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?