Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Born in Siberia,
Ivan could cope with cold.
The green grass of summer
led him to the river,
not to fish or search for gold,
but to wade through water
for bony relics,
four thousand years old.

“It’s okay, it’s legal,
to be a mammoth tusk trader,”
Ivan told any strangers,
concerned about his occupation,
“for woolly mammoths are extinct,
have been for a long time in Siberia,
not like the elephants of India or Africa.
A mammoth tusk in good condition,
I sell to buyers in Japan or China.”

Siberian winter
drove Ivan to Moscow.
Like a bee in a hive,
he worked to stay alive,
cleared the roads in a snow plough.
Mammoth tusks he searched for
once more in summer,
knowing where and how.

He stands in the river,
waist high in rushing water,
wind in his face from the tundra,
scrapes stones at his feet with a pole,
Ivan the mammoth tusk trader,
stone age ivory merchant
to Japan and China.

Dreams I Had

Dreams I Had

Britain was broken.
Barons fought for the right
to sit as king on the throne.
By Merlyn’s staff,
I was the child who pulled
the sword from the stone.

The battle of Trafalgar.
Nelson lay on the deck,
shot by a sniper.
Like the sails of his ship, he was torn.
I was the cabin boy,
high in the crow’s nest,
clouded by cannon smoke,
sounding victory for him on a horn.

Gunslinger rode into town,
ordered whiskey at the bar.
Poker players grew tense.
The saloon keeper perspired,
looked round for defence.
I was the man
who wore the sheriff’s star.

They were dreams I had
when I was younger.
Always woke warm,
refreshed from the drama,
glad to have been on the side that won,
sad that in real life I could save no one.



Original Rag

Original Rag

Scott Joplin played piano,
he had all the notes in the bag.
Wish I could compose a similar tune,
my own original rag.

A tune a tonic to play,
a remedy to mend a mood,
a jangly round to summon happy times,
a refreshment interlude.

A vacancy in the air,
a hollow ache in the heart,
wait to feel the pulse of my melody,
heal by the strum of my art.

I sit and play my guitar,
find the right rhythm, random chord,
the shallow place in this rapid river,
stable stones to help me ford.

Must not yield to winter cold,
must continue to use my gift.
Subtle syncopations are not my skill,
I have my simple load to lift.

I plunge my mind in the pool,
and gather the notes from the bag.
Time to turn the tap on my wayward tune,
my own original rag.