The Watchers

The sentry-man stood guard against the coming of the dawn,

a shadowed figure, cast by lantern light,

his body drawn

in silhouette, trenchcoated, capped,

the face a hollow blank

as he stood there, rifle steady, head above the curved grass bank.

 

Across the wasteland, we saw the masts of heavy ships at sea

tossed by water, barren, black, tormented torrents gleam

with flecks of light that burn through mist

and gather on the grass,

each man a ghost stood at his post,

watching night-time pass.

 

A poem inspired by a drawing of the trenches made by a soldier during WW1.

Advertisements

All the small things

All the small things

That you say and do

Stack up in piles of well-intentioned rubbish,

Littering the place with half-finished plans and to-do lists

Which will never get done.

There isn’t a tick list big enough

To tackle all the problems

Which you place neatly at my door,

Each one a shiny, imperfect bauble reflecting the light.

Instead, that light is negated, smothered,

Under and behind and within

The psychological recycling you need to address,

Which you never will address,

Nevertheless,

I am still here, your emotional baggage handler,

Your personal refuse collector,

And I provide service with a smile

You never return.

My daughter wants to have a Barbie doll – what should I do?!

I’m a liberal mum,

Up-to-date…no wait seriously,

I understand about the dangers of socialisation,

Ingratiation,

Stamping my daughter with the pink sparkly stamp –

“Femininity”.

Setting her up for a lifetime

Wearing girls’ clothes

Make up, false nails, trips to the hairdresser,

Highlights, lowlight, balayage,

Whatever is in fashion,

The latest season, no reason

To see that as a bad thing,

To regard the trappings of womanhood

As un-laceable corset

She can never take off.

But,

She wants a Barbie doll.

I try to explain,

I tried to find the right words

To say

That’s not the right way

To see yourself.

Your body is your material wealth

You are more than

Your face

Your eyes

Your smile.

But,

All the while she looks at me

With her eyes that see

My brand of femininity,

Whatever that is,

And perhaps she thinks –

‘I should give that a miss’.

Do I really know better

Then she does?

Her favourite doll

isn’t Barbie,

Although her body looks like hers,

She’s a flat-footed fairy

Called Tink

Peter Pan’s rebel girl,

But to my daughter

She can be anything.

And when I ask her why she likes her,

She says ‘Because she looks like you mummy’.

She does not mean I am perfect,

Silicon enhanced, pneumatic in the chest department,

She does not mean that I have symmetrical features,

Permanent up do

Or an ideal butt.

Rather, she looks like a woman,

And a woman is something that she may one-day become.

Slipshod sneakers and city shoes

Tip a tap, tip a tap,

The slow pattern of booted heels hitting the tarmac,

Each strike a precise slash of heel bone to metal tip.

I feel the pavement, rough, irregular

Under the swaying motion of my feet,

That move in perpendicular lines

Cutting a swathe through the leaf litter underfoot.

I remember slip-shod youthful days

Sliding sneakered feet along grass made patchy

And barren by the lack of rain.

Dirt-scuffed shoe tips, earthy plastic

Smeared with footloose games of tag and stuck-in-the-mud,

Those sneakers have run to holes,

Broken at the heels and worn through, worn out

By childhood games, and now?

I wear city shoes for city streets, not ready to play

Run out around the park, catch me if you can

Back home by dark shoes.

That girl is gone.

At The Globe

Black and white walls rising in soft plaster and wood

against the frigid glass and chrome of modern London.

Contemporary buildings, cold, cold,

not warm like the wooden beams

touched by a hundred hands

each day, by pilgrims visiting the theatre

to find their place in the audience,

to find their place spectating

on words written four hundred years ago

by an itinerant actor from Stratford.

Now, the building stands, as they still stand, groundlings, penny stinkards,

a testament to an actor’s passion

for those words, which moved him to move

earth, sky and business

to raise money enough to buy back part of our heritage,

to remake that which was once unmade by fire,

and reforge the wooden and plaster palace of dreams once again.

Autumn days

This is my season of mists,

damp autumn days

whose leafy embrace smells of dank insoles, sodden tennis shoes

and must.

Mornings are dark, absent of birdsong, and

it seems that

the sun hides underneath a blanket of grey cloud

as I

burrow under blankets

potent with the rusty smell

of bed breath and warm bodies.