Higher Authority and other poems

Three sentences (to whom it may concern).

 I know you’ll all be sorry and I thank you in advance,

But they wouldn’t stop the music and I didn’t want to dance.

We were satisfied debating whether fate was ruling choice –

and we found that we believed whichever had the louder voice –

and we agonised forever on the nature of free will;

(those who understood the question make a meal of it still);

but there never was an answer to reward the long debate,

and it didn’t seem to matter that we sat up very late,

for the only certain knowledge, when the doubts began to grow

was the only thing worth knowing was the stuff we didn’t know,

please – it isn’t that it bores me, I don’t want you thinking that –

but my frontal lobe is creaking and it’s threatening my hat.

And it won’t be easy stopping having come this far along,

(and there’s no doubt that an exit puts a person in the wrong),

and I hope it won’t be ugly, though I’m pretty sure it will;

and I trust whoever finds me won’t be violently ill;

but I’ve thought about the method – and decided what I’ll do

is vanish in the multitude – and pretty smartly, too!

 

Higher Authority.

You gave us our world and each other

To make any progress we could;

A maze with a quiz at each corner

And too many trees for the wood.

You taught us to trust and to follow –

That most of all faith was the key –

And told us that ‘solid’ was hollow.

Did you think that would matter to me?

 

You gave us a body to live in,

With a million and one moving parts;

A brain, for the taking and giving

And a spirit to master the arts.

You let it be known that you love us –

But intended to leave us be

Till we found there was something above us.

Did you think that would matter to me?

 

You asked us to fight for our country

As if it were our flesh and blood,

For the prize of a chest full of medals

And hundreds of miles of mud.

You asked me to follow the leader –

Admire his family tree

And make what I could of my fortune…

Did you think that would matter to me?

 

You gave us the will to look forwards;

An instinct to reach for the stars.

You taught us that upwards was onwards –

That we live in a cell without bars.

We watched while our children were christened

And mumbled the words, ‘let it be’,

Without any proof that you listened.

Did you think that would matter to me?

 

You asked me to care for your daughter.

You gave us a clue to the way,

With a list of the things to be taught her

And a warning of what we might pay.

It was clear from the first day we met her

That a lifetime has no guarantee;

That good doesn’t always get better.

Did you think that would matter to me?

 

I saw her running towards me.

There was life in her long brown hair;

But the pace that would bring us together

Was taken in empty air.

I heard her voice on the up-note –

Bubbling over with glee.

Real or not, it was real:

And that was what mattered to me.

 

Did you think I could walk through a fairground

With no one to ask for a ride,

Or ask when the next year would come round,

Or pull me away to one side?

I tried setting foot on the fairground,

And fancied two became three –

But I don’t know when next year will come round…

Did you want it to matter to me?

 

The Fair.

For the things I never asked you,

For the things we left unsaid,

For your little secret longings

Left undone –

For the times we could have wasted,

For the lollies half untasted,

And the stories left behind

For everyone –

For the look you used to give me

Which accepted something seen

In a part of life which none of us

Could share –

I shall save the thanks I owe you

Till it’s time to come and show you

How I held your happy hand

At Montcuq fair.

 

Seasonal Clothing.

 Comforting lightweights hanging loose on limbs

billowing on a grey and soothing wind. It might

rain but who cares? I can bounce

through the air when my clothes fit right.

 

Once, when someone asked why I don’t write poetry

I replied with a weird answer: maybe

I don’t write it for you.

You might not know: je suis bien dans la peau. 

 

Waiting for the storm.

In the heavy purple wind-whisper

of a high-summer storm

comes the rip-roaring revving

of a high-speed biker

making a fluttering black dot

across the landscape. There, he’s gone,

but the wind remains

to whisper in his passing

and the thunder gallops after him.

They call it, “l’orage”,

but it hasn’t bellowed yet;

we’re waiting.

Down come the silver lances,

leaving the ground untouched

for the billionth time.

Watch the Olivier toss its branches,

waving in defiance,

as the heavens rage above us

in the attic –

rain with an edge.

Thunder ripples,

flickers on the clouds.

The voice is deeper,

and the grumbling more profound.

 

Martians

We came from distances greater than you can imagine.

We obliterated planets and moved on closer

and closer to the sun.

When we reached Mars we were comfortable.

But we burnt it out –

Used up its water and scorched its crust.

So we moved on.

Guess where we are now.

Guess who we are.

 

Arthur’s Time

Leaves riffling in a grey wind

take me back through centuries of legend, lies and heroism,

where cowled knights canter and grinning vagabonds

make free with passers-by.

This is the Middle Ages

or even the Dark Ages a thousand years before.

So, in this grey-green world

of clashing spirits a soft humour catches me awry.

The starlings prattle and the scavengers cuck-cuck.

Cuck-cuck they go till I

could strangled them, but even so

they make me love their maker.

Bring me to Piers the Ploughman

Let me ask him what he saw in that sack-cloth cladding world.

 

The Old Guard.

Mean creases in old men’s mouths

tell us it’s not all roses when you get

to the other end.

Wilted bloom of burst blood vessels, perhaps,

where there used to be a youthful lustre.

We’re still roses, these old faces tell us.

But we don’t shine for long.

What have we looked at in our time?

It all seems so long ago, but we were there.

We didn’t reckon

on staying to watch each other fall apart;

not telling stories like old men should;

keeping it back for later,

sometime, never.

 

 Nostradamus.

Down by the horizontal sea the sun has no sharp corners,

only an echo glow to remember the day by.

A wall of cloud conceals tomorrow. We are suspended

between the one and the other. Life goes on.

The sun will blow up eventually, they say, then it won’t matter.

But I see in your eyes that you’ve not thought of that,

and you’re right not to.

It’s only dismal buggers like me who can’t spell

and think we know it all, who bother with contemplating

the inevitable.

The great exhibitionists, me and Nostradamus, get a kick

out of spoiling your day.