There Is A Music Room

                       There Is A Music Room

There is a music room,
but the piano is never played,
and invitation cards,
but the brown table is never laid.
The gardener rarely spoke,
he blamed the times on the broken chain
of the rose garden gate
someone broke down on a night of rain.

There is a rusty swing,
a wooden roundabout and slides,
hidden by apple trees,
saying childhood comes but never bides.
The playground forgotten,
but sometimes in a dark windowed car,
someone drives up the path,
as when, clear of clouds, there shines a star.

The gardener turns and smiles,
wonders what the wind is saying,
for in the music room,
the mistress of the house
is at her black piano playing,
playing quietly what she once called
her new dawn symphony,
of the kingfisher and the dove,
the kingfisher for the flight from the river,
the dove cooing from the woods
for the mystery of love.
Then his head, he shakes,
the last crinkled leaves, he rakes.
Thinks the little left behind,
the present takes.

The Flightless Fog Drinker

                                         The Flightless Fog Drinker

Onymacris unguicularis
has a name in Latin
it does not need to learn,
lives in the Namib Desert
where heat is so hot
it seems itself may burn.

Tis but a flightless beetle
without thin, transparent wings.
Under the dunes, in its sandy den,
butts its head and backward flings.

Bat blind in its lightless cell,
flexes feelers, parched and dry,
until it scurries up a tunnel,
to sit under night time sky.

On top of a dune it waits
to feel less hot, near to roast,
and faces the breeze and drifts of fog
from the far Skeleton Coast.

Allows fog to wet its scales,
slowly slurps it down like dew,
and then scuttles to its den in haste,
swelled with its fresh foggy brew.

O, to be a flightless fog drinker,
though without spirit or brain,
to be such an instinctive insect,
may not be a thinker,
but knows no sorrow or pain.

 

In One Way World

                                        In One Way World

In one way world,
you never lied to me,
though you revealed much
ever to be denied to me.
The masks you wore
in the play you provided me
tempted me to be
players I knew were there,
but I never tried to be.

Youth held me in a haze,
confused by your sorry negativity,
and if there was not a war,
there was the threat of war,
and there were all these signs
that only distracted me,
but there were all these songs,
and some of them were in harmony,
and they were in key
with something inside of me.
So you told the truth,
for yes, there is love,
and in the end,
I can only pray,
it will have the victory.

Call her my muse,
the woman I saw first,
stood at the top of a stair,
and said my name,
and she wore no mask,
had a mystery to confide in me.
I still step up to her,
hear horizons domed, silently.
In one way world,
you and I agree,
for there is love,
and you allowed it to be.

 

 

The Zulug

                                       The Zulug

The zulug waved his proboscis,
in other words his trunk.
In his cave he yawned on a ledge
that served him as a bunk.

He reared his round, rotating ears,
like helicopter blades.
His beetroot scales to keep refreshed
in his black bog he wades.

Outside, monkeys knew about him,
and thought him very wise,
to have kept himself a secret,
unseen by human eyes.

Green parrots were puzzled by him
when he went for a walk,
seemed the oddest in the jungle,
was he who made them squawk.

Enormous hippopotamus
liked him more than mud,
fed him with weeds and cactus seeds,
and watched him chew the cud.

The zulug liked the elephants,
the way they moved around,
but when the human hunter came,
he vanished without sound.

 

 

 

At The Table Of The Masters

               At The Table Of The Masters

I stood at the table of the masters,
I served them food and wine.
I felt it was the rarest  privilege
to hear them talk and dine.

Hear how Edward Lear thought it awful queer
that he was there at all.
With Lewis Carroll, he laughed a barrel,
their chortling filled the hall.

“Now it was you who named the Jabberwock,
sent them to hunt the Snark,”
Edward said and Lewis said:” So I did.
And was’nt it a lark?

And what about your owl and pussy cat
and your dong with that nose?
You had them jigging jolly on the carpet,
and kept them on their toes.”

Homer and Milton seemed to get on well,
both glad to be not blind.
But they regretted they could not improve
the verse they left behind.

I heard Shakespeare say to Dylan Thomas
that there should be a rule
to prevent his plays being college taught
and essayed on in school.

Dylan Thomas said he hoped his verses
were belched by drunks in pubs,
murmured by lovers down moon lit lanes,
roared by old men in tubs.

“Am I really here?” said John Donne to John Keats,
who spoke of nightingales,
while Tennyson told them to mourn not much,
but to make verse of tales.

Wordsworth said to Coleridge it was not right,
was sure he got it wrong.
Coleridge huffed and said it was too late now,
and both broke into song.

Some poets remembered as Anonymous,
like he who wrote Tam Lin,
the Anglo-Saxon author of Beowulf,
spoke of webs words may spin.

Dante and Virgil spoke of higher verse,
up building, line by line,
while Chaucer said he wished his pilgrimage
had brought him better wine.

I blinked, which entailed my eyes to open,
and so I was awake.
Alas, of the table of the masters
there was not left a flake.

The Redundancy of Gods

                                 The Redundancy of Gods

Now the redundancy of gods
has made a vacancy of sky,
for mortals no longer look up,
they need us no more.
The wild they have mapped,
and in iron ships that sink and swim,
called submarines, they survey,
explore the ocean floor.
No more do they light beacons on the hills,
do battle on the plain of Troy.
Here on high Olympus,
Zeus groans upon his throne,
yearns for the days of Hercules and Jason,
knows more woe than joy.
Aphrodite is lovely still,
Hermes is still swift.
Hera says the more lamps that burn,
the more the shadows shift.
On Earth, the Temple of Athene
stands a ruin, an open air museum,
a white shell for weeds, not wisdom,
to flourish in, and the green slime in the cracks
in the pillars are not minded by the tourists
who come to see them.
Pan laments upon his pipes
for the time of the centaur and the faun,
when goat herders called upon his name,
and the water nymphs had hair
silver by the moon, in the sun like corn.
I, Phoebus, bright chronicler of Olympus,
put down my pen.
Though this may seem a final entry
in my eternal journal,
I know I will be prompted
to take it up again.

A Dolphin Symphony For Daphne

                    A Dolphin Symphony For Daphne

Daphne pined to be with whales,
singing in the sea,
protested she was dragged down
by the octopus of normality,
which held her in its tentacles,
disallowed her to be free.
She tried to paint a way to freedom,
but feared her riot art lacked signs
of the tempests in her soul,
her wild heart’s originality.
Sculpting dustily in stone and clay,
her civilized frustration,
she could not burn away.
At least, her boyfriend, Bertrand,
was constant and was rich.
She was pleased to be his muse,
him she would not deign to ditch.
One day he bought a boat for her,
and invited her to sail,
and now not just in sleep,
they leap like dolphins,
and know the language of the whale.
A dolphin symphony for Daphne,
Bertrand composed on harpsichord,
its pipes plunged in a pellucid sea,
swept far, to where oyster shells are shored.

The Riddle of Samson

                               The Riddle of Samson

( “And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.” Judges: 14: 14 )

Where the cards fall,
the wind cannot tell you,
merchants had nothing to sell you,
you know now.

Your skin clear of cloth,
your soul clean of clay,
your brain bright,
hard as hammer on anvil,
no more words to say.

In your dreams of the East,
he stands from his throne,
the Emperor of China,
tells his players to play.

Far hills yet to hike,
words you came to like,
like those on the syrup tin.
“Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
The riddle of Samson.
The answer no one knew.
Spoke of the lion he slew,
that bees came in a swarm
to nest and make honey in.
With your silver knife,
you scraped from the crust of your toast,
burnt bits that fell in black flakes
to sprinkle on your plate.
You still studied the lion,
stretched out in last sleep,
his mane rough and golden.
Wondered at the words.
They sounded good,
but what did they mean?
The clock ticked loud in your ears,
told you it was late.
You pushed open the door,
and in your young years,
you walked off to school,
not wanting to break
the must be punctual rule.

 

A Last Pleasure of Hector Henceforth

                A Last Pleasure of Hector Henceforth

“The weather today will be similar to yesterday, really.
Clouds will continue to drift slowly across the sky,
to dim and shadow those areas they pass over.
The temperature will be a little lower for this time of year,
but as may be expected for August,
there will be no threat of snow or icy patches on the roads.”

“Enough,” said Hector Henceforth, huffily,
turning the knob on the radio to off,
his temper belching blackly blue,
as if he had caught a cough.
The weather report he found
only a little more bearable than the traffic report.
At least, the weather report was relevant,
warning of thunder storms and floods
that may come to trouble him, near and far,
unlike the traffic report,
which was meaningless to him,
as he did not have a car.

“You shouldn’t do that,”
an old woman scolded him,
as he sat on a park bench, a little later,
feeding ducks with crumbs,
broken from two buns
he had in a white paper bag,
bought from a cake shop
he had known from a schoolboy,
who could not do his sums.

“They should put a sign up,”
she went on,
her voice dry as a long left scone.
“Do Not Feed The Ducks, it should say.
You will make them fat with that bread.
I wish people would think.
Don’t you see? With that bread inside them,
they will not swim, they’ll sink.”
“I am not the only one who feeds them,”
said Hector, who wanted her to go away.
“I’ve been coming here for years,
and I’ve never seen a fat duck,
but with you here, maybe one will slouch by today,
such would be my luck.
Perhaps they should put up lots of signs,
forbidding folk to do many things,
warding them away from this and that,
but few would heed them.
See the way some trample down the flower beds,
but still the gardeners seed them.”

“I bet if they weighed them,
they’d find some were over weight,”
said the old woman,
her voice dry as cold cinders in a grate.
“It is one of my last pleasures,”
said Hector. “I buy two buns from the cake shop,
and feed them to the ducks.
See them flock around me,
hear their squawks, quacks and clucks.”

“They are ducks. They know no better,”
the old woman, Bertha Withers, said.
“Writing to the newspapers does no good.
At least one of them published my letter,
but the readers, like you, never understood.
Like you, some said they’d been
feeding ducks with bread for years.
No one ever listens.
But what can one expect in this fallen world,
this unhappy vale of tears?”

Hector did not reply.
On the ducks, he kept his eye.
Bertha Withers had finally run dry.
She turned, and walked off,
disapprovingly, defeated, to the gate.
Hector remained where he was,
sat till sunset, late.
 

The Case of the Rival Detectives (Verse Version)

                              The Case of the Rival Detectives

                                        ( Verse Version )

“My God, Gorms. You have not had a case for awhile,”
said Doctor Whatsit, one evening,
in the study of 214A, Bacon Street,
amid the hurly burl of sometimes foggy London.
“No wonder it is long since I last saw you snigger,
smirk or snipe a smile.”
“No, Whatsit. It is because someone else
has been solving all the cases,”
said Sherman Gorms, leaning back in his chair,
like a long necked lobster,
his tartan trousers held slackly
by pale yellow threadbare braces.
“My God, Gorms. What’s his name?”
asked Doctor Whatsit, alarmed,
like one in an Arabian bazaar,
who first sees a cobra from a basket charmed.
“Holmes,” said Gorms,
as if he pronounced the name that sealed his doom,
mournfully, he tolled it, like a phantom from a tomb.
“Holmes, my God, ” said Doctor Whatsit,
disturbed, like an owl,
the parrot of a pirate,
a vulture with a scowl.
“Yes, Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, his full name,”
said Gorms. “He is the one to blame.
Solves all his cases with Doctor Watson.
They live not far from here, in Baker Street,
as feet fall hard and fleet.”
“Baker Street. My word. Not far from here, as you say,”
said Doctor Whatsit, now pale as a penguin in a sack of flour,
a maggot in the clay.
“Quite, ” said Gorms. “The man wears a deerstalker,
smokes a pipe, plays the violin.
Sounds like someone created by a literary nut job.
Knows how to catch them, though,
those who murder, kidnap, forge and rob.”
“Well, if you’re not going to be a detective anymore,
now that this Sherlock Holmes is solving all the cases,
what are you going to be, Gorms?”
said Doctor Whatsit.
“Some kind of civil servant signing legal forms?”
“The opposite, Whatsit,” said Gorms,
mysteriously, yet bland.
Doctor Whatsit gaped at him, like a gurnard fish,
as if he were half canned.
“The opposite of what?” he asked him,
his face now greyly grim.
“The opposite of being a private detective,”
said Gorms. “I am going to be a criminal.”
“A criminal. My word. That’s a bit extreme.
Like going out without an umbrella,
when clouds with rain are about to teem,”
said Doctor Whatsit,
who rarely saw a distant gleam.
“I am going to commit the perfect crime,”
said Gorms. “And you are going to help me.
A darksome, dangerous task,
my need has made to be.
The Jewel of Burma I aim to steal
from the British Museum.
Our study of crooked ways
will make our triumph real.
From its glass tank,
we will hook it like a pike,
and leave behind no trace,
then see if Sherlock Holmes
can try and solve the case.
It would take a private detective
to outwit a private detective,
I think you will agree.
Holmes will be publicly shamed
for not solving the case,
a tangle of chains and locks
for which he will not find the key.
And then we will be rewarded,
we will have our prize,
back with our reputations
as London’s finest private eyes.”
“Good show, Gorms,” said Doctor Whatsit, impressed.
“Your solution to our problem, I never could have guessed.”
“Thank you, Whatsit,” said Gorms.
“I ever was the clever crow who out flew the storms.”
Needless to say, Sherlock Holmes,
with the aid of Doctor Watson,
solved the case of the theft of the Jewel of Burma,
and Sherman Gorms and Doctor Jock Whatsit
had to spend twenty years in jail,
a sentence neither of them survived,
due to poor health and the natural
deterioration of the human body,
put together well to fail,
and their names remained forgotten,
and never were revived.