Garcilasso

Garcilasso

“When I stand still and contemplate
the path that led me here.”

I see purple arrows
painted on the corridor floors
their sharp ends
pointing to the treatment room
where the machine’s stark metal throat
waits to swallow me.

I shed my Johnny Coat
and lie on the bed.
I mustn’t move
as they adjust me
tugging me this way and that,
in accordance with the red marks
painted on my belly and hips.

Then they raise my feet,
place them in a plastic holder,
cover me with a thin cotton sheet,
and leave the room to take refuge
in the safety of their concrete bunker.

With a click and a whirr,
the bed moves up and in,
the ceiling descends
and claustrophobia clutches.

The machine circulates
weaving its clockwork magic:
targeting each tumor, scrubbing me clean,
scouring my body, scarring my mind.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Garcilasso

Comment: It all happened a long time ago now, but one never forgets. The desire to reach out and help and comfort any and all sufferers is still with me. This is the link for my book, A Cancer Chronicle.

Hair

Hair

Some have it, many don’t.
Some find it floating
one morning on their pillow,
short or long, all gone,
a dream faded in the light of day.

A woman’s crowning glory,
or so they say
yet I admire the bald skull,
its stiff stubble
stubbornly growing back
beneath head scarf or cap.

The lucky ones wear wigs,
often made from
another person’s loss.

The bravest flaunt their baldness,
battle flags their shining skulls,
blazing like badges of glory,
shiny medals awarded
in this never-ending war
against our own fifth column
and the enemy who devours us
from within.

Comment: Yet another of my friends is suffering from cancer. When will it ever end? This is my tribute to all who fight, or who have fought, the enemy within. Meet him head on. Never surrender. D o not give in.

Click here for Roger’s reading of Hair on Anchor.
Hair

Oily-Garcks

Oily-Garcks

And the oily-garcks betrayed the earth.
They drilled it full of holes
until the planet looked like a circle
of Swiss bankers’ cheese floating in space.

Mining, fracking, exploitation, internal combustion,
everything combined to make rainfall rise,
rivers flood, wild winds blow, hurricanes hustle,
lightning strike, again and again,
until forests flared, skies grew dark with cinders,
and land was reduced to water, dust, and even more ash.

The oily-garcks read their bibles and in their pride
they built super-fortunes, super-structures, super-yachts,
modelling those super-yachts, two or three each,
on double or triple the dimensions of Noah’s Ark.

Then they loaded them. They invited, two by two,
their friends, physicians, doctors, opticians, surgeons,
specialists, generalists, nurses, masseurs and masseuses,
body guards, anybody, really, who would keep them alive.
Next came their wives, concubines, girl friends, partners,
and those they loaded, old and new, by the dozen.

Earth warmed and her ice caps melted.
The seven seas rose higher and higher until
there was only one cruel, grey, destructive sea.

The oily-garcks set sail in their arks beneath
dark skies and an even darker future.
They sailed for forty days, forty weeks,
forty months, and then for forty years.

Nothing.

Gaia, raped, mocked, tortured, and destroyed,
had neither given nor promised a rainbow covenant.
No let up in the rains and winds, no supply ships,
no neutral landing sites, no undrowned friends,
no friendly rainbow in the sky to promise peace.

The oily-garks had brought no living food.
Their fridges were stacked with frozen dishes,
caviar, lobster, tenderloins, great wines, fine liqueurs.
They didn’t even bring a dove, just helicopters
launched from helipads that took off, year after year,
in search of the land that had disappeared.
They searched and searched until their fuel ran out.
In all that time, what did they see? They saw the sea.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Oily-garks






May Day

May Day

Mayday, Mayday, S O S,
this is a plea for help, I guess.

Dit-dit-dit- dat-dat-dat,
the world lies dying
and that’s a fact.

Add another dit-dit-dit
and that’s morse code
for we’re in deep shit.
What can we do
to get out of it?

Very little, as I see it,
if the world can’t be
bothered to see it.

Another half country
of forest gone,
right whales diminishing,
they won’t last long.
Rivers flooding,
forests on fire,
what have we done
to earn Gaia’s ire?

Human beings
long-forgotten,
but profits are up,
maybe that’s what’s rotten.
We’re near rock bottom
I would guess.
Mayday, Mayday, SOS,

We’ll soon be gone
our works forgotten.
No more humans,
the world in a mess:
Mayday, Mayday, SOS.


Comment: Well that’s how I see it some days and this is just one of those mournings. Say it in paint, say it in rhyme. Nobody’s listening most of the time.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
May Day

We’ll rant and we’ll roar…

We’ll rant and we’ll roar

Rant, I say, rant and rage away, rage, rage against
the death of friendship, and loathing built now
on what was once holy oath and undying love.
This is a blood sport where even the spectators
are spattered with the refined frenzy of friends
turned into fiends and foes, and this is a protest,
a rant against love that doesn’t last, that doesn’t stand
the test of time, against families that break up,
against a society that breaks them up, driving wedges
and knives between people once bound
by the puppet strings of love, against relationships
that can no longer continue, against the rattling
of dead white bones in empty cupboards where skeletons
dance their way into legal daylight and the spectators
 call for more: more blood, more money, more blood money,
and the engagement diamond is a blood diamond now,
a tarnished garnet, and where is the Little Old Lady
of Threadneedle Street, that spire inspired needle
that will stitch their world back together,
and stitch you back together when you’ve been shocked
out of your own ruby-sweet rose-tinted world
and torn into little bits in their oh-so-bitter one,
the biters bitten and those bitten biting back in return,
 a new world this world of snapping turtles,
turtles standing on the back of turtles, and turtle after turtle
all the way down until this carnival world puts down
its dead clown mask and turns turtle in its turn.

Comment: My thanks to Brian Henry for publishing this on Quick Brown Fox.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
We’ll rant and we’ll roar

The Dying of the Light

The Dying of the Light
Rage, Rage

Sometimes you wake up in the morning
and you realize that you can do no more.
What is it about family split-ups, the ugliness
of a disputed divorce, the glue coming
unstuck in an already unstable marriage,
a financial settlement that satisfies nobody
and impoverishes both sides of a divide?

And how do you bridge that divide
when you are friends with father, mother, children
and the wounds are so deep that everyone wants out,
whatever the costs and whatever it takes?
And what is it about the deliberate wounding
of each by the others, leaving permanent scars
that will never heal over, no matter how hard one tries?

And what is it about lawyers, when too many guests
gather around the Thanksgiving turkey and knives
are out for everyone to take the choicest cuts
leaving nothing but a skeletal carcass,
no flesh on the bones, and the guests all hungry
and their empty bellies rumbling for more, more, more.

My thanks to Brian Henry for publishing this on Quick Brown Fox.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Water

Water: such a precious commodity, and more than a commodity, the very substance of life. Without it, we shrivel and die. Vegetation struggles to survive, the desert shifts its boundaries outwards, and a high tide of sand rises to engulf the cultivated land.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, the Atoyac, the Green River, often runs dry. When it does, women kneel on the sand and pebbles and dig little holes into which the water seeps. They wait for the holes to fill and use little cups to pour that water into their buckets. These water holes are also used to wash their clothes and they hang them out on the riverbank bushes to dry beneath a burning sun.

Twice I have been in Oaxaca when the rains have not arrived. I have seen the reservoirs sink lower and lower as the sun laps up the precious liquid and no rain falls. Oaxaca, with or without rain, is a land of dry toilets, chemical toilets, chemicals to put in the tap water when you wash and peel fruit and vegetables. You drink only bottled water. It is sold to the households in forty litre bottles and hawked round the street by boys on tricycles who cry out their wares.

In Oaxaca, almost every house has its own supply of water. The flat roof, azotea, catches the rain when it falls and channels it into large internal cisternas that trap the water and keep it cool.  Water to waste is a luxury that few can afford and most water is recycled when possible in one way or another.

The rules are strict: drink nothing direct from the tap; do not clean your teeth in tap water;  beware of ice cream and ice cubes; drink only water delivered from trusted hands. In addition: eat food only from establishments with running water and a reputation for safety. Avoid street vendors, especially the little ladies in the street who cook over open fires and and change their babies’ nappies only to return to their cooking with unwashed hands … There are so many things you learn if you want to be safe and streetwise. Above all, close your nose to the delights of those wonderful street side cooking smells.

Peragua

Water seeks its final solution as it slips from cupped hands.
Does it remember when the earth was without form
and darkness was upon the face of the deep?

The waters under heaven were gathered into one place
and the firmament appeared.
Light was divided from darkness
and with the beginning of light came The Word,
and words, and the world …

… the world of water in which I was carried
until the waters broke
and the life sustaining substance drained away
throwing me from dark to light.

The valley’s parched throat longs for water,
born free, yet everywhere imprisoned:
in chains, in bottles, in tins, in jars, in frozen cubes,
its captive essence staring out with grief filled eyes.

A young boy on a tricycle bears a dozen prison cells,
each with forty captives: forty fresh clean litres of water.
“¡Peragua!” he calls. “¡Super Agua!”

He holds out his hand for money
and invites me to pay a ransom,
to set these prisoners free.

Real water yearns to be released,
to be set free from its captivity,
to trickle out of the corner of your mouth,
to drip from your chin,
to seek sanctuary in the ground.

Real water slips through your hair
and leaves you squeaky clean.
It is a mirage of palm trees upon burning sand.

It is the hot sun dragging its blood red tongue across the sky
and panting for water like a great big thirsty dog.

Bruised

Bruised

The clematis unfolds its flowers: bruised purple on the porch. Beneath the black and white hammers of ivory keys, old wounds crack open. A flight of feathered notes: this dead heart sacrificed on the lawn. I wash fresh stains from my fingers with the garden hose. The evening stretches out a shadow hand to squeeze my heart like an orange in its skin. Somewhere, the white throat sparrow trills its guillotine of vertical notes. I flap my hands in the air and they float like butterflies, amputated in sunlight’s net. The light fails fast. I hold up shorn stumps of flowers for the night wind to heal and a chickadee chants an afterlife built of spring branches.

Pressed between the pages of my waking dreams: a lingering scent; the death of last year’s delphiniums; the tall tree toppled in the yard; a crab apple flower; a shard of grass as sharp as glass, as brittle as a bitter, furred tongue at winter’s end.

I know for certain that a dog fox hunts for my heart. Vicious as a vixen, the dog fox digs deep at midnight, unearthing the dried peas I shifted from bowl to bowl to count the hours as I lay sick in bed. I sense a whimper at the window, the scratch of a paw. I watch a dead leaf settle down in a broken corner and it fills me with sudden silence. Midnight stretches out a long, thin hand and clasps dream-treasures in its tight-clenched fist.

The lone dove of my heart flaps in its trap of barren bone and my world is as small as a pea in a shrunken pod. Or is it a dried and blackened walnut in its wrinkled shell of overheating air? Sunset, last night, was a star-shell failing to fire. Swallows flew their evensong higher and higher, striving for that one last breath lapped from the dying lisp of day. Its last blush rode red on the clouds for no more than a second’s lustrous afterglow.

I lower defunct delphiniums, body after body, into their shallow graves. Night’s shadows weave illusions from earth’s old bones. Rock becomes putty, malleable in the  moonlight. Midnight readjusts her nocturnal robes and pulls bright stars from a top hat of darkness. Winged insects with human faces dance step by step with circling planets and clutter the owl’s path. Night swallows the swallows and creates more stars. The thin moon hones its cutting edge into an ice-cold blade.

Click here to listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Bruised

Fearful Friday

Fearful Friday

“I met a traveler from an antique land
who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
[Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Comment: Not my poem – I only wish it was – but certainly it expresses some of my sentiments at the current time. What on earth is happening? Who do we think we are? What do we think we’re doing? Where do we think we are going? ‘Vanity of vanities – all is vanity.’

Vis brevis. Ars longa.

Click here for Roger’s reading of Shelley’s poem.
Fearful Friday – Ozymandias – on Acorn

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

X marks the spot
where the energy ran out,
the moment when the tide turned
and water ebbed instead of flowing.

A place… a time…the sudden scent
not of presence, but of absence.
The absence of movement,
noise, of that other body
that once walked the rooms,
floors, opening and shutting doors,
windows, a robin’s whistle,
a thrush’s trilled song…
gone now, gone, all gone.

We drift through silent sadness,
avoid each other’s eyes,
sit with our heads in our hands
or knit our fingers together
in desperate gestures
that express our emptiness,
the emptiness of an empty nest…

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Empty Nest