Sunday, 26 July 2015


African Violet

I rescued you and brought you back
from the brink, in my back-pack on the bike
dry and faded you were not a pretty sight
that's why I got you for a knock down price
little knowing how you would repay
I sat you in a north facing window at the top of the stairs
catching only a few errant evening rays
but you liked it there as had your forebears
I sat you on a bed of shiny pebbles and watered
until your mossy roots felt damp and warm
I asked after your health and cared
until you started to recover and revive
and went from strength to strength
your furry caudal leaves swelled and multiplied
turning dark and lustrous velvet green
before in all their splendour buds appeared
then more until like a concave of cardinals
each resplendent in their purple robes
with golden mitres central to the flowers
rescued, redeemed, the cill transformed
into a lush, hot vibrant jungle
like bluebirds flown all the way from Africa

The Alchemist

the poet's task is very hard,
yea and lovers also
like ancient alchemists of old
who sought to turn base metal -
dull poisonous malleable lead -
into butter yellow everlasting gold
so too we try by all means hot and cold
to find dull words to represent
the feelings that lie buried deep within our souls

for words and rhyme are inadequate
to represent that stab of pain
that thumping chest, that knotted gut
when like a dewy mist a voice is heard
or familiar face appears
like clotted cream out of white milk
or better still when just by chance
in busy thoroughfare where all is hurry
you bump into each other
and time stands still just for a second
the gulp of breath, the windows on the soul
when with an iron rod the eyes connect
searching and probing deep
the silence when no one can speak
and prayers would be profane

again, again, I try to replicate
that magic moment, moments gone
when out of darkness came forth light
when out of rock a jewel tumbled
when words gave way to bliss
and all the angels swooped to see and tell
curious at what the gods had brought to pass
for levity and sport in some remote location

we heat and cool we mix and stir
then leave for weeks to coalesce
then with what anticipation peep
into that caldron love
to see if speck of yellow dust
might yet appear upon the breast
breathe deep those fumes
they are the stench of hell
or incense on its path to heaven.

a fire that water will not quench
and damned are we to burn
in torment everlasting

American Dream

I have strode the Mississippi
From Albuquerque to the Rio Grande
I have taken in the Rockies
And stood where Custer stood
Standing his very last stand
When yellow turned to black and white
And rivers turned to blood.
I have flown over the plains of Laramie
With eagle's wings outstretched
Whilst somewhere on Highway Number Nine,
Or perhaps Route Sixty-Six,
A hippy in his VW camper van
Picks up a Vietnam vet.
Here amidst the sandstone stacks, so red and dry
A rattle snake rattles out his challenge
To any passer by - but no one passes by
Only a sweep of blue and scorching sky.
Vast drift of yellow wheat impinges on my sleep
A larder for a starving world
Where once the bison roamed
Their slaughter speaking volumes
Beneath the thunder of stampeding feet
For neither human or other kind has wish to die
Yet less to be extinct.
Nothing could stop the human tide
That spread like oil across the surface of the globe
Its multi coloured fluorescence contaminating
Every untouched virgin valley
Every copse and every cove
On the promise of a Rogers and Hammerstein dream
Of building houses, home.
A carousel of corn - high as an elephant's eye -
Continentally misplaced on ivory keys
Leonard Bernstein gardens with white wicker fences
And Eric Copeland trumpeting the common man.
Of Liberty Ships, Submarines and Hydrogen Bombs
All the way to the moon and back again
from Hollywood glamour released,
coke and cars with big fins
Refrigerators and flyovers
Skyscrapers, elevators, yellow taxis and dust
Steamships, railroads, New York, New York.

And still they come the unwashed human masses
Fleeing a poisoned chalice. Seeking a brave new world
Stinking, sweating, starving, stealing, smiling humanity
Shouting, swearing, swinging, smoking, sailing families
The Fords, the Cabots, the Lockes, the Kennedies
The Lords, the Ladies, the pimps, the punters,
The down and outs and those without a name
They came, they came.

This body politic founded on a dream
And ideas born of faith, of civil war and radical intent
This immense uncharted continent absorbed within its folds
The millions who came and stayed or went again
Where nothing Oscar Wilde could say or do
Could bear away the pain but for a moment
As the earth groaned under the weight of it all
And catastrophe beaconed aesthetically.

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