My contribution to the Prompt 25, Haiku and Decima Challenge posted by Ronovan. Cheers.
We notice how warm
it becomes before the storm,
yet you wait, poised, calm.
The Storm - A Decima
Across the sea there is a storm
approaching. We see the rain fall
distantly, will hit as a squall
quite soon. The dark clouds start to form
demonic shapes beyond the norm,
beyond our usual reckoning.
We see a light that's beckoning
us into safe harbour until
the storm blows out, the air is still,
we drink to what the seasons bring.
For Andy Levine
At seven-thirty, when they unlocked the gate,
he wandered out into a world of light.
The local bus to the ferry left at eight,
so he climbed aboard, refocusing his sight
to long perspectives, feeling slightly sick
at the foreign movements, fighting to ease his fright.
The houses hurried by, a blur of brick
at a speed he was unused to. Calm, just stay calm;
a few deep breaths would likely do the trick,
would pacify his every mounting qualm.
He thought of quaffing down a pint of beer,
of setting, once again, his own alarm.
What could he do to quell the coming fear
of city streets that could only do him harm,
of living with his past, year after year?
The Newsagent, The Gardener and The Railwayman
About noon on most days of the week
the three would gather at their regular table
in the Affiliated Workingmen's Club.
All around was natter of football, cars,
the price of houses, hankerings after larger things
and greater social standing, how to beat
the fruit machine and which flavour crisps to eat.
Yet amid these deep debates, the three muttered
of socialism, the absurdity of our lives,
existentialism and, once, a brown
paper parcel containing the Myth of Sisyphus
was passed, subversively, between empty
bottles of Old English Ale.
'Gatsby believed in the green light..'
We woke to a dark day
twisted around the equinox,
light entwined like ivy,
the low sun skimming
the earth like a flat stone.
Suddenly the sun sank,
beached itself, a crimson whale
on the shore of the earth's edge,
clouds wound round it like a scarf.
Perhaps this short, dark day
is meant for meditation,
mulling over time,
how it trips and traps us,
how it's continuous trek
wrings and wraps us,
our slivers of carbon
diffused and infused
with the long ring of sleep.
Embers from our fire redden
in the afternoon dusk, heat
pulsing from your hidden places
full of electricity.
Over the water, a green jetty light
switches on revealing it's location,
somewhere far, somewhere almost lost.
The Stream - A Decima
There is an exceptional way
leading over the hills near home,
a path through which I see you come
in Spring beneath the budding May,
it's blossoms white as this midday,
the stream in which you bend to look,
it's pure, pure water we once took
for granted as it burbled by
not questioning the reason why,
but know it now, our own prayer book.
Call to Prayer
Muezzins seem to have it cracked
by mewling out across a town
incoherence to attract
a midday kneeling down.
Rabbis rattling out the Torah
on Fridays at the synagogue,
less of peace, their stories more a
Clergy, with their clanging bell
disturbing Sunday morning rest,
preach invocations raising Hell
dressed in its Sunday best.
All these Abrahamic chancers
hector and intimidate
idealists seeking only answers,
love, but learning hate.
Five thousand years of murder lie
upon conflicting interests.
The bloody tortures vilify
these cynical requests.
Track Inspection at Swanwick
We saw them approaching through the mist,
two orange points of light enlarging as they closed
the distance and clarified as men.
One paced the four-foot, head low, spanner eased
high across a shoulder, as if marching the roads
to war, gun slung as they slung guns then.
He searched for cracks and the odd loose bolt,
the lookout had sighted an oncoming train
blowing a warning. They stepped into the cess.
When the train had passed they resumed fault
finding. The morning mist had turned to rain.
It streamed from the luminous coats, caressed
their leggings, their waterlogged hobnails hugging
the ballast. But his eyes were back on track, head
swaying like oxen, ploughing. Sleepers slipped
passed them as they made the last miles, lugging
their legs, thinking increasingly of bed.
It seemed like many hours since they had slept.
Gordon, from the house across the road, lives on his own.
His long grey hair skitters in the early morning light,
like clouds released of rain, as he bends to pick the bottle of milk
from the step, looking up quickly as I shout a brief 'good morning'.
His answer can be hardly heard above the autumn breeze,
gulped back in through shyness, shame or lack of confidence.
He's lived here since his mother died while pruning roses
at the back, his naval pension and savings barely meeting needs.
Every day he mixes corned beef mash for feral cats
and badgers from the wild fields out beyond his bottom
garden fence, green with spores of lichen, like a rug.
His days are spent polishing the absences he feels;
the rigour of a service life, parades and, still, the rod
that cauterised his young flesh into weals, offered up
as love for all he knew; ships and those thrilling trips ashore.
Some days you'll see him on his bike returning from the shop,
upright as a saint, freewheeling down the hill
to home, hair flying back like the tail of a bolting horse.
And then he's gone, disappeared inside his house to spend
more time with emptiness, peeling back the shadow
solitude brings, offering to himself these hours as gifts.
Bewilderingly, the tracks converge to a point
somewhere beyond sight,
the distance obscured in light
coverings of air,
as though some tedious print
quavered before a tired and vacant stare,
almost focused, in mid-trance,
but not quite.
Bewildered, Short set out to trek,
to halve the distance,
then to halve it again
until he became, like Zeno,
just within reach, a dance
step or two away from infinity.
As if he were to know
what it is to be
becalmed in paradox, to wreck
what common sense is supposed to mean.
I try to keep up with the flow of these things,
the flow of the weather and news,
whether it's raining or whether it snows,
the wars that are raging, a song Dylan sings,
whether he's folking or whether it's blues,
divining the things that he knows.
As decades pass by it's increasingly hard
to remember events gone before;
the wars that were raging, the deaths that occurred,
who played which hand, concealing a card
to give them advantage, to propagate war
when the arms dealers signalled the word.
I might be forgiven for memory lapses,
how some of it's there but not all.
The constant bombardment of most of the senses,
electrical fizzing inside the synapses,
reduces the deftness of instant recall,
destroying my fragile defences.
But whether I can or whether I can't
is irrelevant really, I know.
Bad things happen to people, to others, not so.
So, whether I pull up or whether I plant
the flowers that peep through the crust of the snow,
disasters will come - and will go.