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Wednesday 31 July 2013

Two Poems

Where To?

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

I do not think we are.

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

Special Delivery

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

Sunday 28 July 2013

Conversation Piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 26 July 2013

The Great Exchange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You see a nest,
some fledgelings
and a kite.

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

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Trees Are Pulling Up Their Roots

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

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

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

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

Friday 19 July 2013

Three Short Poems

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

The two men remonstrate. He starts to sing.

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

Tuesday 16 July 2013


The neural net
sifts ocean depths.
Catching what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They've slipped away.

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

Sunday 14 July 2013

Open Day

Too hot to eat,
school dinners go to waste;
too hot to play,
the kids look to the shade.

Nurse Rose gives two
(who'd fainted on the field)
her ice and water cure
when through the open sick room door
they see The Stranger -- quickly changed
to our new teacher for next year!

Tall, in six inch heels,
a conflagration of red hair,
and arms piled high with books,
she walked down to the hall -- they said --
and disappeared.

The rumour quickly spread,
I tried to kill it off:
Where is she then...?
The heat... a mirage... and
the school's a brand new building. New
buildings don't have ghosts --
and would I take on someone
dressed to kill?

The feeling was, I would!
And so the story clung, and I
pooh-poohed it best I could --
until I later learnt
my wife had seen her too.

Claudia at dVerse Poets asks us to write on mirages, summer heat illusions, etc

Thursday 11 July 2013

Figure in Landscape

Please take a look at Peter Doig's Jetty, the inspiration for this poem ,(here)

in landscape

in his own thoughts.

is the mind active
or passive?

Is he thinking
thoughts of himself
or being thought of
by some inner self?

The landscape
drips with self-absorption.
Is one
with the manner
of his thinking.

only the indefinable
has the detail
to define us,
archiving our profiles
for some future
day of the spirit.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Transcending Time : Three Poems


Bronze man
+ heat
+ acid
= patina

8 bronze figures
+ variety of temperatures
+ acid
gives range of patinas

Transcending time.


at easel

and vision
= mismatch.

battles through

Transcending time.


at easel

+ figure(s)
- narrative

Transcending time.

Friday 5 July 2013

The Empty Box

Opening the matchbox
is a safety curtain raised
an opera revealed
a space completely filled
by a vertical black wheel,
a stationary hub
round which the stage
proscenium arch and orchestra
are turned like turtles, like a page
of music that the maestro missed.

Watch when the box is upside down
how every match has tumbled out
and struck its flame upon the ground...

From sight comes sound
from fire comes song,
the matches dance off two-by-two
in high duet or pas de deux.

Shadows fall of spoke and rim,
fire turns the wheel that would not move,
the world must follow in its groove
and all obsessed by flame or song
be crushed beneath the awesome heft.

What will be left?
The matchbox holding empty space
remakes itself and finds the grace
for buffalo and killer whale,
an octopus, a small boy's zoo
of mini-beasts from underground --
revolting seen in morning light --
that turn most adults chalky white.

It's from this box your nightmares come.
Abhoring vacuums, nature boasts
that little boys oft help it out,
that vacuums are a nightmare's home,
an empty box a place for ghosts.

The matchbox closed, the small boy smiles:
he's trapped a world with childish wiles.
What when your muse moves to dispense
inspiring thoughts that make no sense?

Beneath the blankets through the night
the small boy makes his curtain calls,
the matchbox opening a chink.
Man thinks of God with thoughts that shrink.

Anna at dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft is asking us to consider Atmosphere in our writing.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

The Rest of Creation

I wonder if God meant
to fill the world
quite as full of us
as it's become.

I can't believe
He saw us from the first
as cuckoos in the nest
edging all His
other creatures out.

And when he used such words
as fruitful, multiply,

did He stop to think
what we might make of them?

They were a license,
we supposed,
to bully and abuse
the rest of His creation.
To procreate among ourselves
without restraint.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

My First Landscape

My first landscape.
Concrete first. Between two sheds.
(Bicycles and coal.)
Beyond the concrete, grass -
both crawled across
until the grass stopped suddenly,
the rose bed massing hues for our delight
at journey's end for me,
drawn not by blooms, but by
the fallen petals on the ground.
These early odysseys, but fading memories
pinned to a photograph or two,
cross-referenced with later recollections -
like perfumes from the petals,
made for mum and gran,
received with great enthusiasm.
Never whiffed again.

Clear as crystal though, the coal shed memories;
there I'd build my own Black Mountains in the dark.

Apart from that, there is a mist
until the day I passed my first horizon: that
of the trellis, almost garden-wide and backing
all the standards, floribundas, hybrid teas
and shrubs with high-rise climbing plants.
Soon I would discover whole new continents:
a corner full of lilies of the valley,
a path edged either side
with gooseberries and other fruits,
the bushes low enough for me to taste -
and tear my flesh.

There was one far horizon that would wait
maybe another year or so:
tall loganberries formed the final screen.
Beyond were apple, plum and elderberry.

None gave more pleasure, though,
than those Black Mountains in the dark.

Monday 1 July 2013

My Best Friend for a Short While

Somehow, we have become attached to one another.
At dead of night, when I was out of it a while,
somehow we got hitched.
But for the moment I am on a mission:
to prove to Sarah; sister, guard dog, guardian angel, she
who looks askance to see me on my feet and unaccompanied,
that I am viable alone,
have all the powers at my disposal
to stay upright for a half hour -- plus those I'll need
to move around... But then,
I'm not exactly unaccompanied just now:
I have my best friend, Mr Bloodbags by my side.
Tall, ram-rod stiff, flat feet with castors,
cheerful screen for face, and only one shortcoming:
he only speaks bleepese.

Come on, I say, spotting that the corridor is quiet.
Beeep, bip, bip, bip, bip, beeeep! Beep, beep! he says,
meaning something like I'm right beside you kiddo!
I'm making for the toilet first of all.
Once both of us are safely in, I bolt the door
and from my hospital jim-jams extract
The Meanest Flower , a Mim-
i Khalvati book, no more than pocket size.
Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip, biiip, blo, blo, blop, peeeeeeep, pop,
he goes. Then three raps at the door.

David! Are you alright in there? I know you're there,
I can hear your blood transfusion beeping...

I put the book away and look at him.
Why can't you keep your mouth shut chum? I ask.
Blop, blo, blo, pleep, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!" he goes.