Monday, 3 December 2018

Boys in shiny suits

Heavy lidded boys in shiny suits,
Fags fastened to top lips,
Slide through a greasy town.
A desolate landscape
Damp with peeling paint.
Lights from the solitary arcade
Draw them as they talk of London.
But this seaside town in winter
Holds them like a mother
As Mr Big drives by,
And they shiver
With anxious possibilities.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Night, night

Night night,.
Sleep tight.
Mind those bed bugs
Don't bite.
Here's Grandad
Vest alight
Killing lice
With candle bright.
Here's mud
On greasy ground,
Blood and body
Parts around.
Old mate’s face
Is turning green.
He can't tell
What he has seen
Night night
Sleep tight
If you can.

I wanted this poem to sound like a nursery rhyme despite the gruesomeness. For us growing up in the fifties, the First World War was not very far away. My Grandad was a wagonner when the war began. He was called up with his horses. My Mum could remember those horses being dressed in horse ribbons to be paraded through the village before they made their journey to France. Grandad drove a water wagon at the start of the war and a water truck by the end. I don't know what happened to the horses. I know he lost a brother and, I believe, a brother-in-law, on the Somme. All they told us kids about his experiences in the war was about the lack of clean clothing. And,how each night in the trenches, Grandad and the other soldiers would kill the lice in their vests by running a candle flame up the seams. Each night Grandad would send us to bed with the words, night, night, sleep tight, mind the bed bugs don’t bite. For me as a young child, the memory of killing lice and the poem got mixed up.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

One for Samhain

The earth's great water wheel
Turns on at its own pace.
We push so hard,
But cannot move it faster.
Nor, when we pull,
Will it slow down.
Today, our old ones watch,
And feel for us;
That we've not learned the lesson.
We are such tiny,
Short-lived, specs of air.
Our strivings come to nothing.
The great wheel turns
In its own time.
It washes all away
So all may come again.
And that's the joy of it.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Bitter flowers of Autumn

Life does not seem long enough.
Here come the bitter flowers of Autumn,
Dry, brittle, brown.
They are relentless, inescapable.
Still, I long to throw them in the air
So the thin sunlight can
Bring them to brighter colours
And let them dance with the October breeze.

Friday, 25 May 2018

A little light pollution

It had been a lovely evening,
All birdsong and soft light.
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Now, it became the night;
Noisy with sirens in murky olive grey,
Punctuated by flashing blues and reds
And that malicious green that's
Quite untouched by nature.

I used to love the city,
Now I don't.
But with loss of love came indolence
And perhaps a little fear.
Would elsewhere be better?

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Shall I be Queen of the May

Shall I wear the white dress
One more time?
Shall I be Queen of the May
With flowers hair?

Will these withered fingers
Touch those lovely ribbons,
And the crooked legs dance the
Magic one last time?

Shall I wax and wane
Until the summer child
Emerges squirming
Into the morning light?

I think not.
Time and experience, my dear
Have taken all my dancing skills.
The dress has lost its gleam.

I'll toast the dancers,
Wish them well.
And then, being grateful for solitude,
Go back to my dream.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

My golden girl is gone

My golden girl is gone,
Lost, with her honey coloured skin
And silver hair.
She left me almost empty,
Paler, and with less substance.
Her scent's still on the air,
And an impression
Almost like a ghost.
She left with few words.
No point in words,
The distance is too great.
Half a world's between us now.
"I have a question."
"Oh, I've forgotten.
But, we'll keep in touch."
With that
My golden girl is gone.