I Am Here

Some hours,

Several lifetimes away, it seems,

Metalled dancers will hang on to dragonets

That must spit, snarl, duel and – gods-be-kind –

Finish with flourishes.

I am here; this is now. Dark November

I lean back in chair-that-will-be-burned,

Stare up till focus be lost, through the

Sweet branches of my life at

Pretty, temporary sparks that

Bomb and crayon these seconds.

Beyond are the true stars that may

No longer be there.

Around me, beyond my control,

Outside my bubble

Families grow up, Taking their leaves,

Their responsibilities.

Despite the distances I love them still.

Bored Room Meeting …

Asked the question, you

Screw up your red-cheeked face

In a chimpanzee

friendship-confirming grimace,

Wave a dying-fish gesture at

Paper-strewn tabletop,

Offer, limply:

“We’ll come to that point –

In a moment …”

Behind you, your colleague

Removes bent-framed glasses,

Wrestles with and

Finally opens an

Obstinate window.

Thank God!

I needed that distraction:

That distraction and

the air!

Absent Friends.

Ghosts will come if you stand by an autumn bonfire. They will slip along the edges of your perceptions – those you know that you have and the others – and stand, just beyond touching distance behind your shoulder. It is not alarming; they are friendly now as they have always been. While the flames do their burning thing: throwing sparks at the sky trapped stars and smoke to the winds. Crayon the lawn, the hedges, the walls of the wash house in blazes of shifting colour and darknesses. Warm the side of you that is turned towards it, while the turned away half gets colder.

And it is not that the ghosts are summoned by the fire. It has absolutely no power over them. Maybe they do not even notice the flames and shadows that turn and twist: who knows? If it helps you can believe they are called by your memories (though this is not the case). And they are not just in your imagination: you are really not that good!

But, to keep them there,  you have to concentrate on the flames, the heart of the burning. Glance them only from the corners of your eyes, at the edges of your understanding, where your senses run to haze and recognise nothing other than blurred images. If you turn to look closely, fully at them, they just will not be there. As if they had never made that first approach. For they do not crave your undivided attention.

… and you cannot communicate with them. It is not important for you to do so and they cannot talk, they cannot hear and will not answer your questions. Why should they? Why would they?

But their presence, if you allow it , can be mutually reassuring. Be its own reward. You clearly need that company; why else would they come? And they too take something from the encounter. They understand that they are not neglected; that they remain unforgotten and still play a part, however small in the rituals you carry on.

That, And the Reckoning …

He’s promised to cut an autumn hedge,

Been putting it off – and he knows it –

But this is the time for the shears,

That and the reckoning. For long pendulum moments

He stands: foolish, forlorn, close to being forsaken,

A million and more Perdition Highway miles

From being forgiven. The truth settles closer,

Like a must-wear shroud.

His fingers, fumbling in the act of

Bringing Lucifer to one more forbidden fag

Falter and shake: no boat for him,

That was just chewing smoke.

But he has reality’s answers to seek,

Before the tendrils of insidious truth,

Of Hallowe’en mist strangle the colours

From All Soul’s Michaelmas daisies

And the fallen clock sundown

Summons the oyster fungus shades.

Fallen Apples

The crack of dawn bells that

Startled me from sleep were

Far bigger, more alarming

Than they needed to be;

But set me on a mission:

Could I revisit my younger days?

A fox cub, sniffing fallen apples

Couldn’t understand; the

Stag nowhere to be seen,

Though the October bronzed oak

Stood its corner proudly

In bigger, harsher stubble fields.

A part-blind pony listened patiently

But could offer only a toss of the head

And sympathy.

The lane to old education is overgrown

And a discarded Playboy lady, damp

From a night in the ditch

Failed to excite while a

Senseless robin in mist scarfed laburnum

Threw a threadbare tune at a

Bored, farmyard cat.

And the lady in the house,

Who might have helped

Was only concerned that

The hearth was cleaned again.

Glorious rising sun left me wondering:

If the butterfly could speak

To the caterpillar …

What, exactly would it say?

… and, why would the caterpillar listen anyway?

She Was Lily …

Once proud, glamourous and desired,

So surprised to have been lying there overnight,

In the hedge bottom, surrounded by fallen apples:

The very fruit of her performance, persuasion and profession;

Getting damp, sniffed around perhaps by

Curious fox cubs as she shivered;

Unused to the lack of attention and

Neglected, nay discarded, she can still show

Those false, panting last-second pouts, faintly self-damning

And wholly ridiculous in her new environment.

Too two dimensional to keep around for longer than

Lust will stand to attention;

Passed over for the latest new-big-thing fashion:

She was Lily,

Now she’s just a picture.

Coward’s Bridge ?

There’s this bridge he drives across. Certain times; certain autumn mornings. But every day, routine-driven. An ancient-wise kind of winding river passes beneath it – from left to right – as once it passed below a castle that was one of the most important buildings in the young nation.

But the world turns, the Fates sit, spinning and grinning, hatching conspiracies great and small. And, as it turns the season’s come and go; mortal succession reminders and on certain autumn mornings (just a few, mind you when conjunctions of spheres fall just so) …

On these mornings that stretch of the river to his left is powdered with a low silken mist that hovers above the surface of the silvered grey slow rolling water like the patient mithril-woven breath of paradise angels. Perfectly white mute swans glide effortlessly on the current; holding station between reeded banks and there is calm. They may still be sleeping, in that happy place where the passage of time has no place.

But the sky high to his to his right is bleeding from the roots of Hell: a sad burned orange. The thick sulphur-blood that courses in the unhappy, stricken veins of Lucifer, the thick slabs and tides filling the frames of his glasses. It overtops the ancient church tower for it was old when gods were being birthed. It is fierce-cool but relentlessly, savagely beautiful, tumbling behind and around dark, purple edged menacing clouds.

The fairy-charmed mist will not last long. Neither will those daunting, magnificent skies. The extremes will be diluted. Inevitably. Lost to damned humdrum mediocrity. Like all of the rest. The rest of everything. That is now; that ever was. A real shame, he decides, straightening up and heading onwards with decisions to be made.

Because one of these days, goddammit, he’s going to take the car keys, house keys, office keys, the key to a briefcase he binned twelve years ago and hurl them, uncaring, finished with the millstone responsibilities, over the bridge parapet. Straight down into the stately, majestic flow: startle the swans, kneel down, bow his head to the bruised skies and hungrily suck in that heat, those fumes and fury … or throw the blasted keys at the sky and, not tracking their trajectory, dive into the charmed waters and paddle towards the peace that appears to lie in that direction.

Just. See. If. He. Won’t!

But, dammit, his legs, cowardly traitors, are already carrying him away from the edge before his resolve can truly harden; before his brain can actually believe it; another day of mundane-coloured boredom needs must be endured.

Maybe tomorrow eh?