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.
The Heron and the Crocodile
The heron finds the crocodile a convenient raft.
Perched on its back, it looks pleased to be ferried
slow down the mud brown river.
In the luxuriance of the light,
its eyes desires to see the flash of a fish below its beak.
The crocodile would eat anything that moves with flesh.
Unaware of the heron, it could not turn its head quick enough
to snap at it and devour it, anyway.
The heron knows this, has learned that the best place to perch
to be safe from the crocodile
is on the middle hump of its bloated, hard scaled back.
Stay close to your enemy to keep an eye on him
could be the motto of the heron.
Thus the heron seems happy to use the crocodile as river transport
to increase the pleasantness of its life as a fresh water fisher,
a bird of the inner plains of Africa.
From the twisted branch of a stunted tree,
vultures watch the heron float by on the back of the crocodile.
A familiar sight, part of the predator pattern,
they do not bother the heron.
The swim path of the crocodile
is obstructed by a bathing hippopotamus.
A shimmer of the scales of a fish in the reeds
alarms the alertness of the heron.
The heat of the sun is fierce over the lion land.
Records In Your Room
I had my time, you had your time,
the time when music meant most to you.
The nineteen sixties, that was my time,
my first full decade, born as I was in 1952.
Elvis Presley sang Heartbreak Hotel.
Some listened to it till they knew it well,
learned to play it on guitar,
to follow him to be a star.
Buddy Holly sang Peggy Sue.
Keep it simple seemed the thing to do.
Lonnie Donegan sang Putting On The Style,
played skiffle with mischief in his smile.
Harry Belafonte sang Island In The Sun.
Tap your feet to its calypso beat.
Bob Dylan sang Masters of War.
Made sure we knew what protest was for.
The Beatles sang We Can Work It Out.
They’d come a long way since Twist and Shout.
Bad news hit us like a metal glove.
They gave us hope with All You Need Is Love.
Peter, Paul and Mary sang Blowing In The Wind.
Simon and Garfunkel sang The Sound of Silence.
Martin Carthy sang Scarborough Fair.
All part of the folk revival.
John Mayall led the British blues boom.
To be tuned in, feel part of it all,
you had your records in your room.
Donovan sang Hurdy Gurdy Man.
Leonard Cohen sang Suzanne.
No more war, peace was the plan.
Fairport Convention sang Tam Lin.
The Incredible String Band sang The Circle Is Unbroken.
The fence was lept, the gate was open.
Tim Hardin, John Martyn, the list is long.
What a time for new kinds of song.
It was our music, the words and tunes we could understand.
Surprise and wonder, none of it was planned.
I loved it then, still love it now.
My path was clear, so was my brow.
Somehow emperor penguins
survive winter under the polar moon,
beaten by blizzards
that whistle an icy tune.
We know emperor penguins
were born to cope with the Antarctic cold,
dive deep to hunt fish,
huddle for warmth in a fold.
Screens show emperor penguins
how they walk slow in lines to the south pole,
lay eggs, raise their young,
climb up, out from a snow hole.
Strange to think wherever we are,
as our thoughts shift through notions,
there are emperor penguins in the frozen south,
whales and dolphins in the oceans.
Always there’s the danger, if the mind sleeps,
the jungle leaves part and the lion leaps.
Long live emperor penguins.
May humans help them stubbornly endure.
If the icebergs melt,
they’ll have breeding grounds no more.
Chance etched a penguin rune
on a frosty slate.
Under the polar moon,
we can help life go on.
It is not too late.
One side lost, the other side never won.
Consider the riddle, decide which side you are on.
Criss-crossed in the middle are the lines that divide.
Observe them grow faint as the vision fails.
No one more alone than an emperor on his throne,
cannot pick a bone with anyone.
Geese screech across the late November sky,
leave the far mere in irregular lines.
The trees will soon be bare.
Will you stay on the same side
or choose another cause to bear?
One side won, the other side never lost.
Answer the riddle to know which border you crossed.
A triangle has three sides, a square has four.
A circle has no sides but has been broken before.
Now the Arthur king in the tales
sat his knights at a table round,
all to be equal with no chair at the head,
but Mordred rebelled and broke the ideal
on the battle ground.
Both sides lost.
No one heard the final bugle sound.
If I were a moth, I’d flit between lit light bulbs,
bat my wings on lamp shades,
act on instinct till my instinct fades.
If I were an ant, I wouldn’t be anti-social.
Other insects wouldn’t bug me.
As long as they did not disrupt the building of my ant hill,
I would let them be.
If I were a grasshopper, I’d be an insect athlete.
In any twig and herb hurdle race,
I’d be happy to compete.
If I were a bee, I’d be happy in my hive,
even though I wouldn’t have the brain to know
that I was alive.
If I were a spider, I’d have the look to frighten humans
when they saw me crawling in their rooms.
I’d have the skill to weave a web to catch a fly.
I wouldn’t live long but I wouldn’t have the brain to know
I was born to die.
If I lived in America, as an insect, I’d be called a bug.
They would try to swat me if I legged over a mat
or nestled in a rug.
If I were a wasp, I’d buzz around in kitchens,
the bane of human ears,
and snout about in dust bins,
as if I lived for years.
If I were a caterpillar, I’d become a butterfly,
a cabbage white or red admiral.
It would seem my summer never would go by.
If I were a termite, I’d have no wings for flight,
but I wouldn’t mind, as long as I had rotten wood to bite,
First it was a green bird,
perched on my garden fence,
then it was a leaf.
The illusion I loved,
however it was brief.
Should have had my glasses on,
then it would have been plain.
It was a leaf and not a green bird,
a trick of my eye never to happen again.
What you see before you,
is there something more?
Can an illusion be the key
to a hidden door?
For me the key was a green bird
that really was a leaf,
made me aware of a beauty,
fair beyond belief.
If it were a green bird,
it would sing the note to fit the word.
I’d be in a different world,
if it were a green bird.
First it was a green bird,
then it was a leaf.
It was better as a green bird,
that is my belief.