Thursday, 29 May 2014

The News (Rondeau Redouble)

Stoned to death, by those who should have held her dear,
A woman in Lahore, these things happen over there,
About a thousand women every year,
But in the major cities it's more rare.
The governor of the bank of England took care
To explain that banks need to be more moral and to be fair.
Stoned to death by those who should have held her dear,
No, don't let that thought stay in your head, hear
The commentary now on Carney's speech, a pair
Of economists on the phone; one in the studio here.
A woman in Lahore; these things happen over there,
Crowds gathered to watch, but didn't dare
To interfere, women are chattels, this was a family affair,
About a thousand women every year
Are stoned to death in 'honour killings'.  The peer
Lord Oakeshott has resigned: the Lib Dems came nowhere,
There's support in the South West for their ideas,
But in the major cities it's more rare,
Have you heard about the fashion for eating flowers? Beware
Don't eat Hemlock, it's just a mere
Fad, but worthy of lengthy discussion, we must keep you aware,
Of trends.  A thousand women a year, in Pakistan, disappear,
Stoned to death.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Looking for the Bradawl

It seems to be the saddest thing of all,
Not contemplating death itself,
But looking for the bradawl.
I want to make an extra hole,
So you won't slip your lead,
As if you'd have the strength again
To stop, stock still and stubborn,
Refusing to proceed
Beside the road, beneath the bridge,
Or underneath the piano.
I used to heave and haul,
And treat and fuss
and call to you, imploring.
I haven't thought of it for years
But its name came to my mind,
When I looked at your neck
Grown lately so thin,
And stopped on our walk,
As you lagged behind.
And I thought of a collar
Like a strip of Meccano,
Punctured with regular holes,
A new one every fortnight,
Until the sight of your head,
So beautiful, on it's neck, growing thinner
And thinner in my minds eye,
Was more than I could bear.
I'll leave the bradawl,
Unfound, somewhere, anywhere, nowhere.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

First Hot Day of the Year


Pastel dress over
Mountains of flesh,
Peach, pink, blotched,
Rashed. See through -
Knicker showing.
Bingo wings,
Billowing pillows,
Rippling, flowing
Folds of lard,
All squashed
Into a yard
Of cotton jersey,
Pale blue.

Some People are Just Very Stubborn.

One fine, bright day in the afternoon,
I found an ideal, which felt like June,
Warm, with flowers, its air was soft
And I picked it up and held it aloft
And I thought it the loveliest thing I had seen,
And I wanted to share it and not to be mean,
So I gave it to everyone that I knew,
With its heat and roses and sky of blue,
And some of them took it and felt like me,
And some of them took it but couldn't see
The warmth or the flowers or clear blue sky,
And I couldn't persuade them they could if they'd try.
So I saw that in order to share and be kind
I must leave it somewhere for them to find
On their own, unobserved so they could pretend
They had thought it themselves, for this couldn't offend.
Though I left it about in a casual way,
Still some folk ignored it and they'd even say
It wasn't like June but was wintry and cold,
And that I too would know this before I was old.
But I couldn't be bothered to hear what they said,
And decided I'd only listen instead
To the people who thought as I thought
And that those who did not must be taught
To appreciate things from the point of view
Of warmth and sunshine and sky of blue.
So I had it arranged to start a campaign
To educate everyone over again,
And if by the end of their re education
They still couldn't see it, then out of frustration
I'd arrange for a law to be passed
That made it illegal at last
To question the lofty ideal,
Or suggest that we had to be real.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Speak Simply on the Internet

Speak simply on the internet
and do not curb your views.
all round with caveats.  Forget
your audience and speak your mind. Refuse
to edit and to hedge because we know you use
complicated phrases to conceal the truth and yet
we see it still. Complexity and truth you never must confuse.
Speak simply on the internet
because you may as well. We do not vet
your script because to do so would abuse
your right to be yourself. So don't be wet
and do not curb your views.
Speak about ideas as you would tell your news.
Forget the thought police, their threat
makes them reality. One who plainly speaks never strews
all round with caveats. Forget
whom you address, it's mostly just yourself, to set
your mind. Nothing's gained by being diffuse
it can't be helped if you upset
your audience, don't think of them unless you're trying to amuse.
If all our words are going to live forever we owe a debt
to history of honesty. Circumlocution is no use
to the future. So don't sweat:
speak simply.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

'Every Child Matters'

To say that every child matters is
Not to claim simultaneously
Its antithesis, viz.
Every parent's extraneously
Inconvenient and not worth consideration.
Yet it's easier to solve the equation
Without a valid solution for x and y
Because it is known, has been shown
In countless studies that it's pointless to try.
These lumpen layabouts are beyond redemption:
Druggies, smokers, drinkers, itinerants, likely to drift.
Their efforts will always be below par,
Ours, that is.  Don't worry, we know who they are,
You are safe, for a time, until the goal posts shift.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Dead Thrush

Beside the small
Robinia tree, upon
The lawn, for
All to see,
The carcass of
a thrush, who
Sang his songs
In groups of
Three. He celebrated
Spring as loudly
As he could.
His happiness expressed
With head thrown
Back and beak
Open wide, and
The puumping of
His speckled chest.
Now he's dead.

In giving voice
He seemed to
Encourage us - demand
That we rejoice
The great magnificence
Of all creation,
And shake off 
Winter's maungy mood.

But now he
Lies, crucified, wings
Spread out at
His side, entrails
Sprawled upon the
Grass. The bastard
Cat has killed
Him - the spirit
Of spring.  There'll
Be no resurrection.
No eggs in
Any nest, built
With she, whom
Surely he had
Wooed, with his
Songs about love
On the top
Of the tree
And life and babies
And all that's
Dear to us -
In
Groups of three.



To  Those Who Have Original Minds

Of course you do, each of us is individual,
But it's also true,
That there are, in us all, residual
Traces of all life's experiences, ideas
Which we have absorbed, and veneers
We wear in order to conceal
Aspects  of who we are.  They reveal
More about the truth of what is underneath,
Than honesty.  We grit our teeth
And would deny with our dying gasp
Those habits of our real nature, clasp
At any straw to prove
We're not as others think we are.
And yet part of us is just the sum
Of all we have denied.
But it is better, to understand
That we are as see through as glass,
And others are not blind.

Learn to know
That we cannot command
The way we are interpreted. Let go,
Accept your fate;  what you choose
To show and what to hide,
Only serves to amuse
Those who like to read the human mind.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Right To Be Forgotten


The right of everyone to turn to dust
Is one which nature grants unto us all
Regardless of our nature.  She is just,
Pursues equality. And when the call
Of death we hear, we know that though we sigh,
And think of all we love and leave behind
Yet peace is the assurance that we'll lie
Forgotten for eternity and blind
And deaf and unaware of those above
Who seem to like to seek and find us out. 
For we're not bits of history to love,
Not future relics of a bygone age. I doubt
The future really needs each small detail
Of our lives, posted on the web and out of scale.

The right to be remembered - Walter Sedlmayr


I lived once, was a man, but no more; my
Life was cut short. Now I am dead and gone.
Yet he who took my life needs must still try
To wipe me off the face of the earth, none
Must know his crime nor know he took my life.
Thus I am killed twice. For if the law
Shall come down on his side, yes, him who's knife
Or gun, was my end (you can't know which, for
That would mean one must speak his name or state
The facts) thus a kind of blank am I.
To live, then live no more it was my fate,
Also to be obliterated so that the lie
That justice has been done and time been served
Can be kept up, but nought of me preserved.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Now Is The Glorious Summer of Miss Jean Brodie

We'll bully them: each impressionable child
when young, so they'll be ours for life.  We say
make them conform, in youth and let no wild
spirit, no independent thought betray
the catechism, the instruction. Play
upon the unformed mind with fear, but styled
as wisdom; be doctrinaire and they won't stray.
We'll bully them: each impressionable child,
for each is father of the man.  Defiled
in youth the spirit withers away.
Yes, take an eager, susceptible child
when young and they'll be ours for life.  We say
teach them to ask questions everyday,
but only those that are allowed.  Beguiled
by our immediate knowledge, they'll go our way.
Make them conform in youth and let no wild
new, ideas of freedom influence.  Praise the mild
obedient ones, who mirror and obey.
and never offer hope to the exiled
spirit.  No independent thought betray,
which might be seized upon by eager children. Weigh
every word.  Those who object must be reviled;
teach names with which we might insult them; who are they
to question this great plan we have compiled?
We'll bully them!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

To Those Who Have Original Minds

Of course you  do, each of us is individual,
But it's also true,
That there are, in us all, residual
Traces of all life's experiences, ideas
Which we have absorbed,  and veneers
We wear in order to conceal
Aspects  of who we are.  They reveal
More about the truth of what is underneath,
Than honesty.  We grit our teeth
And would deny with our dying gasp
Those habits of our real nature, clasp
At any straw to prove
We're not as others think we are.
And yet part of us is just the sum
Of all we have denied.
But it is better , to understand
That we are as see through as is glass,
And others are not blind.
Learn to know
That we cannot command
The way we are interpreted. Let go,
Accept your fate;  what you choose
To show and what to hide,
Only serves to amuse
Those who like to read the human mind.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

An Argument In Favour of Tolerance, Liberty and Reasoned Argument. (Sestina)

When Tolerance meets Liberty she bows
in recognition of an equal force
and steps aside, gives way, because she knows
the enemy they fight is the same one.
Though Tolerance might seem weaker she's not less
powerful. She is acceptance
without question; that takes strength. Acceptance
of all that Liberty allows weighs heavy; Tolerance bows
and sometimes needs must set aside the less
lovely aspects of her burden. For this, the force
of Reasoned Judgement she must call upon, none
but she can say what Tolerance can't bear.  She knows
that Liberty tests Tolerance beyond her strength, knows
tolerance needs the help of Courage. Acceptance
without discrimination squashes Tolerance. Alone
Tolerance is just a fragile thing. She bows,
turns the other cheek.  Forgiveness is the counter force
to Reasoned Judgement, Forgiveness nonetheless
walks in Reasoned Judgement's wake, less
certain of herself. Without the help of Courage she knows
that Tolerance might turn to dust.  No force
but Liberty walks alone, Tolerance has an entourage: Acceptance,
Courage, Reasoned Judgement, Forgiveness. She bows
to Liberty as to an equal force but no stone
that Liberty places on her shoulders can she bear alone.
And this is why Reasoned Judgement must not be valued less
than Tolerance. Liberty passes - Reasoned Judgement, bows
in recognition of an equal force.  Liberty knows
that she only walks at all because Acceptance
and Reasoned Judgement support the force
of Tolerance.  Perforce
Reasoned Judgement can be taken for one
who discriminates too harshly, Acceptance
Without question and Forgiveness nonetheless
help Tolerance when she bows
too low - forgetful of the enemy she knows.
Tolerance walks less alone than Liberty
But Liberty knows Acceptance and before Reasoned Judgement bows.

Monday, 5 May 2014

May 5

Last night or in the early hours
I woke from some most marvellous dream
And knew that I had found the truth.
The truth of what I cannot tell, I seem
No different knowing it.  The flowers
Of may are no more bright, the bird song
No more my delight than bird song was
Just yesterday.  And yet that feeling
Most profound, that sense of peace was very real.
Perhaps I am not meant to know,
Perhaps the truth is never ours
To understand when wide awake. We must conceal
It from our reason, in order that we don't mistake
Attempts to speak that great elation
With the SENSE of exaltation,
Because our language, limited by comprehension
Of what we think is our existence,
Contains no means to give expression
To the workings, out of season, of the mind
In relaxation, whose temporal lobes sometimes reveal
Those strange convictions which persist,
Ideas in daylight we resist,
A greater thing beyond, above:
God, truth, light,  peace, love?


Friday, 2 May 2014

Becoming

Never perfect until death we understand
a little more of who we are each day,
not really metacognitive. Unplanned
we grope our way
towards the being who we call ourselves; play
at being finished in each moment. The sand
of time still trickles through but does not run away.
Never perfect until death we understand
but very little of who we might become, and
yet can look back at those golden grains and say
that part of myself was also me. Thus we command
a little more of who we are each day
but only what is past.  We cannot stray
from any beaten path, we beat our own, demand
acceptance of our present state and thus portray,
(not really metacognitive - unplanned)
a version of ourselves which others can identify. And
the truth of who we are is on display
seen passing in the movement of the second hand.
We grope our way
in opposition to our former self, this might cause dismay
to those who knew us once, in seeing us again, the stand
we take at any given time is made to weigh
as part of us, but we're both finifugal and unplanned, 
never perfect until death.

The Chemicals of Self Doubt and Certainty (sestina)

A fear which is in essence chemical,
between the ending of my dream and wakefulness,
comes flooding in among the crevices
of matter,  white and grey, within my head.
And so I rise to consciousness in panic
and feel I must un-say all that I've said.
I don't know why it's all that I have said,
which is the focus of this chemical
attack, but in the early morning in this panic,
I must expunge myself; in wakefulness,
or something like it, some sense within my head
wants to take back evidence,  from crevices
and places less well hidden. Crevices
are figments; the internet has none. I've said
I want to take things back, but in my head
there is no reason, just some chemical
which causes me to act, in wakefulness,
according to an incoherent  panic.


And yet when I review my thoughts, not panic,
but a sense that I was right floods crevices,
so self doubt starts to ebb in wakefulness
and, as what I have thought is what I've said,
in reading back I reinforce my views, another chemical?
A Certainty Etching Acid in my head?
And is this why I do it? Does my head
present me with this sense of awful panic
to make me question? Is the chemical
of fear really benignant, are crevices
flushed out  to be re- filled?  Who said
we were more sane in wakefulness
than sleep? I feel, in wakefulness
a need to reassure myself. My head,
requires encouragement because I've said
things years ago I disagree with. I panic,
lest I'm wrong now as I then was, crevices
in matter grey and white, contain the chemical
of doubt. In wakefulness, I  panic,
my head, no doubt, in crevices,
contains all I have said, and bathes it in this polarising chemical.




Thursday, 1 May 2014

Penguin Rhyming Dictionary Wind Turbine and Power Station Poem

Is a wind turbine preferable
to a power station?
Are turbines more tolerable,
given their green-ness and their brilliant white?
Is the sight
of sunset, as a backdrop, more admirable,
more memorable
with wind turbines in the foreground?
Or given that clouds are generable,
as well as electricity,
from cooling towers,
is it the combination of their powers
which is favourable?
Is it ethical or honourable
to judge such things aesthetically,
the agéd concrete,
majestical and venerable,
with PVC, pointy, narrow;
Are they comparable?
Who shall judge,
the viewer or economist,
the poet or environmentalist?
Is the landscape littered now like this
with experimentation
unalterable?
Who, if we decide that they are useless,
will be answerable?


A pigeon in the Middle of the Road


The road has been a 'no through' one for weeks,
on Sunday, 6 am, it's not a road,
merely a silence of pale grey tarmac,
stretching round the bend.
A pigeon
sits camouflaged, in the middle,
keeping his colours to himself,
un-engrossed in discussion
with a neighbour,
not rising to the hooted incredulities,
just fixing his beady eye
and crooning non-committals, low in his chest;
soothing prevarications,
endless equivocations,
gently cooed tergiversation,
decent, quiet, unprincipled.

I Think of You in Sudden moments(sestina)

I think of you in sudden moments but you're here
in unexpected glimpses: in the light
at certain times of year, and in the scent
of yeast, and paraffin and when the air
is icy, in damp twigs and things I own
because they're yours.  I see you always now
as you were in middle age; I know
I'll see you suddenly but never where,
and when I try you don't appear; you're blown
straight in upon some sudden breeze, or slight
and barely noticeable change of air
and also when there's nothing reminiscent
to call you into mind. Evanescent
but always welcome sight, melting like snow
before you're truly seen, and leaving not despair,
but deeper understanding and somewhere
a better sense of who I am.  Your flight
into my world is meaningfully flown,
you come to show and leave me when you've shown,
if only you enlarge some nascent
thought, it will develop better in the light
which you have shed.  I wonder if by now
you're really you or my unconscious sphere
which needs must manifest itself in hair
and eyes, and smile, and clothes, and voice of fair
and reasoned argument in your form, my own
being too easily dismissed. I hear
you when I will not hear myself, you're sent
from myself unto me, that I might know
some deeper truth, not God's light,
perhaps eternal and maternal light
is what you are.  I breathe you in as air
and can as easily exhale, but now,
unlike the time you lived, I don't. I've known
my own intransigence was yours, dissent
part of who we are. But I adhere
to you, you're part of me: the light I own,
my air of certainty. I'm glad you're sent
I like to see you now, in sudden moments, here.

Ill Dog

He sits within his roomy cage
and looks much older than his age
some look expressed through tired eyes
conveys his sadness, no disguise
is worn, no mask, he'll not engage
in a pretence, he's not on stage.
He growls, does not suppress his rage
and it seems good he still defies.
He sits
quite still, it's hard to gauge
his suffering. I cannot wage
that he'll be well, his mood implies
dull pain, I call and he replies
in grunts. I write upon this page;
he sits.