An Old Man

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An Old Man and His Memories

Me and my broken-record memories,
like a vinyl disc going round and round
on the turn-table, and the needle stuck
in a groove, as I repeat myself endlessly
like any old man with his stories and jokes,
told and heard so often that his old lady
knows the endings before he clears his
throat to start the tale, and the ancient
mariner who lives in his brain stops
people in supermarket and street to tell
them, again and again, about life’s doldrums
where no winds blow and the ship is stuck,
like a gramophone needle in a one-track
groove, no moving air to fill the sails,
and life’s albatross lies heavy on this old
man’s neck, and bends his back so he leans
on his canes, and points with rubber-tipped
stick at the falling snow, never as thick and
heavy as it was in his youth, when he climbed
Mount Everest and ran a four minute mile,
though that’s about the time now for his
one hundred stumbled meters, as he leans
on a grocery cart, like other old men who
grin and wink and nod “Nice cart, eh lad?”
and back in those days, every game was won,
except when the ref was biased, and look:
he still walks lop-sided from that collection
of chips off the old family block that he carries
around, like a slow snail carries his house,
always on the move, from face to fearful face.

Chaos

Chaos

Chaos

Chaos theory:
it states that we don’t know
what we’re doing and
it wouldn’t really matter
anyway, even if we did,
because life lacks meaning,
chance rules, and Lady Luck
with her lusty locks attached
to her forehead and she,
all bald and hairless
from behind, must be caught
as she arrives, because later
is much too late, and when past,
she’s gone for good and
our good luck’s gone with her,
and we’re left for ever,
sitting there, head in hands,
bemoaning all that milk spilled
before we ever had a chance
to actually taste it.

 

Spring

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Spring

Winter whiteness slowing now,
and the tide that full bore crashed
white waves against our house
receding to garden’s foot where
warm roots wait their waking.

But winter still stalks the land
and April brings snow, more snow,
as if there will never be an end
to these waves of whiteness,
thinner, trimmer, true, but
unwelcome as spring days grow
longer and sunrise beckons
ever more early with crow
and Blue Jay breaking the morning’s peace
into raucous pieces
as they bounce from branch to branch …

.. and brown the earth, and barren,
and bare, the robins finding no food
and flying on, while the passerines
just call and pass us by, finches at the feeder,
purple and gold, yet singing no songs,
and the robins, hop-along casualties
of this long delayed spring that promises,
but never comes …

Absence

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Absence

I left my father lying there
unable to look him in the eye;
I was his only living child,
but I never flew back to say goodbye.

My absence tore apart my heart.
I couldn’t face a hotel room,
no house, no friends, no family,
in the town I once called home.

I remembered my dad for a little while,
but then his face just fled.
Now I seek his smile in this photo,
but his eyes fill me with dread.

No life, no light, no focus,
nothing that I recall;
I look at him quite helplessly:
but he can’t see me at all.

 

This Fragile Light

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This fragile light
filtering through
the early-morning mind
filled as it still is
with night’s dark
shadowy dreams
their dance demonic
or perchance angelic
as light rises and falls
in time to the chest’s
frail tidal change
the ins and outs
of life-giving breath

Bright motes these birds
at the morning feeder
feathered friends
who visit daily
known by their song
their plumage
their ups and downs
as they dazzle and spark
breaking the day open
with their chorus of joy

Two Gnomes

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Two  Gnomes

Two small gnomes
have set up camp
in my lungs.

All night long
they play their squeeze
box, wheeze box concertinas,
never quite in unison.

Sometimes they stamp
their feet and dance.
Their wild night music
catches in my throat
and I cough up
unmusical songs
that splutter and choke.

An east wind blows
outside my window.
It whistles and groans
as it herds the stars
from left to right.

The stars chase
the westering moon.
The planets dance
to the rhythms
of the accordion music
playing in my chest.

Comment: Raw poem, raw sore throat. I wish this flu on nobody. And yes, I had my flu shot, so the flu bug probably mutated and created a version just for me. This is also an “I need sympathy poem” so, moan and groan … splutter and cough, breakfast’s ready and I’m off.

Silence

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Silence

Our conversation today:
a sun baked Roman aqueduct
dried up, no water.

In the bathroom,
brown sacking hangs
ragged on leaking pipes.

Our words are lifeless kites,
earthbound,
too heavy to rise.

Each sentence fills
with wasted movements
of lips, tongue, jaws and teeth

Enormous
barbed wire barriers
have grown between us.

Words and thoughts
hang like washing
pegged out on a windless day.

Dead soldiers
gone over the top,
their uniforms flapping
on unbroken wire.