the unknown Iraqi, anonymous, at least, to me,
lies sprawled and dead
and splayed across my TV screen.
Alone, forlorn, tattered,
The unspoken agony of the recently deceased.
His shoe is smudged with desert sand,
The socks, grey, thin and
Mouse – like feet.
Killed in action?
Killed in anger?
Killed in the frantic scramble –the near paralysis – of impending defeat?
He is gone.
He is mute.
One end result of a game that’s been played many thousands of times,
A scene replayed across the ages,
As one “just” war (and it’s own war crimes) concludes –
And recrimination rages.
War makes of peace, a miser,
And the unknown Iraqi lies dead, and,
Unlike me, unlike us,
Cannot grow any older, and yet be
None the wiser.
What (maybe) God (might) think of the world.
thought God –
“ a programme about something
which many of them do not believe to be here”,
and switched to BBC 2
and poured a metaphysical pint of beer.
“Hmmm …a curious mix of sceptics
and the very devout…
and that young man, Vine?
whilst hardly divine, certainly seems devoted;
wonder how the punters voted?”
and so sat waiting , for a sign.
on the TV –
and nothing at all,
beginning and end,
a blessing, a curse,
and sometimes – in my name – (which is?)
something infinitely worse.
Hotel room reading
and sometimes the trash can.
Prayers, prayers and more prayers,
and holy folk
eternally splitting hairs.”
And so sat back, and wept a little, for such cares.
“ News? I’ve heard it all before.
Ought to show them the eternal door!
Always fretting over the Great Question :
Oh! Why, oh why?
Well, I’m not waiting
on all your debating.
The only advice I can give
whether I may be,
do or do not live, is,
that you would be wise to keep me in mind.”
And so sat up, and flipped channels to Sky.
This poem was written ages ago, 9/6/99 in fact. I was listening to Andrew Motion being interviewed (on BBC4 Today programme if my memory serves me well) just after he had become the then new Poet Laureate, wherein he bemoaned the lack of time.
I heard him read a couple of years ago, and am particularly fond of his collection, ‘Public Property’ .
Poet in motion.
Such a commotion,
the very notion,
“no time to smell the roses”
says Mr Motion…….
We are most fraught,
at the very thought ;
“no time to stop and stare”,
it’s enough to make any literary critic
lose their equilibrium,
if not their hair.
We need our Laureate
and to gently criticise.
To set the world to verse,
with time allowed for reflection,
for meditation upon our mutual direction……
So please Mr Poet Laureate,
but lots of shush,
indeed, more hush,
for, as one supposes,
the job of poet
can only be,
to take time to smell the roses.
This poem was written in 2003, and, like a lot of the poems of the last 12 years or so, was inspired by Helen. Carningli (The Mountain of Angels) is the mountain which lies behind Penrallt Farm and it is an awe inspiring and ancient place. I love to walk there, more than pretty much anywhere else I have ever been. And I love getting home too….
Crowns the bay
As I stare hard
On this perfect summer’s day
At the blue-green world
Yawning beneath me.
Gasping to the top
I clasp at stone
And lay a new gift –
A blessing, ordered to complement
My bent –pin wishing well thoughts –
Atop the gathering cairn.
My legs construed
To return me to you
And your melon scented kisses.
You – the jewel
In my Carningli crown.
About 14/15 years ago I collated a small collection of poems, under the title of ‘Rewarded by Dolphins’.
My intention for this blog is to begin to set out a collection of new poems, written during the last decade or so – but I wanted to start this creative adventure of mine with a couple of pieces that relate to my grandparents, who I loved dearly, and who gave me an inspirational vision of what ageing well can be like – a path made much easier for them by my mother, who made sure that their long journey was a comfortable and an honoured one.
“Ray and Nellie” were married for just over 70 years.
Thinking of you ,
grandfather, my love,
blue bearded and green pyjamed
as you lay, serene in death.
What were you thinking of in those last, feather breathed days?
Of beer, and skittles?
Old cars and older friends?
Loose fittings, loose ends?
Or was it of us, or had you already left us behind,
pretty much as we suspected,
our solicitations rejected?
I like to think that some image of us, your loves,
was imprinted upon your mind’s eye
as you slipped out of the room
with one final, short, sigh……
My grandmother (the angel on my shoulder) died about 18 months after Ray and as part of the elegy for her funeral service I wrote;
When I travelled to France recently, on the overnight ferry, towards midnight I went out on one of the upper decks. The moon was rising and romancing the sea, and I had the strongest sense of my grandfather, heard him talking to me, and felt his presence. And I imagined him dancing a ragged and solitary hornpipe, atop the silvered waves. (And then, because I am his grandson, I went and had a coffee and a cognac, and chided myself for being whimsical)
Well, I like to think that the same moonspangled carpet will be laid out across the sea tonight, and, if I was making my voyage again, that I would see the sailor and the lady, sitting at a a table, straight backed and forever young. For an instant they might look towards my ghost ship passing by, and, later, I think they will turn and look eagerly for us all.
But for now? They only have eyes for each other.