Put your shoes to one side,
Open your eyes
Then remove the blindfold
Really open them
What can you see?
Is it a pretty picture
One you would hang
On a bedroom wall
To gaze upon
Each broken dawn
Or one you would bury
Deep in an album
Kept in a box
Under the bed
Dusty with disuse
Only to see the light
When grandkids visit
At some idyllic future time
Of tolerance and teaching
That is yet to come
And may never happen?
Truth be told
It doesn’t matter.
Whatever your vantage point
Gender, skin tone, genetics,
You see things
As you see yourself
And feel excluded
From any grouping
You view as ‘other’.
This is life
(Or something like it)
Will not match
That of those ‘others’
Nor theirs, yours.
We are all different
And empathy is not
That certain knowledge
Of the unknown,
Could be our strength
But differences also
One from the ‘other’.
Those who would understand
Take it further
Try to get closer
To forbidden wisdom
Fail in their attempt
We cannot truly
Plato’s cave all over again
Nothing but shadows
Elusive and unfeeling.
We are not all filled
With benign curiosity
For those whose world view
Does not admit equality
It only ends in tears,
So what do we make of it
This unfathomable ‘otherness’?
Racism, misogyny, xenophobia
Fear of the unknown
Embarrassment and even
The persistent among us
Keep picking at scabs
So old wounds fester
To the point of eruption
Irritated by irrational isolationists
To the bitter iron
Of bad blood
Drawing down ire like
Hera in her lousy marriage
Detracting from the culpable
To the scapegoat.
Bringing forth bolts
Of heavenly fire
Down upon us
All mere mortals
And still we stand divided
Our own ugliness comes to the fore
Competing for each burden
Losing face and patience
Fraying, unhappy peace
As we ignore our ignorance
Setting aside compassion
For righteous bigotry
Small-minded acts of defiance
Banner waving, street fighting.
Too bloody right!
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
I am right there
Surrounded by cockroaches
Squatting in the ruins,
In the fallout
Of a truly
That looked up to its
Idols, now idle.
How they glittered
In their lame, sequinned
Just me – a bunch of
And under the rubble,
Perhaps if we put our
We can try
To find words
The likely days and nights that pass
reflecting in my mind’s cool glass
the happiness I would enjoy
with him I choose to be my boy
my twin, my heart, my other soul,
once split-apart, now makes me whole
but walking through the world I know
has brought me little but sorrow.
The one I recognized as such,
who made me laugh and pleased me much
did leave me sad and quite forlorn,
and crying even, when withdrawn
my source of love now quite unknown
chose once again to be alone.
Then did I find thee, gentle friend
who knowing I had reached wits’ end
did comfort me, and let me grow
before forcing your heart to show.
Thus all was done in goodly time
with pleasant passings, sweetened vine
now riper, richer, more mature
in this, as some, less can be more.
So I have found my split-apart,
saved grace, built home, and mended heart.
When I was but a little lamb
I rarely pondered why I am.
And yet as now my whiskers grow
I wonder, do I want to know?
Philosophers do quite a bit
Of reasoning on this subject…
Perhaps it’s better left alone
The answer to me’s an unknown.
We humans are a curious lot
And choose to prod more oft than not
At puzzles plagueing to our mind
Not fearing what we seek to find
And rarely pausing in our quest
To ask if knowing why is best?
Some things are meant as mystery
Still others, such as we can’t see
Or comprehend, though try we might
To find solutions to our plight.
Yet knowing not as I do now
Is lesser agony somehow
Than understanding finally
What little point there is to me.
Give me strength, my father cried
I as a child, of course, complied,
And to his will, this willow bent,
Not understanding discontent.
But now I’m grown, his mood I ken,
I ‘get’ the strops of gentle men:
Dissatisfied with what they’ve got
Yet little work to change their lot.
I hope in future my own kin
Will know enough, not let me win,
But challenge me in time of need
And push to overcome my greed.
I know myself, I know my power,
Yet hope my kids upon their hour
Of struggle, mine will overcome
That they may triumph, have some fun.
And in old age, their wisdom find,
Choosing then to know their mind.
Not seeking ever-young to stay,
But give the youth their precious day.