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Monday 31 December 2012

just don't blame the New Year when it all goes pear shaped

What makes us think
that when the old 
year clicks its heels 
and gives way to the new
some switch is thrown,
some pattern changed,
some gravitas is born?

Time, once a mighty monarch, used
its influence on man's affairs,
then Einstein relegated it --
An adjunct now, half lost in space,
it has no arbitrary switch
to change the outcomes year on year --
nor would we profit if it had. 

The year is dying, let it die, *
but mourn its passing, do not cheer.
Bad though it was for me and mine,
it still deserves its due respect.
The bad was never down to it,
of good it too was innocent.
Ring in the new! Same as, same as...

It's true, we'll hope
with one accord
the New Year will be magical --
and hope should be revered.
So foster it 
with peals of bells
and ring the New Year in!
* Alfred Lord Tennyson. here


Sunday 30 December 2012

Change and Decay

It might have been the same bench -- only, no,
surely not the one we sat on years ago...
if so, it's weathered well... the rest has not...
the spot where Jake and I played rounders -- gone.
I see us clearly, though: padlocking our bikes...
is that the tree we chained them to whilst we --
heroes in our own conceit -- made for the beach?
We trusted precious life and limb down concrete steps.
Precarious and steep. Wind-blown. A hundred plus.
And then as if that was too little, leaned far  out across 
the rail into the void, to photograph the strata in 
the rocks. We hardly saw a soul the whole way down.

I've called the halt to let my eyes adjust, to let
the brain catch up, adjust to all that's alien here.
Jake and I lost touch a lifetime -- going on -- ago.
Married now -- a girl and boy who think this place is grand.
But even so, I can't help wondering what Jake would make
of it if he were here... the hurdy-gurdies, gaudy signs,
the loud amusements everywhere. Where once
the steps, two cable cars -- Come on mum, Dad, we're
going down on them. Come on! Wow, great! Come
ON!-- But Jake and I would never find the strata now.
They're hid away behind the cafes, gift shops and 
fast foods. Blocked off by this NEW VIEW VIRT--UAL
EXPERIENCE IN COLOUFUL 3-D. But as I look, I see
the two of us, the beach games and the surfing that
we did, the cycling and the climbing on the cliffs.
And what I see before me fades to insignificance beside 
the changes that I feel -- the frailties of flesh, the 
changes taking place in me: things  I did and can 
no longer do: the cataracts for two, the loss 
of puff and legs that will not go as far or fast as then.
Written for the prompt Change and Turns by Claudia in Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub

Saturday 29 December 2012

Why the Revolution Failed - or the dubstep goat challenge

My tale is one not widely known
of Citizen Smith* in battledress
performing for the overthrow
of known society -- Oh yes!

Installed upon the glass roof of
the public lavatories for men
(strategically placed, please note
on Tooting Broadway's thoroughfare)
with traffic surging all around,
and clad in khaki battledress,
loudly there he did proclaim
the day of revolution come! Oh, yes!

Alas, he'd gone a step too far -- Oh,
no, my friends, not the glass roof...!
but requisitioning that new phenomenon, 
the dubstep goat, promoting it to
brigadier and making it the mascot of 
his rag-tag, hip hop, bob-tail gang.

The poets -- 2-step garage; UKG; 
and jungle, loaded up with bass --
and artists of all kinds, performance
and the rest from Tooting's Steppe 
lands -- Broadway to the likes of us --
as as far as Figges Marsh** and beyond,
gathered in a protest march calling to
the dubstep goat by name and using certain 
words they knew he'd understand, asking him 
to dance. And dance he did (for long 
ago the goat had joined the hip hops
and aligned himself with them) beginning
with Rose Madder's Studio for dance --
where it was found that having four 
good legs he could pull off a solo
pas de deux. The fashion spread
and he was in such great demand, he
added to his repertoire: duos for jig, 
for jog, a new drummed dubstep, hip hop, 
hot spot, pot belly roast and more... Oh yes!!

Boast as he might -- and boast he did --
our mighty Citizen, the revolutionary Smith,
was quite unable to control his so-called
mascot. Every roll of military drum just
made him dance more off the mark. He had
become a filament, free of the bulb
that once had hemmed him in. He burned, 
he sizzled, flared, contorted, turned;
he flipped and flopped. he leaped and dropped,
crouched on the floor, flew through the air
and all who saw him thought him taught
by D.J. Hatcha or Fred Astaire.***

Without the dubstep goat, Smith knew
the Revolution doomed. Nor could he use
a goat with such poor discipline. He called
his council to their final meet -- his H.Q.
located in the box room of his mother's neat
and tidy semi- with views across the Lido.
and there he deemed the enterprise defunct.
* here
** here
*** D J Hatcha here
Written for The dubstep goat challenge at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.

Friday 28 December 2012


I am writing a novel
in which nobody speaks.
Also, in this novel
nobody acts from any
particular volition --
which is to say, that
nobody does anything
which might possibly
be construed as having
some significance for
plot or for character 
development. But when
I say that no-one speaks,
I mean just that: no more
and no less. Each and
every one of my characters
moves like a shadow, has 
no discernible motivation
imparted by the novel.

Here then is the first
significance: no language
no volition -- or is it
vice versa? Here then is
the first conundrum -- not
that it matters or will
take anybody very far. 
There is no music, so no
backing to accompany their
slow drift to... perdition?
(Recall: the novel is  not
yet finished, will not at
the present moment resolve 
all questions might be asked
of it.) There are no tele-
phones... but then again, 
why would they want them?

Here then are chapters one 
through to ten of thirteen,
shortened, but otherwise as 
I have penned them -- as I
hope you will rwlise in 3D --
superimposed on top of one
another. (You have realised
already that with no volition,
no essential motivation, even
warfare will be peaceful, no?)

Before a row of houses sits
a rabbit on a burned out car
peeling a Jaffa orange with
a Bowie knife. Other rabbits
sit on other vehicles (tanks,
tractors, tricycles and the
odd barrow) peeling a variety
of other fruits - and vegetables
(apples, grapes, bananas, pears
and radishes) with other knives.
As they peel they watch with
interest the magpies and the
crows pick over Christmas debris.

In the sky above them wheel back
and forth two flocks of starlings,  
but always flying in the contrary
direction to each other. Therefore,
from time to time they fly full tilt
and through each other. There are
casualties... yes, of course there 
are, as birds collide and fall, as 
dead as stones, down to the ground,
disturbing the more peaceful rabbits 
as they peel. Disturbed, but not
essentially concerned.

                    Chapter thirteen
cannot be written until the issues 
raised in ten and then elaborated
in eleven are resolved. As of now
Chapters ten and, to a lesser extent
maybe, eleven, seem quite unpenable.
Here, though, are those issues about
which I have been compelled to write.
Written in response to Anna Montgomery's prompt
 Postmodern (Experimental)  at dVerse Poets - Meeting the bar: Critique and Craft

Saturday 22 December 2012

Déjà vu?

It always sounds like déjà vu
but did not feel that way.
We were on holiday,
had cycled far, my friend and I,
on too much cider and in too much sun.
The road seemed endless --
no habitation and no side roads to explore --
and we were looking for a place to rest
and to escape the sun. I said:
Just round this next bend there's a café!
(I'd never been this far before -
as Freddy knew.) Yeah, where?
he grunted, disbelievingly.
Just round this bend. Beside a pub --
well, was a pub, but is a church, these days.

And so it proved. Exactly as I'd said --
except the church that was a pub
was neither now, a sad, neglected hulk.

I had not spoken out of memory,
I could not even claim a feeling in my gut,
I'd said it not quite knowing why --
but having said it, stuck to it
and tried to fake a certain confidence,
but confidence I had not felt.
I was not even confident
that it was me who'd spoken.

Refreshed with swigs of water and stale buns
(Good for soaking up the alcohol, so we were told),
we took a peep next door.
What I've called church had been a chapel
and was now a shell with leaking roof
and debris everywhere -- except a space
that must have been the bar one time.
Here was a tiny manger scene,
a mini Bethlehem, no less, almost intact,
and at the back, a banner peeling from the wall,
A Peaceful Christmas to you all!

MY WISH TO ALL -- A BLESSED CHRISTMASTIDE! ....................................................... This may be my last post of 2012, but then again nothing in this life is THAT certain...

Friday 21 December 2012

Two Nights Ago

A thousand little Santa helpers
spilling out across, along, and up and down our road,
log-jamming it to much great ire
from motorists reduced to hooting 
from the lay-by by our house --
ignored by Santa's little army
shaking Gothic wooden boxes
Your money or your life! 
All heralding the big, sleigh man himself --
a baubled, brightly fairy light lit, dressing gown-wrapped guy
atop a sleigh that wobbled slightly
 as it took the tight right hander out of sight.
I dashed out - well, I would, it's what you might expect -
camera in hand, only to be thwarted by
a Russian Sailor elfy thing, who said he 
knew me from way back. When we were through 
with chatting, his boss with the big sack of toys
was no where to be seen.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Rivets of Darkness

There was darkness
and the darkness that was there
was on the face of everything.
And there was fire.
Cold fire, blue steel fire, semblance of fire,
semblance of light, fire without promise or threat. 
And there were figures, shadows of figures,
figures figured against the light, 
a semblance of figures, but figuring hardly at all, 
in a huddle, huddled round flames lacking light.

All this was there
because there was God, tongue-tied and silent,
a murmurless mummer of God, miming creation,
re-making in mime, His one misbegotten, the one 
for which a God could never forgive himself,
for which He Had from Day One made Himself
the invisible part of His world.

Only the hands,
the hands of a weaver stand out in their 
intricate movements, balletic with grace,
weavers in space, weavers of time
and spinners of space.
And the eyes with the hands...
two halves of a coin spun as one,
but in more than one space.

And then there was grace,
pure grace in a visible darkness hung like a blanket in space.
Impenetrable darkness, impassable darkness, 
a God-produced darkness that covered the face
of creation and darkened the grace.
Eyeball to eyeball the light and the darkness,
the misbegotten and the misbegotten's grace, 
stared back at each other like ghosts of the past.
Creation had needed the rivets of darkness to hold it together.

But always the hands were mesmeric!
One chink of light as if curtains were parting
and two dollies swam into view.
Not dolls, but mummies perhaps; inhuman,
but human in form, devoid of all detail,
as featureless as landscape was at the world's beginning,
the hands now a shadow of themselves,
hands behind hands, hands manoeuvering 
puppets in space, arranging their limbs,
the Final Cause causing 
one to sit on a tree stump, 
one to stand in a scene increasingly bland
as the window sparkles with light,
but is nothing but palm trees and sand.

This is a redraft of a poem I posted about 3 years ago. You can read the original here

Wednesday 19 December 2012

You'd better watch out!

At the top of the moor
there she was, in the road,
a frail little lady
hunched in the rain,
my kinda gal, 
half in my headlights,
half in the mist, 
thumbing a lift --
though it wasn't quite light.
I pulled up at once
and walked round the car, 
smiled as I asked her
where she was bound.
She smiled back at me. Ah,
that worries us all,
but for now, off the moor
would do very well!

Declining my help, she clambered aboard.
It was then that I saw her,
but not as I'd thought:
a Sister of Heaven, a strict
order of nun -- a product well liked
and respected round here.
Our own local brand.

She took ages to settle,
arranging her skirts.
I tried not to notice,
but thought it quite odd.
Then at last we were off,
driving into the sun,
low in the morning,
us breasting the hills.

We chatted a bit,
but I felt myself gagged
'till a juggernaut's lights
exposed a bit more
of my passenger's face --
a strip by the ear 
that the razor had missed.

I pulled up again,
this time with a skid,
and ordered him out,
saw him stumble a bit
as my foot went down hard.

Later that night, when
checking the car for the next day's run, 
the de-icer had rolled,
protruding an inch from 
under the seat on the passenger side.
Retrieving it, saw
two pieces of wood, hard wood and polished,
like handles of sorts -- which they were:
a diminutive axe
and a knife -- far too long.

Image as prompt supplied by Tess Kincaid at The Mag

Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Rapper Bird and I

Take the rap, take the rap, the rapper bird tapped
deep in my sleep, on my window pane, in a slurry of rain
with a tweet or two in the heat of the rap, the grip of a riff
which was swift to proclaim:- I-amb the great I-amb, I-amb!
Tetrameters tremble, the great Grand Slam 
is here, my friend, on your window pane. If you catch a whiff
of the rhythm's shift, I'll follow you into your waking world.
The lyrics were blurred, but even in sleep 
I could see they were handsome, tell they were deep.
Cocky the cock bird with taste for the tap -- like the flap 
of a sheet that smacks in the wind
or matters of state when the government sinned.

Now out in the world it has come to pass,that you can't confine
the rap to a tap on my window pane, for even the glass of an
           omnibus sings,
vibrates to the rhythm, slow or fast, to the hammering song of
           the bird's refrain.
And everywhere in the world or there, in tittle or jot -- you
           can care or not --
the song of the rapper is still the same.

The lines may be short or the lines may be long,
but the rhythm the rapper bird taps is strong
and its lyrics you'll think a definite treat --
though the rapper bird rates them no more than a tweet.

Monday 17 December 2012

My Own Little Galaxy

I'm wondering... could I... possibly
count myself as experienced now?
First day of my second year... well, no. Perhaps not!
One year, though... ought to count for something... no?
New Class. The School's Misfits - That's the 
last head's terminology. New head 
with new ideas. The new ideas
do not include misfit mentalities.

The whistle goes, the pupils line up class
by class. The head appears. Inspects the troops,
walks down the lines. Arrives at mine.
The leading boy is dressed for the wild west.
Ten Gallon hat - well, relative to his pint-size.
Six-shooters on his hips, check shirt and jeans.
"And what is your name, pray?" (The head.)
Roy Rogers, sir! "I haven't time to play
these games. I'll ask you one more time - Your name?"
Roy Rogers, sir!  Roy is dispatched
upstairs to wait outside the head's room for
some resolution of this impasse. So Roy clatters off,
his spurs banging together as he goes. The head
moves on to the next boy. "Your name?"
I'm David Lloyd George, sir! "Are you?
Well, you also can have one more try... Your name, now --
if you please." I'm David Lloyd George, sir! 
What follows is a repetition of the first affair.
As is the Peter Wilson farce that follows it.
Victor Sylvester is almost the last straw.

Shortly afterwards the head arrives to interview
his motley crew. Takes down the register, consults
it earnestly - and there they are, the way they said
they were. Roy Rogers, clear enough. And David
Lloyd George in a strong, plain hand. Further down,
there's Peter Wilson. And at the very bottom even
Victor Sylvester of dance band fame. 
The head's all smiles: I should have known,
with Dave King for your teacher, he was bound
to rustle up a few celebrities.
Dramatis Personae
Roy Rogers :born Leonard Franklin Slye (November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998), was an American singer and cowboy actor.
David Lloyd George :Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and led a Wartime Coalition Government.
Peter Wilson :A towering figure in British sports writing.
Victor Sylvester :English dancer, author, musician and bandleader from the British dance band era.
Dave King :English comedian, actor, and vocalist of popular songs. Had his own T.V. show with top ratings.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Carols and Flashing Blue Lights

Brian Miller at dVerse Poets Pub Poetics suggests we go for detail
Turn off the road, careful now,
and through the narrow opening,
brick piers on either side.
Sharp left, avoid the (totally
pointless) bollards left and right.
The curving drive has opened up
before me - quite invisible till now.
I curse -- I always curse --
its traffic calming bumps.
Pretentiousness to call them that.
What traffic are they calming, eh?
Unnecessary. Totally
distracting -- and I hate to be
distracted here. There's always some-
thing taking place, something to see,
to muse upon, an idea to take back
with me... this morning now,
a small giraffe lopes leisurely
across the lawn. It's followed by
a hippo with a barrow full of holly.
Kerrrrrumph! Kerrrrrrrrrumph! Two
for the price of one - the bumps again.
Distracted, see? Aha! A parking space.
I reverse in, then walk back to the entrance.
The door creaks open then slams shut.
Navigate the cardboard Bethlehem and
papier-mâché meercat costumes --
complete with mistletoe -- that fill
the vestibule, past the empty desk...
and why no Joan this morning? Turn
the corner by the stairs - and there he is.

Door wide open as it ever was. Tom
working on this morning's Carol Service.
A small red headed girl arrives. Could he
please check her poem for the service?
Miss isn't sure... he reads it through
and hands it back. It's absolutely fine. 
it's very Miltonesque! She skips away.
She stops. Looks back. It's very what, sir?
It's very Miltonesque! Ah, thanks!
Tom's P.A. is sorry to intrude, but did
he mean the double oven for Domestic 
Science? No, didn't. He wants the one
they talked about. She'll sort it out.
The order number's wrong. He gathers up
his papers, checks his visual aids... when
through the window behind him flashes 
a blue light. Very bright. Very intense.

Second by second it sweeps round,
bathes the room in its uncanny hue
before returning it to normal. It
reminds me of a lighthouse beam -
if I ignore the colour. Tom ignores it.
Carries on regardless. Curses softly -- 
Not the boys in blue again?
No, I say: a lorry. Lorry? but before
either of us speaks again:  Begging
your pardon, sir, Headmaster... The man
at the door is doffing his cap. Tom still
does not look up. Motorway Services
Repair and Mend Operative. In the area...
Half a load of asphalt over... Couldn't fail
to see the parlous state of your driveway.
Can't think what a state come a hard winter!
He quotes a perfectly ridiculous figure.
Tom refuses. They haggle for a bit. Okay!
(Tom as he flies off to the Carol Service.)

I spend a brlliant day with Tom, his staff
and kids. When we regain his study
so does the Motorway Repair Man -- with
a bill, that judging by Tom's violent 
expression, might fund the next moon shot.
You quoted £97! Man doffs his cap.
Correct, Headmaster. £97 per cubic yard --
plus labour, naturally!  They argue, but
eventually, Tom coughs up - and when 
the man has gone, says confidentially:
of course, I thought him genuine --
with his blue light and all! But it's a poor-
ish sort of cock-up that brings no benefit.
The traffic calming bumps have disappeared.
Thank you, thank you God, for sending us
thick asphalt! Merry Christmas
and a wonderful New Year!

Saturday 15 December 2012

Happy Christmas, Ethel!

Ethel was my friend and I was proud to know him.
His mother called him Jud, 
the name she'd given at his Christening,
but no one else could call him that.
The last to try still carried a black eye.
No, Ethel was his chosen name --
or rather, Ethelred, although the red
had quickly fallen out of use.
Why Ethel/Ethelred? Why that?
His second name was Mudd!

He was a proud man and his chest would swell
whenever -- and they sometimes did -- his friends
would rattle off his full address: 
Ethel Mudd
          Furnace Man,
                    The Gasworks
                              Love Lane
                                        Tadnam --
where, as it happened, I'd been sent
to see what I could paint. That's how we met.

He watched me for a bit, then asked
if I would draw him at his fire.
Of course, I said I would -- and he went wild,
as if his team had won the cup. He asked:
And with that charcoal you were using, eh?
"Certainly," I said. 
I'm off to wash me face!
"You're not, you know! Just don't you dare!"
and then explained, as best I could
the soot was part of him and what he did.
Gave character. He didn't understand,
but did agree -- and liked the Portrait when
I'd finished it. And in your paintin' Guvnor,
show me at my fire? "Well no....

I drew you yesterday..." showed him again
the drawing that would go into the work.
"You're doing up your bootlace... you recall?"
Oh, he recalled alright, but floundered
when he tried to understand...
Why would I rather have him doing that
than stoking up his fire?

I pointed on the drawing to the way
his muscles tensed and shaped the back and legs,
the lines of stress that ran down through his form,
how figures in the background echoed this --
as did the open furnace door, its shadow
and the flames.... And I can do all that,
he gasped  by tying up my boot! -- I must
be quite a special man, at that!
"Ethel," I said, "You are, you surely are!"

We sent each other Christmas cards for years.

Friday 14 December 2012

Ode to a (Basic) Mobile Phone

Dear fossil from a bygone age,
not bought when you were all the rage,
but recently in the pretense
that we embrace the cutting edge...
Alas, like me, you're not the part,
but have some aspects close at heart.

"Mobile Phone," they christened you...
Misnomer of the century,
since no one phones with such as you
but spans the world in other ways.
Your nearest kin are artists now,
snap-shooters and photographers...

But that's not you, my dated pal,
you are what you were meant to be:
a 'phone and a few angles more.
(The screen is just for user's ease.)
A simple soul, but keen to please.
No Mona Lisas spew from you.

But on the other hand, you stay aloof
from all the intrigues, every spoof
the network yobs can throw at us.
My neighbour's breasts are safe with you:
I cannot sext her with my lot,requesting 
her full frontal, naked body shot!

Written for Victoria C Slotto's Meeting the Bar prompt to write a Second Person narrative. You will find it here
Sexting: a current craze for sending full frontals or close-ups of genitals to someone of the opposite gender and requesting theirs. (With variations, of course!)

Thursday 13 December 2012


Consider if you will 
the way an image or a word
can hold a strong emotive charge
(and what the physicists call spin).
As such, it's not susceptible to reason,
ducks beneath the flailing arms of logic.

A word is just an abstract sign? That's all?
Believe that at your peril, it's a Trojan Horse.
For good or ill, your landscape's under threat.
Take  cancer for example, how it is
two hundred different illnesses,
two hundred different entities.
One word to vouch for all.
Think how they use this umbrella word we've given them
to creep up incognito in disguise --
a kind of burlesque to confuse us in the night.

Some ancient narratives
folk tales and myth
are interwoven here.
These are the bases of its reputation,
the raw material of its powerful charge.
And so we ask: how best to counteract its ill effects,
the wills- o'- the-wisp that reason cannot touch?

I've heard of patients giving sexy names
to what at first they found unspeakable,
Sugar Daddy Baby being one.
She found him more acceptable that way.
Familiar handle, trivial terms
killing it with friendliness.

I knew a man who had Tallulah Bankhead in his groin.

How could a man feel bad about a thing like that?

Just recently, I've been impressed --
I should say blown away --
by images of cancers on the walls where patients wait.
Stunning, complex forms, more succulent than fruits,
like fractals drawn in five dimensions.
Serious, seductive, natural works of art -- the colouring
a function of laboratory staining,
admittedly, not fundamental to the form 
(but then what colour ever is?). And so
the thought occurs: is this not clue or cue
for some aesthetic therapy? These powerful images
have the same kinds of force fields as the enemy...

They would be shallow craft, I know,
not to be launched in heavy seas, but when the waves are calm,
could they not use their charge to neutralise the foe's?
 There must be some new way beneath those flailing arms...

Wednesday 12 December 2012

The Owl and Me

It was a day like any other day
(if I haven't got that wrong),
the day of my first inkling
of who and what I am.
Across the twittern *
bordering our grounds,
my tawny owl's tall tree.
I'd see it sometimes, 
mostly I'd just hear,
but worried now, the past few days:
why had my owl become
no more than half an owl?
too-wit, he'd go, too-wit, but no too-woo!
Until an uncle eased my mind
and told me how it was:
too-wit, was the male tawny
calling to his mate, too-woo,
she's answering I will!

So now I'm thinking: lonely and downcast,
perched high up perhaps, 
his favourite bough, and vainly calling her.
But this the day I mentioned at the start...
The day I came upon him/her (I could not tell):
a feathered heap, some old 
flea-bitten thing,discarded 
for the dustman to collect.
There, looking down at him or her
I knew the truth of something dad would say:
He/she was gone the way all flesh must go!
I saw so clearly then: one day that owl is me!

* A narrow country lane.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

What we're told and what we learn

Deep shadows cross the valley
stealing sight.
The five men plunging on ahead.
Trying to keep up,
I kick against a sleeper. Stumble.
Twice I nearly fall
before the blaze of light.
And in the light
(think: insect in a spider's web)
a rabbit staring straight ahead.
The ganger's coat flaps open wide.
Voluminous, down to his feet,
the coat seems made of pockets.
Enormous ones inside. He
picks the rabbit up
and pops it in.
As easily as that.
Then we move on. Not far.
The light again. A rabbit caught.
Five times in all before we're done.
The men are quite delirious. Explain:
the station master owns the land as as far as you can see.
The thought has made their evening perfect as could be!

Midnight gone when we get back
regain the carriages.
(Two are sleepers, one a diner.)
No time at all, I'm bedded down. Top bunk.
(Mostly the men have bottom ones.)
Then in the darkness: Spose youse guessed it, lad...
we all of us are gay... wondering...
Could youse be interested, eh?
Politely I decline.
Politely they accept.
No more is said, no moves are made.

For me, this has the force of revelation.
Not what the culture of the day
has led me to expect. The warning was
they'd force themselves upon me
or wheedle their way in.

All evening I've been winding back
the mileage counter from
my bicycle's front wheel --
fluorescent in the dark.
And why have I been doing this?
I've no idea. The why is lost in memory.
The doing, though, is vivid
beyond anything that day.
Is that not surreal?
Would you not say?

I reach the target number...
Done it! I cry, triumphantly...
which in the darkness, worries my five friends.

The men were working on the line
and living where they worked
when I'd turned up, my bicycle
the last train gone.
They'd offered hospitality,
as warm as any you might find.
They changed my whole perception
of how gay people are, what they can be.
I look back fondly, even now.
Yet only now the thought occurs...
But what if I'd said 'Yes'? --
and me still under age?

Monday 10 December 2012

on not being positive...

I'd often thought one day I might,
but now the world's in such a plight
I don't know if I will at all --
I might just go and have a ball.
A ball is what I'm needing now,
a crystal ball to tell me how
and when and where and what to share --
and most of all, if I would dare.

I asked the guy behind the bar
who thought that things had gone too far.
He'd tried himself to do it once --
on Bournemouth Sands -- and felt a dunce
to see it all go up in flames...
thought me too old to play such games.
His last idea was Get out quick:
These Hooray Johnnies make me sick! 

A funeral man with horse-drawn hearse
said he had done it with his nurse,
a friend had tried it on the horse --
mainly using chilli sauce.
He'd heard of such things tried at wakes --
They're not all beer or tea and cakes!
He'd found it, though, a strange affair.
(Illegal now, so have a care...)

Illegal gave a certain frisson...
but not enough to go to prison.
I could have gone for it in France
(where it's become a form of dance).
I saw it on the Metro done,
and in the mountains, just for fun.
More seriously, the Eiffel Tower
was  venue for a bid for power.

So now I don't know what to do --
and indecision makes me blue.
My ex-inspector used to say:
Be pro-active every day.
Make your mind up early on,
then stick to it -- you'll not go wrong! 
But to the contrary, I'd find
I'd get a boost from change of mind.

The positives were plain to see,
but this conundrum puzzles me.
I'm certain now, I've missed my chance...
I'll wallow in insouciance,
although that isn't really me --
I'm serious, dynamic. See?
I pray you all, my friends, will find
the power that goes with change of mind.

Sunday 9 December 2012


At some point, I suppose, I did leave school...
Must have! The last that I recall of it
was that limp operetta: all
us bloodless pirates prancing round the stage,
the parents clapping like the ninnies that they are,
and earlier, the hours of tedious rehearsing -- during which
I found the time to write my new, alternative, 
more violent script, The Pirates of Pen's Pants. Ah,
I remember now, THAT'S when I left school,
a tad before my time! Years after that
I found my hayloft studio
and bought the thermal lance and 4X4
to turn out beetles in sheet metal by the score.

It all goes back to frightened pirates walking home
along a pitch dark twittern known as Cold Blows under trees, 
in uniform -- or costume, if you will --
and that last evening of them all, when Mother Nature
furnished me with props beyond my dreams.
All week I'd walked home leaping, whirling, 
putting Dervishes in shade.
I'd given them the scripts I'd written them, my friends,
but could I get them to join in? God,were they afraid? Of what?
The shadows or the hospital for those who couldn't live?
Who knows? That evening, though, the beetles
fell in curtains from the trees to form 
a carpet that we walked upon, its pile 
was inches thick and crunched beneath our feet...
Okay, fair dos, a nauseating sound. I felt it too,but I am made
of sterner stuff and set about those beetles with a will.
My cutlass thrumped above my head like helicopter rotor blades.
That night I slew a dozen demons in my head,
chopping beetles by the thousand clean in two.

You should have heard them squeal, my yellow-livered crew.
I told them straight: how beetles feel no pain; 
remove a beetle's arse or abdomen, it eats on as before.
It stood me in good stead,that night,helped my career take off
like I had made the world's best mouse trap. People came
and beat that once proverbial path to my front door.
And yet I needed more...
The cutlass was replaced by thermal lance and 4X4.
I threw my beetles from the hayloft door
or ran them over with the 4X4
or with the thermal lance would cut them clean in two --
or three or four.

I asked two of my Cold Blows friends
to join my project, share in my good fortune, 
help me make a mint. The one ghost writing this I asked
and one who's putting sharks in something called
formaldehyde -- like that will catch on sometime soon!
Yellow-livered still, they both declined. 
Ah well, the more for me!

Written in response to Hobgoblin's prompt, Acting and the First Person Narrative, which you will find at: dverse Poets' Pub, this is a rewrite of one written several years ago (though posted more recently), but from my viewpoint. Here I have chosen the viewpoint of the main character. Also, this version, unlike the original. is not told in true chronology. You can read the original here.

Saturday 8 December 2012

The Seasons

It seems to me we favour most
the season of our age --
though truth to tell, the summer's heat,
for all the time that I recall,
would leave me cool inside.

My first love was
vivacious spring,
its joie de vivre,
its brightness, hope and colour sense.
It was a long affair. Perhaps too long.
But then again: no one got hurt.

So summer time was overlooked
and went without the small amount
of credit it deserved. Harsh of light,
bunged full of stuff,
it lost its shape.
Warm, staid and comforting,
its boring days
were friendly and reserved.
I kept it just for doing things --
other things, not things with it.

Autumn took me by surprise
(the way that summer did to Eliot
across the Starnbergersee),
but like a lover in my case --
like one I'd always courted,
but never thought to win,
who'd never shown the slightest heed,
but then had caught me willy-nilly
with dark and flashing eyes.

But now, ah now, 'tis winter time:
the season and my soul agree --
and if the body jibs a bit,
it always was a misery,
not liking this or that...
I bow to winter and its charms,
its stark and minimal delights,
its skeletons and filigrees
like blueprints in His pattern book
the Craftsman opens just for those
who'll revel in His Winter show,
and so reveals this time of year,
the elegance of structures,
the underlying rhythms:
His reasons and his rhymes.

Friday 7 December 2012

We All Are Players : a Quatern

I see the ghosts of parts I played
before I played the larger stage.
This was my house -- stage left, the door
through which my father went to war.

All that you see, my Granddad built,
wherein are ghosts of parts I played.
A cast of five, we trod these boards
before I knew the truth of guilt.

My baby brother enters (right)
as I exeunt (stage left) to school,
I see the ghosts of parts I played
once this split stage became the rule.

And was my role of Joker flawed,
the arty fool upon whose acts
the love of all the rest was poured?
(I hear you, ghosts of parts I played.)

The quatern was given as a prompt by Gay Reiser Cannon for dVerse Poets' Form for All

Thursday 6 December 2012

Teachers too, can daydream at the back..

School assembly. My mind on what comes next.
I have not even noticed
the heads are turned my way. I'm busy
fantasising the infamous 3C -
next period with me!
Day #2. Student teacher for six weeks.
Here to study practice:
learning how it should be done.

Suddenly, I'm back among the living.
A sea of eyes.
The only eyes I see are his, the boy's.
Beseeching me.
I've missed the play so far, am trying to
rewind. To travel back through time.
To reconstruct: the boy
was in detention yesterday.
The boy did not show up.
The boy went home. The boy
now says he spoke to me. I gave him the O.K.
I do not recognise the boy, but then
I do not know the children generally. Just
one or two. I was on duty at the gate...
I spoke to them... a few... more than a few...
couldn't pick them out... not many of them.
Saw them off the premises. Wished them Goodbye. 
That sort of thing. He might have been...
Perhaps he said: I'm off now, sir!
and I replied: Oh, lucky you!... I'm sure
I did not give him - anyone - permission 
to leave school.

They're waiting. Hushed. Expectant. All of them.
The head not so inclined. 
Let's have it then! You either did
or you did not!
Did you say this boy could do a bunk? 
I little more than mouth the words:
No, I did not have that conversation,
Sir, with anyone. It's possible that I -
I'm unprepared for what will happen next.
(The boy not so.)
That's all I need to know! --
The head triumphantly.--
The boy's hands rise and fall alternately.
The cane descends to meet each in its turn.
The boy is howling now. Now walking off,
hands on his head, as custom must require.
The head announces the last hymn:
The God of Love my Shepherd is... 

So there's best practice for you --
clearly demonstrated.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Time happens

I didn't know that Time had time
to watch us as it ticks away --
or is it us it ticks away,
a smoke and mirrors party trick,
the way the quayside seems to leave
our stationary ship?

And if time closes Time's one eye,
will everything slow down,
will snores replace the former ticks,
and tocks turn into grunts?
Will what Time watches be but dream?
Will Time have dreams of us?

Our dreams are dreams of possible
when Time is out of town.
Things happen coincidingly:
the Eiffel Tower is London Zoo,
the train becomes a bicycle
before Time's eye can wink.

And is it tick and tock, my friend,
or is it snore and grunt
that brings the music to a life,
the rhythm to a dream?
For even ugly sounds can sing
transmuted by the ears.
I am indebted to Willow at The Mag for this image as prompt.

Monday 3 December 2012

The Super Highway

Will future ages say of us
we were a new line of descent:
Arachnid Man who blanketed
the world in wonder webs?
If so, no wonder, they might think,
the world became so heated underneath!

Or will they call us Link Age Man,
and realise that all those threads
were Fred and Ethel, Jim and Beryl
trying to connect?

Ours is the Age of Connectivity --
and not of information, as we're taught.
Connecting has for ages
been what's super cool --
it does not matter much with what, to whom:
the globe is but a super room
where we can chat our stuff...
But you think not?

Well, things are changing slowly, so I hear...
the super-highway has been mugged,
become a tad less info' and touch 
more Hi ya Pal! --  With very little info'
kicked around... raw information
isn't what the kids are all about.

The web, some say, does for society
what our connective tissue does for us:
it binds, supports and keeps apart 
the body parts that otherwise would jar.
If we should lose the internet --
by some default of use, let's say -- society
would suffer all those stiff and painful joints.

Yet I was reading only yesterday
how youthful sections of the global population
now think the web is naff.
It's a Dad Thing, they will say.
Or worse: A Wrinkly Thing -- of course,
they still connect, web-wise, in other ways!

But if the Not Cool label sticks,
if others take it up,
the viewpoint spreads,
the web might just become
man's last big thing --
Perhaps we'll end up as the End Time Man!

It is twenty years since the first text was sent.

Sunday 2 December 2012

A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese

Good evening, Evening Sunshine!
Have you wondered how my day was going,
alone and in a place we know so well?
I thought I'd mail you, tell you what
a strange experience I had.
Ghost of a place, I'd say. I could not
come to terms with it --
how nothing clicked the way it used to click.

I saw the waterfall where we first met
and walked where we have often walked before.
I thought I knew each blade of grass,
the sound that feet make on the boards
that oversail the wetland strip. You taught
me names of reeds and rushes there,
and how to tell the summer song
the robin sings from that he sings
when winter comes. I thought I knew
the pinetum's most distinctive  smell,
the sound of wind high in the trees --
do you remember how we once agreed
it sounded like a brook? You taught 
me how to recognise the song -- what bird
was it? the name eludes -- that sounded like
a little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese.
I had not thought until that day
how birdsong might have lyrics...

All this I had expected to be there
as ever was. Alas, I did not recognise the place.
How sad and boring rushes are! How colourless
are reeds! The planks across the wetlands
merely groaned from missing you.
I heard the robin in the usual place,
but could not tell without your high
accompaniment to paint the notes
which of his songs he sang.

And in the pinetum's highest trees
the wind this morning sounded like... 
the wind once more! I think 
the little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese bird
had gorged on Gorgonzola late last night.
(It's coming back -- the yellow hammer, yes?)
The pinetum had no smell at all --
how could that possibly be so?

Next time I go I will not go alone. XXX
Poems of hate and Hope at dVerse Poets (Poetics)have set Missing You as theme for today.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Mistaken Identity

Someone has nailed a note to the front door
like one left for the milkman -- but it reads:
                  KEEP OUT
The house's number, that I'd thought was six,
is twenty six. The two is on the ground.
All is boarded up, but none too well --
a plank has fallen, and a window, like
an eye half open, stares at me with some
malevolence --  and all the depths of ocean.
Does something far too grim for airing harbour there?
Strangest of all: the morning paper in
the front door tells, for those who care 
about these things, of shattering events 
around the world. But no one does, the paper 
goes on getting wetter in the rain.
There's no one here to care or take it in.

Three signs of life I see, and only three:
a tree is coming into leaf, a cat 
runs furtively from just behind a concrete wall
to garden rubbish bins. Precariously,
a mouse's life hangs from its teeth.

The garage doors hang crookedly
on rusted hinges to reveal
a jet black Cadillac -- with patches of
dark indigo, like someone beaten black
and blue. It might as well have been 
a hearse as adjunct to this house of death. 
But wait! A further sign of life: a nest
of robins in a smashed headlamp...

I'm imagining the Cadillac as hearse --
or maybe just another funeral car --
processing down this cobbled hill -- and who
will follow it and all the mourners shaken
up inside? The cat perhaps, the paper boy,
the refuse men and those who put the sign
in place -- and he who didn't know him: me.

Friday 30 November 2012

The Mole

When I had grown too big
and too mature for pedal cars
but was in need of a new war machine
to take my troops (I was the King
of a fearful and a mighty army)
into the hidden depths
beneath the seemingly so solid earth,
I had this idea for a mole --
as I would call it -- a huge burrowing-
into-the-bowels-of-earth- machine.
As luck would have it
mother had a lightweight ringer going spare,
so with the help of nifty addings-on 
(the ringer being one) and nifty take-aways, my old
but very sturdy set of wheels, became
the object of my dreams -- and the envy of my friends.
The rollers from my mother's mangle
I aligned to point the way ahead --
but with the handle turning, they became
drill bits to cut through earth or hardest rock instead.

(years later, watching International Rescue  with my son, 
I'd tell him how the puppet masters
must have stolen my idea. I'd see that weary
Dad-is-off-again expression on his face.

The mole required a crew of six.
We burrowed into mountain sides and
excavated miles of tunnels;
built ourselves a rabbit warren of a base
that would defeat the cleverest enemy
and puzzle him to winkle my men out.
Then we discovered cities deep beneath the oceans;
were charged by herds of subterranean buffalo --
all of which we killed and salted down for food.
And from these tunnels we would sally forth to save the world.

The portal to this secret world, the old oak stump
behind the garden shed -- a false tree stump, of course.
Here sections of an air-raid shelter stood
and leaned against each other, overgrown
by brambles, vetch and moss and overhung by
elderberry trees my Granddad blamed 
for poisoning the ground. They leaned
at crazy angles dropping berries red and black - a sticky mess
we often found. This secret place
was more imagination than real garden space. From here
we burrowed into worlds that even we did not quite understand,
did not entirely relish, that made us partly glad
when meal times came around and thoughts of more hostilities 
were shelved for cake -- what passed for in those days
of post-war rationing -- or what 
the butcher found that week for us. 
Written for the My Heart's Love Songs Make Believe prompt at Poetry Jam

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Lost Boy

Black shapes,
dark, predatory birds,
sky full of them, they fell
and swooped, I shrank
to half my size, ducked
dived, accelerated. Still
they came in ones and twos,
whole squadrons of them at a time.
Then Messerschmitts... machine gun
rattle, somehow soft, like Grandma's pills
spilled on the floor's linoleum.
Some scorched my ears... and I
a vulnerable Tiger Moth.
I flapped my wings, rolled side to side,
but still they came, their fearful hands
reached out like claws to savage me.

I vaguely heard
a Tannoy somewhere -- earphones playing up --
speak of a lost boy. I paid no heed --
I had no heed to spare!
was fully occupied with mortal fight
and frenzied flight. I'd swear on oath
that was the day 
I learnt the body swerve. 
Two came at me from either side.
I ducked again, enjoyed
to see the two collide.

It ended sadly, I'm afraid.
I crashed into a counter,
knocking over a display
and there above the wreckage, with
a Santa's Grotto-Christmas crowd-type backing, glimpsed
my would-be rescuers... and mother's face, 
the face that launched my thousand ships --
but on this one occasion killed
the fantasy stone dead.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Mixed metaphors

In a room that
is an ex-room
of bare walls,floor,
ceiling, piles of
dust and debris,
the decaying
skeleton of
a room that was,
there stands a chair --
a luxury
that's out of place,
or seems to be.
Stark contrast, then:
of vivid red, 
its velvet touch
surrounded by
shambolic room.

Such plushness speaks
in times of great
What does it say
to you? What springs
to mind? blood? rouge?
boudoir? scarlet
woman? knocking 
shop? And do you
see which way my
mind is running?
I'm thinking: flight
of fancy. Dream.
A fantasist.

To me the chair 
is symbol for
the richness of
such fantasy;
the room denotes
its ultimate
its falling short
and leaving us

Tess Kincaid at The Mag provided the above inspirational image as prompt.

Monday 26 November 2012

Stalker : the shadow of a darkness

Yesterday English law caught up with Scottish law in one particular: stalking became a criminal offence. Before yesterday nothing was clear-cut as between, for example, stalking and harassment. Now the offence exists, defined in law.

Sometimes a shade that shaded into darkness,
torn from a darkness,certainly,
though not a darkness that she knew --
a shard of blindness
spiking shadows, bleeding them 
of their half light.

Unnatural, this penetrating umbra
moving as she moved,
pausing if she stopped for breath. It entered her
as thought that was not her
thought, but a formless silhouette of thought,
an alter ego, fragmented and searching for itself.
Did they belong together,
she and it? What
had the two of them in common?
Could ordinary selves
immersed in ordinary lives
and this amorphous wisp of soot-dark smoke
belong as one?

Only once safely home,
with doors and windows locked and bolted,
could she look out and in 
the lamplight sometimes see
s spectre solid as herself.
She had begun to see it as a dancer,
a demonic dancer with a role to dance
in some infernal ballet
on a stage she once had thought was hers. Death
By Slow Degrees the ballet was,
It danced the villain, she the victim.
Act One had been her breakdown.
Since when, its former domination of the stage
had turned into their pas de deux.
Through pure emotion such a story's told,
emotion motionless or moving rapidly --
no time for thought or even breath. Everything
that it had done -- that they now did --
flowed from some shade of sentiment, some 
negativity -- and issued in
a devastating fervour.

One night things changed. Stepped up a gear.
The lamplight caught what she had never seen before:
a face, the unseen face she'd dreamed about, the face
that was her story's face, that formed around the simplest
sights and objects, the way that sounds spill out of silence,
movements from a stasis,
feelings from a block of ice. She jumped.
The curtain fell on a denouement of a sort:
another shape that darkness took, amorphous as before --
but spiked this time by railings black as pitch.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Ready for Anything on Stir Up Sunday

Mary for Poetics at dVerse Poets' Pub has set Preparation as a topic for our endeavours.
Be Prepared,
the Boy Scout motto.
What, I wonder, had
Lord Baden-Powell in mind
in choosing that? For what
should all those small boys
be prepared? Should little Jimmy
on his way to school watch out
leat he be ambushed by some hungry
lion or tiger? flattened by a rhino
charging from the vicar's orchard?
a killer monkey stalking him?

I never was a Boy Scout, didnt fancy
all that stress of constant vigilance.
How can you be prepared for......X?

I had Lord Baden-Powell's brother,
shade or spirit teaching me to drive.
Picture if you can, the scene:
approaching a quiet junction,
not much traffic, nothing going on,
just standing on the corner
waiting for the lights to change,
an innocent pedestrian. Slow down.
Watch him! my teacher says.
Potential suicide! Change down.
He could be psyching himself up
to throw himself in front of you.
Under your front wheels. Slow
down and be prepared! Hear that?
Those very words! To be prepared...

Easy enough to make your preparations
if you know what's coming up on the 
itinerary... let us say you have a long
car journey facing you; there might 
be snow: you'll take a shovel, chains,
a thermos flask, warm blankets, clothes,
maybe your book of prayers for
all occasions -- none of which
will help you if the tiger springs, the man
jumps out in front of you, or tons of rock
fall from a cloudless sky, or you go quietly mad.

A word about Stir Up Sunday, which today is. A traditional day in the church year when all the family gather round to take their turn at stirring the Christmas Pudding. It was a great occasion when I was a child, stirring in the huge bowl with a very large wooden spoon. Best of all was throwing in the silver threepenny bits -- and hoping that one would turn up in your slice on Christmas Day

Saturday 24 November 2012


The Reverend Thomas Hardy spreads his arms as wide as they will go, palms turned to heaven, to announce his theme.
The rain falls evenhandedly on the righteous and unrighteous,
he begins, then fixes them with his blood-curdling stare
but far more often on the righteous, the unrighteous having stolen their umbrellas.
He does not laugh, for it is such an ancient joke. Indeed, The Reverend Thomas Hardy does not laugh. Full stop. In truth, it would be difficult to imagine The Reverend Thomas Hardy laughing. Some matronly ladies in the pews beneath the pulpit - his fan club - titter. Further to the back of the church the congregation tuts and whispers. It matters not, The Reverend Thomas Hardy rolls on remorselessly.

Meanwhile, not a million miles away, The Reverend Goronwy Jones, having just completed a dramatic prowl of his huge pulpit like a lion around its enclosure, now hangs across the polished wooden balustrade towards the congregation. He is locked in prayer extemporaire.
Oh, Almighty God, intones said Reverend Goronwy Jones, we do praise and thank Thee for all Thy great benevolence towards us and to all of Thy Creation. We thank Thee too, O Father that Thou art all-wise, dispensing only what is needful to Thy Kingdom here on earth, for Thou has sent in season, the sun to ripen and the rain to water fruit and grain. But Lord, there have been times of late, when flood and lack of faith have tempted us to doubt the workings of Thy wisdom, but when in such inclement weather I feel myself sore tempted, then do I recall the time when long ago Thou didst choose a servant from among us and didst lead said servant to invent the umbrella. We do thank thee Lord for that Divine initiative, for rendering to us all that Thou didst see Thy servants might require.
Some where between the two of them (geographically speaking) we find Henry Miles II. He his talking to his class of Sunday Scholars. An umbrella word or phrase, he is explaining, is used to include a disparate group of objects or ideas in a single reference. You might want to find a term for a wide variety of plants, for example. Or politicians. Religions. He sets them a five minute task to invent an umbrella term. They come up with Parasol, extreme, cuckoo thorny and wet.

Just about this time Mrs Goronwy Jones is visiting her aunt. She has taken a wrong turning and has found herself high up on an exposed ridge at the top of the town. The town is in the middle of a downpour and it is blowing a gale. In fact, it has just turned Mrs Geronwy's umbrella inside-out. Most people would find this a stroke of malfortune, but Mrs Geronwy Jones realises that she has been led to this spot by the spirit, for she is right outside a shop that is displaying in its ample window space its newly patented Unreturnable Umbrellas. So are the faithful faithfully rewarded in this life.

This week Mary at Poetry Jam invites us to write, choosing as title the title of a best selling book.

Friday 23 November 2012

For Life and Love : a paean.

Semaphore (Samuel Peralta) in Form for All at dVerse Poets Pub challenges us to write an acrostic* poem -- a new departure for me.
Friends of Gaia gather round,
Open up your loving hearts
Return the love you have received:
Love the self, that first of much;
Inspire the tired, lack-lustre ones,
Fire them with the Earth's sure touch. 

Earth has bounty still in store.

All creation joins the song
(Nations clamour still for more),
Delights to greet each golden crop
Looks to man to mind the shop 
(Oh,shame, not all crops reach the shelves),
Violence is to ourselves.

Earth, begin again today!
A tad too late for your Thanksgiving, I tried to find a related theme. *Acrostic = The initial letters of each line spell out its theme.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Tell Me If I'm Dreaming

I'm not yet in my teens -- but nearly there!
and as a treat allowed to spend the day with dad.
He works for Spalding, sports manufacturer
as golf club maker, making them by hand --
and that is where we are, his place of work,
but on the roof, looking out across the River Thames,
past Putney Bridge, to where the boat race -- Oxford
versus Cambridge -- is about to start. We watch
until the boats are out of sight -- three cheers,
it's Oxford in the lead! -- and then go down into
the bowels of the factory, there to find 
dad's workshop -- or attelier, as I prefer to call it, 
having recently acquired the word. Dad picks up 
an adze - his favourite tool and I await
with bated breath expecting he will start to shape
a club head... No, it is a rifle that he chooses from
a cupboard, places in his vice and starts to shave the butt.
A woman enters with a half-strung tennis racquet
asking his advice about a problem she's encountered.
I cannot take my eyes off her. She is a younger version
of my mum, for this is how they met. When I do,
I see the former workshop is an aircraft hanger,
and standing at the far end is a Meteor jet fighter.
(Dad worked with Whittle on developing the first
jet engine and later worked on them with 616, the first
jet squadron.) This one, solid looking to begin with,
morphs into a drawing of itself as I look on. 
I recognise the drawing straight away: dad gave it
to me when he came home on a weekend pass. 
It had been drawn inside an empty Camel 20 packet
to show me what the secret plane was like. Imagine then,
how mortified I was to have to burn the box--  and not
to breathe a word about the secret plane to any
of my friends! The hardest thing I ever did that was!

A courier now enters with some crates of brand new clubs.
Dad takes one from its box and swings it gently, testing
weight and balance. As he does, the head falls off and hangs
from the shaft end on a length of leather whipping which
is slowly -- very slowly -- unwinding as we look. 
It is as though he's caught a club head shark 
and now is playing him for all he's worth. 
Alas, the shark is winning -- handsomely. 
He tries another club, and yet another,
seventeen in all, and everyone the same. A golfer --
high profile and professional -- comes in with yet 
another clubhead dangling from yet another shaft. 
dad speaks to him and reassures him. He will fix the club.
He leaves and so do we. We join the queue for the new
trolley bus -- our latest, state-of-the-art means 
of transport home to Mitcham. We find The High Street 
packed with people leaving from the riverside. 
Above their heads we can quite plainly see 
a locomotive, green -- Pacific Class, as I recall from recent
spotting days, huffing and puffing its way towards us.
Well, you will know quite clearly that this was a dream. It was in fact an actual dream which I recorded at the time, recorded because everything in the dream had also occurred in actuality. All, that was, except the fishing rod golf clubs . That occurred many years later. A small detail, I know, but it has always been enough to make me wonder... (And Okay, I guess you can say that none of dad's Meteors morphed into a drawing, but it did have a basis in fact.)

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Play Blind - or Crossing the Sahara.

Now shut your eyes...
Screw 'em, I say! Tight
real tight
you see a sky with clouds and things
all very odd. Not like a sky at all.
So feel your way along the hedge
the fence
and feel where scratchy bits of twig poke through.
Back flat against it now.
No dodging out!
Arms out a bit
away from sides
palms facing back...

I get the Spring Road Busy Body in my ear.
I know her voice.
She says I've knocked the blossoms off.
(I'd like to knock her blossoms off!)
She doesn't like the way my eyes are shut!
Too bad. Can't open them.
Must keep them screeeewed up tight.
Says I'm being ruuuude!

You reach the end. It's open desert now.
Crossing the Sahara. 
This is where you want to cheat.
But not to peep.
Don't let the light get in your brain.

You're on your own out here.
Remember where things are?
The road. Parked cars. Lamp posts.
The square is booby-trapped with paving slabs
sticking up odd angles. Trip you up.

If you can do this well enough
for long enough
you go unblind --
see things you never saw before:
amazing black holes everywhere -
in sky and in Sahara sand...
army tanks perhaps on fire
huge gun turrets are turning in the sun...
beasts with fabulous great heads.

You're bumping into things.
Recycle bins. Food kettles. Cars
and clumps of nettles.
Ramp. Steps. The litter bin.

The pictures in your head keep changing.
Like a drug. Could be a trip
to set you in a spin.
Just in case there might be any doubt, this is based on a game I saw the children playing round our way. Some of the comments are based on instructions given to younger children by the born leader of the group. (I wish to make it clear that I, personally, have never wanted to knock anybody's blossoms off!)

Tuesday 20 November 2012

More things there are than this world dreams of

Three years and one day after he'd retired
the coastguard cottages came up for sale.
He bought the one they'd lived in, he and Jan,
when he had been the guard along that coast.

From colleagues they'd received a whirly line,
a carriage clock -- and his binoculars.
The latter he had used to study the 
sea birds -- in truth too powerful, but still

he'd persevered and made himself a name.
Two years in their new home and Jan had died.
He'd found no use for glasses after that,
and so they'd hung forlornly from their hook

to snuggle up for warmth to Jan's old  coat.
First thing each morning now he'd take the path
of stones that Jan had laid to the cliff top
and sit and watch the sun come up -- or not.

First anniversary of his Jan's death
he took his lap top with him on his walk
and sat and watched the video they'd made,
the two of them together in the bay.

The day was windy so he'd left his coat,
soaked through the night before, out on the line --
and playfully, had pegged Jan's coat beside
it, telling them No hanky panky, not

until I'm back! Up on the cliff as he
had run the video, he'd heard her voice
as background sounds to their amazing -- but
quite silent--  shots. Disturbed, he'd made for home.

The coats were missing from the line. What's more,
the front door stood ajar. Inside... nothing.
Not until the bedroom. There they were.
Laid side by side, arms around each other.

Watching them appeared to spark them into
action, for now they rolled around, writhing,
opening and closing  rhythmically,
swallowing each other and contorting

into shapes he afterwards could not put
into words. Then came the sounds of laughter,
kissing, grunts and groans... That was the moment
he first saw the wading bird. Pure white,

it stood high up on his tall tallboy,two
green eyes locked on to him, its long curved beak
opening and closing rhythmically
like the coats. The sounds must come from it! he

thought. Soon the sounds embraced Jan's voice. Its warm
distinctive intonation was too much:
He left the room, the cottage, Jan; ran down
the path to disappear for ever from

his friends -- who still get messages from him:
texts recounting endlessly the strangest
happenings -- of which this tale tells just
a few. They come from some black cyber hole.

For the image which forms the basis for this prompt I am indebted to Tess Kincaid at The Mag

Monday 19 November 2012

Out of its depth, the neighbourhood watch

Beware of dreams and other idle thoughts.
To this or that one they confide
the wonders of a great cathedral nave,
impart the inspiration for a masterpiece
in paint or sound, and on occasions have been known 
to disclose all the workings for
some new break-through machinery. 

By contrast, on the likes of me they lay
the burden of dark secrets not to be disclosed --
secrets I  would treat them well to be without.
Their latest confidence, bequeathed
through thoughts that I was not controlling at the time,
but letting them run free, was clearly worked out
in advance, before they saddled me with this:-

We have a squad of killer babies in our town.
There is no doubt. Coincidences come
too frequently. And each time I've been steered
their way to see. First time: across the square
a row of trampled snails... and there, six yards
beyond the row, a fluffy toy, a tiny, woolly lamb.
So, not convinced? Try this for size: next thing,

a hedgehog in the roadway. Dead, of course. The gardener,
who lives across the road from me, has said
it died of some toxicity -- and not a hundred miles away
a baby's dummy lay. What better instrument,
I ask, for one so young to use for poisoning?
Then just this last weekend, a fox cub we first saw
in spring... found in the gutter. Bloodied. Head bashed in.

This was the babies' top-most topping yet --
they still have not, to my uncertain knowledge, struck
an actual person dead. No doubt they're working up to it!
But now, apologies... the fox... how do I know? How am I sure?
Not fifteen yards away, a baby's plastic rattle. Split 
from top to bottom by the blow! And so, each escapade 
becomes more vicious than the last.

It's true I have not seen these killer babies yet.
Imagine them to meet at night, but have no clue
how they achieve these meets. Maybe the birds
are utilised... the cell is organised through tweets --
but that does not explain the no doubt ultra-strange
logistics of their meets. How could small babies manage 
them? And what are parents doing at these times?

Sunday 18 November 2012

Exit means Yes.

Today we shall consider...
(reveals it with a flourish)this:
our current scene of crime.

Look well --
with fresh eyes if you will.
But whose eyes? Choice
determines focus. 

Are you to be:
Investigating Officer?
forensic scientist?
Lover? Mother? Medic...? Yes,
this is a rape scene that we view.

World war artists were forbidden
to depict
the dead or devastated bodies that they saw.
They chose instead
the shattered buildings and torn trees
to be their representatives.

All rape is violent.
Here, torn plastic sheeting round the door
is nothing less -- indicative of more --
than the torn underclothes
of a once-decent space --
the MORE might be
the ruptured hymen. 

For sure, someone has penetrated, forced his way
beyond the limits set -- that EXIT sign,
blood red... I wonder... did he take that for a YES?

And through into forbidden space... what there?
The famished tree of Good and Evil in the yard,
still with a few leaves attached,
leans to the field and scatters
blossoms and dewdrops... finds
no answer to the way
our sense of homelessness
plays globally today.
What images would Browning find
if he came back this way?
An Embarrassment of riches! Sincere thanks to Claudia in Poetics at dVerse Poets for the stimulation of some wonderful images from the photographs of Terry S. Amstutz. Please visit his site. I guarantee you will not be disappointed

Saturday 17 November 2012

How Much You Want?

The lift girl took a fancy to her blouse --
my daughter's. Every time we'd travel
with her in her lift, whether up or down ,
I'd see her finger it and smile.
Nice, dearie!, she would say. How much?
And every time my daughter would just smile
and shake her head, turn slightly pinkish
and the girl would ask again: How much?

I thought it strange. Though some clothes 
were in great demand, the blouse was very like
the ones the locals wore round town --
embroidered in the same half folksy style,
with just the motifs differing: hers Teddy
bears and dolls; theirs pine trees wolves and trolls.
(One hotel guest disposed of all her husband's clothes
and went home with a suitcase full of useless currency.)

Daily beside the hotel swimming pool
illegal currency exchanges on-going all the while --
and all beneath the noses of the far-
from-secret Secret Officers in far-
from-plain-clothes suits, with half-
mile-wide lapels - suits that only they could buy.
How much you want? and Give you... echoed
quite like laughter round the pool.

And then one evening during dinner:
a commotion. An Officer type Spiv --
lapels at 10 to 2 -- had arrested on the hotel beach
a young girl for soliciting. She'd cloned --
I swear to heaven -- the very blouse my daughter
still was wearing. Some sort of badge or sign
those motifs -- so the inference was that all the guests 
soon drew. My daughter didn't wear the blouse again.
I will not divulge at this stage where in the world these events took place - thought some might like to guess. My daughter at the time was ten years old.

Friday 16 November 2012

Lourd on my Hert

Victoria C Slotto at dVerse Poets' Meeting the Bar suggests we attempt a poem with literary - or other - allusions to another work of art. I have chosen a poem by Hugh MacDiarmid who has long been perhaps my most constant influence. If I were to be allowed two poems on my desert island, I would want them both to be long ones, and would choose two by this man: his great masterpiece, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle and On a Raised Beach . Today's choice is a lightsome thing - but don't let that fool you into thinking him a lightsome poet!

Lourd on my Hert

Lourd on my hert as winter lies The state that Scotland's in the day. Spring to the North has aye come slow But noo dour winter's like to stay For guid And no' for guid! O wae's me on weary days When it is scarce grey licht at noon; It maun be a' the stupid folk Diffusin' their dullness roon and roon Like soot Nae wonder if I think I see A lichter shadow than the neist I'm fain to cry: 'The dawn, the dawn! I see it brakin' in the East, But ah --It's juist mair snaw!
..................................... Lourd, heavy : dour, hard : wae, woe guid, good : licht, light : mair, more maun, must : neist, next : snaw, snow And here, my reply -- which strikes me now as more a parody - something I'd not intended:- To Hugh MacDiarmid I take your drift, your Bardic thoughts for England's state lies parlous too. It's not the seasons -- snow or sun -- but self-inflicted pain I rue. We long for gilt It's guilt we see. We all are drawn into the stew... God damn it man, will no one bless the stupid folk we've set in charge who've caused -- and go on causing -- our distress? It's loot man, loot, keeps good times oot! If all you've got to draw your tears are shadows lightening in the East, you'll get no sympathy from me; your dawn will come -- this time or neist! but as for me... I scrimp in abject poverty!

Thursday 15 November 2012

The Moment that Never Was

For Poetry Jam's prompt, Under the Big Top, this is a complete rewrite of an earlier Poem, (see here)
To publicise the big top on the green,
clock high  above the square,
town hall to church, a cable stretched,
pulled taut, on which a small clown rides
a penny farthing bicycle. ( In truth, more like
a ha'penny farthing fairy cycle than
the real McCoy.) Across the handlebars
a bendy pole, a bucket at each end.

The  crowd below looks up and holds 
its one collective breath.
And then: a sudden gust.
A gasp.
Explosive, for
the vicious blast has  scattered leaves. 
He's stopped.
Sways wildly for an endless  moment --
as if time's flow has stopped.
He sways, leans left, leans right. Repeats.
Retreats -- reverses half a yard,
then stops again. Another wave.
Such grand insouciance! As though
there never was a thought,
a possibility that he might fall...

He waggles for a second his long pole,
splashing the buckets' contents on
the upturned faces of his audience.
A final wave and he resumes his ride.
The moment gone that never was...
except we thought it so.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

My Most-Remembered Lie

The one that haunts, keeps coming back...

Friday afternoon: the class debate.
Dicky Bird (Englsh, Literature and Grammar,
Lower School) has just this moment
introduced his theme (half-promising,
the way he always does, we all could be
M.Ps. one day): Meccano in
the School Curriculum?  And now,
by way of limbering up, 
he's going round the room inviting
us to say if we possess Meccano 
sets at home; and if so, which; and
how they figure in our leisure hours.
(Sets range from 1 to 10. Set 5 or 6
would indicate a lucky bunny.)

He gets to me. Set 10! I say.
The whole class looks with incredulity.
He offers me the chance to backtrack 
just a bit, but I am adamant. Set 10!
I say again. He starts to list out all
the parts set 10 includes. I nod at each,
stick to my guns! They start to grin.
Then giggle. The more they do so,
the more I nod. Truth is -- one version of --
I have set 8 plus set 9A. 9A
converts set 9 to 10 -- but not, alas,
set 8. I'm almost there, but lacking
set 8A. I have convinced myself --
almost -- it's near enough to pass for truth.

And I keep thinking now... perhaps
he saw the spark, perhaps he knew
I should have been an M.P. after all.
Meccano Steam shovel. Image fromWikipedia

Tuesday 13 November 2012


Verdun, an ancient fortress town strategically placed on the road to Paris. It has a long history of siege and conflict. During W.W.II it became a symbol of French resistance when it survived a long and terrible assault from vastly superior german troops. The painting by Felix Vallotton was contributed as this week's prompt by Magpie Tales

Sharp. Angular. The forms
man brings to bear. How
apt! Snapped shut or open.
Scissor-wise. Knives 
in pincer movements cut.
Shred. softer forms
that Nature spread
in kinder days.
Man's browns
have muddied
purer greens. Where pastures were
strange landscapes have replaced
their peace with heave
and blast of earth.

I say: if ever this great onslaught ends
(somewhere beyond the death of friends
I do not doubt),
then shall the landscape
fall into a silence, speak
the death of speech,
the death of sapiens. Only
the homo in us will survive.

I dare to say of this: if ever it should end --
the stuttering machine gun madness;
exploding earth and cries of pain;
then shall we hear:
no birdsong;  whispers
from no furry creatures
in the non-existent undergrowth;
no rustling of dead leaves.
No sounds beyond the sighings of 
the dead in search of graves.

If it had eyes, this landscape 
would lie silent, staring into space,
a dumb and broken thing. See now:
beyond the small hill's brow
shapes piled that might be corpses --
or fallen trees... or simply shadows
thrown by the light of hell.

I say again: if ever this great onslaught ends
there will be nothing left for light to show --
except the most impenetrable darkness
man has ever seen.

Monday 12 November 2012

This be the planet

This is the planet that nurtured life
from the moment life began,
the way a man will blow on a spark
in order to kindle a flame.

This is the planet that welcomed life
and awarded it top spot,
gave it the keys to its atmosphere,
and the freedom of ocean and rock.

This is the planet that stocked its shelves
with all the essentials for life:
trace elements, carbon and vitamins --
and left it to fashion its prize. 

This is the planet that held its breath,
preserving what others had lost --
and preserved it well until man appeared
and fiddled with all the controls.

This is the planet that healed itself
with feedback, nudge and tweak,
until it was pushed way over the edge
into Chaos and Prospect Bleak.

This is the planet out on  a limb
in need of a settings change.
Its final, desperate hope is to
recapture its maker's range.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Peacemaker Extraordinary

He was big, much bigger than big,
a mountain from Jamaica.
Most days his voice boomed through the corridors,
shattering what peace there might have been.
The school was two thirds Chelsea fans.
The other third -- less one -- supported Arsenal.
Malcolm was that one: he would be Manchester
United to his dying day. He had
a string of names they'd given him, the boys:
Big Mal was one; Mal-ignant was another
(never to his face); Mal-icious yet a third.
He'd modelled himself on his childhood hero,
Malcolm X,* just recently assassinated, so
 a martyr now to boot -- and very much alive.

At Stamford Bridge the hero in those days
was Peter Osgood.** Monday after Monday,
Mal would enter like a conqueror. We'd hear
him chanting from afar: Osgood, no good!
Osgood, no good! No other person could
have managed that and lived. Amazing then
the staff should christen him The Peacemaker,
but so they did. Had he not stood between
those warring fans, between that mighty rock
and that hard place, our place of learning
might have been undone. You had to think
of bold Horatius before the wild Etruscans***
at the bridge -- not Stamford, though. Yet he
had one horde facing him, but not like Malcolm, with
another at his back. We never knew why Malcolm
made this stand, but all applauded that he did.

One Monday Mal was sick. A spate of fights
broke out that no one could control. I tried...
I campaigned long and hard that Mal should receive
The Nobel Prize, but nothing ever came of it.
* here
** here
*** here

Peace is the apt order of the day for ManicdDaily's prompt at DVerse Poets

Saturday 10 November 2012

if art should fail humanity...

If you could find a place
where no one would find you,
if you could paper that place
with a paper to suit you,
if you could make a garden
to surround your lonely place
and live there like a hermit
'til you knew what human was,
if you could send a post card
delivered to my door
to describe in single syllables
what human life is for,
and if the world at large
could be invited in,
I wonder... would that open
your brave new world to sin?
And if you took to painting
would sin besmirch the vision
of your world seen at its best
or seduce you from your crusade for
explicit this, explicit that -- 
in which the vast majority
by definition don't believe.
(Blessed are they 
that have not seen
and yet believe... etc, etc.)

If you could keep your place
for both the secular and holy,
free of false dichotomies,
a land of god and no-god,
seeing god as both a shorthand
and a longhand form of art,
seeing art as sign and semaphore,
a dance with flags and dazzling lights,
unverbalised theology
bringing music to the sights --
a cannabis for scriptural faith...
And if you left your haven
to dance down dirty streets
would it all be out of kilter,
would you need the magic philter,
explicit sex and revelation,
to return you to your station?
If you could paint a tenet
for a faith that's yet to be,
would a fine brush or a wide brush
or a roller set you free?
Would you nurture a small parcel
or a landscape or some scree?
And if art should fail humanity,
where then would prayer be?

Friday 9 November 2012

Form for all - Than Bauk

Wild wind, I fear
your roar, hear and
revere your feats:

tiles thrown down streets --
stuff for tweets; stuff
that skeets on pride.

But met outside,
Bonafide friends,
wind, bide as treat!
Gay Reiser Cannon provides this rather tricky prompt at dVerse Poets Form for all. Please visit to see how the rhyme scheme is constructed.

Thursday 8 November 2012

A Card in a Shop Window

Seen among the Lost Pet cards: Have you seen them? Two lost faiths, much loved and greatly missed: A fluffy kitten, black and white -- answers to the name of adam (meaning earth -- pristine, of course). Also, a snow-white puppy -- comes when you call eve (life- giving - as in the biosphere of all life, everywhere). When found, they'll likely be together. Please search the garden and the potting shed, beneath the apple tree, etc.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Private View

A hundred paintings on the wall,
all thrown together thoughtlessly -
enough they could be crowded in
with no blank wall to spare, now
looking down at people on display:
Conceptual Dressers -- are they? -- or
Performance Artists  maybe? Some
new genre for the in-crowd to go on about?
Motifs interchanged before your very eyes:
motives confused, confusing or Confucius-
like -- you'll know them by their too much
nibbling at their cheese on sticks, and too
much sipping of expensive wines. So where's
the art in that? the pictures ask. The people,
they point out, are frameless every one. And so,
these strangers who keep peering up at them,
these voyeur-viewers-concept dressers-per-
formance people with no boundaries,
all without straight edges set to crop 
them into manageable wholes and hold
each whole together, are one conglomerate mass,
devoid of individual voices, setting out a style.
You hear it in their talk, the formless way
it spills across the gallery, the vague
waft of the hand to indicate
where Post-Impressionism colonises
something known as  Luminism. or
a perfect balance is achieved
between Expressionism and ingestion
of the spirit. More Burgundy, like blood,
lands SPLAT! upon the floor.

Linking to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night #69

Tuesday 6 November 2012

My First Computer Program - and why God's not around much, these days.

There was a time 
a moment only,
no more than that...
I'd written my
first, earliest
original --
shall I go on? --
computer program
Draw a Man
and watched it run
(no help from me)
and draw a man --
not just a man,
the very man
that I had thought of
days before
the program was complete.
So now I thought
See, if you will,
what I can do!--
for I was God,
was master of
my universe,
the small world of
a yellow screen --
that could be green
or blue or red
with one small movement
of my hand. I could
control my uni-
verse, the man
was in my power
for I'd created him.

There must have been
another time,
a time before,
when I'd been God
and made my mark
(my very first),
pencilled or crayoned,
I gave it sense.

First turn at being 
the First Cause!

And was it just
like that for God?
He made the world,
the solar system,
couldn't stop;
went on to make
the Milky Way,
The Sculptor,
Virgo, Ursa
Major and the rest?

And is He out there now?
Millions of light
years off, creating
So far away
they never will
be seen by us?

Is that why He
seems so remote
and not involved
with us these days?

Monday 5 November 2012

Choice and no choice

Too late to make a start,
to write my life the way it might have been,
like a poetic form grown line by line,
each line composed
of four or five well chosen words,
each line exact,
weighed in a careful balance,
balanced to a nicety...
A common fret?
No, more than that. The awful thing:
that this is always so,
a much for the young boy
as this old man.

No time to drive a rhythm through,
empowering life
to something more than prose.
That chance was gone
before you held a pen.

Not easy to determine
(as you yourself will know)
the sequence that the words should take...
Harder for the boy,
he cannot know
best order changes constantly,
that we
are all collateral casualties
of some world/universal order
that changes as we go
but can't be changed.

Not so:
collateral wounds do not exist;
all wounds are core, the end 
and very essence of a war.
The deaths,the man/the boy 
were choices someone made,
choices someone weighed,
thought justified.

The sculptor doesn't choose. He waits
until an idea comes to him, one that says
this XXX will fit your marble block
exactly sir. It's there
and waiting to get out.

Free choice a human right.
No one's pleading that he's
 Just obeying orders, not these days,
they're simply doing the wrong thing:
the philistine who helps to shape our country,
the rogue who goes to make our laws,
the shaman who with magic stone 
will keeps himself in power,
the leaders who start wars.

It's far too late for choice; it always was.
You have your block of stone.
I am linking this to Poet's Pantry at Poets United and to the Poetry Jam prompt Choice

Sunday 4 November 2012

light seeps

Nature scribbles on a scraperboard crafted from man's craftsmanship: where stood a human logic: cottage = love in solid form of walls, roof, door and windows, hearth and fire, the labyrinthine logic of the fire has won the day. The door stops nothing now, protecting no one. All shall be free until the brambles stop it up again. light seeps -- a grain or two a day. No more -- to let the darkness in. Those who were here had fashioned love, carved it of the hardest stone, impervious to gloom. Meanwhile, stucco and plaster flesh peels from the charred bones to the floor. Small, furry creatures amble in and out, and what is wild and rooted leans against this skeleton as it decays, reclining in the sun. Light idles time away, plays with its finger paints upon the wall, forgets that what it sees as squiggle pad is carcass, and as such is worthy of respect. But this is time that will march on, cannot turn back, cannot reverse the bramble tide. Nature at least will give a decent burial. ...........................................
Enormous thanks to Brian Miller and SueAnn (see her work here), the first for masterminding an inspirational prompt, the second for the picture fest at dVerse ~ Poet's Pub Poetics - Through the Artist's Lens

Saturday 3 November 2012

Ere the first sad petal falls

It always was this way. My age perhaps,
my inner age, the age I've always been,
that I see beauties in a flower long past it's best --
not there when it was in its prime.

The rose that blooms a step too far,
gets over big, too heavy for its stem,
its face too blown. Perhaps
too sated for the bees that visit it,

but in whatever cause, it oversteps the mark,
cannot contain its shape or hue.
If only nature had a reset button for the flower --
as that hid wrapped inside the human brain.

I understand the present beauty of the flower.
Inclusive loveliness.
A montage of the graces that have flown.
To me it says: Perfection never was.

Decay rips silently inside the ache for more.
The artist knows not when to stop.
There is no point at which two visions meet:
This vision of the future on a view of now.

What once seemed consummation of
our hopes, the rose's full potential, its
maturity, was but the master's small 
maquette for what was still to come.

Back then I gave it all my admiration,
but now it has me locked in its embrace,
defenseless in the face of these new charms
and ravished into ecstasy.

Friday 2 November 2012

Ezra Pound at the Stock Exchange

Later he would blame the screens,
the way they'd mesmerised him. Not
the screens themselves, maybe, not --
no certainly not -- their one-eyed stare
straight into his eyes, and not their
flicker that might try odd times
to grab a brain wave passing by...
No, none of these: the culprits were the figures
and the way they danced and flounced across 
the screen, they way their hips would wiggle
and their thick lips pout. The way he's think
they were the front row of The Windmill
or The Follies in their prime. And he
in his own private box, could sing:-

    You can hear the girls declare
    "He must be a Millionaire."
    You can hear them sigh and wish to die,
    You can see them wink the other eye
    At the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

Figures of fun: the dollar, yen and pound
among them, skeletons seen in the round,
seen by one small part of his fantastic mind
that put the other parts to sleep, allowed
no doubts or caveats. he'd brush them all aside:
I'm sticking tails back on the donkeys
at a party, he'd protest... but more than that,
I'm not completely blindfolded - I sense where donkey
is and where he's going next. I have a nose for such 
things, such I cannot fail.And more than that:
the party that I'm at is MINE! Come join!
The future's all in futures and derivatives.

    But thinking pounds had put this in his mind:-
    His mind had stretched and stretching, had become
    The World's Sargasso Sea,
    a calm stretch in a frenzied ocean
    where bright ships left you this or that in fee. *

But it wasn't just for self that he'd forgo all meals,
would work all night. He was the posse out to clean
the town for all posterity, the Tommy tangled in
the barbed wire on The Somme, the hero of his people, out
to make his mark. God for John Bull, the Kingdom and
this Bank! he'd cry. God for the killing that
we'll make! God save The White House, Prince Harry and 
the Pope! This time it will be different! This time
we cannot fail! and so he played another million
on an outside chance that cotton would come up again...
In fact, he saw it more as knickers coming down,
for figures had a sexual charge and mone was orgasmic.
As counterweight he payed out twenty thousand grand 
to say that concrete would be hitting a new low.

    With Futura has no man a house of good stone
    Stone cutter is kept from his stone
    weaver is kept from his loom
    with FUTURA
    wool comes not to market
    FUTURA is a murrain, futura
    blunteth the needle in the maid's hand
    and stoppeth the spinner's cunning.
    Corpses are set to banquet
    at behest of FUTURA. ***

Each time he lost, he laughed it off with all 
the confidence of one with little evidence. So weak
was it in fact that he would laugh again and sing 
the mantra that was going round the bank: 
What you see is all there is! Why should 
he ask for more? Intuitive predictions had got 
him where he'd been. He would be there again.

    So if there's nothing in the whole of this,**
    nothing that is quite my own, 
    still this is me, he told himself.

No matter what you're down you double up next time
around -- and add a constant for your profit said
the small part for his brain, now helplessly
intoxicated by thoughts of wealth to come, I only
need to get it right the once> Come join me -- and play on!
* and ** are (slightly) modified quotes from Ezra Pound's Portrait d'une Femme . *** is a passage from Canto XLV. Here "FUTURA" is my word. Pound's was USURA, from usury, meaning the charging of exorbitant interest.

Written for dVerse Poets: Meeting the Bar for which Anna Montgomery has set us to write on Postmodern (High and Low Art)

Thursday 1 November 2012

How was it for you? -- A very unspooky Halloween.

A massive pile of funny sweets
and other stuff to pass as treats
had been assembled in the hall
in preparation for the call
of spectres who might be around
or denizens of hell's dark pit
who'd come to haunt us for a bit.

We waited hours, and all in vain,
disturbed by neither hoot nor chain,
until the sound of ghostly --what?--
palm or fist of ghost or crackpot?
Alas, no spectre rang our bell,
no entity at all from hell,
just this one, insistent thump chink chink --
the bell, I found was on the blink
and none but this fraternity
had had the spunk to bother me.

A nurse there was, intent to minister,
but nothing there you might call sinister;
a fairy too, complete with wand,
a gorgeous redhead and a blonde --
enough to tempt me to abscond,
but nothing there to shock or fright...
were others hiding from the light...
until I saw their type of fun:
the nurse had pulled a taser gun.

A cowboy stood with legs real bowed,
a lassoo and a lamp that glowed,
but pitifully, none too bright --
it couldn't pierce the murky night.
The rain was coming down in sheets;
Riot inc. Beware the streets
a tattered, blood-stained banner read --
persuading me to head for bed.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

When the bones rose up...

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

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

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

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

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