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 )


cam whlane 2morrow am spec 2 cu

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.


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.


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.