Cyclops sat by his stone stove on his stone chair,
ate black bracken broth mixed with red kidney stew
with a wood spoon from a wood bowl,
in his cave half way up a hill.
When one describes such an ogre what can one do?
“Humans, goats, sheep, hawks, even vipers have two,
so why have I but one eye?
Why so singular am I
beneath the blue but unresponsive sky?”
he groaned, his belly bloated and fed.
He lived by himself, so no one heard what he said.
His friend, the centaur, he visited,
far down in the vale,
hoping his dim wisdom
had grown less pale.
“This riddle I cannot solve.
Why with only one eye did I evolve?”
he asked him, in a dolorous tone.
“Why ask me who is half human, half horse?
How can I riddle right?” the centaur replied,
who to himself was always right, of course.
Cyclops stumped off, felt alone, with none on his side.
The faun was no help, being half human, half goat.
“It is as if we are all in a myth some human wrote,”
instead, off the subject, he said.
Nor was the Minotaur any more sure,
being half human, half bull.
The question Cyclops asked him
drained all thought from his brain
till only sleep was left in his skull.
Cyclops retired to his cave,
thinking every image in his eye
was sacred to save.
Book Bird Wrote
This book contains the solving of the paradox.
It was found with keys and locks in a stone chamber.
The lid took an age to remove.
The text is very fine, high. Not human written.
Its language is alien, translated into that of early Earth,
first civilisation speech.
Its scribe, perhaps humorously,
describes itself as a bird.
Its plan to fly away once its task is done.
Scholars would admire it for its poetry only.
Attempt to locate its author in some pre-Biblical time,
somewhere in what became Sumeria.
Its first words I quote:
Book bird wrote. Begin.
From land crane cry, from oceans whale song,
wind and silence else.
Creation seems simple till the mind attends to itself,
considers the rope riddle, craves its untanglement.
My word path the paradox will present and solve.
In a hut on stilts, above marsh reed and water, I write.
It goes on so, for many pages.
The book is silence made solid.
It disturbs, excites, like thunder,
more searing to the soul than inferno’s gate,
holds the fear of shoreless ocean,
when open, no secrets then.
Know How To Vanish
Odd it came to my mind,
sat in my kitchen chair,
to all else shuttered and blind.
An art I know nought about.
The actors look and move on stage,
like puppets with no strings,
hid by costumes, masks,
some peer over fans,
so I remember
from an Oriental drama shown on a screen.
Outside my window,
a bird tirelessly sings,
If I were a squirrel,
I would live in a pine tree,
hoard and eat nuts,
sleep under leaves,
glare at an owl,
to say in my way,
in a far off part of the forest,
so I can sleep in peace.
The owl may obey me,
flutter away, to hoot in some other tree.
I would be quick, alert, know how to vanish.
If I Had
If I had two humps on my back like a camel,
I’d be a camel.
If I had been in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker like Mark Hamill,
I’d be Mark Hamill.
If I had a long neck and webbed feet like a swan,
I’d be a swan.
If I had been baked with flour and currants like a scone,
I’d be a scone.
If I had been given the ability to hee-haw like a donkey,
I’d be a donkey.
If I had the skill to swing in the jungle like a monkey,
I’d be a monkey.
If I had been given stripes like a zebra,
I’d be a zebra.
If I had horns on my head like a goat,
I’d be a goat.
If I was heavy on my feet and extinct like a brontosaurus,
I’d be a brontosaurus.
If I had whiskers and tusks like a walrus,
I’d be a walrus.
If I was oddly shaped and mythical like a wyvern,
I’d be a wyvern.
If I called cuckoo in an orchard in summer like a cuckoo,
I’d be a cuckoo.
If I buzzed around a hive making honey like a bee,
I’d be a bee.
So it is simple really.
I found out who I would be,
if I was not me.
There was poetry in pobs.
Simple meal my mother made
when I was ill or when
there was no porridge or Cornflakes
in the larder.
A few slices of bread, cut into chunks,
sprinkled with sugar, boiled in milk
in a pan, heated to hot but not to boil,
then poured in a bowl,
to be eaten with a spoon,
the blobs of pobs sweet, swollen, tender.
It is now my belief, not good for the teeth,
but good for stomach and tongue.
Never could taste now as good as they did
when I was young.
As paradise as a Pendleton’s ice cream on a stick
on a summer’s day in Southport seashore town.
There was poetry in pobs,
partly because I did not have them often,
and they did not pour from a box,
bought at the shops, but were home made.
They were forgotten until eaten again.
They were rare, a treat.
Perhaps people ate pobs in England in the war,
when there was nothing else to eat,
I am not really sure.
And there was poetry in cabbage white
and red admiral butterflies,
flitting about in the back garden,
we tried to catch in jam jars,
and nets on the end of yellow canes,
when the sun bid us all to play,
and in the curling of caterpillars
under rhubarb leaves,
even blue bottles butting against the kitchen window pane,
knowing it was all right for insects feel no pain.
There was poetry in rainbow rings,
really smears of oil, leaked from the engines
of motor vehicles, lying in puddles by a pub car park.
Come to think of it, there was poetry in many things,
and there still is.
Found or Lost
You can go anywhere and not need a map,
and still be lost.
You can root in your pocket and laugh,
say you must have dropped your compass
somewhere back down the path,
but it does not matter,
you are always sure of your direction,
and still be lost.
You can live in the same house all your life,
commute every week, know the name
of every station on the underground,
and still be lost,
not know where you are bound.
In politics you can become a player,
be sociable, join many groups,
do the party rounds, and still be lost.
There is no in between,
you are found or lost,
and if you fail to find yourself,
there is a cost.
And you can only know that when you are found.
Only then you can look back and know you were lost.
There is the snag.
How do you know if there is no one to tell you
if you are found or lost?
When you feel solid, sure, you know you are found,
and you can look back and see you had your routine,
but nothing more.
Your head was empty, your shadow thin,
you had memories, but nothing more within.
You know that you were lost.
When you feel found, you feel solid,
you have things to do.
The day is not long enough to do it all.
The trick is to stay found, and not be lost again.
You think of the time you nearly had it nailed,
then when you went down to the harbour,
you saw your ship had sailed.
You felt no more than a bony structure,
not done enough to have failed.
But you feel alive now, your mind active,
you respond to every sound.
You remember how it was when you were lost
only because you are found.
My poem, Still the Dawn, has been published in The Dawntreader, a quarterly poetry magazine, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, issue 034 Spring 2016, I am very pleased to say. Searching For The Sangreal, The Fair Majesty of Folk at Peace, Sigurd, Windmill and Rainbow and Blodeuwedd are the titles of my poems that were published in previous issues of The Dawntreader. Still the Dawn is the title poem of my book published in October, 2015: Still the Dawn: Poems and Ballads. More about Still the Dawn: Poems and Ballads, and my other two books, Angel War and Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle, can be found on my website: http://philipdodd.yolasite.com
Indigo Dreams Publishing:
Website and Bookshop: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/indigodreamspublishing