Friday, 23 September 2016

Birdman

Birdman

Bold Dewi Jones would leave his home
first thing every morning,
and trot him down to Towy Wood
just as day was dawning,
and there he filled his Tesco bag,
five pence from any store,
with chickweed celandine and seed
and other weeds galore.
Then he fed them to his finches
to peck at in the cage,
while he ate his Kellog Cornflakes
and read the sporting page.

When Dewi was a kid at school
he hadn’t many toys,
and on the farm out in the sticks
there were no other boys,
so the woods became his playground,
a bird his childhood friend,
and he played a game with finches
he prayed would never end.
Their songs were short machinegun bursts
that echoed through the wood,
and Dewi, in green camouflage,
would stalk like Robin Hood.

A grown-up now, he made a frame
that lay beneath a net,
and then with trails of wild bird seed
a crafty trap he set.
That’s how he caught his lovely birds,
cunning if not clever,
and neighbours came along to praise
Dewi-boys endeavour.
Yet we all new that in the wood,
birds sang like heaven’s choir,
while, in the confines of the cage,
finches were much shyer.

Now Dewi’s wife, religious was,
chapel every morning,
in Aberystwyth born and bred,
should have been a warning.
Though pleasant to the roving eye,
pretty as a flower,
like milk upon a summer’s day
she curdled and went sour.
“It’s wings God gave,” his wife would scream,
“so birds can rise and fly;
and nature gave them songs to praise
the wonders of the sky.”

One day while on his morning rounds
bold-Dewi had a stroke.
“An awful thing,” the village said,
“for such a lovely bloke.”
No muscle could the birdman move,
eyelids would not flutter.
The voice that once trilled, “Sosban Fach,”
not a word could utter.
We don’t know why God struck him down,
spite – or was it pleasure?
What e’er the Lord was dishing out,
Dewi got full measure.

Now Dewi’s sitting in a chair,
just staring into space,
and carers who come twice a day,
pour soup into his face.
His wife just up and left him,
no fuss or angry words,
just said, “I hate to see you there,
caged up like your birds.”

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Liaison

Liaison

She waits by the stream as she promised
she would, “If the Big House feels safe and
the going is good.“ She smiles with her
eyes, gives a tilt of the head and we
sink to the ground with the moss for a
bed. She’s the fount of the magic of all
woman kind, music and poetry come
flooding my mind. Her skin is the
breath of the newly mown hay. She
lights up my life as the sun lights the day. With
bodies so tense that we feel they must burst, our
mouths fight to quench an unquenchable thirst.

Limbs all entwined we just lie by the stream
reliving what’s gone in a beautiful dream.
She says, “I must leave with the world wide
awake. You know I can’t linger, there’s too
much at stake.” She floats over the field like
the midsummer breeze, until lost to my
view in the shade of the trees.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

LIAISON

Liaison

She waits by the stream as she promised
she would, “If the Big House feels safe and
the going is good.“ She smiles with her
eyes, gives a tilt of the head and we
sink to the ground with the moss for a
bed. She’s the fount of the magic of all
woman kind, music and poetry come
flooding my mind. Her skin is the
breath of the newly mown hay. She
lights up my life as the sun lights the day. With
bodies so tense that we feel they must burst, our
mouths fight to quench and unquenchable thirst.

Limbs all entwined we just lie by the stream
reliving what’s gone in a beautiful dream.
She says, “I must leave with the world wide
awake. You know I can’t linger, there’s too
much at stake.” She floats over the field like
the midsummer breeze, until lost to my
view in the shade of the trees.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Jobber

Jobber

He sits beside me on the pew,
the bell has ceased to toll,
a rugged man with piercing eye,
his hair as black as coal.

He casts a glance then weighs me up.
“There’s things a man should know,”
and then he stares ahead again,
his words are whispered low.

“I am the Resurrection come!”
The vicar starts the dirge.
“Lord Fibba’s cold,” the stranger croaks,
“the dead don’t re-emerge.”

I feel the urge to run away
so sinister the voice,
but blood is duty bound to stay,
I feel there is no choice.

“And even though we die we live,”
the priest is on a roll,
reciting spells from out a book
to save a wicked soul.

“I bet that makes m’Lady wince,”
the stranger shakes his head,
“she doesn’t want no comeback kid.
She wished old Fibba dead.

A shocking way of going, mind,
marauders in the night,
who only came to kill, they say,
a man too old to fight.

They stabbed him in the heart, they did,
an organ full of sin,
then left without a trace of how
and when they’d broken in.

He had it coming to him mind,
his life made work a farce,
three hundred quid a day he got
for sitting on his arse.

Then played away from home he did.
His wife is seething mad.
A beauty queen and young she is,
which makes it twice as bad.


Now all these fogies on the pews
would pull her into bed,
along with those ill-gotten goods
that live though Fibba’s dead.”

I shake my head that such a man,
uncouth to ear and eye,
can know so much about the life
of those who are so high.

“For memories we treasure,”
the vicar’s in a trance
and tries to get the flock involved
but doesn’t stand a chance.

The stranger slides along the pew
and whispers in my ear,
“Comes riding by each Thursday noon,
when no-one else is near.

Astride a big black stallion,
ne’er gelding or a mare,
a midday gallop in the woods,
knowing I’ll be there.

She pokes me with her whip, and then
she orders, ‘Follow me!
I will need you Mr Jobbing Man.
An urgent job you see.

These demanding hours of dressage
are all a girl can take,
play havoc with my back and thighs
and make my body ache.

Now you must massage me
wherever there is need;
but ne’er forget, rough jobbing man,
we’re of a different breed.’

Posh ladies like my jobbing hands
upon their tender flesh.
The broken nails and callouses
tell tales of my caress.

The morning that Lord Fibba died,
I’d scarce got out of bed,
when up she rides and hands to me
a box the weight of lead.

‘Lose this in the bog, my dear,
beneath the moorland sky.
Reward will come tonight, my love,
when I come riding by.’”

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,”
the vicar’s song is done.
Then when I look along the pew,
the jobbing man has gone.

Such joy! My love has killed her spouse.
Success is with our plan.
But what a hellish way to find
she has another man.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

EVENING

Sitting here on the patio in the cool of an evening, sipping whisky.
Lone birds, wending home across the heavens. Fleecy cirrus,
pink-tinted by the setting sun, drifts in from the sou’west
forming exotic fish in my vast aquarium of darkening blue sky.
Bedtime rooks shout from the copse beyond the roofs;
last of the birds chirping in the trees; cool air drifting in with a damp
night-smell of nearby fields where a crow coughs and scours for supper.
Cat slinks by with wicked eyes, on the prowl for a vole or mouse...
Flowers will soon be closing for the night.
I open a beer and thank God that my love is still by my side

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Tones of Time

Tones of Time

In a tavern by the harbour in a western port
a girl is pulling pints for the men who talk of sport.
Memories come flooding like the tidal ebb and flow
of the rolling ocean where the weathered sailors go;
and wistful time is passing.

Visions of a stranger still appearing in the door,
clearer than the river running gushing to the shore.
Tough; as rugged as a rock and yet so full of charm,
eyes brimful of mischief and tattoos upon his arm;
laughter fresh and bracing as the zephyrs of the sea,
a rover embodying the spirit of the free.
His song evokes a nightingale, trilling from the nest,
sweet baritone with tremolo, hand upon his breast.
Then, when the tune is lilting, he leaps into the dance,
quelling thug and bully with a challenge or a glance;
and happy time is passing.

On the misty mountain, when lovers cling together,
breezes and promises are whispers in the heather;
and empty time is passing

Monday, 8 August 2016

Q&A

Q&A

She clambers o’er weed slimy rocks, anguish
on her face, ocean crashing on the shore
where crested breakers race. A silhouette
she stands alone, hair tousled by the gale,
a lonely woman in the storm, eyeing
death’s dark vale. “Why am I here? What is it
for?” the burden of her cry. “Nothing cost
and little lost if such as I should die.”

Far voices of the petrels wail in wind
and rain, then echo round the bluff and cove
the lesson of their pain. “Heed the sea,” the
voices say, ”and wonder at its ways. It
sculpts the rocks and wares the cliffs while carving
out the bays. Fearsome when the west winds blow,
we tremble at its roar. Yet children dance
the golden sand it scatters on the shore.

Now look upon its storm lashed face
where currents spring from tidal race
and billows form a random force
without beginning, end or course.
No ripple knows what be its role
but minus one there is no whole.
All those mighty warrior waves
forever charging at the shore,
are born of countless tidal slaves
that died an unmarked death before.

Like tiny servants of the sea,
not knowing what our fate may be
nor privy to the great discourse,
we must endure and run our course.

Monday, 1 August 2016

UNKNOWN GIRL

Unknown Girl

Busy office mid the traffic roar. My

phone has shrilled a dozen times before. Now

a girl is crying down the line; keeps crying,

crying all the time. “Don't speak, just hear. I've

taken pills but feel no fear. I random-

dialled; need someone there; unseen confessor

for my prayer, a ghost to know the reason

why, at seventeen, I chose to die. When

mother went I was alone – though he was

there, so life and body not my own. I've

run away but no escape. He traces

me and then the rape. He gets a key and

wakes me in the dead of night. He beats me

when I say, I'll tell, or makes to mark me

with a knife. It's living hell, devalued

life. His friends, he says, fill every place, from

law to health and Women's Aid. I see a

spy in every face. I can't seek help, I'm

too afraid. My very soul must bear the

brand of his misuse, and yet I feel I've

no excuse. If God absolves me from all

blame, why do I feel this dreadful shame? It's

so unjust! My life's debased by this man's

lust. He won't have me anymore; just find

me lying on the floor...” Leaves me with an

empty line; crying, crying all the time

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Night of the George Robb

 

Night of the George Robb

December ’59. Sunday. Night. Rising wind.

Dark wheelhouse. Shadows. Cigarette flares. Face glows red.
Skipper Ryles peers out; black night, black sky, black sea streaked white. “In for a rough night.” Mind flash: wife and kids. “Home for Christmas.”

Saborowski, legs splayed; dipping deck. Eases into sea. Compass tilts, swings. Mind sees Teddy, pet spaniel, smiles.
Duffy, deckhand, pauses; false-leg firmed on pitching deck – accident when five. Flash: mother. “Week on Faroe Bank... Presents for sisters.” Duthie, sea-cook, nods. Secures pans. Tends stove.
Mackay, chief, grips bar, checks dials. Engine purrs. Flash: shore job... wife and bairns.
Mess-room men talk. Brace against motion. Sip cocoa. Engine throbs. “To a fair catch.”

Satan rides the eastern wind,
night as black as hell.
Menace in the powerful surge,
lumps leap from the swell.
Combers charge with snarling tops,
all in a chasing sea.
Ships pooped by waves the like of these
can’t rise or shake them free.

Storm roars. Rollers charge, break, race... spray, spume.
Ship rises; plunges. Seas thump!
Deck buried; millrace; deadweight.
Ship labours, shakes, rises; rolls... over... shudders... creaks...
Harbours closed. Seas pound; leap walls.
Skipper pensive. Radar cluttered. Beacons swamped.
Navigation gone. Boltholes lost.
Steel-bound coast. Caithness... Duncansby!
Corkscrew motion, “Undertow!”
Saborowski, instinct, wheel hard over.
Ship lifted, driven.
Raven black... “Cliffs!”
Breakers explode; surf, spume, fangs... “Rocks!”
Impact – crash! Men hurled; ship flung.
Combers thunder; seas rage...
Crunch! Blood. Cries! Broken bones.
Decks leap, buck, yaw. Metal screams; grates; crunches; grinds...
“Mayday!” Airwaves fill... Urgent voices...
Blast-bang! Sky flares red. Men leap from bed...

Saborowski fought the Germans in the wicked Nazi war.
Blood, death, fires of hell, seen it all before.
Faced with overwhelming odds, bitter lessons learned.
Plots writ in fate’s grim sacred-book are never overturned.
No shame, when faced with certain death, for men to run away.
Retreat, regroup, regain your strength to fight another day.
Into the roaring frenzied surf, the fisherman must leap.
Cold... Cold... So bitter cold... Saborowski longs for sleep.

Torchlight. Rocky slippery path. Wind-lashed crags.
Villagers: knowers of coves, rocks, reefs.
All aid each; storm-driven rain.
Siren pleads; wind-snatches...
Coastguard: weight-laden; breeches buoy, shackles, ropes, posts.
Struggle, stagger...
Moorland, bracken, bog, walls, fences, swollen-streams...
Cold, numb, breathless, drenched, blinded, ache, pain.
Cliff; searchlight...
Ship... there... far below – smashed!
Seas crash, swamp, batter. No life seen.
Rope-rocket fired. Wind flings back.
Once, twice... Five times they fail.
Lifeboats: Wick, trapped in port –
Longhope: rocks, reefs, death-hungry seas...
“Campbell’s down!”
“Campbell’s dead! Yomp exhaustion!”

“No more lives! Stand down!”

Saborowski...
Dying now on cliff bound beach,
so close to help, yet out of reach.
At home a dog pines through the night,
aware maybe, of master’s plight.
Grey dawns the morn on many lives;
fatherless bairns and widowed wives.

George Robb, lost with all hands, 6th December 1959

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Brexit

Sweet Dream of Brexit.
Fly with Boris, Dunc and Gove.
Cameron wrecks it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Monday, 1 February 2016

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is silent, blushing at the dawn,
thin veneer of beauty heralding the morn.

Scorned and mutilated, living with the hounds,
chattel of the bad men by the palace grounds…
Never ending evil meets them off a train,
buys them in a village, then inflicts the pain.
“Amputate! Infect them! Smash an arm or leg!
Make them our possession, only fit to beg.”

Taj Mahal is mystic, love song of a shah,
music of a river echoing afar.

Gentle men and women viewing Mogul’s stones,
fountains of compassion: “Show them broken bones;”
get the ragged army limping on parade,
begging bowls a-banging, injuries displayed.

Symbol of submission, baby at her feet
hasn’t got a pillow, sacking for a sheet;
screaming and hysterics, battle for the prize,
quelling ranting mother, blinding baby’s eyes.

Taj Mahal is awesome, shimmering at night.
Agra folk are sleeping, Milky Way glows bright.
Glorifying heaven, planets rove the skies.
Satan roams the shadows, mid the cripples’ cries.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Empires

Empires

Triremes of Claudius go speeding out of Gaul,
charged with taming Albion, fiery Celtic queen,
then civilise and modernise
with unity and roads,
to leave a lasting legacy where Rome has been.

Bold privateers of Devon, harnessing the wind.
Buccaneers with cutlasses plunder Spanish pelf
then bequeath the world a language,
democracy and law,
bonding scattered people in a vast Commonwealth.

Bureaucrats of Brussels, inept scions of Rome,
with bloated pay and pension cosseting a life
of bumbledom and jargon,
in quangos that cascade
unedifying orders, sowing seeds of strife.

Monday, 4 January 2016

If you read this poem, why not send a donation to Operation Safe Haven at the Barnabasfund.com
 
Lord Weidenfield, a Jew, formed Operation Safe Haven as a lifeline to save Christians from their Islamic killers in Syria.
 
If you don’t read the poem, why not send two donations?
 
The Rubaiyat of Zarah
 
Only peace and no recrimination
in the garden of my destination.
Immortal youths will serve and comfort me
in my fiery final incarnation.
 
Just a single-minded slave of Allah,
never destined for the field of valour
till fate decreed for me a path unplanned
into the Hall of Martyrs, Inshallah!
 
Wise twitter-sirens of the Caliphate
send thoughts that pierce my mind – then detonate!
“Think! Will our next Saladin be your son?
Which humble bride will Allah nominate?”
 
All cyberspace is full of such bold thought.
“Heads full of maths and science come to nought.
What good is there in studying the earth
when Allah’s word is all that should be sought?
 
The West, beguiled by Satan, lost its way.
When fashion dazzles girls they go astray.
Forgetting God they lose their pride in self,
but Paradise is just for those who pray.
 
It’s woman’s blessed realm to operate
behind a veil where men will venerate
and pay them due respect. When sexes switch
their roles, societies disintegrate.
 
Your place is here in our Islamic State
to be a bride and brave jihadi’s mate.
Past seventeen a girl is deemed too old
so flee your bonds before it is too late.
 
Sister, for you we have a simple plan,
haste to your wedding day as fast you can.
Be chaste! Then fast and pray your daily five.
Breed many Muslim martyrs with your man.”
 
So to Mosul, in answer to the call
I came in niqab, covered over all,
to be settled in the house where future
brides are, by imams, taught and held in thrall.
 
“All disbelievers carry Allah’s curse.”
It says so in the Qur’an’s holy verse.
Then, “Slay them where you find them,” says the book.
“They are the fiends of Satan and perverse.”
 
Their armies now are at our very gate
and raining bombs down on our Holy State,
but we don’t fear the wicked infidel,
for Allah’s sons will smite them down in hate.
 
Then, suddenly, a fatwa is proclaimed.
A missile into London will be aimed.
Disguised, a girl will travel as a bomb.
At morning call our martyr will be named.
 
All day we sisters panic sweat and quake.
At night we cry and pray and lie awake.
Which girl, a would be bride, will have to die?
The imam says, “Be brave for Islam’s sake.”
 
At dawn the imam points a hand at me
and shakes his head in answer to my plea.
“You’re Allah’s choice, stand tall and show your pride.”
But all I feel is terror’s urge to flee.
 
Then I am led away and told my youth
is lacking in the facts of holy truth.
I must absorb the lessons of the book
and then go forth as Islam’s sabre-tooth.
 
“Fighting is obligatory for you.”
It tells you so in Surah number two.
“On disbelievers, Allah puts a curse,
so kill the Christian and wicked Jew.
 
Make war on them till Islam is supreme.”
These facts are not a foolish imam’s dream.
You’ll read them all in Surahs two to nine.
We lovers of the book work as a team.
 
Now off to Turkey where you melt away
as loving brothers speed you on your way
and teach how best to detonate the bomb
when you appear in London on the day.
 
Convinced that this is where my future lies
I hug my friends in tearful fond goodbyes  
because the imam’s lessons taught me that
Islam’s success must feed on Kafir’s cries.
 
At last I saunter through the vast arcade
where filth and Satan’s spawn are on parade.
“Kill and be killed for Islam and it’s cause.”
And my reward? “A gown of golden braid!”
 
“Make war on infidels,” true Muslims yell.
“Be harsh; for they are vile and come from hell.”
The girl who ran away is now a bomb.
Fearless! Inspired by Islam’s mighty spell.
 
I pray and feel the bomb-belt hug my flesh,
a child asleep in mother’s niqab crèche.
One flick will blast these Kafirs back to hell
while I, in paradise, start life afresh.
 


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A Christmas Remembered

A Christmas Remembered


A winter’s morn; the earth is
still. Leaves and grass gleam virgin
white as vapours shroud the distant
hill. Birds forage in field and
wood where the pond is steel. The
sharpened air, a whetted knife,
reveals to me my lover’s
breath. God – I see her very
life! We spread our pence beneath
the tree, but love is all the
gift we need, and love is free.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

She Haunts Me

She Haunts Me

She haunts me in the dead of night
when all the world is sleeping,
the girl I found in Adder Wood –
sat on a tree-stump, weeping.
Why do you cry my lovely one?
Who so deserves your pining,
when all the birds are on the wing
and summer sun is shining?

But oh the wars, the bloody wars
to end all wars, keep coming.
And still the blood, the precious blood,
the peoples’ blood is running.

I cry for my young soldier boy
who fell in foreign mountains,
and yet the war-torn peoples’ tears
would fill the Roman fountains.
The wicked human failure is
what fills my heart with sorrow
for my soldier and the people
who will never see tomorrow.


But oh the wars, the bloody wars
to end all wars, keep coming.
And still the blood, the precious blood,
the peoples’ blood is running.

Beware the Shadows

Beware the Shadows

Do they frighten you like they frighten me?
these downcast sons of low-caste mobs.
As you lock them away and lose the key
their parents sweat in low-paid jobs.

These downcast sons of low-caste mobs
fuel rebellious-dreams with drugs and beer.
Their parents sweat in low-paid jobs.
They chant coded-prayers in a football-jeer.

Fuel rebellious-dreams with drugs and beer
to ease the day-long searing-pain;
they chant coded-prayers in a football-jeer
in the gloom of a dark-slum-lane.

To ease the day-long searing-pain
as you claim the dues for their squalid-lets
in the gloom of a dark-slum-lane,
pale parents wail and rail against the debts.

As you claim the dues for their squalid-lets,
children scream of cruel-oppression.
Pale parents wail and rail against the debts
as they spiral through depression.

Children scream of cruel-oppression,
trapped on a treadmill-track from womb to grave
as they spiral through depression,
training for the life of a low-wage slave.

Trapped on a treadmill-track from womb to grave,
youth stolen by forsaken-school,
training for the life of a low-wage slave
in lawless-class where bullies rule;

youth stolen by forsaken-school,
dull-eyed masters screaming at sullen-mobs
in lawless-class where bullies rule,
churning-out fodder for the low-grade jobs.

Dull-eyed masters screaming at sullen-mobs
whose minds are brutalised by stress,
churning-out fodder for the low-grade jobs.
Dream-escape is a drug's caress.

Whose minds are brutalised by stress
seek false-pity from none nor spare a friend.
Dream-escape is a drug's caress,
for there is no prize at this journey's end.

Seek false-pity from none nor spare a friend
where honest-labour will not pay;
for there is no prize at this journey's end
and brute-frustration rules the day.

Where honest-labour will not pay
the deprived will study the plumper-breeds;
and brute-frustration rules the day
when the fat-one flaunts what the lean-one needs.

The deprived will study the plumper-breeds.
The game is called accumulate.
When the fat-one flaunts what the lean-one needs,
cruel-rules are there to contemplate.

The game is called accumulate
where they dirty-deal for the master-share.
Cruel-rules are there to contemplate;
when the winner takes-all, none will play fair.

Where they dirty-deal for the master-share,
beware the shadows of the night.
When the winner takes-all, none will play fair,
paupers leap-out to snatch their right.

Beware the shadows of the night
as you lock them away and lose the key.
Paupers leap-out to snatch their right.
Do they frighten you like they frighten me?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Fashionistas - Haiku

Fashionistas

Hijabs storm catwalks.
Beards takeover trendy chins.
Fashion worships faith.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Mirror World

Mirror-world

A life ago my father said, “I saw
your plane pass overhead; stood alone in
wind and rain and watched you go.” I shrugged and
went upon my way, “Choose the way you waste
your day. I've hay to make and seed to sow.”

Then, amid the hours of feeding pets and
tending flowers, I saw the vapour-trail
bisect the sky, a tear spilt by the bluest
eye as you went out to set-about a
world I'd left undone – to sing the songs I
couldn't hum; and all my love was on the
wing in tender, wistful thoughts of you that
day. My father must have felt this too, but
couldn't say; and I, the one with life to
find, wouldn't pause to read his mind. I know
it's much the same for you, just doing what
you have to do, but if we never say
or show, how can the other ever know?

The one is always unaware as at
the other's heart they tear. My sorrow as
you speed away is full of what we did
not say. Maybe, one-day you'll feel this yearning
too... in the mirror-world of me and you.

The Singer

I once lived in a small town. I was shocked to find that, after 16 years, I wasn’t fully accepted.
I left and vowed never to return.

The Singer

Where black rocks bare their fangs and roar
and sea shouts angry at the shore;
when rain comes sweeping wet-walled night
and lamps are pools of yellow light,
the singer stirs from out the deep
where phantoms of his memory sleep.
He trudges by the lighted inn
as jest and laughter ring within.

“Blood is the bond of brother-love.
Deep roots fit others for the glove.
But solo is a finite role,
no mirror for the choirs deep soul.
My lonely strain was not a theme
that bound the past to future dream.
I played my part. I sang it strong
but feel no call for further song.”

He wanders on along his way
where seas shed tears of spume and spray.
Now cries the wind as rain comes down
to draw a curtain o’er the town.

To My Friend

To
My Friend.
Such numbing
news is all my grief.
For at the height of that
God given day, grim death,
yon callous thief, broke in my
heart and stole your life away. All
my thoughts are disbelief. So short
ago I felt you pulse within my hands;
saw passion flaring in your flashing eye.
I rave and rage against disease and rant
at all who failed to save the focal point of
all you meant. And what of me, who reassured
you to the end? Your really very fickle friend, who
shied away from stretching hand and frightened
child you hid within. Emotions well and choke
remorseful in my throat as
bitter
tears
come
scald~my eye.
Your ashes now enrich the ground; your soul, in smoke, floats heaven-bound; but still you pulse in this – my heart. A part of me it was that died.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Barmaid

Manchester – in the final days of the smoky old town. Listed buildings, monoliths, stand amid the rubble of demolition, tower-block flats and new estates…

The Barmaid

The bar lights define her; a pale girl,
and thin; puppet playing in a booth.
Alert for the long shift, she watches
the shadows hunched at the dark tables,
selectors, tacticians, experts reliving irrelevant
games. ‘Do these people ever get real?’

Her mind flees through the window,
where, in twilight, rubbish filled sites are gestating.
Her young eyes, unaware, see rain come sweeping
the long empty yards, and weeping on derelict firms,
glistening the brick of the devil-dreamed towers
in hell-seeing streets of steel-shuttered shops,
where a base-born baby cries in grandmother's arms.

The bar-bum accountant, aged beyond years
with worries of fees, scrapes the price of a pint
from his pocket and shuffles towards her.
She finds herself pulling a pump
in a monolith pub, spared bomb blasting
balls and bulldozing jaws, in a mad-architect's
dream of a traffic‑choked scheme – pavements
of vomit and pampered-pets’ shit, ochred
by lamps on designer-frame posts.

(Around her, forgotten, the ghosts play the
game‑with‑no‑rules, in the dream where the
strikers who ran for the reds were beaten
and blooded by penalties forced by the blues,
but dreamt of the goal they would mould,
and then leave for descendants to score).

The sages, oblivious, in red and blue blindfolds,
watch her sway at the pump. Without knowing,
she sees them as losers who funked the one match
that was fixed in their favour; and she
has a baby that cries through the night.

Death Spell

   Death Spell

Icy mists of shame enshroud my blackened-soul.
Harsh klaxons, blaring from my heart, proclaim all
squalid thoughts. Flares, illuminating caverns
full of nightmare-fiends, reveal a frightened child
lying sobbing in the dark. Metamorphose
walls flash me naked at the world. Pride deserts
as gutting-scalpels fling self-loathing-roots and
innards to the judging, scornful mocking mob.

Flee this terror of exposure; flee your dear
though unearned-love; bolt rabbit-scared through black-night
woods on menace-ridden hills. Run, forever-
banished in misery's driving-rain; stumble
bleeding on the flint-hard nettled-fields of pain.

Reality dissolving, sombre-brooding
roots. Zombie-float through mirage-days of chilling
vapour-dreams; curled up tight in flimsy-veil of
shielding-shell; tried; condemned; exiled within a
self-made cell; impotent to melt the fangs that
freeze the bonds that bind the death-wish in the spell.

Poison-seeds rain soft on fertile gardens of
a troubled-mind. Flowers bloom, in whats? and whys?
and awful rows of fearful hows? Answers ring –
crystal bells – from secret-lakes of tear-blood dew.

Help-cries garble; sane outside... death-mad within.
Talk ‘morrow-talk with me ten-million-miles
from you, engrossed, obsessed, cocooned within a
dreadful plan. In here, there is no coming-dawn;
no more, no us, no anything. Who loves you
so; would go, and leave you with this mist of shame.

You found my shame, and beamed into my soul with
rays of healing-truth; dispelling mist and vile
veiling-shell, while thawing out the frigid-spell.

Caithness

CAITHNESS GLOSSARY
broch … = Pictish Towers (Ancient Monuments)
sepulchral weals … = Ancient burial mounds
ghostly druid-stones … = Druidical Standing Stones and Stone Circles
Clearance … = Highland Clearances
flimsy boxes …. = Pretentious new housing, staggered higgledy piggledy
to peep between neighbouring houses for a piece the view.

fresh and eager crop … = Youth
peaty-flows … = Flow Country. The world’s largest blanket bog, with a
delicate eco-system.

foreign firs … = (a) Non-native trees, planted by speculators, which
upset the balance of nature. (b) Incomers.

 

image

CAITHNESS

He falls and snuggles like a lover to the floor;
dreams spilling from the bottle in the weathered hand.
Beyond the door, dead brochs lie buried on the moor.
Forebears are but sepulchral weals upon the land.

Dreams spilling from the bottle in the weathered hand,
where ghostly druid-stones gather for the moon-dance.
Forebears are but sepulchral weals upon the land,
grey-tombs, blending with the plunder of the Clearance.

Where ghostly druid-stones gather for the moon-dance,
frail farmer huddles in the shelter of the dell;
grey-tombs, blending with the plunder of the Clearance,
as flimsy-boxes march in fashion on the swell.

Frail farmer huddles in the shelter of the dell.
The peasant wearies of the burden of the toil,
as flimsy boxes march in fashion on the swell,
to shoulder for the view they one-day will despoil.

The peasant wearies of the burden of the toil,
just as a fresh and eager-crop spring from the seed
to shoulder for the view they one-day will despoil,
aware the time has come to take the misty-lead.

Just as a fresh and eager-crop spring from the seed,
out on the peaty-flows the foreign-firs take hold,
aware the time has come to take the misty-lead,
with roots deep-nourished by the corpses in the mould.

Out on the peaty-flows the foreign-firs take hold.
Beyond the door, dead-brochs lie buried on the moor.
With roots deep-nourished by the corpses in the mould,
he falls and snuggles like a lover to the floor.

image

Charlie Gregory
Caithness

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Gifts for Elizabeth

Gifts for Elizabeth

Look into the sky tonight and travel
back in time, where diamonds light forever-
up beyond the Milky Way; and if you
know the stars by name you'll never be alone.

See Lunar, queen of all the nights, a-glide
with silver smiles; lingers while the morning
mist shimmers-all with dew, then hides among
the vapour-screens to watch her lover rise.

How mighty rides the Sun King, Midas of
the dawn, transforming leaden-sea and sky
to sheets of dazzling gold; red-carpets lie
on cloud-scapes of plains and mountain-passes.

Purple-anvils, forging hailstorms; thunder
clapping; lightning flashing; Buddhas billow
then dissolve in peaceful islands floating
high... Now yellow skies of driven rain-squalls.

Flooding fields send swollen rivers rushing
to the sea, where they boil and steam in the
tropic-tides, then leap on the wind and flee -
to return in tears to their native hills.

Such glory is the earthly-engine – where
sylph-rainbows float on fields-of-flowers that
mirror back their subtle hues; while starry-
fish flash in inky-seas of ever-night.

Deep forests whisper secrets to the fields
and jungle-hedgerows where busy insects
drone. Fisher-folk of spiders spin beauty
into webs that find jewels in the frost.

Savours of the planet are bound into
a whole by the pulsing of the hours in
the rhythm of the days, that circle in
the seasons of the spiral of the years.

There's a presence and a theme in the beat
of the never-ending dancing of the
ocean on the shore - where a gypsy-wind
croons love-songs to the birds that pipe and soar.

To melt into this music is to blend
into the motion, and form again the
beauty of our truth; where minds are laughing
ripples on a stream that runs for ever.

Find succour in the knowledge that all of
us are one, and the substance of all things
is the universal essence of the
stars... and see strife as but a passing phase.

Man in a Burger Bar

Man in a Burger Bar

Man in a Burger Bar: Pale and thin;
already in love with the dark girl
shovelling fries; guides his tray to
a table viewing the world outside.
Free as the fish that roam the seas,
can come and go wherever he please,
but lives his life inside a sigh,
watching the screen behind his eye.

Forsakes the wimp in the grim brick
school, meekly complying with bullies'
rule, to watch young mothers usher
brats towards their dose of soothing
fats; transfers them to his morning
bed, all cuddled-up soft beneath the
spread. But now, inside his cinema head,
a wide eyed youth and anxious lass
have sown a seed that means impasse.

Shop-tired girls drift off the streets –
move chattering by a man who eats.
He yearns for solace, their touch, their
kiss; but images rise to blur the bliss –
a wife's tongue lashing through the
day as a baby shrieks her life away.

Two teenage dreams come sit nearby.
The blond one smiles and takes his eye.
He nods and winks but wants her friend...
Camera tracks... star in the pub,
playing the clown for the rowdy mob.
He blinks it away – will it never end?

But the shadows fight back: A
metallic crunch in a drunken fog; a
distorted face and bitter eyes; the bonnet
bent; night air rent by a woman's cries –
the body slumped like a refuse bag...

The sensual blond fades back in view,
wreathing a straw with fulsome lips.
He wants to stay but is clawed away
to complete the film in a dingy cell –
amid rattle and slam and echoing yell.

He leaps to his feet... must make a dash.
Scrapes his life in the bin along with the trash,
then goes with his show to the lonely street.

Walking with Jeanie

Walking with Jeanie

I wander with Jeanie along the wild way
where fields become cliffs that drop down to the bay.
With gulls riding thermals, a whispering sea,
the skylark sings love songs for Jeanie and me.

I whisper that love is sweet joy bound with sorrow,
be with me today and I’ll ask no tomorrow,
then gather a posy as evening comes creeping
to lay on the soil where my lovely is sleeping.

In Cardiff Jail

In Cardiff Jail

In Cardiff Jail, grey dawn breaks on
razored walls and living-blocks of stone.
High barren landings amplify harsh slamming
gates, and emphasise the echoes of the
bosses' yells and rattled keys of doors tha
only ever bang behind.

Alone I trudge the long dark tunnel of
my ''time'' – caged bird, spiralling inside the
wasteland of a mind with nothing gained and nothing left.
Pleasure is the hotplate stop for porridge slop
and morning shuffle round a yard with obscure
friend of bully-boy and baron – grass –
and those but barely sane.

Hear torment in the traffic roar. Is she
some minute blended part of that?
sharing lungfuls of this fitful breeze?
I flee from gulls that scream and soar and
laugh at me, - ''come see, we're free!'' –
and merge into my daily chore of sweep and swab;
then buff the polished floor amid the clanging steel
and shouts; dream my boredom; cry my shame;
or grind my hate and shift the blame.

Again, her ''Dear John'' crashes in my brain,
so blacking out some distant light.
For she's out there somewhere with him,
and I must stay within this wing of rusty bars
and bang-up cells, in my grey world of
yesterdays where tomorrow always
stays some distant unknown-life away.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Natasha

Natasha

Russia at the Collapse of the Communist Era

IMG_0725(1)
Hotel Saint-Petersburg

Natasha

She descends from en-suite and the balcony-shops;
sways down the stairway, leather-mini concealing,
sometimes revealing, lace stocking-tops;
carries her bruises where nobody sees.

In the hub of the foyer the faces are probing,
sharp as the glare of the night-patrol's lamps,
some fantasizing, others disrobing;
”Where has she been? What has she seen?”
Edge ever nearer; want her but fear her.

From the shelters and hides of their devalued lives
the other girls know what she carries inside;
science-degree; career that tumbled
when the shaky foundations of Motherland crumbled.

The Westerner sits and weighs up the scene,
wealthy vibrations of pleasure and ease.
''Are you looking for fun?'' almost a prayer,
crouching before him, hands on his knees;
smouldering eyes hide the pleading inside;
bleak deserts of poverty stretching before her,
murk of the tenement, queuing and crying,
pauper-line selling, pauper-line buying.

''How much?'' he demands. Heart skips a beat;
will he be the one to be swept off his feet?
Will he whisk her away? New York maybe?
Somewhere… D.C.?

''Two-hundred,'' she blurts, ''American-bills...''
She suddenly chills. Pitiless tips of cruel icebergs
drift-in from the Muscovite mist to rip-off the fees
she must squeeze
from the floating-unfaithful
who crawl through her knees.

''Too dear,'' he waves her away.
It's me! She's crying inside.
It's me – every-man's bride.
"What am I worth?" she wonders aloud.
"Seventy-five," he replies, "one of the crowd."

She rises before him, standing head bowed,
defeated – not cowed.
The girls turn away, back to their chat.
At the bar, double Scotch-on-the-rocks
is served to a rat.

Charlie Gregory
St Petersburg
1990’s

Aurora KGB HQ
Aurora…………………………………KGB HQ
                                 Pitiless Tips of Cold Icebergs
W

Memories

AW

Memories

White mist on a mountain,
grey mist on the sea;
vapours of the time-mist
are the men I long to see;
just the knowing of them
made a better man of me.

Spring is in my song today,
fields beside the sea.
Robin, from the tractor,
waves a hand at me.
Gulls, churning like a sea-wake,
follow on the plough.
Donald, trudging homewards,
after milking of the cow.

Peter, in the neap field,
leans upon the hoe,
dreaming of a girl he loved,
many years ago.
Geordie’s in the seiner,
butting up the bay,
heading for the haddie grounds,
over Orkney way.

Summer feeds the fields of hay,
moist winds from the west.
God is in a summer day,
men and land are blessed.
Comes along a bonnie lass,
children at her knee,
breathing nectar in the glass,
giving love to me.

AW

Only We Know

AW

Only we know...

The stranger did not start the fight today.
New man in town, come looking for a job,
he prayed for God to take the gang away.

He’d find some digs, a place to plan and stay,
but found himself confronted by the mob.
The stranger did not start the fight today.

Demanding cash and cards, they barred his way.
When blows were thrown by devil-snarling yob
he prayed for God to take the gang away.

They classed him as a thing that they could slay
in mindless hate, a cur to beat and rob.
The stranger did not start the fight today.

Their feet and fists flew frenzied in the fray.
In fear he fought and felled a drunken slob.
He prayed for God to take the gang away.

Now, left alone with corpse as cold as clay,
a figure kneels, still choking on a sob.
The stranger did not start the fight today.
He prayed for God to take the gang away.

Charlie Gregory
Cardiff

AW

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Wedding Reception

 

Wedding Reception

                       
scan0001
        We’ll settle by the bar and watch
        the women dance, then split a likely
        pair, when we think we stand a chance.
        I’ve one eye on the bridesmaid, with
        the skirt that’s riding high – showing
        off the daisies, tattooed upon
        her thigh.

                      The groom is still hung-over;
        can’t find the pregnant bride. She dodged
        into the box room – best-man by
        her side.

                     Mothers-in-law are screaming,
        ‘war,’ handbags all-aflail. Uncle
        Jack is on his back. George is green
        and frail.
                    
                       So we’ll linger here and
        guzzle beer, till the barman calls
        the time. Then make a play for a
        pair who sway – join the pantomime...

        ...Hope you like the big one, with the
        bird’s nest in her hair. Because I’m
        heading for the bridesmaid, with the
        skirt that’s riding high, showing off
        the daisies...

Charlie Gregory
Cardiff

Glimpse

Glimpse

I wander in the wild-wood
where Leap, my dog, would play;
rest upon some grassy bank
where I with Megan lay.
Time you thief who stole my life,
the years go like a day.
Leap lies beneath the laurel,
my Megan went away.

Re-membering

Re-membering

Mam's had a sex-change
Protest at the pissing-comp
"Rules mean proper pricks"

Dad's run away now
Living with a transvestite
Remembering mam?

Leap off a Day

Leap off a Day

Leap off a day full of struggle and toil.
Pleasure-power fuels freedom's few precious
hours. Head for the cellar where solace is
found; shoulder a way through the jostling crowd.

The thicket is wild and dense by the bar,
winter-branch arms shedding autumn-leaf notes.
Barmaids flick taught-aloof tails while they flit,
ripping off balls with their sharp little tits.

Machine-gunning speakers spray punters with
rap; call for ''strong-ale!'' Leave the lager for
louts. Survey, edge away from the wankers
and drunks; she's got mad-eyes;  he's  pushing  tabs.

Ocean of faces polluted by booze;
snatches of voices, wind-torn from the storm.
Crackhead is screaming about his bad trip;
rodents are filling his skull full of shit.

Rhythm-girls bob up and down to the beat;
silky Desire still the queen of the dance,
Aldis-lamp pants flashing codes through the gloom.
Refill my pot and slug whisky for luck.

Shouting and cursing and breaking of glass;
fun at the bar... stampeding... girls crying;
chairs swinging; fists flying; then exocet-
bottles-and-boots in an all-out attack.

Faces exploding in fountains of blood;
shatter-glass windows ice-blue-psychedel;
game-beating police rousing quarry to
flight – any brace cooks-the-books for the night.

Scatter and panic; a jam at the door
as we tear and then pull and then kick and
butt heads; now dash for the street and the sweet
inky-black safety of swallowing night.

Find the fair-maid Desire, cute little sprite
whose ignoble-knight offers vindaloo-
sauce – plan for scalding her arse and covert-
ovens-of-love – as we leap off a day.

Charlie Gregory
Cardiff
2000

Anorexic Girl

Samaritan Days. This kid called me very shift for 4 years. Then disappeared
off the radar screen.

Anorexic Girl
Sometimes she whispers in my ear,
a tapestry of pain and fear
whose warp and weft weave haunted days
and nightmare dreams, through woeful sobs
and blooded screams; till phantoms from
a private hell enshroud me in
a chilling spell.
                         I’m on a tour
within her mind, where those outside
are breaking in and every thought
accuses sin in saddest voice
man ever heard.
                         Midst grief, defying
spoken word, she can only run
and hide, cringe ever deeper down
inside, avoiding some imagined
threat from friend... or foe she’s never
met.
         I know more of her than of
my own, my wasted waif who walks
alone. I want to ride inside
her head and sweep it clean of all
its dread, but will not know her when
we meet; walk past her, crying in
the street.

                 But, till she finds the strength
to lay the horrors of the past
and scream, “I’m me! I’m running free!”
There’ll be no woman sweet asleep,
but just the child who I hear weep.

Charlie Gregory
Cardiff

Orang Ulu

Orang Ulu

Orang Ulu ( pron. Uloo) = collective name for the up-river tribes of Sarawak.

imageimageimage
Orang Ulu,
loping through mottle-green light of the jungle-track,
lighter than dawn-mist, nimble as wild-cat.
Hunt-hounds around-him are bounding and
wailing a death-hymn or baying for
deer-spoor or fat-ox or wild-boar.

Ulu-agape at the edge of a clearing,
proud ebony, ironwood crashing before him;
din of tree-felling and sawing and logging,
plundering into the land-of-the-lair,
filling the air-of-the-woods with despair.
Animals fleeing; no way of escape.
Earth-mother, naked and bruised by the rape,
bleeds yellow-puss in the pure-running-river
where bones of the forest now rattle down rapids...

Change; flooding the valley,
drowning the nestling, the gibbon and python;
feeding their life-force into the pylon.
Rain; kissing the forest her final goodbyes...
Lonely in grief, tears in his eyes,
Ulu burying dogs in the shade of bamboo.
"Sleeping in nature," the sandalwood sighs,
"dreaming forever of hunting with you."

imageimageimage

Charlie Gregory
At the head of the Rejang
Sarawak