Zarafa, my love

With your tiny fingers and toes
Nails so sharp to rake new lines
In your young cheeks
With the fresh sensation
Of shock and awe
We welcome you to this place
Unknowing how to tell you
But with soft touches
Gentle words and careful
Rubs to soothe your stomach
As it navigates for the first time
Those aspects of life
That are harder to swallow
If we are not perfect
Trust us when we swear
We will try ever harder
To understand and be present
For and in all things
That matter to you
Please know that
You are wanted, and needed
And best of all,
You are loved

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Deserted and abandoned youth

Choose certain death and ostracism
Exile self-imposed; ‘tradition’
Loss of home and family
Born of faith’s supremacy

So young, with minds not fully fed
In fear of first missteps, unled
Some seek to live by others’ rules
And hope to never have to choose

While those whose choice was thrust upon
Unwary shoulders, far too young
Have just enough experience
To recognise their own good sense

And knowing that some errors will
Occur despite intentions, still
Are less afraid to persevere
And build the life they want right here.

Though actions have their aftermath
There is no righteous, clear-cut path
Please do not fear all consequence
Change is not dangerous; though dense

And unenlightened elders may
Feel life no longer goes their way
As age and distance emphasise
The loss of youth before sad eyes

Unready to relinquish reins
To those in throes of growing pains.
Decisions to abandon trust
Give up hope and freedoms; lust

For life of lesser contemplation
Out of social obligation;
Turn to ends more violent
Ignore suggestions, kindly meant

And quick condemn all other views –
Is this the path you wish to choose?
Consider this, before you do
For truly, this choice rests with you:

Such suicide invites abuse
Of others that may follow blood
For love, for family, for feud
Will throw themselves away; – jihad

In mourning for those gone before
Their minds made waste, still immature
And more than one will idolise
The first to die – if death you prize

Above the life you hold in hand
So understand, if you have planned
To be the martyr for your tribe
And leave the others still alive

The minute you take up this course
Imagining rewards; Firdaws
You lose control of what is shown
And once you’ve gone, the whole thing’s blown:

With ashes scattered over sand
Your image will be used to brand
Misinformation into truth –
Deserted and abandoned youth.

Generation Gap Year

Extended adolescence is
Two dudes on a skate date at six
Discussing their need
For some quality weed
While comparing the length of their tricks

With their tracksuits and caps off The Now Show
And their t-shirts ironic, profound
They both chat and rejoice
In the sound of their voice
As home counties vowels litter the ground

Not quite yet with one foot on the ladder
Are these kool kats establishment-bound
With their pals in the pub
Serving plates of posh grub
Mockney rules ’til the tools owe a round

Then they’re back pulling pints of an evening
While the board sits at home in the lounge
Pinching pennies for blow
Giving housemates a show
As the park’s still the best game in town

From my viewpoint as elderly spinster
I ignore what excites at their age
Though it seems such good fun
I’ve a hunch they’ve broken
Every bone from their knees to ribcage

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

The cult of youth

Young, strong, slim and glowing, healthy
Set in mind and body-wealthy
Faces fortunate, not frail
Flaunt our features, wear them well

Snigger at the lesser beings
Those whose ill-health, meaner means
Has brought with clear, defective genes
A sentence: life – no more than peons

They’ll not amass our hills of beans
Content must be with smaller dreams
Cannot aspire to join our schemes
No matter skills or knowledge gleaned

For visible, we’ll not give quarter
To an ugly son or daughter
All we want is what you see
To know we are still young, carefree

Our cult of youth looks outward bound
Designer footwear cushions ground
From god-like strides as effortless
We turn from age. Though Time’s caress

May touch our tanned and flawless skin
None will to Nature dare give in
We’ll cut our bodies on a whim
Reshape our figures, smooth our skin

More pills and potions will we try
In hope, perfection we can buy
As proof against that living lie
We cannot teach ourselves to fly.

Yet all who crawl upon this Earth
By careless accident of birth
(In view of those who lack their mirth
And little know their fellows’ worth)

Will in the end find more than looks
Do tip to balance Peter’s books
And leave the shepherd to his crooks
Whose vanity bred cock-a-snooks

When end of days takes pride of place
Beribboned, scarecrows, clad in lace
In horror may all stand and face
Their judgement day among the race

Of riff raff we thought far behind
That caught us up, and being kind
Did not disturb dysmorphic mind;
Self-satisfied, perspective-blind

But pitying deluded state
Ephebophiles with much self-hate
Resemblance to their idols late
In clothing only – such is Fate

This cult of youth is futile jest
No man’s immortal, nor can rest
At favoured age – we all are pressed
By march of season, bib to vest

Polka Dot Dress

The stocking tops
That winked at me
As hips were rocking
Mini’s swish

Were indiscreet
And quite a treat
To showcase pins
Just so delish’

As lover’s hand
Unclasping yours
To brush imagined
Lint away

Caressed a cheeky
Glimpse of what
Was all too briefly
On display

I pursed my lips
And flicked the scarf
That passed for chic
To my dismay

And felt at last
The jealousy
Occasioned by
My own decay

Now deemed too old
I missed my cue
To frolic in
My underthings

And now in public
Daren’t do
Exposure of
What nature brings

I bear no grudge
Though smooth-skinned youth
Exists to underline
Old age

But bare my head
And paint my face
And lie when asked
What’s all the rage?

Manchester Noughties

By popular demand, here is the next instalment. This follows on from Out-growing.

A bolt from the blues
And there he stood
My long-haired, brown eyed boy

More trouble than he was worth
But oh, he meant the dawning
Of a brave new world to me

Black-clad from his boots
To his faded tee
Proclaiming the road to Hell

Hours spent revelling
Skin on skin
Tracing patterns on his chest

In post-coital bliss
As our sweaty limbs cooled
The disc spun its Dream Theater

And dirty, sticky
Sheets stuck
To our grinning faces

I felt so alive in those moments
Clambering over his dozing form
Twitching the curtain aside

Peering out at my world
Spying on the backyard
The comfort of a familiar scene

His middle-aged neighbour
Hanging out day-old washing to air
In a crowded corner

Grey skies over damp rows of workers’ cottages
Pegs and pots of geraniums
A battered bathroom chair

He took me places
We went to concerts
Wandered the aisles of the supermarket

Hands in each other’s pockets
I wore his jeans and shirts
Over my naked skin

Danced in the rain in bare feet
And walked through Moss Side
Nightly, after dark

Just to wake up by his side
So lost in my own happiness
No street life ever bothered me

Photographic evidence

A pile of snaps
From years ago
A half-forgotten time

A party frock
The neckline low
A painted face – sublime

So young, so slim,
With carefree stance
How many now would know

The secrets held
Within her glance
The setting for that show

Do I quite dare
Display this face
A portrait from my youth

Or are the few
Would recognise
Too great a risk of truth

I miss that girl
That piece of me
That juggled many hearts

But see her safer
Mystery
And hidden in the past

Growing Pains

The times are a changing
I know this is true
My youth passed unnoticed
You grew older too
We’ve shared much of life
Laughed and cried as was due
Now I find that I’m ready
To settle for you.

The wandering eyes
Itchy feet and all that
Which was part of my younger days
I will give back.
Now my passport and heels
I will trade for a flat
With your socks on the floor
Perhaps even a cat.

My roving days over
I’m settling down
No longer for clover
Must I go cross-town.
If I promise to nevermore
Wear this red gown
Will you swear to me never
To cause me to frown?

We’re wrinkled, well-travelled
And long overdue.
It’s time we grew up
And responsible too.
If you’re good to me
I’ll be so good to you
With a cooker, a car
And an en-suite for two…