Musings on a bus

Are the lions drinking or drowning today?
And what sort of whimsy may come into play?
If I skip the long walk and get carried away
By a piper whose horn touts – fat ladies, wahey?!
Do I find inside mercy, or terrible pride?
Am I fearful of friends from whose habits I hide?
Is there just cause to question the ways we go wild?
Or conceal what we feel to keep on in our stride?
With a pace at once terrible, tortuous, slow
We make progress an inch at a time, so we grow
And though others may ask us – do they want to know?
How we got where we’re planning to stay when they go?
I cannot give an answer – my answer is no
Guarantee of it working for anyone, so
Do not plead my response – I don’t do it to show
To the world: mine – the best
Way to reap what you sow.

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Humanitarian Crisis

I worked late today
In the usual way
Then stood long for a bus
While ignoring the fuss
All the placards and song
Of a protesting throng

When the first one came full
Joined the back of the queue
‘Til I hopped on the second
No wiser, I reckoned
To pressure or purpose
That brought out the workforce

I sat in my headphones
Absorbing through eardrums
The tunes of a playlist
Unchanged through two ages
And stared through graffiti
At people beneath me

Not knowing, nor caring
What fate we were sharing
Familiar landscape blurred
Into the sounds I heard
Hopped off three stops early
Finished one journey

I trudged ‘cross the common
To see if I’d find one
More bus driver’s hubs
Standing still by the pubs
Sure enough, there I saw
Not just one, but some four

When one finally, late
Put his pedal to plate
He pulled up to the tavern
Waved me past his cabin
For NFC, broken
Would not zap my token

I settled inside
Chose a tune for my ride
But two stops, no further
We stopped in a lather
Five kids, come from school
With no change to fare-pool

Tried to board, barter, beg
But compassion was neg.
As commuters grew restless
One woman, well-dressed, stressed
Their selfishness loudly
“Eff off!” she yelled, proudly

Some gentleman, small
Added footage to gall
Thus the youths took offense
At this lack of good sense
And a row quickly rose
As his phone met his toes

While we waited, suspended
To see what might end it
Some ran for the next bus
Some added their voices
And called for policemen
To make them see reason

It took three more stops
And a call to the cops
But not one among us
Could hit on the obvious
Tempers grew heated
As workers felt cheated

Ashamed, I forgot
Or I simply did not
Check I had enough money
Available, on me
To throw them a bone
So we’d all make it home.

So-and-so used to be famous. I wonder what happened to him…

The face of an eighties screen god
Lately gone to seed
Proclaiming his perseverance
Propelled by a pressing need

To find his image one more time
Promoted to the heights
And finally be recognised
Back where he spends his nights

He sighs and sips his coffee
His shades kept on inside
In hopes of being spotted
By more than spousal pride

But doomed to disappointment
No autographs are sought
He finishes his drink in silence
Of a pregnant sort

And slipping past his escort
He slouches off to pee
Still unacknowledged by the crowds
That queue to buy their tea

He passes by the waitress
With no more than a wink
She fancies he’s expressed his thanks
For more than just the drink

War Song for Woolwich

Fear of an idea
Almost intangible
Until it bursts
Fully formed from the head

And flowers to fists
Shouting streets full of strangers
That tumble, concluding
The unwritten, read

Reacting, unwitting
To  pub propaganda
More salt in the wound
With each bucket of blood

Until rivalry forms
Lines appear, out of nowhere
Uncrossable gulf
No-man’s-land to divide

We’re in it to win
But we fall and lie broken
And understand nothing
While clutching our pride

War

I do not want to go to war
He smiled at me through tears
I’ve seen what happened from before
I’m frightened for my peers

Together we’d a summer spent
Had known a bond grow fast
I knew his pride would not be bent
To sway him from this task

So off he went with regiment
All shining faces, banners bright
And banging drums, and good intent
My soldier boy, afraid to fight

But I did send to keep him sharp
A friend, brave dragon green of wing
To see his bullet missed its mark
That boy might yet know home again

Through battle fierce and strong he fought
My faithful dragon at his side
His comrades fell but no harm caught
The cloak of scales my boy did hide

With ragged charge he led the cry
Though enemies did gather round
To show that boys who fought must die
And dance upon his burial mound

Then dragon flew to meet the rows
That stood upon the field of blood
And raked their hearts and called to crows
To feast upon what men lay dead

Close-minded, mean and skilled at arm
The enemy held steady rank
But boy could come to little harm
While dragon-breath uncoiled and stank

The sulphurous and pungent depths
Of dragon lungs gave forth so vile
A stench of smells, a googolplex
Of odours creeping closer while

My boy stood safely from the wind
That wafted death along the line
It stole the breath from all who sinned
In thinking my boy less than mine

And thus the war was cheating, won
As dragon saw my boy safe home
To give a mother back her son
Not let his sweetheart lie alone

My dragon yet has other chores
To keep a creature from his cave
For well-equipped with fangs and claws
The dragon may pretend he’s brave