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, 21 May 2014

Sunday Before the May Day Bank Holiday

No church today, I lazed in bed,
And made the most of luxury,
Of coffee, toast with greengage jam,
And music washing over me,
And nothing much to do but sit
In boredom feeling old and fat.
I cooked a meal quite dull and bland
But in the final moments found,
A half chorizo sausage and
Chopped it in and stirred it round,
And saved the day, well not quite that,
But one takes excitement where one may.
I planted gladiolus in
A patch of earth which faces south,
(If land that's flat can really face)
And thought of all the plants last year,
I treated with the same respect
When my reward was nothing much,
Why can't I learn to love neglect?

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.

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.

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 might 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.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Memories of Leo's Night Club, Saturday Night, Harrogate.


Descending from the street into the gloom
Of 'happy hour', in this stinking place,
Where happiness is not the thing; the room,
A basement dark and vile, a gothic space,
In that it's filled with Goths, damp beneath my feet,
Where fag fumes swirl with the weird smell of dope,
I hear  the beat; the endless thumping beat
Of 'music' loud and dreary, so that hope,
Which helped me paint my eyes with pointy black,
And stand my hair on end with Bristow's spray,
Evaporates.  And I sit at the back,
Looking suitably sad, with nothing to say,
Wondering why I come here every week,
And rejoice in all that's miserable and bleak.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Speak Simply on the Internet

Speak simply on the internet
And do not curb your views
All round. 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

People or Birds?


This morning on Radio 4
I heard someone quote
Someone else,
In a rather dismissive voice
Saying it was
"More important to feed people than birds".
And of course, he was right,
As I read in the paper
Of a homeless shelter,
Of degradation, drug use, decadence.


But in the Spectator
There was a piece
On a man who had written a book
About his beautiful English meadow,
And of the poems of P.J Kavanagh,
Which took me across the web
Highlighted in morning sun,
Golden, bright,
Glinting through the trees,
To Guerney and MacNeice.


And all this information,
And all these written words
And then a man, on 'Today',
Recollects the Normandy landings,
And I hear him say,
"I remember the song of the nightingales
Floating across the water to our boat,
Night after night."
And still we do not know,
Still we are in shadow,
Seeking black and white:
Do we need to make a choice?

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.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Lady Vicar Exorcist ( inspired by an article by a journalist whose mother is a vicar. This vicar is sometimes called upon by people who think their properties are possessed. She often finds she just needs to bleed a radiator.)

With book and radiator key and bell,
The Lady Vicar works her spell,
She offers tea and sympathy,
And doesn't judge but waits to see,
What use, if any she can be.
Her pastoral work is never done
It's social work, but it has one
Advantage over that provision,
It's done by someone with the vision
Of greater good, greater compassion
But still its done in practical fashion
For God likes to set as a practical test
'Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est'.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Cold


The characteristics of the common cold
Are manifested mostly
In eustachian tubes whose inflammation
Alters one's whole intonation,
So, like an announcer at Euston station,
One sounds nasal.  And situations
Of dripping frustration
Arise from careless exhalation,
And snotty snorts on inhalation
Hurt the tender, roughened roof
Of mouth, so it hurts when one tries to feed.


The dog's bi-coloured
Capsules, half cream, half red, amoxycillin,
Call certain cure from the kitchen table,
While superbugs grow, like tumours, in imagination,
So one refrains from stealing from one's pet,
For all the wrong reasons,
And one tells oneself nonsense
About the changing seasons, and the weather being wet,
While knowing really one is simply too scared of the vet
To do the dastardly deed.

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.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Old School

Beside the clocktower by the bend
The old school nestles, Gothic, small
Beside the raised embankment wall,
It's neat facade does not pretend
To grandeur.  It's dignity we comprehend
Through windows, narrow, pointed, tall,
Ecclesiastical, which lend
A greater sorrow to its fall
Into a wilderness of rubbish. All
Brought in to hurt, offend,
The nosy parkers who'd defend
The right of any Englishman to call
His home his own to mend,
Improve as he sees fit. And 
If he lacks the wherewithal,
To patch up when and how he might, attend
To when he can, when means are small.


But now it sits in sad decay
In part destroyed, the playground
Heaped in plastic tanks, a mound
Of earth and stone on top, convey
Contempt, and cause dismay
Among the villagers who've found
That here's a test.  This sad display
Touches on something quite profound
About the way
That liberty and conservation fight
Each other day and night
And to the bitter end.

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?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

No Fire

The long, thin ante room which faces west,
Is light in early evening and the paint
Of chalky pink absorbs the brightness, invests
It with a softer tone, showing restraint,
Teaching refinement to brilliant day.
There is no fireplace and so we sit
Around a little heater while we play
Each upon our own mobile device, it
Seems a friendly sort of silence but now
We never really have enough to say
And I'm so often writing, wondering how
To make my thoughts fit rules of form, I stray
Into a world of dreams and disappear
If someone speaks I listen but don't hear.

Friday, 2 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
Combined, 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?




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
Presents me with this sense of awful panic,
To make me question? Is the chemical
Of fear really benignant, 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.