Tag Archives: nostalgia

Cat and the Butterfly

Cat and the Butterfly

My present interest in nostalgia
I take as a good sign.
It means I have not lost my memory
and like to keep my roots in line.
The music I liked best in my youth
has stood the test of time.
You cannot beat a good tune
welded to a decent rhyme.

As I look out my kitchen window,
I see clouds shift and pass,
sparrows pecking at sunflower seeds,
and a black cat sat on the grass.
I watch it glare at a butterfly
that flutters by the shed.
Like a winged twig it rises
above the black cat’s head.

That cat will never catch that butterfly
but that cat does not know that.

If you live near a volcano
you hope it won’t erupt
in an avalanche of lava,
sparks and smoke, lethal and abrupt.
It would chase away the tourists,
scar the land and choke the air.
You don’t want to feel a shudder
when you’re climbing up a stair.

But one thing is certain,
that cat will never catch that butterfly
but that cat does not know that.
No, that cat does not know that.

The Wreck of the Royal Iris

The Wreck of the Royal Iris

Alas, the Royal Iris, the old ferry boat’s gone.
A seagull’s cry shears the sky.
Something to sadden a sailor
or anyone, like me, who remembers a time long gone by.
They left it to rot, down south,
on the banks of the Thames,
to lean to one side, a relic
Charles Dickens might have lifted his pen
to take as one of his chance inspirations
for some descriptive work,
maybe in Great Expectations.

The wreck of the Royal Iris,
they left to shadow and dust,
ink black, burnt brown bread,
dark orange yellow rust
that ate its engine and crust.
Cold air they let bend back its hull,
allowed jagged edged holes to appear,
left its ropes to mould with no strength to pull.
I studied its newspaper photograph,
smiled in my mind,
to remember a time, simpler, more kind.
When I was a schoolboy and I stood on the shore,
among seaweed and shells,
and I watched the Royal Iris go,
cut its way through the grey Irish Sea,
out from Liverpool Bay.
Not one of the big ships, not that impressive to see,
but magical, lit up with lights,
as the sun dipped in the west,
and I had all my life before me.
In ways, that time was the best.

Elegy On A Red Double Decker Bus

Elegy On A Red Double Decker Bus

Red double decker bus,
where are you now?
Are you only in London?
Did you rise on your back wheels
to take your last bow?
I sat on your top deck
when you took me to school
or for a day out in town
as we call Liverpool.
Seems that you have gone
with the steam engine and tram,
so much has vanished,
sometimes in a haze it is hard
to know where I am.
Up the dull silver steps
came the bus conductor,
his ticket box and money bag
by a black strap
hung from his neck.
I paid him my pennies,
got off at my stop,
down from the top deck.
Present day single deck buses
lack bigness and charm,
with only a driver and no conductor,
they look too one level and calm.
But ferries still cross the Mersey,
and the Liver Birds still sit and stare
on the Liver Buildings roof.
That The Beatles were born here,
for tourists and locals,
there’s plenty of proof.
The old red brick tobacco warehouse,
I pass by on the train,
looks like the shell of a fortress,
forbidding in winter,
lashed by the rain.
Whoever comes after us
will not know the pleasure to ride
on the top deck of a red double decker bus.

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

One he was a bell boy at the Grand Hotel.
O, the stories, the stories, he could tell.
Now he sat in its foyer, an old man in a brown coat.
More than eighty, nearly ninety,
he would say of his age, to precisely quote,
more plainly, eighty seven,
far from the cradle, close now to heaven.
That is, he would say,
if the angel with the book at the gate
would let him in.
O, but the stories. Where would he begin?
Taxies, cars, parked outside, he observed,
may be more modern than in his day,
but they transported the same people,
they being the rich. Such things would stay.
“I used to work here,” he would tell them,
in the dining hall, as he supped afternoon tea,
with the silver tea pot on his table,
feeling happy to be.
“That must have been a long time ago,”
they would say.
“Oh, yes, it was,” he would answer.
“But it is all clear, as if it were yesterday.
There I would stand, at the foot of the stair,
by the lift, at reception, smile on my face,
and I watched them go by,
like lights in the air,
all of them noble to me, fine and high.
There was one famous actress,
yes, some of them were involved in the arts,
others were gentry from foreign parts.
Rich business men, some of them were.
Can still see their faces.
I wept when it was over, my time I was here.
There was no one to tell it to, no one to care.
Stories I could tell.
Always thought it deserved its name, Grand Hotel.”