Still Building

Progress report - I have transferred all my poems from C-Change to this site. There would seem to have been 114 of them. In the process, I labelled them all, so all can be found via the labels (forms) links on the side panel. I have also removed them from the old site, to avoid duplicate content penalties from the search engines. I have not yet finished building the indexes of titles and first lines. I don't intend to index every poem. I'm going to index only my personal selection.

Year End Ballade

Make the best of hogmanay -
it's never easy, but we try.
Should we drink the night away
or count the seconds as they fly
towards the bells that signify
the moment we've been waiting for
when we can raise the age-old cry -
another year, another war.

Send your sons into the fray.
No need to worry. We apply
elastic combat rules that say
only civilians have to die.
Geneva's dead and buried. Why
pretend to love the rule of law?
The cynic heart can justify
another year, another war.

Refugees are boring. They
fade from the papers by and by.
If thousands die along the way
we never asked the fools to fly.
Our bombs are clean, our alibi
is ignorance, our metaphor
for death is damage; so, we buy
another year, another war.

Girls and boys, come out to ply
the evil trade we so abhor.
Our actions give our words the lie -
another year, another war.

With Coffee

Slight movement. Now your shadow on the map
blends into mine, and with the candle's rays
occluded we imagine light is scarce,
so I lean forward too. Your hair and mine,
together now, need not be recognised
as touch, and so we do not draw away.
And where your finger traces out the route
we ought to choose, your hesitation shows
that gentle contradiction from my own
might not be unforeseen. My Northern Line
meets yours at Camden Town, our fingertips
and futures touch as one, laughed in a glance
that lingers, deepens, burns from pure surprise
to find reflection in another's eyes.

A Walking Man

A walking man remembers to the lilt
of footsteps, to the rhythm of his heart
and to the warm-cool cycle of his breath -

remembers setting down a heavy pack,
misshapen by neglect, beneath an elm
with promises of "only for a while" -

remembers lightness - seems to see a child
who gathered, gathered, gathered, never knowing
encumbrance, for his spirit carried all -

remembers disillusion, and recalls
how it assailed his sedentary hours
but dared not walk for fear of melody -

and knows himself unable to express
the grace of music in the listening air.

voices

our voices know each other in a tongue
we barely understand words follow words
through turns of everyday what we have done
what we have said to whom things we have heard
ephemeral meanings floated on a stream
like paper galleys these the stuff of sense
of caveats when in a doubting time
we question why and find the answer less
than reason still an echo of the sound
prevails an intertwining of your tone
and mine your cadences my counterpoint
our rise and fall a sweeter music than
we care to name is ours our voices have
learned to transcend the dull taboos of love

Twisted Limericks

There was an old man who insisted
on writing his limericks twisted.
You'd think he was crazy
they way he resisted
convention. Perhaps he was lazy?

But give him his due. He intended
to edit them if they offended
the form vigilantes
whose venom extended
to vitriol richer than Dante's.

And though he was quirky and curious
he never resorted to spurious
asides from Nantucket.
In fact, he got furious
with culture dredged up in a bucket.

He sat, when the weather permitted,
(he knew it was wrong to say 'sitted')
perusing the ocean
while overhead flitted
(or flat?) an ecstatic commotion

of seagulls, canaries and eagles,
gorillas, hyenas and beagles
in mutual consumption
(see how he inveigles
a rhyme out of nowhere - pure gumption)

He pondered, while dining on bindhi (a
green vegetable common in India)
"Were I elocuted
I'd say it's a windiah
day than the forecasters mooted,

"but being, in my everyday parlance,
like many McPhails and Macfarlanes
un peu au nature
I'll adhere to my 'R'. Lance
the boil of pretension, McClure!"

Turn Back

Turn back the page. Turn back
and in the failing rays that fall
naked in the hall
from pale Edwardian fanlight's dust of days
unremembered, slumbered,
read again last lines, last words.

Turn back, in no-one's gaze
where pointed fingers talk of doubt
or shout accusatory glee.
They cannot see
the guilty glance that strays
to the number at the bottom of the page.

You have left them in the auditorium
where stiffened shoulders serve to ridicule
early applause
because you missed the gigue.

Turn back and trust to number once again
when sense is vain
and the phrases of the poet cloy
like honeyed sand.

On Truth

I dreamed I came into a place
where every word was true
and no-one told me this was so
but inwardly I knew.

And here I thought to garner friends
without a trace of guile
in word or deed, ingenuous souls
of bright and ready smile.

And here, I thought, will peace be found
and here corruption ends,
for business, politics and love
will share truth's dividends.

And all the people in the place
professed to like it well,
and as their every word was true
then who was I to tell?

But words were rare, and rarer still
their laughter, even in youth.
I thought, here walks the gravity
of undiluted truth.

I stopped an elder in his path
and begged of him to show
some of his people's poetry.
'It ended, long ago.

'We found it incompatible
with truth, in how it leads
to flights of fancy, fevered thoughts,
exaggerated deeds.

'In simile and metaphor
mendacious fervour grows
to blatant lie, for no-one's love
is like a red, red rose.

'There is no Ancient Mariner,
there is no Bowl of Night.
To better serve the cause of truth
'twere better not to write'.

'And Drama too?' 'The same applies',
he said, 'for logic knows
no difference between deceit
and false theatrical shows'.

And all the people in the place
professed to like this well
and thought themselves in heaven, where
I thought myself in hell.

But there was one who touched my arm
and asked, 'Where shall I find
this Bowl of Night, this red, red rose?
They echo in my mind'.

'In every human heart', I said,
reciting lines I knew
from memory, and as we talked
an understanding grew.

And still we talk. The evening wends
to morning, and the dawn
of more than day enfolds us
as a skein of mist is drawn

across the savage desert that
purports to be so wise
but falls before an honest world
of joy, and love, and lies.

Triolets

Between birdsong and dawn
Night slipped away
barefoot across the lawn.
Between birdsong and dawn
her perfume lingered on
to fade before the day.
Between birdsong and dawn
Night slipped away.

-o-

a line or two to say - I miss
your tender lips your gentle touch
(a sudden urge to tell you this)
a line or two to say I miss
your voice your eyes your laugh your kiss -
our kiss - you won't begrudge me such
a line (or two) to say I miss
your tender lips your gentle touch...

Triads

The chill of an attic by night
our breath turned to ice on the pane
raised voices that keep me awake
haunt me again.

Far out on the Firth a ship's light
the drone of a small aeroplane
the sounds sleeping brothers would make
these things remain.

Rare sunsets (the shepherd's delight)
the drip of insistent soft rain
the clatter of gulls at daybreak
joys to retain.

Travellers

No crash, no broken glass, no injury.
A mild derailment, quiet loss of power
or small mechanical catastrophe,
enough to leave us stranded for an hour,
is all I ask. The driver can explain
politely to three hundred fretting souls
how trivial the loss, how rare the gain
in marking time by Mirton-under-Moles,
at which we acquiesce, and one by one
find friends behind each dull commuting stare -
fierce devotees of Guardian and Sun
in temporary comradeship. Aware
of precious company and circumstance,
we talk, we two. There is no room to dance.

A Town Unhinged

Here is a town unhinged. A town possessed
by little things. The naming of a space,
the sacred right of sheep to safely grace
the common, split infinitives - the test
of I-was-always-taught correctness. Pressed
for reason, there is none beyond a face
of Podsnap petulance. Is there a place
for question left, where Malvern stone knows best?
Still, there is time to walk the hills and breathe
far fresher air than any you will find
among the mullioned piles that sleep beneath
a century's dull legacy of blind
and curtained eyes; and time to tolerate those
who claim to serve but only stand in Waitrose.

The Tontine

1. The Investment

Newton Stewart was where they gathered,
in a legal-smelling office.
Twenty gentlemen of standing,
every one of them a father
of a son a year or younger
(stipulated by the lawyer
in the curious undertaking
of administering the Tontine).
Every father gave a thousand,
twenty thousand pounds in total,
a considerable fortune
in the days of Queen Victoria.
And the lawyer was entrusted
to invest the whole caboodle
in a safe and steady venture
chosen at his own discretion,
while the innocents I mentioned
(twenty little ones, remember?)
gurgled happily at nurses
whom they took to be their mothers.
So began the living contest,
brainchild of the worthy Tonty -
this his only contribution
to the happiness of nations.

2. First Cull

Farquhar was the first to flounder -
measles left him unprotected
from the cholera that followed
taking with him Jones and Walker.
Whooping cough in moderation
is survivable by many
but delicious complications
put an end to MacAnespie.
So it was that, of the twenty,
sixteen might have had a birthday
but an old perambulator
left its handle in the care of
Wilson's nurse, as Wilson gaily
rolled in front of an express train.
Nursie was discharged from service,
while the twenty thousand grew at
nearly three percent per annum.

3. Second Cull

Troubled times befell the Porters
so the young beloved Simon
matched his lungs against the chimneys
and they proved to be the weaker.
Similarily incommoded
by a fall in family fortune
Smythe and Peters were seconded
to a dismal paupers' prison
never more to see the sunlight.
While the sweet tuberculosis
sowed the seeds of early exit
(eighty two was such a winter)
to a portion of the sample
who inhabited the city
with its smog of yellow brimstone.
Alphabetically listed
there were Anderson and Edwards
there were Fredericks and Manners
closely followed by McDonald.
Thus it was that of the twenty
only seven were included
when the end of adolescence
loomed like fate on the horizon.

4. The Seven

Twenty years since its inception
twenty years of steady progress
at the hands of merchant bankers
fifty more (perhaps) to follow
as our seven golden warriors
came to physical fruition.

MacGuire was first to taste the joys of love
McCall was next to fall, and it was sad
that she who seemed to fit him like a glove
was she whom young MacGuire already had
succumbed to. In the fashion of the times
there had to be a duel. Pistols at dawn
(and by the way you'll notice this bit rhymes -
that Hiawatha stuff goes on and on...)
MacGuire was pretty sharp. He'd been abroad
in Africa and practised killing game
while young McCall (the miserable sod)
was destined for the church. A dreadful shame.
And as he fell, a bullet in his heart,
his gun went off and killed his second, Smart.

Young MacGuire although the victor
was unsure of his position
for the law was never joyous
at the killing of a curate
so he joined the Foreign Legion
rushing off to the Sahara
and was relatively happy
for it suited his ambition
to be always in the action
till a camel kicked his head in.

So four remained alive till middle age
Their names were Martin, Samson, Jack and Law,
the first three, active players on the stage
of commerce, but the fourth one had a flaw
in character, for all his waking hours
were spent in plotting evil to befall
his fellow tontinites, and all his powers
he put to serve this end. He wanted all
the fortune to devolve upon his head
but far from settling down and trusting fate
he dreamed of suffocating in his bed
each of his rivals, saying "Why should I wait
until I'm old? I've got a brain. Employ it
to win my fortune while I can enjoy it!"

But before Law had a chance to
perpetrate a single murder
Martin made a bad investment
on behalf of his employer
bringing bankruptcy to many
and his conscience pricked him sorely
so he leapt out of the window
of his office in the city
landing squarely on the head of
someone walking on the pavement,
someone contemplating murder
though the world had never known it.
And as Law and Martin perished
still the fortune waxed enormous.

5. Samson and Jack

In the days of their retirement
lives could not have been as different
as the lives of Jack and Samson
for the very simple reason
of the circumstance of marriage.
Samson's family, understanding
that he could be worth a million
to be theirs in perpetuity
if he only lived the longer,
wrapped him up in cosy flannel
kept him clear of sickly persons
hid his whisky and tobacco
monitored his every movement
even those we cannot mention.
Mollycoddled like an infant,
his frustration grew excessive
and his hatred for his family
(most of all his son and daughter
who considered him a passport
to eternity of leisure)
soon outweighed whatever solace
his longevity could furnish
so he seized upon a table
knife and practised hari kiri
with remarkable success in one
so elderly and feeble.
He was suitably rewarded
for the pain he had to suffer
by the look of greater anguish
in the eyes of his tormentors
when they saw he was a goner.

and Jack?

Eighty three and never married
he had always been a loner
not unsociable, but quiet,
and content to fish the river
where it bordered on his garden.
He was fishing when they found him
with the news about the tontine
but he smiled a little sadly
as he thought of poor old Samson,
took the cheque the lawyer proffered,
never marvelled at its value,
gently tore it into pieces
which he floated on the river
and continued in his fishing.

Toe

Shall I compare thee to a thumb, or say
thou art unlovely, nor canst thou oppose
thy weaker neighbours? Shall I with dismay
recount thy knobbliness? Thou, amongst toes,
art paramount. Physicians name thee 'great'
yet pray that Jonson's learned soc be on
lest Jonson's learned shoe thou permeate
with fungal redolence. And when the dawn
breaks in the east and all the world is new
and evil things are banished with the night,
then shall I deck thee with fresh feverfew
and lavendar 'to make you feel alright'?
(a phrase I stole from Lennon). Shall I heck -
for thou art Toe, unworthy of respeck.

Three Gallus Brithers

Three gallus brithers hit the toon
Big Wullie, Shoo an Sauny Broon
rarin tae coup the bevvy doon
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Sauny wis mairrit years langsyne
(Jessie McGuire fae Ochtertyne)
When he wis canned he liked her fine
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Wullie wis guid at the boaxin yince
till he got fat oan tatties an mince.
Sundays he'll gie his physog a wee rinse
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Shoo wis a genius (ask his maw)
micht o been mair than naethin at aa
but the lassies aye caad his heid fae the baa
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Doon tae the harbour, therr's the plan
a hauf dizen bars in a hauf mile span -
three gallus brithers agreed tae a man
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Stert wi the Anchor, tip a jaur,
twa in the Ship, and the Harbour Bar,
stoatin an happy as pigs in glaur
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Efter the Harbour, the Steamboat Inn
whaur the whusky flows when the fleet comes in
an they caa ye a poof if ye esk fur gin
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Efter the Steamboat, shoot the craw.
Jessie'd be waitin, an Shuggie's maw.
But Wullie jist gawpt at the harbour waa
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

"See thoan wee door, it wisna therr"
says Wullie, "Ah've spent ma life in Ayr
an it's new. Gaunny look inside furra dare?"
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

So they opened the door in the harbour waa -
Guid only kens whit they thocht they saw
but they grinned tae their lugs an said "This is braw!"
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Wullie jouks in the ring wi his fists in the air
an the punters aa gien it "Wullie the berr!"
but the bogle sune plants him flat oan the flerr
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Sauny walks doon the aisle wi his Jessie again
but the meenister says "Geeza brek, Jessie hen
ye've hud me an ma faithur an twal' ither men"
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

An a carlin gies wee Shuggie a kiss
"Ye're a helluva fella fur takin the piss"
she says, "See in the moarn, ye'll be mindin aa this?"
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Noo the waa's still therr but thur's nae wee door
jist the harbour lichts affa Newton shore
an three gallus brithers the same as before
an the nicht wiz Halloween.

Things Happen

Things happen unexpectedly. You see
the way ahead, with everything in place
and life will drift along quite pleasantly
unless a visitor from outer space

should act upon an alien whim to grace
your cornfield with his circles. I agree
it's out of line, but so is drawing an ace.
Things happen unexpectedly, you see.

Example: can the dirty little flea
avoid a bath when Rover starts to race
towards the pond? He's powerless to decree
the way ahead. With everything in place

and all your ducks aligned (will someone chase
the clichees from my brain?) then, to a T
(another one!) your fortune grows apace
and life will drift along quite pleasantly

until the clock, instead of striking three
booms Hare Krisna in a manly bass
which blows a hole in your complacency,
unless a visitor from outer space

has tampered with the mechanism? Face
the facts. (Who said the truth will set you free?)
You're at the mercy of the world, so brace
yourself against its only certainty -
things happen.

Terzanelle

All I remember from earlier days
bends to the form of another's glance
that lingers long where the juke-box plays,

softening the contours of circumstance.
A promise sleeps in a distant room,
bends to the form of another's glance,

dwells on the thought of escaping the tomb
but hope and the wardrobe are all but bare.
A promise sleeps in a distant room

dreaming of waking, of learning to dare
to shout through the music - remember me!
but hope and the wardrobe are all but bare.

Life is the wine, and the wine is free
of the weight of the old, and the rash desire
to shout through the music - remember me!

And the touch of a hand is a funeral pyre
of all I remember from earlier days
of the weight of the old, and the rash desire
that lingers long where the juke-box plays.

Tammie

She died on Castle Hill, and Davie knew
the moment, for the mist came to her eye
as Tammie slipped away.

She walked between the shafts. The cobbled wynd
guided her home as Davie stroked her mane,
older by one grey mare.

Standing in her own stall, her breath was slow.
She heard the rustled straw and kindly words
as sad hands rubbed her down.

He left her for an hour. She had to die
alone, and he was not the kind of man
to try her dignity.

Resting upon her flank as darkness fell,
he smoked his cherry pipe against the night,
remembering a friend.

Talisker Meets Ganesh

They saw a mouse, the humans, nothing more
and laughed and pointed as I backed away,
- a mouse, look, holding Talisker at bay -
well, I was cornered, cut off from the door.
Ganesh leapt from its back onto the floor
and fixed me with a look as if to say
- one move and you'll not live another day -
and then he grew to seven feet or more.
At first I saw the body of a man
all turned to fat, but, light upon his feet,
he took to dancing. Then I saw the trunk.
The broken tusks. Four arms. - Task's in a funk -
the humans said - a mouse has got him beat -
They cannot see what sentient creatures can.

Stations of the Cross

We are the power of law, and you are wrong -
let this be yours to carry evermore.
The weight will drag you down where you belong,
beneath our feet. The woman will implore
in vain, your friend extend a helping hand,
the gentle one will wipe your sweated brow,
but still you stumble in your journey, and
who will believe your words of comfort now?
Is it fatigue that drops you, or despair
when soldiers rob you of your last effects
and bind you to your burden, leave you there
until the spirit shudders, then defects?
You cannot hear her voice, who from your birth
has wept for you, and sees you laid in earth.

Statesman

Today, although
the news is very bad,
you hold your little thumbs just so

and square up to the camera. No
escape from looking sad
today. Although

your doubts may grow,
the PR man is glad
you hold your little thumbs just so -

he says it helps maintain the flow.
Sincerity’s a fad
today, although

you mustn’t show
the training that you’ve had.
You hold your little thumbs just so,

squirm in your own imbroglio,
but we can see who’s mad
today, although
you hold your little thumbs just so.

Something Pressing

Some call it courtship, some a waste of time,
the candlelight, the mandatory flowers,
the amateurish dalliance with rhyme,
the quaint preponderance of glades and bowers,
The evening dress that catches on the heel
and in the door of every cab in town,
the standing in the station, when you feel
much more inclined to burn the bastard down.
We've done it all, with patience and decorum.
We could continue, but we're growing old.
Time murmurs in my ear "You've had a quorum
of hearts and valentines. Why not be bold?"
So come and play the pepper to my salt,
quickly, before we're tantric by default.

Solidity

We do not dance.
Let others reach and leap, like light
limbed fools too shallow to delight
in eating lard.

When we were young
we joyed in coriander, sought
fresh apple mint and little thought
of eating lard.

But wiser now,
we throw all fripperies away
and are content to spend the day
in eating lard.

And all our talk
is safe, and all our looks express
a resolute if tacit Yes
to eating lard.

Snow

The morning came unheard
and late as it dared. We knew
there was more than day outside.
Knew from no passing cars
from no gulls calling loud.
These absences tell more
than all the sounds they drown.
We threw the window wide
to the bite, the chill of night
that no dawn had dispelled.
And it was everywhere
and falling still and slow.
We watched, watched for the sake
of ordinary days.

Blind Pew

There is a formula for life, a bill
of quantities - one gross assorted bones,
one bag of nerves, one epidermis, black
or white, a skein of fur if you're a dog,
no eyes if you're a golden mole (they're blind),
two presbyterian buttocks for the pew.

(Fat ones are better suited to the pew).
Assembly is prenatal, and the bill
is topped by birth. The cells divide in blind
obedience to their DNA, form bones,
muscles, organs, sinews, whether dog
or man it's all the same. It's down in black

and white, the double helix. You can black
your face or bleach it. You can shun the pew
and claim to be the Son of Man. Your dog
will never see the change. You are the bill
of fare that's printed deeper than your bones
as Long John Milton saw, and he was blind.

Predestination says - you're on a blind
adventure, never sure of when the black
spot will be thrust upon you. Though the bones
themselves rebel, it's best to grace the pew
and make believe your name is on the bill
of entry, till you're turned out like a dog.

Who knows? You might do well to be a dog.
Awake, a sensual beast; asleep, a blind
unconscious lump. Not worried by the bill
the taxman brings, you needn't fear the black
great-coated killjoy prophets from the pew,
content to crunch on liberated bones.

If Calvin built his sermons on the bones
of truth, he little knew how they would dog
with guilt his followers' lives, until the pew
seemed almost comfortable. He was blind
to niceties. His world was white or black -
a tick or cross, scribed on the heavenly bill.

So, beat your bones until your eyes are blind
or thrash your dog until your hands turn black.
Then take a pew. Your god will send the bill.

Serious Ballade

Picture a poet's dismal fate
doomed from the start to moon and mope
over some morbid second-rate
hand-me-down lines. Poor misanthrope,
humourless, quite devoid of hope,
mouthing a mantra endlessly -
is there no end beyond the rope?
Let me be taken seriously.

Hear me denounce the sins of State,
parody Cabinet as a dope-
ridden debacle, or debate
whether a certain isotope
turning the sky to heliotrope
gobbles up, irreversibly,
ozone, and though you answer - nope,
let me be taken seriously.

Though I inversions perpetrate,
though I with gay abandon lope
from cliche to cliche, though with bate-
d breath I for strange enjambments grope,
though I repeat the feeble ope-
ning of my stanzas tediously,
though I take bathos without soap,
let me be taken seriously.

Faber & Faber, Blake and Pope
grind in your pages. Why not me?
This is no worse than Wendy Cope.
Let me be taken seriously.

Sea Child

I shall return alone and let the tide,
risen again, embrace you for its own.
You are the boy who numbered clouds as friends,
saw soldiers in the waves, tigers in spray.

Awakened by the sea, you need not sleep
again in one who cloistered you so long,
prisoner to a promise unfulfilled.
Your sad ordeal is over; here is peace.

I am the coat of mail that you put on
to face a harder world at childhood's end.
Colleagues invented me. I called them friends
at your expense, you had to hide away.

Here is a place for you to gaze and play.
See how the sunlight gleams on Greenan sands
where once you left small footprints. Only you
can find their path again. My child, goodbye.

The Ballad of Sandton Gaol

He sat within unbroken walls
and sipped imported beer.
Warm sun played on his shoulders
as he struggled not to hear
the all-pervasive strains that brought
midnight in Vegas near.

And all the inmates round the pool
stretched out and took their ease.
The dowagers drew back their skirts
to tan their leather knees
and who would grudge the simple souls
such simple joys as these?

Around him birds of paradise
flamed with a glorious light.
Palm fronds were still as stalactites
in subterranean night
and all the inmates round the pool,
surprisingly, were white.

Black gaolers walked their sorry pound
among their weary guests.
They carried drinks on trays, and were
immaculately dressed,
their collars, cuffs and trousers all
professionally pressed.

And once a week, lest they be deemed
unreasonably hard,
the gaolers drove their charges to
an exercising yard
where they could stretch the languid Rand
and flex the plastic card.

And this the insidious torture of
the exercising mall,
that all the goods were overpriced
and all the portions small,
and not a prisoner was returned
till he had spent his all.

He wandered aimless round the mall
and dreamed of roaming free,
remembered the Pacific coast
and walking in the sea,
and evenings spent in Amsterdam
in joyous company.

He longed to walk the country, as
an unconvicted man.
But there are crimes we can expunge
and those we never can.
His felony - he was not born
one of the gaolers' clan.

He thought of things he used to say
before he'd come to face
the pain of a divided land,
where history and race
conspired to speak of all the world
reflected in one place.

Sad Day Roundel

There are things that are good: the whisky I had
ten minutes ago, that carried the wood
in which it had lain - what more can I add?
There are things that are good:
the moon with the grace to appear when she should
have been covered in cloud, the girl who said 'Sad'
at the sight of my shirt, but smiled when she could
have passed by with a nothing, the memory of Dad,
aged eighty, in shorts that you'd have to call rude -
today of all days, there are tears, but be glad
there are things that are good.

The Roaring Game

The roaring game is played wherever Scots have settled. The finest curling stones are of granite, quarried on the stark isle of Ailsa Craig, some miles off the South Ayrshire coast, where there are only seabirds. The island gives freely of itself; its sheer cliffs and domed summit are found in every stone.

roaring over ice
or retired to a scorched hearth
salt winds call me home

Reflections

An image of someone who must be me
catches my glance and quickly looks away,
gathers itself, then surreptitiously
sneaks a fresh peek with eyes that seem to say -

"Where is the stripling youth who ran 10 K
in under 38 at Tewkesbury?
The legs are fine, but can that gut portray
an image of someone who must be me?"

"Just wait till I'm in training then you'll see
it's all still there . ." "Yeah, that'll be the day!"
There's something nasty in the way that he
catches my glance and quickly looks away.

But what the heck, at least I'm not going grey,
nor is my middle-aged virility
viagra sponsored. (Here my rédoublé
gathers itself, then surreptitiously

checks he can say the same). Surprisingly
he can and does. It's easy to allay
reflected fears. His momentary glee
sneaks a fresh peek with eyes that seem to say

"Let's make a deal - though devil time will play
his mocking games, I'll not pretend to be
shocked by the change. Now, will you please convey
your carcass out of sight, so setting free
an image?"

Recycling, '74

Ivor took the front end, Danny took the back.
Jenifer and Moira took hysterics.
I was somewhere underneath, shouting, "There's a knack
in moving baths". (I'd seen it done at Eric's).

This one was Victorian. Iron. Foundry cast.
Weighing in at seven hundred pound.
Avocado upstart installed, he'd washed his last
sweaty student, and was coup-ward bound.

We heaved him to the window, four storeys high,
teetered him across the flaking sill.
Shouted down to Charlie, "Coast clear?" "Aye!"
and sent him fleein' doon. I feel it still:

The stomach churning judder as he drilled the asphalt path
that ran between the midden and the dunnie.
The shriek of breaking windows as the carcass of the bath
exploded. Charlie bawlin', "'That's no' funny!"

Ramble

On a whim he closed the office,
locked it, left the keys inside,
with a message on the table
"back in five" but specified
neither minute, hour, nor aeon
(there's a spelling to agree on!
Oh, the blatant show of sophis-
try, the mark of the unstable.)

There was something in his manner
as he took the stairs in twos
that implied a growing vision
of a time too rare to lose.
Was he off to save the planet
or to visit Auntie Janet
or to plunge the state in anar-
chy? - so palpable his mission.

Yet he wasn't armed like Lara
Croft (the innocent say - who?)
nor endowed with bulbous muscle
like Stallone. In citing two
counterpoised unprepossessing
specimens, I'll leave you guessing
for description, lest my nara-
tive descend, like Bertrand Russell,

into tiresome speculation
(even he was at a loss
to distinguish bind from batter
and besides, who gives a toss?)
So, the 'he' that I endeavour
to present can be whatever
you desire, from the sensation-
ally slim to something fatter.

In the street he hailed a carriage.
(The observant will detect
discontinuous progression
of allusion. Quite correct,
for Stallone and Croft are modern
while the carriage is a dodderin'
piece of history). Disparag-
ing the quirks of my expression

is your privilege, dear reader.
If you choose to call my bluff
and declare my story lacking
I won't argue, sulk or huff,
for I find my muse (an ogress!)
not in content but in progress
so I'd better say auf wieder
sehen to her and send her packing.

He alighted in a flurry
of expletives as he found
that the paving slabs had melted.
As he sank below the ground
he was conscious of descending
but to where? It seemed unending
and as fast as any hurri-
cane that ever blew a Belted

Galloway (a cow, I tell you)
from her feet into the air.
(As a simile it's spurious
but the breed itself is rare
and befits an exposition
of a plummet to perdition
that deserved to be on cellu-
loid like many things less curious).

By and by he reached a grotto
or a subterranean cave
to be greeted by a vampire
"That's a fine way to behave
towards a noble superstition"
said the bloodless apparition
who was sitting on an otto-
man (the cushion, not the empire).

"Your unlooked for interruption
of my century of sleep
is outrageous. May I mention,
the indignity you heap
on my person by intruding
falls like snot into a pudding?
So, what follows isn't option-
al. You have to pay attention

"while I chronicle the curses
that shall fall upon your head
should you make it to the pavement
in a state more live than dead.
Number one - your hair will tumble
from your pate to leave you humble
as reward for all your narcis-
sistic foibles and depravement.

"Number two, your teeth will follow
where your hair has led the way
('where your hair' is oddly clumsy.
So is this, I hear you say,
and it should have been depravity
depravement lacks in suavity)
And three, you'll look like Ptole-
my, dome headed, fat and gumsy".

Popper

To hell with David Hume, Immanuel Kant,
Spinoza, Berkeley, Locke. Let's put a stopper
on centuries of verbiage. Let us plant

a plug to slug their every whim and whopper,
forever banish the misguided crew
of misanthropes, and clear the way for Popper

(Karl of that ilk) the man who led us through
Hume's paradox and made it shrink away
like some uncovered bully. Nothing to

trouble us here, his genius seemed to say,
for look, induction never was the basis
of reason. Let it go. It's had its day,

like Wittgenstein. Vienna - turn your faces
towards the wall in shame for lending succour
to lusty Lud's linguistics. An oasis

of sense in nonsense, Popp the only fucker
with wit enough to twit the bally gang
stuck in pretentious crap and getting stucker.

He chucked a rope, both ends and said, go hang.
He'd better things to do. Historicism
was moribund and ready to go bang.

Helping it on its way produced a schism
or two but there were bigger trout to fry -
Sigmund a sitting duck, next stop Marxism,

(a minor Karl who spun a major lie).
So much was light relief. The veneration
which is his due, let nobody deny,

will come when people learn that refutation
alone lets knowledge grow, and cease to rant
in futile praise of proof, or confirmation.

Place Unpleasant

Every day you hear the wailings from the place behind the railings,
every night the sound of science gone astray,
as experimental therapies are plied behind the palings
(all your failings will be bleached and washed away).

And the chemical inferno is a wonder to behold
as it rages in the space behind your eyes
and you know your parents love you or they never would have sold
your possessions just to pay for this surprise.

Now the doctor comes at midnight as you lie in neon rest
lays a silent hand upon your sleeping head
lays a pill upon your tongue and lays a tongue upon your breast
as he enters you pretending you are dead.

And he calls his friends to witness that the deed was never done
and they take their turns, agree it must be so
for you're now a modern leper and a doctor must have fun
and the world outside is happy not to know.

If the money lasts forever then the cure will take as long
(unprofessional to rush - we must be sure)
but the day the coffer's empty is the day there's nothing wrong
with your mind or with your body. There's the door!

So you walk the streets disconsolate, your friends all look away
your parents moved, discreetly out of range
but there's solace in the pittance that the drunken fumblers pay,
and the enervating mantra - spare some change?

Phoenix

A love remembered is a love too long
forgotten. Pictures fade but do not age
as lovers do, though tenderness belong
to every reawakening on the stage
of memory. And now I know you as
a poem I crammed away, in innocence
of meaning, empty word chains in a class
of carefree boys. The lines are gone. The sense,
no longer bound to rote, is free to fly,
to change, return again, and to surprise
my equanimity with sudden joy.
And slow regret, born as I realise
our youth, our love, are photographs of snow -
frozen forever, melted long ago.

Peter Manuel

We weren't sure what he would do
only that he was bad
and that's why we decided to
build Manuel traps. We had

agreed that he would come to Ayr
and climb our garden wall
in search of gold, but we would scare
him off, once and for all.

We took a brick and tied a string
around it, nice and tight
and lodged it in the apple tree
out of the villain's sight.

The other end that dangled loose
(this was a brilliant plan)
we made into a hangman's noose
Here's how the theory ran -

He'll say, "A noose! Is this a trick
to hang me?" but instead
he'll tug the string and then the brick
will land right on his head.

We scattered dandelion where
the string hung from the tree,
the surest bait to lead him there.
It looked like gold to me.

Past Lives

And here we are again. Of course I set
my sights too high. A little moderation
might not have gone amiss. I paid the debt
of humble pie, endured your fine oration,
the flowery words of callous condemnation.
So brave, m'lud, it hurts to see you now
reduced to begging for your 'small libation'.
Forgive me if it's rather hard to bow.

And this familiar face? But when we met
before, it was a different situation
(as you'd have said). Perhaps you can forget
the way you used to crow about your station
in life, how you were due our veneration.
Untouchable, they dubbed me. You, a cow,
were sacred. Well, Big Mac, commiserations.
Forgive me if it's rather hard to bow.

And now, my loveliest, my little pet -
do you recall, before your consummation,
courtesy of His Excellency, (et
tu, pretty, I remarked) your observation
that, were I not a eunuch, all creation
(you meant the female half, this we'll allow)
would die for me? I'm ready and impatient.
Forgive me if it's rather hard. To bow,

my friends, to anyone is a negation
of common sense - the what, the when, the how
of who we are is idle speculation.
Forgive me if it's rather hard to bow.

Paul Street, E23

High on the wall, a leather cap. The kind
John Lennon liked to wear, its gloss of black
catching the bare bulb glare. This room is red,
blood red. The ceiling, white. The naked floor
stretches rough pine between cracked skirting boards.
A mobile phone, kingfisher blue, proclaims
its presence with a triad, soh mi doh,
repeated twice before I cross the room
to comfort it, holding its sleek cool form,
this little speaking thing, close to an ear
that once, in 1967, heard
descending chords, the start of Strawberry Fields,
played on a mellotron, (although it might
have been a martinet for all I knew).
The moment passed, but everything had changed.
Something had come of age. Now, looking back
at Maharishis, kaftans, beads and bells,
I will not rush to join with Mark Lamaar
and others of his kind who point and sneer,
but, as the day grows old, and from the street
below there comes the sound of voices, young
men on the town, and girls in twos and threes,
I reach the leather cap down from the wall
and wander out, as if it mattered, now.

On Line

I feel the need to wallow now and then,
to plumb the depths of misery and pain,
to show myself the sorriest of men,
convince myself that pleasure is insane.
But wallowing alone is no great shakes
for what's the point if no-one sympathises
or looks with awe upon the grave mistakes
and foolishnesses that my life comprises?
Ergo, I go on line to spread my gloom
around the world for everyone to see
and emulate within my lonely room
the epicenter of life's agony,
where, humourless as Brutus, it's a ball
to play the most unkindest c__t of all.

New Birds

On a fine Spring Sunday I walked the way
of a railway track that carries no trains.
I came upon a clearing a forgotten field
with rabbits running over cropped grass.
Foxgloves, gorse cheerful in the sunlight
a great beech tree boughs bent to the ground.
I watched and saw many birds leave the branches
take to the air fly from the tree.
Firecrest, goldcrest bullfinch, chaffinch
in fours and fives. Such a show of joy.
Bird after bird lightening the heavens
and never a one returned to the tree.

As I pondered upon it a rabbit rushed out
from among the fronds of bracken behind me.
Startled to see me it scampered to safety
behind beech foliage and out of sight
while all of the others free in the field
ran here and there in their random games.
I stood quite still watched for a while
and though I saw many skip under the screen
never a rabbit returned to the day.

Wondering whether there might be a warren
around the roots of the ancient tree
I parted the branches peered into shadows
where bright Spring sunshine fears to fare.

I swoop and soar high over the vale
circle the crown of a mighty beech
follow a line of derelict railway
winding its way between field and field.

Nettle Love

Some favour finest muslin, others silk.
A few prefer synthetics. That's OK.
You'll find no judgment here.

Newcomers often ask - why dress at all?
believing (as they would) that nettles seek
the unprotected skin.

They do not understand - the sheerest weave
catches each predatory ragged leaf
to press it sweetly close.

Nor do we run and thrash. Each loving sting
is better savoured in a peaceful mien
than in a turbulence.

We are not many. It is for the few
to walk in nettled fields and to enjoy
this most aesthetic pain.

Narcissa

even as you say
I must go home you
wonder why

there is a
turned down bed
and a chocolate
to say goodnight

for one less star
a made up bed
and no chocolate

only a minibar
with the sound of bees
in a stump

no trouser press thank god

each padded cell
empty
of narcissa who

does not leave the bar
casually but with
roses aforethought
and the mandatory

soft toy

bought to the band's
last number
in the grey lobby

Monkey Ballade

Chesterton was fond of flying
high in his imagination.
Never had a thought of dying.
Life a glorious celebration -
scintillating conversation,
song and story, wine and cheese -
yet he fell to Rome's persuasion.
Even monkeys fall from trees.

Pinochet was ever trying
to forgive his sinful nation,
in his saintliness supplying
all the seeds of adulation.
Till the morbid adoration
of the Maggie, if you please -
ill advised association.
Even monkeys fall from trees.

Ministerially applying
larded smarm to each oration
while imperiously denying
hints of recapitulation,
Tony's grim determination
starts to buckle at the knees -
Billy has a reputation.
Even monkeys fall from trees.

Masters of dissimulation,
cockadoodles, greater fleas,
the hazard of your occupation -
even monkeys fall from trees.

Miss Robertson's Way

I thought of evenings we had spent
with Plato. I remembered too
how she had turned quite vehement
on hospitals, and then I knew.

I helped prepare the garden shed
as she had asked. A little shelf
for books (Catullus) and a bed
almost as narrow as herself.

A cat-flap for the only soul
allowed to see her 'indisposed'
(her word for cancer). Self control
her vade mecum, I supposed.

An easy bolt for weakened hands
to close against the helpful, who
would take her where the world demands
unquestioning surrender to

a doctor's whim. A private place
where garden air might ease her pain.
No tubes to rape a dying face.
No drips, save for the falling rain.

Maturity

I was a lover once before the curve
of melancholy closed around my joy
tightening close, so close my spirit starved
for light, for air, for laughter. Did I try
to break the bond, to set my future free
and win again the pleasures I had known?
No! for the sleep was on me. I would say
"Here is maturity. All that is gone
is youth, and I am not the boy I was."
"Wisdom", my folly said, "is higher aim
than love", and I was flattered to express
blind acquiescence. Dullness had me tamed.
How could I know that fate would lead me to you?
Christ, I'm in love, and hale-bloody-lujah !

Mary Page

And hast thou won thy rest, O Mary Page,
and shall thy crystal fountains spring no more
that for a hand of twelve-months didst thou pour
full generous, London's aching thirst to assuage?
Thy waters swelled the placid Fleet to rage
and storm through Clerkenwell with mighty roar
drowning the mudlarks, sluicing clean the gore
and filth of Smithfield's sinister carnage.
Let him consider how thy life was spent
who shares with thee this nonconformist ground.
Dryness his watchword, stern restraint his bent,
his to proselytise and thine to yield
fruit of thy being. May thy burial mound
nourish the eager roots of Bunhill Field.

Love Remembered

A fleeting thought of you is as a slight
to time and space that turn will into might,
for love remembered is a love too long
in exile from the warmth of the night.

No photograph from dappled glade or beach
serves but to show me you are out of reach,
forgotten. Pictures fade but do not age;
patient, they lie in wait, some day to teach.

And she is lonely, or, maybe, am I
the lonelier? We wonder and we lie
as lovers do, though tenderness belong
elsewhere, we understand, and occupy

an afternoon, a hired room, a thought
of all the might-have-beens that we have brought
to every reawakening on the stage
where, for a while, we are who we are not.

Or whom we have become. The world is more
deceiving than the loss of reason or
of memory. And now I know you as
a mother's voice of caution: when before,

with quiet common sense you persevered,
your life a verse I secretly revered,
a poem I crammed away, in innocence
of mine to come, the very life you feared

even to name, however hard you tried.
And so you left some of your verses void
of meaning, empty word chains in a class
of pure enigma. Surely you enjoyed

believing that one day your words would flower?
But you would overstretch the staying power
of carefree boys. The lines are gone. The sense,
no challenge to the pleasures of the hour,

must take its chance among competing schemes.
Even the rhythm, unrepeated, seems
no longer bound to rote, is free to fly
by whimsy where it will in thoughts or dreams.

This is my continuity, a thing
to marvel at, forever rallying
to change, return again, and to surprise
with pertinence, my aimless wandering.

You find me when I seek you in the sound
of laughter. You are music to confound
my equanimity with sudden joy,
joy that was lost, with you, till we were found.

For promises grow out of circumstance
and in their wake come usage and mischance
and slow regret, born as I realise
I have become emburdened in the dance

and cannot carry all that I have known
around my neck forever, like a stone.
Our youth, our love, are photographs of snow
briefly to be enjoyed, then left alone.

I have been asleep, or else deceived
and now I see the past that I believed
frozen forever, melted long ago -
an absence to be cherished, never grieved.

-o-

For love remembered is a love too long
forgotten. Pictures fade but do not age
as lovers do, though tenderness belong
to every reawakening on the stage
of memory. And now I know you as
a poem I crammed away, in innocence
of meaning, empty word chains in a class
of carefree boys. The lines are gone. The sense,
no longer bound to rote, is free to fly,
to change, return again, and to surprise
my equanimity with sudden joy.
And slow regret, born as I realise
our youth, our love, are photographs of snow -
frozen forever, melted long ago.

Lord Yama

The one who comes again is not the one
to fear. That he returns serves but to show
he will not stay for long. His work is done
by stages, little cuts and tears. You know
him more by the delusion in his passing,
the false relief, as of a toothache dulled
by aspirin, than by the slow amassing
of marks and scars. His legacy, anulled
not even partially by misplaced hope,
kindles a beacon to the one who bides
his time in shadow, watching, as you grope
towards his long embrace. Silent, he slides
a silver cord around you and the glint
of death is beautiful, and cold as flint.

Longing

I long to be the first to see your face
one morning, every morning, to be free
to welcome dawn, and you, in one embrace.
I long to be
between your dreams and life's reality,
whispering words of calm as sunbeams chase
night from our wondering eyes. Together, we
delight in new-mown languages to trace
the curves of our awakening sympathy.
With you, at break of day - the only place
I long to be.

Locus Iste

Locus iste a Deo factus est -
Did simple men with learned hands
shape and lay stone on stone? Were they aware
of cross, or crueller hunger - did they care
for church, or life? For crown, or land?

Inaestimabile sacramentum -
This is no holy silence but a meld
of echoes. Time-dulled hammers ring
again to choir and distant klaxon. Children sing
blind Latin. Mocking Babel is dispelled.

Irreprehensibilis est -
A harmony forever unresolved,
whose tensions thrill,
who moves,
and yet is still.

Lines of Gratitude

You lead us gently, always gently, where
you will. Your voice is quiet and sublime.
You let us rest along the way, and there
you help us find delights in our own time.
You do not shield us from the anguished soul,
but show us how to pity and forgive
and through our pity to become more whole
in spirit, as you teach us how to live
in all our diverse ways. You understate
the passion in your being, yet we discern
how deeply you desire that soon or late
in our discipleship we each shall learn
the simplest truth that nature can impart -
that we have all of us one human heart.

Limericks

There was an old man who because
an inbuilt aversion to laws
induced him to steal
would frequently feel
the clutch of constabulary claws.

There was an old man who in spite
of prevalent sodium light
which gave his divan a
rich hue of banana
when asked to describe it said "White"

There was an old man who throughout
a lifetime of worry and doubt
could never determine
if under his ermine
King Henry was skinny or stout.

There was an old man who although
his birth had ocurred long ago
when quietly told
"Good sir, you are old"
grew angry and shouted "Not so!"

There was an old man who persisted
in writing his limericks twisted.
You'd think he was crazy
the way he resisted
convention. Perhaps he was lazy.

There was, or there might have been, an
excrescence of nature, less than
surprising because
it frequently was
addressed by the term 'Old Man'

lightly

lightly and lightly adorned in a ripple of never
passing invisible out of the now we have known
into another redemption, another forever

lightly and lightly dismissing a burden of sorrow
slipping inviolate into a deeper beyond
softly to follow a dream of unending tomorrow

lightly and lightly begun what can never be ended
lost in a filigree universe spiraling free
free as the balm of a moment we never intended

lightly and lightly

Lennox

Imagine waking up as Lennox Lewis,
the undisputed champion of the world
and wondering (between your cornflakes) who is
the next in line to swallow punches hurled
from shoulders honed for clinical destruction
(those lonely hours you pummelled on the sack);
imagine a career based on reduction
of brain to pulp (and still the boys come back
for more). Imagine how Mohammed Ali
feels now (he was your hero long before
your star had risen). Nagging doubts? But rally
your flagging spirits - Frankie's at the door
with plans to help you make him richer, "My son,
we'll talk of quitting later. After Tyson".

The Lasses

Brithers, some quiet for a wee -
look roon the present company
an here an there I'm shair ye'll see
wi'oot yer glasses
a wheen that's no like you an me -
weel, they're the lasses.

They've leeved amang us since the faa
of Adam. Eve's daein. Efter aa
she stappit fu his gapin maw
wi rotten aipple
tho he wis steerin fine an braw
wi oats as staple.

An aye since yon it's muckle waur.
They'll gar ye trachle in the glaur
heavin an pechin, aa whit for?
Weel here's the truth o't.
Tae buy lipstick by C. Dior
an clart their mooth o't.

They'll staun an gie ye white for black
an deave ye wi their glaiket clack
but gin ye gie them logic back
they'll no confront ye
fair on, but wi a sleekit tak
jeuk roon ahint ye.

But haud, afore I tak my pew,
tae kiss a man wad gar ye grue,
sae leeze me on the beardless crew
for makin passes.
Fur aa their fauts, ye ken we lo'e
the bonnie lasses.

Jerusalem

It's over now and in the new
awakening of another day
Jerusalem is there for you.

The truth we bend may yet be true
in part, and we are right to say
it's over now. And in the new

beginning of a clearer view,
a city, shining through the grey,
Jerusalem is there for you.

And everyone the world through
will countenance no more delay.
It's over now and in the new

delight that started with a few
soft words to chase despair away
Jerusalem is there for you.

Behind our masks we never knew
the grace of innocence at play.
It's over now, and still the New
Jerusalem is there for you.

How Very Odd

How very odd.
I'd go so far as call it rude
to walk in here so nearly nude
and this the house of God.

A tattered hat -
she might have bought it from a witch
and underneath it, not a stitch,
We don't approve of that.

And wouldn't you
describe it as a dreadful lack
of decency - the plaintiff smack
of buttocks on the pew?

I hear the Dean
politely asked her to reveal
a little less, or to conceal
herself behind the screen.

Cruel man - she sobbed -
to make me answer to your laws,
especially since it's because
of me your church is mobbed.

Herbie's Valentine

Rest, Valentine, where music soaks your bed
and troubles die, hastened by smelly flecks
of coriander from pommander fled
carried on fan-made winds, the trailing flex
slipped safely out of sight with scarce a sound.
Invisible - like shy potatoes growing
for us to eat below the very ground
we walk above though from the path not going -
inaudible as well, like thoughts of you
that sneak unbidden, hidden in my skull,
cave of my brain, shape of my head's skin too,
nice thoughts, I get them when the weather's dull.
So rest there, Valentine, if that's OK
I think that's most of what I meant to say.

Haiku

Your little mincing haiku that the cat
brings home on Tuesday nights, how could they start
to show how these two bruisers drinking at
the Grotto looked or smelled? You tell me art
should show, not tell, fine, but you tell me that.

It was a summer night, the kind of thing
with rays and balm and stuff, add red to taste,
and there was one stool left. Without looking
to left or right I took it. Shame to waste
an empty space. Chuck Berry's 'Ding-a-Ling'

bawled from the juke box. Jim behind the bar
turned it down. "C'mon lads, that's enough.
Six times tonight!" "Aw Jesus that's no fair.
That wis ma twenty P! I'd like to stuff
his effin juke box up his effin ar-

se", this from the one beside me, on the right.
He wanted some response. I offered, "Aye",
which marked me down as friend. The neon light
picked out each sweaty pore. "I don't know why
he doesn't like us". "No", I said, and might

have moved but there was nowhere else to go.
"Me an MaBrither here, we're frae Forehill".
Was this an explanation? Best to show
bland understanding. "Forehill, aye". "I'm Bill.
MaBrither's mental. Canny speak right". "Oh".

I'd measured up the distance to the door.
Thought I could make it if I had to. Just
as well to have plan B. Says Billy, "So 're
we aa agreed?" I'm thinking, here, I must
have missed a couple of steps. Says Billy, "You're

aa right. Ye local?" "Aye" "Ye workin?" "Naw"
"Me neither. Me an MaBrither's oan the dole"
"Aye, me an aa" I lied. I couldn't say
I'm Studying Physics. That would blow a hole
straight through my credibility as a baa-

heid (ball-head, for the English - does it grate?)
"MaBrither's mental. Canny work, but see
if Ah wis in a fight an gettin bate
he'd huv the basturt. Zat no right pal? Me
n MaBrithers gettin they tattoos, ken, hate

on wan haun, love on the ither, Christ knows why
but that's the wey they dae it". Not a lot
left in my glass, and after that I'll try
to slide away unscathed. But Billy got
in first with "Get the man a pint". Seems my

presence as a listener is required.
"Huv you got a Philosophy? Here's mine"
(I'm glad he's going to answer first. I'm tired
of arguing Popper versus Wittgenstein
besides I doubt if Billy's all that fired

up about the Vienna School). "Ah say
this. If someone's goanny chib ye, weel,
ye've hud it coming, but anither day
ye'll chib them back wi knobs on. right?" I feel
he's needing reassurance - "Aye, OK".

Geneva Convention

Neatly folded up and locked away,
the words that whisper shame around the earth
as signatory nations seek to hide
their impotence as Sarajevo burns.
And Elahah awoke and, looking down
at smoking rubble and her body, still
and broken under fallen masonry,
knew peace had come to her if not to all.
Returning to a voice that seemed to come
from half remembered tales of long ago
she asked the patient figure by her side
to take her to her father once again.
And leaving fear to perish with the dead,
she smiled at last, and placed her hand in his.

Garlanded

I saw you garlanded, until
you showed me you are beautiful
ungarlanded. An early whim
to dress you in a fantasy
has given place to who you are.

Do not think ill of me, if dearth
of substance led me to invent
a chimera; each passing day
you grew more real, your presence gave
the lie to mere hyperbole.

Now you are here, and in your voice
is honesty, and in your eyes
a pure reflection of my own.
There is no need to look away.

G & T

Georgie said to Tony -
What shall we do?
Tony said to Georgie -
I'll follow you.
Georgie said to Tony -
Let's coalesce.
Tony said to Georgie -
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Georgie said to Tony -
Now we're on a Mission
We'll make God join our
Holy Coalition.
Georgie, God and Tony,
Happy as can be.
Tony, God and Georgie,
Blessed Trinity.

- - shock & awe - -

Georgie said to Tony -
It didn't take long.
Tony said to Georgie -
It's all gone wrong.
Georgie said to Tony -
Things look grim
But we've done our bit
Now it's down to Him.
The Devil took his mask off -
The things I have to do,
Dressing up like Daddy-O
To catch the likes of you.
Tony said to Georgie -
Let's run and hide.
The Devil said - You're mine, pals,
For the sin of Pride.

Flowers

They will not fade,
the flowers I send
nor ever droop upon the stem
for they are made
of thoughts that wend
their way to you. To gather them
look in between
the black and white
of common sense. There you will find
in words that mean
more than they might
flowers of an everlasting kind.

Fishy Things

Ten wee men, some of them women,
with nothing better to do
turned the trawlers away from Ayr,
said - we don't want fishermen there,
the way they drink, the way they swear,
lowering the tone in Wellington Square,
with holes in their elbows too.
It's time they danced to a different tune.
Let them operate out of Troon.

Ten wee men, some of them women,
with nothing better to do
said - it's time to turn the page.
Let's have a walkway, they're all the rage,
a heritage trail from a bygone age,
a covered piazza and outdoor stage,
and maybe a sculpture or two.
We'll bring the tourists flooding in -
why, thank you, I'd love another gin.

Ten wee men, some of them women,
with nothing better to do
said - we'll give the harbour pubs
witty names like Wormwood Scrubs,
relaunch them all as chic nightclubs
with cocktail bars and hefty subs.
The town could use a few.
So they tore the old fish market down
and hired a sculptor from out of town.

Ten wee men, some of them women,
with nothing better to do
saw but did not understand
when vandals came to the promised land,
bleaked the paradise they'd planned,
ripped the sculpture from off its stand
and sprayed it red and blue,
failing, it seems, to appreciate
the Soul Of The Fisher in bent steel plate.

postscript -

The trawlermen didn't seem to care.
Troon was more welcoming than Ayr
and wasn't short for a piece of the action
with a fishing fleet as the main attraction.

The Fatted Porker

I liked the lad. He always had a smile,
a whistle on his lips, and used to wait
and watch us eat. Oh, you can call it swill
but I'm not proud. For if it comes to that
I've cracked the windfall, fresher from the moss
than all your snow-cooled fare. I've savoured shoots
that daylight never blessed. But let it pass -
I liked him. He was generous with the oats.
Not like his brother there, a walking blight
on man and pig alike, his only care
is his inheritance. I saw the hate
spark in his eye. The young one's travelled far
to find cold comfort from his kin. But still
they'll come for me. I know which one I'd kill.

Eve of Stagness

Stagness - rough-hewn from a western isle's
farthermost reach, lashed by Atlantic gale,
quite neighbourless for twenty bleakened miles
of tortured gorse, condemned to writhe and flail
wind-dried arthritic fingers at the wail
of hooded gulls. Stagness, where wreckers plied
their ill-starred trade, where echoes tell the tale
of broken ships, drowned ghosts, of men who died,
throats cut by fiends who lured and pulled them from the tide.

Here in this weary place a castle stands
high on the cliff, though crumbling to the west,
prey to the sea's insatiable demands
for ransom. Lumps of castle are the best!
(A gothic joke - I hope you're well impressed).
The eastern tower is habitable still
though failing fast the unrelenting test
of time and tempest. Through the cracks the shrill
wind skirls like some demented demon piper's reel.

There in the tower a lonely maiden dwells,
Eve of Stagness, a prisoner by choice
for even when she flips her lid and yells
for help, there's none to hear her silvery voice
(the wind and sea make such a lot of noise).
And how by choice? Alas, she cast her shoes
into the raging sea, which wasn't wise
since twenty miles of gorse is sorry news.
Enthroned alone she sings her barefoot beauty blues

And eats the fungus that a kindly fate
causes to burgeon beardlike from the cracks
around her prison walls. It tastes like late
bottled chianti laced with carpet tacks
and gingerbread. The only thing she lacks
is human company. "Although I sowed
the seeds of my unhappiness, this smacks
of overkill. Perhaps I'll kiss this toad?"
She did. It turned into a frog and hit the road.

So perished all her plans, until she came
to that abyss that marks the end of flight
from reason, hope and virtue (can you name
another liquidation? well all right,
from sanity to boot). She'd lost the fight
and would have yielded to depression's call
but for a dream that came to her by night
when she was sleeping. Must I give you all
the sordid details? She had taken - alcohol ...

It seemed to Eve that as she lay asleep
a radiant being appeared beside her bed
proclaiming, "Gee, what funny hours you keep,
it's half past ten. Wake up you sleepy head
and hear my words - oh, you can call me Ned"
Startled, she turned. Her covers fell away
and in her lovely nakedness she said
"What bloody man is that?" but Ned was gay
and hadn't time to quote from Shakespeare anyway.

"This very night" he said, "(Oh do keep still,
you make me dizzy when you oscillate)
The lover of your dreams most likely will
attempt to set you free. I shouldn't wait
awake for him, he'll probably be late.
Excuse me now, I've got to disappear".
He did. And Eve was left to contemplate
the meaning of his words. She wasn't clear
if Ned had meant the toad or Wullie from last year.

Another day went by. (The wind and rain
raged as they raged in stanza one, OK?
This epic repetition is a pain
we well can do without.) Another day
of agony for Eve who couldn't say
with anything resembling confidence
if, all in all, she wouldn't rather stay
incarcerated than perhaps commence
imperfect futures with a less than perfect tense

feeling inside. But what will be will be
and Eve succumbed once more to healing sleep
trusting in Ned because it seemed that he
surely had more to do than tell a heap
of lies, so after counting ninety sheep
she slipped away in line with nature's laws,
cares drifting free like ripples on the deep
for angel promises can show no flaws -
At dawn she wakened in the arms of Santa Claus,

or so he said, and certainly beside
the bed she saw a neatly folded pile
of fur-lined scarlet rags. But when she tried
to picture Christmas cards and reconcile
the beard, the ruddy face and happy smile
with this ill-shaven youth, it wouldn't do.
she said, "Hi Wullie. Here's a fine surprise.
I guess it had to be the toad or you.
Now, rescue me and then we'll have a glass or two".

"What, now?" said Wullie, who had other plans.
"Aye, now!" said Eve, "I've been here long enough,
the food's all gone, I've finished all the cans
and had to live on fungus. It's been tough."
"There's gratitude!" said Wullie. "You can stuff
your castles!" As the cruel words were spoken
a bolt of lightning struck him on the scruff
melting his very bones. Was Eve heart broken?
Not much. He'd left behind his sneakers as a token.

Empty Roads

These are the empty roads with barren fields
on either side. The fence is well maintained
but forms no barrier. To cross it yields
no bounty. No-one goes where nothing's gained.

Here was a vineyard, planted with Grenache.
Deep-rooted vines, they were the last to die.
A painter caught them, green against the ash
but lived to see them wither, by and by.

Where no trees shade the ancient burial mound
the winds that gleaned the topsoil from the stones
whistle their idiot tunes, round and around,
as if to call to dance the nameless bones.

The days of grief, of mourning, all are done:
how shall a sigh be heard, where none draws breath?
The last war on mortality is won,
for we are done with life, and done with death.

We sojourned long as creatures of the soil,
endured eternal rounds of death and birth,
to end as gods, rewarded for our toil.
Look! We have built the Moon upon the Earth.

Ego and Muse 8

E: It's time to sort this out, once and for all.
M: Sounds ominous. You wouldn't rather wait
till after supper?
E: No. Get on the ball.
Rules. I want rules!
M: to break?
E: to formulate
the perfect sonnet.
M: Jings!
E: You've been around
two thousand years ..
M: far more! Forget the first
three quarters. No example has been found
before ..
E: Stick to the point!
M: If Damien Hirst
can slice a cow in two to wide applause ..
E: unmerited ..
M: perhaps. But if it shows
the artist loves ideas over laws?
E: So, give me some ideas? I suppose
you're full of them?
M: I can't believe I'm hearing
this question.
E: Well?
M: Best stick to Engineering.

Ego and Muse 7

M: You're looking glum ..
E: No wonder! Where were you
last night? Don't tell me - better things to do?
Off partying with others of your kind
without a thought ..
M: I thought you wouldn't mind ..
E: Not mind?? When I was planning to compose
a monumental ..
M: mass of turgid prose?
I read your opening lines and ..
E: That's enough!
M: My sentiments exactly.
E: You can stuff
your witticisms up your grecian ..
M: urn?
It's cracked and clicheed, but could serve a turn.
Now, since I'm here and willing to assist,
what is my lord's desire?
E: Too late! We've missed
Decisive Moments thanks to your infernal
inconstancy ..
M: but poetry's eternal,
born of a feeling, not of an event.
E: But Cartier Bres ..
M: a photographic gent
gifted, I grant, but in another sphere.
E: You miss my point entirely. This New Year
began a new millennium. A page
of history turned. The dawn of a new age.
Two thousand years - perhaps you didn't know?
M: I danced with gods three thousand years ago.
Last night there came a mist upon the hill,
gentle and soft, enough to damp the shrill
cacophony of fireworks in the town,
enough to hide the street lamps. Looking down
all was engulfed in grey, yet close at hand -
bright blossom on the gorse ..
E: I understand
your point. You're on a nature kick. OK.
But this is not just any other day.
To pin it down in words, that is my mission.
M: Churlish of Sun to rise, without permission.

Ego and Muse 6

M: I see you're having fun ..
E: What's that to you?
No time to mess around. There's work to do.
Real Work, none of your mincing villanelles.
An Epic of the kind that ..
M: never sells.
E: You've not seen mine ..
M: thank Zeus! Why waste your time?
E: You're wasting mine. I'll write without you. I'm
about to make my mark, you wait and see.
I'll very soon ..
M: come running back to me.
But carry on. I'll not be far away
and while you grind I'll find a game to play.
E: Peace, perfect peace, and now it just remains
to choose an angle and apply my brains.
Sad Mother Earth's Last Labour Has Begun.
Volcanoes Spew And Earthquakes ..
M: fun, fun, fun,
what subtlety, what grace ..
E: What's wrong with you?
M: I stand in wonder at "Volcanoes Spew"
E: Yes, I was rather proud of that as well.
M: True inspiration!
E: Thank you. I can tell
you're coming round to realise that I
have most unusual talent ..
M: That's no lie.
E: But since you think my imagery so good
perhaps I shall begin with it?
M: You should!
E: Volcanoes Spew With Enervating Quickness
Sad Mother Earth Exhibits ..
M: morning sickness?

Ego and Muse 5

M: Remember me? It seems so long ago
when last we wrote a verse. I hope you know
that practice ..
E: practice? ..
M: practice is the key.
E: Easy for you to say, but as for me
I have to earn a crust ..
M: through thick and thin?
E: A cliche!
M: like your crust ..
E: don't rub it in!
M: So talk to me ..
E: about?
M: the way it feels
to work your life away. I kick my heels
in idle dalliance without a thought
of what tomorrow brings, while you ..
E: I'm not
immortal. That's the difference. If I were
I'd gladly join you ..
M: Ah, so you'd prefer
the artist's life?
E: You bet!
M: A shame you lack
the dedication ..
E: Liar!
M: just a fact.

Ego and Muse 4

E: Sadly my inner strength has ebbed away
leaving me dull and tired. Perhaps today
less of a bold assault - a softer style.
Maybe the great campaign can wait a while.
M: (Who would have guessed - a mild attack of flu
changes him more than all my wiles can do.
Even his rhythm's strange. I'll play along.)
What'll it be today?
E: Perhaps a song
ushering in the Spring. Hail ..
M: Robert Hooke,
constant in time of stretch (it's in the book.)
E: Season of mists ..
M: that's Autumn ..
E: Spring as well
Daffodils ..
M: by the crowd?
E: Oh, go to hell.
Why are you set on wrecking all I write?
M: Better to wait until you're feeling bright.
E: Pastoral verse can scarcely tax the brain ..
M: Pastoral pap, perhaps. You'll try in vain
ever to synthesize convincing joy
even to fool yourself. I shan't destroy
anything worth preserving, never fear.
E: What do you recommend?
M: A quiet beer.
E: Maybe I should relax ..
M: I hope you do.
E: Follow the set of sun ..
M: to rise anew.

Ego and Muse 3

E: Perhaps you're right. Perhaps I shouldn't try
to change the world alone. I feel that my
great power may lie in deepest tragedy -
displaying dark despair. Now let me see,
an epic on the suffering of man ..
M: Pursuing a fated path since time began?
E: You're catching on ..
M: I'm latching on to you
to free you from your fetid point of view.
E: What's wrong?
M: Why tragedy? Who wants to weep
alone? Your lives are brief. A peaceful sleep
to close a laughing day is higher aim.
E: Then how shall I attain the peak of fame
the world reserves for tragedy alone?
M: If fame is all you seek - you're on your own.
E: (She's touchy about fame. I wonder why?)
This is the plan so far - to show how I
have suffered, tell the world of my despair
and agony ..
M: the world should even care
for your small pain? You're no-one in their eyes ..
E: Not yet, perhaps, but when they realise
the depth of my ..
M: duckpond? When will you end
this dull refrain? Better to please one friend
with kindly words, and raise a timely smile
than drown your blessed 'world' in seas of bile.
E: I thought you were supposed to work for me ..
M: For you my friend, or for your poetry?

Ego and Muse 2

E: I need your help.
M: At last, you've realised!
What will it be today? I am surprised
You've called me in so soon.
E: What's that to you?
I want to write a poem ..
M: It's what I do.
E: I need you to provide me with the rhyme
and count the feet to keep it all in time
and maybe check the rhythm now and then
M: (Is this my fate - a metric mother hen
for imbeciles?) What is my Lord's desire?
E: A noble work to set the world ..
M: on fire?
E: I haven't started yet!
M: It's hard to tell.
E: to set the world to rights and weave a spell
of peace and love, so war will be no more
and everyone..
M: It's all been said before
to no avail. Why do you think that you
can undertake what Milton couldn't do?
E: But I can read and learn from his mistake.
Let's get to work, Muse. Give yourself a shake!
Sleep'st Thou, Sad World, in Black Erroneous Bunk
quite inharmonious like ..
M: Thelonius Monk?

Ego and Muse 1

E: Come over here, I need you ..
M: very true -
some happy day you'll see how much you do,
but let it pass ..
E: Be quiet! Look at that ..
M: A sonnet ..
E: Yes, but what a piece of tat!
There's missing feet, ham rhyme ..
M: and yet, you know
in spite of many faults, the feelings show,
and there's a pretty phrase ..
E: the grammar stinks -
"to boldly go" I wonder what he thinks
he's playing at. Seems to me he's pretty dense.
Let's have a bit of fun at his expense.
We'll tear his work to shreds ..
M: do I detect
the need to flaunt your meagre intellect?
Lambast him now and what will you achieve?
Cheap laughs or costly enemies? Aggrieve
a fellow poet and you harm us all ..
E: You're turning soft ..
M: and proud of it. A wall
of trophies I can gladly live without.
Destruction's not what poetry's about ..
E: But satire is a well established ..
M: Fool!
Save satire for the predators who rule
by fear, or politicians for their lies,
or bully bosses rooting in their styes ..
E: Like Cecil?
M: Yes! But let the fellow be
whose only sin is in his poetry.

Dubaibun 4

Above 37 Celsius, different rules apply. Compared with the surrounding air, you are cold. You might feel hot, but the air doesn't care about that. It sees you as a place to dump heat. You are also a place to dump water. When you step outside, you might think you immediately break sweat. You don't; that comes later. The water that coats your body is just condensation. It coats your watch too and a moment's reflection tells you that doesn't sweat. A proper hat prevents sunstroke (anyone who wears a baseball cap deserves sunstroke) but does nothing to ward off heatstroke. You avoid that by walking slowly and drinking warm water. The body is not stupid. The sweating reaction is for losing heat to cooler surroundings. With time, your body learns not to waste good sweat into hot, wet air. When you can do 5 hours at 43 Celsius, you know you're acclimatised.

Suits from multinational corporations
airily dismissing us all as towel-heads
fail to see the beauty of understanding
woven in dishtash

Dubaibun 3

The Indian bicycle keeps left, even in Dubai, the better to avoid onrushing lorries. For minimum efficiency, it is pedalled with the heels, bare or sandalled. The trapezoidal stand is fitted with a broken retaining spring to help it trail along the road. The rear pannier rack is perfectly adapted to carry forty flattened cardboard boxes or a serene wife whose flowing saree just knows to keep clear of the spokes. However bumpy the road, she never drops the baby. The bell works. If you graduate to a small truck, you hang it all round with painted chains and festoon the cab with tassels and tapestries.

Those the advertisers dismiss as no-ones
those without the money to bloat the bloated
burgeon through the city in forms and colours
born of their genius

Dubaibun 2

It's a desert. Water is pumped from bore-holes or sea-level desalination plants, so there is no mains pressure. In the houses, 'cold' water comes from a storage tank in the loft and for six months of the year is very much hotter than the hot water that comes from a cylinder in the air-conditioned living space. You get used to things like that. Kinko's, rendered in Arabic, if read from left to right, almost spells Jesus in English. You don't get used to that, or to the Kharbash Institute of Motoring.

Shoals of abras buffet their way to Deira
while the creek resounds with the call to prayer
Friday is the morning the streets are empty
even of laughter

Dubaibun 1

The mornings here are the best time. It couldn't be called cool - usually about 30 C (86 F) by 7 a.m. But it feels fresh as the humidity is still not too high. By noon, the temperature will have soared another 10 degrees or so, and will stay up there till early evening. At dusk, as it starts to cool down (slightly), it also becomes very still and humid, making any exertion sweaty. It's May now, and this pattern will continue through September, peaking in July and August with at least another 10 degrees to climb. Government thermometers in Dubai never register above 49 C (120 F) because, at 50 C, outdoor workers are allowed to stop, and that would be bad for business.

Indian roadmen suffer their fiery ritual
building homes where no-one will give them house-room
while the Kyrgyz women of mass destruction
paint for the evening

Denys of Burgundy

Courage, friends, the devil is dead
and now is the time to make amends
for tears we drew and the fear that bled
courage, friends.
Welcome the joy that sunlight sends,
showing as ghosts the words we said,
ghosts of the night that never ends
but need not hold us, ghosts that fed
ravenous on the lie that lends
truth to the cry the warrior led -
Courage, friends.

Death (after Villon)

Death, you is my woman now.
You is all that's left for me
since you snaffled Laura-Lee
leaving me to wonder how
life goes on. OK, I bow
to your every whim, but gee,
Death,
we is cruising for a row
if you dawdle aimlessly.
Move your ass! What's it to be,
Chicken Flu or Crazy Cow,
Death?

Dancing with Jim

One of the Beer Bar crowd was blind from birth.
We called him Jim. It might have been his name.
He carried a folded stick and hated dogs.
He said he'd rather barge about than trust
his life to a beast that liked to roll in crap;
besides, he said, he couldn't stand their smell.

He said it was a lie that sense of smell
or touch could be enhanced by blindness. Birth
denied him sight. It was a load of crap
to hint at hidden blessings. He said - Name
me ten blind millionaires! He put his trust
in guts and hated people more than dogs.

Detested, most of all, the cant that dogs
the life of the disabled. He could smell
hypocrisy at twenty yards. Why trust
the medics? They had botched a simple birth -
starved him of oxygen, then found a name
to hide behind. Professionals were crap.

One night he said - The devil wouldn't crap
in a dump like this. It's barely fit for dogs.
It's dirty, noisy, sweaty, male, to name
but four, and let's not kid ourselves, the smell
is like a public bog, an after-birth
of academia's labour. You can trust

a blind man's nose on this! Likewise, I'll trust
your judgement to escort me from this crap
to anywhere with women. (Here the birth
of an idea). Decent ones, no dogs,
don't palm me off on some old whore. I'd smell
her soon enough, before she'd said her name.

We took him to a night-club with a name
like Tramps or Trumps. They let us in, on trust.
In far too loud a voice, Jim said - the smell
of fresh young crumpet, better than the crap
we've left behind. Remember now, no dogs.
The white-eyed man gyrated, giving birth

to shapes without a name and scared the crap
from us. He'd placed his trust in faithless dogs.
The girlish smell of fear - his curse, from birth.

Cricket Days

Deep in the cool shade of a chestnut tree
it was the work of minutes to forget
what we were looking for. Apparently
there was a spare ball in the bag which let
the game continue. Anyway, we set
to, on the serious business of trying
to establish who was better at lying.

Gordon (he was at private school) went first -
"One night we were having a midnight feast,
the whole of Wilkie dorm, and Brocklehurst
was lookout. It was great, but when we least
expected it, he said - there's a huge beast
stomping around in the cloisters. I've seen
a picture of one. It's a wolverine.

"We didn't believe him of course, until
we heard it howling, baying at the moon.
And then it leapt onto the window-sill.
Somebody said - 'Where's the air gun?', but soon
we saw that it was friendly. Hugh Muldoon
gave it some lemonade and a biscuit.
I wanted to stroke it but wouldn't risk it.

"It came every Wednesday after that.
We called it Robertson. I don't know who
came up with the name. Lord Mount Ararat
was my suggestion. Suddenly, it grew
great scaly wings, like dinosaurs', and flew
twice round the room, picking up Andrew Benn.
We never saw either of them again".

Me next - "There's these guys diggin up the road
an me an Roddy's watchin them. Wan said -
'Ah'm furra slash', an pits his drill doon. Goad,
ye should huv seen his tadger. It wis red
an blue wi yella stripes, an at the head
there's this wart the size o a gobstopper
an Ah says tae Roddy - 'Jeez whit a whopper'".

Gordon expected more, but I'd run dry.
To this day, I think mine the purer tale,
shorter, I grant you. Private schools apply
thick bullshit to the prepubescent male.
The batsman swung his willow like a flail,
connected, with that glorious summer sound.
It landed by the one we hadn't found.

The Costermonger

Only the call of a costermonger
turned her around in the lonely street
from the press of gloom she feared to meet.
Words he'd said and the look he'd flung her
ended the joy of the times he'd rung her
saying she made his life complete.
Only the call of a costermonger
turned her around. In the lonely street,
something of pain, of pride, of hunger
made of his voice a wand to beat
out of her mind ideas of defeat,
leaving her lighter, strangely younger.
Only the call of a costermonger
turned her around in the lonely street.

Copenhagen

A youth choir's trip to Denmark - life between concerts.

dedication
after he won the
stay awake competition
(I made 50 hours)

Brian persevered
collapsing suddenly in
Christus factus est

a doctor yelled is
there a doctor in the house

testing his english

proclaimed Brian tired
you rehearse very long hours?
very long we said

wind down
after the concert
we knotted our handkerchiefs
wore them on our heads

croaked locus iste
in monty python voices
saw that it was good

took turns to wear
Ruth's seven inch platforms (red)
sang knock kneed chicken

and bow legged hen

wandering carlsberg ways
in unannounced joy

patrol
Ranald (no typo)
brushed his beard as bald men do
pleased to raise a laugh

later much later
he chucked his job (architect)
trained to be a clown

he led the raiding
party organised feathers
and blankets for his

willing indians we
handed and kneed hidden by
his sense of drama

status
Neil knew my sweet lord
had a diminished seventh
on takes so long my

and was king until
we had it sussed then he
became Neil again

my contribution
was the sudden change to A
on 'fies my soul (Cliff)

a leaderless band
status was having the chord
which felt right still does

niche
Alec couldn't sing
so Raymond deemed him tenor
provided he didn't

he tried once (only)
aleatorically
in media Mozart

next year as Feste
his rain it raineth every
day
brought the house down

natural actors
look at the world through no
stinted spectacles

icons
dormitories yield
rare opportunity to
observe dimensions

someone had to say
hey Brian you're well hung it
released the tension

after which no probs
unless perhaps for Angie
when push came to shove

my hat blew under
a passing pickup Brian
fetched it back improved

pebble dash
the higher voices
glistened with ambre solaire
men prefer blisters

platformed bikini'd
susan gazelled the beach chased
by a whole choir's eyes

and a wasp only
sopranos and contraltos
hoped she'd break a leg

tenors and basses
fondly anticipated
a sting in the tail

blossom
gripping unloved beer
too shy for empty hands or
saying goodnight Jim

acquired no empties
only a reputation
thanks to Ian whose

every photograph
showed him with a bottle and
an embarrassed smile

Jean stroked him towards
cider showed how he could wear
his new found mantle

passing
Val and I devised
a way to shake hands masons
for a day we stepped

right footed rings left
knees skyward hip to hip pleased
to start a trend Neil

generous from the
sidelines pontificated
in the loud deep voice

of a non-dancer
breakfasts here are excellent
he said watching Val