Poems

Writing

 

I used to write a lot of poems when I was younger and more energetic. Two of my travel articles even found their way into national magazines. But of course there was less technology back then so you had to find your own entertainment.  This is just a small selection.

 

Poems


Sunbathing

A gentle rustle moved the air and softly ruffled Anna’s hair
Her face remained impassive, though, content to let the cool breeze blow
Inside her eyes, closed to the world, the flowers of her thoughts unfurled
They painted pictures, memories, of summer days as warm as these
She heard the laughter from the pool, the shouts and splashes, clowns and fools
But heard them only as a blur, being inside, yet not part of her
Occasionally her mind awoke, her eyes saw only white
But closing them, she fell once more into her own insight
Without a sign to guide them her thoughts traced paths unknown
Each one a private vision, an image viewed alone
Within imagination’s trance time cannot exist
And while light shines on one far hill, the valley next is missed
And so the afternoon grew dark; the sun shook off its heat
And very soon a girl awoke to find she had cold feet.

 

Snookered 

This was written in the early 1980s when Pot Black was still a BBC2 highlight for many afficionados.

Two gentlemen sit, cues aloft, one referee stands ready
A stifled silence fills the hall – snooker’s on the telly!
In practised tones of hushed respect Ted Lowe makes us aware
That “each of these great players stands waiting on their chair”
The referee performs the toss: “Steve Davis is to break”
With languid strides the latter moves, his features just awake
He stands and studies, hard and long the layout of the table
He chalks his cue, he crouches down, he looks at every angle
He stands up straight and walks around, he chalks his cue once more
And just as he bends down to break a man begins to snore
“Quiet please!” – the referee attempts to quell the noise
All eyes return to Davis who is waiting, calm and poised
With a sudden burst of energy Davis strikes the ball
It travels smoothly, hits the reds and in a pocket falls
“Now that” says Ted “was not the stroke that Davis had intended!
That one mistake has left the match completely open-ended”
The champion retires dismayed surveying the errant cue
And from the other corner leaps a man with hair askew
Twitching, with a nervous glance, he heads towards the ball
That’s nearest to his eye and thwok! He gives the stroke his all
The cue ball speeds around the baize as though it were possessed
Then slows, and nudges in a red just as it comes to rest
The audience erupt and cheer, Ted Lowe can only say:
“That was a quite stupendous shot – A winner all the way!”
And Higgins now (for it is he) begins to build a break
Quickstepping swiftly through his shots he reaches ninety-eight
But then, to everyone’s dismay the referee’s too slow
In placing back a potted black with Higgins in full flow
The cue ball cracks against his hand with a noise that all could hear
And with a gasp and cry of hurt the ref is heard to swear
“Quiet please!” the audience plead and with a pained expression
The referee retires hurt – a man who’s learned his lesson
Higgins, meanwhile, stands aghast – confound the referee!
One more colour with the red, he’d have got his century…

 

Dream Away

The moon, an onion, cried its light, dispersed through shadowed wisps of time
The sky a myriad of shapes, thick colours swirled by winds so fine
Beneath the mist that swept the grass four hooves sank softly in the turf
A horse breathed back the chill night air, its large eyes scanned the frosted earth

The hedgerows harboured shadowed beasts between the silvered fields
Yet none disturbed the silhouette atop the smoke-wreathed hill
Then through the sparkling dew-clad blades two slippered feet it heard
The quiet approach it recognised – no need, or use, for words

The girl had travelled far from home and shivered as she walked
Now through the curtains drawn by fog she saw the horse she stalked
A moonbeam danced around its head, its eyes began to fire
And when the two came face to face each had the same desire

And so she nimbly took her place astride the powerful back
And both surveyed the scene below as light plucked grey from black
The mighty horse tossed back its head and turned to move away
Still careful of the girl it held, its flanks began to sway

They were as one in movement, through wide unblemished fields
Strong air traversed their shoulders, both knew they could not yield
The hedges proved small hurdles as they flew towards their goal
The mists thinned fast before them in their journey through the soul

On and on they galloped, towards the rising sun
Until the girl’s subconscious heard: “Wake up, your egg is done!”

 

Barber Belvedere

I remember writing this when I was about 17 as a challenge that I could dash off a poem in the blink of an eye. So I went and sat in the garden with a pad of paper and a pencil and after 40 mins came back with this. 

One hundred thousand heads of hair will grow afresh this year
And all of them will bear the mark of barber Belvedere
With powers shears set to maximum, no head survives unscathed
He only knows three ways to cut: badly, worse, or shaved

Some say he practices on sheep, others that he’s blind
Or even that he turned to hair to get hedges off his mind
His waiting room is stained with blood, buckets catch the ears
His first aid box is empty – its been like that for years

There are no mirrors where he cuts, it helps his concentration
For if the victims were to see, they’d squirm in consternation
People in the street will point and say: “Look over there!
That’s got to be a haircut by that barber Belvedere!”

One man who’s not complaining is the local hat retailer
He can always spot a customer – they tend to look much paler

But why is he so popular? Just what is it he’s got?
Well, you see, he lives in Scotland….
And he doesn’t charge a lot

Please note that I am half Scottish so think I can get away with this.

 

Reagan Speaks

When Reagan and Thatcher were in charge, there was always potential entertainment in watching President Reagan give a speech, given his great age and sense of humour. This poem, written at the time, was designed to encapsulate this.

The atmosphere was clinging, the tension hard to bear
As a sprightly Ronald Reagan fell neatly from his chair
The arms of his advisers caught and steered him to his notes
That were placed upon a podule painted black, to get black votes

“Mah friends and all Americans” the President began
“I want to speak to you tonight to show you that I can”
Ripples of restrained applause were difficult to hear
But the President made use of them to pause, and smooth his hair
With the grease wiped from his fingers (and fresh stains upon his suit)
He stared intent at Camera One, his sincerity acute

 “I expect you thought I’d give a speech on communists and weaponry
Or call for bird-brained laser schemes that stretch the realms of fantasy
Or tell the world that I feel fine – I’m not about to die!
Unless of course my finger slips and blows us all sky high…

Perhaps you thought that I was here to read my latest speech
The one that reaches parts that other speeches cannot reach”
Here a smile grew on his lips; he paused to let them laugh
But seeing his audience stony faced he pointed to a graph

“This shows how the dollar has fared against the pound.
The reason that it looks so good is because it’s upside down
Now many people ask me why it is they can’t get jobs
The answer seems quite plain to me – they’re all a bunch of slobs

But no, the message that I give is one of great good cheer:
May you have a joyful Easter and a wonderful New Year….
Is that right, Ed?”

 

Objection

“M’lud, I wish to make it clear that what I say is true…”
“Objection! M’lud, that’s something that I’ve yet to hear him do”
“Overruled, I think it fair we hear him  speak his piece –
That way this everlasting case might one day chance to cease”

“Thank you, m’lud, I will resume my summary of the case
And why I think the accused here should try to hide his face
For never in my long career have I been forced to hear…”
“Objection! Sir, my learned friend has been here but one year!”
“Objection overruled again, although I have to say
That counsel should stick to the facts and try not to delay”

“Yes, m’lud, you are correct, I’ll make my address brief
Indeed it should not take too long to prove this man a thief”
“Objection! This is just too much! M’lud, we’re all aware
Th’accused is charged with speeding not stealing; please be fair!”

“Hmm.. I think you have a point, counsel must take care
Not to accuse the accused  man unless he thinks it fair”
“Very well, m’lud, I’ll do my best not to mislead the court
I hate to see my learned friend becoming so distraught”

“Objection! That is just not true – I’m feeling quite at ease
Although it’s true I have a cold which causes me to wheeze”
“I fail to see the relevance of what you have just said
Perhaps the court would like to hear about the case instead?”
“M’lud, I do apologise, you’ll hear no more from me
About my splitting headache or the war wound in my knee”

“Er, if my learned friend has done with telling us his woes
Perhaps I may continue while he stops to blow his nose
Good people of the jury, you only have to look
At he who sits there in the dock to see that he’s a crook”

“Objection! If that rule applied – that faces matched the crime –
I’m sure my learned friend here would be inside doing time!”
“Order! Please, I’ve had enough of both of you today
If you don’t stop your bickering we’ll never get away
Now prosecuting counsel, I know you will protest
But if you could conclude your speech I think that would be best”

“But sir, I’ve barely started on my eighty-three page text
For every time I speak a word my learned friend objects!”
“Yes, but who can blame him when at times you’re not correct
But for the sake of brevity: Defence – don’t interject!”

“M’lud, you can’t be serious, if that is how we run
Th’accused might find himself being charged with things he has not done!”
“Fear not, I will be listening with a practised ear
And should our good friend err from fact you’ll be the first to hear”

“Members of the jury… M’lud, they’re all asleep!
M’lud?”
“ZZzzzzzzz”

 

Executive Ambition

Financial insignificance, misguided enterprise
Blinded by magnificence – the fatalistic prize
Total dedication to a cause fired by belief
Injected medication, but as yet no sense of grief

Working hours determined in relation to reward
Resurrected values never knowingly ignored
Infinite activity within the frenzied mind
Eliminates reaction to self-doubt of any kind

Erudite behaviour indicative of power
A vision to be realised: life within the ivory tower
Instant recognition of a path as yet untried
Imperative addition to the file that’s at his side

Further aspirations, progress must increase
Fewer breaks, constant aches, determined not to cease
Impulsive self deception, addicted to success
Each avenue gets shorter, each height attained is less

Uncontrolled persistence in an aim that’s lost its cause
His thoughts find only corridors that lead to large, closed doors
Mounting piles of paperwork, once stacked, are now a heap
Increasingly disorganised yet still no time for sleep

Nothing quite so clear now, ideas not coming through
Everything takes longer with even more to do
Fundamental processes assume a different guise
Elementary hurdles no longer brushed aside

Getting very tired now
Nothing what it seems
A head slumps to the table
Awash with silent screams….

 

Ticket Bet

They looked sideways without hesitation
When they noticed a fresh-dressed young gent
Stroll so casually into the station
And pay cash for a ticket to Brent

He wore clothes that looked good in the wardrobe
He had shoes that exuded expense
But although his appearance was faultless
It appeared he was lacking in sense

For a start he used some foreign currency
The ticket clerk would not accept
So with airs of what could be called flippancy
He challenged the man to a bet

“If I can’t use pesetas to Paddington
And my bahts won’t get me to Brent
I’ll wager a week of your wages
That I’ll get there without paying a cent!”

“Done!” said the clerk, having noticed the policeman
Who’d entered and heard what was said
“For as soon as you try to get through with no ticket
You’ll be travelling to Strangeways instead!”

“Why there you are  wrong”, the other returned
“I shall not be resorting to crime.
If you give me an hour and a few dozen leaflets
Your wages will soon become mine!”

And with that he was gone, with an elegant stride,
Leaving policeman and clerk quite bemused
Yet not half an hour later they saw him return
Looking thoughtful and faintly amused

“Well now” he said to the clerk through the grill
“Be so good as to listen with care
For I shall explain why I should get a ticket
Without paying a thing for the fare

Now for £28 you would give me a ticket
To take me to Brent in a thrice
While a railcard for students would set me back 12
But enable my travelling half price

It follows, therefore, that a railcard, if bought,
Would mean fourteen pounds in my pocket
With that I would buy the half price fare to Brent
And, not having paid, have the ticket!”

“Curses!” the clerk was provoked to reply
“I’m confused but your logic seems sound
Here, take what I owe you, a week of my wages –
It comes to not even one pound

This is because I am on a week’s trial
And if I were to give you a ticket
The amount that I lost from my till would be taken
From my wages, so you’ll have to stick it!”

 

The Way It Works

Based on shop-working experience and written when I was very young but probably not unusual in any business, it is the challenge that introverts always have in convincing their superiors that you do not have to be loud to be successful.

Promotion is a notion I have harboured in my mind
From a company view I’m ‘Mr Who? – I thought that he’d resigned’
But way below where workers go, efficiency’s the game
I trust my staff and make them laugh, so they won’t fear my name

Every day I always say ‘well done’ to all my team
Who’ve worked for me conscientiously – no need to make a scene
Yet Mr Bell is giving hell to those beneath his power
Although he’s young he has a tongue to make the staunchest cower
He acts so tough ‘we’ve had enough’ all those beneath him mutter
Their work rate slows, their fatigue shows, they all think he’s a nutter

Then one fine day, directors pay a visit to the shop
‘What is this?’ ‘Where is that?’ Their questions never stop
And while they’re there they stop to hear one voice above the rest
Yes, Mr Bell, performing well, is trying to sound his best

As orders fly and staff just sigh within young Bell’s department
The top men see efficiency and note, on company parchment:
‘Confident, impressive – a man with motivation
Thoroughly hard-working, deserves quick elevation’

And so quite soon the news comes through that Mr Bell’s promoted
For those like me who work quietly, that feels like being demoted

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