Going Blonde

Five smooth hairs
Sit smugly on my brow
Staking their claim on my sanity
Tweezers forgotten on the carpet
The agony of plucking
Fingers shaking
Each unwelcome visitor
In the harsh grey light of dawn
Making the simplest remedy
The most painful
That one hair, evicted
Clings to my clothing like a child
Sobbing at abandonment
Unwilling and ashen
In stark contrast to my usual
Sombre-toned jumper
And wild auburn curls
I feel my age settle like a mask
Sewn to my temples
With threads of silver

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The Subordinate Clause

Junior, but capable.
Menial tasks dominate
Your working day
With their mundane diversity
And shared glance of frustration:
The single sheet of paper
He couldn’t be bothered
To retrieve upon printing
From three feet away;
The letter he asked you to fold
And envelop in its papery cocoon;
The thirsty plant he brought from home
Sat on his desk and parched
To an impious stink
Until he insisted you water it –
Just like you water him.  His
Endless calls for cups of something
(Coffee, tea, squash, water, milk)
Every conceivable beverage taken
In all possible forms.  Fickle;
His feeble tastes changing
From one day to the next
Just to trip you and trap you
With an unavoidable misstep.
Perhaps he did not receive
Sufficient attention in infancy;
Missed out, jealous of the other boys
With their doting parents, playmates?
Surely some great childhood trauma
Intervened somehow, to cause this
Arrested development?  Some event
Stunted emotional growth and maturity
To make him such a needy adult
Crying to be mothered constantly.
The paradox remains;
Self-important in matching socks
And padded shoulders.
Despising all the while
The weaker sex in the workplace
With casual put downs
Carefully couched comments
To denigrate capable colleagues
Whose sole crime is their very
Feminine mystique.
I hear him, wincing at the over-emphasis
Sweeping generalisation
Sniping at insignificant Susan with
His policy of PC imprecision.
Nudge, wink, snigger.
Calling you over, time and again
As if standing to speak to you
Is more trouble than you’re worth.

How my palms itch with the weight
Of the burden you carry.

War Song for Woolwich

Fear of an idea
Almost intangible
Until it bursts
Fully formed from the head

And flowers to fists
Shouting streets full of strangers
That tumble, concluding
The unwritten, read

Reacting, unwitting
To  pub propaganda
More salt in the wound
With each bucket of blood

Until rivalry forms
Lines appear, out of nowhere
Uncrossable gulf
No-man’s-land to divide

We’re in it to win
But we fall and lie broken
And understand nothing
While clutching our pride

I’m a GI nation

He’s gone for a soldier
But soon will return
So we wave plastic flags
Leave a light on at home

And plan for the victory
Parties galore
For that’s all that happens
When boys go to war

Stay calm, drinking tea
Wiping surfaces down
Keeping busy, you see
‘Til they march back to town

We don’t weep when in public
You mustn’t let on
Just how frightened you feel
Tell the kids where he’s gone

Service widows and wives
Now our comfort and rock
As you’re all in one boat
Unprepared for that knock

May the day never come
When a photo and frame
Takes the place of the man
Who has lent you his name

Imagination

We look up to our leaders
Prefer sharp suits, trim figures
Bright smiles and bicycles,
Firm handshakes, clean livers
A healthy lifestyle, standard pet
Someone you’d chat to, down the pub
Whose name you never quite forget
Who likes their job and calls it love
A man who fits the common mould
With pleasant spouse who keeps their cool
And plays at happy families
While kids attend a public school
Appearances mean more and more
We back the face that seems sincere
And hang our hopes upon the door
Reality is what we fear
They light our lives through frosted glass
The safety of the telly screen
And comforted by careful mask
We misinterpret what we’ve seen
Behind the scenes, those cogs of State
Less photogenic toil and plot
To feed the nation from one plate
These images so soon forgot