Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The Shelf

He said he’d fix the shelf.

He said he’d fixed the shelf, but that was only so he could watch the world cup in peace.

She said to herself (there was no point saying it to him), this cabinet needs a good clean. It’s got all the good china and glassware and we never use it, it just slowly collects dust. So she emptied the cabinet one piece at a time, and cleaned each piece and put them on the fixed shelf which was empty so he, the man of the house, could fix it. This she did until the cabinet was empty and she could get right in the corners with the point of a damp tea towel, an old one she kept for just this kind of thing.

And when the cabinet was clean and fresh and the good china and good glassware were ready to move back she stopped and made a cup of tea. One for her and one for him. And she put the cloths in the washing machine for the next load, and she turned back to see the near edge of the shelf dip and swerve like a wave breaking, and the shelf made like a vertical and everything tipped off, slowly but steadily succumbing to gravity, and all she could do was not scream.

Tea pots and cream jugs, and champagne glasses, and Waterford crystal and Royal Doulton, a fine orchestral cacophony of timpani crashing and triangles tinkling and everything breaking, and he came rushing in, wide-eyed.

‘What’s going on ?’
She gave him one of those stares.
‘That shelf still needs fixing’.

Tipping Point

Just a bit of fun about an unremarkable point in the day:

Tipping Point
I’m the tipping point on the rollercoaster of the day,
perched at the point of balance, am to pm,
before the brakeless acceleration to the foot of the clock.
I’m a top o’ the mornin’ reminder,
that there’s still time to get something done by lunch.

You know me,
the solution to is it twelve am or twelve pm ?
But you rarely notice me pass, my daily moment in time,
I’m ‘the early one, the sensible one’,
too early for drinks – let’s keep it civilised,
too early to eat – what ? - no breakfast ?

No, no-one has serenaded in the . . , noon hour
Or waited in second-hand-fixated anticipation, at two minutes to . . , noon
they don’t even scan.
But the hour of reckoning,
when a man finds out who he is,
when he’s outnumbered and outgunned,
that’s mine, that’s what gets me high.

So, I lack the bad-boy glamour of the other twelve o’clock,
that dark lord of the night – ha !
You do realise he’s on the clock,
Sober while his moment passes,
handing the baton to that dullard mid-day, in their endless relay.
“Midday to you my good fellow”,
I mock him as I leave.
With my 24 hour pass, un-chaperoned. 

no-one to answer to, no direct antonym,
to loop the loop with, not in this language,
all alone,
So how do I spend this unfettered freedom ?
Well, in the middle of the night I could be street racing,  freebasing,
all kinds of nocturnal debauchery, secrets, saucery,
your expectations in reverse,
or maybe sat in bed, rhyming terrible verse, 

-         did I give myself away ?

One day, I won’t return,
retired by the grammar police,
pensioned-off to a beach in Acapulco,
Where I’ll swim by the light of the silver moon,
‘Till then, I’m perched on the tipping point,
where the clock strikes twelve, noon

Monday, 12 November 2018

Reminisce 1918

This was adapted from the earlier version of Reminisce for the centenary of Armistice Day, 11/11/2018.

Reminisce 1918

That's the last photo
 - your proud uniform, your shy face.

Close the album shut, and hope to always remember you -

. . . the last words you wrote to me
 . . . last meal we shared
  . . . the last dance together, to the last song, we heard together
the last time we were both whole,

There’ll be nothing more,
no more never befores,
never again.
The well is dry,
the leaves have fallen,
the stars are out,
our book is closed.

Now the First Have Fallen

This was written for and performed at A Day to Remember on Sunday 11th November as part of Harrow Arts Centre’s Lest We Forget Season to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

Now the First Have Fallen

Outside daffodils heralded spring,
the crocuses had been and gone,
replaced by egg-yolk yellow and nature's clean white,
waving gently in the slight breeze,
the sun was shining,
leaving cool shadows slanting from one gravestone to the next,

On the surrounding hillsides, new calves raised their heads curiously above the barbed wire,
and crows and gulls screeched at each other from the tops of trees,

It was warm for black coats but many were worn, out of respect,
black ties, black veils, black shadows under eyes,
it seemed the whole village had decided these boys deserved some symbolic attendance,
no matter how vague the acquaintance,
how long since crossing the threshold of a church.

Small boys fell in step once through the entrance gate,
their mothers glassy-eyed and silent, clutching daughters,
their fathers walked tall,
as if their dignity might be the last memory added to the young men's lives,
something the coffins could carry to the next destination

And hanging in the air was an unspoken fear,
an unavoidable line of thought,
present like a storm cloud over that bright warm spring day,

There would be more many more, now the first had fallen,
many more from that line of boys who’d signed up and shipped out,

The bullets and the gas and the bombs and the war had now reached even here,
this isolated pocket, this outpost was overrun,

And while it felt like the only place on earth to be shrouded in grief,
for surely this sharp emptiness was rare on a day like today,
tomorrow's papers would tell again, of this same scene,
replicated across the river, and down the valley,
throughout the country, across the continent and beyond.

There would be more many more days like these,
to bury the dead, and grieve their passing,
so many more,
for a generation scythed down in such numbers that we should never forget,
that surely this was the war to end all wars.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Owl Hours

Are you 'up with the larks' or are you a night owl ?
A poem about staring into the night -

The Owl Hours
Ceasefire ends the restless day,
darkness descends, the blanket thickening
softening everything, impermanently.

The moon keeps a respectful distance,
after the all-pervading sun.
while the impatient world is sleeping,
dreaming of trouble tomorrow.

The calming dark.
the friendly night,
the gentle hum of the distance,
few hours of peace,
unhurried  reflection.

Every noise hushed by its maker,
every light dimmed by its isolation,
every thought allowed to stretch and contract and settle,
Every breath at peace,
Contemplating infinity, eternity, immortality

Memories emerge, holding hands,
They dance and sing, and wander off safe into the night.

And I will join them,
once I give in,
and close my eyes