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

A secular paradigm

Let me not feel more than may be borne
For others’ troubles, cares and strife.
I am too young to be thus forlorn,
Too old to hope; to love; to wife.

Give me but coin, my span on Earth
And lend me not another’s fear;
(I’ve precious little left of worth
Still less to broker bargains here).

I promise, but to do my best
And nothing more may take from me
Those greedy souls, whose “Fie!” on rest
Would wrest what time I, false, term ‘free’.

I cannot speak, but as I find
All else would be as empty air
What use, my hand, my heart, or mind
When weighed against such meaty fare?

And fair or foul as all may be
At moments suited to their mood
I can no more deceive than see
Through blackest darkness; I’ll be good.

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.

Grammatical batticle

Proper nouns are prim and pristine
They belong to long ago
Shackled to conjunctions, listing
What it is we need to know
Factual they take position
‘Pon the Field of Cloth of Gold
Kneel to hear their King’s ambition
Clutching reins, unsheathing sword
Then look upon their enemy
That vaguest General of old
Whose lines and lines of men we see
As nameless, shivering and cold
Exploits edited by victors
Those who fought and those who fell
Posterity’s unnoticed victims
History that none can tell
I tot them up, these dated figures
Sow their sounds deep in my head
In hope they’ll stay there though the rigors:
Algebra and baking bread
Latin may decline declensions
Greek is up against the wall
But even now, some nouns’ intentions
Hold my mind from days at school

Merry Wives of Windsor in a nutshell

A welshman, preacher, merry met
A frenchman, hot of temper, yet
A while they stood, and wagged a jaw,
Ere stag betwixt the trees they saw.

A beauty fair, and lover poor,
Adorned her hair with faun and flor
And caught thereby, in flaxen net
Three suitors, ill fish, none a pet.
One lover, penny-pinching flop,
One foreign boor, one drunken fop.

Two sires at odds, jealous of dam,
Convinced of cuckoldry and scam,
Employed the service of this beast
Hoping to convict at least the one
If not the brace. But yet, mistook
In faces fair the lusty humour
That their trials shook.

And in the end, as oft is true,
All well, all broke, all mended too.

Shakespearean Spoof

After ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ the Musical, by the RSC:

Since what I am to say must be
But that which shocks this company
It shall scarce boot me to say
I liked it – for fear they cry
‘Alas! Alack! ’tis pity she’s a fool.’

But thus, if workers do befit
the ownership of poor opinion, thus
Why then, anon, I’ll state my case
And cry aloud ‘Egad! ’tis true,
I liked this stew.
Tho’ mush and mash and rant and rave,
The hero too did need a shave
And heroine a trim.

But Merry Wives, without a beard?
But foolishness, I am afear’d.