Insomnia

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Kingsbrae 18.2
18 June 2017

Insomnia

When the gate-keeper sleeps,
who will open the gate?
Dreamland lies before us
but the gate is closed.
Where now is the gate-keeper?

How many sheep must we count
before the gate-keeper comes?
What will we do if he doesn’t arrive?
Must we just stand here and wait?

The sheep grow weary before our eyes.
They age and become frail.
Who now will count the motionless flock?
Where is the gate-keeper? Who will open
the gate that leads to the land of dreams?
Who will open the gate?

Petroglyphs

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Un Verraco
a Celtic Stone Bull
One of the four
Toros de Guisando
700 BCE (?)

Kingsbrae 6.3
6 June 2017

Petroglyphs
&
Other Myths

(for Elise)

Writing on rock,
the words carved in stone,
imposed on earth’s bones,
sentenced for meaning.

This wise woman,
gifted with second sight,
looks deep in the rock
where stone spirits dwell,
sees with unearthly eyes
the stone soul in its residence.

She carves and shapes,
plucks out rare beauty
holding it up
for those of us who have eyes,
but cannot see.

Gentle her fingers,
harsh the rock,
troublesome the birth
that is beauty
drawn from the entrails
of our earth.

Proud mother,
birthing the soul-stone
from its amniotic
sea of rock.

Comment: The four Toros de Guisando are pre-Christian stone bulls, carved by the Vettones, the local Celtic tribe of the Spanish Province of Avila, north-west of Madrid. The Vettones carved sheep, pigs, and horses as well as stone bulls. The carvings were probably used as route markers, land markers, and markers for pasturage rights. In addition, they are often associated with burials and deaths and may have been used as grave markers. There are many such carvings in the Province of Avila, and the squares, streets, and parks of the capital city abound with them.

There is something about the texture of their stonework, especially on a warm summer’s day. Place your hand upon them and they seem to be filled with a secret life, flowing like blood beneath the stone’s surface. Graffiti were plentiful in the Roman Empire, and here the pre-Roman Celtic carvings were defaced by one of the Roman legions as they passed through. The following video will give some idea of the bulls. Alas, there was no orchestral music when I visited the bulls: we were surrounded by a stony silence.

It’s Over

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It’s Over

The big top’s empty now.
The crowd’s gone home.
The trainer’s put down his whip
and lions and tigers are safely
asleep back in their cages.
Dim are lime and spotlights.
Yellow glow caravan windows
as juggler and clowns wipe
clean their grease paint smiles,
strip off their sequined clothes,
and prepare for bed. One by one,
the lights go out until darkness
rules menagerie and circus.
Only in the heads of little boys
and girls do the dancers still dance,
the ponies still prance, the tamers
still crack their whips and hold up
their chairs to keep wild animals
glued to their perches, while high
above, in the bedroom’s canvas roof
wire walkers strut their stuff, above
white sheets and the safety nets
of Teddy clutched, and mattress.

Bears

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BEARS

Think of pink salmon caught in pools,
plucked from water, tossed to air,
the catch stacked rainbow‑fired.

Winter now:
unsnubbable, lumbering overcoats
closeted, laid to rest;
seeking power in hibernation
till sun from summit melts frosty dark:
fresh heartbeats forged in forest’s night.

Think alchemy:
prime matter moved safely in flask or jar.

Think circus stars:
The Great Bear leads the Lesser,
dancing to the trainer’s whip,
tumbling from their pedestals.

Secure behind bars,
think fallen stars.

Teddy Bear Tales TBT 1

 

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Oppressive-Possessives
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 Teddy Bear Tales 1

 “Possessives are oppressive,” my Teddy Bear whispers in my ear. “I’m not your Teddy and you’re neither my owner nor my master. The world exists without you possessing it. It will continue without you. And yes, I hear you, especially when you talk in your sleep. ‘My wife,’ you mutter, ‘my daughter, my flowers, my garden, my lawn, my birds, my bees, my deer, my house, my grounds, my groundhog, my car, my TV, my team, my Teddy.’ Well, permit me to share a secret with you. None of them are yours. You may think you own them, but you don’t.”

My God …” I sat up in bed and held my Teddy Bear at arm’s length, staring into his button eyes.

“There you go again,” Teddy stared right back at me. “Whatever are you thinking? Those two little words, yours and mine, are a threat to the universe.”

Never The Twain

 

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Never The Twain

“And never the twain shall meet.”

This was the chorus that my grandparents often chanted at me when family members started rowing with each other over one trivial incident or another.
“But what happens when the twain do meet,” I used to ask.
“Don’t be silly,” they said. “The twain never meet. Ever.”
But I know very well that they do.
I know.
I’ve seen them together.

Funny things, they are, the twain, and opposites in so many ways. But so nice, in spite of what some people, especially my grandparents, used to say about them.

Not only do they meet, but they can be happy together and very, very friendly.
“Long time, no see,” the twain say, and they often embrace quite warmly with a bunch of flowers held between them.

Mind you, the twain can also be quite awkward and occasionally very abusive towards each other. I remember my mother and father fighting “like cats and dogs” as my grandparents used to say.

Now, my grandparents had a cat. It was black and white and striped like a zebra. They called it Spot. My parents had a dog. It was an English Cocker Spaniel, gold in color, and off-spring to a famous sire, the Six-Shot Woody Woodpecker. They called the dog  Wimpy but it was by no means a wimp and fought with everything in sight, especially the cat.

So when my father and mother fought and the family cat and dog fought, I thought, quite reasonably in my opinion, that the dog (with his short hair) was male and the cat (with her long hair) was female, and that was the reason why they fought like cats and dogs. And “never the twain shall meet” as my grandparents used to say about my mother and father and the cat and the dog.

I guess it was too early to learn about the birds and the bees when, young and all too innocent, I was learning about the cats and the dogs.

And of course it’s only natural that the twain should meet. My mother and my father, like the cat and the dog, had to meet somewhere, didn’t they? How else would I be here? Now, we weren’t the sort of family that practiced contraception by throwing stones at the storks to keep the babies away.

But I could never work out why the cat always had female kittens while the dog had all-male off-spring. That was a bit too much for me, and nobody ever really explained anything I those days.

 

Easter Seals

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Easter Seals

So, I’ll put my cards on the table:
it’s Easter and the seals are dancing
in the garden, and they are ring-tailed,
like raccoons, and they’re dancing
because it’s Easter and they’re Easter
Seals after all and you can’t blame them
for dancing when their time is upon them
and they’re in season and everybody
dances when the time’s right, don’t they?,
because I know I do, and I’m dancing right
now, dancing with joy and happiness
because last night, for the first time in two
years since I started my cancer treatment,
I only peed once, at half past three,
and I went to bed at ten and dammit,
that’s five and a half hours of sleep,
for the first time in two years, and I
usually pee every ninety minutes
and that’s five or six times a night,
but last night, I peed just that once,
and I went back to bed and I slept
for another four and a half hours
until eight o’clock in the morning
and that was almost ten hours straight
for the first time in … well, you remember,
I don’t need to repeat it yet again …
but boy, do I ever feel good this morning,
and yes, I’m laying my cards on the table
and I’m dancing, just like those Easter Seals.

Comment: I finally finished my poetic journal, A Cancer Chronicle, and I put it up on Amazon last Friday. A Cancer Chronicle is sub-titled ‘one man’s journey’ and in it I write about my reactions to the treatment I received for prostate cancer. I met many people at the cancer hospice during my eight week stay, most of whom were a lot worse off than I was. I admired the courage of my fellow sufferers and learned so much about human beings and how they face adversity. I was particularly impressed with the bravery of the women who were suffering from breast cancer. They were so strong, so courageous. In spite of their troubles, my fellow patients reached out and helped me from the first day of my stay. They pulled me through the difficult days and shared their experiences with me. I will never forget them. If this book can comfort just one cancer sufferer, I will be so happy.

It’s just a guess, but I am assuming that finishing A Cancer Chronicle took a weight off my shoulders and allowed me the peace of mind to finally sleep. I do hope that this is a milestone and that my recovery will continue. Pax amorque / Peace and Love.