Earworms of Sammy Joe

February 11, 2016
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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.


Two Minutes

November 10, 2013
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Hush now, child –
remove the smile, for this is not your time.
These silent moments of November
are kept for us to spend on those who died,
those brave ones who were sent by us
to wrench peace from the jaws of war,
to bear the wounds and scars and even die
for you and all of us now standing here.

Observe the pretty poppies as they fall
silent blood-red petals – each a life that’s shed.
Every single one a person, just like you
with friends and family and love to share
and wanting not to wilt before their time was due.

You may not know now of your relative
cut down and buried in a foreign field,
but he is there, and she is there and they are there.
Your history is calling out — “Remember me!”
So spend these precious moments of your every year
in reverence to the ordinary lives
that faced the blades, the bullets and the bombs
for you to have the freedom here to stand.