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
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
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


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.