Everyone’s A Critic

The loud purring
Of a sensitive soul
Rumbles across my lap
A gentleman-mouser
Whose claws are rarely
Sheathed in my flesh
Save for those few
Accidental motions.
He pauses in his
Hypnotic kneading
Of careful paws
Twitches a whisker
Opens a lazy eye
We are content
Devoted Familiar and
Current Provider of ear-scratches
Precious moments spent together
Do not last as long
As they once did
Those rare islands
Of near-silence
I try to spend
Writing.
Such a distraction
Is sadly unacceptable
In company
My failure to stroke
Soft furry egos
While fingers
Play over lettered keys
And coffee cools
At a careless elbow
Lead to gentle taps
Polite, then more insistent
I frown and mutter
Trying to shake loose
Some old ideas
From new forehead creases
Transmit them to my dusty screen
Before the next
Set of demands is issued
By the charming pout
Of the other House Tyrant
Whose three-year-reign
Continues to sway
The working lives
Of all her subjects.
It is not enough.
I cannot please all
Of my many masters
Not this day.
As gentle snores fade to yawns
I sift through the tired
Dog-eared card catalogue
Housed temporarily for safekeeping
Within my rapidly emptying skull
Brain cycling faster
The vocalisation
Begins in earnest
Close behind my ear
“Miaouw!”
He is starting to insist
“Pssst! Shush!”
It is a futile gesture
To try to silence
An old friend
The search continues
There are paws on my shoulder
Tapping, prodding
A hint of sharpness
A gentle shove
Hot breath on my neck
Can I find a verbal noun,
Subclause, or synonym
To convey my sense
Of panic at the first stirrings
Of any sleeping creature
Under four feet
But still a giant?
Too late.
“Mummy!”
I hiss my discomfort
At the sudden perforation
Of my thigh.
Time’s up once again.

We Try To Tame The Earth

Plough it, plant it, pile it up
This element we base life on
And shape to shelter what in fact
Was never ours to build upon

And yet we seek to stake our claim
Invent new names for landscaping
To show we’re clever and we’re staying
More important under heaven

Though making mud-pies said enough
We add our words – legitimise
Earth Mother sounds a lot less rough
Than bitch, doe, hen or dam. The prize

For overcoming nature’s raw
And unassuming cycled year
Producing rare fruits more and more
In ways our kids may learn to fear

Is profit for the prudent man
With arms outstretched to grab the loot
We pillage what were gifts from land
We’ve learned to grind beneath our boot

But Earth’s enduring, will remain
In spite of all we hope to do
Our efforts futile, all in vain
Compared with when the Earth was new

Mere upstarts, mayflies, we shall prove
And soon enough we will be gone
As forestry reclaims the roof
Civilisation built upon

The surface Adam barely trod
If we believe the word of Man
Whose hand was guided not by God
But greed for what he would attain

What lessons learned at Mother’s knee
Of how much plenty may procure
As Earth comes after currency
We set our hearts on more and more

Originally posted on Poem Pigeon 30th October 2013

Last one standing

When they came by
For a cupful of sugar
Took my old man
And waltzed over the hill

I was still standing
Polishing silver
Gonna be standing
Forever, until…

Next time a caller
I’d hoped would be smaller
Tripped on her doorstep
Got carried away

I was still standing
To see to a Mother
Gonna keep standing
Another long day

One time you told me
That things never mattered
Half the amount I
Pretended to say

I was still standing
Alone with no lover
Not understanding
Which words made you stay

Then they came by
With a warrant for searching
Hoping to find
What I’d hidden away

I was still standing
In need of your comfort
No one to hear me
And nothing to say

Turn from the shadows
If you fear to follow
All those who greet us
And pass on their way

I am still standing
Myself and no other
One day I’ll falter
But never today

Calais

Sangatte to Jungles
Our government mumbles
Responses to nations’
Incoming migrations

Now paperwork hoarders
Are challenged by boarders
In Eurostar tunnels
And motorway funnels

They’re stoning the crowd
Burning tyres, leaping loud
Until lorries are loaded
All holds are allowed

This stowaway stream
Set on chasing a dream
Shows no signs of slowing
Or stopping, but growing

Their numbers increasing
To challenge policing
We’re caught at the port
Over which we have fought

Now our tourists are static
Behind much stacked traffic
They’re losing their reason
In holiday season

As cars packed with kids
See their fun on the skids
With the clock ticking down
Mum and dad due in town

Though we hoped to ignore
Swimmers washing ashore
Counting costs in big bribes
And the loss of small lives

In a bid for asylum
We’d like to deny them
Perhaps we may find
What they’re leaving behind

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.

The Trade

Where is this freedom
Promised me
When first they told me
Work makes free?

I look around
And know I’m lost –
What’s free I buy
At such a cost

No youth, enjoyment
Holidays
Solid employment
Only pays

In minted coin
As all are robbed
Of our free time
We’re bobbed and jobbed

And pensioned off
Freely to freeze
As Winter brings us
To our knees

A lifetime spent
In servitude
While taking care
To save on food

Essentials only
Frugal thrift
Is hardly free
To those who drift

Through twilit streets
And shopping malls
In suits and boots
Or overalls

No longer knowing
Why they strive
For Freedom finds
Few left alive

On Sustainability

The gremlins are back
And they’re kicking up trouble
Destroying the systems
We need to survive

Too small to stay solvent
When things start to crumble
It’s all on my shoulders
The fate of the tribe

I watch as the ringleader’s
Scurrying forward
To see where the holes
In defences may lie

Such old infrastructure
And lack of investment
It’s hardly surprising
We’re going to die

Tempus fugit

Something is missing from my little world
Time passes so swiftly it’s almost absurd
As soon as my first daily job has been done
I’m already late starting on the next one.
Oh when will this treadmill let me catch my breath?
I’ve been working so hard, though young, I feel like death.
When finally homeward I wearily tread
It’s hardly worth sleeping, much less going to bed.
For changing to nightgown, brushing hair and teeth,
Wastes such precious time that I get no relief
And scrambling through supper and other routine
Makes senseless my efforts to rest or keep clean.
Even on the weekends, my work’s never done
As between friends and fam’ly, my time’s not my own.
Before I am ready it’s Monday alas,
And the whole wretched cycle starts over apace.

A breathing space while waiting

I take a breath, to clear my head
My stomach sings a hungry tune
My eyes are tired, my legs like lead
Freezing here beneath the moon.
I wish I could awake my mind
Some beauty I should love to find,
But closed-up shops
And ticking clocks
Are all the night will offer me.

An amorous adventure

Time slips by me like a drunken lover, giggling and giddy in the moon’s unearthly glow. The lines that are appearing, poetry, wrinkled as a newborn, aged as the hills. I laugh to see my face crinkle, this new mask that gloves me and cloaks me and hands me a cane. Perhaps I should go toward the opera house, after all, I do seem to be dressed for it?
Shadows whisper in the twilight as I stagger downward, stumbling on paths I used to know. Old friends desert me, then resurface, years later, surrounded by the spoils of their own adventures and their own spoilt offspring, clamouring for the future.
I digress, moving at tangents from topics I no longer care to discuss. Is it all over yet? So soon? I wonder at my own, comforting mortality, then see the plastic faces in the papers and shudder. Not my pipeline, frequency, whatchamacallit, wavelength? Not my style.
And raincoats let in water, wellingtons are worn in place of sandals, underwear becomes the latest craze and the world sighs as it flops over, turning itself inside-out in the name of fashion.
I mark the seasons, birthdays, holidays, nights when I sleep well, with a sort of passing satisfaction. Nothing matters so much it is lethal, no problem is unsolvable, and yet I slow down, grinding to a halt, paralysed by movement, breathless through static. And all of Time kisses my body in a quiet portico.
I am bathed in sand, asleep, awake? I lie alone and listen for each passing footfall, each second, each heartbreak, each life.