a poem or two

my days are too dense
like dumplings with no stew
and when this occurs 
I don’t know what to do
but call the doctor
and the ambulance crew

too dense they say 
that’s the trouble with you
go write a poem –
a poem or two

Teaching Shakespeare

Damn this teaching,
how weary, stale, flat it seems.

The profit lies
in undiscovered language,
stones upon a broken beach
in need of polishing;
freedom lies in certain combinations.

Now if I had my way,
I’d make for that scrap of blue
between the trees,
or open the quiet chapel
on the mound.

A slow walk in an out of season town
would do
for counting stresses.

[first posted 11/12/2014]

the experienced walker

the experienced walker
walks about the town
dressed in waterproof trousers
his face set in a frown
expecting foul weather
when all around is fine
the experienced walker
has one thing on his mind

the experienced walker
always walks alone
weighing vowels and consonants
on his evening stroll
the pavement is his sounding board
between the shops and home
the experienced walker
never walks alone

Orbit

In wine and verse I bargain with the night,
though wine is once again the favoured option.
The thoughts of men in print now rarely charm,
and tend to bring less sleep than irritation.
As for love, she may as well have been
a dream that I once dreamed in former days.
The pleasures of the flesh and of the heart
by lumps and bumps and groans have been outweighed,
Tonight as stars grow dimmer one by one,
no bright new suns have blazed into my view,
and as for those I marvelled at in youth,
old passions these, I do not now pursue.
From two consuming spheres I seldom stray,
dull circles that I trace to end each day,
sad orbits that bring neither peace nor light,
in wine and verse I bargain with the night.

[Note: The opening and closing lines clearly echo Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”. This is the second time this has happened. I’ll let it stand as homage to a poem that got itself into my bones. EB]

father figure

I have dug too Mr Heaney
with pen and pencil both
I have dug a hole
to bury a mountain in
but found I do not have
much treasure there
only this observation
with which I have the nerve
to make compare
that I sat and watched 
my father digging too
but only realised
when the mountain
was no longer there

creak

year after year
this oak tree has stood
with the chalk hill behind
and its acres of wood
today I’m as quiet
as an old tree can be
as cold and unmoved
as that chalk hill I see
without looking

just cooking

something deep down
unfashioned unfound
as a spring underground
on that hill I can see
without peeking

just creaking

like an old tree
will in the wind

pebbles for a prize

in a cabin with no number
on a ship without a name
on a sea with no location
inspiration never came
to the shaky old right hand
and the notebook and the pen
of a man who was commanded
to go sailing once again
today it was not granted
today it won’t arrive
I am washed up on the shore
with only pebbles for a prize

[first posted 1 December 2014]

Longing for the Sea

Oh, I too am longing for the sea,
to break free forever from
certainties and cups of tea
by firesides that we
are too familiar with.

But all those holidays we shared
by restless oceans,
didn’t we agree
that the best part
was always coming home
to mediocrity and letters
on the welcome mat
strewn like windfall apples.

I too am longing for the sea,
this evening at my table,
in verse, in memory. Inversely.

dreamstimefree_28240
Longing for the sea | image c. Stendec | Dreamstime

The Beachcomber

He blamed the wind
and the salt-sea spray,
he blamed the gulls that wailed all day.

He blamed the rain
and the slate grey sky,
breakers breaking on the black cliff side,

He blamed the wall,
the high sea wall,
and every pebble on the shingle shore.

He blamed the storm,
as he watched it break,
and felt the sleeper within him wake.

Then he blamed no more
the quiet shore,
nor gold washed up from the ocean floor.

Words on a page
for his sorrow and pain,
the beachcomber never does walk in vain.

The Voyage Out

On the voyage out, we were becalmed
for seven days and nights,
one for each decade of an old soak’s life.
Untouched by either current or breeze,
by degrees, I grew mad
so that when the wind did whisper to me,
it was in sea dreams I could not read;
strange alphabet, strange tongue,
not known to me, or anyone,
hieroglyphs on the pavements of a seaside town,
out of season all year round.

And there I was delayed,
incanting, have remained,
casting back these stones into the sea,
words formed in extremity,
holding back the one thing I can read:
“Oh why hast Thou forsaken me?”