Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Farewell Do (rondeau redoublé)


Because this is the end, a celebration
Not rejoicing in finality, just a line,
To show the clear demarcation
Between the person you were once and the fine
One you are now, with hindsight; to combine
Reality with memory and fiction. The restoration
Of you as the person whom we define,
Because this is the end, a celebration,
By all things positive. Appreciation
Of real good and good intention.  We pine
For you now you've left. This declaration,
Not rejoicing in finality, just a line
Or two to point out your achievements must align
The truth with the ideal version.  By implication
This illustrates our need always to refine,
To show the clear demarcation
Between messy reality and idealisation.
It's not a funeral, none of us is grave, the wine
Flows freely. We rejoice in positive simplification.
Between the person you were once and the fine
One we say you are now, is a sign.
It reads "Accept and remember without question,
Do not towards the gritty truth incline,
Because this is the end."

Funeral Coat rondeau redoublé

The long black coat hangs from the bedroom door.
It speaks of death in black exaggeration.
I wish you didn't fit it any more.
Grim-reaper-like in my imagination
It seems to bide its time, makes silent proclamation
Of intent. Were it my death I wouldn't bore
You with this worrying, such things we face: regard as preparation.
The long black coat hangs from the bedroom door;
And threatens, not me, but all those whom I love.  And yet, before
I am myself snuffed out, oblivious, through medication,
I must find strength to suffer and endure.
It speaks of death in black exaggeration.
It offers nothing hopeful, consolation
Could not be further from me now.  I can't restore
My mind to peaceful happiness.  In desperation,
I wish you didn't fit it any more.
Though you'd buy another.  The chore
That living would become, the devastation
Of being alone, becomes a mess of thoughts I can't explore.
Grim- reaper-like in my imagination,
The long black coat is all I hide from. There's no limitation,
Despair appears to have no boundary, no floor.
All I can offer is a prayer of supplication.
A symbol of death hangs from the bedroom door:
The long black coat.

Advice When Renewing a Passport Photo

Look straight ahead
And let your jowls sag.
Open wide your strangely wonky eyes.
Don't smile, you're a miserable old bag.
Make sure your hair is flat
Don't try and tread
The fine line
Between seriousness and merriment
By making your eyes shine,
This is a document, not an experiment
In how to appear secretly happy.
You're meant to look crappy,
As you would at 4am,
Straight off the plane or the ferry.
Look as if you worry
That you aren't quite right;
You don't want to confuse
Anyone who views
Your picture by being confident.
Don't look pretty or even pretty-ish
Look a bit of a fright.
Then everyone will know you're British.

Foundation

I am become a dappled thing,
A spotted, freckled melanin
Of speckle, spattered aging skin,
Which wrinkled too and growing thin
And slightly wispy round the chin,
Is really quite revolting.
Glory be to Man for makeup in
A slappy, slathered lathering
Of sloppy cream, concealing
Such blotchy, patchy withering.

Thoughts occurring while sitting on a cold hard pew, in a cold church... Sitting on the Aga


To warm one's arse upon the Aga's domes
Makes winter bearable by heating well
One's fat. Cheeks as cold as death in homes
Devoid of stoves with perching space, tell
The story of this absence in the face
Of ladies who must bear their stately piles
As best they might. Though warmth redeems a place
From all its failings; direct heat brings smiles
Of comfort and of ease which radiate
And warms the hearts in turn of those who in receipt
Do not recoil, do not repudiate
As in ignorance of the true source of this
Benev'lent glance believe themselves the cause.
For so much joy and comfort, so much bliss
Derives from warmth come from behind; the laws
Of nature which evolved through many a year
Adapt.  Fundamentally pleasing things bring cheer!

Evidence of Old Age

Is there any evidence more depressing,
Of the nature of old age, so fast progressing,
Than the discovery, when standing cold and bare,
Of a singular albino pubic hair?
Is it right to try and pluck it out?
And what if the children hear your shout,
Because it hurts,
And come running? What should you do?
And what if, as is rumoured to be true,
Removing hair results in exponential growth,
In little spurts,
How would you cope then, when you are loathe
As it is to admit you're over the hill?
Should you resort to dye,
Or apply
Mascara
To start with until you are a
Total greybush?
Or is it better still,
To put it out of your mind,
And not to look,
Because, after all, nobody will know,
Unless you write about it on Facebook?

Your Political Ideas are Like your Lady Di Hairdo

You wear your points of view,
As you used to wear
Your Lady Di hairdo.
They aren't much to do with you,
Just a sort of camouflage.
I suspect you'd give them up
In friendly badinage
With handsome men,
But wearing vaguely left ideas
On your sleeve,
Allows you to believe
You are the right sort,
Empowers you to snort
And toss your mane,
Whinnie your disdain,
At anyone who
Thinks you
Should think them through.

'Pelfie'

To pilfer a pouting picture
Of someone else,
Which they have taken of themselves,
A 'selfie'
And using it to earn dishonest dough,
Through blackmail,
The fee thus earned:
A 'pelfie.'
The O.E.D next year will define it so,
But you saw it first in here,
So now you know,
I invented it,
And will achieve celebrity,
And as a poet,
Might be asked to take a 'shelfie.'



Pelf = money gained in a dishonest way.

Thoughts Occurring While Listening to Scheherazade on Radio 3

I didn't know there was a Scheherazade place in my head,
I imagine it fitting itself in the cracks between grey matter,
The nooks and crannies of the music, attached to hooks instead
Of more important things.  The chatter
Of neurones leaping the gaps which are filled with sound
Making up famous tunes, so they aren't gaps any more
Will probably cause senility. I will go around
Knowing lots of pieces but unable to name them, I'll bore
Everyone to death with my constant humming, sickened
By the familiarity I will be Classic FM without a DJ,
Endlessly trying to reproduce order.  The arteries, thickened
By age and cholesterol, will try and play jazz and I will blame PJ,
Assuming the exertion of pumping blood is him listening
To the sort of rubbish I always switch off, and the battle
Between classic FM and jazz record requests will be seen glistening
In my mad old eyes, as I sink and hear death's final rattle.

I Don't Want to Plug in Your Charger

I don't want to plug in your charger,
I only plugged it in yesterday.
Why do you live so precariously,
Always about to die?
The fact that you want plugging in again
Seems like a metaphor.  I have eaten a custard cream.
Make do with that, vicariously
I am at least as tired as you.
I am not going to expend more energy
Going up stairs, anyway,
I don't like the way you imply
I use up all yours, wasting the day,
Getting fat,
Sitting about Googling
Don't shut down or I will scream;
You have 4% remaining,
But you never ask what % have I.

No One On Facebook.


I looked and there was nobody about,
No little dot of green and human light
Beside the list of friends, no one to shout
'Hello' to over cyberspace.  I tried to fight
The urge to post a poem describing you
In terms that could offend, but my black mood
Won out; I wrote, the rudest things I knew,
Was mean about the way you eat your food,
The clothes you wear, your mad ideas,
I insulted all of you and did my best
To try and be unfair, expressed my fears
About your madness, told things you had confessed
In secret. You'd do the same, would not avoid
The one great chance, to make me paranoid.

Temptation

A massive bar of fruit and nut to eat,
In purple foil wrapped and close at hand,
Is just the thing to make a pleasant treat,
When dieting and trying to command
Your instincts. Don't try and understand
And don't ignore your inner man. For sweet
Temptation is too much.  Try to resist and
A massive bar of fruit and nut to eat
Will keep its nagging up.  Admit defeat
At first, before it melts.  You might demand
Better of yourself another day. It's neat;
In purple foil wrapped and close at hand,
Don't leave it perfect. Though it contracts as you expand,
At least you gain some heat
In the process of consumption. Anything, however bland
Is just the thing to make a pleasant treat
When dieting.  Cheese, potatoes, cold meat,
But chocolate most of all, and any brand.
So just give in, retreat!
When dieting and trying to command
Your instincts, you haven't  a hope in Hell. Don't stand
On ceremony, just dig in. Dieting is just deceit,
Dressed up as goodness.  Whatever you have planned
Is doomed to failure. Go ahead and cheat,
Eat!

My Love, if only you had Lethologica (Sestina)

You are on occasion inaniloquent, but mostly
I wish you were more silent, preferring
To D. what you have Q.E.'d, I'd like you
Better.  Having to peruse the dictionary
To comprehend that you are passing
A compliment is stupid.
The back of my jeans bulge, I look stupid
Pulling out the pocket version. Mostly
It just backfires. To say I am callipygian, passing
A compliment on that part of my anatomy, preferring
To do so, than inadvertantly fondle the dictionary:
I don't understand you.
Why speak of apodyopsis, when you
Could actually take off my clothes, stupid!
Sometimes you are just an aeolist. The dictionary
Inspires you but you lack feeling. Mostly
I think you are full of autolatry, preferring
Yourself to all others, passing
On words instead of love, passing
On a series of sounds and letters, like you
Did the other day, declaring you had basorexia, preferring
To speak of it than act upon it.  Stupid
Men are more snoggable, I like cataglottism, mostly.
The dictionary
Suggests that you are blandiloquent. The dictionary
Does have it's uses. In passing
The other day you mentioned I was bathykolpian. Mostly
I wear a size 10, I'm a 34 C. You
Just wanted to show off, or were wishing I was some stupid
Big titted, other woman, preferring
Fantasy again, preferring
Words. When did you swallow the dictionary?
You have lygerastia, yet all day you're krukolibidinous, stupid
Man, why not act? I have permanent gymnophoria.  Passing
By the other day, you
Did not even respond to my vesthibitionism, mostly
Preferring to look away, though in passing
The dictionary to me you mentioned some stupid word,
Was it tibialoconcupiscent?  Mostly I just ignore you.

Disqus

Statistically I suppose, the loonies one meets
Online, are not representative of the population.
Yet, one cannot avoid the feeling that the streets
Of cyberspace are rather crowded with 'em.  Frustration
With reality leaves those, lacking in any originality,
To revert to repeating any age old, worn out idea,
Questioning nothing.  A frugality
Of imagination cannot be compensated
For by verbal diarrhoea.
Yet such is the nature of these discussions
That any verbosity, as long as it's fashionable, over stated,
Becomes acceptable.  But cheer up!
The repercussions
Of being rude with brevity aren't too severe.

The Dishcloth Is Too Much With Us Late And Soon

This cloth is too much with us late and soon,
In rubbing and wiping we lay waste our powers,
Little we see on surfaces that's ours,
Yet we have wiped marks away; a sticky spoon
That leaves its mess, a cup made faint, half moon,
Those brown patches by the switches, at all hours
Which are wiped up now but will return like flowers,
For this, for everything, I 'm out of tune,
I'd rather play my violin all day
Than let my fingers stiffen and grow fat,
From spending days wiping these marks away,
And yet somehow I always seem to think that
My mood and musicality, the way I play
Will be improved by clean surroundings.  I'm a prat!

Closet Bastards (rondeau)

The closet bastards are to blame
They hide their thoughts as if a game
Of hide and seek is what we need
When judging people. And indeed
We cannot find them wanting. Shame!
How dare they! They should speak and name
Their dreadful thoughts. They're all the same!
And yet they carry on, succeed:
The closet bastards.
They act quite nicely, seem quite tame,
They're bastards though, although they're lame.
We know they're thinking's wrong and bleed
For those they harm. Are they a breed
Camouflaged in niceness?  Let's frame
The closet bastards!

A Year of Facebook Rows

The holier than thou who like to post
Totalitarian thoughts as Facebook memes
Have kept me busy trying to make toast
Of their ridiculous ideas. For reams
And reams of virtual paper here is shared
In an authoritarian attempt
To silence all debate and make us scared
Of contradiction.  We're held in contempt
By those who feel they occupy high ground.
And yet they fail to question anything,
And liberty is crushed when they're around.
Goodbye blocked 'friends' and may the New Year bring
A shock to jolt you from your fixed position,
For arrogance some fitting retribution.

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Musical Evening.


It is a form of arrogance to think
That what one has to offer is worthwhile.
And yet the heart is liable to sink
And one begins to feel it a trial
When forced to sit at length and to endure
The amateur accomplishments of those
Whose skills need polishing. Yet nothing can inure
One to the pain of finding there's a rose
Which has a greater beauty than one's own.
To find one's group is not the thing of note
But just among the better also-ran
Makes things much worse.  For now one must devote
One's precious  time to being second best;
One's fate to sink, sans trace - like all the rest.


Approaching the Winter Equinox

The days grow short, the spirits seem to sink.
Sun sets at half past three, leaving a grey
Dark drabness of the mind. To try and think
And act with cheerfulness, portray
Good will and make a seasonal display
Of Christmas jollity, requires one to make a link
Between one's endless chores and play.
The days grow short the spirits seem to sink,
And one's positive emotions veer towards the brink,
And tumble headlong off the cliff and drift away.
The inverse of the shadows, one feels the soul shrink.
Sun sets at half past three, leaving a grey,
Dull moodiness which must betray
One's falsity seeping, as it does, from every chink
In one's facade.  All is disarray,
Dark drabness of the mind.  To try and think
In rational terms is hard.  Yet when the long pink
Fingers of the sun reach out and show the day
Has been a wasted one, we must rethink
And act for all we're worth with cheerfulness. Today
Is not the time for self indulgence anyway.
Life's over in a blink.
Pretend at happiness, lead misery astray:
The days grow short.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A "Face Sitting" Protest Outside The House of Commons 12 December. Rondeau(Protesting about changes in the law governing what can be depicted in British pornography, apparently not much that demonstrates female arousal.)

Outside the House of Commons where
The ground is cold, some women wear
Strange clothes and leather bondage gear.
They're fighting for their right to freer
Self expression.  There's not one chair
In sight. They sit on faces: bare
Faced cheek! (Or something.) And as there
Are men upon the pavement, here
Outside The House of Commons
One cannot but assume that they're
Cross too, about this law. They share
The anger.  Why ban pleasure? We're
Sick of this! Where's Germaine Greer?
For freedom we'll do what we dare:
Outside The House of Commons

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Exhaustion

The rib cage and the muscles which attempt
To hold the body upright, lack the strength.
The stomach bulges almost in contempt
At freedom unrestrained.  The whole length
Of body's weak and slow and each breath short.
The eyes are heavy and ideas strange.
There is no sleep although it's craved and thought
Is funny chains, non sequiturs which range
From ancient memory to present fears.
The chest expands but air serves little use.
The thought of work seems fabulous. Ideas
Concerning future days bizarre. Obtuse,
And muddled, shuffling, stumbling and listless
The need for peace, unending, quite resistless.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Planning Meeting in Beverley.

"Pillars of Society," these suited troughers,
Just as George Grosz painted them,
Pink of chop and sleek and shiny.
Fatuously waxing,
Knowing everything's price but dismissing value
As fanciful, in the scheme of things.
Wallowing in their self importance,
Imagining their judgement better than their fellows',
Who had sought to reason,
Where reason could not hope to triumph:
In the land where only money talks.


"Pillars of Society," these fat arsed boars.
Excited by their own pomposity,
Playing power games because their tiny minds
Require some confirmation of superiority,
And since none is forth coming naturally
Then they must insist upon it.
And queen among the pigs, a harridan,
"The Chair", as hard as one carved out of coal,
With fixed cold mouth and hooded eyes,
Which made her hawk as well as hog,
Presiding over proceedings,
Sticking to the rules.
As if she thought we did not know
How little THEY had stuck.
And like bloody fools
We sat and listened, let them witter.
Next time we shall stick the pigs,
And fill the cold, clean air of winter with their squeals.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Prudence Plays Dog Rugby

She holds her ball in tight clenched jaws,
Then drops it neatly by her paws,
And fixes is it with her sad eyes,
And stands and waits for the surprise:
That moment nothing ever cures
Of its excitement, when the laws
Of physics mean the ball flies, soars
Through air, lands. Prudence scores a try.
She holds her ball
In this new goal place, then she draws
A breath, runs, skids, scratches floors,
Returning it.  She wills it, rise!
And sail into the sky! It flies.
She follows and her skill ensures
She holds her ball.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Mohammed.


Forced through the scarred and screaming space
Stitched up half a lifetime ago
You ripped your way where fibroblasts had worked their miracle.
Emerged, in violence, bloodied and lay limp
Before your first breath became a cry
That joined your mother's agonised sobbing.
A wanted thing, no embarrassment of female parts
To turn the wondrous moment into shame.
No need to think of your turn, of the time
To gouge and cut and tear your sex,
And hear your screeching pain.
Your time will be swift and simple, surgical and clean.
A fraction, a moment before awareness.
For now, there is just the joy of seeing you,
A boy, Mohammed.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Photographs of my Garden on Onedrive

The summer's always beautiful, don't doubt,
That where the brown and dead is now
The garden on the internet is out
In blue, full, bloom, with yellow roses anyhow.
Full and blousy drenched in scent and waiting
For the camera to snap them, quick!
Today is perfect Fruhlingsgolden day.
Tomorrow Zepherine Drouhin, Roserie de L'Hay,
And peonies, delphiniums and the frustrating
Alkanet, which is a vile weed but has a trick
Of painting May cerulean to match
The endless beauty of the summer sky.


And every year I think it isn't true,
But wait, low spirited, and think I've seen the best.
Forgetting that each year such fresh things hatch,
That life's renewed, made young again.  The rest
That winter is, wherein the flowers live in photographs,
In cyberspace, does not take any toll on real life.
Only the hand that holds the lens to try
And fix the garden, this time really at its heavenliest,
Grows older, blotchy, speckled, gnarled.

But I
Look out from the same place within my head.
And hope, that like these miracles, these photographs,
The garden of my mind is ageless yet.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Listening to Apres un Reve, Late November Afternoon


The fog, in swirls, sets out to hide the dying of the light,
The Acer's red against the grey opacity,
Merely fades into obscurity.  And sight
Becomes redundant anyway;  the only necessity
In these blissful moments,
Is the capacity to float on melody. The night,
The fire, the English drawing room fade, dream like,
And all that remains is this strange complexity;

Each note a cycle, just a frequency, 
And yet, mysteriously, loaded with beauty.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Self Determination.(Sestina)

Ideas occur inside each person's head,
And then we act according to our will.
We might express our thoughts about the way
That circumstance has influenced our choice,
But nonetheless we act because we're free
To make decisions in our minds. Yet still
We wish to abdicate, and try distil
A life and its experience inside our head
Into a force which over-rules so we're not free,
But merely puppets, pulled by nature's will;
Or by some habit of society, to limit choice,
So we conclude there is no other way.


And thus we are reduced and throw away
The chances that we have, to seize the day, and still
We undermine our agency with fear. Our choice,
Seems somehow more acceptable inside our head
Diminished, seen opaquely through the swill
Of various constraints which mean we are not free.


And so it is we live a compromise, not free
Spirits with responsibility, our way
Is that of the apologist, lest our will
Should run a course that's counter to the norm. For still
It is opinion occurring in another's head,
Which might be negative, by which we test our choice.


Because we would presume to know another's mind, we're free
To choose the manner of our limitations, our choice?
There is none, just action born of expectation. Ahead
Uncertainty and all its dangers strew the way,
And so decisions must be well disguised. We must instil
A sense in those around us that our will
Has had no part to play.  And yet free will
Is God's great gift to man, and we are truly free.


And what is more the waters which run still
And deep within the mind, our consciences, know choice
Is always there, suggesting that there is another way,
And that uncertainty lies every way ahead.
So know your will is yours and others' theirs, we're free,
There is no fate, we cannot blame away our choice.


Be still, take charge, don't abdicate, you determine what's ahead.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

What is the Opposite of Aubade?

The tapping of your toenails on the floor,
Then silence where the runner lies along the corridor,
Then over Turkey carpet at full speed
And through the air to land beside me where
I lie anticipating this ritual, this need
To bond again and to establish once more
That we belong to each other, as we did before.
Before the darkness closed our eyes
Drooping my lids over sandy and tearless spheres
Dried by the fire and brilliant screen,
And my absence sent you to your basket
And our souls inhabited different worlds in dreams.

Like breaking fast this routine is necessity, indeed,
It is the foundation of our understanding,
Not just our love but something deeper,
A telepathic link between our minds.
But it starts with this greeting, this physical connection:
Your wet nose in my neck, the curve of your head,
Your silky ears against my face, this convention
Of  reunification after separation,
This greatly joyful meeting, which I adore.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Love of Dog

There is a dog place in my heart that feels like love,
Not real love such as one feels for one's offspring,
Not friendship though, it 's something more.
It's like romantic love without the sex part,
Similar in how it seems a mad obsession.
There is a dog place in my heart which seems like summer,
Full of warmth and ease and joy and gladness,
That sets the image of a long white nose and two big ears
Above so many other things I care for.
There is a dog place in my head and there my thoughts turn.
And in my mind I see the beautiful expression
Of two round eyes which seem so full of kindness,
And of tenderness and humorous ideas.
And I know that it is really a reflection
A mirror showing what I want to see.
And I know I might sometimes see also sadness,
But it's only there because it's a projection,
A belief the dog's in sympathy with me.

Peace and Furniture

When the hurly-burly's doing
And the anger in my head
Is swirly, whirling, and renewing
Thoughts I wish would fly instead,
Because this constant, endless brewing
Seems quite pointless
Then, I lie upon the bed
And look at Auction catalogues and lifeless
Things, though not quite dead,
Bring peace.
For here I'm viewing
Time made solid, priced but priceless
Objects crafted and before me spread
According to an ordered number showing
Sense can be established and a thread
Drawn from a dresser to a faultless
Piece of china or an ancient painting. Knowing
That the taste and knowledge of a man who looked ahead
And saw that these were worth collecting
Reaffirms my sense that nothing
Matters.  Beauty isn't truth just pleasing.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Teaching Tolerance to Class Two (two rondeaux back to back)

Are you sitting tolerantly, then we'll begin:
Now, find a partner everyone,
That's right we're going to have some fun,
Oh good!  You must have read my mind,
All same sex pairs. Now, do you find
Anything odd about this, John,
Does it seem wrong to like someone
Who is just like you?  When you've done
Pulling Leanna's hair, remind
Everyone
What we call it. That's right, gay. None
Must use that word, meanly and one
Or two of you are mean behind
My back.  Put those fingers down, kind
Children don't swear.  Damn! Bell's gone
Everyone,
Come back here at once! Right, that's it!
No playtime.  Oh all right , (little shit!)
I do know it's your human right
(To go outside and start a fight)
But today we must try and fit
Our tolerance class in. That's it, sit!
Now, shut up! We must not commit
Acts of intolerance, alright?
Come back here!
Nobody is allowed to quit
No notes from parents; the spirit
Of tolerance will be taught. Write
This: I have no choice.  Conor, don't bite
Lee .(These bloody kids are the limit)
Come back here!


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Marriage In Oak



This  marriage, in oak, was not in heaven made,
But seemingly in haste. And in pregnant
Silence has displayed
Repentance, through a century of leisure.


The gate leg table wouldn't mind the cupboard,
If he served some proper function
If he played some useful role.
But he's just a lump.
And, although he stands for tradition
He has long forgotten why.
And there's no pleasure
In fine carving on a monster:
Though his looks will never fade,
They only deceive the eye.

And the table has lost her integrity,
Being dated a century earlier, portrayed
As other than herself;  a model of insincerity,
made ridiculous by the lie. 

What an advert for simplicity,
Here so hideously betrayed
What a caution against coalition.

.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

To look Into the Eyes of a Man who Fancies Himself.

Even in a photograph one sees it;
Self love, or... no, not narcissism exactly,
Something worse than that. 
A desire to communicate, not the truth,
But a story, a version of himself he will have believed.
Even in a photograph one sees it:
A lie, disguised abstractly
As humour, even tenderness. Yet the flat
Surface of the picture cannot hide that uncouth,
Crude, and bragging spirit, we are not deceived.
In a photograph one sees it,
But if it's not in the eyes distinctly,
Where is it? 
And why, knowing nothing of whom we look at,
Is our anger aroused?  Is it not just the arrogance of youth?
No, it's there in middle age, when the subject has received
Half a lifetime of disappointment, one sees it
Still.  Something in the strictly
Forced position of the upper lip.
One is aroused to combat
Somehow, no time to sleuth:
The cause of arrogance is not of interest,
Nought can be retrieved.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Graveyard


If God is love, He's in the graveyard buried,
Out among the leaning stones, moss covered,
And underneath the brambles making hedges
Over ancient graves which now are wild waste.
But He is not Romantic in His presence,
He dwells too at the edges, by the field,
In  new land divided neatly which seems smothered
By small graves of shiny black or speckled granite.
If God is love He dwells among the gaudy flowers,
Far from the ancient yews, in open space,
And in the shale and brightly coloured  gravel,
Alien to the beauty of the place.
For love is not less love when it inhabits
The souls of those unsubtle in their taste.



In Praise of Rustic Brick


October light and sun's slant rays, and pink
And peach streaks in the west; elicit
From the fired clay a warm response
A glowing call, at end of day,
From russet, gold, marl, terracotta.
And if it sink into the earth
Without a painting of the sky,
Because the cloud strains every sinew
To hide the red behind the grey;
Then still, at least, sun's heat 's implicit
In the rather duller colour
Of the iron oxide, copper;
As if each day, brick might attest
To the existence of the fire
That changed it from the soft and plastic,
Baked it hard and made it rigid.
So that we who gaze upon it,
Feel a happy reassurance,
That the burning at the centre
Of our life, our whole existence
Does for now, at least, continue.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Archimedes Calculus

I read this story and thought it scandalous:
2000 years before Leibniz and Newton
Archimedes did the math
And discovered calculus,
(Presumably not in the bath,
All those small stones don't you know?)
He wrote it down,
But may as well have remained mute on
The subject, because some clown,
Or monk to be precise,
Took the parchment on which it was writ,
And covered it up, every last little bit,
Which just goes to show
That duplication always pays
Because all the workings most concise,
(Archimedes great codex)
Were lost to maths and science,
Because of the appliance
Of Christian liturgical texts,
And it took a further 730 000 days
Before Newton and Leibniz
Worked out calculus and the significance of bits.

Some Dreary And Bleak Thoughts Which Occurred On A Lovely Day

I wish to leave no trace of me behind,
Save a happy recollection in the mind,
Of each of my four children, who will find
It hard to remember me, as I am now,
With every passing year, and anyhow,
Will make me fresh and new when I am dead,
And I shall be a figment in each head,
Constructed to a different set of rules,
Which would govern how motherhood should seem,
A woman who is mostly just a dream,
A pair of laughing eyes, a croaky voice,
A set of rather dreary ideas,
A random group of sketches, each the choice,
Of any given moment of remembrance,
Diluted and confused throughout the years,
Until even that poor spirit disappears,
And then I shall be nought, not even air,
Which is the height of my ambition,
The opposite of coming to fruition,
A total annihilation and a severance,
Which sounds rather like a counsel of despair.

What to do About Mrs Houston

Is she the better part of me,
Like valour, the discretion
And if that' s so, how can it be?
What benefit repression?
Though valour isn't Ali' s thing
She just likes having fun;
Mrs H. must always bring
A cloud to hide the sun.
And quench the flames of silliness
With sober, grown up thought
And cool things down with chilliness,
Or, as a last resort,
Switch Ali off, keep her inside,
Imprisoned for weeks on end,
And make her cower down and hide,
And never recommend
Her for parole; its always her decision,
But when at last
She' s free again, then Ali goes doolally
And makes herself a target for general derision.
So in steps Mrs Houston,
Who calm things down and yet,
She's never really beaten Ali:
At least she hasn' t yet.

Sunday Morning in December.

The plain below the church is green and grey,
The sun shines and the bells are eloquent,
'Holme on Spalding Moor, Come to church today;'
A scale descending from the dominant,
Appeals to, summons, the healthy and devout,
The farmers, and the wealthy, those who drive,
Attendance being limited here about
To those with cars; those without must thrive
As best they can or find communion
On level ground.
                               In black and holey tights
The organist ascends the stairs; in unison
The congregation sing.  Through leaded lights
December sunshine pours as Alex plays,
And twixt the hymns o'er iPhone bows and prays.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

On Looking at my Mother's First High School Photograph 1937.(Rondeau)


Her eyes in frozen sepia still
Express such searching, and her will
To seek me out, to understand
To sympathise, is clear.  As planned
The faded shade and light fulfil
Their strange and wondrous role: distil
The essence of the soul and spill
It out upon the card, command,
In frozen sepia
And gentleness, response; until
I have to look away, to kill
The tightness in my chest, demand
No tears, and take myself in hand.
This wise, kind child's my mother, still,
In frozen sepia.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

'It is Only a Very Shallow Person Who Does Not Judge By Appearances' Oscar Wilde

Your eyes, which are your soul,
Made manifest, unfathomable,
Defying scientific explanation;
Express in pools of blue or brown,
Round, moist with brilliance,
And fragments of reflected light,
Your very essence:  your whole.
To find a gaze impenetrable
Is merely to avoid confrontation,
There is no fleeting thought so quickly flown,
That leaves no evidence
Of its flight,
No trace residual in the coal
Black depths of pupils. For each inimitable,
Unique and transient manifestation
Of thought is known,
Finding its mirror in the onlooker, whose excellence,
Whose skill in guessing right
Your emotion, is illimitable.
And thus your eyes are by definition
The second person singular, a pronoun
Made physical in the face, speaking in silence
The language of consciousness: insight.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Warm September

September, balmy as June,
And the air has a warmth and a thickness,
And the rosehips glow
In the afternoon,
Prepubescent in their spotlessness,
But ladybird-like in their redness,
Though altogether too slow,
To be ladybird-like in their quickness.
But a ladybird squashed by a bike
Must cease to be ladybird-like;
But does becoming lifeless
Make it rosehip-like in its deadness?
September, balmy as June
And the fruit of the blackthorn is sloe,
Upsidedown
In the heat of the afternoon,
Adolescent in its sleepiness
As a sloth and just as slow.
And the blackness comes and goes,
Now it glows
Like the nose of that creature,
With beetle-like, granite-like shininess,
Then it seems to absorb,
All the light of the orb,
And a new distinguishing feature:
A bloom of dullness and dreariness grows.
And September balmy as June,
Turns me barmy as loonies out under the moon,
As a dreamy, afternoon weariness shows
In my face, as my mind
Leaves all reason behind,
And begins to see fruit hanging up by its toes.

Harpsichord



Jangling tunefully under my bed,
The sound rising up
Through the old deal floor,
Filling, persistently, my head,
With harmony:
the reason of a season long before words.
Speaking not to the soul
As the Erard and Broadwood,
Not affecting, a lunar like pull
On the whole tide of emotion,
But appealing to order,
And understood by some
Instinct known to Pythagoras.

Rameau, Scarlatti, Daquin,
Handel, Bach and Couperin
Providing energy, brilliance,
Commotion, and a joyful demonstration
Of the power of rationality,
Precision, joy and vitality
Consisting of and insisting on intelligence.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Memory



September, as I remember it from childhood,
Was the scrunching of beech leaves in the wood,
Among the skeleton bluebell stalks that stood
Bleached like sun-drenched, ancient bones, by filtered light.
From May to August under pale-green canopy
We played and sheltered from the summer rain, not quite
Aware that autumn always came again, its mood
As fickle as the friends we made at school.  One year
The rain was endless and the streams began to flood,
Carrying tides of foam as if they ran with ale.
And in Assembly in the vast and woody hall,
We learnt 'To be a Pilgrim' and I understood,
Somehow with new appreciation, the idea
Of fitted words and music, all bound up as one
Convenient package, to take out and get undone
At will, beside the scummy stream and in the mud.







Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Guardian Angel?

I felt your presence first and knew your purpose,
You did not need to speak, just filled my soul,
My heart, my mind with understanding,
The sense that death was fast approaching,
That my mother's life was near its end.
There was no rush of fear, no apprehension,
No ecstasy, no great elation,
Just deepest peace and total comprehension
Beyond any desire to comprehend.
And then it seemed the sky split open
And in the silver sliver like a migraine
In the space, the tear, the rend
Between the sky and light and air
Was confirmation,
A certainty of God's existence,
Not necessary, for resistance
Was not within my scope of action.


And then you waited at my shoulder
At my left hand in the kitchen,
Beyond the moment of acceptance,
Like a doctor with a patient
Until you knew it safe to leave me,
When you became the chiaroscuro
Reassuring shadow of a friend.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Lucifer (Iblis)

He walks abroad: inhabits souls,
Possesses, those who would know God,
Convinces them he is the Lord, patrols
The inner city streets;
In search of frail minds.

He rapes and tortures, cuts off heads,
And all the while the weak look on,
Or turn and look the other way,
Or make excuse because the kinds
Of men the Devil finds,
Are different.

But those who turn, cast down their eyes,
As first he 'grooms' with love then treats
His victims as his slaves,
Accomplice him after the fact.

Christ taught his followers to pray,
'Deliver us from evil'.
We do not pray, we do not act,
Inhabiting the rational sphere,
Believing man is good and wise.
We only heed the words instead:
"Judge not, lest ye be judged",
Preferring to misunderstand
The words of John
We intellectualise
To countenance our fear.

Should we not call out Lucifer?
Should we not label right and wrong?
If we do not, how can we say
Our consciences are clear?

Seeking ever to comprehend,
We make excuse, we lose command.
The truth is simple, hear!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Third of September 2014, (another beheading of a hostage by a British Jihadist, David Cameron seeming to think the most pressing problem is Putin's 'Hitler-like' intentions towards Ukraine, meanwhile nothing being done about the rape of 1400 white girls by Muslim men in Rotherham)

"In describing the vacillation and incompetence of the government during the reign of Ethelred Unraed, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that when the enemy was in the east then our levies were mustered in the west, and when they were in the south then our levies were in the north, and that whatever course of action was decided upon it was not followed even for a single month."

From a comment on the Telegraph blogs by one "The Real PM".

The enemy was violent in the east,
And so we wagered war towards the north.
And next we closed our minds and almost ceased
To notice inhumanity; poured forth
A worthless propaganda to drum up
Support for causing further bloodshed when
Ceasefire had just then been agreed.My cup
Of absolute contempt runs over. Men
Will vacillate, and dither else cause harm
By pointless interference; then ignore
The consequences of their actions,  arm
Guerillas, condemn self defence... Yet war
Against the enemy within's forbidden,
"Lets kick over the traces, keep things hidden!"





Friday, 29 August 2014

Heat


All winter long I sit and dream of days like this,
And gaze upon the sunflowers on the wall,
But when they come I sit here still, and bliss
Is cool air and gloomy shade inside.
The garden dappled by strong light through summer leaves,
Grown course, is pleasant beyond French doors,
But the heat and brightness of the lawn
Is tiring to the eyes. And the small glade
Of trees, bamboo and shrubs grown tall,
Although it brings relief from the hot glare
Irritates the skin with thunder flies.
And so summer is more of an idea, a fantasy
Than it seems to be a real, experienced thing,
A longed for period of happy wallowing
In a sense of freedom
And the smell of ripening wheat.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Autumn Clearing Poem

The buddleia can now be razed,
Likewise the escalonia,
Dead nettle strimmed as if it's grazed
By donkey, goat or wild pony
A little off the beaten track and looking for a rhyme.
The weeds can be pulled up and hurled
Into the waiting barrow,
Half full of decomposing slime
Which once was weeds and soil.  The uncurled
Fronds of still-green fern can wait until tomorrow.
The hedge can be cut back and trimmed
And lines rephrased and oil
Applied to rusty blades and one can dig and harrow.
For gardening upon a chair indoors and half asleep
Allows such thoroughness and words
Are really meaningless and birds
Don't bother one at all; except a sparrow,
Whose joined the pony in the border
In order to bring sense and order.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fleas

Man! This joint is jumpin!
Your hind leg now, begins to twitch,
Starts to whirr,
Into a frenzy as an itch,
Creeping over flaky skin,
Beneath the bristles and the fur,
Caused by crawling, clasping thing
That from the carpet leaps to cling,
And then begins its bloody sucking,
Through the dermis pink and thin
And patched with scabs and wild seeds
And here and there a goose grass burr,
Reminds you there
Are creatures which
Reduce contentment,
Growing puce,
So, a bitch,
Is happy when the regiment
Of titchies 
Begins to retreat
Suffers defeat;
When there's awful genocide,
Caused by new insecticide.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The End of Summer

That time of year again,
When one's conscience is ripe,
Pink and blush, bruised,
Dripping,  pectin bubbled, smashed,
Maggoty, quite golden with guilt's stain,
Observing the fruit, decaying in the rain.


Friday, 15 August 2014

In Malmesbury Abbey

Athelstan lies here; he's carved in stone.
Paler, cleaner in this sheltered place
Than the weathered, lichen-spotted grey, grown
Concrete-looking, which rises over him. His face
Sans nose, reveals no trace
Of Kingly arrogance.  The high and rounded bone
Above his cheek, the heavy lidded eyes, reveal his race.
Athelstan lies here; he's carved in stone.
King of England, Scotland, Wales, he rests alone
Undisturbed by visitors who pace
Above his ancient dust, blown
Paler, cleaner in this sheltered place
Than dust of men who lie without.  The space
Around him has no special atmosphere. He's shown,
Described, explained; there is about him no more sense of grace
Than the weathered, lichen-spotted grey, grown
Tired-looking outdoor graves of men unknown.
A thousand years, more, is too long then, or is it that the base,
The tomb, is empty, he's no more here than in the stone,
Concrete-looking, which rises over him. His face
Is blessèd peace derived from absence, and no case
Against him, so nothing causes him in death to moan,
Or walk abroad. A bachelor, he held Britannia in his embrace:
Athelstan lies here.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Harrogate of the South

Something of the seaside in the palette
Of pale, pastel paint and stucco
And term time home to Claire and Charlotte
Girls whose height would please El Greco:
These days the very rich are long and thin.
Something rather harsh and unrelenting
In the terraces so regimental,
And also something odd preventing
Familiarity, an elemental
British coldness, though there's something continental
In the broad and tree lined streets wherein
Well heeled ladies go clipping-clopping
Into town to do their shopping
At the chain stores which are dripping
With expensive, tasteful, boring clobber,
Reassuring to the bulging wallet.
Something rather soulless; the houses harbour
Nothing interesting, nothing eccentric,
Only sameness, or do I labour
Under misapprehension?
Is there something wild, anarchic,
About the people,  a kind of tension
Which exists between each unforgiving,
Rigid, harsh, hard, building
And the messy humans therein living?

 
MORNING DOG WALK 26TH MARCH

The only pure white that’s left,
Now the snow has gone,
A single egret,
A colder shade of pale,
The colour of the word bereft,
Or absence, or the word alone,
Then, suddenly, rising up from beside the river,
As if their sole purpose were to dispel such negativity,
Five roe, thin leg’d and frail,
Momentarily dancing the stiffness from their limbs,
As if before King Solomon the prophet,
Then, as is their proclivity,
Disappearing, arrows from a quiver.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?



The great flat plain of Ging Gang Goole,
Draped in mist at winter’s fag end,
Gives the lie to this fanciful notion,
Gives the lie and will not bend.
Grey’s not a colour, but an emotion,
With an intrinsic desire to offend,
And to crush all hope and worthwhile intention,
With tiny drips, and then recommend,
Another dose of the same tomorrow,
One shade of grey and resistless sorrow.

Suddenly Nothing.

Watching the wind
Through the silence of secondary glazing,
And an absence of internet connection,
With a sleeping dog, at my side, I find
That the shimmering and waving
Of the silver birch in my peripheral vision
Through the first layer of hand blown glass
Gives the impression of hallucination,
As if a migraine aura is limbering up.
And a sense of impending doom
Fills the vacuum in the room
Created by the muteness of the radio.
'Today' has gone away.  Suddenly nothing.
No bossy, questioning speech,
I am left with total peace.
And all I can do is admire the way
The purple of the copper beech
Contrasts with the cloudy grey,
Watching the wind.

A Neglected Room

The Hamadan runner is catty
Where it ends near the secretaire,
And that lovely old thing's rather tatty,
Having once been a piano. The chair
By its side is a Chippendale,
Or at least made to his design,
A hundred and fifty years later
Although it looks rather fine,
By the Rosewood
That bears the name Broadwood,
Maker to kings and princesses,
With its mouldings in egg and dart line,
And its satinwood inlays, and brass
And smooth columns topped by Acanthus,
In crisp carved Corinthian style.
And in truth its all got very dusty,
As I haven't been in for a while,
And the other end seems rather musty
Where the documents lie in a file
And the cobwebs are joining together
Inaccessible, corner recesses
Such as under the old corner cupboard,
Shining richly, reflecting the glass
Of the windows which seem to be spattered
With dots of something resembling puss.
The lowboy with oysters of walnut
Is hiding its whirling veneers,
Under piles of papers and dumped things
And jotted down silly ideas
For poems about rooms which smell catty,
And furniture that's rather tatty
Which that day I regarded with scorn.
And observing it all I grow ratty,
And needs must squash all my fears
That the house is getting beyond me,
So I bring in the beeswax and mop
(To show me I don't always shirk
And because I don't want to dwell
On how useless I am at housework)
And set about washing the boards
Either side of the Hamadan runner
Where the fluff has collected. The hoards
Of old 'Country Life' though
Look up from a tottering pile
And beckon me over to read them,
So I pick up the one at the top
And peruse the property porn.
And see rooms which do not look neglected,
In houses much grander than this,
And I know that I'll live here forever,
Because I could never accomplish
The sort of tasteful arrangements
One needs must in order to sell.
And the house may look somewhat dejected,
But as long as I don't write about it,
And tell it like it is,
Then it doesn't really matter,
For sitting among the tat,
And the dust and the cobwebs and smells,
Is my private heaven - bliss!

Clever Hippy

An independent midwife I knew once, a classicist, 
Often spoke of shit and cunts and piss,
And this I understood was quite alright,
Because she'd been at Oxford and was bright.
Her hair was long and grey, her cheekbones high,
Her voice had learnt to imitate the way,
Such girls as her had need to sound
Coming from up north, but hanging round
With gels from Cheltenham or Rodean:
Like someone who'd make small talk with the queen
And pepper it with unembarrassed swearing.
She smelled of josticks and was was fond of wearing,
Brightly coloured tights and ethnic tat.
I loved the way her mind could squash quite flat
All sorts of big ideas, her intellect
Commanded all my humblest respect.
And yet her life was really quite a mess
She had rejected far too much and I confess,
I found it rather boring in the end,
Having such a clever hippy for a friend.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Holst in Cheltenham

He stands, an island in a pond
And waves his baton like a wand,
Conducting passing spirits who
Played for him before and knew
The way to please was to respond
To the commands of his left hand.
Yet most who pass don't hear the band
Of ghosts, or think they can't be true.
An island in a pond
Is an unlikely place for sound
Of any sort. Yet from beyond
This world, comes shimmering, pale blue
Music of the spheres in a few
Familiar bars, and there he stands:
An island in a pond.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Perigee and Perseid



Pale porcelain plate,
The supermoon at perigee,
Closest to the earth and full,
Shines brightest to illuminate
The Perseid, the meteor shower.
Not plashing through the galaxy
But flashing silently; its fate
To flash unseen. For Phoebe,
Cannot contemplate
Competition from the stars
As she must keep her earthly date,
Shine, glare, blind, obliterate
The thought of Pluto, or of Mars,
Leave only Venus on the mind,
Of those who watch the sky this night.
But looking out to Perseus,
To Cassiopeia and Cepheus
Turning from the lunar pull,
One might discern the sparks of light,
Fireballs as clear as planets
Sparks of gold and points of white,
That trail behind Swift-Tuttle's comet.
And witnessing this heavenly sight,
In the sparkling constellation
Of the city sacking fighter,
Of a mythical man and wife,
Feel that there is something greater
Than this transient human life.

A Piece of Equipment Which Allows Static Cycling Inside, Used by PJ in the Ballroom While watching a Scenic Drive Through a Country Village on his IPad

The smell of burning rubber fills the air
As PJ in his Lycra cycling gear,
Whizzes on his rollers; doesn't care
For silly old convention; his only fear,
That he might wobble over, knock the sideboard,
The trumpet of the gramophone might fall,
And knock the inlaid tray into the hoard
Of  dusty, ancient phials along the small
Shelves of the regency apothecary chest.
And yet he's far away along a lane,
In bright and quiet sunlight speeding past,
Old houses, churches he'll not see again,
Oblivious as to how juxtaposition
Is catalyst to my imagination.



Valentine Flowers

A hand of Fatsia Japonica,
Rachmaninov like in its proportions,
A capable span,
A leathery fan
Of green, ribbed and dark,
A foil of false castor oil.
Carnations with stems of eucalyptus grey
Contrasting with sepals
Of pale apple hue
And petals of blood red,
Bruised underneath
To a shadow of indigo blue.
Orchids of dusky pink
Striped with paler shades,
Drawn in fine, single hair strokes,
The central female genitalia,
Deep red as wine,
Then creamy yellow,
The clitoris spotted,
The labia dotted,
With creamy perfection
Like an itching yeast infection:
What a wonderful last line.

An Antidote to Wilfred Owen

I feel alive at last and full of joy,
Last night I killed a German boy,
I didn't know I had until I had,
But when I knew I had my heart was glad,
This is the work that I came here to do,
The point of all the training I went through,
The point of digging trenches in the mud;
The point of bloody war is shedding blood.
I know the conscripts hate it and I try
To cheer them up, talk sense and when they cry,
I tell them why we're here, and tell them jokes,
It matters we should win, the other blokes
Are human but they're Hun; the killing 's fun,
When you do it from a distance with a gun.
The great thing is to put your mind at ease,
Imagine that they're cattle with disease.
Don't think of them as friends or as your brothers,
Don't think of their poor sisters and their mothers,
Just think of how much sooner we'll be back,
If we get stuck in, don't give them any slack.

Some Thoughts About Thinking

Ideas expressed as statements aren't made true,
By adding qualifying adjectives.
Ideas must stand alone, but very few
Can.   And do we question our objectives
When reading, listening, thinking or is each thought
Coloured by our moods, by what we think we know?
Has questioning become a last resort,
Where,  in infancy it was our first, and does this show
That wisdom grows with age or the reverse?
We should shake ourselves to our foundations
Everyday, see certainty as quite perverse,
Examine all our real motivations,
Know ourselves and come to understand
Thinking's better, when thoughts aren't second hand.

Good Friday Givendale


A porridge hill which curves to meet the blue
Horizon, marl increasing light but glare
Reduced by texture; lumpy. And the hue
Is butter cream, not white, so as I stare
My eyes are not made tired by the scene
But rather open wider to take in
The panorama as a whole, serene
And lovely, still and silent yet the thin
And cold fresh air in contrast to the heat
Of April sun is not a metaphor
Quite sufficient for the day.  And the neat
And sloping fields, the long, forked road before
The azure air are just the old psalm
But I'm walking with the righteous - it's an organic farm!

Madrigals in Leeds Library

Arranged in parts we stand upon the stairs,
Whose stones and tiles bounce back each singing voice,
So madrigals resound and all the cares
Of those who hear us disappear. The choice
Of music, which befits this April day,
(Four hundred years and then five decades more
Since Shakespeare's birth) not taken from a play,
Nor yet a setting of his verse, will cure
The listener and the singer both with ease
Of any miserable mood. Excess
Of music - there is no such thing, to please
Is music's purpose; we succeed no less
In this respect because the songs we sing
Are madrigals on love, and death and spring.









Morning

Downhearted, miserable and full of gloom
Morning has appeared in the room,
But first has stressed and startled me awake,
And left me lying all a quake.
With racing pulse and hormones which
Make me act like a vile tempered bitch.

A Welsh Form (can't remember which one)

The geese upon the further bank wake
And rise in noisy honking, to take
Off into morning sky, blue and flake
White. Leaving the clay to dry and bake.
A loud mallard drake, joins them in their flight.
And the lovely sight makes the dog quake.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Music and Movement

When you're ready, at your leisure
Find a space, by turning round:
Small and plump in navy knickers,
Pulled up over creamy vest;
And rubber plimsolls smelling slightly,
I hear the harp and do my best
With arms outstretched, a dizzy dolly,
Pirouetting like at ballet
And moving lightly,
Or I hope so,
I'm following the strange commands,
And I become a tree.
I know
That I'm a bendy sapling,
Waving hands and full of grace,
Feeling free and un-self conscious,
No expression on my face.
And the gold-brown parquet flooring
Patterned in its endless blocks
Becomes the leaves I've cast about me
In the wind that I heard roaring
From the Radio Phonic Workshop
Whose endless, electronic stocks
Of sound effects
Will keep us busy in our places,
On our mats,
Until it's time to move the benches
Back to the Formica tables,
Ready for our gravy'd lunches.
And this time of private playing
Running silently and swaying
Thinking little, mostly nothing
Will be shut away again.
And all of us back in our clothing
Mostly solid farmers children,
Will remain
Silent on this recent pass time,
Can it really be a lesson?
Though we know we all enjoyed it,
Still there seems but little reason
To discuss what just went on.
What's to say, about such nonsense?
Curling slowly, now unfurling,
Growing upwards from a seed,
Blowing backwards in a gale,
Shedding leaves right out of season.
Seems it was a guilty pleasure.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Church Going

A church of ancient stone and handmade brick,
Above a fertile plain, upon a hill,
Surrounded by gold crops: barley, wheat,
(Whose scent upon the summer air
In intense heat, is like the scent of heaven
When the old oak door is opened)
Sets the scene
For so much that made England what it was,
And, against the odds, is still.
And just because it's precious, quaint, serene,
Does not imply it stands for all that's wrong.

The wheezing of the organ in its loft
Of 18th century flaking, greyish green,
Accompanies the singing of the flock,
Contraltos fruit cake rich and quavery men,
Mostly white haired, but farming stock,
So there are young ones too, who come along,
And take communion, say the Nicene Creed,
And love their neighbours as themselves;
Knowing Christ and knowing how to act
To make this mean
Something real within their daily lives.

And every week it's always just the same,
With different hymns to wash the message down,
'Amazing Grace', is loved by all,
And sung with feeling
By these farmers and their offspring and their wives,
Whose upper lips are stiff, and who would frown
At any mention one might feel moved.
And Handel at the end to round things off,
Restores us to neutrality, concealing
Any sense that prayer or bread of life or sermon
Might have caused us, standing, sitting, kneeling,
Any deeper pause for thought.

And though I come here, yet I still reject
The central tenets of the Christian faith,
I am moved by its history and tradition.

Partly as enlightenment and philosophical wisdom,
Albeit that they grew in opposition
Were rooted in this same need to stand outside ourselves;
To seek out and discover
Some meaning in the human condition.
And yet, this too has had its season,
And science has itself become religion.
And so perhaps we need to hear again the old ideas,
Not with the arrogance of hindsight,
But really listen with new ears,
Because when wise words aren't spoken,
Heard, dwelt on,
How can there be wiser contradiction?

So every week I hear that God,
Is not responsible for man's misdeeds,
And every week I say the words Christ taught,
Asking that I might resist temptation.
And though I only ponder these things vaguely,
Because my mind is turning on roast dinners,
I comprehend man has his freedom:
Reason, choice, also his lesser instinct, intuition.
And despite redemption and salvation
I feel rather glad we're fallen sinners.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Quakers Want Peace in Palestine (Villanelle) (Based on some overheard remarks)

This killing is wrong, we must draw a line,
I think every Zionist should be shot,
All we Quakers want peace in Palestine.

How dare they defend themselves and define
The rules of combat, back the other lot,
They are the goodies. We don't undermine

The prospect of a lasting peace.  We shine
The light of wisdom on the bloody spot:
All we Quakers want peace in Palestine.

Of course it isn't simple, we refine
Our complex reading down and then we trot
Out a basic anti Zionist line.

The west has done its best, tried to combine
The tribes into democracies they're not.
All we Quakers want peace in Palestine

Perhaps it's up to us to determine
Exactly how and when this should be got,
What harm is there in trying? Their war's mine,
All we Quakers want peace in Palestine

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mostly inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville writing in 1835

Dear Sir,
I wish to be a child of the state;
I know my place and yearn for Neverland,
My infancy is a perpetual joy,
So please provide for my security.
Please help, don't leave me to my fate,
I only wish to stay a happy boy.
Foresee my needs and then supply them, stand
Up for me, facilitate my pleasure,
Manage all my principal concerns,
And please direct my industry and leisure.
And though I'm but a child,
Should I procreate,
Make sure that you control the descent
Of all my property; please regulate.
Inheritances you must subdivide.
And then, because I'm good and love the law,
Provide a network o'er the surface
Of my life, of tiny, petty, bossy, pointless rules,
Complicated, uniform, unique,
And I shall learn them like a child at school,
Recite them and become a mindless bore.
My mind shan't know originality,
And lacking energy, my character
Shall not attempt to penetrate their meaning,
Nor yet to rise above:  please enervate,
I need a nanny's love.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

On Maternal Love

Maternal love grows stronger as it hides.
The love for helpless infants we expose
To all the the world because it's general, glows
In shining eyes. It's recognised. Those tides,
That kept us joyful, happy, were besides
The means of gaining sympathy. But those
First feelings were merely the start. We chose
To let the world rejoice with us. The strides
The infant made, becoming an adult
We named and shared, but it was in between,
In ordinary hours that the swell
Grew high. The peaks and troughs did not result
In longing for an end. And yet the scene
Must shift: Love sets its object free and bids farewell.

Storm

Between the crash and the startled rise to consciousness
Was no vacuum for agnosticism to fill.
The violence that last night rent the air,
Spoke to the watchman of the mind asleep
Of God's anger. And, despite such reason,
Laid upon this primitive reaction
In millefeuille like layers of delicate abstraction,
The sense remained. 
The need to blame oneself lies deep,
Inverted arrogance that sees the human will
As powerful in the face of all evidence,
Hides beneath the cerebellum,
Lurks, bides its time, disregarding every contradiction.
No nihilistic counterbalance rises up in negative defiance.
The  too small voice of rationality
Whispers in the ear that's by the pillow squashed,
And the human sense, which reigns supreme in the tranquility
Of summer days and languid heat,
Retreats, replaced by this childish insanity.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Acknowledging the Lizard and the Chimp.

We are not merely animals and yet,
To be a human being is not to reason
And to calculate alone.
A vet will recognise within us that same thrust
Which is the life force in all creatures.
Our minds, as well, contain this strange thing, intuition,
Which we might seem to disregard,
And yet cannot. It plays its part,
Silently, and helps to season
What we like to think is rational decision.

The features of the human mask the beast,
Evolution reached fruition, we became, a sane
And wondrous thing,
And so we feel we should forget that still within us
Lie qualities we cannot yet explain.
And some of us imagine a division
Between these aspects of our human nature
And those which yet remain
From some primordial, less developed time.

But no such separation can occur. Our brains,
Between the reptile and the human interlink,
And though we hold our cerebral cortex
In great high regard, the tide,
The whizzing, whirling vortex,
Which is the spinning of the mind, in thought,
Shows the monkey and the lizard lurk inside,
Flicking their tongues, and testing the air,
Picking the fleas from their hair or fur,
What they add to the process may well only distort,
But they temper the rational when we think.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Shall I Assist you with your Death?

The pity that we feel for ourselves,
We must disguise, with the imagined thought
That it's for him at whose bedside we kneel,
Pretend, because we are ourselves distraught,
That it is comfort, ease, which we desire,
For him on whom we look and whom we love.
To 'rage against the dying of the light',
Is not, in truth, behaviour we require,
From those whose dying seems to be prolonged.
And so we tell ourselves it's for the best,
To end the misery and cut death short.
We feel we act humanely and admire
Courage in the face of that which we detest.
And yet we recognise the moment when,
A man lets go a life and goes beyond.
We know that time. Know nothing, when it comes,
Can turn it back, but always until then
There's hope, not of a cure or life renewed
But of a human life where hope sustains
And of a man, who, hoping yet, remains.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Common

Her hair is burgundy it's true,
But that is not enough, alone,
To spell the c word, nor the blue
And green of her exposed tattoo.
It's something bred within the bone,
A coarseness in the countenance,
Which speaks, before the voice
To prove, refinement cannot be a choice.
It's something in the maintenance
Of her relentless narkiness,
That tells of no embarrassment
At how she is perceived.
She seems within her element
In shouty, mardy, argument,
Her hide like a rhinoceros
Both physical and metaphor.
And there's a kind of hopelessness
That hangs about her family.
And yet the youngest of her brood
Seems different in her happy mood,
As if she is a throwback, who
Conjured from some other place
Has all the cheerfulness and grace
Of any happy little child, a winning smile,
A carefree, nature and a face
Which tells us that her quietness,
Would soften any heart. But for the while
I sit and watch, it seems to have not that effect,
But rather works against her.
I think that in her mother's view
There's evidence of alien genes,
They must be from the father's side,
Because they make her mother mean,
With extra special emphasis.
I leave the scene,
And wonder if this helpless child
Will grow into another lout,
Or keep essential gentleness,
And prove that nature overcomes
The hard harshness of common mums.



Friday, 27 June 2014

Calm


The calm and peaceful placidness is back,
Tranquility replaces the attack
Of panic and anxiety. And yet I 'd rather
Have my whirring mind, than this docility.
This bovine state seems heavy and too dull,
There's no spontaneous creativity,
I'm better when I'm mad, my mind's more full,
Imagination keeps me happy. Serenity 's
A school lunch semolina,
Served without a hint of strawberry jam,
I'd rather do without it: being Serena
Isn't really being who I am.

Starting to Doze Off in the Car While Waiting for the Children in Scunny.

Drum and bass and ice cream van
And sun on chrome and red brick wall,
And local voices and the span
Of cobalt blue above it all.
Two quavers then a Scottish snap,
Partly tune and partly noise,
And gossiping and glinting light
And endless thumping then a gap,
Of silence and the sudden flight
Of swallows in their gracefulness
And a tiny squall of rain.
And barking dogs and shouting boys,
And then the ice cream's back again,
And all becomes a little blurred,
And sound and sight merge into one
My eyes grow heavy but a word
Quite close to me, about the sun
Is just enough to bring me back
To wakefulness from dropped off black

Friday, 20 June 2014

Crane Fly


The crane fly sits beside the bog,
I wish he wouldn't do it,
He doesn't have a cud you see,
And so he cannot chew it.
And yet he seems to ruminate, and meditate.
"And yoga?"
He's really good at it
And likes to sit and prove it.
For though the
Daddy Long Legs is a rather silly creature,
He has a spiritual side,
His one redeeming feature.
And yet one wishes he'd desist,
For there's nothing less like Nietzsche
Than a crane fly by the lavatory
Who aspires to be a preacher,
And cares not for your point of view
Or transcendence beyond structure.
His appetite for mindfulness is nought if not prodigious
But how can life be re affirmed
By something you've just squished?
Because there's nothing left to do,
When bugs become religious.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Nebulousness

Yes, nebulousness is meant to be bad, I guess,
But I wish to express a certain distress at the mess
That is caused by people who wish to address
Issues by defining them, then enshrining them in law.
What could be less English? Shades of grey
Make up each day in cloudy moodiness. We dress
In such a way as to easily divest ourselves of wooliness,
If we wish to catch a ray, we don't display our flesh
With that intention, we act according to the weather.
Whatever seems appropriate at the time we confess
To be the epitome 
Of what it is that it suits us to be,
Do you see?

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Swifts

This morning they were merely shadows,
Racing on the curtains, as the day grew bright.
Soundless, black, familiar patterns against light;
Not quite the real thing but just their echoes.
At noon they're screeching out among the sparrows
And the wood pigeons whose great delight
Is randy flapping, clapping, mating, in spite
Of  balancing on fragile saplings. Swallows,
Which are altogether calmer, are, this year,
Noticeable by their absence. Only swifts
Against the shoals of mackerel now appear,
Tiny darts of darkness over drifts
Of fluffy flowers.  Madly they career,
Then vanish where the cloud's in rents and rifts.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Summer Afternoon.

I strimmed the creeping, wild garlic leaves
Down to the ground, dark and damp
In the grey afternoon, before rain,
And the earth and mushed vegetation
Spattered my long leather boots.
And the ancient fern and the Ilex Aurea Rex
Became islands again in a sea of stubble and soil.

And now in the heat of this June afternoon,
This perfect, summer day
The pungency of a French tramp:
Garlic, and the process of decay,
Wafts to me over the lawn,
Mixing with the aromatic coffee
At my side, and the smell of post-dog-walk-body,
Bulging from too young, too small Broderie Anglaise,
Soapy, sweaty, fatty, and the sweet scent
Of elder blossoms, not yet turned catty.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Touch Screen

Little migraine auras litter you,
Rainbow, smudges, glitter you,
As, in the evening light, you catch some ray
Of golden brightness gone astray.
And then the words beneath your rigid glass,
Are secondary to patterns, pink, green, blue,
Which, greasy finger tips have slid
And tapped and swiped, in childish dances.
You don't catch coal dust in between your keys,
And grime, but only little specks and motes.
You shine yourself from underneath,
Pale, butter yellow, when I'm making notes.
But it's in the unexpected brilliance
Which glances on your surface suddenly
That shows the popularity of places.
The zed and ex bear barely any grease,
The smiley face and exclamation mark,
Show hardly a trace of poking, but the space
Bar is quicksilvered in the dark,
A veritable oil slick; so the chances
Of mistyping, adding unexpected gaps, increase.

Hornet

I wish with all my heart I could endure
That whining, high pitched sound. And yet alas
I feel it's true, I have no real choice
But to do this creature in, and thus ensure
Never again to hear his awful voice.
The bombilations of the hornet in
A flat, against the window pane increase,
And his size grows in proportion to the din.
And then I know that I must make it cease,
With a squirt of something nasty in a tin.
And now I know he'll bombilate no more,
In any key, by any window glass,
And I'm rather pleased, and skewer him,
To display to other members of his class.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A Scunthorpe Bag Lady

She stoops and scratches at the exposed earth,
Her arm between the railings, as she strokes
The crumbling soil with all the carefulness
Of an archeologist who brushes
And brushes, one layer at a time, searching
For God knows what; some long gone, long dead thing?
Then on she moves, her bulging knapsack,
Gives her the appearance of a hunchback,
Her walk is a slight stagger with a list
To port as her eyes skim the borders
And she tries to perceive the particular
In empty patches in between each drift
Of summer flowers in suburban plots.
There seems no purpose in her scrutiny,
She's careless of the tab ends cast aside,
Her hunting seems to be for what SHE'S lost
Although she is uncertain it's specific.
She's unaware, and seems oblivious,
Though callous children laugh and then disperse
To shout and stare and watch her rolling by.
She stoops and scratches at the exposed earth.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Pathetic Fallacy

I have taken aspirin and paracetamol with caffeine,
Washed down with a little brandy in my tea,
And now there are faint stripes of blue
Appearing in the sky between
The banks of cloud in whites and greys.
And the last few
Puddles evaporate from the flags,
and the elder tree
Turns its cream plates to the south to catch some rays.
Modern medicine is marvellous.

Making Spoons

My body pressed against your back,
Making spoons for hot water bottle warmth,
My aching ovaries against your kidneys,
My nose deep in your fur; I seem to lose track
Of the passage of time. A wealth
Of images flood my mind and I start the journey
Back to sleep, breathing in your personal smell,
River water, mud,
Something slightly eggy, and a petrochemical taint
From the flea drops, comforting, though unwell
Scent.  And your heart beats thump your pulsing blood
Against my stomach, and the faint
Egginess becomes more sulphuric,
And you begin your insatiable licking,
First the velvet bedspread, short rhythmic
Strokes, then my hand and forearm, seeking
Saltiness.  And I doze and seem to lack
The will to pull away.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The last Day of May 2014

Last of the sun, last bright ray,
Lights up a corner of mahogany,
About two feet long,
Eight inches wide,
It catches on each slant egg of bead,
Down the wardrobe side,
And shows the chocolate swirls
Among the redder gold,
Flame veneers, in the last flame of light.
It grows darker, ceases to glow
As the sun starts to sink out of sight,
In the west.
Now only the dusty cornice
And a little patch of wall
Are still bright.
The swifts race past the window
Not at all in time to Dvorak on the radio,
And the sky blushes, a slight hint
In the north east,
Of the harsh orange and pink
It is splashing about
Behind the house,
And the cat prowls and yowls
Somewhere downstairs.
The warmth has gone.
The room cools back to blue and grey.

Iconography

Iconography

Emerging from the little, early church
At the top of the hill,
From the coolness of stone and peace and still,
Through the ancient door
Into the heat of June:
One sees they are everywhere,
Omnipresent.
Sometimes one hears the distant roar,
Of these symbols of virginity, white and pure,
Blameless, faultless (?)
And of the Trinity.
Then, for a second, no more,
A cross, as the third arm passes the stem.
Seemingly powerful,
But hopelessly inefficient
At bringing greater light,
Working alone and sometimes in unison,
Not working at all on holy days,
And it seems so many days are holy;
Both strange, absurd and magnificent sight,
Pointing, pointing, pointing 
To the need for better ways,
But ultimately pointless.
And familiarity breeds contempt.
Those of us in daily communion
Have become the faithless,
Lacking the passion 
Of those who believe but do not see.