29 years today, Veronica and me.
We hitched our wagon to a shining dream,
Endured the jumping, bumping roads,
Held fast at winds that rocked our sides,
Each taking turns with firm-held reins
When at a climb the other baulked.
And still each day we greet as one
And each still evening share our song
To fill each other’s sorrowed moments
Up to the brim with steadfast love.
On as one, a trust in each secured
We’ll hold our hearts as long as we can breathe,
under this blanket of glass fibre
there to protect the ground from weeds,
those wild and unchosen gifts,
a menace to order
in this, his garden.
Free of green fingers
he knows not much
of nature, life and beauty,
just its cost.
Nature is his enemy
he will force it
into his square-eyed plot,
the one he knows
above his coverlet.
On a grand bench
he sits to listen
when flocks twitter
alarm calls in damp air,
He emulates, badly,
in cauliflowered ears.
But larks and tits,
carelessly broadcast seeds
under chipped bark,
germinating, seeking light.
awaiting his retreat,
to the rickety-rackety bridge.
Without turning of the soil,
beneath their glass ceiling
worms wiggle woefully.
I’m calling a halt to the jive about Trump
I haven’t gone barmy, in need of my bumps
felt, but Yanks know him well for his time on the stump
and STILL put him up there and still primed his pump.
He can’t help his looks (well, apart from that clump
on the top of his bonce that appears like a dump).
And next to Obama he seems like a chump
Not charming nor erudite. More of a grump
With the press he’s been gifted you’d think he would flump
in the back of the bar or a faraway tump.
No, there’s too many trolls; and I’m not one to slump
Let’s just throw him some rope and see if he’ll jump.
Al Barz, Inauguration Day USA.
Gazing past the winter
you can smell more than roses,
more than fresh-turned soil.
Search for glimpses
in Nature’s hideaways
of last year’s lost moments.
Leaves, unswept on your path,
a source of unfortunate worms
for Spring-hungry birds.
Sometimes we grow so much
that simple pleasures
escape our sophisticated minds.
This grave is for a wealthy man,
just look at the beautiful marble
hiding his destitution.
We each rise from our own Spring
hoping forth brightly
where joy waits in a far field.
(or Tempest Fugit)
Bloody hell, the cheers and adulation meted out
Illuminations stimulate and bongos shout
Their repetition beat their repetition beat
Bold lips mark out the route of every street
From every morning sheet to every night-time turn
And close projectile words and phrases crackle, burn
In incandescent fury like some firework that speaks
That tumbles energy in all directions in bright streaks
A thousand words that fizz and pop and scream and fall
And temporarily they fill the stage, the screen, the hall
Until it ends. and every word and every shining phrase
That spent itself so brightly in the sparks that did amaze
Now, in the haze of smoke that smells rich in the dark
This audience lies bleeding, blind, beleaguered, stark.
But where the words that linger madly after day is done?
Where are the magic phrases clinging to a fading sun?
the cooling wind through my domain
agitated paper slips.
a vegetating warehouse job.
fragrant carrot, cabbage, coriander,
artichoke, asparagus, eggplant
shoulder-rub with grape and grain,
berry, banana, apple, orange
mingling in their wealthy stench
with toxic diesel fumes from trucks
assaulting running sinuses
in the fresh dawn breeze
warehouseman, Ernie enjoyed
the sales, the cut, the thrust, and swirled
in long and shabby overcoat,
his face experience deep-etched,
receding tide of auburn hair,
flaring nose, unfingered gloves,
yelling out the day’s demands
at poor, crestfallen donkey-men,
and scrawling figures clutched in sheaves
running through the numberwork
to land through window at my desk
from six a.m. to midday sharp,
dim morning to the highest sun,
greengrocers came to stock their shops
from shipments that arrived at dawn
and argued over quality
and mithered over quantity
and haggled over costliness
complained at being overcharged
insulted those that cheated them
(those who were running such a scam
against their business acumen).
I filled in sheets with daily take,
with running totals, top to toe,
chilling phone upon my ear
responding to Head Office needs.
my final daily task at noon
freed me, running for the bus
to spend a leisure afternoon
unfettered in a fettered land
surveying nature’s ants and sheep
with stolen fruit held in hot hand
pear juice running lip to chin,
elbow to the sunshine grass.
Before the breeze arrived from the Azores
Before the blooms of Spring broke through the soil
She left. The sun too late to warm her bones,
Under Winter’s sullen canopy,
She inked her life in squared parentheses.
The weight of spiky granite in her head,
She stumbled often, grazing tenderness
From skin that wouldn’t shed no matter how
She longed to cast it into bygone years
Before the breeze arrived from the Azores.
And tears, empathic with the Holocaust.
And unjust faith in failed humanity.
Exquisitely, her faltered self-belief
Denied that academic mountain-top
Before the blooms of Spring broke through the soil.
Before the party and the burgeoning,
Before the Rosie age yet to arrive,
She left no packing done, no notice given
Unwilling, in her proper state of mind,
She left. The sun too late to warm her bones
On waking, I heard no sound,
but noted, at five a.m.,
through a brightening window,
the long, slow, shallow descent –
a white tube of night fliers;
a package of people
pleased to return
to Birmingham International
as the rising sun
shattered the horizon.
On my left, in bed five,
I heard Colin’s struggled cough
in his long, slow, shallow descent
in a bed with rails
and with tubes, night-flowing –
a packaged patient
pleased to return
to Birmingham Heartlands
as the rising sun
split the cloud asunder.
Earworms sometimes plague the normal day
Snippets from another time and place
Annoyingly embedded in our thoughts
Forcing out when thinking slows its pace
A melody in the amygdala
A hippocampus hip-hop on repeat
This one is an anthem ‘cross the world
Famous words that chime in with the beat
This one is familiar from somewhere
Eluding attribution to the mind
Quizzing friends and family is hard
It’s one that only Internet will find
But this one… this one rattles in my head
Not a tune that I could track and seek
This one is a voice I’ve often felt
Stroking the waves we breathe, in trough and peak
Here the nuances that strain to show
Internalised experience of another age
Boldly written in the margin’s rim
Hid beneath the folded, dog-eared page.
This voice has a timbre all its own
That nestles so obliquely in my brain
Attached to words, the master of us all,
Speaking of a joy, a laugh, a pain.
And when she heard her voice recordings back
“OMG! I sound so posh!”, she shouts.
Pasted in my mind, a comfort, rosie scene
Dining table craftwork, homework, grins, and pouts.
A thousand messages, social media bound
Have faded as the random tweets of birds.
However, I still hold, as do we all,
Those meanings and that love, once pressed in words
Friends have said they’ll never more again
Hear her words in her sound – sung or said
But I can hear her now – she does remain
Perpetually hiding in my head.
Lodged inside a chapel on a hill,
Dressed in wood and coloured out in white,
She wasn’t there to hear the sullen tones
In eulogy to what she was, or might
Have once become, had living saved her mind
And fixed the broken web that shaped her pains.
Intelligence wrapped in enslaving shroud,
She took herself away. Her shell remains
But briefly, as the teardrops on our cheeks
That wipe away in discard handkerchief.
But her voice in my memory still speaks –
In earworms she reminds me of my grief.
I tried to imagine you dead;
How it might feel to be you-less;
What magic was wrenched from within me;
How large the factor of missingness.
What sorrow could I now conjure
From your complete disappearance?
It’s easier, much, to imagine
A vision of something not seen,
Impossibly hard to expunge
What fills every moment of being
With intertwined considerations
And amalgamations of dreams.
And parts of my heart had bled
Their watery life lubrication
And parts of my mind had shed
Their confident sure expectation
That love is the ultimate prize
And fear is the ultimate sin
I tried to imagine my loss
Not having, not holding, not keeping
As you lay beside me in slumber
Your flickering wakefulness seeping
And that is the reason you found my tears
In the tissue in which I’d been weeping