More of the Shame
We walk this morning to the reservoirs,
these great pools filled with winter rains,
filled to overflowing like broken hearts.
We await the coming of the geese
skimming in like military drones.
Far away the cruel satanic choirs
of shells chant barbarous refrains
reminding us humanity departs
when ignorance undoes our sense of peace.
We hear the sound of tramping from their homes,
the hundred million miles of refugees,
their haunting songs bewildered on the breeze.
Is there more to say, much more to know?
You'd think in seventy years you'd have seen it all,
had heard all wisdoms, sown the seeds that grow
luxuriant grasses, fertilised and tall
with understanding, comprehension like
a second sense, a knowing, winking eye.
But no. This age is more a Pennine hike
than a country stroll, each step a swallowed sigh.
It seems a shame you've not made more of it,
stuck at something, chased some small success.
Yet not for any transitory fame,
more, participating in the game
continuing around you as you bless
all those you've loved. They're the core of it.
For Arthur Wesney 1915-1941
If I could, I'd come to visit you,
where your bones have lain these eighty years.
In Libya's dangerous soil you are interred
beneath the ground you died on as a youth,
so many dreams unfulfilled and gone.
My father, who fought with you, is now gone too,
but died an old man, lying in his bed
still thinking of the way you fell in battle,
your sacrificial blood drained in the sand.
What would be gained by coming to your grave
is indefinable. I cannot tell
you of the millions subsequently slain
and feel your sorrow heave beneath the earth,
but only kneel to give you back your name.
You talk to me in the way you like to do,
your words, all news, what's happening in the world.
I adore you for your vast humanity,
the way you'll never cease to show how love
transforms us all, so we are never lost.
Out of the Dark
"The mind, once enlightened, cannot again become dark"
The journey started many years ago,
as Hesse had, heading to the East,
his mind a fragile butterfly of hope.
And once he settled there he realised
there was no returning, no way back.
Yet still he yearned for the warm comforts of sin,
an ignorance of unknowing dreams.
He dreamt only of stillness and respite.
Knowledge is like a sparkler in the night,
thirty seconds, just on the edge of sight,
the marks of it left inside your eyes
as firefly sparks crackle and quickly die.
But somehow, these images remain;
illusions of light that guide us through the dark.
Retirement and Beyond
Tenacity of the tiger,
ferocious in your calling,
constantly seeking a better way,
how to live a fuller life;
sometimes fierce in your cajoling,
always kind for kindness sake.
You've danced your way
though working days
without tiring, never stalling,
to build a world where all are equal,
where justice triumphs over greed.
We sometimes feel, in that,
we never will succeed,
but each act links to every other,
every sister, every brother,
everyone that you have known
who cared enough to struggle on.
For us, we will continue,
partners, lovers, friends,
so many sparkling days
and moon drenched nights
lie stretching out before us,
these hours transfixed with light.
And for all of our remaining years
we'll write a simple syllabus of love,
a plan of dreams and aspiration,
hand in hand, heart in heart.
Machineries of Hope
We've marched so many times against it's excesses;
for miners, their futures' black as coal dust;
for printers removed from their pungent presses;
for the pickers of fruit, the decaying must
of strawberries, sweet as nostalgia.
We broke our innocence on picket lines,
those working class machineries of hope,
and played the game of seeing better times.
But in the bramble patch of Capital,
it's anarchistic growth a tangled path
of easily commissioned cruelties,
we foundered. Yet still we feel, like Chartists
and the Communards, we fought for love.
Listen, over the horizon, hear our songs.
Each New Day
What do I bring to each new day?
A trail of notes and books
I keep for comfort;
a rarely played guitar
filled with unsung songs;
an angry sadness
at each cruelty
so easily committed
but, most of all,
the love I have for you,
your bright laughter
filling each day with light.
For St. Patrick's Day and my ancestors who made the long trip from Ireland to New Zealand in the 19th century.
However tall your ships were, how long
they took to reach your chosen shores,
could they contain intact your beating hearts,
swollen with leaving, aching with imminent
arrival; the slow salt haul on following seas?
Were prayers said daily, attempting to appease
those catholic saints, their shapes reminiscent
of wet lands you left in colder parts
particularising rain? Did you pack your laws,
clutch them closely, like an Irish song?
How do we feel the sorrow leaving brings
but by a return in our imaginings.
A contribution to Ronovan's Decima Challenge #48 with Fortune being the prompt word on the B rhyme line.
The Fortune Teller
A brisk wind rifled through the tent,
chilling the teller of fortunes.
She was rummaging through the runes,
deciphering if what they meant
would pay her heating bill and rent.
Business was slow, a winter's day
unlikely to produce the pay
she needed to survive the storm
of lockdown's irritating norm.
What she foresaw, she would not say.