We Try To Tame The Earth

Plough it, plant it, pile it up
This element we base life on
And shape to shelter what in fact
Was never ours to build upon

And yet we seek to stake our claim
Invent new names for landscaping
To show we’re clever and we’re staying
More important under heaven

Though making mud-pies said enough
We add our words – legitimise
Earth Mother sounds a lot less rough
Than bitch, doe, hen or dam. The prize

For overcoming nature’s raw
And unassuming cycled year
Producing rare fruits more and more
In ways our kids may learn to fear

Is profit for the prudent man
With arms outstretched to grab the loot
We pillage what were gifts from land
We’ve learned to grind beneath our boot

But Earth’s enduring, will remain
In spite of all we hope to do
Our efforts futile, all in vain
Compared with when the Earth was new

Mere upstarts, mayflies, we shall prove
And soon enough we will be gone
As forestry reclaims the roof
Civilisation built upon

The surface Adam barely trod
If we believe the word of Man
Whose hand was guided not by God
But greed for what he would attain

What lessons learned at Mother’s knee
Of how much plenty may procure
As Earth comes after currency
We set our hearts on more and more
Originally posted on Poem Pigeon 30th October 2013

Debussy hour

As the first strains of the piano
Arpeggios arch through the gloom
Of the blinds-pulled living room
You curl in my arms
Nuzzle for a breast
As if you were not outgrowing
Your babyhood
So keen to stretch skyward
When will I be a Big Girl, Mummy?
Soon enough, my lovely,
Soon enough.
This hour is my solace.
Your warm breath on my shoulder
Legs folded around my thigh
We embrace upon the sofa.
I ignore the floor
What little of it remains visible
In the chaos of your wake
Toys strewn like flotsam.
I am drowning by inches
Yet this is not playtime
I will not despair
For my once neat home
It matters little
And shall be overcome
Once we are both back on our feet.
Eyelids flutter as we reach for
The second movement
Ears adjusting to familiar rhythms
I reach for the mouse
Scroll to the next page
Of our story
Welcoming this forced pause
Suspended in our time
Inhabiting this shared space
To the end of the lullaby

Rediscovering myself

I am looking for the joy that sang in the world
When I wore out my hand-me-down shoes
Saving my fare and walking home
Through Portuguese neighbourhoods
Listening for conversations
Whose words tasted foreign on my tongue

I can almost remember
Watching the sky grow dark with cloud
Anticipating lightening playing
Across high Victorian windows
As voices droned at the edge of hearing
From my seat on the mat

I am sure it may be found somewhere
This sense of wonder, just out of sight
Perhaps around the next corner
If I can hold to optimism
Grit my teeth in a rictus grin
And let tired bones carry me onward

I may see myself reflected in memory
Surely I am stood there waiting
Perched on a doorstep, just out of sight
Down a dusk-dusted alley
Outside the daily grind-you-down
Of this commuter-belt world we inhabit

Where yesterday’s news is recycled, repurposed,
Shrunk to fit the typeface and house style
Even opinions can be retrofitted
For safety’s sake, toned down to win arguments
Bland, dulled to match our senses
Sleepwalking through middle age

While violence echoes around the chambers
Of our video games, our online escape
The falsehood in which we lurk, concealing our true faces
With old images, carefully posed
Retouched for personal vanity and public use
Long before fine lines trailed roadmaps across our skin

Meaningless arguments abound across the Twittersphere
While the atmosphere of the living room
Takes second place and we sit, heads in our screens
Commuting our sentence, communing with contemporaries
To the whine of an air conditioning unit
And the slow, but certain death of adulthood

Who are these selfie-prone, entitled shadows?
I bite down on their tales
Squaring the circle, trend-bucking
In this year’s Melancholy
Today I will be wearing blue once again
Practising mindlessness, in search of me