City Street: Early Morning (1995/6)
No matter how often it seems that the world can afford
No new revelations of beauty, you find yourself here
Again, in the heart of this windswept and crowd-deluged street
And though you had lost all your faith in the magic of feet
That bless again and again the same ground, to stave fear
From the spirit, you find that it does. Oh how you could be bored
Of this dawn of creation, created and dawning anew
This promise that never falls into cliché or betryal
No matter how often revived or restated, a rope
Of rescue that never runs out, and the sum of all hope,
A well never dry, a staff of life never grown stale,
And a moment of life in a life that gives so very few?
The Cold Light of Day (2002)
I think I wrote this because I like the phrase 'the cold light of day' so much. However, I find it an uplifting phrase, whereas the poem is far from uplifting.
All over the city, one by one,
Alarm clocks screech that dreams are done;
A million separate souls by night,
In gratitude and grief, unite;
Grief for the rounds to which we rise
But gratitude that dreams are lies;
For few the halcyon seas that lap
A dreamer free from all mishap;
And what tormentor knows us best
Than that one lodged within our breast?
Who sees our weakness, mocks our strengths,
More surely than a vulture scents
The scent of death; who knows our fears
And deftly rolls back drapes of years
To bring us scenes we would forget
Or those we long to dwell in yet;
Words branded on our mind with pain
Or loved tones that must mute remain.
Grey skies of dawn, how sweet a sight
To those self-tortured thralls of night!
And all the armoury of routine
Our business so morose and mean
Is blessed refuge from those hours
That yield us unto unknown powers;
The vast recesses of the mind
Where none would seek, and none woudl find,
Awake, what there in dreams they found;
Like depthless dungeons undergroudn
Where sun's ray never sent its sheen
On wholesome works and labours clean;
Where, in the deep of day's disdain,
Is forged the ancient arts of pain.
But, waking in his dawn-tinged room,
For now man dares forget his doom;
The grave is sure, but surer this;
The world's sweet weight, his wife's sweet kiss,
And all the sighs that bring to mind
Much life to come, though much behind;
He does not feel life slip away
In the cold and certain light of day.
Half-thinking of a house she might be buying
(At least it's in the nicer part of town)
The secretary scans the words put down
And glares at the rogue boxes still defying
Her nimble wits. Her colleagues grow more trying
How can Graham wear that awful shade of brown?
The truth contains five letters; it's a noun.
She never feels her own heart might be lying.
All of our days are spent in filling boxes;
The smallest one comes last. Triumphantly,
She jots one more down, she who nothing foxes;
Who knows where, when, how everything should be;
And would, if she had time for paradoxes
Say that the things which hold us make us free.
Crows and Weeds (2003)
(This poem is particularly special to me.)
Her mother scolded her for picking weeds
And calling crows' song pretty, quickly losing
Her temper with the pebble hoards, her choosing
Of empty spots to sin. Scorn succeeds;
She grew up loving flowers and cuter breeds
Of avian, and turned from the accusing
Of the girl who picked toys no-one else was using
And savoured music nobody else heeds.
But when the flowers all fade, the larks depart,
The cold grey dawn recalls the cawing crow
And the mother of four, the girl who stood apart
And shy delights, and beauty not for show;
And strives to make her house out of her heart;
A place where crows can feed, and weeds can grow.
Death of a Critic (2004)
A 'clever' poem. I have come to detest 'clever' poems.
Mum was the only woman; no girl since
(And there were lots) could be so fresh and sweet.
Dad frowned at everybody on the street
And most of all on me, his pale Crown Prince.
All of my tales, my smiles, failed to convince
And year on year his gloom grew more complete.
Tears seemed too trite when he collapsed beneath
The ten-ton weight of his omniscience.
And now it's killing me...these films, these books,
Each one that comes along seems like the worst!
And me; I earned my father's dirty looks;
All of my readers should be reimbursed;
My life's a dud, with no real theme or crux,
Riddled with cliché from the very first!