Ode To A Pair Of Old Slippers

Ode To A Pair Of Old Slippers

( Some Elizabethan scholars think that the following work may be by none other than the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, frequently sighted on the river of time as the Swan of Avon. Others think it may well have been written by that obscure and largely forgotten Dutch, Italian or possibly French poet, Ricardo De Rake. Nobody seems to be sure. Expect some academic tomes published on the matter soon. )

O, old slippers,
though thou rhyme with kippers,
tis time to banish thee to the bin,
for I hast bought a pair of new ones
from Ye Shoe Shoppee.
That thou had holes and wrinkles in
wast no sin,
but go ye must to dust and rust.
Most comfy wert thou
to covereth my feet,
to tread soft on dining hall carpet,
glide on stone kitchen floor like a swan,
as I waiteth for oven to bake cake, bread and scone.
So quiet, hardly there, thou were about the house,
less noise thou made than moth or mouse.
And yet, and yet. O, regret, regret.
Old slippers, thou hast had thy time,
but I hast remembered thee in this thy rhyme.

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Marooned

Marooned

Mist melted.
Mariner marooned
inspected his wreck on the shore,
searched the vegetation
of the south ocean island
for fruit to eat and store.
Navigated the shipping lanes
of the seas in his time,
but now he had no maps,
no compass. He had not drowned,
but he feared he would not be found.
He told the trees,
he told the shells,
these chains have no keys.

You never failed, you had it nailed
then you sailed away.
You had no ties, you told no lies,
he spoke to her who was not there,
but now he knew the words to say.
You had your dance, you took your chance,
your romance you left on the reels to replay.

Wind whipped up.
By moonrise,
from branches and rocks,
he built his shelter.
He told the seas,
he told the stars,
these chains have no keys.

Hermit

Hermit

Retreat, hibernate, a hermit become.
Engineer, keep your pulleys and cranes,
mariner, your salt water and rum.
Light dims and yellows the land.
Hermit, you I understand.
From a child, I wanted the wild,
the marks of twig, leaf and bark in my hand.
Sun cannot reach so high in the sky.
Geese go, know they cannot stay.
From the far mere, west they fly.

Hermit, I wanted to be you,
stood in your coppery painting
in my local gallery, garbed
in your brown, rumpled robe.
From your rugged chin
hung your wild tangle of beard,
your eyes clear and sharp
as any weasel, otter, beaver or hawk,
outside the shadowy mouth of your cave,
sheer rock mounting behind you,
as on the cap of a toadstool,
a snail slid on its slippery trail,
and in the without wind silence,
the creak of a branch, the stretch of a root
let you hear the trees talk.
And I wondered if you lived on berries like a bear,
the nuts in the woods, along with the squirrels,
you hoarded your share.
And I understood, to be a hermit in the wild,
that would be good.

Vanity. Vanity. All is vanity, The Bible tells me.
Looking around me, I cannot help but agree.
But maybe if your face is your fortune
it is a way to let you be free.
With so many sides in the conflict,
no wonder they cannot all sit at one table
to sign that treaty.
No, to be a hermit is not such a bad thing to be.

When we are not there, where are we?
When we are not here, where do we go?
Exiles from Eden, if we are truly,
maybe it is not so strange to be a hermit,
alone as we are not meant to be.
But then, it seems only long ago
or in the never future can we seem to be free.
Why do we ever pine to be elsewhere?
Why in the here do we want to be there?
Is this not our home? Why do we wish to roam?

Sorry, the wind tells tales.
Wish I were a fish with ears to hear
deep ocean pipes, the song of whales.
A hermit in a coral cave,
that picture I save.

On the River

On the River

Winter let her skate on the river,
the ice thick and hard, shiny as a ballroom floor.
A maze of lines she cut with her deer bone blades.
Looking down, as she spun and turned,
she knew in the black shadows in the still, icy water
dwelt the monster her mother told her was not there.
If she went to the city, she would win a contest,
her mother told her, she skated so well.
She smiled, ran from the kitchen,
always laughed at the dreams of her mother.

Summer let her sail her boat on the river.
On the far shore, she could moor,
to speak with the woodcutter’s son.
Like all others, her sisters and brothers,
her eyes and her hair were dark,
so she wondered as she watched him
chop logs for his father
why his hair was gold,
like the ring her mother wore on her finger,
his eyes blue as the sky in high summer,
and he smiled and told her
that he was found as a child on a mountain,
wrapped in a brown blanket, by his mother and father,
who took him down to their home
and brought him up as their own.
She smiled at his tale,
and wondered where the wind would carry him,
and she knew that when she grew up,
and spring lay on the river, she would marry him.

The Ballad of John Barleycorn and Annabel Lee

The Ballad of John Barleycorn and Annabel Lee

John Barleycorn, when will your harvest be done?
So long at work, even for a good countryman.
John Barleycorn, when will your harvest be done?
So late in the fields, far from me, my countryman.

Our daughter, Mary, weaves a shawl by lamp light,
our son, Giles, drinks in the inn with the shepherd men.
From far waters, I watched flocks of geese in flight.
John Barleycorn, when are you coming home again?

I was a quiet, homely maid when we met.
You’re the man come to court me, silent even then.
We walked in the dawn, the grass with dew still wet.
John Barleycorn, when are you coming home again?

So called the countryman’s wife, Annabel Lee.
Her long hair and shawl blowing in the harvest breeze.
He put down his hoe, to her he turned to see.
John Barleycorn come walking home beneath the trees.

Annabel Lee, now my harvest work is done.
I left my plough in the field by the cherry tree.
Annabel Lee, seeds may fry brown in the sun,
my mouth warm and dry, like the cider you gave me.

Annabel Lee, the sheaves stand high in my cart,
now here I am beside you, come walk home with me.
Annabel Lee, you wore a hood round your heart,
you lived in a cottage in a coombe by the sea.

Annabel Lee, help me remember first days,
ballads I sang for you while you made apple pie.
Annabel Lee, I know your holy wife ways,
with you by me, summer will never leave the sky.

Annabel Lee, like a linnet on a reed,
you sing in the dawn and dance in the woods for me.
Annabel Lee, I’m your Tom Appleseed,
when we fill baskets with fruit from the orchard tree.

John Barleycorn, home now your harvest is done.
So hard you work, even for a good countryman.
John Barleycorn, home now your harvest is done.
Stars shine on the fields, come to me, my countryman.

Mind You Take Care

Mind You Take Care

I fiddle round with chords
with my finger and my thumb.
A squirrel’s acorn hoards,
like my bag of songs to strum.
I hear a hurdy-gurdy
and viola in the air.
Mind you take care.

Attend to lute and lyre,
hear the poet speak the lines,
saved from wreck and fire,
savour them like summer wines.
Some hearts are like a desert,
lost of all they had to share.
Mind you take care.

It’s not just you,
it’s all of us,
scattered fragments everywhere.
Mind you take care.

O, Saint Columba,
let us sail our boats to your shore.
O, Saint Columba,
may we see angels at your door.

Now where did that prayer come from?
Was it waiting way out there?
Mind you take care.

Words are drawn out from me
and they fall like parachutes
or leaves from my self tree,
memory gathers round my roots.
My song is barely woven
when a wind begins to stir.
Mind you take care.