Monday, December 19, 2011

Farewell from my dad

As many of you many know, my dad, Richard Edwin Jones (REJ) passed away, peacefully in his sleep, early last week. On his computer, we found a document labelled Farewell for you to read below:

Post Mortem

This poet is not pinin'!
'E's passed on!
This poet is no more!
He has ceased to be!
'E's expired and gone
to mock 'is maker!
'E's a stiff! Bereft of life,
'e rests in peace!
If you hadn't nailed 'im
to the page
'e'd be pushing up the daisies!
'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory!
'E's fallen off the twig!
'E's kicked the bucket,
'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil,
run down the curtain !!
THIS IS AN EX-POET!!

Please feel free to comment as my mum will be delighted to know that you have read his last poem.

Best wishes

Sally Lloyd

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Out of Time
















Tuesday’s child,
1.14 a.m. 14th October 1947.
He was from his mother untimely
Timely ripped, overdue,
Long before her time.
Caesar’s so fashionable these days,
Quite the rage!
You can already hear the clicking
Tongue, the pointed intakes of breathe,
“Late again Jones! Take a seat at the back.”
Enter the word warrior worrier,
Bulging out of woollen suit,
His hatred of all cold so evident.
Acromegalic malcontent
With other, blacker seed
Settling in, out of sight
And soon within those tiny fists,
His chosen means to fight.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Misaligned
















He stands on the Cathedral steps,
Set square, every inch the image
Of Holly B movie gangster.
See how the nostrils flare.
He wears the drapes, slicked down hair,
Take care, come hither, stiletto stare,
Unfathomable eyes to all but those
Who come to know the shallows lurking there.

She stands at his side, first prize,
Picture perfect, A-list bride,
With a hint of frailty,
It should not be denied, but
Beneath the petals, razors hide.
She’s been through hell, emerged the other side.
When two such stars collide,
We know their fate,
The weaker will disintegrate.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bunker Mentality












It came to me in the queue,
Outside the school canteen,
The day the skies turned black
And we knew the Russians would attack.

That afternoon,
During Double Maths,
I made my plans,
Complete with detailed diagrams
And comprehensive lists.

Next morning,
I watched my mother disappear
Round the corner onto Richmond Road
Then started my work.

Supplies from the kitchen/diner -
Into sturdy cardboard box went:
1 bottle Tizer,
½ a loaf of white, sliced bread,
1 tub Stork Margarine,
1 tin Nestles Condensed Milk,
1 tin Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup,
1 can Heinz Baked Beans,
½ a chocolate Swiss Roll,
1 can opener,
1 set cutlery,
1 plate,
1 ½ pint glass.

Two armchairs face to face
At the end of the bed.
Supplies box slides under one.
Library box ( stock of Wizards,
Captain W.E Johns, New Testament,
Revised Standard Version ) under other.
Bed stripped. Mattress arched between
Layer two -
Eiderdown spread over the top,
Layer three -
Candlewick bedspread,
Gaps sealed with pillows,
Wireless and torches placed inside,
Lastly the big tin box
After which I crawl,
Sealing up the entrance behind.

Wireless on in time
To catch the latest bulletin,
No news.

Time to review forces.
Out of the tin emerge,
1 Centurion tank,
1 APC
1 armoured car,
1 ten ton truck,
1 captured Tiger,
2 twenty-five pounder field guns,
Followed by the troops,
In precise rows,
Followed by motley POWS,
After all, no could blame the Germans
For this one.
Stand easy men - no new developments.

Time for paperwork.
I wonder what the Great Wilson
Would make of my cosy cave?
Would he be ready for a doze
So soon? Better set all the alarms.
Before I snuggle down.

Westclox danced around
To sound the all clear.
All present and correct.
All still here.

Back to work,
Timed out at 31 minutes,
After which everything
Is in it’s place,
Well before my Mother’s
‘Have you had a nice day dear?’

Evaluation
V. Good. No chance of being spotted from the air.
What chance have the Russians got of finding this
When my own Mother doesn’t know it was there?
And in retrospect, ecologically speaking,
Well ahead of my time, for even after
The first strike, you could return in thirty years
And find no urine drenched cellars, no
Flaking graffiti covered walls, no
Twisted, tangled rusting metal.
No, not a single trace of my defences
Could have been found anywhere!




Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chains











Transit camps dispersed, overland to Basra,
over seas, watching for tell tale periscopes,

to Karachi. Hints of permanence, schools
needing teachers, an offer of employment

in the French Embassy. Reined in tight,
too young, too soon. On the move again,

East Africa. First sight of Fort Jesus’s lowering
face. The first link breaks, reaching the age

of majority. Instant reaction, sign on the dotted
line, no longer the child, fresh faced recruit

of the Polish Air Force, one of the girls,
there in the hangar of hanging silk,

folding, packing, stacking, preparing
for you, who floated to earth near

Pegasus Bridge, or you who drifted too far
at Arnhem, shattering continental chains.

This takes my Mother from Tehran to East Africa via Karachi and links to continuing events in Europe.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scientific Breakthrough!








I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
The gun reverses the laws of Physics!

Away from the demanding lemon tree,
Away from the grasping olive grove,
Away from the children splashing in the dust,
Water flows uphill here,
Up to the sniper’s concrete garden,
For he has magic, itchy fingers,
For he must be obeyed,
For it is written in his book,
For his eyes are blue with stars.
Wherever his gaze lingers,
He shall spy those who have strayed,
Shrivel with a single look.
Look around you. See the scars.

Short of water for your fruit and veg?
Not enough for your jacuzzi?
Forget new schemes for irrigation!
Buy yourself an brand new Uzi!

A break in my Mother's epic journey. Not only do Zionist settlers divert water away from Palestinian communities, but they have made a sport of firing at people trying to access what little water is left.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Typhus











Too bright! Too bright!
Whole world screamed white,
Disconnected words swim round her head,
Scratched the bites until they bled.
This is what the angels said,
Gathered round her floating bed,
Thrashing, burning,
Can’t be still, keep turning,
Though every move means pain,
Racked with coughs, again, again.
Feel it come, sweet oblivion.
Learn to love delirium.

Six months for the world to still,
Half a year with time to kill,
Find new strength, regain the will,
Place fresh blooms upon your window sill.

‘Gone with the Wind’, a GI picture show,
How was she supposed to know
It took four hours to reach the end
And now in company with new found friends,
Clinging to the hurtling jeep,
Brought safely to the gate
Where mothers furious vigil keep
Too late to scold. It’s far too late.
The daughters they once knew have fled,
Young women marching home instead.

The photo shows mother and daughters in Tehran. This was after my mother’s recovery from typhus. Note her short hair only just grown back after she had lost it all in the course of the illness.







Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Deals











The Tehran Conference,
Lend Lease,
Three men looking very pleased
With themselves, comfortably
Overweight, preening
For the cameras,
The Bulldog, The Bear , The Cat
Who filched the cream.
Three strokes of the pen.
The dismemberment of a continent
Begins, production lines speed up,
Convoys head north,
Corridors open up
To the south.

The camp gates are open.

Time to barter,
A good coat for the officer’s wife,
A precious tin of milk
For her baby daughter
Buy a travel warrant south
Towards the Caspian’s gleaming water.

Hour after hour, the trains roll,
Sweltering by day,
Shivering by night.
The journey takes its toll,
High fever, muscles that waste away.

Queuing on the quayside,
Barely able to stand,
Knowing the ship sails
On the next high tide
And only those who can climb
The steep gangplank
Will sail, this or any other time.

Step by step,
Limbs, head screaming,
She dragged herself,
Towards the blue sky,
Found herself on deck,
Stared around delirious, or dreaming.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Women of Poland












Against all odds,
Through hawk filled skies
A pair of homing pigeons fly.

Warsaw draped in swastikas,
The cobbles echoing
To goose-stepping boots,
Camps under construction,
New industries in the making,
Mechanising death.

Life goes on.
In every city, town, village,
Birds flock to the trees,
Codenamed wagtail,
Codenamed owl,
Codenamed sparrow,

Innocent, harmless birds,
Birds with two faces -
Teacher/intelligence officer,
Housewife/arms smuggler,
Countess/nurse,
Factory hand/saboteur,
Schoolgirl/courier.

O lost little sister,
How did you spread your wings?

Who could tell, from this
Sepia-toned studio portrait?
Rigid shoulders, high,
Defiant cheekbones,
Tight lips, the set of her jaw,
Flint in her eyes,
The bitterness, every morning,
Of facing the mirror, seeing
Her own mother glaring back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Portrait of the Poet
















Portrait by Alan Perry

Dust












The grey jaws of Asbest open wide.
Mile after mile slave miners
Tunnel deep, before dawn breaks,
Long after dusk. Caverns echo
With the tell tale coughs, racking
Their bodies until they drop.
No one notes how many die.

Journey’s conclusion, the end of the line,
The trains disgorge direct into the mines.

A mother’s nimble fingers, and nimbleness
Of mind, a fluency in Russian, a fluency
In lying, a shortage of skilled workers,
The tumblers fall in line. A mother and
Her daughters set to work not
With picks and shovels,
But with thimble, needle, threads,
Fashioning uniforms for the Reds.
Better raw hands than raw lungs
Perishing inside.

71 years later my son played for Wales in the Chess Olympiad in Khantiy Mansisk. He was just fifty kilometres away from the place where his grandmother cheated death.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Parting







Bleak beech wood backdrop,
somewhere east of Warsaw,
unscheduled stop.

The train wheezes to a standstill,
guards, bedraggled Red Army pioneers,
spill onto the trackside, cursing as youths will.

Rifle butts thump on truck walls,
doors slide open, prisoners respond
blinking to their captors’ calls.

A wall of foetid air,
the night’s stinking straw,
no one stops to stare

as the first corpse hits the ground,
not a word is spoken,
all thoughts of it are drowned,

just one more who never made it through the night,
shovelled to one side, left in plain sight,
a reminder of what can happen, or what might.

Some prisoners head for the privacy of trees.
The guards pay no heed.
There is nowhere for anyone to flee.

My grandmother warns her daughters not to stray.
Two cling tightly to her anyway.
What went through the other’s head? Who can say?

Clutching her new found friend by the hand,
she giggled and off, unstoppable, they ran,
oblivious, beyond command.

This was the moment the hawk-eyed pilot chose.
The screaming Stuka stooped, guns ablaze,
scattering a cloud of warning crows.

The guards beat the prisoners back into the train.
The Luftwaffe hero fires again and again.
The gunfire, the screaming, the unbearable pain

Of knowing too late,
as they rumble to safety
two little girls are abandoned to fate.

Back in the forest, the rascals are fine.
They both know where home is -
At the start of the line!

There’s no turning back.
The train’s out of sight.
The two girls turn west to follow the track.

In the gloom of the truck, her face turned to stone,
A mother lies cursing that one child alone,
Praying, for her own sake, that she’s dead and gone.

This is the first in a new series charting where I have come from and telling a story that is long overdue to be told. The picture, taken today, is to celebrate my 64th birthday and that I'm still here to enjoy it!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Now you've gone too far ....








Listen, you can keep your offshore account,
The ‘well-earned’ bonuses you flaunt,
The upper class tarts you mount,
The media empire that you own,
Your eminence grise behind the throne,
Your god given right to rant, rave and moan,
All the judges that you’ve bought and sold,
The Swiss banks that keep you out of the cold,
The teams of surgeons paid to prevent your growing old,
Your mansions in the country, your penthouse flat,
Your Bollinger, foie gras, your rolls of fat,
Safe seat in the Commons, where you’re seldom sat.
Pay attention, you toffee-nosed Tory twat,
I can take all kinds of crap, but not that.
Don’t dare come between us, me and my cat.

This is the extract from Theresa May's speech to the Tory Party Conference
"We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here. The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat."

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Nightfall









Draw near my faithful friend.
Come take my jewelled words.
Their journey nears an end.
The forest throngs with silent birds.

Follow the path, across the hill.
There is no other you can take.
Climb up where the air is still,
High above the shimmering lake.

Follow the kestrel’s sun red wings.
They’ll lead you to the water’s edge.
Tread carefully as he brings
You down to cool slate ledge.

Then swing back your mighty arm.
Aim as you sense my heart begin to swell.
Aim at the centre of the calm
When that moment comes, only you can tell.

Jewels cast away no longer charm..
No need to mark their hiding place.
Now watch a skin of ice begin to form
Memories of a once familiar face.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Ultimate Quiz















The noose is tightening.
It’s stolen my voice away.
Reduced to a feeble whisper,
But with so much left to say.

So many awkward questions
And only one answer,
So don’t go away.
The answers will not change,
However much you pray.

Q1. Which modern nation state justified
its existence on the graves of six million who died?

Q2. Which modern nation state came into being
with its own deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing?

Q3. Which modern nation state constantly expands
its boundaries, either by military conquest,
or the illegal settlement of occupied lands?

Q4. Which modern nation state brings to the feast
the largest arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons in the entire Middle East?

Q5. Which modern nation state, in its own cause,
employs extra judicial execution and kidnapping
of opponents, wherever they seek refuge,
in defiance of all international laws?

Q6. Which modern nation state
routinely imprisons tens of thousands
without charge or trial?
The world stands idle all the while.

Q7. Which modern nation state openly abuses
internationally banned weaponry
against dense civilian populations?
Who needs excuses?

Q8. The leaders of which modern nation state,
since the day of its foundation,
have all been members of violent terrorist organisation,
or personally involved in the most brutal massacres.
Where do we hear a word of condemnation?

Q9. Which modern nation state, alone, defies
the laws of Economics with
a permanent balance of trade deficit?
while we must scrabble to make ends meet,
they get money manna from a bottomless pit.

Q10. Which modern nation state, my brother,
is in defiance of more UN resolutions
than any other?

How have you scored on this one track quiz?
Do you even care what the answer is?
Do you dare to leave us all alone,
or will you join with us to tear it down.
stone by bloody stone?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Insomnia











Midnight on the bare mountain,
pressing flesh into stone,
seeking shelter from the wind
that slices to the bone,
facing down my fears
until the demon’s done.

Mid-day/night in anonymous cell.
The light always bright in my eyes,
so who can tell? I count the scratches
on the bloody wall, the ones that mark
each blow that landed, each time I fell,
each time you dragged me up, the smell
of your sweat, my fear now,
waiting for your footsteps’ warning fall,
running finger tips over cuts and grazes,
feeling bruises bloom and swell.

Midnight on the king-size bed,
Plenty room to toss and burn,
Time enough and more to listen
To the slow wheel’s turn.

For all Palestinians imprisoned ( the majority without trial ) by the Zionist state.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recycled










What becomes
Of all the fragments, imagery,
Witticisms, bon mots,
Which never make it
To the final page?

Follow this path,
Down to the beach
And if you search,
You will find some,
Carelessly dropped on all sides,
Clinging to the marram,
Sliding away beneath your bare feet,
Dervishing in the distance,
Where the skeletal silhouette
Of a wrecked poem juts
Defiantly.

Later,
You will discover them gritty
Under your tongue and teeth,
In your cheese sandwich,
Filling every pocket, fold,
Shaken out of your hair,
Mocking you from the car boot.

Be warned -
Where lost ideas abound,
Most surely lowly scavengers are found.

Watch that run down poet, word prospector
Trawl the bay with shiny metaphor detector,
Desperate for the tell-tale ping,
The signal that the King’s lost ring
Lies just a trowel’s depth away.
Not the tenth easy open end, another fruitless day.

Spare us the sight of redundant Wapping hack,
Mounted proud on JCB’s bucking back,
Building a mighty heap of sand,
Ready for his slovenly hand
To fashion a mighty castle in the air,
So the gullible might gawp and stare,
Wonder what he’ll conjure next
After the battlements, cans, Castlemaine XXXX.

It is a mercy
That the wind and waves,
Not knowing who or what we are,
What we have achieved or,
What wonders we have seen,
Combine come end of day
To scour the ravaged mindscape clean.



Thursday, September 08, 2011

Silence









I cannot speak of it.

My mouth is stopped.
A finger pressed a button.
A bomb dropped.

White phosphorous lit up the place,
which used to be our home.
The flesh fell from my face.

My bones reduced to dust,
inseparable from stones,
blood boiled black as rust..

No cameras rushed here to record.
This grave is unremarkable.
Of what happened here, not one word

was written. No testimony was heard.
Just another day in this prison city.
Nothing extraordinary occurred.

Tomorrow, the bomber will return.
The button will be pushed again.
Someone else’s turn to burn.

They too will have no voice,
unless you choose to speak for us.
The time has come to make your choice.

The last two poems should be read as a pair. They are not mutually exclusive, but‘Silence’ is a counterweight to the understandable emotions of a 9/11 relative in ‘Denial‘. It is a human response with which we empathise. The tragedy is that in terms of public awareness, Gaza barely registers on the public psyche and ‘Silence’ sets out to put this right.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Denial












I will not speak of it.

That will make it true.
My words will give form
to your hands, as your reach out
for me. I will feel your warm
breath on my skin. Your voice
will ring in my ears. Keep calm.
Take your time. I will hear you
laughing at my fear.

I could dream the months
of waiting away. Would you return
in the shape of strident knocking
on our front door, a plain,
buff envelope flopping onto the hall floor,
the hint of a footfall?

While the images spool
round and round, we watch
the impact, hear no sound,
towers crumble to the ground,
rise up once more,
then crash back down.

I will not see the uniform, his face,
Or sense his stumbling words
Numb in my ears. A body
Will not be found. That time
Will not come.

I will not speak of it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Family Values














Sing a song of speculators
Buying up all the gold,
Bright young boys of Bullingdon
Your futures we have sold.
No thoughts for our pensions,
No fears of growing old,
Insulated from real life,
Protected from the cold,
What we inherit at our birth,
We will always hold,
As we fill out the orders
And you do what you’re told.

Sing a song of currencies,
Pockets full of holes,
In the City digging,
Like demented moles
Bunkers by the dozen,
Bolt holes, far and wide.
You’re too busy paying,
Being taken for a ride.
The poor are getting poorer.
The rich are growing fat.
Please put all your savings
In the failed banker’s hat.

Quite a day today. First of all, the Postie brought me a Paul Simon CD, ‘So Beautiful or So What’, which came from Fellow writer, Beryl Henshaw. Then brother-in-law, Chris and partner Fred(erika) arrived from Edinburgh bearing poetry - ‘A Rose Loupt Out’ commemorates the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Occupation 40 years ago, in song and poetry and beautiful illustrations; ‘Strangely Happy’ is Anna Crowe’s excellent translation of the Catalan poet Joan Margarit, wonderful, passionate. Ah bliss!
3rd September.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dancing Doves










Leaf shimmer,
bough quiver,
seed scatter,
sunlight splatter,
frenzied wing flurry,
claw and beak scurry.

A stoop away, the hawk eye
fixes and then
the slate drops from the sky.

Feathers skatted,
blood matted,
an anvil’s stone face
fused with gut and bone.
All but one have flown.
Cruel claw rules alone.

A glide away,
not far for the saved to stray,
without a backward glance,
the doves resume their dance.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bright Stones












River racing, foam flecked
down the valley, speckled
sun bursts, shivers of light,
a gurgling arm’s length,
kaleidoscopic touch away.

Out of the ecstatic chaos
a pool, still as glass, revealed
a glistening hoard of stones,
a personal treasure trove,
no one else had ever seen.

One sleeve roll later,
a freezing plunge unveiled
a handful of smooth, round
shapes glistening in my palm,
rich beyond my wildest dreams.

As if a cloud passed overhead,
their lights faded, colours paled.
They lay there dull as mud,
bloodless. Yet, in spite of it,
the vision of what had been,
could be conjured again,
would not melt away.

I felt their warmth press
against my thigh. I heard
my bright stones sing. I felt
their secret glow.

‘What pretty stones!’ my mother lied.
‘Here’s a tin to keep them in,’
she sighed, but I insisted
on the bone-white bowl
centred on my window sill,
knowing if my will
was strong enough,
the magic lingered still.

Cupped in my hand,
cold tap full on,
they flickered, coats
of lacquer failed to lustre,
licks of paint gave way
to dust and disappointment.

‘Look Dad! Look!’
I wake with a start.
another tiny hand
is reaching out.
My daughter dipping
through the mirror,
plucking out a handful
of bright stones.
‘What pretty stones!’
Words echo down the years,
but how can I explain
this sudden surge of tears.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Juice of Joy











Let’s get going, the time has come
To scatter caution to the winds,
So stamp your feet and beat the drum,
Let loose your hair, cast off your skins.
Who cares should they choose to sum,
At this late hour, the total of our sins.

Pass the golden cup from left to right.
Dance around the devil and his coins.
Dance the dervish out of sight.
Dance the fever from your loins.
Dance away the longest night.
Dance to make the last links join.

Sing until it seems your lungs must burst.
Then sing and sing again until
You’re forced to stop to slake your thirst.
Then sing again just for the thrill
Of singing with the blessed, the cursed,
Those who sing no matter what their masters will.

Fire your A.K.s in the air.
Stamp upon the monster’s face.
Drive the ogre from its lair.
Fire your rockets into space
And if your brother asks you where
We’re going - point straight ahead to Martyr’s Square.

Around your head a flowery ring,
Across your face a seamless smile,
Together to that place we’ll bring
No bitterness or bile,
For this is what it means, this spring,
Joy after joy, mile after mile.

We none of us know how it will end, but if only we could bottle some of the exhilaration!
The title of the poem was suggested in a translation of a word in southern Indian dialect by Rhagu Dixit interviewed by Mary Ann Kennedy on last week’s ‘Global Gathering’. 'The juice of joy' described the feeling that should be shared by a musician and an audience.

PS Health update. As you can see I'm still writing. Things are pretty much the same and though my lack of mobility is v. frustrating, I am comfortable otherwise and in good spirits. Kath is performing wonders to see that I am well cared for and many thanks to the constant stream of friends who come to visit. Have also discovered the benefits of Skype where you may find me under rejgoch.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Walkabout ( a treatment )










Preamble

sup?
cam whlane 2morrow am spec 2 cu
FNO!

Last night’s delirious, the curious,
the furious form knots on the pavement,
in between the rubble and the smouldering
ashes. Already the suits are mingling,
smiling, sifting. Here a photo op. There
a vox pop. This one’s a resonant voice.
This is your mark and this your cue. Watch
us. We’ll show you what to do.

Across the road, on the other side
of the great divide, the nutters
and protestors safely penned.

Action

He’s left the bullet-proof car behind today,
that is to say, it’s trailing in the rear,
well out of camera shot.

Around him a phalanx of TV cameras
and security men mark his progress
along a pre-planned route.

At appointed points the testudo halts
allowing him to emerge for the benefit
of the lenses, wearing his grave face.

Here to glad hand he who wants to slash benefits,
withdraw social housing, introduce
national service and compulsory de-lousing.

Here to hold the quivering fingers
of the ruined pawn shop owner,
pledge he’ll help rebuild the place.

He’s a natural. Such a good listener.
Nods in all the right spaces. Looks
the camera straight in the lie.

Finish with the fireman, a hero,
a sacrificial offering, whose story
guarantees a tearful eye.

Aftermath

Job done. Whisked away. En route
To the next location.

A grey-haired biddie asks,‘What’s going on?’
She’d blinked, missed all the fun.
‘It was the PM, come to show support.’
‘I’m not the only one who’s too late then.’

This is a well-thumbed script. For PM you can substitute
Mayor, Home Secretary, Leader of the Opposition or any
number of candidates. Am I being cynical? Watch the
news. Apply the script. Judge for yourselves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Father of the Nation










No frenzied lashing out, demand
For vengeance, pointing finger,
No tearing apart, rushing to
Judgement. No smart sound bite.

Instead, a firm, steadying hand,
A warm embrace draws us all
Together. A song from the heart.
In place of blindness, sight.

A soft voice, in command,
Soaring way above the storm,
Swaddles us in the eye of his calm,
Glorious sunrise after darkest night.

He is the breathing of the land,
The pulse within. He is the cool breeze
to come. He is no one. He is everyone.
He is the light.

Hallelujah! We have a real Poet Laureate. If you haven't read Carol Ann Duffy's piece on Birmingham, look it up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A poem for REJ - Simon Eilbeck












Wastwater Lake: the water smooth
The hills inverted in its glass
Eyes scan the shore, seeking perfection
Settling for not bad - a stone
Flat, almost round, rough around an edge or two
Good enough.

Squinting into the sun, knees bent
Hand level with the water line
The stone pulled back like a drawn arrow
A breath, then release

The pebble flies in silence
Kisses he water and - yes! - on it goes
The glass ripples, hills distort
The pebble skips the water again
Ripples undulate and expand
The sky trembles in the lake’s image
The stone skips on
The ripples radiate and begin to collide
Rhythms syncopate and multiply
The water dances

A smile eases its way across a face
A laugh escapes - “Good enough!”
The water calms, the hills and sky return
Brighter, more vivid than before.

Thanks to Simon - a single memory of a moment many years ago, now brought to life just when I need it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Invisible Man









He wants to wear a uniform.
Make him stand naked in the dock.

He wants the world to know his face.
Fix an iron mask in its place.

He wants you to remember his name.
Give him a number instead.

He wants the spotlight of celebrity.
Pin him with the searchlight of infamy.

He wants the oxygen of publicity.
Give him the Zyklon B of anonymity.

He wants to explain what he did.
Give him four blank walls to talk to.

He wishes to be considered unique.
Solitary then, one cell, one freak.

And should he tire one day and beg a lethal drink,
Offer him water and even more time to think.

For him no gruesome martyr’s shrine,
Ashes cast among the ignorant swine.

You cannot debate with a man carrying a semi-automatic.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fundamentalism
















Which element of the Christ myth
inspired him to stride out firing
from the hip? The parable
of the sower spreading cartridge cases
instead of seed, planting an island of corpses
in place of the stony field? The example
of the Good Samaritan who finds it
justifiable to put the victim of thieves
to death, rather than tend his wounds?
The guest at the wedding feast who amused
himself transforming wine into blood?
Blessed are the gunmen!
It is easier for the meek to inherit
the Kingdom of Heaven with a squeeze
of a trigger? Love thy neighbour
with a single shot to the head? Suffer
little children ….?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Downing Street - Heathcote Williams












‘So now we are going over to Downing Street,’
Says a TV front man, ‘for their reaction.’
Though no one, in fact, goes anywhere at all.
The TV audience remains just where it is.


A Number Ten spokesperson then reads a prepared statement
Upon which the commentariat duly comments.
A fanfare of false hopes plays out, only to fade upon the wind,
For the building itself has betrayal in its fabric.


Sir George Downing, Oliver Cromwell’s spy, changed sides
At the first indication of Charles II’s restoration
Then proceeded to track down his old colleagues, the regicides,
And had them all arrested and taken to the Tower.


For having had his former friends hanged, drawn and quartered
Downing was rewarded with some lush acres in Whitehall
Upon which he erected several rows of gimcrack buildings,
Which the cunning Downing would rent out at high prices.


***

History’s CCTV cameras swivel away from the past to the present
Catching each new PM saying, on entering Downing Street,
‘I’m grateful to the British public for the trust it’s placed in me’
Only to exit as treacherous failures with burgeoning pockets.

Monday, July 18, 2011

News from Limerick










A red-head who runs a red top
Ought to know just when to stop
Smearing and lying,
Intrusive prying,
Phone hacking and bribing of cops.

Enter bold Knacker of the Yard,
But he didn’t search very hard,
Claimed when he got there,
News Corps’ cupboard was bare,
So the IPCC marked his card.

A grasping old fart from Down Under
Spent a lifetime amassing much plunder.
When answers were wanted
He let rip or ranted,
And followed up with a ripe chunder.

The PM, a public school fop
Despaired as his ratings went flop,
Where’s all the glory
The news is all gory
And this champagne just tastes like pop. Oh dear!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On your wedding









When the seed is planted, no one knows,
For sure, if good will come of it, but
Still we fuss and tend in hope and then
The miracle takes root again. We see,
That out of love, love surely grows.

The ground may seem rough. The snows
And the frost may come, yet somewhere,
Below the surface, a secret comes to life,
Though fires rage above, it thrives,
That love from whence all love flows.

Though, all around, a gathering of crows
Bodes ill, through their raucous voices
We still hear the softer one. Above them all,
The dove soars high which bears the seed, so
That out of love, love surely grows.

A very happy posting!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

News Corpse








He first saw them coming,
way into the distance,
a party of men, a cart, a horse
on the shoulder of the hill,
walking the old corpse road.

He felt a strange foreboding.

So much so, that he insisted
there and then the doctors should
remove his right arm, so
there could be no chance
of the infection spreading.

The party on the corpse road kept coming.

His legal team drew up a covenant
with God willingly surrendering
his most cherished dreams,
in order to save his own neck.

And still they advanced.

In desperation, one by one, he gave up
his closest associates, his friends,
his own dear son.

And still they came.

He could almost make out their faces now
and the proud, black horse
and the cart with the coffin.

Steadily drawing closer.

He caught a glimpse
of his own reflection, sagging
flesh, a rictus grin splitting
his face, no light in the eyes.

And closer.

Finally, even his own paid household
went out with false messages, the death,
the whole world knew, was in the next
village. They had been misinformed.

They stopped outside his door.

He heard the black horse snort
impatient. He heard the wheels
of the cart creaking. He heard
footsteps on the cobbles.

Coming inside.

He would have been proud
of the coffin crafted from the finest wood,
its gleaming handles, the brass plate engraved ….

Rupert Murdoch, once thought of
as the most powerful man on earth,
now, like all men, food for
a democracy of worms.

This poem started with the title, News Corp mutating into ‘News Corpse’. Then I dredged up, from my own memory, walking a corpse road in Cumbria. I then flipped back to images of Murdoch in the back of a limo with that fixed smile on his face as it all went down the pan for him, a pathetic old man clinging desperately on to power. It occurred to me as the poem took shape, that some readers would start by thinking that I was writing about someone else and that the last stanza would be a bit of a twist. The question then was, should I inflict my macabre sense of humour on you?

PS. I’m doing fine. In fact, every news bulletin, seems to lift me no end at the moment. Can’t think why.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birth of a Nation









A new country has been born. Ra!
New lines have been drawn in the sand. Ra!
A brave new flag has been designed. Ra!
Already the generals have aligned their forces. Ra!
Streams of foreign dignitaries jet in. Ra!
The choreography of ceremonials begin. Ra!
The brass bands make their play. Ra!
Politicians line up to have their say. Ra!
Fireworks rip up the sky. Ra!
Polite applause, away the visitors all fly. Ra!

A new tented city has grown.
Long queues stretch into the dust.
Sticklike figures shuffle through the ooze
Of open sewers. At the end of the line
A handful of maize, a cupful of water
To gratefully toast the new day in.
Almost lost in cacophony, a thin scream
Emerges. A young mother gives birth.
Two men with shovels prepare
The cradle where soon her stillborn son
Will be swaddled in Mother Earth.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Headline News










NAUGHTY NEWSHOUND NICKED!
EYES DOWN EXIT EDITORS!
WAPPING W--KERS WHOPPED!
SO LONG SADDO SCRIBBLERS

OUT! OUT! OUT!
FECKING OUTFOXED!

TARRA TAT RATS!
HAMMER HOUSE OF HACKERS!
END OF AN EARA!

WE WOZ WUMBLED!
OZ WIZARDS OFFED!
ROTTEN WRITERS RAPPED!
LOONY LEFTY DIES LARFING!
DOLE INVADERS DOOM!

We at the NOTW say
When a ship splits at the seams
The men ( and woman ) on the bridge
Must carry the can.
Rebecca Wade’s hands were on the wheel
When the crew ran amok
And the ship struck a rock.
She must be first to walk the plank.
Hey! James Murdoch
When your star editor shows
She couldn’t manage a chip shop,
You don’t promote her.
James, you’re fired!
Mega boss, Murdoch, you’re only as good
As the men ( and woman ) you choose
To steer your ship for you.
Take over BSkyB?
You must be ‘avin a larf!
Rupert - it’s time
To go walkabout, mate.

PS Don’t think we’ve forgotten
The rest of you journos.
We’re coming for your jobs!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Regevelations











I’ve just come down from the mountain,
where I went to commune on my own.
What I learnt when I climbed to the summit
is here on these tablets of stone.

You know of the old ten commandments,
the rules on how not to sin,
well forget whatever they told you,
stick the old rules straight in the bin.

Start with the fact that you’re chosen.
No one else got the slightest look in,
so logic dictates, when deciding their fates,
it is always you who should win.

Ignore all the guff on false witness,
the truth is not worth one fig.
Goebbels hit on the right idea -
if you’re going to lie - lie big.

And once you start lying, keep lying.
Convince the whole world you are right.
You’ll soon have them all believing
it’s day when it’s actually night.

It’s not wrong to covet your neighbour’s ass,
nor the ass of your neighbour’s young wife.
Take what you want, whenever you want,
if need be, at the point of a knife.

Take his home. Take his land. Take his water.
There’s nothing to stop you I say.
According to this proclamation,
what’s his is yours anyway.

Once you’re armed to the teeth, you’re almighty.
There’s no one can resist your plan.
Just remember to pose as a victim.
Try hard to look humble, if you can.

The question of killing is simple.
It’s fine in multiples of ten.
Then, should they choose to resist you,
then decimate again and again.

The laws made by all other nations
Are hereby declared null and void.
Lessons learnt over thousands of years
Consumed in the flames and destroyed.

I am the archest of all angels.
I speak with the voice of a god.
Let the world’s press bow down before me.
Now, write what I say when I nod.

Amen.




Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Five come down to Devon View Ho.














Four battered wheelchairs standing in a row,
all facing westward, nowhere to go,
four bent figures, “Poor old so and sos,”
a carer whispers in your ear, “They were famous once you know.”

Sir Julian, tired diplomat, sucking on his thumb,
picking at his nose, scratching his bum,
eyes staring out to sea, mind half numb,
wondering to himself, “When will the others come?”

Medals tinkling gently, mad Major Dick
beats at the world with a walking stick,
beard and cardie thick with streams of sick,
curses and roars, gives the world another kick,

Gentle, loving, sweet sister Anne
searches in her mind for an old, copper pan.
She’ll fill it with ripe berries, as soon as she can
remember mother’s recipe for confused fruit jam.

Mistress George, still fire in one eye,
glares at her reflection asks what, when, why
am I sitting here and who the fuck am I?
Rages at the setting sun and the vanishing sky.

Do you remember as a child the overwhelming thrill,
watching them drive a caravan to the top of the hill.
They could go where they wanted, do what they willed.
Look at them now. It’s in there somewhere still.

Timmy died happy, mad as a hatter,
chasing rabbits in a field, didn’t see sheep scatter,
never felt the shotgun pellets mercifully shatter
the last of our heroes into darkest matter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Borderlands








When they cut the electricity, the
doctor came to us. It’s time for you to
leave. He should have taken his own advice.
That’s him hanging there, a message for all
of us to see, standing here, across an
imaginary line, watching our homes
from this hilltop. I can see my own house,
there next to the tank and the APCs,
a barracks now, where an officer stands,
his field glasses gloating, fixed on me.

From my side of the line, I can thumb my
nose at the world, turn somersaults in the
sand, observe the soldiers begin to pull
out, the tanks plough down olive groves, the first
tongues of flame at the windows of my home.
It’s a curious kind of freedom. The
officer perched on the last APC,
gives a triumphant, derisive wave which
leaves me wondering. Which one of us is
really free, and which one chokes like a slave?

The quacks have spoken. An operation would kill me, so I just have to see this out. No time scale possible, but I don't think it will be long. Quite calm. Comfortable. Surrounded by a barricade of family, comrades and dear friends. I will squeeze every last drop while I can.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dying’s Annoying - Heathcote Williams












Dying’s annoying.
You’re enjoying the party
Then you have to leave.

You can ignore it
But death can be insistent.
Here are some options:

‘Do not go gentle
Into that good night’. Meaning?
Shout on your death-bed?

They’d tranquillize you.
…Try to sublimate your fear
Of death by killing?

Soldiers enjoy this
But it’s counterproductive
To keep cloning death.

Here’s an old stand-by:
‘I believe God will solve it
I won’t really die.’

Well, some grief-stricken
Wishful thinking on gravestones
Isn’t really proof.

Alternatively,
Your last hope of life is to
Apply to this club:

The 120 club.
No need to change your life-style
In any fashion.

All its rules are lax.
No one minds if you die
At 117.

As soon as you join
Just say: “I’m not going to die”
Adding, “So far, so good”.

But, should you cave in,
Get up and hide your body
So no one finds it.

Here's one from Heathcote which made me chortle. On the more serious side the next convoy to Gaza is setting off and I will follow it's progress as if I was on it, which, in spirit I will be.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brian Haw













He did not die. He is not dead.
The words written on his banners
Ring round and round our heads.

Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan,
Raise your voices whenever you can,
Two million strong, or just one man.

Bloody minded, awkward cuss,
Patron saint of making fuss,
He stood for the best in us.

Bombs and children do not mix.
Landmines maim. Napalm sticks.
Dealing in arms just makes you sick.

He dragged our conscience to the Square.
Against all odds, he kept it there,
Fluttering bravely in the cold night air.

All hacks agreed, the camp an eyesore.
He kept adding more and more
Reasons for resisting war.

The antithesis of liar,
Bedraggled nemesis of Bliar,
Not for sale, nor for hire!

Occupation? General strike?
His is what democracy looks like.
Brian Haw, people’s mike.

Through wind and rain,
Through storms of pain,
He stood strong, again and again.

Though tyrants rule and streets run red,
We will follow where he has lead.
He did not die. He is not dead.

Living on the very edge is doing wonders for my creative imagination!





Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cat Walk














First, tap-tapping down the aisle
Comes Miss Uzi, efficiency and style,
The perfect little black number, neat,
Suitable for all occasions.
See how she has them
Falling at her feet.

So sleek, so svelte,
The shapely Stealth,
All clean lines, made to blend
And yet, when she has come and gone,
Her impact is impossible to forget,
The shape of things to come.

If you like your models brash
And in your face, here’s Cobra.
What she lacks in grace
She shows in power, sweeping in
Below your expectations, no frills,
No subtlety from the start.
Thump, thump goes another heart.

Retro is chic. Anatoly’s design
Has a special spot in any collection,
A by-word for economy,
Your off-the-peg, over the shoulder selection,
Mass produced, the working girl’s choice.
No need for a designer label
When it comes to dress code
AK47 stands the test of time.

Behind the scenes, after the show,
Uniformed workers bustle to and fro,
Sweeping away redundant trash.
Somewhere, safely out of sight,
Grey accountants add up all the cash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homecoming














Dawn cracked wide the curtains.
Down slated silver rain.
Like that first October,
Snaking into Swansea on the last train.

Past Margam’s sea of fire,
Valleys piled higher and higher
With yellow copper spoil
And molten black slag,

Mumbles, winking in the dark,
Constitution Hill, Paradise Park,
The bay disguised by shimmering foil,
Morris Castle, lowering from the crag.

This is where the Mumbles Road was blocked,
St. Helen’s, where the ‘Boks were stopped.
In Singleton, Wales once played Palestine.
Here formed the last NUM picket line.

From their embrace there is no escaping.
This was the crucible from which knowledge poured,
Who to love and what to despise,
How to extract even one solid nugget of truth
From the endless, polluted stream of lies.
This was the place for forging and shaping.


No further news from the battle front.

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Embarrassment of Dragons














Scales like leathern bricks
The mighty dragon sits
Amidst the debris where she thinks
Of times long gone
And times to come.

Red slit eyes take in the ridge,
The shattered banks, the burning bridge,
A steeple leaning at an insane angle,
The smouldering matchwood tangle,
Where even now black ants swarm,
Delirious, oblivious of the storm
Of her stinking, fiery breath.

Slowly a horned tail lifts.
The immoveable weight shifts.
Scorched earth trembles.
Streams of ants assemble
In the shadow of this awesome one.
Which way to turn? Which way to run?
The scaley swishes from side to side,
Instruments of instant insecticide.

In the next grey green valley,
Another citadel of ants continues to insist
The rumours of impending doom
are quite ridiculous, for dragons
Simply do not exist.
Life goes on. New towers rise.
No one has time to watch the skies
For the beating of mythical wings
And wonder why an approaching dragon sings.

In my addled youth,
I fancied myself a dragon slayer,
Set about the known world with a will,
Armed with my own words and an ancient prayer,
Searching high and low for dragons to kill.
Now, any dolt knows the simple truth,
Before the fall comes bloated pride,
So I never foresaw the one that did for me,
The dragon growing silently inside.

Dear friends and comrades - the time has come for goodbyes. If you want to meet for a final hug and smile, you'd better make it quick!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guy Fawkes' Lantern - Heathcote Williams



















Guy Fawkes’ lantern
Is a surreptitious
Point of pilgrimage
For anonymous
Armies of anarchists who
Visit the glass case
Where it is preserved
In the Ashmolean
Museum, Oxford.

‘What if?’ they wonder,
‘What if Guy Fawkes had done it?
‘Had done the business –
‘For what’s changed?’ they ask,
‘Kings and Parliaments spend tax
‘On wars no one wants.
‘There’s still a Monarch,
‘Most of whose Parliament
‘Is unelected.

‘Twenty-six Bishops
‘From the national religion
‘Sit there as of right –
‘Their Invisible
‘Sky Wizard favoring them
‘Over other cults,
‘And eight hundred Lords
‘Outnumber them all, making
‘Voting meaningless.’

Boisterous voices
Then frighten the life out of
Japanese tourists:
‘Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow.’



A 3rd poem from Heathcote Williams, as promised. This is also a new improved version.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On opening Pandora's Ballot Box













That wiped the smug smile off your face.
Gone self-satisfaction and in its place,
each time the facade starts to slip,
we see clear evidence of your curling lip.

Having scrambled to the summit, surveyed all the land,
chaos, confusion was hardly your plan,
promises written in smoke spanned the skies
then dispersed to lay bare the expanse of your lies.

Exposed as a fall guy, a frail man of straw,
doomed to oblivion, wielding power no more,
wrapped in an old blanket in a darkened, dank room,
reviewing old videos in the gathering gloom.

Fresh faced, bright eyed, this season's New Look,
less than a year was all that it took
for the make up to fade and reveal faded glory.
No more dashing Young Liberal, same old cynical Tory.

Never has a betrayed electorate wielded vengeance more swiftly and decisively!

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden: Snuff Films at the White House - Heathcote Williams












“Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.”


J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord Of the Rings, Book Four, Chapter One

The US President
And his Secretary of State
Are watching snuff films.

US Navy Seals
Line up their chosen victims
Then kill them, one by one.

On a Seal’s helmet,
There’s a hidden camera
So that images


Of those they’re killing
Are fed back by satellite
To a viewing room

Inside the White House
Where the US Navy Seals’
Performance is judged

By the President.
Sheikh Osama bin Laden
Topples. Blood squirting.

The great and the good
Watch intently. Savoring
This death-orgasm –

This buzz the powerful
Get when causing death, claiming
That they’re still human.

When the audience
Has had its fun, the body
Is dropped into the sea.

Rhythmical cheering
Strikes up. ‘USA! USA!’
‘God loves the USA!’


‘The greatest country
‘In the history of the world!’
‘High fives all around.’

The US Emperor,
The first black President,
Who’s ironically

Invaded Africa:
Libya, Somalia, Sudan,
As well as Asia


Can’t stop himself there:
Just as all schoolboys enjoy
Pulling wings off flies,

A lens is focused
To watch trophy death-throes
Of an enemy.

As in ancient Rome,
Where crowds bayed for blood and death,
There’s ecstatic applause.

The rule of law’s absent:
No one’s captured. Or tried.
The victim’s unarmed.

‘Let’s watch someone die!’
The White House equips itself
For a voyeur’s crime –

‘Kill all his women!’
‘Wave to the White House, baby,
‘We’re filming your last breath!’

‘Hate our freedoms, huh?
‘Hate our Right to Happiness? –
‘We’ll jerk off while you croak.’

A box of Kleenex
Appears. Each takes a tissue
To wipe away tears.

They miss Osama,
For now they will have to think
Of more enemies –

Invaluable to
The war economy
Of the USA.

Thank you Heathcote!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Eyes of Gaza - Heathcote Williams



Ariel Sharon’s
Body’s been in a coma
Lasting for five years.

Hell’s gates are narrow.
Until he can fit through them,
He must wait his turn.

Here are some haiku
For an old war criminal
With no IQ left.

If they’re read loudly,
At a million decibels,
He may register

The hatred that all
Killers attract – however
Right they think they’ve been.

The sonic blast could
Open hell so his huge corpse
May squeeze through at last.

The Palestinians
Killed by Ariel Sharon
In the Sabra camp

And in Shatila,
While he floodlit their dwellings,
Could watch him shoved in.

Two thousand could watch,
With those killed in Quibiya –
Forty-eight mowed down

By Sharon’s death squads –
They could peer from a distance
To see his trapped soul,

Squirming and heaving,
Snarled up in tubes. Then others,
Who lived in Gaza

And had their houses
Knocked down by him, burying
Them alive, could watch.

His ‘Operation
Peace In Galilee’ would kill
Eighteen thousand more.

They too might be drawn
To study their tormentor’s
Final solution:

He breathes without help,
But otherwise it’s clear that
There is no one there.

There has to be a price
When you’ve turned someone into
No-one so often.

Like the wall he built
To divide a Semitic
People – he’s cut off.

Like the olive trees
On others’ land he uprooted,
He is now barren –

He can’t produce fruit.
After years without listening,
He no longer speaks.

He ordered triggers
To be pulled in targeted
Assassinations

In the Gaza Strip.
Now he’s unable to move
A single digit.

Having caged people
In Gaza’s ghetto, he lies
In a living tomb.

Opened my e mails this morning and was delighted to find that Heathcote Williams had sent me the above and even more delighted when he agreed to allow it as a guest post!