Category Archives: Chimneys and Clouds, A Collection of Poems by Philip Dodd

Poems by Philip Dodd, author of Angel War.

Work of Art

Work of Art

Is it lop-sided, a little awry?
Or is the fault in your clouded, critical eye?
Maybe a slight adjustment
will hang the picture right.
The painter caught well his subject,
a street in a city in a hazy brown light.
That tram seems to be empty,
see the way it tilts to one side.
No one waits in the shelter
to step on board for a ride.
Further up, in the distance,
a black cat sits by a market stall.
That tower looks about to topple,
one brick less and it would fall.
It tempts you to pass into the canvas,
walk up the pavement,
see what’s in the shop windows.
Bound to be odd things,
besides your reflection.
Listen to your footsteps
echo down alleys, round corners.
Dare you go on with no real direction?
But, of course, you must.
It is only a painting,
and in art more than life you trust.
You enter a hotel, find a key to your room,
wonder what does it mean.
Sat alone in a cinema,
tears hurt your eyes,
for pictures from your life pass by on the screen.
Then your stomach reminds you that you have a body,
and you walk off to a café.
After coffee and sandwiches, you will feel better,
welling with the warmth of a smile, the light of a laugh.

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Far In The Future

Far In The Future

We want to get out there.
We are here to go.
We want to be free of gravity,
so we can ascend, endlessly, float and soar.
Space is our infinite distraction,
helps us to concentrate on peace,
not division and war.
Our hopes are high but not impossible.
The Great Pyramid stands,
proof on the sands of what can be done.
We landed on the moon.
The next step to the stars is Mars,
and there will always be beyond.
Astronauts train in the gymnasium.
Sprays of sapphire light cleanse our vision.
We took off from here.
We will land there.
Below, no juts of rock, the terrain is fairly flat.
We can feel the feet of our craft stable on solid ground.
Where we are is far in the future.
We have yet to name this planet.
Is there anyone out there? Are we alone?
Questions asked from long ago.
Far in the future, the questions are answered.
Now we know.
Always there is to be found,
amid the dust, a glint of pearls.
Always there will be more gates, further stars.

Cosmic Chameleon

Cosmic Chameleon

When Narcissus knelt
and fell in love with his reflection
was it his face he saw in the water
or one mirror of the fluid mask
of the cosmic chameleon?

The juggler who spun orbs in the air
with his hands at the summer fair
who said they were planets he knew of
that he turned in a wheel,
was he only a travelling entertainer
or was he him in one of his disguises,
the cosmic chameleon?

And when he is alone
and he looks in the mirror,
who does he see?
Maybe a myriad faces
of the beings he could be,
the cosmic chameleon.

That man in the aisle on the train,
why did he look stranger than any other?
Why did you watch him disappear on the escalator?
Was he only odd or was it him, playing a part,
the cosmic chameleon?

And that businessman in the newspaper,
talking about how he made his first million,
why did he disturb you, had you seen his face before?
Are you sure he was not the masked meddler himself,
the cosmic chameleon?

Water Birds

Water Birds

When the street lamps are lit in the evening,
I sit by the window,
look out on the always autumn,
see the trees below,
glisten in the glow.
I am still there, sat in that chair,
calm at the centre
while the wheels turn around.
In my time of absence,
there I’ll be found,
watching leaves lift in the waltz of the wind,
thinking what if you and I were water birds.
We’d build a nest high in a tree,
glide low and slow over the lake.
Though it will seem like a dream,
we will still be there when we wake.

Grace is too clumsy a word
to describe the rise from the reeds
of the wings of a water bird.

All your medals are gold,
never silver or bronze.
You could only be first,
never second or third.
You know you have won,
lift your arms in the air,
like the wings of a water bird.

We’d be free of time and the need for words,
if we lived like water birds.

Owl

Owl

There is an owl in vowel,
if you discard the v and the e,
and there is an owl in scowl,
detected in bare simplicity.
Think of the words you have read,
look in the garden shed,
note the owl in trowel.
There is even an owl in bowel.
If you go to college,
find an owl in knowledge.
You do not have to be an ancient Greek
to think an owl too wise to speak.
No other bird is heard
in so many words as the owl.
There is an owl in cowl,
in the sound and the spelling of yowl.
The owl may hoot most unlike the wolf
but there is an owl in howl.
The owl is counted with other birds,
in so many words, among the feathered fowl.
Ebony eyes may stare blind in the dark,
but the large, startled eyes of the owl,
framed by a frowning expression,
may see a bat flit into a belfry,
look too wise for a lark.
The owl has nested in words,
the judge in the court of birds,
perched on a branch, high above ground,
heard in the sound of prowl and rowel
and undeniably jowl.
As for the hen,
you can find a hen hid in then,
not to mention when and whenever.
To conclude, you may laugh,
when you have a bath,
to see an owl in the towel.

 

Twenty First Century Protest Song

Twenty First Century Protest Song

People worried about climate change,
demonstrating in the city square,
sending signals while still in range,
to save the rhino and the polar bear.

How dare our leaders refuse to talk,
the weapons they wield could end us all.
They break off the flower from the stalk,
forget that life is brief, world is small.

Twenty first century protest song,
buskers sing outside the White House gate.
We got so right how to be so wrong.
Rise early before it is too late.

Fear for the future of too much heat,
icebergs melting to swell plastic seas.
Freak storms, flash floods, the nightmare complete.
Sign the petitions to save the trees.

Twenty first century protest song,
chant outside the Kremlin in Red Square.
Defiant choir more than a million strong.
The demand for peace is only fair.

Pass Into The Past

Pass Into The Past

And when you look around,
and when you look within,
when sure of what you’ve found,
then you can begin.
Somehow you are allowed
to pass into the past.
The people in the rooms
thought what they had would last.
The portraits on the walls,
the pictures in the frames.
Whoever made those calls
did not leave their names.
The statues in the rain,
the dark red violin,
the white cloth with a strain,
the old toffee tin.
These stories are not yours
you seem to know so well.
With keys for all the doors,
you find more to tell.
And when you look around,
and when you look within,
if you fear what you’ve found,
you cannot begin.
The wolves are in the wood,
you cannot go there.
Cold and heat battle in your blood
as you climb an iron stair.
Aware of a ticket in your pocket,
you enter a railway station.
Confused by all the trains,
you wonder if you have a destination.
When will you ever know,
come near to understand,
what screens and mirrors show,
a world strange and grand?
Those paintings that they stole,
those signs they daubed on doors,
that flag hung on a pole,
raised between the wars.
When fear heats your heart,
your lamp begins to dim,
the waves still fall and part
where the dolphins swim.
And when you look around,
and when you look within,
the marks etched on the ground
tell you who will win.