Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unmasked


The glass does not lie.
The face that she sees
is her face, smoothed white,
the red, moist lips
are hers, the eye
that fixes her is her own,
steady in the quivering
morning light. Her maids
have done their work
and this is the very image
of the Virgin Queen,
red hair alight, precious
to her finger tips, ready
to turn history's next page.

Is this the same vision
Norfolk stumbled on
unannounced? She had her back to him
and the evening light was weary and dim,
so for a moment he did not realise
whose was the crooked spine,
the wrinkled skin,
the short grey hair,
but then he caught her eye
and knew that all was wrecked,
felt, for the first time
the axeman's foetid breath
on the back of his neck.

Just like buses...you wait for one for ages then two come along.

Press Pack


The dogs are circling with intent.
Once, when your table was overflowing,
they were content to feed
on left-overs, but now
nights are drawing in
and all signs point
to the table soon being bare
and dogs know all too well
where the next meal will come from.
On lazy, sunny days
they were always willing
to roll on their backs and play dead,
just to humour you, but
had you been really wise,
you would have noticed
the keen redness of their eyes,
observed how every now and then
they would slink off
after some other wounded prey,
but now, it is you who limps
and shivers with the cold.
It is your trail of blood they track
growing steadily more bold.

I hate to be biblical but as you sow so shall you reap! Thanks to my Macedonian correspondant for pointing out my schoolboy error!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A feminist poet, prior to howling


She-wolf speaks softly,
not snarling, no growls
as you might expect,
the sibilance instead
of that one who had you
expelled from Eden,
no restless padding
back and forth, red eyed
tongue hanging,
she hides her teeth
behind soft phrases.
The compulsory expletive
comes and goes
as if by accident
with a knowing twinkle of the eye,
a subtle shift of hips,
swift licking of the lips.
A neat metaphor is punctuated
with a deep sigh
and a heaving of breasts.
Somewhere, out of sight,
a pair of twins hang
on her every word,
whilst we, like unsuspecting lambs
struggle to remember
the warning we just heard.

After a fine evening dedicated mostly to female poets, one performance stuck in the mind for all the wrong reasons. You could say this was all in the mind, but there were mainly women in the audience and I’m confident that they would recognise this picture.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mother Gaza



She refuses to die.
Neither slow asphyxiation,
nor ordeal by fire
can dim the fierceness of her eye.
No toxin purge,
no surgical strike
can darken the promise of the sky
and though crows gather
beating their wings like blades,
away frustrated carrion fly,
back to roost in stolen groves,
beneath blue, twisted stars,
knowing the future is not theirs.
Oh yes, she bears the scars,
but the harvest is also hers,
her sons and daughters
and all their seed.
Red anemones will rise
where once was weed.

I have never repeated a poem in this way, but Ben Heine kindly sent me the cartoon and suggested that the two might go together. I think the idea speaks for itself!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mother Gaza



She refuses to die.
Neither slow asphyxiation,
nor ordeal by fire
can dim the fierceness of her eye.
No toxin purge,
no surgical strike
can darken the promise of the sky
and though crows gather
beating their wings like blades,
away frustrated carrion fly,
back to roost in stolen groves,
beneath blue, twisted stars,
knowing the future is not theirs.
Oh yes, she bears the scars,
but the harvest is also hers,
her sons and daughters
and all their seed.
Red anemones will rise
where once was weed.

Great news about the TUC vote to begin the boycott of Israeli goods and campaign for the end of arms supplies to the Zionist state. Of course, it does not go far enough, but every journey begins with one small step.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dawn, Mumbles Ward




It's that time of the morning
when clocks stand still
and every sound booms
around your ears like the final warning.

Norman's gone walkabout,
searching for his other half.
She was with him just a moment ago.
Where's she gone? He's desperate to know.

The nurses gather him up,
lead him back to his bed
moved from the ward
to the safety of the nurses' station,
where his hand can be held
and soft words restrain
his mind's constant wandering.

Ella would have smiled
to watch him work his charm.
He always was a bugger
for a girl in uniform.

Thanks to Mr. Ashour and his team. Thanks especially to Leslie, Boothi, Paul, Sam and all the others who took care of me. Thanks to all of you for your support. Thanks to the new friends I made on the Mumbles Ward. I'm still up and running. Long live the NHS!