Indiscriminate Despair

A million subtle put-downs
In a thousand different ways
A wasted opportunity
Career path gone astray

A couple of promotions too
That went to someone else
With not as much experience
Nor vision, knowledge, skills

Adjusting one’s ambition
‘Til it fits within the norm
A lukewarm lover’s mission
To accept what still goes on

We breed another row
Of middle-rankers in our turn
Forgetting what we wanted
Was the change we couldn’t earn

Ah, Palmyra

We care more for ancient ruins
And destruction wrought on tombs
By whatever means they may
Than for lives that end today

While the blood and flesh and bone
Leaving everything they own
To escape the latest purge
Travel desert, sea and gorge

Those who voyage only land
On their uppers, close at hand
To the help they sorely need
Yet the politicians plead

Not to have to break their word
To the xenophobic horde
Those whose votes they barely won
From the hardened right, anon

Thus with bottle-necks and fence
We corral and harry hence
Workers that we sure could use
Grateful, welcome, unabused

Skilled and keen to integrate
To prop up our ageing State
In permissive company
Knowing just who let them be

As the fight takes to the skies
And the waves fill up with lies
We would throw away resource
Inconvenient and coarse

With no tally of the cost
Nor of what support is lost
Though our leaders might feel tall
While our borders stand, we fall

That’s OK! (by me)

Never try to date musicians
Actors, players or politicians
All who make fame their lifelong mission
Feel compelled to keep ambition

Uppermost in their mind’s eye.
Resisting those whose hopes may lie
In other kinds of pie-filled sky,
Aspire to happiness: decry

The complex marketing campaigns
To fill your dreams with endless strains
Of violins, and chilled champagne
(Someone is selling something vain)

You’re not obliged to join, partake
In putting out, appearing, fake
So falsely cheerful, on the make
We don’t all want the same big break

And there are many paths to tread
That do less harm and keep you fed
You could just read a book instead
To fill your soul, first fill your head

How sweet it is (to be loved by you)…

The idealist’s ideologue, congealed on his golden plate
Surrounded by powdered personae, the trappings of stagnant State
As one televisive advisory breaks silence to break away
The balance sheet of reality returns to red yesterday

Now mournful opposition jostles lines to pass old post
Decries each new position as they shuffle lots to roast
A deficit of vision and careers gone down the drains
Idyllic desperation for disparity remains

As rows of rats now queue to quit benighted, sinking boat
That put to sea on rumours, but was scuppered by the vote
Their captain hoped to walk the plank, to once again see land
But thanks to mutineers, he’ll take a shot for what was planned

Did not suit those who carried keys to privy, purse and pool
Who don’t take failure lightly, as it’s they who work to rule
And waiting in the wings to make an entrance, once again
Are other thoughtful fellows whose mark rarely leaves a stain

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.

Duellist

To whom must I carry
This fight for my life?
May I choose the weapon
I wield in such bout?

Too much goes unchallenged
To forego the knife
It’s all souls be damned
If we don’t have it out

Or is it unwritten
More truistic lore
That what may have been
Is what yet must endure?

If such be the ruling
I fancy it time
The tables were tipped
To new flavour of crime

I’m deluged by duty
The dreadfullest foe
And Wednesday’s child
Has a head-ful of woe

A small enough wager
This minimal soul
All but shredded for bandages
Wholesomely foul

To gather her forces
Aye, therein the rub
With little to muster
And less up above

But battle she will
Nay, still stronger – she must
Ere the blood in her veins
Stains the dust dirty rust

So passionless sweethearts
Untruthful and grey
Be leached of my love
And stay hidden away

I’ve a need to reclaim
All the hours I lost
And hold views on the interest
Added to cost

Here’s a health to the vigorous
May she prepare
For all that her demons
Can throw at her there

It soon will be ended
Decided and done
And with luck of the draw
She may keep what is won

Jacob’s Ladder

Poverty is hard to see
While growing up on toast and tea
I barely noticed its effect
We just got on with duties set

By those so practised to command
Unquestioning of task in hand
Until completed, so to bed
To rest our weary hearts and head

Yet catching toes on higher rung
While hearing others’ praises sung
I somehow over trod my groove
And moorings slipped, my mind did move

No longer cowed by sleight of birth
Unbending under weight and girth
I grasped this hook and pulled to see
What might be made with dignity

But not too far the ladder scaled
Before another turned and wailed
Unfairness at disparity
From what expectant they did see

As unbecoming in my stance
Though well-deserving of such chance
They wanted none with conscience there
Though they complained of life, unfair

With unchecked rage did rant and rave
Until they slipped, unseated save
For what was caught upon a nail
Until seams ripped and with a flail

Of arms and legs undignified
The other fell and so, he died
Unsettled, I, to see all eyes
So arid at this man’s surprise

I dared not breathe too long, nor loud
For fear they’d pick me from the crowd
Yet someone noted, by my air
I must have learned somehow to share

Instinctive camaraderie
Betrayed by actions that were ‘me’
Compassion at another’s fate
Too great my mercy, theirs too late

So shoved and pushed to halt my course
I stayed astride the ladder, worse
To know that I was caught, stuck fast
Between those who’d be first and last

In mind and stomach more than sick
To know such wealth might kill me quick
For feeling what they could not taste
Another’s worth and common waste

Vocational Draining

Hereditary traits
Insomnia, for one
With poor examples set
By siblings, dad and mum

A workaholic way
As conscience trips and taunts
The child that cannot play
At unproductive sports

The tendency to take
On tasks as yet unbid
Anxiety to shake
With tired limbs and head

It dulls the senses well
Self-medicated, thus
Until few feelings spill
To interrupt her thoughts

Her duties, she won’t shirk
It marks her one of us
She drags herself to work
Eyes closed upon the bus

Being Terrific

“I’m fine!” she says
Her most optimistic tone
All circuits revved
Tits and teeth on the phone

Hear her – peacock-proud
“Oh, never better, my love!”
Fanning every cloud
As it pours from above

“No problem!” Hits
With its usual grin
As she pits her wits
Helping others to win

“Right away, it’s done”
Dropping everything now
She will be the one
Fixing matters somehow

Shoving all her plans
To the back of the queue
Just to understand
How best her skills may serve you

“Never mind” she waves
Putting on a good face
Rearranging days
So she’s able to race

To the rescue cry
Both of friend and of foe
For she’ll always try
To be there for each woe

How she longs to sit
In a chair on her own
And let others get
Used to coping alone

But she’ll never rest
Not while someone’s in pain
So she’s still the best
And no one can complain