Avant-Garde Verse Attempt Number 416

                                       Avant-Garde Verse Attempt Number 416

inverted cow pat
run over by tractor wheel

no, too clear, concrete,
descriptive, rural

not existential enough
obscured by shadow and cloth
even a dull lit lamp bulb
attracts a moth

no, can’t have rhyme
perhaps try again another time
simply won’t do
just as bad as my other
avant-garde verse attempts

like a bull elephant with a belly ache
there is only so much pain a poet can take
so much angst and sturm and drang he can fake

let us consider our frailties
indigest our faults
fast spin on time’s merry go round
until it halts

there, better end now

Man on a train in torment,
knows he cannot return
the pair of stockings he bought for his girlfriend
to the department store,
even though he is sure he asked for the wrong size.
To ask once was enough of a purgatory,
to return them and ask for another pair
would be to descend to inferno,
even if to get to the floor
he would need to go up in a lift.
From one humid humiliation to another,
the man on the train must drift.

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A More Modern Poem

                                        A More Modern Poem

I set myself a task. Why? Do not ask.
To write a more modern poem, advanced verse,
so to start, this line will not end on this line

but on this line. Good. I think I got that right.
Now, of course, I must not tell but show,
that sounds difficult for one who is a pea brained poet

self known I know. Then there’s the problem of rhyme.
A bind to pass by, let go of, abandon
when one line ends with time and the brain

calls for chime, lime or maybe slime. See,
old habits die hard. Then there’s punctuation.
This is important, crucial. No capital

letters some prefer. To me that shows
complete lack of consideration for the reader
those same poets I note punctuate their prose properly

so why is poetry different? no question
marks will not do at least I can fool them
the way this poem

is presented on the page at least it looks
a more modern poem than my usual stuff
more avant-garde elite of course anyone who reads this

will know it is written in jest not truly a poem
at all though it is printed as readers of more modern
poems expect perhaps I ought to say something

profound deep in an obscure way
with oriental overtones quotes in foreign languages
like depression as last legs cod in grey water clouded

at least hint at something deep but really I think
it is just not my way though I know it can be taught
I know really I’ll just carry on the way I do but

at least I tried once to write a more modern poem
like those I have read which usually need at least two
pages of prose by the poets to explain what they meant

but who can argue with such smart folk
with their professorships and slim volumes?
At least I know that Keats did not go

to creative writing classes nor did Milton
or Shakespeare for that matter, so I intend
to continue to learn from the masters and read

the works of other poets like they did
and make sure, like piranhas in pyjamas,
to make certain any alliterative drivel

drains down the grid. No, it is not good
to bite the hand that feeds, better to
plot out your bit of land and plant it with seeds

for you can take a horse to water but
you may return with a camel to your stable
and be unable to feed the buffalo of your kine

not bad for a first try at a more modern poem, I gauge,
still too many full stops and commas punctuate the page
mayhaps it is hard to free myself of helps to the reader

the rhythm of thought and speech. Poetry only ever
had a limited appeal, accepting that, do more modern poets
endeavour to make it more limited still?

better end this ramble I plunged for a gamble
came out the cryptic casino with no winnings
the wheel still in spin at the end of the line I begin

Yeti

                                                Yeti

It’s all right. I will tell no one.
I’ll just take a few photographs,
then I’ll be gone.
Never thought I’d find you, but I did.
You never left a mark, you never hid.
Now there you are,
with some of your tribe, it seems.
How could I describe
what rarely flickers forth in dreams?
Sat protectively, outside your cave,
more like tall, thin apes
with rough skin scraggy with black hairs
than bears you look.
I can tell you have no language,
only seldom muttered sounds,
no link to hang a hook,
as you gaze out over the snow silenced,
Himalayan roof.
I had to come, I had to try to find you.
Never expected I would find proof.
Thank you for being, remaining still,
for the beauty of the sight,
you were worth my frozen tongue,
the threat of fall and frost bite.
They only ever speak of the yeti,
as if there was only ever one,
the last remnant of a race, perhaps,
that long ago has gone.
But there you sit, behind you,
members of more than one family.
You are obviously the head, the chief.
The others look guarded by you,
you they trust, in you they have belief.
A few stump up, turn back, lower their heads,
retreat into the black blanket
of the low roofed cave mouth.
You stay with the others, alert.
Your eyes look one way,
yet see north, west, east, south.
No one would believe these photographs I take.
They would inspire only sneers, laughs.
They would say they are fake.
They would say they are of human actors in ape coats,
photographed in winter in the mountains, somewhere.
It does not matter. I do not care.
I would not want them to believe they are genuine.
I do not want them to find you.
There. I’ve taken my last photograph.
When they think of you,
I prefer that they keep saying: What if?
I will go now, head back down the mountain,
and leave you to remain a myth.

Harvey’s Hutch

                                            Harvey’s Hutch

Now Harvey he was our white rabbit
in my childhood home near old Sniggery Wood.
I brought him a newt in my pocket,
thinking all creatures friends through small brain and blood,
but Harvey he just would’nt have it,
he sniffed up his nose and the newt sped away.
I stood in mud in my wellies
in my brown coat and shoes I had on to play.
While friends watched Popeye on tellies,
I fished for a whale to put on Harvey’s tray.

I wanted to be Davy Crockett,
if not him Ivanhoe, maybe Robin Hood.
My cart shot by like a rocket,
proud of its four pram wheels, it looked really good.
Summer was for kites and cricket,
leap frog, rounders, chase, tick and go hide and seek.
Our fun fair needed no ticket,
we made sure every day went on for a week.

The old witch who lived in the cottage,
her front gate always shut, we never went near.
In winter I ate bowls of porridge,
the cold air cawed with crows is all I could hear.
Our patch of rhubarb and cabbage
was nibbled by caterpillars and spiders.
We judged all things good or garbage,
played with our dinky cars, flew wooden gliders.
To Harvey I gave a carrot,
he was bright as a pearl among spinning tops.
No longer toys on my carpet,
but in his back garden hutch Harvey still hops.

Timber

                                                          Timber

Weird. Other people are weird
because they are not me.
Weird. You must think other people are weird
because they are not you.
Though we may disagree
that truth is true.

Well chosen lumber slumbers in my lumber room,
my store of timber
never to build a building or a fence,
kept to be better than empty space.
As I grew older, I thought
the world would make more sense.
If I could melt the frozen number
of mistakes would the thickness
of the wall that shields the truth
seem less dense?
All I know is life is large, the universe immense.

A lumberjack shouts timber
when a chain sawed tree
is about to lurch and topple down.
The forest is so silent,
every creak and crack
of its fall is felt
until it thuds the ground.
In the aftermath of the felling,
the stillness is cleaved
by an axe downward bound.
Logs piled high in sheds,
to keep dry for wood for winter.
Unobtrusive, as ever,
I listen, make no sound.

Woodworker, here is the timber
to carve, plane, joint your furniture.
Word weaver, here is the paper
to write on pages lost count of number.
Take them where they cannot go,
your listener, your reader.
Unchain, unlock the forgotten, rusted gate
to the hidden garden.
Reveal the carp in the pond,
communing above pebble and fern.
Let them sense the silence,
and in the stillness,
urge them to follow, respond.

Timber. One day a voice will shout timber,
but it will not be a tree but I
who falls in the forest,
the silence sudden before I crack to the ground.
Timber. One day a voice will shout timber,
but it will not be me but you
who uproots without sound.

The Hermit and the Mermaid

                                The Hermit and the Mermaid

On an island rain kept wet and green
as a hermit lived he unseen,
until a mermaid flopped on the shore,
dropped to his knees, felt dazed, unsure.

Sat on a rock, among splashing foam,
brushed her hair with a coral comb.
“Hello, hairy hermit man,” she said.
“The waves up surge, the fish are fed.

“Now a rainbow in the sky is seen,
count the colours, red, blue and green.
Say no one should have a broken heart,
build a bridge, feel it fall apart.”

The hermit agreed, told her his truth.
He was a sailor in his youth,
till he floundered, ship wrecked on the shore,
watched the crabs at the seaweed gnaw.

“I feel on the mend so I must have been broken,
feel free of dream so I must have woken.
Why do I see you?” he asked her plain.
“What I have lost can I regain?”

She ceased her comb, turned and smiled at him,
swam off slow to the ocean brim.
The sun sploshed down like a purple plum.
He searched some more for salvaged rum.

Hardangervidda

                                      Hardangervidda

Open my treasure trove,
look back and rove,
find a name that made me shiver,
Hardangervidda.
It sounded to me
wide, high and icy.
So it proved to be.
A tumbled mountain mass
glows greyly in my glass.
I turn a key,
and there it is,
our summer in Scandinavia.

We stood on a bend,
half way down a mountain,
looked up and saw,
for a moment,
a sunshine shaft,
through drifts of cloud,
make a glacier glint.

He taught Classical guitar,
the Swedish man,
who drove us in his car
down looping roads
to the wooden town of Bergen.
Said it was beautiful there,
but it always rains.
It was possible to wear out
four umbrellas in one year.
That made us laugh.
I unlock a memory of a merry tear.
He wished us well, drove off,
and left us there.
Bergen was dry that day,
warm in July sunshine.
To our surprise,
we found Henrik Ibsen’s house.
So we went in,
looked at his desk and books.
And on the Hardanger Fiord shore,
we found the house of Edvard Grieg,
where he wrote Peer Gynt,
among other works,
so for a while we were
In The Hall Of The Mountain King.

We sailed on the fiord in a boat,
and felt we were truly there,
on the west coast of Norway.
You said the mountains made you feel hemmed in.
I open my treasure trove,
and go back to then,
to remember how an end can begin.
And as we sailed further on and deeper in,
I thought, from here long ships sailed out
to voyage the North Sea.
They thought the world was flat then.
If you journeyed far enough,
you would find the edge and fall off,
and keep falling, into nothing.
That is how brave they were,
to sail out, not knowing
where they were going.
When we disembarked,
we walked through a forest.
Climbing steep slopes,
among firs, we saw a moose,
decided we liked him.
We fed on bread and blue berries,
felt like we were bears.
The ground still cold,
hardly thawed from winter,
we lay in our tent,
near a rippling lake.
This I remember for our sake.
At the name, I still shiver,
Hardangervidda.

Out of the trees, clear of the lake,
we met some Germans in a minibus.
They were young, like us.
We could have gone with them
to the north of Lapland,
to see the reindeer herds,
but we did not have the time
or the snow shoes.