The Bare Bones

skeleton

I can’t remember if I’ve posted this one before! (Oh dear; I’ve just checked and see I have posted it before! Oh well, I suppose it can stand a repeat?)

The Bare Bones

They never lied to me – my parents:
Santa Claus wasn’t real and tooth fairies
didn’t exist. The guinea pig that died
didn’t go to heaven. I remember
holding my father’s hand in a museum,
gazing in disbelief, once the secret was out,
at a dog’s skeleton, a bird’s and a frog’s.
At seven my first occult knowledge;
a treasure I carried inside me.

A human skeleton was the jewel
wrapped up in a balaclava and raincoat.

Inside, where it was warm, I took it out
and learnt by heart each part – humerus,
radius, femur, pelvis and patella – counted
all the ribs to see if any were missing;
learnt that 24 vertebrae made up a spine
that kept me upright. A hinged framework
for nerves, arteries and softer innards.

When I looked at my mother and father
I knew they were hiding something.

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A Father’s Tale

gemini

It is a Father’s Tale

Time out of time I carried you in your dressing gown

downstairs out into the moonless night.

We gazed at a thousand suns studding the sky;

meandering along back lanes I lifted your arm

to point at Orion, drifting above rooftops.

We drew a ‘w’ and a triangle in the dark bowl,

traced a hunter’s belt and coloured in a lion,

a charioteer, a plough and a little bear.

I didn’t know then that you’d drift out of reach

when I reached for the thousand and one stories

to keep you listening – to keep you where

trolls, giants and goats sleep under bridges.

 

A Gravitational Wiggle

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(A poem I wrote a while back published by Poetry Kit, UK)

On the morning of 14 Sept there was a slight wiggle in the arms of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Detectors.

It was the day the kindly Evangelicals warned us:

you were in the kitchen but didn’t notice the minisculeripple

in your mug of coffee. I was driving to work when the SAT-NAV

brieflystuttered sending me dangerously close to a catastrophic event horizon.

A black cat crossed the road and blipped strangely in and out of existence.

Most people however, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary:

brown eggs boiled, CDs played and twelve-sided coins were freshly minted

ahead of their release into the wideruniverse.

“It is impossible to make a forgery.” The most beautiful thought

the Royal Mint had ever had. I had an existential crisis the day after

when a black hole suddenly appeared in my bedroom. At least

that’s what I thought it was until I realised it was merely an unspecified amount

of darkenergy leaking out of a radiator thermostat. Now, I’m getting used to

living my life backwards. I’m looking forward to being born again.

On False Perspective

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Most writers and poets say a poem should stand on its own without reference to an image, if that is what triggered the poem. While I agree, I find this drawing so fascinating, I have no hesitation in posting it with my poem! No doubt my attempt doesn’t do justice to the drawing, but there you have it. The technical term for poems which re -interpret other works of art is, Ekphrasis.

On False Perspective

After William Hogarth

See how our concave faces confront contradiction,

we can never read what’s inside; each daily meeting

gouges a deeper groove. Lets face the facts

to avoid false perspective: from a mile away

a man lights his pipe from a candle

held by an apparition leaning from a window next to us.

Sheep grow as big as cows as they wander into the distance;

we stand still as the path beneath our feet speeds along;

a rock face descends as we cling to its cragginess;

horses stand while the bridge moves under their hooves.

*

Two-faced Phil folds into a clock tower; waits his chance to strike.

*

The moon in a dewdrop shows its full face

yet we can’t see both sides of a church

if we stand in one place. Two-faced Phil

jumps out and strikes his lover dead. The murderer’s

reckless act can only return to innocent reflection

in the moonlit depths of a puddle.

Starling Murmuration

murmuration

Winter sun bathes the bricks, white
tailed bumble bees tumble from
their winter bunks, stagger towards
ivy florets, the hinterland between
park and street – a refuge from exhaust
fumes and a thousand hurrying feet.
Rush hour and darkening sky
heavy with manic murmuration
starts a panic among the beetling crowds.

Upturned faces –
Sudden cessation of shriek –

Like a giant bat’s wing the flock
shrouds the city wall and hangs –
silent above the footfall.

Twenty or thirty years ago huge flocks of tens of thousands of starlings roosted in cities.  They no longer roost in such numbers here in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Nightingale

nightingale

Nightingale

I recognised you from your song
long before I saw you in the apple tree.
Each day a cycle of clicks, twangs, bell-notes,
and chuckles. No mate flew to your trembling
throat. On the sixth day I saw you flit from branch
to branch in the shadow of leaves, then you were
gone – but your endless song brought me back
to praise you again and again.

Alchemist from Africa! Your gold
is quick-silvery song – your name –
our way of transmutation –
of speaking in tongues.

 

 

 

 

Note: Nightingale: Obviously ‘nightsinger’ but Gala also from Old Norse meaning song, merriment, yell, of air. In my poem I’ve alluded to the musicality of the nightingale’s song and the evolution of language.

Christmas Yoga

Upward-Facing-Dog

The Last Yoga Lesson

The fish and camel stand inside the door –
twelve giant leaps – the cobra’s
poised to strike; Janus faced –
but we can still build bridges,
at this late hour,
pierce the sun and strike
the warrior pose here
on the roof of the world.
The teacher plays a track
of monkish chants om mani padme hum
and each of us looks into the void.
Sunrise on the Ganges reveals
Shiva, Buddha and Christ;
each reflected in our own
cooling breaths and mountain pose.
Nothing else to do but our bodies bow
towards the sun. Breath in – breath out.