The platypus is real,
not an invention of nonsense verse.
His life could be better,
but as ever, many times worse.

A bit like a beaver,
has no snout but a beak like a duck.
Lives in Australia,
for how long depends on his luck.

Alert as a wombat,
quick as any kangaroo can jump,
he sits by a river,
watching the water pearl and pump.

The platypus is free,
not hindered by law or worried thought,
his acts are by instinct,
in the cold trap he is not caught.

If I were a platypus,
I’d never complain,
never make a fuss,
in hot sun or rain,
happy I’d remain,
cheerful as a platypus.


Lessons From Fiction

Lessons From Fiction

The Count of Monte Cristo
taught me through his tale
that from an island prison
you can escape to freedom,
if like Robinson Crusoe,
your spirit does not fail.

Odysseus the sailor
taught me to endure,
to survive the siege of Troy,
the perils of the voyage,
though much older and paler,
to find the homeland shore.

Beowulf the chieftain
taught me to be brave,
to withstand the mighty foe,
in the end to stand alone,
be bold to face the dragon,
the last fall of the wave.

So you can learn from fiction,
it depends on what you read.
When you are not looking for a lesson,
a story can plant a seed.

Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Born in Siberia,
Ivan could cope with cold.
The green grass of summer
led him to the river,
not to fish or search for gold,
but to wade through water
for bony relics,
four thousand years old.

“It’s okay, it’s legal,
to be a mammoth tusk trader,”
Ivan told any strangers,
concerned about his occupation,
“for woolly mammoths are extinct,
have been for a long time in Siberia,
not like the elephants of India or Africa.
A mammoth tusk in good condition,
I sell to buyers in Japan or China.”

Siberian winter
drove Ivan to Moscow.
Like a bee in a hive,
he worked to stay alive,
cleared the roads in a snow plough.
Mammoth tusks he searched for
once more in summer,
knowing where and how.

He stands in the river,
waist high in rushing water,
wind in his face from the tundra,
scrapes stones at his feet with a pole,
Ivan the mammoth tusk trader,
stone age ivory merchant
to Japan and China.

Dreams I Had

Dreams I Had

Britain was broken.
Barons fought for the right
to sit as king on the throne.
By Merlyn’s staff,
I was the child who pulled
the sword from the stone.

The battle of Trafalgar.
Nelson lay on the deck,
shot by a sniper.
Like the sails of his ship, he was torn.
I was the cabin boy,
high in the crow’s nest,
clouded by cannon smoke,
sounding victory for him on a horn.

Gunslinger rode into town,
ordered whiskey at the bar.
Poker players grew tense.
The saloon keeper perspired,
looked round for defence.
I was the man
who wore the sheriff’s star.

They were dreams I had
when I was younger.
Always woke warm,
refreshed from the drama,
glad to have been on the side that won,
sad that in real life I could save no one.



Original Rag

Original Rag

Scott Joplin played piano,
he had all the notes in the bag.
Wish I could compose a similar tune,
my own original rag.

A tune a tonic to play,
a remedy to mend a mood,
a jangly round to summon happy times,
a refreshment interlude.

A vacancy in the air,
a hollow ache in the heart,
wait to feel the pulse of my melody,
heal by the strum of my art.

I sit and play my guitar,
find the right rhythm, random chord,
the shallow place in this rapid river,
stable stones to help me ford.

Must not yield to winter cold,
must continue to use my gift.
Subtle syncopations are not my skill,
I have my simple load to lift.

I plunge my mind in the pool,
and gather the notes from the bag.
Time to turn the tap on my wayward tune,
my own original rag.

Fragments On A Stone

Fragments On A Stone

Burn the siege towers
before they reach our walls,
the captain’s cry was heard,
among the ragged calls.

Our foes swarmed the plain,
invaded from the dark,
an empire with no name,
a map without a mark.

We must save our keys,
we must defend our crown.
Our king will never kneel
our walls will not come down.

We’ve been waiting in the wings too long,
and let invaders rule the stage,
but now our beacons shine,
it’s time we came of age.

Silent as stones we guard our kingdoms,
watching with tears things pass away,
but now they’ve gone too far,
it’s time for them to pay.

They can stain the sun,
but they won’t learn our names.
We were before their fury,
we lie outside their games.

So we must mount our horses,
and fly across the fields,
and follow golden courses
with our starry shields.

For they have gone too far,
it’s time for them to pay.
The tides will keep on coming
till they are washed away.

Fragments on a stone,
a battle long ago.
Did the siege succeed
or did the peril go?

Last Works

Last Works

Three score years and five,
fortunate to be alive,
I begin my last works, final verses.
To those with root rhymes,
I will find tunes, to make them songs,
bare melodies that in the air may survive.

So play your bluesy piano,
your jazzy saxophone,
while I craft my last works,
to end with me alone.

Who is it who stands from the chair?
Who is it who opens the door?
What is it that attracts to the window?
Why is it a child finds fun on the floor?

Distracted by Rembrandt,
his painting of a meeting,
interrupted by its viewer.
Appreciate it or not,
you are the intruder.

I leave my last works,
unfinished ventures,
attempts at song,
final notebooks,
strains to hear nightingale notes
amid rumours of rooks.

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