Old Gold Mine
Look down to see the old gold mine,
abandoned like a vineyard that ran out of wine,
trust to note more than weeds and dust,
rusted trucks on a broken line.
See in the stifling dark
where they dug with axe, drill and spade.
Think of the man in the white wooden office
who withheld the true wages they made.
You can almost see them,
sat on the slopes in the shade,
helmets on the ground,
drinking coffee from tin mugs.
Pictures remain but no sound.
Gold in the mountains,
silver in streams,
jewels in the markets,
things more rare were delved for in dreams.
Don’t Go Down The Pit
Don’t go down the pit.
No, I don’t mean the mine,
but the dark shaft
that can open at the root
of the hollow heart
that is stiff with frozen air,
spiked with the cold air of a broken spine.
Don’t get high on hate.
Burn the sludge that can clog the soul,
stain its skin, stop its breath,
makes the world seem but a smudge,
black and white photograph grey.
Un-shutter your lantern,
let its light make shadow vanish,
misery figures flee away.
Don’t go down the pit,
instead keep your spirit light, bright your wit.
Whatever was has gone, what is to come will pass,
the main lesson I learned in history class.
The Charge of the Light Brigade,
I am glad I never witnessed that,
but I would have been amused by past experts
who claimed that the world was flat.
I am glad I avoided the Roman invasion of Britain,
and the battle of Waterloo.
I don’t mind not being a Round Head of Oliver Cromwell
or one of Lord Nelson’s crew.
I am not sad to have missed Queen Victoria’s coronation
or not to have met the inventor of glue.
What is will pass,
like all I learned in history class.
The Man Who Had Not Heard Of Brexit
See that man in the high backed chair.
He will be there when we’ve all come and gone.
No one dare ask him a question,
though he’s the only one who knows what’s going on.
He’s not baffled by the universe.
Calmly he sits with his tea and scone,
him as a riddle he thinks upon.
I met a man who’d never heard of Brexit.
I said, have you been living on the moon?
He said, no, I just couldn’t take it.
I’ve been listening to a different tune.
I said, what does it sound like?
Is it one you can sing or hum?
He said, no, the only way you can hear it
is to listen to another drum.
I said, if you want to know about Brexit,
just watch the news and it will be on.
He shook his head and climbed on board his rocket,
and in the blink of an eye he was gone.
When Atum woke, he forgot he had slept,
was aware he knew secrets and where they were kept.
Over a slain soldier no widow yet wept.
First tribes of humans he watched settle by a river,
a snake of water they called the Nile.
Vowed to cleanse them of hate, burn that black bile.
Brighter than the sun they worshipped, he shone.
Wisdom lined his brow, peace creased his smile.
Wide he stretched the fingers of his right hand,
as pyramid temples men built on the sand.
The foul acts of the Pharaoh kings alarmed his mind,
he had wished them to rule justly and kind.
Tribal feuds made his heart pump hard, stricken with pain.
Not warriors but farmers he valued, growers of grain.
Explorers in ships, he admired, and tellers of tales.
He steered his barge through the stars, blew wind in its sails.
Now in his face, see what was good, what was rotten.
Though no priest kneels to his name, it is not forgotten.
O, Atum, lord of the land, king of the sky,
where do gods go when the gods die?
Watch the wretched rain
pelt your window pane.
Just when you are about to go out
to the department store.
You are sure the weather man
did not predict such a down pour.
But you only have to dash to your car
from your front door,
drive into town through the wretched rain.
You pass a homeless man huddled
in a sodden sleeping bag.
Okay so he should have looked after himself like you did,
as you pop in and out of a shop and drive home,
leave him to hear the wretched rain
gurgle down a grid.
After a coffee in the kitchen you feel a little better,
glad to be sheltered and dry, free of the wretched rain.
The homeless man is forgotten but you will see such sights again.
Lone lost ones try to sleep on cold stone beds in the wretched rain.
Turn Backward Keys
You cannot get back there,
not to your childhood.
You cannot run to the fish pond,
be told not to fall in,
when world was the school yard
and the end began to begin.
You can glimpse the gate to the garden,
hear cries over the wall,
but you can only walk by
for you know too much now
and you are too tall.
O my, you loved it when all spun round right.
Now you dig the dark earth
in search of a lamp,
but the day is dim, there’s not enough light.
If you got back there,
you would want to stay,
till you saw all those who were there with you
have all grown, gone away.
Windows and harbours, bell towers and trees,
things that enchant you become turn backward keys.
But there’s something you always knew, anyhow,
the best time is now.