What Was Washed Up By The Sea

What Was Washed Up By The Sea

What was washed up by the sea,
we study on the shore,
empty shells and bits of wood,
weeds the waves tossed and tore.

Time to watch the tall ships go,
begin an ocean race.
From quieter centuries,
mast and sail pass with grace.

Verse is a skill few value,
prefer tales told in prose,
but there’ll always be moonlight,
the lover and the rose.

Titans and tyrants
move their pieces on the board.
From their lofty thrones
deign not to heal what is flawed.

I oar from the shore in my canoe,
just in time it seems.
Cannot see what I fear but you know
how it is in dreams.

The green jungle is left behind me,
the river grows broad.
In my desire to write a new tune,
I find the first chord.

Taken by the horizon,
the last tall ship sails on.
I step by a razor shell,
another stranger gone.


Another Life

Another Life

William Langland wrote in Piers Plowman.
he saw a fair field full of folk.
At times I see them in another life,
English as the rose and the oak.

Like a bright clothed vision in a Book of Hours,
made by a scribe in his abbey cell,
among others, a minstrel in a market place,
sings of a maiden by a well.

There is another life,
richer, more alive than this.
They who live there look human,
but free of the ills that beset the body,
more spirit than bone,
they are in love,
and wherever they turn,
they do so in bliss.

On the search for paradise,
first find the gate.
Guarded by angels,
for the saved they wait.
There is another life.
All you need to bring with you
is your cup and your plate.
You will know when you
have crossed over the line.
There will be bread on your plate,
in your cup will be wine.

William Langland wrote in Piers Plowman,
he saw a fair field full of folk.
I like the alliteration and the vision,
English as the rose and the oak.


Pictures In A Glass

Pictures In A Glass

Soon the throb of summer’s engine
the high ascending sun will waken.
There’s only now, the swallows say,
while sparrows mourn what winter’s taken.

No close the door, draw the curtain,
go to the shore for pleasure certain.
Follow the lines drawn by the tides,
listen to what the wind has shaken,

Green scaled tail of a dormant dragon
is a hedge coiled round a garden.
We’re sorry now, the seagulls cry.
Will the captives be given pardon?

When you were a lad and you had a lass,
you never saw such long, long grass,
and it seemed that summer would never pass,
now pictures survive in a glass.


Time To Lift My Chin

Time To Lift My Chin

May sunshine tells me I am ready now,
let the bright games begin.
Golden lions on my dark green tea tin
gleam to make me smile within.
A glint on a silver sequin
tells me it’s time to lift my chin.

I bent my head down in winter,
my chin almost at rest on my chest,
but now I look up to see May blossom,
the gardens of England at their best.

Civil Cyril works in the Civic Centre,
that is how he got his name.
If you think those lines are worse than lame,
I confess I am the one to blame.

If I were a Victorian acrobat,
I would be dead by now,
to survive in a sepia photograph,
taken before my final bow.

If I were an Edwardian gamekeeper,
I would have a moustache,
and I would like to recite old parlour songs,
and say things like “I must dash.”

If I were an Elizabethan playwright,
stood in Shakespeare’s shadow,
I would watch his plays on the stage of the Globe,
and pipe my tunes in a meadow.

Here I am, a twentieth century child,
born 1952.
To my wonder it is a pleasure to share
the same universe as you.

May sunshine tells me all is ready now,
give the blue ball a spin.
I have an ocean path to furrow,
I follow a dolphin’s fin.
Whatever will come tomorrow,
I have ample time to lift my chin.

Time to lift my chin.



We shouldn’t have to live here,
we all deserve better,
but we’re all part of this tale
till the final letter.

We can find Utopia,
but only in the mind,
a paradise on the page,
a vision left behind.

You can read Utopia,
writ by Sir Thomas More.
The perfect society
is one that needs no cure.

You can change your government,
you can sharpen your aim.
You can make a list of names,
claim they’re the ones to blame.

You can search for Shangri-La,
the mansions of the wise.
Study the paths of the stars,
say you see with clear eyes.

You can pity refugees,
saved from the drowning sea.
Fear for the burnt out cities,
wonder when peace will be.

A circle of politicians,
diplomats in a row.
You hoped they’d take you higher,
instead they brought you low.

Ask why did they want to be
the people they became,
and why would they want to earn
that kind of filthy fame.

We shouldn’t have to live here,
but there’s nowhere to go.
Can we build Utopia?
The answer must be no.

The Waste Land Revisited

The Waste Land Revisited

Correction. Perhaps April is not the cruellest month.
A first line to shock, give a jolt.
A reference to Chaucer some cottoned on to.
Began his Canterbury Tales with a celebration of April.
Done to death, celebrations of spring.
Thought I’d surprise them, shock them,
saying April is the cruellest month.
Why? readers might ask. Had them then. It led them in.
I the spirit of Thomas Stearns Eliot rise from my chair.
I feel light. The body was an inconvenience. Mystics knew.
Wonder what it will be like out there?
London. Not like it was in the 1920’s when I wrote what I did.
The bridge remains. Will not see Stetson. Long gone with the others.
I enter a pub. Listen. Attend to the talk, gain inspiration, as I did then.
What is it that thuds in the corner? Infernal jukebox.
The prince sits alone with his glass,
intent on internal reveries.
It does not matter. This will pass.
None of them got it, those that reviewed, lectured.
It was just the way I felt at the time. That they would not have.
Despite all the allusions, fragments in other tongues,
the need for notes, a guide, that is all it was.
If I had been in a better mood, it would have been different.
I dwelt on weeds, dry, cracked stone, burnt craters.
Could have been a grass mower, seed planter.
What’s done is done, however. You cannot go back.
The track is lost.
I stroll to Bloomsbury. It is, as expected, still there.
Traffic taller, longer. More fumes, noise. Not just the odd toot.
Must come from somewhere, cannot go nowhere.
I try again to connect nothing with nothing.
Bowler hatted businessmen walk by,
look straight ahead at their own affairs.
One of them is an actor, playing the part.
Which one? An old game I play.
Once I stepped with them, always dressed smart,
first as a bank worker, then as a publisher.
It comes back to me at times, my poem.
The Waste Land, I called it. Turned out to be my most famous work.
Earned me respect, even awe, in some quarters.
A literary work is not to be taken literally,
a load so heavy lightly.
Look down there, on the canal bank. I do not fish,
the gas house behind me.
No use going further. No boat waits on the shore.
Still the same chill. I open the door.

Lament For The White Rhinoceros

Lament For The White Rhinoceros

Goodbye white rhinoceros,
gone with your hide and horn.
Human hunters cut you down,
left you still and shorn.

Game keeper tried to guard you
with his rifle and jeep.
Could not outwit the poacher,
not even in sleep.

You have joined the dinosaur,
the mammoth and dodo.
Your bones saved in museums,
your fate was to go.

The green plains of Africa,
brown rivers once your home.
Vultures scour the wilderness
you no longer roam.

You were the last of your kind,
so this sorrow runs deep.
No abandoned child to mourn,
no widow to weep.

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