Category Archives: Poems

Party talk

“What brought you here?” they ask,

welcoming me to the party,

“Was it to get away from all those migrants in England?”

And the question seems to carry

no irony.

 

So, No,

I reply,

I just loved the place

the mountains and sea

and the night sky overflowing

and the weather and empty roads

and thought that in a land of migrants

a wanderer

might find a home.

 

But the irony escapes them,

and already

the conversation has turned

to people they all know

or knew, blokes

mainly

from half a generation ago

most either

living or dead.

Old Bob McClean and Bill Stead,

Sean Flynn and Michael Stokes

and Dick Vanderheider

and others whose names evade me

and the things they made

or broke

or did or said

sometime

before my coming.

 

I listen

and unlisten

and my mind drifts

and I remain

an outsider.

Men of the mountains

Look at the mountains.

Do you see them lying there –

all those men of history,

with their furrowed brows,

broken noses,

scarred cheeks

and crumpled chins?

Their ample tummies.

 

They were wild warriors,

brave generals,

gluttonous kings,

some more ancient gods.

Once

they bestrode the world

and wrote their names

upon it.

 

Now

they are all dead

and matter no more.

 

But the mountains

are ageless.

Carnival

While we were asleep

the carnival came to town.

An army of helpers

must have crept down the street

making the place ready

for the parade.

On our veranda

they laced

long strands of lights and baubles

between the balustrades,

constructed spangled wheels

across the gate,

made

kaleidoscopes

of jewels like stars

for the overhanging trees.

Sprinkled

fake diamonds in the grass.

 

It must have been a wonderful event,

with tumblers and acrobats,

men on stilts,

women in fanciful hats,

soothsayers and mystics,

and drummers and bands

playing music as they marched.

I’m so sad that we missed it.

 

Now

they have all gone.

The morning breeze tugs at the tattered strands,

the sun is disdainful of it all,

and weary spiders retire

to dark crevices in the wall.

Nothing

Now is the nothing time.

The bright day has fled,

night draws close on the world

and sucks all meaning out

 

in the dark houses people cower abed

lives past parade

jaggedly

 

and logic turns its head

 

the gods all sleep

 

while in some far far land

a child rises

and in innocent passion

ignites herself

and all about

people die

for nothing.

Love unconsummated

If you read this,

will you know yourself?

 

For even now I think of you

in ways I did not know

naked in my arms

sprawled wild before me on the bed

hung ravenous at my neck

 

in humbler ways

the taste of your hair

a cupped breast

 

and humbler still

a kiss

a touch, accidental

 

walking beside you in the dark street

your footsteps matched to mine.

Yes – that, at least, I have known.

Midge

He

looks at me with pained eyes

and pleads with me

in words I cannot hear.

His silence accuses me.

 

He

is of course

a dog’s dog,

alpha to his brother’s beta, can steer

him with a nudge, scowl

a warning, scold

him with a growl

think him,

share his fears

and excitement.

 

But to me

he has always been

mine, knows

my voice, the fall of my foot,

my commands,

the scale of my promises –

my soons and laters and tomorrows –

reads

my intentions

anticipates my moods and frowns and needs

follows,

finds me

is always my companion.

 

But what use am I

who am deaf as a rock

to his pleading

and stony-eyed

to his pain;

can manage only

the simplest of tasks:

breakfast

by the strike of a clock

water in an empty bowl

belatedly,

a walk when the desire

takes me?

 

He

pants, sighs

eyes

me

beseechingly.

 

I pick up the phone.

 

 

March 3rd 2015

Midge

Note: A few days later, Midge was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down. Both we and his brother miss him.

Rain after drought

The musk air

brings promise of an end to it all:

earth bare,

sun staring,

cattle stark and drooped in cracked brown fields,

the willows dry

from weeping into the sad river,

all life shrivelled.

 

But now the clouds are massing

on the empty hills.

Soon they will pour

into the valley,

shut out the sky,

and let their anger loose.

Then the air will fill with the roar

of life returning,

the soil will spit

revengeful;

in the gulleys

the water will chortle

again,

and joyful

we will dance

like children in the rain.

The Mallards

ply their way

across the dark water,

towing letters in their wake.

Pulling a V

or together a W,

sometimes

an M or two;

pausing to bury their

heads

in search of a letter they dropped somewhere,

not seeing the Os spread around them

and merge.

Then they converge

in a corner

and suddenly fretful,

bickering over some silly spelling mistake,

assemble their message to the world:

VWOVOMVO88.