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

Outing, The Absurd

Stuttering pickles, confounded by paint
While floral designs’ floating chaos smells quaint
Old ladies and bug spray, some mothballs to go
Enjoying their day at the end of the show

A nonsense of feelings, of sounds and of taste
Bemoaning new wrinkles, fine hair and all waste
They’re off to the seaside, to sit and slurp tea
Just Harriet, Ethel, Jemima and Fi

The driver had better keep eyes on the road
Or our Ethel has threatened he’ll turn to a toad
While Harriet’s brolly is pleasantly queer
The spiky end’s sharp when it swings past your ear

Jemima’s gone missing, been absent for years
They always invite her, despite tantrums, tears
For Fi still remembers the role Jemi’ played
In keeping her steady in service, a maid

Look out for each other, they’ve done all their lives
Through brothers and lovers, old husbands, new wives
The die has been cast, there’s a pin in the map
And the cats have been fed and the dog’s done his lap

Now the ladies are off for a whistlestop tour
To find dancing and drinks on a pier they adore
We’ll see them again, they have given their word
But they’ve gone in pursuit of amusements absurd

An oath for thee, Hippocrates

Passion curling from the wires
Humours, good and ill
Twisting up in wordless fires
To smoke the mind until

All dessicated, one by one
Each thought is slowly drained
As ears are filled with shovelled dung
And feelings feeling maimed

Then comes the call to end all such
Unpleasant fractious whine
The final straw, when all – too much
Has built up over time

A gentle coo, a saving grace
Is whispered from above
And slowly turn with pained face
To greet the one we love

Ah, blessed biscuit, sacred tea
More skilled at healing’s art
Than Panacea’s family
When all has split apart