Head of State

Alone is his pyjamas
After the sycophants
Are all in their beds
The dictator, silent
Examines his image
By moonlight
Wrinkles and lines
Cratered temples
And soft-joweled planes
Surrounded by wealth
In the marbled rooms
Of a haunted palace
He did not inherit
But strives to display
To best advantage
For diplomatic reasons
Dreaming of leaner,
Keener days
Before he became
A political prisoner
Trapped and tamed
By the violent success
Of his own actions

Deserted and abandoned youth

Choose certain death and ostracism
Exile self-imposed; ‘tradition’
Loss of home and family
Born of faith’s supremacy

So young, with minds not fully fed
In fear of first missteps, unled
Some seek to live by others’ rules
And hope to never have to choose

While those whose choice was thrust upon
Unwary shoulders, far too young
Have just enough experience
To recognise their own good sense

And knowing that some errors will
Occur despite intentions, still
Are less afraid to persevere
And build the life they want right here.

Though actions have their aftermath
There is no righteous, clear-cut path
Please do not fear all consequence
Change is not dangerous; though dense

And unenlightened elders may
Feel life no longer goes their way
As age and distance emphasise
The loss of youth before sad eyes

Unready to relinquish reins
To those in throes of growing pains.
Decisions to abandon trust
Give up hope and freedoms; lust

For life of lesser contemplation
Out of social obligation;
Turn to ends more violent
Ignore suggestions, kindly meant

And quick condemn all other views –
Is this the path you wish to choose?
Consider this, before you do
For truly, this choice rests with you:

Such suicide invites abuse
Of others that may follow blood
For love, for family, for feud
Will throw themselves away; – jihad

In mourning for those gone before
Their minds made waste, still immature
And more than one will idolise
The first to die – if death you prize

Above the life you hold in hand
So understand, if you have planned
To be the martyr for your tribe
And leave the others still alive

The minute you take up this course
Imagining rewards; Firdaws
You lose control of what is shown
And once you’ve gone, the whole thing’s blown:

With ashes scattered over sand
Your image will be used to brand
Misinformation into truth –
Deserted and abandoned youth.

Survivor

I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
The wreckage.
Collateral, damaged
In the fallout
Of a truly
Decadent society
That looked up to its
Graven images,
Photoshopped.
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Lifestyles.
Just me – a bunch of
Bad habits
And under the rubble,
One drug-addled
Rock guitarist.
Perhaps if we put our
Heads together
We can try
To find words
To remember.

The Reckoning

In these fractions I seek solace
That infarction is no menace
To my own unknown condition
Though my colleague lies on trollies
As they fill her veins with serum
Hoping vasos are dilated
I’m surrounded by the vision
Such careers are overrated
In my secretary’s costume
I must take on further duties
Try to prop up one more rostrum
And ignore last rites for loot. He’s
Working from his home computer
While I ride the bus to nowhere
In the misty morning chatter
That’s conceived to make me go there
How much more am I allotted?
This existence, mere survival
Will I too go out, garotted
By a heart attack unrivalled?
As my logic fails, convince me;
I’ve decisions that are burning
Every inch would rather lynch me
Than continue painful earning.

Although I rarely explain my scribblings, as I prefer to let the reader interpret them at will, this poem, and the one that follows are written in response to a recent event. The woman with whom I share a desk at my day job suffered a heart attack this week. The events on that occasion and which have followed have caused me to question our place in the universe with perhaps more focused ferocity than usual.

Untitled

This is the place we come to die
We secretaries, in our rows
Two frozen stiffs, a living lie
Few care to note, and no one knows.

While patient, we sit out our time
In managing capricious men
Whose fruitless whims, though not malign
Wear lines on brows and fray each hem.

One more may chew on dust this hour
No more to block electric space
In diary; a heart lacks power
To beat a path through empty wastes.

We are not dumb, and yet, we wait
Preparing meeting rooms, hot drinks
Awaiting proof; appreciate
A mind, unheeded, soul that shrinks

And though the autopsy infers
What killed her was nobody’s fault
That one can prove, (except for hers)
With such a sedentary vault

Of memories of closet, desk,
A filing cabinet to store
The means of murder – this slow death
Made up of tedium and chore.

Outing, The Absurd

Stuttering pickles, confounded by paint
While floral designs’ floating chaos smells quaint
Old ladies and bug spray, some mothballs to go
Enjoying their day at the end of the show

A nonsense of feelings, of sounds and of taste
Bemoaning new wrinkles, fine hair and all waste
They’re off to the seaside, to sit and slurp tea
Just Harriet, Ethel, Jemima and Fi

The driver had better keep eyes on the road
Or our Ethel has threatened he’ll turn to a toad
While Harriet’s brolly is pleasantly queer
The spiky end’s sharp when it swings past your ear

Jemima’s gone missing, been absent for years
They always invite her, despite tantrums, tears
For Fi still remembers the role Jemi’ played
In keeping her steady in service, a maid

Look out for each other, they’ve done all their lives
Through brothers and lovers, old husbands, new wives
The die has been cast, there’s a pin in the map
And the cats have been fed and the dog’s done his lap

Now the ladies are off for a whistlestop tour
To find dancing and drinks on a pier they adore
We’ll see them again, they have given their word
But they’ve gone in pursuit of amusements absurd

The cult of youth

Young, strong, slim and glowing, healthy
Set in mind and body-wealthy
Faces fortunate, not frail
Flaunt our features, wear them well

Snigger at the lesser beings
Those whose ill-health, meaner means
Has brought with clear, defective genes
A sentence: life – no more than peons

They’ll not amass our hills of beans
Content must be with smaller dreams
Cannot aspire to join our schemes
No matter skills or knowledge gleaned

For visible, we’ll not give quarter
To an ugly son or daughter
All we want is what you see
To know we are still young, carefree

Our cult of youth looks outward bound
Designer footwear cushions ground
From god-like strides as effortless
We turn from age. Though Time’s caress

May touch our tanned and flawless skin
None will to Nature dare give in
We’ll cut our bodies on a whim
Reshape our figures, smooth our skin

More pills and potions will we try
In hope, perfection we can buy
As proof against that living lie
We cannot teach ourselves to fly.

Yet all who crawl upon this Earth
By careless accident of birth
(In view of those who lack their mirth
And little know their fellows’ worth)

Will in the end find more than looks
Do tip to balance Peter’s books
And leave the shepherd to his crooks
Whose vanity bred cock-a-snooks

When end of days takes pride of place
Beribboned, scarecrows, clad in lace
In horror may all stand and face
Their judgement day among the race

Of riff raff we thought far behind
That caught us up, and being kind
Did not disturb dysmorphic mind;
Self-satisfied, perspective-blind

But pitying deluded state
Ephebophiles with much self-hate
Resemblance to their idols late
In clothing only – such is Fate

This cult of youth is futile jest
No man’s immortal, nor can rest
At favoured age – we all are pressed
By march of season, bib to vest

Polka Dot Dress

The stocking tops
That winked at me
As hips were rocking
Mini’s swish

Were indiscreet
And quite a treat
To showcase pins
Just so delish’

As lover’s hand
Unclasping yours
To brush imagined
Lint away

Caressed a cheeky
Glimpse of what
Was all too briefly
On display

I pursed my lips
And flicked the scarf
That passed for chic
To my dismay

And felt at last
The jealousy
Occasioned by
My own decay

Now deemed too old
I missed my cue
To frolic in
My underthings

And now in public
Daren’t do
Exposure of
What nature brings

I bear no grudge
Though smooth-skinned youth
Exists to underline
Old age

But bare my head
And paint my face
And lie when asked
What’s all the rage?

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

Insubstantial

Falling in love again
With another dream
How inconvenient
Soppy and obscene

Too many crowded rooms
Longing looks and sighs
Corny lines and flat champagne
And twinkles in our eyes

Falling in love again
Old enough to know
How much is fantasy
What little truth we show

Yet in advancing age
Imagine how we try
We sip our drinks and steal a scene
And go back home to cry

Falling in love again
Should have learnt by now
Too many handsome men
With troubles on their brow

Cast caution to the wind
And settle on a cloud
We see the signs and pass the time
Conduct affairs out loud

Falling in love again
So sensibly we dance
Let Nature take her course
Avoid the path of Chance

Filled with the emptiness
Of knowing that we can’t
We’ll somehow warm to loneliness
We dare not risk our hearts

Expulsé du Paradis

Ce qu’on aurait appellé l’atout principal
de ce pèlerinage m’est perdu.
On a laissé mon coeur se distraire pendant
assez de temps.  Maintenant, il est cuit.
Et on n’a plus de voies, plus d’avenues,
plus de dépit, plus de tristesse.
On n’a plus de sentiments actuels, seule, nue.
Je devrais te quitter, aller explorer d’autres possibilités
de ce monde, dans ce monde,
puis qu’il existe de plusieurs possibilités.
Mais j’ai plus de volonté me jeter dans l’océan
Pour voir si j’ai du quoi flotter, ou si
Je me suis habillée avec aplomb en plomb.
Et les jours passent, sans que je m’en aperçoive…
La vieillesse m’atteint à l’âge d’un quart de siècle.
J’ai un regard fixé, tout droit, sans voir.
La lueur que j’avais trouvé dans vos yeux s’est éteint
Et je restes dans le noir.