Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

A Life in The Spotlight

I was born to a wizard with long emerald fingernails
Abracadab-ing it in Salisbury playhouse
Daddy-O jumped with the Jets up in Perth The-a-ter
While his skinny frame could kick it he did Roman Shakespeare
Singing sunshine on the sand, moonlight on the sea
Leicester Haymarket enchanted even Bloody Mary
Down in Ipswich for a darker spell, he wheeled away
As Annie vomited three dinners, FDR held sway
Then a Machiavell, his Ross would scheme and plot
While a Scottish king was done away with, dad was not
Though a Streetcar named Desire strung his Steve along
Dad just waited until dark to get his murder on
Then a brief respite as Ironside in Canterbury
Before landing as the Miller in those tales so merry
Off to India he trumpeted with pachyderms
Telling all ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ ‘cos it might have germs
Back in London the Etcetera was proud to say
Jamie Boy was Gonna Be Alright, (despite the play)
Then Best Actor for the London New Play Festival
Dad as Keith informed us ‘Why Bananas Bend’ y’all
When his feet began a-tapping and his suit was zoot
Rats blew ‘Long About Midnight’ with a brassy toot
‘Fuente Ovejuna’ kicked around his Expo’ tour
With dad’s Torturer and Ortuno beside the door
Then a thirst for British Ale and ‘Images of Tiffin’
At the Old Red Lion, Stanley flashed – alive and kicking
‘Til a retrospective jackboot called for Dad’s best spiv
To revive the hope ‘Peace in Our Time’ might yet let live
Doctor Scott and his Hot Eddie rocked the horror shows
When the English Theater, Frankfurt kept him on his toes
Such a ‘Boon’ behind the camera, the Bill saw red
So dad Whistled down the wind and wore a badge instead
Then Big Daddy (as my father had become in truth)
Played his role like any Kitty on a Hot Tin Roof
Mister Mister rocked the cradle ‘til the cradle fell
Flung his Faust before the philistines in downtown Hell
He sang ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ as he toured and toured
While the greasepaint kept on stinking and the crowd still roared
Such a ‘Sweet Smell of Success’ this business can produce
And the theatre was dad’s life and soul and that’s the truth.

I wrote this in tribute to my father, who passed away on 9th May 2014. By no means a complete list of his acting credits, these were the memorable bits and pieces that helped shape my childhood. He will be missed.

Loop-de-wholesale

Made in the land of make-believe
Where lawyers play ‘who’d you believe?’
And corporations patent hints
Before they’ve read the finer print
Safety testing doesn’t sell
As competitive ne’er do wells
Are underestimating time
To roll their products off the line
So what’s to do when local law
Prohibits what has gone before?
But legislate your private loop
To keep them jumping through the hoop
‘Domestic’ laws will not apply
While we want foreign states to buy
Substandard, globocentric tat
‘Til ecosystem must fall flat
So here’s to Canada’s defeat
This business model works a treat
We’ll make our fortune and then some
Just looking out for number one

Ten – Thirty

Falling in love with the painting we hung
Over my piano – a dark and rainy night
A bridge of cars and glowing lights
Artfully smudged to please
A scene of childhood dreams – when I
Still believed good would come of arguments,
When all of life was a journey
I’d gaze at the rain on the glass, reflected
In the sepia and orange flashes of each lamp
As we crawled through the traffic jams
On balding tyres in the darkening wet
Our parents itching to speed through red lights
In such a hurry to drive each other to distraction.
Crossing the river to the South Bank for
Another sycophantic symphony. Performance Art.
Adults in their finery who’d brought their
Best feet to put themselves forward
And left their manners at home in their holey jeans.
The gloom of this familiar view is comforting.
I can remember the Christmas at my Grandparents’ flat
When my Grandpa threw a tantrum ‘cos the
Tree trimming was taking too long.
My sister was inconsolable and cried for an hour
For our ever-distant mother, absent again
And I helped Grandma in the kitchen until
The storm clouds blew over and all
Was cherubic plaster smiles and tinsel twice over.
The picture knew how I felt.
The picture was the view from the bridge
Another bridge, in a different city
But no matter; we understood each other.