Category Archives: Chimneys and Clouds

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

One he was a bell boy at the Grand Hotel.
O, the stories, the stories, he could tell.
Now he sat in its foyer, an old man in a brown coat.
More than eighty, nearly ninety,
he would say of his age, to precisely quote,
more plainly, eighty seven,
far from the cradle, close now to heaven.
That is, he would say,
if the angel with the book at the gate
would let him in.
O, but the stories. Where would he begin?
Taxies, cars, parked outside, he observed,
may be more modern than in his day,
but they transported the same people,
they being the rich. Such things would stay.
“I used to work here,” he would tell them,
in the dining hall, as he supped afternoon tea,
with the silver tea pot on his table,
feeling happy to be.
“That must have been a long time ago,”
they would say.
“Oh, yes, it was,” he would answer.
“But it is all clear, as if it were yesterday.
There I would stand, at the foot of the stair,
by the lift, at reception, smile on my face,
and I watched them go by,
like lights in the air,
all of them noble to me, fine and high.
There was one famous actress,
yes, some of them were involved in the arts,
others were gentry from foreign parts.
Rich business men, some of them were.
Can still see their faces.
I wept when it was over, my time I was here.
There was no one to tell it to, no one to care.
Stories I could tell.
Always thought it deserved its name, Grand Hotel.”

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October Song For Socrates

October Song For Socrates

So I went for a walk
in the wind and the weather,
a misty, windy walk,
in the month of October.
The earth acorn brown,
and the leaves they were turning,
a blue, smoky gown
rose from twigs that were burning.

Now when wise Socrates,
he went down to the market,
all worldly things to please
tempted him for to buy it,
and he was amazed
to find little he needed,
with joy he was dazed,
like a plant newly seeded.

Wheels were turned by his words.
Spring blue bells I remember,
and the nest building birds,
as light dims to November,
and I had to smile
at boys hunting for conkers,
their dream is a pile
of the fruit from the branches.

So down the road I strode
with no load on my shoulder,
to the bright woodland gold,
and the wind it blew colder.
When the mountains call,
my wings will fledge and feather,
and I’ll leave it all
for the wind and the weather.

When Through The Bright October Leaves

When Through The Bright October Leaves

When through the bright October leaves,
the west wind trails a misty rain,
though now your way by dim light weaves,
the jewel lamps are lit again.

Watch on hills first snows sweep to fall,
hear flakes tap on your window pane.
Love may still warm you like a shawl,
for what you pine you may yet gain.

Leaves of gold, of silver grey,
of yellow, bronze and copper red,
on straining branches fret and stray,
you need not grieve, though summer’s fled.

Now Robin Hood he loved a maid,
more fair than words from poet’s pen.
He met her in a woodland glade,
the archer led her to his den.

Enchanter of mountain pine,
of willow, birch and forest oak,
will fill your cup with autumn wine,
leave you to wear your winter cloak.

For A Pair Of Grass Parakeets

For A Pair Of Grass Parakeets

A pair of grass parakeets,
better known as budgerigars,
one blue, the other yellow,
in a picture in a mirror,
perched on a twig in the air,
glistening with leaves,
green and copper,
on a wall, half way up a stair,
must have meant something once
to those who put it there.
Now just a curiosity,
someone may buy it at a sale,
a relic of a life, a time that is gone
before it could tell faithfully its tale.
Anyway, it inspired me to compose this tune.
I aim to play it in the bar
where they come to drink wine
and smoke cigars.
My audience hardly notice me,
but my job puts money in the bank,
honey in my jars.
They only attend when the singer
starts to croon.
They don’t care if I play Beethoven
or Scott Joplin
as long as I paddle out a tune.

Now it’s late in the afternoon,
I play my light, jazzy tune,
thinking, certainly,
the blue budgerigar
will not be divided
from the yellow budgerigar.
One will not fly away or die,
to leave the other one alone.
There, now I have my theme,
I have my mellow tone.
They will not part,
one will not go,
to leave the other
with a frozen, broken heart.
That is the way,
my tune melodious and slow.
Need to work on the middle,
but I’m happy with the start,
feel the joy I once knew,
when I was a boy on the shore,
and with my kite I flew.

Odd Peg

Odd Peg

First birds she heard in the dawn,
found an odd peg lying on the lawn
that must have fallen from the line,
left forgotten, sodden by the rain,
trodden deeper in the ground,
so sad and silent, but then,
an odd peg cannot make a sound.
She stooped, picked it up,
put it in her peg bag in her shed,
bunched it with the other pegs,
thought of all the things
that had come and fled,
but now that odd peg
would help her hang out
her clothes and sheets on the line,
so once again, it would shine,
when the weather’s dry and fine.
And she said to one she could not see:
Sorry it was me and not the one
you wanted me to be.
Sorry it was me but I was not sorry it was you,
for it was you I was looking for.
It was you I wanted to see
when I opened the door.
Sorry I was just another shell on the ocean shore,
just another cherry in the market store.
Sorry I could tell that you wanted more.
Sorry for the things that we never did,
sorry for the things ever to be hid.
Sorry for this odd peg I found on the ground.
It cannot cry, for it cannot make a sound,
but when I hang my clothes and sheets on the line,
like me, once again it will shine,
when the weather’s dry and fine.

Swimmer

Swimmer

The swimmer was master
of skills in the water,
had strength for each stroke,
control of lungs to breathe,
knew the moment that was not defeat,
but the knowing when to leave.
No, he would not drown,
he could not choke.

The ocean his play ground,
like when a child,
he ran through a wood,
and life was good. It was a lark.
No one would tell him otherwise.
Left his wife and his house,
his son and his daughter,
swam out once again,
to be free in the water.
Though the waves
seemed to stretch forever more,
at the right time, he followed them,
back to the shore.
He turned his head, to see a fin
that he knew could be that of a shark.
Like a black blade, it cut a ruthless line.
Fear tingled his skin.
Maybe it was goodbye to the rose,
farewell to the wine.
Still rational, his brain told him,
it could be that of a friendly dolphin
or a whale.
Outside his rescue hut,
he told the coast guard his tale.
Even when magnified, through his binoculars,
the ocean showed no fin,
till he wondered did it swim outside of him
or from within?
Maybe there was nothing there at all.
It was just fatigue.
And he thought that if you
do not believe there is something
to look up to that is fine and high,
you cannot grieve if you feel you fall.
And that night, the swimmer lay in the dark,
he saw the waves stretch out,
and on the horizon, for a moment,
the fin of a shark.

Though his life on land was not a disaster,
when it got slow, he got faster,
when it got bright, he grew dimmer.
No, on the ocean was better,
simple for the swimmer.

Under Albatross Archway

Under Albatross Archway

Under Albatross Archway stood an angel,
he listened to a river.
It was dark night, with no moon or star,
so he could not see it, only hear it,
far below his feet,
as it slowly, deeply rippled by.
Out of the shadows,
by the jewel flower light glow
of a street lamp,
he watched an old drunken man
in a long coat come shambling nigh,
who stopped when he saw him and said:
“What does it matter,
if you die sober or sodden with rum?
You know there is nothing to come.”
“Maybe in the morning things will seem different,”
answered the angel.
“Why not wait till the light of dawn?”
“There is always that, the maybe, the perhaps,”
the drunkard said.
“You never know your luck.
You never know how it will be.
Too late for philosophy.
Too late for me.
I’m going home. Everywhere is shut.
Nowhere to cadge another drink.”
“Things are earlier and later than you think,”
the angel warned him.
The drunkard trembled, walked on,
sometimes stopped to shiver.
The angel smiled, turned his head,
resumed his listen to the river.