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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Dark Oath

harrowing, you might say,
seeing all that blood run out of me
thin and watery,
transparent even.
Not blood that I might recognise
as being mine,
yet knowing it
as blood drawn from my very marrow
by those foul grubs,
those slaves of Satan.

I saw all this,
but could not guess
the depths to which my tattered soul
was being dragged,
how spirit can be borrowed
for a wickedness so rare
that one must either
march beneath its flag
or take the oath that leads --
as it has now led me --
to ultimate destruction.

Written for The Sunday Whirl #106

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Mum had promised the zoo,
the doctor shook his head
and vanished in a puff of pipe smoke
through the chimney breast.

Next up was mum
holding in her hands a camel's head --
the rest was parked behind,
zebra-striped and in its hump
a tiny first-aid cupboard door
from which mum took
a glass thermometer
for sticking under tongues.

I must have blinked
a quite amazing blink
that swapped the kitchen
and the bathroom round.
I saw mum wave a silver wand
and heard a noise and turned about
to see a great big crocodile
splash water from the bath
and pick the bones of what remained
of Peter's rubber duck.

A train came by
which all got on --
aunts, uncles, distant cousins,
folk I'd never seen.
We sat in open trucks.

They said it was a wonderland.
I swear we never moved,
and all I saw was fog --
until the train pulled in at last
and I lay in my bed.

And mother with the doctor's bottle,
bottle green and fluted glass,
the tallest cork I'd ever seen,
and -- as I now believe --
in big red letters,
LAUDANUM on the side.

Written for the prompt at dVerse Poets by ManicDdaily to Trip the Poem Fantastic -- the emphasis being on TRIP, of course.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Notes for a Retrospective

#1 Leaves falling from the Tree of Life : spring comes to the garden.

#2 The Big Bang : God throws his paintbox at the biggest blank canvas ever.

#3 Therapy : I found these patterns on the edge of nowhere.

Sunburst : a cancer cell emitting electromagnetic signals.

#4 The Tower of Babel : a tumour of a million cancer cells, all emitting their unique electromagnetic signals.

#5 Landscape without figures : we pick out the pieces which best fit the landscape we have within.

#6 This egg yolk is not an egg yolk, but a fungus : nothing came of it.

#7 Speak to the hand, the ears aint listening : Adam and Eve talking to their three children about the consequences of sin.

#8 Pornography : the three children put into practice what their parents told them.

#9 A string bag : the strings vibrate to the distortions of time and space.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Round the aspen's trunk, the squirrel's double helix -- one up, one down,
like Aunt May's little house whose garden boasts the magic tree.
In my mind's eye the squirrel weaves the DNA I'm sure they share!

Written for dVerse Poets where Samuel Peralta is introducing us to this form of Korean Poetry.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


into this small wood
has been compressed
a world too large for it.

the world beyond the trees
was decompression chamber
which now is stressed
beyond the measurable

allowing interested parties
to deny the data --

sense impressions
more compelling
than the dry results
of number crunching.

of old resources
established weather patterns
breathable atmospheres
present a united front
of censure.

What moves between these verticals? Moves
horizontally. Run. Scamper. Scuttle. Flit.
Swoop. Lollop. crawl. Instinctively we plot
trajectories runs paths tapestries
of movement. Catch
the sparrow hawk. His dive-bomb dive.

Gate crash through the canopy. Becomes
one of the verticals.
Does it bring the tapestry alive?
Or is it rent in twain?
The Three-Dimensional
transposed as Two-.

in here it has been said
is where God died
or has been buried
or memorialized.
Something like that.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Resilience of Plants

The resilience of the plants to survive
against all odds a winter such as we
have just experienced... what doesn't
kill you, hardens I suppose. But some
were killed. Chrysanthemums. (The very
ones which seemed the hardiest of all.)
Shocked. Water-boarded -- plant variety.
A few found shelter. Some under snow.
Bluebells, for example, honoured their
appointments, but with energy full spent.
Yet still you'll need to look with care
to see the gaps the weather makes in land.
Some early plants still struggle - and
this well into spring. Most thrive and
little by little nature keeps its promise.
But even so, they've shipped in extra
daffodils to circumvent the shortfall in
the shops. Some traders even selling silk
or plastic blooms that made a bomb -- or so
I have been told. But then again, some
customers have been appalled and charged
the traders with being eco-infidels -- or
do I mean insurgents (of the green variety?

Written in response to The Sunday Wordle Post #105

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Too hot for daffodils

How all the others
lean on her
or lay themselves across her back.
Untidy bales of hay.

She stoops
beneath the withered corpses.

Either side
trumpets sound their yellow notes
bright as that first day

when they were wings...
were they wings...?  are they wings?
The yellow sound surges

Image of wings         whose wings?
Hers? Maybe she is/was
an angel   what sort of?   of death?

Too hot
that's what
did for her --
and all the others.

Never so tightly packed in life
never so close.
Death huddles them together.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Language, Ethics and Curiosity

Listen. Let me tell you.
Eden was a trick, a sham
like a show trial put on by an autocratic state.
Could not have ended any other way!
Not one of us,only a simpleton
would not have behaved
the only way the human mind
is programmed to behave.

How do I know? Well, let me tell you,
I have played at being God,
have seen it all pan out,
almost before my eyes. The dice,
I say, were loaded. Overloaded.
Could not have fallen any other way!

When I say I played at God,
I mean I set up my own Eden.
Part of it. The tree. Forbidden fruit.
And tempted those who were so innocent
they simply had to fall.

I chose my Edens with great care --
location being so important
in these modern times. Let me tell you
of the time I chose the rose wood table
and spread it with a range of goodies
tempting to a child: two paper-weights
complete with snow, some costume dolls,
a crystal ball, a box of soldiers,
a castle and a tower. And centre stage,
my tree of Good and evil:
a bright red Chinese lacquer box
that rose above them all.

Teachers brought in eight top infants,
sat them at my Eden and then left.
It was not long before the angel came
(School secretary with a pre-arranged, fictitious
phone call in the office.
Could I take it now?)

I tell them they may talk among themselves,
may pick up the objects and play with them --
but on no account may the box be touched!

Exeunt yours truly and the secretary.

Has he gone?
Dunno. Can't see...
Open the door a bit, then.
You be me!
We've not got long!
Not got long for what?
To see what's in the red box.
He said not to.
He won't know.
He might!
Dunno. My gran, she was a teacher. My mum say she's got a nose for things like that. All teachers have!

That's nonsense. He'll never know!
Something might fly out if we lift the lid!
Like what?
When you look in this crystal ball you sees the classroom upside down!
It's humming!
What is?
The box, of course!
The windows go all out of shape in the corners.
Could be a bird in it then!
Birds don't hum, silly!
Some do!
Like what?
Humming birds!
That's their wings does that when they flying. There's not room to fly in the box, so it's not a bird.

I wonder why we can't open the box...
He thinks it's special, I s'pose.
It is special. It's got all these lovely lions all over it.
Don't be daft! Don't you know anything? They dragons, not lions. It's a Welsh box!
If you look right through it everything looks out of shape... only it's all behind you!
Welsh is dangerous. There's witches and things in Welsh!
That's why we mustn't touch it then! We might get spelled on!
I says we open it!
Who else says we open it?
That's all of us then, but not Peter.
No, he's too busy magicking with that there crystal ball! So Peter look away. Don't see us do it.


It's a tape recorder!
AND it's running!
AND it's on record!
That's how he'll know!

The reference in the poem is to an investigation I made in an infant school into the development of language and an ethical "compass" in young children. It was in fact one of two such investigations. The other I have already posted in a more straight forward report form. You can read it here http://picsandpoems.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/chalk-and-cheese.html

Sunday, 21 April 2013


For long -- too long --
they've hesitated:
trembled in the wings,
stars of this year's pageantry,
their costumes under
winter's heavy wraps,
asking if it's time.
Was that our cue?

Then suddenly,
not as we'd thought
or where we'd thought,
not from the earth
(or so it seemed)
but conjured out of air:

just overnight,
the bright magnolia
is spangling the sky.
Stella, she's called --
so aptly named. Near-by
vies with the sun
for colour and for light.

And now the flame bush,
seeming nearer earth,
dispels that myth
as all its flames
spontaneously ignite.

Even the earth-bound hellebores
have raised themselves
to face the sun,
so lightening their load.

Diaphanous, the willow's gown,
bought yesterday on-line.
She shakes her skirts
with patent glee
and pride in how she looks.

Written for Claudia's Poetics ~ Spring at dVerse Poets

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Art and Theories of Art

While we argued
The Truth of the painting,
its meaning -- and could
such a thing as meaning exist?

while we debated
how much he'd been swayed
by the skies of Bellini
or the mysticisms of Blake,

while we wrangled about
the folds in the clothes
(was it the Romanesque
line that we saw?)

or the slight elongations --
did he intend
the subtle rotations
that made form seem bizarre?

Even then, as we bickered,
the wind was rising,
the sun slowly falling,
the birds fallen quiet, and

the sky (though not a Bellini),
had gone suddenly dark --
and all the while
as we argued

these ponderous thoughts,
the sole custodian
of the answers we sought,
was dying alone in his bed.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Coming of Godot

Peggy at Poetry Jam invites us this week to present a fictional character from a Point of View. I have chosen Godot from Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot". In the play Godot never appears. Waiting, interminably, for him to do so are two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon. In the spirit of the prompt (I hope!) I have given Godot sole occupancy of the stage.

Vladimir! Estragon! Where are
you -- Surely you have not left? Gone?
Can it be so? Are you not here?
Of course not. I see you are not.
Could ye not watch for me, one brief
hour more? Of course not? Why should you?
You waited well beyond what might
have been expected. I delayed
my coming -- God-like, but not God.
My non-appearance then became
far more than you or audience
could bear. Soon it became the main
point of the play. Academics
argued it was all. (What thoughts did
you, my friendly tramps, have then? Did
you think it all? Or did you think
I might not come at all? Perhaps
you were among those few who thought
me God: all wise, invisible,
and at the end, unknowable?
There were such and still are -- so I
was bound to come. A pity then
you are not here. What would you make
of me -- or did you long suspect
I am a woman? I guess you did.
And so you danced attendance on
me for so long -- not long enough
though, as it came to pass. But had
you known for certain sure I was
a man you would not have stayed long --
or would have stayed for ever. But
for a woman you would do what
you in fact did do -- wait long, though
not quite long enough. So am I?
Am I God? And does the play ask
that -- or answer it? No, never.
Is that the point of it? My non-
appearance, is that the crux we
need to understand? Or me, here,
now, and you departed God knows
where -- the final revelation
as I speak it now to no one.
That is an abiding truth; that
the final revelation goes
unheard. The trees may hear my words,
the birds may glean some molecule
of what I say, a fox may steal
my words, and so the day may come
when someone finds them, finds a use
for them. Our two good friends, perhaps:
friends Vladimir and Estragon.
One way or another, the words
that we speak will come back to us.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Cross

I am the way, I said.
How could they understand?
All faith is path, the path
the ultimate expression
of all the footfalls down the years
that have compressed the earth
and left a deep impression --
yet one so mystical
that only I could clearly see
the way the feet had worshipped it
and where they'd let it peter out
and lose itself in sand.

But only from the cross I saw
the state of man and things:
his soul and mine
so inextricably entwined.
It took the cross for that.

I saw the path laid out afresh,
the path he'd walked,
the path I'd walked,
the path that lay ahead.
It passed through flood
and tempest too,
in mountains disappeared,
was trapped by snow and ice.
Enormous rock falls buried it.

This was the path,
a rough and ready way
on which no tarmac lay.
It was reward --
the only one --
to man and I
for a rough cross
across the years
and Resurrection Day.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Night Security Patrol

The night security patrol -
that's Grant and Mischief II.
A university. Extensive grounds,
a six mile beat to be completed
twice or thrice a night.

The half-way point: a statue
of the venerable founder. Ghost-
like and silvery in pools of light
that move with clouds and trail
deep shadows in their wake.

Grant becomes aware
that Mischief's nose or ears
are on to something he has missed.
Grant lets him run on the long lead.
Mischief growls. Attacks the noble

founder. Will not let go his legs.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Best Love is Never Seasonal

Best love is never seasonal.
It may begin on some high plane,
a bare plateau where nothing grows --
or has not until now. It's looking down
(or back)the lovers see their futures.

The world removed from love (and them)
looks small, not worth a French kiss
with an empty mussel shell. They shall
much rather forge their worldly way.
With nothing set in stone, all things

are possible. The frisson is between them, not
between them and our world. They look around
like frightened rabbits with no bolt hole.
They should be focussed on each other. Spring
holds the key, but love is never seasonal.

Written for Willow's prompt at Mag 164, with much thanks for the image.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Very Private Monster

Outside my childhood bedroom window,
a tree of unknown species --
the family at variance.
I don't recall I ever saw it in full leaf,
though leaf buds came and went,
but never blossom and no fruit.
It had a scar down one side from a lightning strike.

On windy nights my phantasoid*
might take possession of the tree,
the tree become a miscreation in disguise.
The creature's bony fingers scratched
across my window pane in search of -- always searching --
for that one elusive crack, a weakness, a way in.
Sometimes it found it, and its digits or its arms
would wind their way across my ceiling,
down the walls, and even scrawl
their patterns on the pages of the book
that I'd be reading with my torch.

It had, I came to realise, as many arms
and fingers as its work required.
No point in counting them. Their numbers changed
from one look to the next. In constant flux,
I would have needed to know calculus
to calculate the sum. Two heads it had --
that much seemed constant -- black and grey.
The grey one scowled or roared, the black
just smiled, as if to say Good day!

On stormy nights when all the elements
turned really wild it aged enormously.
I called it then my phantaswick* -- because
it had a beard (on its grey face)
that stood up to attention like a wick.

A monster of a mystery, it never frightened me,
but next day if the storm had passed, I'd go and look:
the tree was quite unchanged, the miscreation
quite restored and unpossessed -- and far too far
away to ever scratch my window pane. Nothing
of note to catch a small boy's interest, except
two birds' nests side by side -- one black, one grey --
and maybe something weeping from the scar.

Written for Brian Miller's prompt at dVerse Poets Poetics ~ Monsters
* My names for

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A day with the brush.

Me__ Any thoughts about today?
Toby Yes, actually. Thought I might sit up near the conveyor belt and look down into the abyss... And you?
Me__ The opposite. Up on the high bank, looking straight across to where you'll be.
Toby Sounds good to me!
Me__ Anywhere should be OK today. Conditions are ideal. No matter where we park our easels, should be fun.
Toby Have we ever had a day like this before, with both wind and sun? Take your pick.

Silence and shiver.
No sound but traffic
hum from below.
Sun's dazzle a quake
gently shakes what I see.

Everything white
other than sky,
nothing visibly not white
except for its blue --
and the sun's yellow pencil
outlining a shape
and a texture or two.

My easel's black shadow,
a cataract, falls
down the bank's sharp incline,
the sun's latest cut-out --
or black-out, say you?

Think of a coal mine
its coal brilliant white
dust crusts the landscape --
grass, shrubs and trees
a building or two...
the conveyor belt wheel
is the mine's winding gear.
The men all below.
Birds never come here.

Riddlesdown. Quite unique in my view.
Cement works and chalk quarry.
What little remains
of the downs that were here
is covered with dust sheets.
Spectral, the scene.

The conveyor belt rattles
and bangs into life,
buckets clatter and sway.
Deep in the quarry
jive their shadows all day...

Toby Would you believe it! Some guy comes up to me while I'm painting. Says "Why you bothering with paints? There's plenty chalk down there you could use.
Me__ And you said?
Toby Nothing! I thought: Prick! But then, afterwards, began to think it not such a bad idea. I might work over it with pastels.
Me__ Yeah, I can see that working!
Toby You know if heaven and hell ever got together and reached some sort of compromise, it would probably look a bit like that place.
Me__ Maybe, but I think I prefer my good and evil a bit more black and white.

Written for Herotomost's Destinations and Dialogues prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads where we were asked to sandwich the poem between two pieces of dialogue.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Meeting the Dreamer

They call me the dreamer, he said,
I having asked him who he was
who'd burst upon my idle time above the tide line,
lost among the marram grass and sand dunes,
watching the sea-whipped waves play in the bay.
Strange boy: man's body, girlish face that now
and then would greatly age and then be young again;
and covered head to toe in moths and dragon flies
that when the face changed would fly off
to form a cloud that followed him -- or was it her?
No answer ever came in all the years we met.

Why do they call you that? I asked.
That's not high science, sir, he said.
Because I dream! I am the one
that has dreamed you and put you in
this dream time and dream place. I gave you
what you're pleased to call your life.

I thought about this deeply for a moment as I watched
the moths and dragonflies dance lightly on the waves.
Then: I'm just a figment in your dream?
I asked. He nodded his assent. And yet, he said,
We were great friends before I dreamed you here.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Pockets --Wot they 4?

Once in my early teens --
Oh, memorable evening under stars,
trees bidding us keep schtum --
wearing a great coat not my own,
and in a pocket of the same,
a rabbit -- not a beast to conjure with,
not one to pull out of an ear or hat,
Oh no, a rabbit, though unbloodied
and still warm, quite dead.

My coat, a poacher's coat
(each pocket big enough, I thought, to hold a horse),
belonged to Jake who lived with others
(the others who were with us now)
in coaches on a railway line.
They'd put me up when I'd been in distress.
And Jake had put his coat around me
when I'd shivered -- from excitement, not from cold.
Inordinately long on him,
it reached the ground on me.
Railway men they were.
Plate-layers they were called.
They introduced me to their sport --
of poaching down the line.

Alas, the phase of pockets filled with fluff,
dead mice and chewing gum - part chewed -
passed me completely by; so this, my solitary
bragging right, is what I offer now.

These days the contents of my pockets seem
much friendlier, if more mundane:
coins of the realm and keys, a mobile phone,
a lucky stone, a note-book, pen
and camera, some paper tissues, like as not,
my wallet and a tube of peppermints...
These simple things
are more fulfilling now
than that poor rabbit was back then.

But not completely so! I yearn
for something tactile and exotic
to play with as I walk or wait
in some quite cheerless waiting room.
I'd love a netsuke,* for example,*
to roam my fingers round and secretly
enjoy the sculptor's special skills.
That or a small stone God or godess,
a replica perhaps of the oldest one of all
the WILLENDORF,* that neolithic Dame...*
Oh, how I'd like my fingers roaming her!

The prompt brilliantly suggested by Poetry Jam

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

To the Sound of Breaking Glass...

This is the moment
that comes occasionally
or not at all:
the dream
fading into reality,
lost in the borderland
between full sleep and wakefulness.
With eyes still sleeping soundly
the ears are wide awake.

One foot in nightmare, still I stand
and listen to my other land.

The mind is stretched between the two.
The dream runs on,
a silent film,
no longer silently.
The soundtrack comes from somewhere else:
the street outside
where two men argue about... about...
but now drowned out
by children playing,
the bin men on their rounds,
the clatter of the bins,
the sound of breaking glass...

all this laid over... what?
A London bus,
the upper deck,
A Buddhist monk
immolates himself in front of me.
His sacrifice.
Protest for freedom.
Immersed in flames
he disappears from view.
A horse jumps through the flames.

Silly man, silly man, out you go!
sing the children in the street below
to further sounds of breaking glass.
Surreal. How could they know?
The Buddhist figures in my world, not theirs.
Innocence and artfulness walk hand-in-hand.

The couplet (lines 10 and 11) though in italics is not a quote, but an allusion to a Poem of similar title by Edwin Muir. You can read it here

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Trust him, he's an artist!

If an artist tells you
that he wants you for your body,
it's best that you believe him Ducky.
Let him have his wicked ways with you,
distort your body's finest features,
include more loving detail in the towel
than in your sexy shoulder blades,
and smudge or blur your face or breasts.
Humour him his pastels or his paints,
for if you scorn what he has made of you,
you may have scorned your immortality.

If a sculptor tells you
that he wants you for your body,
try to believe him Dearie,
though you know it isn't true.
It's his stone interpretations that he wants:
the shapes he's found in rocky outcrops
that hold memories of you.
Humour him his syntheses
of chiselled flesh and marble stroked,
for if you scorn the visions that he's seen
you may have scorned your own memorial stone.

My thanks to The Mag for the image as prompt.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A mind forever Voyaging through strange
seas of Thought, alone.

A Birthday in April ~ Wordsworth

Prompt from The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
(The first of three posts which will celebrate the life of a
poet or author who was born in April.)

The title of my poem is a line from Wordsworth, one of several offered as inspiration.

There are thoughts that run like rip tides through the brain
and carry you far from the firm and reassuring land.
The swimmer here is far beyond his natural depth
and struggles, kicking in blind panic at
the images that lurk below the surface or attack
your preconceptions from their skyward mounting waves that lift you high
until you're dizzy from the visions that you see
as you look down from God-like heights through many a
pooling green or blue into a world of flying fish with monkey faces,
whales with horns and crabs with buckets -- the J.C.B.s of their
unlikely worlds. Between your high enlightenment and that
great darkness far below, a net of foamy white lines stretches
out across the surface of the sea in patterns such as fish scales make
on creatures that you can't describe, an ocean wide.
It's thought made visible perhaps, a watery script
that someone may decode, of how a dolphin thinks.
A slight wind ruffles, rearranges them;
new insights surface that had lain below.

Though few and far between and lucky you will be if you can catch one
of the thought tsunamis. Like summer storms on land
they rise from nowhere, sweep you half a world off course
and shatter every dated thought-form that you ever had.
They'll leave you crumpled on some rocky shore with
a whole world of concepts to rebuild. Once back afloat,
words, shapes, sounds, smells and surfaces flow round you,
round up past associations and form new. Connections made
that never were before. Cross currents slap and suck,
their slackening waters slow your headway, but the slowness is
the point, the sea now has you in its arms.
It curdles even as it cradles you. Others will play safe,
will make the voyage in a boat or on a raft.
Such thought is not immediate, it cannot take you
by the throat or simulate the drowning of your ancient past,
the freedom that the waves give
to the thought that dies, only to give birth.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


being the theme set forth for us for this Saturday's dVerse Poets by Kelvin S.M.

Raymond was due for work experience.
Mad on cars, they'd picked a garage for him
known for their sympathies for special schools.
The teacher supervising him was new.
Ergo I was put in as adviser.
I had misgivings, so stuck to basics:
When you brief his gaffer, make sure he knows
to give instructions one by one,
I said.
Similarly, demonstrate one action,
and when he's got it, demonstrate the next.

From what I subsequently understood,
it went somehow like this: We need to change
the oil -- that small round screw beneath the sump...
You place this large container underneath,
then you remove the screw and drain the oil.
And last of all, you must replace the screw.

Well, last of all is what it should have been.
So far was more than quite enough by then.
But they went on: they showed him where the oil
went in -- so that is what our Raymond did:
he drained the oil and then replaced the screw,
he even tightened it to the right torque.
He then unscrewed the yellow cap that sat
next to the dipstick... and slowly poured in
all the oil he'd just drained from the car's sump.
They had to strip the engine and then wash
each part with spirit. Did the new teacher
not pass on the instruction? The gaffer
not listen, or not understand? Raymond
messed up - though not entirely without help.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Are you Al Capone, by any chance?

From front door to the road
a biting North East wind
cuts into me.
A left turn brings relief.
Another left, I'm on the square,
the wind's behind me now.
But facing me:
a young boy -- ten, maybe;
or eight; or somewhere in between --
sits on a bollard
nursing a new, shiny Tommy Gun.
Never mind your AK-47 or whatever,
this is World War II
or Prohibition vintage.
He looks like some old brigand
guarding a high pass. He's coatless
and faced into the strong North Easter
quite impassively. An older boy
appears with football in his hands.
The brigand shakes his head -- and gun.
Its barrel points the long way round.
He does as he is told.

In the shop the papers are delayed.
The shop is crowded. Next to me,
a small boy in a Teddy Bear type coat.
From one of its deep pockets
he takes a soldier. Stands it on the counter.
He's the captain. "Is he now?"
I smile. "Important guy!"
Shot five hundred enemy!
"That was good work."
Got himself a medal! "Right!"
He puts the soldier in his other pocket.
Replaces it with one who's lying prone.
This one's dead... His voice begins to fade,
I don't hear all he says from this point on,
but know I'm being told the histories
of all the men in his battalion.

Then back outside. Two older boys on scooters
(Could be paper boys)
get the now familiar treatment,
take the long way round.
I pass the bandit.
"Who are you then, Al Capone?"
(Knowing he'll know nothing of such figures
plucked from history.)
Nah, he replies, I'm Che Guevara!

Friday, 5 April 2013


Come with me, my friend,
we'll walk this town
of high hopes and grand promises
and you shall see
the fruits of all those yearnings,
the deliverance of years --
three decades -- of
unbroken rule that led
us to this promised land.

Come see the wonders
that have made this town
the envy of the world.

See here, my friend,
think what imaginings are here.
Have you seen anywhere
a town with more
or better housing for the destitute?
It stretches in its leafy streets
as far as you can see...
What architect would not be proud
to have designed so many?
This is New Minimal, a concept
that ensures the houses are so tiny that
they hardly break into the lines
of architect-planned trees.

We come now to
a major aspect of our brave new world:
the largest and most graceful
prison in the hemisphere.
At a pinch it could be made to hold
a fifth of the town's population,
so I'm told. And doesn't it look swell?
I love those bright mosaics on the walls!

And now there's this: for many, I believe
the highlight of them all:
the children's cemetery.
The concept was so popular
we set aside
land to last us centuries,
but already it is filling up --
as you can see from fields
of marble Teddy Bears, Walt
Disney figurines and animals
to catch a child's imagination.
I swear there's nowhere like it in the world!

And lastly what for me must take the prize:
Are you not over-awed as others
have been in the past? What do you make of it.
For me it conjures up a union
of two of the world's greats:
I see The Sydney Opera House
with, in its arms, The Guggenheim Museum
in Bilbao, the latter being
the world's first future generation
generator of more power
than anyone could need.
There is a price to pay, of course...
and so, embracing it -- and passionately too,
in my imagination -- is the hospital
for treatment and research into
all forms of radiation sickness
burns and injury. Had Eden had
a hospital, this, without a doubt,
is what it would have had!

Are you not now impressed as I
with our town's gracious living?

The Theme was suggested by Victoria C. Slotto for this week's Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft at dVerse Poets' Pub

Thursday, 4 April 2013

King Lear II : Or a study (short sketch) in

Absolute ruler!
Czar of all can see...
but age is tiring you:
how welcome retirement would be!

So you shovel your crown,
your sceptre and throne
and the weight of the world
that goes with them all
on to your least favoured son --
in whom you have sown
all the wisdom and duty you've grown
in the years you've been king.

So was it the weight
or the greed in his heart
or the fact that he never did bloody well care,
that he turned from the way,
betrayed you and the faith
and acted the anti-Christ King?

Your life-style adviser advises retreat
to a cloistered place with a strict regime
in the wildest terrain you could wish,
but you take yourself off,
just you and your God
to the Desert of Hungry Souls.
And you live in a cave
and you don't wash or shave
but rail night and day at your God
and your prayers explode
in the language of filth
and there's nothing but you,
you finally see, in the world,
but the snake and the toad
you've befriended out here.

The world is a grand, empty place,
remote and extreme, and there's no way to guess
why the hell you have ended up here!

And was it the herb that you ate from the stream
or the storm that left you for dead,
or the bite from the snake
or the ice in your bed
or the loneliness rendered you mad?
Was it seeing yourself as the one soul alive
who is guilty, unable to put things right,
with only the gift to stand alone
and reject the easy and trite?

But you're making no sense that sane men would see,
blaming yourself for the ills of the world
as if you were God - and praying, I hear,
to the god of your dreams (who doesn't exist)
that your kids may be spared
a trauma like this.

Written for The Wednesday prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads where we were asked to write something on Existentialism which The Free Dictionary defines as A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Our Castle of Blown Glass.

We were the lucky generation -
or might have been
had we been stewards of the things we had,
not taken them for granted.

We lived the life and thought the thought,
whatever thought was a la mode,
whatever brought us Kudos by the K.
Freemen of the Castle of blown glass,
we counted ourselves Bless'd.

Would we sit to write a song? It wrote itself.
If we were hungry, fruit fell from the trees.
In every way and every day
life was ever sweet.

And in the glass walls we could see
the beauty that was us, the way society
takes nature by the scruff.
And through the walls another grace --
Nature the provider, ever offering the teat
and there for ever at our beck and call.

Elsewhere than here -- perhaps, we thought,
where the footings stood
on the long sleep of the long departed --
fissures ran, the famous glass had clouded.
We searched hard for the flaw,

distraught to think we could not see
what was before our eyes. Outsiders,
hungry near to death. Long columns of them.
Displaced and dispossessed...
We did not see them make their way
to a new and denser darkness
that we had never seen.

We were seduced by feelings of eternity;
the permanence of life. It was not so.
The fault lines ran through us, and only then
through that which bore our name.
We had the eyes that dim when strangers starve.
What use to us were walls of glass?
They saw no more, we saw no more,
than through a wall of brass.

Written For Mary's prompt The Castle of Glass at Poetry Jam.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea.
Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone.
Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves?
Only the not-stone board beneath me
steadies itself and is still
where wave calls to wave
where sea is a word re-writing itself
written in stone
to me, a text to my not-stone board,
pulled from the shelf.
Peaks towering above me. Strong. Still.
As stony as any landlubbery hill back home.
Powder to nothing in wavebreak and seashake
feeling the shale, the stone floor.
(As the written word, as it trembles before
the locked-in power, the power of speech.)
Tightly it locks me,
a lost soul, lost in the lost power of speech.

Dumb in the shivvering pit, in the shimmering flow
of the dark words' call to us, to me in the now.
Wave clash to wave clash, brash
in the light of the moon's yellow staff.
Pierces the stoniness. Grave-like and tunnelled.
Sea-tunnelled. Shore-runnelled. Bundled with love.
Stone after-glow of a joy from above.

Inspired by Wordle 102 at The Sunday Whirl. to whom much thanks.
The Given words were:
Moon, peak, petals, staff, lost, pit,
stone, after, calls, locks, written, powder

Monday, 1 April 2013

Between Heaven and Hell

And I was taken
by The-Angel-of-the-In-between
to see the Kitchen-of-the-Uncommitted-of-the Age -
the angels' latest Digital Experience, that shows
how nourishing may Heaven's dishes be
and how very toxic Hell's,
though they boast the same ingredients
and work from the same recipes,
and how both are born of mankind's muck and muddle,
the fecundity of human thought and strife,
the clatter and the clutter
of the pans of old ideas
and the sprinklings and the stirrings of the new:-
but the difference between them
is the imaginative love
that is added by a chef who's bold and true.

Thanks to The Mag162 for this excellent visual prompt.