Bright Side Of The Sun

                                Bright Side Of The Sun

Your face phantom pale,
you dip your head,
your coat is long and black,
you seem content to be in tune
with the dark side of the moon.

A shadow in a crater
defines your lunar life.
Any moment you could turn,
another way to learn,
a different race to run
to the bright side of the sun.

I do not know how I would entertain you
or what it would gain you if you stay,
so I think it best
that I am not going to meet you anyway.

I do not know how I would explain you
if I could detain you for a day.
I was young when I started looking for you,
but I was always sure you could never be more
than the flicker of a figure in a play.

Rare as smoke from a chimney
in these days of central heating,
such would be our meeting.
I will look for you until my race is run
to the bright side of the sun.

You sit silent in your chair,
in your face and clothes no colour,
like the negative of a photograph.
Do I see your darker self, your sad shadow?
If you took my hand, together could we still run
to the bright side of the sun?

The Paradox of the Peacock

                               The Paradox of the Peacock

The rules make it clear,
they do not want you here.
Designed more to keep you out
than to let you in,
they reveal the ladder,
but disallow you to begin.

You stand on the threshold,
at least aware of the elite,
but you cannot even see them through a window,
so you shuffle back down the street.
Back home in your room,
a wine bottle stands sentry on the table.
You prefer the pain of truth
to the brief, false joy of fable.

A maze may have a middle,
but it may not provide
the answer to the riddle,
only the centre of confusion,
the hub of the wheel,
to reveal the paths that can be taken,
but which of them is but a reflection in a mirror
and which long lain and real?
That you cannot decide,
but at least you know,
you must go on alone,
you never had a chosen side.

The paradox of the peacock
is that it cannot truly see
the beauty in its tail.
And you may think you know
who will win the race
in the parable of the tortoise and the snail.
Though both slow you know
the tortoise should win,
then you are told it is the snail,
for it fastens itself to the shell of a scorpion,
which runs fast to slay its victim with its sting,
cruel as the fingernail that scrapes
the dust from a moth’s wing.
You may say the snail cheated,
but the tortoise does not mind,
as he nibbles on his meal
of tomato and lettuce leaf,
which proves that life can be
both fortunate and kind.

The Witch of Endor

                                           The Witch of Endor

“I think I will disappear,” she said,
and vanished from her seat.
She was not visible anywhere,
her absence was complete.
Those she had astonished in the inn,
heard a crow caw on the roof.
They called her the witch of Endor,
and now they had the proof.

Her robe one moment fiery scarlet,
the next dark smoky black,
spells she chanted in her mountain cave,
so none could find her track.
She was banished from her ancient tribe,
for practising her arts,
but only the witch of Endor
could heal their broken hearts.

King Saul, disguised, begged her to summon
dead Samuel from sleep.
Abandoned by God, he came to her,
up stony pathways steep.
Afraid, she obeyed, the spirit spoke
of Saul’s death and defeat.
He died, self slain, on the battlefield,
his foes he could not beat.

She found comfort in the thunder cloud,
saw pale visions in the rain.
Soldiers she feared, the sword, the spear,
felt keen a sparrow’s pain.
Cold was winter, the white cloaked hunter.
She chanted in the dark,
proud to be the witch of Endor,
for she had made her mark.

Season To Forget

                                         Season To Forget

You sit silent in the stadium,
you suffer in your seat.
The game is a test of tedium,
your team heads for defeat.
Now the referee blows his whistle,
awards a penalty.
Well deserved, but for the other side,
fair minded, you agree.
Watch the Spanish striker strike the ball,
you feel it hit the net,
upset it gives reason for this to be
a season to forget.

It is time to leave the stadium,
your side has lost one nil.
Away fans act high on helium,
do all to break your will.
Now the road home never seemed so long,
the sky looks far too wide.
You say your team still played with passion,
the pundits say for pride.
Some speak of a relegation fight,
it can’t be that, not yet.
Seems somehow treason to think this will be
a season to forget.

Woolly mammoth in Siberia,
found frozen hard in ice,
you read about in your newspaper,
you wonder at what price,
if scientists clone a race of them
to alter history,
while the elephants of Africa
are poached for ivory.
Football, after all, is just a sport,
the only one you get,
brings cohesion even if it may be
a season to forget.

Spring was suitably green and tender,
a happy tale was told.
Summer glowed sunshine more than thunder,
autumn was not quite gold.
Now the referee blows his whistle,
your winter to begin,
you must find the flint to flick a fire,
to keep you warm within.
You hear others say that they have led
a lifetime to regret,
which gives reason for this not to be
a season to forget.

Home To Penelope: A Homeric Ode In B Flat Major

                                Home To Penelope: A Homeric Ode In B Flat Major

Home I came over the famed
Homeric wine dark sea,
Odysseus as I am named,
to be with you, Penelope,
to rumour from my halls
that suitors would my rivals be.
On the plain before Troy’s walls
or on the waves, huge and free,
I had fallen to my end,
they wished, so one of them
could take the place of me.
But not even Polyphemus,
the Cyclops in his cave,
could do more than dent my knee.
Now, free of beggarly disguise,
I wait in our grand Olympian bed
for you to let fall your robe,
your waiting widow sorrow shed.

The Middle Way

                                                            The Middle Way

No, don’t go, not that way,
that way leads dark and down
to lands of strangers gone astray,
they the masked monarch rules
in stolen robe and paper crown,
no, only  danger lies that way.

The high way for the few
who knew what moves to play.
Without wings, still they flew,
new things they found to say.

The middle way I advise.
No, that is not compromise,
but from the writings of the wise.
And as you journey down that narrow path,
you can look on either side,
to see what becomes of those
who live by lust and pride,
but do not look too far behind,
and never too far below,
your only treasure in your mind,
find pleasure in what you come to know.

Yes, now go, that’s your way.
Always there’s joy when a pilgrim finds his path,
take your book, your lamp, your staff.
Be merry on your way, smile and laugh.
Only you can see it, the path you follow.
Though the winter hawk may swoop down
upon the summer swallow,
acknowledge it with a nod, your path,
feel near to heaven, close to God,
this is the path the ancients trod.

A Proper Gander

                                             A Proper Gander

He had a proper gander
to tell truth from slander,
but found only twisted wire
in a broken mirror.

His thoughts too apt to wander
to have a proper gander,
too loudly spoke the liar,
cold words made him shiver.

It was one dim December,
on a long road to see his doctor,
he looked up to discover,
a branch, thin and crooked,
blown by a recent wind
to hang high in the air,
caught on a telegraph wire,
trapped like a piece of abstract art
to admit he could admire,
unintended, created by chance,
by wind, branch and wire.
Looked now a fixed structure.
To remove it would require,
a man on a ladder.
It stood out on his walk,
looked odd, surreal,
a case of accidental art,
worth a photograph,
but he had no camera.
Maybe a concerned house owner
would warn the council,
tell them the branch caught in the wire
could be a public danger.
It might get blown down
by the next strong wind
and strike a resident or stranger,
or hit a car or house window,
and recommend they send a fire engine,
to take the branch down from the wire
by a fireman on a ladder.
Still it remains, a transitory work of art,
looked like a novel cover
or a shot from a film,
suggested something about capture,
failed freedom, isolation,
a near escape from prison,
the rags left behind by war.
It was worth another gander,
but left him cold, unsure.




I think you came back far too soon,
hardly knew you’d been away,
but if you wish to learn my tune,
I think you ought to stay.

Don’t know who I’m addressing now,
your face changes as I speak,
and who would listen anyhow
or surrender to seek?

Juliet still calls from her balcony,
but you cannot answer anymore.
That part was always for the younger man,
not the one the sea wrecked on the shore.

Liked the news of the Philae Probe,
landed on a comet’s back.
Astronomic joy round the globe
transmitted to my track.

Boadicea still rides in her chariot,
leads the Iceni, defying Rome.
You first loved her name in your schoolboy book,
woke you like waves and flying foam.

I have not the skill to carve my rune,
only will for words to stay,
but I know I’ve still got my tune,
I never learned to pray.

Joan of Arc still speaks of her angel host
who came to help her save her land.
Like others you gave your heart to her,
but she held a sword and not your hand.

I knew you when your eyes were green,
before the sepia smear.
Over the bridge, we no longer lean,
the river runs less clear.



Beggar At The Gates Of Babylon

                                   Beggar At The Gates Of Babylon

Don’t you want to be a soldier?
Don’t you want to be a banker?
Don’t you want to be someone?
You’d better start applying
before all the posts have gone.

Thank you for your advice.
I know I’ll pay the price
for not knowing who I am.
The lamp of truth shone in the temple
where they once sacrificed the lamb,
but I was told to kneel to a god
they called the golden ram.

Do you want to be a leader?
Do you want to be a pilgrim?
Do you want to stay no one?
Each moment you are dying.
Do something before you’re gone.

I was half way up the rigging
when the cannon ball split the mast.
I remember falling to the deck,
but like the smoke, that life has past.

Do you want to be rich to ride the super sonic train
or remain trapped on the circuit of the tram?
No, I know it sounds a bit of a bind,
but I just want to find out who I am.
The older I get the more on my mind.
I will not lay down like a lamb
nor will I be led to the temple
to kneel before the golden ram.

Trailers for your ultimate war computer games
torture my television screen.
So that is what they want, I think to myself.
Only I know what I mean.
Earth but a battlefield,
all men soldiers without names,
speaking in smart one liners,
exploding buildings already in flames.

And I know there are secret vaults
where highly efficient military men
play real war moves on computer screens,
plan the paths of bomber planes,
the stations of submarines.
And always there’s the red buttons to press,
as life as sacred grows less and less.

Do you weep like Moses on the mountain
over the ten commandments broken?
To his Lord says, here I am.
The many tribes are scattered.
One thing they have in common,
the worship of the golden ram.

I stole a cup from a carpenter
to beg at the gates of Babylon.
The priest, the merchant, the charioteer walked by,
but that life I led has gone.

Do you want to say something before you go
or just leave behind some facts?
You know a man can be judged by what he did not do
as much as by his acts.
Tell them I never gave up the search
until my final breath.
Tell them I ever wanted the truth
and that there’s more to life than death.

Beggar at the gates of Babylon,
few coins to count in my cup.
My back hard against the wall,
eyes ever looking up.
Every kind of woman passed me by,
every kind of man.
The city guards arrested me,
said I was like a stain
on a lady’s peacock feather fan.
They led me to the judgement seat,
put me in a prison cell.
The foul smell of that dark stone hole,
I can still remember well.

So you recall when you had nothing,
a beggar at the gates of Babylon?
Yes, but after, there came my release,
and I knew, the life I led had gone.

No Ode For A Crow

                                               No Ode For A Crow

November numbs the ground, dumbs the air.
Now comes the sound of nothing there.
Low over the land, the sun shines falsely.
Does not fool me, no heat in bright glare.
Bare roots are clutched in clammy hold.
The caw of the crow claims the cold.

No, no one ever wrote an ode to a crow,
like Keats to a nightingale, Shelley to a sky lark.
If birds, like humans, are judged by the seeds that they sow,
I read English history in the caw of the crow,
the side that is criminal, war like, bare and dark.

If a crow could speak in human tongue,
no pleasant spring time love song would be sung,
but a dirge of who the hangman hung,
how he fed on the dead on the gibbet strung,
followed the plague cart, flapped down to feast
on the slain on the battle ground,
after one side had won, the other had lost,
and the cold caw of the crow was the only sound.

Now the lawnmower, along with the spade and the rake,
hibernates in the shed.
Outside, in my hardened garden,
the sparrow and robin perch in silence, at times,
but all those finches I failed to name have fled.

No, but the crow does not leave us in winter,
but watches the ways all year round.
In the skin of the air, he pricks a sharp splinter,
his kra kra kra the only sound.

Whatever words the wind may blow,
down the hollow of my chimney, hear it say no,
no ode for a crow.