Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Asking Feelers.

I talk to my hands and ask them
to tell me what they have felt
in sixty years and more,
A million mugs of steaming tea
barrels of porter in pints
the handle on my fathers door,
and the grip of many a spade
shiny with spit and sweat
from biting the sticky clay
to find the golden wonders
and black champions,
the twine on bales of hay.
Footballs with laces
the reins on the stubborn ass,
diamonds, hearts and spades,
screwdrivers, saws and hammers
handlebars, saddles and pumps,
razors with throwaway blades.
Shakes with other hands
“I'm sorry for your loss”
countless hello's and goodbyes,
brylcreem and carbolic soap
Windsor knot propping Adams apple
buttons on schoolboy flies.
Ash plants on bullock backs
the mane of a white-eyed ass
foot stretched neck of a goose,
the profile of scratchy stubble
the slap of another wrist
twin fists turned loose.
The turning of calendar pages
and leaves of all those books
fiction of poetry and prose
the weight of the gravel earth
at the grave of parted friend
the ritual of putting on clothes.
The feel of my children's faces
the crossing at Angelus bell
pulling the belfry rope,
the fingers of a lovely woman
twining in a casual touch
delivering a message of hope.
The good the bad and the hopeless
they've felt, the sun and the rising damp,
the flick of a switch, then light.
The power of the beating pulse
at wrist, and heart still ticking over
when eyes won't work in the night.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Irish Wake:

I went to the wake with Jim because
the man was dead that was,
now paddling across the great water.
He wasn't my favourite man
A 'cant do', 'wont do' man,
He wrote the text; the author.

Just another spoke in the sameness wheel
he was, a hollow tree-trunk still.
Mouth, a cave furnished with a few white chairs,
The living viewing the sockets of the dead
Denying that they were or went,
History guarded like scandalous affairs.

Eyes, battle- scarred scary marbles
Staring at the contrapuntal lines of life,
As much direction as a yolk broke egg,
He couldn't forsake his own distress
his repeated route, tedium crawl of the unreal,
Cup overflowing with draught, a dreg.

He tripped on the shadow of barbed wire
and fell into no man's sea of dark,
All cats are black in the night.
The valleys in his face were once cheeks
propping up his nose and brow,
He opened up the window to let out the light.

Ignorant of being ignorant, he was,
A grain of silt in Sahara's sand,
A squirrel spit on a petrified tree,
I went to the wake with Jim because
the man that was, was dead.
His life was cheap, his death was free.

(Tis said you should never speak ill of the dead; this doesn't mean you should abandon the truth)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

December Five

Conscience of a nation to his children
olive tones and texture in his sallow skin
went to the God of all colours in winter
when the world is outside white.
And white hearts are black
living in skin stretched and mottled
by the sun of African skies
where his spirit flies.
Like Gandhi, a lawyer condemned
by the laws of his peer
he knew no fear of the dark
which was his manger
his refuge in danger.
They slapped the other cheek
and still he smiled
he knew they could not hurt him
with their wild accusation
they could not stop the rebirth of his nation.
Christened by his teacher on his first day at school
he had no paper or stool, no stub pen,
he could ask only why and when.
Accused of high treason; no reason,
Patience patented was his sword and shield
honed and polished on the penance field
of Robben Island's lime pits of the free
and Thatcher and Reagan held the key.
South Africa belongs to all who live in it,
black and white, genius and half wit.
“authority is based on the will of the people”,he said,
“this land is owned by the living and dead."
We have been brutalised by an invading nation
They dont know truth, or reconciliation.
He went gladly to his maker on December five
One of the chosen few; dead but still alive.

(in memory of Nelson Mandela, named after a pirate)