Welsh Miners

img_0184

Miners

What has become of the caged
canary who lit up my life?
I hear the pit pines creaking.
Now nobody dares strike a match.

Birds descending in an iron cage,
our lungs blackened and scarred,
scared, we sing dark hymns
knowing we are doomed.

On hands and knees, we crawl
to the coal-black altars of our gods.
Blind from birth, pit ponies
trust us in their solitudes.

Don’t they know that when
the canary falls from its perch,
we’ll abandon them and claw
our way, anywhere, to safety?

Within the chalk tomb-tunnels
of my calcined skull,
a lone thought searches
an abandoned mine for a memory
it can no longer find.

Procrastination

IMG_0146

Procrastination
for my friend, Mr. Cake

It’s old age, I think:
I can manage
one thing a day,
depends on the weather,
then I forget,
then I remember,
but the weather isn’t right,
so I put it off again,
start a story,
write a poem,
the phone rings,
someone texts me,
there’s a knock on the door,
the crows in the garden
make me procrastinate,
(crass  Latin joke*),
then I remember
and feel sad,
and hair leaks from my head
like straw from a scarecrow,
and my teddy bear brain
turns to sawdust
when I scratch,
and what was I saying?
I guess I’ve forgotten,
I’ll sleep on it tonight,
and write again
tomorrow.

Note:
Crass Latin joke*
Cras is the Latin for tomorrow. Cras is also the sound, in Latin, that the crows make. Hence Pro-cras-tinate: to leave things for tomorrow, or to abandon them for tomorrow’s crows. The joke probably doesn’t belong in the poem, but darn, it’s my poem and I’m leaving it in there.

Comment:
This collection of thoughts started in a casual online exchange with my good friend, Mr. Cake. Sometimes words flow and it’s impossible to stop them. Sometimes, they hover like crows or croak at us from the tree tops where they sit ungraspable. My spellcheck tells me that’s not a word, but if it isn’t, it ought to be. Whatever: the world and its words are sometimes surreal and if you are interested in the surreal, then Mr. Cake’s blog is the place to be. Here’s the link. The site comes highly recommended. Click on it now and don’t procrastinate. Mr. Cake’s Blog.

Book Burning

IMG_0192

Book Burning

A sharp-edged double sword,
this down-sizing,
this clearing out of odds and ends.

Library shelves emptying.
books disappearing, one by one.

So many memories
trapped between each page,
covers, dust-bound now,
dust to dust and books to ashes.

Sorrowful, not sweet, each parting,
multiple losses, characters
never to be met again,
except in dreams.

Heroes, thinkers, philosophers, poets,
their life work condemned to conflagration.

Alpha: such love at their beginnings.
Omega: such despair,
with Guy Fawkes celebrations
the means to their ends.

Word-fires:
the means of forging
those book worlds that surrounded us.

Bonfires:
the means to end them.

Steadfast, the book-fires,
flames fast devouring

all but an occasional volume
snatched, burnt fingers,
from the flames.

Love at First Sight

IMG_0181

Love
… sometimes comes at first sight

A teenage apprentice with a little plastic badge
bearing her name asked me to reveal my birthdate.
This apparently confirmed that I knew who I was,
so she bound my arm with a thick rubber thong.

My veins swelled up, long thin leeches, slowly fattening.
She told me to make a fist and pouted as she probed
with slender fingers, feeling in vain for a fresh vein
from which to extract, then bottle the necessary blood.

I watched my body’s sap pumping out in tiny, sad spurts
driven by that tired flesh-and-blood machine known as
my heart. Drip by febrile drip my blood accumulated.
The young girl smiled with youth’s perfect lips and teeth.

My heart was a time-bomb ticking beneath her fingers.
I dreamed for an instant of walking upright and free,
a stranger in the paradise of a long-promised land.

Then she handed me my gifts: a throw-away plastic potty,
three disposable spatulas, and an air-dry sample card,
with written instructions, date stamped, bearing my name.

On the Cat Walk

img_0141-2

On the Cat Walk

The cat stalks by, her tail held high,
a paint brush trying to paint the sky.
Nose in the air, she doesn’t care,
I guess she’ll acknowledge me by and by.

She’s neat, so neat, on her tiny feet,
moving swiftly, fast and sweet,
heading for her kibble treat
which she always stops to eat.

Some day I’d like to be a cat,
sitting quietly on my mat,
or lying by the open door,
watching chipmunks on the floor,

stuffing their cheeks with seeds galore:
who could ever ask for more?
A reality show on live tv
specially made for my cat and me.

Therapy Garden

IMG_0074

Therapy Garden

Sitting, absent-minded,
empty,
waiting for the sunlight to heal
my old bones and fill my fragile form

with light
so that I may shine,

a lighthouse on the land,
sunshine pouring out from me,
light enough to enlighten
the unenlightened
in their soul’s dark night,

no moon, no stars,
and me,
walking unafraid,
knowing I need fear nothing,
even in terminal darkness,

for my body now overflows
with this therapeutic light
that floats its boat on an inner
sea of tranquility.

Limpet

 

IMG_0136

Limpet

… like a limpet at the sea side
she clings to her inner rock
as the incoming tide
causes waters to rise,
threatening
to sweep her away.

A wind charges
over the bay,
brings a wave-surge,
white water, urgent,
crashing against rocks.

Rock-face
showered and shocked,
the little limpet
clinging on,
knowing that this
is the way
limpets survive,
from day to day,
from generation
to generation.