OK, so I said no more blogs, but one poem per fortnight instead. Which puts me four weeks (maybe even six weeks) in credit – whooo! – because: this is three poems, I suppose sort of for the occasion…
I. Snake Talk
my skins I left them
lying out in the dew
spread in the rain
stretched out in the frost
people say now
I can start again
but I say naked
just grows on naked
when your skins get lost
look, this is almost blue
so little life’s left in it
so bleached of healthy colour
and this you could call white
winding like a chasm
a streak of nothing
through faded grass
by no means void of hue
you could call this white.
Bones and veins
veins and bones
that’s all that’s left of me
I left my skins in the rain
spread out, as if
A chasm opens in the cloud
somewhere to west of here;
pink fades to violet
and then blue;
then the stars appear
The old hate the young
they say they don’t but they do
they think it was the youngsters’ fault
that the trick got played on them
and they could have stayed
eleven, or maybe fifteen, if the scamps
hadn’t stolen their ball.
Of course, the young ones
really were to blame
they locked the poor things away
condemned them to stay half-alive
from comfort and couches, and screens
on which the world was played
(but lying, bright and lying)
while they were out on the street, too busy
being smart, too lost in their world
of communication to pay much attention:
they thought they would stay thirty
forever, maybe thirty-five.
The old took some small revenge
in Scotland, the other week
voted out the young,
the Flower, they used to call them
they cackled insanely as they withered
away, sent them wailing home –
and where’s you mammy now?
Not there, that’s where, not there.
My son has a slogan
he wants them to attend to:
Live, or Die! it runs. He hates the half-life.
I suppose he fears it. We all do.
The tired old soldiers hate it
just as bad, and all complicit
in dropping their poor bones in it.
Meanwhile the fractured heart
we once called a country
still smarts and will not scar.
Their hate rings true
a bell that might summon us
to marry old and new
but all forget, and when we’re called
to love, or even forgive
everyone speaks softly, pussyfoots:
no-one mentions the war.
III. Got a Mission
There was a Knight we met
– I think he was a knight, though to be fair
I’ve little knowledge of the sort –
and walked with him some days – two, maybe more
pounding an unyielding road.
He had a comely manner about him
(you understand I’m driving here
through some fourteenth-century romance)
and though a bit single-minded
for my tentative kind – ambitious, too,
so I daresay one day will get
corrupted (most of them do) –
we were happy to walk in his swathe
to go down this road when he waved his hand
to stop when he said stop,
and to acknowledge his sincere thanks
at the day’s end.
On the last day
he seemed tireless, some said possessed
going on long after the day’s end, as the night came on:
“just one more road”, he’d say,
“just another corner”; “just another mile”;
and then we looked and saw his eyes
were bright and staring, and knew
he’d forgotten how to stop
and had to talk him down, quite gently,
persuade him that the day was done,
the battle over, and he had lost
and someone else, some other-where, won.
There were no thanks that night
and none required. We all went
quietly to our homes, it was a scene
enacted many times in the history of our land
and the lands of many others, from where
consciousness moves down
to the small creatures that inhabit caves:
ants, or spider, or mouse,
indomitable, too small to be noticed, yet perhaps
marked for leadership, one of these days.