The Irish Ferries

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      The Irish Ferries

 ( Lines written in memory of Lizzie Christian, a Liverpool flower seller. )

It’s cold, my deary, it’s cold,
said the flower woman,
speaking to the sailor man,
on his way down to Liverpool Bay,
who had only come to say,
he could not stay.
Where do you go to, my bright cherry?
Do you go to Dublin dock,
to board an Irish ferry?
she asked him, to unfasten his lock.
Will you sail away on one of the Irish ferries?
More lovely the sound of them
than a basket of berries.
Will you buy some roses
for the flower woman’s daughter,
to let fall on the waves of the grey sea water,
and watch them float out on the Irish Sea?
Will you promise your true love
there is no one else but she?
Will you sing goodnight, ladies,
goodnight, ladies, goodnight,
as you sail from Liverpool harbour?
You only came to say,
you could not stay.
Sail out from Liverpool Bay,
on board one of the Irish ferries,
more lovely the sound of them
than a basket of berries.
Sail on, on board your Irish ferry,
my bright cherry,
singing goodnight, goodnight ladies,
sing on, sing on, my bright cherry.

My Father Was A Sailor

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                            My Father Was A Sailor

    ( For my father, Eric Dodd, born August, 5th, 1923, died, January, 2009. Published in his memory in the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday, 11th, August, 2009. )

My father was a sailor in the war,
was twenty two at its end.
On the deck of his corvette, saw the ships,
the convoys he helped defend.

The Great Pyramid of Egypt, he saw,
vast seas for whales to wander,
the stone guardian angel with her lamp,
anchored in New York harbour.

In time of peace, to England he returned,
worked as a plumber by trade,
water ways of pipes he fixed, cleansed and cleared,
of a house a home he made.

My mother said she met him at a dance,
smiled to think of days gone by.
He was good to her and that matters most.
Far and faint, the seabirds cry.

He left us here, to voyage out, alone,
skilled to steer his ship to shore.
My mother waits to greet her sailor home,
summer stars outside her door.

Baskets brim with apples on a table,
a brown pot steams with fresh tea.
On a plate a cake of nuts and cherries,
on walls, portraits of the sea.

And in a berry bush chirps a robin,
by a hedge a ladder leans.
A shed shelters tools to tend a garden,
truth tells itself what it means.

All is clear, in golds and greens.

Hiram Bingham

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        Hiram Bingham

In search of ancient wonder,
Hiram Bingham set off to explore
for Inca Manco’s mansions,
and in a hut by a river shore,
he met Melchor Arteaga,
who, intrigued, joined the expedition,
showed them the secret valley,
stone steps led through a fruit plantation,
up jungle to mountain peak,
found white buildings, broken, but still grand,
they stood like drums to dance on,
platforms for the feet of gods to stand.

Oh, happily Hiram Bingham
searched for Manco’s mansions.

Hiram found the high temple
of the condor god, wide winged and wise.
There he knelt, and he gave thanks,
to find Incas of the ancient skies.
The Inca children loved him,
performed the condor dance, gave him gifts.
In Manco’s mansions, he lives,
where mist on the Urubamba lifts.
Narrow bridge of creepers,
he walks, over the hidden canyon
of river Apurimac,
he wears the cradle of gold medallion.

Oh, happily Hiram Bingham
lives in Manco’s mansions.

Hiram loved all mysteries,
went off in search of explanations.
Happily Hiram lives still
with the Incas of Manco’s mansions.

Oh, happily Hiram Bingham
lives in Manco’s mansions.

Hiram in Inca heaven
loves to watch the bird men land and fly,
has attained his condor wings,
knows the flight freedom of the sky.
He lives in Vilcabamba,
the lost city in the sky he found,
his house called Machu Picchu,
with wife and children, the wheel turns round.
Search for him not in Peru,
in the Andes, now well mapped and scanned,
free of the plumed serpent god,
he dwells in a fairer, higher land.

Oh, happily Hiram Bingham
lives in Vilcabamba.

 

S.E.T.I. Man

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       S.E.T.I. Man

I work for S.E.T.I.,
been doing it for about six years.
The government pay me,
I twiddle knobs while supping beers.
My wife and my children
think my job’s some kind of joke,
I say it’s got us a nice house,
it’s better than being broke.

I’m a S.E.T.I. man,
S.E.T.I., S.E.T.I. man.

We send out signals,
but we got none coming back.
They say if I don’t make contact
with any benign aliens,
I would get the sack.
A friend of mind told me,
he would call to let me know,
if he ever had a close encounter
with a U.F.O.

Because I’m a S.E.T.I. man,
S.E.T.I., S.E.T.I. man

The Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence
may sound rather odd.
My auntie Mary said: Give me a call,
if you should ever contact God.
As for me, I hope ever to meet an E.T.
If I did I hope he’d be the kind of person
I’d invite home for tea.

For I’m a S.E.T.I. man,
S.E.T.I., S.E.T.I. man.

We built star scanners,
space radio stations tuned in key.
Planet map planners
sketch in our great observatory.
I get stimulated by the message we wait for,
from solar wheel panoramas,
star folk on the cosmic shore.

Yes, I’m a S.E.T.I. man,
S.E.T.I., S.E.T.I. man. 

 

Cedric’s Close Encounter

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      Cedric’ Close Encounter

I was sailing round the heavens
when I saw a blush of light,
it was so I found your planet
and it made it worth the flight.

I left my old grey mothership
in a crimson solar storm,
but I’d best soon go back to her
before I come to harm.

I landed only yesterday
on this splendid mountain range.
You’re having a close encounter,
if you’re wondering why I’m strange.

I’ve no idea what’s going on,
I’m as foggy eyed as you.
You’d have to ask the Star Masters,
but they never give a clue.

Well, I’d best be going soon,
wing away in my spaceship.
If you want to come with me,
I could take you on a trip.

If you like you can call me Cedric,
though that’s really not my name.
The Great Plan is not my business,
I don’t play the cosmic game.

Well, let’s go up this tall mountain,
my ship gave a warning beep.
I’ll pretend you are a princess,
and I’ve woken you from sleep.

Say your farewells to your planet,
it looks a pleasant place.
But you will never be lonely,
I’ve got many friends in space.

Stick Insect

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            Stick Insect

Stick insect makes itself resemble stick,
earns its name, stick insect,
phasmatodea, to speak Greek,
more commonly, phasmid,
to lift the lid.
Lives in glassy tank,
lit by green bulb, yellow bulb,
silver bulb, red bulb, blue bulb,
to create exotic, tropic,
jungle light effect,
look inside, stick insect,
hard to detect.
Owned by Hugh Minn,
happy home comes he from bank,
humdrum office tedium,
in sweat wet shirt, askew tie,
to stick insect,
for it respect,
never would eject,
liked it, alien, strange,
not like moth or fly.
To his smart, shiny flat,
friends drop by,
at first, puzzled,
glass tank wonder at,
bright bulb lit,
vacant, empty, seems to be,
apart from twist of twig and leaf,
shallow silver water tray,
little bit of grit.
Some too polite to ask,
retain civil mask,
till he points to stick insect.
Oh, yes, there it is, they say,
with relief. Well, I may.
So like the stick it sits on,
the pattern, colour of that leaf.
What a camouflage, clever chap,
hard for lizard, grasshopper, spider
to detect and trap.
Often with a smile, such words they say,
thankful for view through
Hugh’s magnifying glass,
a rare moment new
they do not will to pass.
Always think stick insect looks nice.
And when Hugh Minn
brought home Laura Leaf,
her hair long, bright with henna,
from theatre date and dinner,
was stick insect that broke the ice,
made her smile, warmed her heart,
more than Hugh did,
grateful was he to stick insect,
his pet phasmid.
Told bachelor pals,
not eagle on arm,
panther on lawn,
but stick insect
would impress and charm,
a pet passion in woman
would wake, inject.
They smiled, shiny eyed,
at his regard for stick insect,
why for it he had respect.
Told them Laura Leaf
first warmed to it, then him,
would be wedding soon,
after, Hawaiian honeymoon,
so was pleased to lay and fill its water tray,
add fresh leaves, give its twigs a trim.

The Queen of Sheba

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        The Queen of Sheba

I hear the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon’s court.
All in praise of his wisdom, she showed him the gifts she had brought.
Questions answered, she was well pleased by what she had been taught,
then returned to her own land, after finding more than she sought.

She gave him precious stones, rare spices, almug trees and gold.
Her navy brought these gifts from Ophir, so speaks the tale of old,
so pleased was she by the wisdom of Solomon told,
all the treasures and wonders his house and his kingdom did hold.

O, wanderer that I am, I hear such tales,
even in places seldom reached.
The Queen of the South came from
the uttermost part of the Earth,
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
as Jesus preached,
as part of a lesson he teached.

In her name that is fair, there is poetry there.
She alone is the woman,
to know the mystery of her,
the Queen of Sheba.

Was this meeting between two rulers within palace walls
not like a close encounter in the far star kingdom halls,
a mystic meeting that not by chance, but on purpose falls,
between two different peoples, who answered eachother’s calls?

And so all praise to your pyramids, your spaceship designs,
your angel temples, your jewels, your tall stone god men in lines,
for I have found here in your land, old high wisdom shines.
Prepared for me on a table, a fair feast of fruits and wines.

My gifts I lay before your golden throne,
my gifts I brought for you alone.
Your wisdom and civilization leaves me in awe,
I lay my treasures at your door,
for what to me you have taught,
like when the Queen of Sheba came to King Solomon’s court.

The first Sumerian kings welcomed the gods, long ago,
on the tops of their temples, and to them the priests bowed down low.
From their remote planet homes, they stepped from their starships slow,
and like the Queen of Sheba, they travelled for wisdom to know.

In her name that is fair, there is poetry there.
She alone is the woman,
to know the mystery of her,
the Queen of Sheba.