Wednesday, 31 December 2014

"People You May Know"

Beth and Millie, Kodi, Jodie and Chantelle
All friends who know your teenage children's friends,
And gaze at you all doe eyed, tame gazelle,
Pouting in the most ridiculous way,
Which only lends an air of sad hilarity
And touches at your crabbed old heart,
And leaves you conscious of the great disparity
Of self assurance that exists between the grey
And dreariness of middle age and childhood's ragged ends.
And then I find my inner teenage soul,
And reaching for the wondrous 'selfie stick'
And holding it aloft, I concentrate.
I gaze into the tiny camera hole,
With face sucked in and lips pushed out, and 'click'
The timer snaps me, wide eyed
In my wrinkled, blotchy state.
And I feel rather sad, for if I tried
To send a friend request to Beth, or Kodi or to Millie
They would see a has-been, mad old bat, just being silly.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

On Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Birthday, Cheerfulness Taught by Reason Revisited.

Alas, we're still too ready to complain,
To think too much about our selfish needs,
To see the sunlit garden full of weeds.
Reciting grievances, we don't refrain;
The catechism of our woes seems vain,
Demands attention constantly and seeds
Yet further mournfulness, and then our deeds
Can't help us, we are victims and so must remain.
Oh pusillanimous hearts be comforted;
We all of us our destinies can shape;
Can all determine on a course instead
Of bowing to our 'fate'.  We can escape,
Free ourselves from fashion's tyranny, tread
The path of cheerfulness, wrapped in reason's cape.

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."

Debussy Fills the Scented Air (rondeau redoublé)

Debussy fills the scented air of Sunday afternoon
Rises and floats its rippling notes, which land
As motes of dust upon my mind, the tune
Itself winds round my memory, I understand
Its language by some instinct as beneath each hand
The keys respond to pressure: greater, lesser and too soon
I am a child again at home beside the fire and
Debussy fills the scented air of Sunday afternoon.
And yet it is my son that plays: a Prelude and Claire de Lune.
It's his childhood I want to savour, but one can't command
The images which fill the screen inside the head, so the moon
Rises and floats. Its rippling notes, which land
On tiny hairs within my ears, reverberate, demand
Attention. Other music, more simple and jejune
Never spoke to my soul in childhood, like the Erard grand.
As motes of dust upon my mind, the tune
Descends in little showers, lands on cobwebs which festoon
Acanthus leaves and neat bell flowers which stand
In plaster stiffness listening.  The tune
Itself winds round my memory, I understand
So very little, how the tide of strong emotion pulls the sand
Of time back to it, music physics is just acoustics, immune
To such poetic fancy, but the basis of this magic's bland
And logical mathematics. Like diamonds from the dull earth hewn,
Debussy fills the scented air.

Funeral Coat

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.


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
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.

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.


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,


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!

Friday, 19 December 2014

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.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


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,
For where all's brown and dead 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.