Tag Archives: death

Armoured Knight

Armoured Knight

Armoured Knight stands guard on my sitting room shelf.
His post was once on my bedroom window sill.
He is part of my past.
An ornament I bought in a gift shop in Woolacombe
on the North Devon coast.
Souvenir of a summer.
1970. I was eighteen. Worked in a hotel kitchen,
my brain blown open by ocean,
I pined to find words for what I could hear in sea gull cries,
far and high in the sky,
yearned to see white sailed boats voyage out from coves
to Atlantis.
Photographs of sunsets never developed well.
My camera could not capture
the hues of heaven I saw on the western horizon.
Armoured Knight I brought home in my haversack.
2017. Sixty five now.
Years ago, I somehow managed to break his lance.
Now his right hand grips only air.
Once I had to glue him back on his black plastic stand.
But why now the mention?
Recently, late one evening, I turned my CD player on,
leaned back in my arm chair.
My body light, forgotten, I attended to song,
became just an eye,
my spirit clasped by the top joint in the stalk of my spine,
aware only of words and notes in the air,
my gaze came to settle on Armoured Knight,
stood guard in his place on my sitting room shelf.
His helmeted head suddenly moulded into a mask.
The mask melted to reveal a bare face,
that of a man, a captain of soldiers.
He stared at the ground. His face pale, bony, stern.
His thought on battlefields behind him,
wars he had witnessed, weapons used by men,
from bow and arrow, sword and spear,
rifle and cannon to machine gun and tank.
He grew more macabre than a ghost,
a foul portent, ill omen,
till he could be given no other name than Death.
There he stood, Death himself.
Cold, battle boned, sword sharp, hard.
The spell broken, the vision vanished.
Armoured Knight restored himself.
An ornament. Nothing more.

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For Billions Of Years

For Billions Of Years

They will begin to disappear,
one by one, here and there,
year by year,
they will begin to disappear,
people related to you,
friends that you knew,
till the many become few.
It is natural, it is the way.
Tropical fish may swim in your glass tank,
but you know nothing will stay.

For billions of years,
before I was born,
I was not here.
For billions of years,
when I am gone,
I will not be here.
You know that is true.
The same goes for you.

When I was younger,
such thoughts brightened my brain,
wakened my wonder.
Now all I can do is grow older,
but my burden is less on my shoulder.

Your middle eye is closed, forgotten,
but not all you see is burnt or broken.
The stranger you see in the street
may be free of sleep but has never woken.

Though you will never take it all in,
be brave, leave the cave,
away from the camp fire,
go off to explore
the forest, the desert, the city,
the mountain, the sea shore.
The dinosaurs were here,
and they were for a long time,
till one by one, here and there,
year by year, they began to disappear.
Some survive as skeletons in museums,
face it all with no fear.

 

 

Lines For Leonard Cohen

Lines For Leonard Cohen

I listened to Leonard Cohen alone,
not with a party going one,
maybe afterwards,
when everyone had gone.

I always liked his tone,
voice of a real man to me,
the master of rhyme and rhythm,
he cleared his eyes to see.

His faith never certain,
but shaken, under threat,
told the bare tale of his search,
thought he would get there yet.

He sang of the bird on a wire,
Suzanne and the river,
and lifted us up
with his hallelujah.

He removed the skin,
shone light on the bone,
told us what we hold within
is figured out in stone.

Now he has left the stage,
to raise his hat no more,
he followed his angel
to what lay beyond the door.

Hear his song begin,
one that cannot cease,
let rain water fill your tin,
and drink it now in peace.

Isle of Apples

Isle of Apples

The Round Table is broken,
to divide this green island, Britain.
Now I must obey the last words of Merlyn.
Take Excalibur, the sword of Arthur,
that I alone could draw from the stone,
down to the edge of yonder mere,
Sir Bedivere, and throw it out on the water,
as far as your strength can,
to be your last deed for me,
as my faithful knight, a true courageous man.
Prepare in your grief to see a wonder,
as the Lady of Faerie takes my sword
away to her land.
Mordred is dead who came against me,
to take my crown and throne.
He lies with pale skin and empty hand
in the mud of the battlefield,
among crows and his abandoned shield,
like all betrayers he died unloved, alone.
My ideal I made real, if only for a short time.
That it came to ruin hurts me more than my wounds.
Look, the black barge comes towards me through the mist,
to take me to Avalon.
On the Isle of Apples may I be healed.
The dragon under the mountain was woken,
but now rain sweeps over the burnt field.
We who achieved the Grail will not be forgotten.

Sad About The Starling

Sad About The Starling

I buried a bird in the garden,
dug its grave with a spade.
Under the bush, I found a snail shell,
to mark where it was laid.
Silence told me how the starling died,
a squabble on the roof.
Suspect its murderer was a magpie,
though I do not have the proof.
Sad about the starling,
to miss the rest of spring,
to not join the summer chorus,
when birds of many kinds will sing.

What kind of skill is that, to act, I thought,
as I put the spade back in the shed.
To be a person you are not on stage or screen,
to be an actor, what does it mean?
A lump of jelly, activated by words on a page,
moulded by a director’s dictation,
to perform as a person not real, but a fiction.
Is that who they are, what an actor is?
Of death all has been said.
Sat in my kitchen,
I thought of the soil and the starling dead.

 

Timon of Menapaws

Timon of Menapaws

Now find the splinter that our parchment rent.
I, Timon of Menapaws, to mix not my metaphors,
on my death bed lie, that is, in accordance with my fish fusion.
Sorry, forgive my deaf head, my wit hovers low,
dimly dawdles slow, here comes the correction inclusion,
I mean my physician.
The medicine I must sup from my spoon
with its prescription as undecipherable as a faded Viking rune,
tastes like Druid broth gone sour,
but I will linger yet an hour.
But less of my pork heath or poor health,
as I should say, I wish to speak more
of this vote they demand of me in June,
to leave or not the European Union.
Would that from my right big toe they could with pincers cleave
the moss green and black growth that is my bunion.
In truth, it has been there with no throb of pain
since my increasingly vague but vagabond youth.
But to return to my vote in the merry month of June,
and whenever has June or any other month been merry,
unless one holds to the heart love’s sweet cherry?
What would the fifth king who bore the name of Henry,
his commands bawled out among the falling flights of arrows
at Agincourt, think of those two words combined, European Union?
Would he not say that it was but a monk man’s ideal
that could not and never would be real?
Would not Wellington and Napoleon at Waterloo
mock such a notion, too?
So, too, Nelson at Trafalgar?
Ah, but by the wasp that bit my arm, it is but about politics,
as regards trade and immigration, which is to most dust dull,
and to which they give less than half a mull.
O, shield my thin laugh when in my tin bath,
I muse on those among those who vote Labour
who vote truly not for them but an idealised
Left Wing version of them that never was or could be,
having sympathy for the fox, in fury against
the horns and hounds of all to do with Tory.
That they cannot see, and with my verdict would not agree.
Some say he who holds the prime silver pistol
of the united mates should not comment on the debate,
but is this not even a demi-democracy?
Strange that I may be dead before June,
and therefore not in a fit state to cast my vote.
I die an old grey coughing goat,
visited by the most unwelcome Tim Weeper or Grim Reaper,
however you wish the shadow that casts no shadow named.
Methinks, maybe I like the sound of European Union,
like Arthur did  the Round Table,
that which Mordred broke in the last battle.
I leave the stage for the fool with his bells and broken rattle.
In this, my final act, let me take up my lute.
Ballad for the Bard, I will try to play.
It is only hard if you have naught to say.
Who can say what looms on the line?
It may be drab drizzle, it may turn out fine.

 

Set of Ornaments

Set of Ornaments

Windmill on the window sill,
there still, the old ornament,
the size of my thumb,
its colour not definite,
say brass yellow gold,
been in the house since childhood,
much older than I am,
will survive me beyond the final chill to come.
Remove the cross that serves as it sails
from its pin, it looks like a lighthouse,
suitable to stand on a rock on the coast.
With two candlesticks and a bottle opener,
it forms a nice set.
Mother and father bought them somewhere.
Maybe they once mentioned the shop
but, of course, I forget.
The twisty stem candlesticks too good to hold candles,
the bottle opener in the shape of a bare woman,
her head tilted to one side, her hands held high,
in a crucified pose, to form a capital letter Y
with a straight stalk, too good to remove bottle tops
from bottles, so I was told.
Such things deserve a few lines,
for the memories they hold.

From a consideration of a set of ornaments, I branch out,
feel the release, to see me in a brown tub boat,
call it a coracle, drawing back two oars, away from all shores,
my decided direction is west, to where the sun sinks has ever seemed best,
my awakened spirit gives strength to my arms and hands,
smiling brightly, eager to sing, laugh, I acknowledge,
always it was a solo voyage, a lone trek,
a solitary song, facing that makes you strong.