Tag Archives: death

The Purgation of Percival the Parsimonious Peewit

The Purgation of Percival the Parsimonious Peewit

The curtain draws to reveal the stage
for almost a play, not quite a poem
when studied on the page.
Only after can we say
where the lines lay.
Here begins the purgation
of Percival the Parsimonious Peewit.
At least, that’s what they called him at school.
So what, he would say, he had been a bit stingy with money,
but being generous, sharing things,
had never been an unwritten rule.
As for the peewit, he always thought it absurd.
In no way did he resemble a bird.
Anyway, his first name was Percival.
Full name, Percival Parquin-Perry.
He woke on a circular bench round a circular room,
shaken from a dream he remembered, vaguely,
of crossing a dark river on a slow ferry.
Welcome to Purgatory. Do not panic. Wait.
A summoner will call you soon,
said a sign on a far wall.
If it was a wall, for though it glistened, looked solid,
it seemed to be built of blocks of light rather than stone.
“Purgatory, so this is where I am,” Percival thought.
Not long lifted his eyelids, he felt bright in brain and bone.
A shaky shadow grew to be a tall, thin man,
clad in a black crow gown.
He paused in the middle of the glistening floor,
his index finger pointing at a place on a page
of a book with a white cover, open on his left palm.
“I am the summoner,” he said, his tone clear, calm.
“Time for the purgation of Percival the Parsimonious Peewit.”
“So this is what you do in Purgatory,” Percival said.
“Sit. Wait. Wait till your eyelids droop, your head gets heavy.
Wait to be informed, interviewed.”
“Only at first and not for long,” said the summoner.
“They have to decide where you belong.”
“Well, not down there, I hope. I wasn’t that bad,” said Percival,
defensively.
“No. No. No. Not down there,” said the summoner, comfortingly.
“But there are levels and circles from lower to higher up.”
“Oh, I see. It’s a class thing,” said Percival, sharply.
“I would have gone straight up there if I had been
a holy peasant, an enlightened yokel, a pious monk.
I have to pay for the life of privilege I lived on Earth.”
“What was given is measured with what was taken,”
said the summoner. “The judges will decide.
Now rise up. Follow me.”
Percival’s purgation was to him like standing
under a waterfall without getting wet,
a spirit, skin and bone cleansing,
a refreshing he would never forget.
After it was over, he was led to a gate,
but what he saw when he ascended a stair
no earthly tongue could relate.

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The Gate

The Gate

An angel walks a long road
with no sign post or end.
He never is exhausted
and never could pretend.

He helps to keep in motion
one circle of the wheel.
He mends the broken pattern,
his mission is to heal.

A brown gate in a low wall,
he pointed out to me.
Only I can open it,
I do not need a key.

The gate opens on a path,
somehow I sensed, I knew.
It will lead me to my home,
the place to which I grew.

Kite Flying

Kite Flying

When I was a boy,
I flew my kite on the shore.
It had to be sunny and dry,
it was no good in the rain.
My kite flapped up with the wind,
the string took the strain.

I hear in the east
they see the kite as the soul,
held to earth by the string.
It ascends to the blue,
higher than a sea bird could wing.

But I did not know that
when I was a boy.
I just knew the world turned with my feet
when I spun with joy
to see my kite flying high,
free of all restriction and pain.
I watched it whirl up with the wind,
and the string took the strain.

I think of the love
I have for land and sea,
and I wonder how it will be
when one day my kite flies free of me.

The sun melts the sleet.
I take my kite to the shore.
It is for the last time.
I will not go there again.
The wind rolls the sea rough.
Will the string take the strain?

No Road

No Road

No road should be that wide.
More than half way there,
I knew I’d never reach the other side.
No, no road should be that wide.

No road should be that wide.
Would be easier
to try to stop the tide
than to reach the other side.
Even if you were tall, had a long stride,
your crossing would be denied.
No, no road should be that wide.

My feet felt like bags of dry shells,
my legs like iron rods, cold and stiff.
I could not take another step.
I feared a fall from a cliff.

A black smudge formed in the air,
a vehicle to menace the night.
From the dream drama, I broke free,
glad to see my room in grey light.

I blame it on the dust,
not the kind that settles on furniture
but on the mind,
to bring muffle to the ear, error to the eye.
It was just a deathly dream.
I let it go by.

No road should be that wide,
not if it was built so you could get to the other side.
No road should be that wide.

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.

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.