maybe dropped off? Dreamed the whole thing?
Almost missed his voice? Recorded back when?
No way of knowing... Dark one as ever he was. Just listen!

There's never a spark
'till the mind grows quite dark

Like sods in the fields where the fork has been,
the dead will turn
and the animals scrape them clean.

I hopes you're laughing,
'coz while you're laughing
I'm happily passing away.

Then when at last the cortege formed again,
and took the path to the steep stone steps
that lead down to the beach,
the bearers whispered together
(I heard them as we went)
how the coffin grew heavier step by step.

They rested it then - at his request - on the lichen-covered rock,
his feet towards the sea - just touching it.
We watched the coffin turn a cobalt blue, then we were off again,
back up the steps, but now to open ground, the coffin black as jet.

And that's about the end of what I can tell,
the rest of what happened taking place - dissolving, I should say -
in desultory rain that washed each new trace from my memory.

His life and mine had run in parallel
but now they merged into a single, clear solution
which I have yet to filter through the net of night.
Like oceanic rise and fall, I felt breath leaving me
to cloud the day as if it was ice cold.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

beware the lady worms

My thanks to Magpie Tales for the picture-prompt.

On navigation charts of any sea
or ocean, you will find, an arm's length down
from where you always thought it ought to be,
the unmarked Isle of Katchmeeiffukhan.

It is a tiny island made of sand.
Just that. No rocks or other minerals.
No vegetation, no inhabitants -
No inhabitants, that is, but some strange,
elusive, annelida lady worms.

These humanoids, possessing bodies in
appearance much like ours (but twice the length
and less than half the girth), live deep beneath
the sands, from whence they pop up into view

whenever movement from above alerts
them to an interloper on their sands
or in the waves. Unwary visitors,
grabbed by the ankles and dragged down, may find
themselves in plights at which we can but guess.

Not one has ever made it back to tell.
An empty rowing boat or other craft
bears witness now and then that they were here -
but of the annelida lady worms'
existence, no firm proof has yet been found.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Memories of a Storm - and guilt

"Memories" is one of the prompts offered this week by The Gooseberry Garden

Seven or eight and once again
in hospital as Christmas comes -
but this time round have fingers crossed,
hoping to go home tomorrow.

Tonight, a savage thunderstorm:
it shakes the walls and rattles beds,
echoes overlay each other;
flash follows flash without a break.

So sister comes to calm the ward.
We tell her that the bangs are bombs;
the lightning flashes gunfire and
incendiary bombs igniting.

We have an air raid, not a storm.
She plays along. Her face shows fear.
She shelters underneath her desk,
cries oo-er at each flash and bang.

Now matron comes. Is not amused.
Sister, control yourself, she says.
You are more childish than your wards!
(Sister's in trouble, next we hear.)

Monday 12 December 2011

The First Conservationist.

Adam's job description
included oversight
of all the animals,
but it is said
that one by one
he forgot the names
of all of them,
and one by one
with each forgetting
the forgotten died.

He should have been
the naturalist
par excellence,
the model for us all,
the archetypal

Our failure is not his.
Ours is much the greater.
We have not even seen,
much less forgotten,
nor even given names to
(names we could forget)
multitudes of life forms,
great and small.

We kill them sight unseen,
we burn their habitats
in darkness and in shame,
make life impossible
for those who hold -
it's highly probable -
the gift of life for us.

Sunday 11 December 2011

a way to go

He stood there thinking of the week just past,
then slowly closed the blinds. The early frosts
had savaged her prize blooms. She now seemed one
with them, her waxy skin, so tissue-thin,
so like a petal when the sun shines through,
it glowed, so full of subtleties of shade
and hue. She'd watched it all with hungry eyes:
begonias that should have had months more
to live, their heads inverted on the path
in stages of decay, instead had changed
from beauty into loveliness. She'd seen
it from her made-up bed downstairs, missed not
one detail of the winter's slow advance:
hydrangeas finding subtleties to fit
their fading hues and holding on to their
last fires. She revelled in the natural
masterclass of beauty blossoming in
what we call decay. All things, she'd once said,
she had found too late. Now gardening! Still
under fifty, it had seemed to break the
mould - until this final illness and her
strong content to join in nature's soiree.

Saturday 10 December 2011

City Arrival

This poem is for submission to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads who have set Arrivals and Departures as this week's theme.
It is also for submission to Poets' United's Thursday Think Tank #77 whose theme is The City

A culture shock:
something from my past.
Flashbacks from North Africa.
The Desert.
Something of it snapping in my brain.
Compulsions crowding in...

For instance, if I'd see a column on the move
I'd have to tag on to the end of it. The only way
to stay alive I reckoned
come what may
no matter what I was supposed to do.

It took years to beat that one.
Only living in a tight community
small and intimate
could help to win my war. But this...

I'm claustrophobic.
Phobic by the yard.
The desert was an endless blank.
Oddly enough, this is the opposite,
yet even so it brings the ancient symptoms back to me
still with all their fire and the old terror.
It's not the towering office blocks
the dust storms in the streets
the unknowingness of where I am
and which way's out of here...

... and here? No need to join the crowd.
I'm swept along
a small leaf in a storm.
There's no escape, even if I had a mind to
which I don't. The mind I have insists I stay:
Go with the crowd, where ever it flows
and sooner or later you will end up somewhere:

that is what it says. So in three days
I've been to my first football match,
I've caught a train I didn't want
to somewhere that I didn't know
and visited a shopping mall
with not a cent to spend.
I think it's fair
to say I'm lost.

These mile high piles of lego bricks...
jet black windows just reflecting more
of what I see around me -
and the only clouds I ever see
I see swim by in them. Just like the desert:
unchanging vistas. Visual
units endlessly repeated mile on mile.

Skyscrapers don't they call them?
Sky-blockers in my book!
The city stifles -
which come to think of it
is what the desert did to me.
They are the same.

Friday 9 December 2011

The Beast of Burntwood Moor

Lynx, panther, jaguar, lion,
a bit of each and something else as well;
we felt its presence long before
the first eyes saw it
seconds on the skyline then away
among the trees, behind the hillocks
and the sheds where are our animals.
It haunts, it stalks;
we're not right sure which word is nearest to the truth,
but all we know:
there's something in the way it stretches
in mid-leap or -lope suggests
it has reserves of length we cannot guess;
and then there's something in its colour:
black -
or jet as some have said,
though neither term does justice to its depth -
intense as mortal sin
dredged from the guilty mind, and dark as unbelief.

And then there's something in its shadowness...
substantial as the creature is, there's something in
the way it flits
from tree to tree
or clump to clump.

Ground-hugging, bat-
like animal!
Though others see it differently, all are agreed
that in the whole of what it is, lives menace.

It comes to this perhaps:
that what we see in anything is what we've hid within.
Our guilty minds make blockheads of us all.

Thursday 8 December 2011

The Dissatisfied Robot

Of days before it first was energised:
No memories;
no myths of its existence
of how or why, by whom?
no tales of daring do.

Then at its birth its finder, a young boy,
fumbled the electrics
the spark of life.
The "it" became a "him"
but several circuits in his brain were blown.
Since then:
disturbing dreams that he was meant for more.

All his active life he's been a toy
(that's all they've used him for),
a thing built round a sphere
(something from the cutting edge,
but something vague, mysterious)
incorporating total knowledge
(whatever that might mean)
in complex circuitry
and banks of memory
no toy could ever use.

He has this cross to bear:
that whenever now he thinks of being made,
he thinks of these:
his unused circuitry and empty cells,
his unused memory,
ambitions unfulfilled
(though even those ambitions' names are blank)
and links them with the content of his dreams.

Then he reflects upon the sphere,
so central to the thing that he calls "me",
the sphere whose reason is obscure
but must be filed away somewhere
within his circuitry
as if he could pull out a drawer and sing.

And yet he doesn't sing,
in part because he has no language,
no symbolic code in which to wrap these things -
though he could sing within himself we must suppose -
but in more major part because
he has not found the meaning for his life,
the motive for existence.
His existence.
And so there is no urgent push to sing.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

the barely human

(The image represents the Magpie Tales prompt for this week.)

It's the sameness of the scene that most offends,
the chagrin of these units that were men,
the tedium of copies cast in monochrome
as if a ruler had an army baked in clay
(of drudges, skivvies, menials and slaves,
the lowly ones of this sort and of that)
who now await the pleasure of his death
in the claustrophobic confines of his tomb.

That would be bad enough, but this is worse:
they are not subjects of some distant potentate
who thinks in terms of citizens as things
but members of a race that trumpets freedom,
the individual, the grace with which man's born.

They make no sound, beyond the chomping
of their simple fare; they do not laugh;
they dare not look to see themselves in others,
are too downtrodden to communicate,
are barely human. Cattle. They await their fate.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

A Life in Free Verse...

(The title basically represents the challenge put out by The Gooseberry Garden to write something personal about ourselves)

It's only when I take a moment to look back
I see the land for what it really was
and am surprised:
the mountains hardly ever seemed that high
or at the time were steeper than they look.
The land's a patchwork quilt of this and that,
a nature that as part of it,
too close, I'd overlooked.

There was a randomness that coloured in those squares
or left them bare and challenging -
some background space left plain for me to paint
or sow with a new seed.
Luck mostly came, I found,
at the eleventh hour: I'd just squeeze in
when rational assessment said I'd missed the boat.

It never was the moment that I'd strive for
but the one that had arrived
would drive ambition best for me,
the one that led on to the next.
It was teaching, I believe, that taught me so:
the child who one day will want calculus
today must draw -
his life depends on it.

The spiritual is what you glimpse between the squares,
the stitching holding them in place
and giving them existence with each other.
It's not the images, that you are shown will last forever
(the young Jew on his tree
the Buddha under his),
these are the catalysts restructuring the old solutions
for a newer generation.
For me the beakers filled with poetry.
Years then before I understood that others
(Wallace Stevens is a good example)
had made the same experiment long time before,
arriving at identical conclusions.

On nights you cannot sleep
it's only when you give up trying that you find
the goal achieved.
It's when you hold the moment in your arms
and let go all the comforting controls
that life - the life
that runs the universe -
can take the wheel.
My life began
the day that I got married.
That was resurrection day for me.

The trick is now to make life's end
a small, intrinsic part of all that's gone before.

Monday 5 December 2011

The Green Graffitist

His first graffito, "Rape"
(all will be given names)
a modest scene
beneath a railway arch:
reclining nude
morphed to rural idyll.
Mammary, the hills
vaginal lake
and thrusting motor way.
Crude. Unambiguous.

The last spray not yet dry,
a woman comes from nowhere
whispers in his ear -
before the darkness
swallows her once more.

He takes a brush -
a few sharp hairs -
and adds a line, a shape
a woman being raped
though so diminutive
that only he
will ever know
of her existence.
Unnoticed rape!

A quick developer
his works gain power
with every outing.
Soon she becomes
the factor
common to each one
grows strong
in features
and temperament.

So now
he always adds
the figures.
Always two.
A man and woman.
Always small
too small to register
to careless eyes:
his signature.

one night
he cracks it.
will become
his first
will raise
to level uno:
call iconic.
caught in mats
of ocean garbage:
plastic lines -
all human detritus.
And even as he sprays
the final empty space
she comes -
so briefly -
from the darkness
whispers in his ear
then lets the night
devour her
once again.

He adds his signature:
this time
a crouching man
trussed and bound
a woman towers
over him.
And both
as always
are too small to see
from way below
where people pass.

"Rain Forest
Torched" comes next
and once again
the final touch
and there she is.
The whisper in his ear
and back into the night.
But now the change.
This time he follows her.
This time
he too, will disappear
into the night.

Next day
they find him
sagging at the knees
supported by a post,
just a tar
and charcoal likeness
of himself.
Half corpse
half tree
black branches
sprouting out of him.

His face
is black
quite featureless.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Flame Boy

A fan from his first appearance,
smitten by his sheer flamboyance -
and his talking pet flamingos,
I believed that early issue when he knelt
beside an orange tinted Orinoco
to play with the electric eels,
saw nothing surreal when green flames licked out
from hair-line, elbows, knees and heels,
accepted that the shocks had changed
some unknown organ in his brain,
that now for ever he would be
a tinder box with in-built spark,
a walking conflagration.

I didn't think he'd gone too far
in shaking hands and squeezing out
a small inferno from his palms
to scare the baddies half to death -
with much collateral damage done.
A hero can do anything! "Top Kid!" said I.

The school play gained enormously
from Flame Boy as the dragon - though
a tad unfair on George, I thought:
he lost out for the first time ever.

And I loved it when his Nan was a hundred and some-
thing or other, and he blew all her candles
(not out, but to set them alight - not one did he miss)
though they melted and ran all over the cake - ran
better than some of these lines I should say!

Yesterday's prompt on dVerse Poets was an invitation to write on a character, real or imaginary, from a comic. Flame Boy is an invention of mine.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Heathland Fire

Initial thoughts: steel birds
had flown in first before us
weaving nests
of barbed or razor wire
but got them into tangles on the ground
before they later lined
their Brave New World(ly) homes
with soot.

All this was bramble once
and not so long ago.
Where is the spot
on which I once proposed?
where we became engaged?
So difficult to tell.

A large oak (just a while ago)
is split as though by lightning.
Still standing
but in form a giant clothes peg now,
a concept sculpture maybe
for a West End gallery.
And in the pool -
I don't recall a pool -
its mirror image, grey and powdery,
wavers slightly as
the more uncertain twin.

And here and there
a corpse or two - small animals
that did not have the legs to make it,
lost out to the wind that drove the flames
far faster than a man could run.

Friday 2 December 2011

Whispers from a Sunken World

It is a kind of swimming,
walking through these woods.
Greens still tinge the oatmeal coloured air,
and still there is the feel of floating: moats
caught in currents of high spirits
dancing where the light's rays
bring them into being; seeing
which way's up and which is down
when gravity stays mum
and tells the senses nothing.

Beetles scuttle silently away
like bottom feeders feeding on
the sandy bed. The banks
are dusky and mysterious.
The bed slopes down.
You cannot surface here
where water carves a hollow, stalls,
tracks back upon itself,
by-passes urgency
or is itself by-passed.

It is enough to realise
that here a sense of surface surfaces;
there is a lightening
where two worlds meet,
and that it reassures;
that limbs move freely here;
and that the water parts,
admits me to its inner sanctum,
then closes round me like a cloak,
behind me like a sphincter.

I am enclosed and cosseted.
A babble of white noise
descends from trees.
I think of brooks, white rivers,
summer rain. It sounds like speech,
but muffled by the water.
The bed slopes slowly upwards now,
the waters break, re-birth me
into a world more ill-at-ease
with me and with itself.
My soul takes on
the whispers from my sunken world
to travel back with me.
They will become its prayer.

The prompt at Poet's United's Thursday Think Tank #76 is The Soul's Whisper This is my submission for it.

Thursday 1 December 2011


The film is finishing
the credits roll
I think of bed. A knock.
My neighbour from next door.
Smartly dressed and hair in place...
Apologies. Disturbing me...
Her husband has collapsed.

I find him slumped, a dead weight in the chair.
He's in his dressing gown. Somehow
I get him gently to the floor.
No sign of life.
A mirror to his lips stays clear.
I start the drill, hoping I'll remember it,
but know it is no good. The medics come.
Take over. More professionally, they try -
but soon decide to stop.

It's not until the body in its decent bag
has gone, that she confides:
She too had been prepared for bed.
Modesty would not permit
her calling on me in her dressing gown.

The facts exonerate us all:
a massive heart attack:
dead from the start.