RECENT POEMS 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Control

 

Oh, to be in control, in control of life,

our world, to not be dictated to by events

or people we have never met, never will,

and are being told to be this, be that,

be what they want you to be, not what

you want to be, because they're in control

and you are not.

 

It's clear in the world today, we must

do this and we must do that.

We've no choice. Not to do this or that

has consequences, most dire. For

if we do not do this or that, we cannot

function in our world today, or we can,

but outside of everything. To stand outside

of everything means poverty, being odd,

ostracized, and few can survive like that.

 

So you do this and you do that to be

accepted in this world today, even though

you really do not want to do this or that

at all, but do so because you have

no control over your life or your world.

From birth to death, you are told what to do,

how to be, your station in life is allotted

early on, and most often there you stay,

sometimes grateful to have one at all,

but mostly resentful that you've been

placed in a box, not of your own making,

but by the world that's in control of you

and most everyone else around you.

 

Try to break out and you will find walls,

obstacles, threats and a host of other

unpleasant warnings crowding in on you

from those in control. You are a mere cog

in a machine that must keep running smoothly,

and that means you do this and you do that,

and you do not object, you are accounted for,

and there you'll stay, it's all for your own

good, for your benefit, even though

those in control cannot see it's destroying

freedom, individuality, creativity and

will, in the end, make humans simply

a part of one great piece of machinery,

soulless, dead, inhuman and utterly boring

for all except possibly those in control.

 

**********

 

The Winds of Change

 

Roll with the winds of change

for they carry you you know not where.

Resist them at your peril,

for they will have their way come what may.

 

Time and tides won't wait for you

if you do not go with the flow, it will sweep

you away or along a path

not of your choosing but chosen for you.

 

Not predetermined by any unseen hand,

but by the roulette wheel of chance events

entangling at a single point,

and carrying you along regardless of your will.

 

Best to yield to the stream of events

unfolding now in matter fixed in space

for all connected in the continuum,

a momentous moment in the river of Time .

 

All Life billows ever outward metamorphosing,

evolving, dying, surviving, arising,

a symphony of notes in a cosmic orchestra

playing endlessly and always in perfect tune.

 

The urge to create order out of chaos the imperative,

the prime and primal mover of all,

the dancer on the edge of Time, the moulder

of shape and form instep with the needs of all.

 

So roll with the winds of change

for they carry you you know not where.

Resist them at your peril,

for they cannot help but have their way in the end.

 

************

 

The One True Way

 

A rising from the dark,

a stone rolled back to greet the light,

to find no body in the tomb.

A tale built up to mythical proportions

in the human desire for redemption

and resurrection, the defeat of death,

proof of its inability to kill the spirit,

destroy the soul. No, the need is far

too great to let go of a myth so charged

with profundity and meaning.

 

And across the earth, celebrations,

the dawning of the light, the new day

when death has been conquered

by the son of their deity. Ignoring

the part where humans killed him,

their deity clearly has forgiven them

for the tomb is empty now, his son

risen, but did he truly die or did he

awaken from his drugged sleep,

the healing herbs administered

by his followers working their powers

on his wounds, and, in the dark

of the night, the guards slept perhaps

from a wine supplied, and there

the stone was rolled away, and the son

released to walk once more among

his people, briefly, before he had to leave

and sojourn to another land to seek

his long lost kin, and in their finding,

stayed with them, an unwanted prophet

at home, until his death in old age.

 

And they buried him

in a special tomb, his feet, hands

and side imprinted still with the nails

and sword that pierced him through

so many years ago, and with his body

facing the holy city, he lies still,

a mythical figure in a world that

could not let him go for, in the minds

of millions, he conquered death,

a priceless gift, even though based

only on a myth, and a book contrived

to maintain it, nurture it, and never

let it die for it is power, control,

but, ultimately, due to fall for it is

written in its pages the end will come.

That being another myth to keep

believers holding fast lest they become

the damned, and hell consumes them all.

For it is written, and what is written

is the truth, their leaders say,

redemption and resurrection can only

be received if all follow the one true way.

 

************

 

A Grace

 

Grace by name, and by nature,

a product of loving nurture.

She grew to be a kindly soul,

full of virtue, but being such

she grew in isolation, too good

for most to keep her company.

 

It was an irony that here on earth

the saintly are the shunned

for they might disapprove of fun

and games that ordinary people

play, so Grace went quietly

through her life not making waves,

until she met a kindred soul,

and the two of them were wed.

 

It was a marriage made in heaven

with much loving in their bed,

and, eventually, they had a son,

and then a pretty daughter,

who both grew up to be happy

loving people, and the moral

of this tale is there's usually

someone for everyone living

in this world, and Grace was lucky

for her man just came along

when she was shriveling up inside

from loneliness and pain

for goodness can be a burden,

and had he not appeared,

she was contemplating something

bad. But her man saved her life,

and now she and he live happily

growing old along the way,

but she never forgets how close

she came to losing everything,

and daily thanks her lucky stars

for watching over her and giving

her a second chance, a grace indeed

that made her life worth living.

 

************

 

A Slow Ride?

 

Do we take a slow ride to nowhere

on our path through life? Or does

the pace seem so fast, it's past

before we've had time to see

it last for far longer than we thought

it would when young, and thirty

seemed so old, one foot in the grave

it seemed to us, the reality of which

passed us by that life was at its best

for most when reaching that age.

 

And yet, for many, it can be a time

of responsibilities and concerns,

a time to have kids, to make ends

meet, the mortgage to pay, and bills

keep pouring through the door

like a river in spate, and growing

larger by the year as prices rise

but incomes stay the same, so, maybe,

thirty in the eyes of the young is old,

many being so before their time.

 

But life was not meant to be

such a grind, having children

should be a joy, a home should be

a sanctuary, a place of happiness,

and work should be a source

of satisfaction not a boring,

repetitive, poorly remunerated

chore that so many find as they go

out their front door each day to bring

in a wage and food upon the table.

 

And as life passes by, and we slow down

to stand observing how far we've come.

Perhaps the best time of our lives

is when we own our home,

don't go out to work anymore,

and just relax and enjoy our lives.

Sadly, even then, this age is fraught

for some with hardship and pain.

Life is such a mixed bag of joys,

hopes, dreams, and disappointments,

it's a wonder so many reach old age.

 

But we do, and in the doing, there is

the hope that many can rest now,

content that they have lived a life

and even though maybe on a ride

to nowhere in the end, it has been

an adventure full of ups and downs,

twists and turns, and will continue

to be so until we breathe our last,

for life never stands still for anyone,

anywhere in our awesome Universe.

 

************

 

At last

 

I'm fixed in time and space,

no chance to change the past.

What would I do if I could?

A question I have asked myself,

its implications so very vast.

 

What would I change? Mistakes

I know I've made, words

spoken in haste, and rued,

actions that cry out for alteration,

if only I could turn time backwards.

 

Then I stop and think. To change

a thing will alter everything,

irrevocably forever, and loss

of what is will be the end result.

A fearful thought altering anything.

 

Oh, but can I change little things.

Like a time when ignorance

made me err with my children,

beloved as they were, I made

mistakes that play upon my conscience.

 

And in relationships that failed,

not through anyone's fault,

but time stepped in and made

them impossible to carry on,

bringing them to a sudden halt.

 

Paths not taken in time and space,

hard to keep apace at where I'd be

if I could amend my errors,

see relationships come to fruition,

and look now at what I cannot see.

 

But I'm fixed in time and space,

no chance to change the past,

and when all is said and done,

I cannot live regretting anything,

so I can say ‘Je ne regrette rien' at last.

 

*************

 

The Word

 

The Word is all

The Word is nothing

The Word begins

The Word ends

The Word befriends

The Word repels

The Word is hope

The Word is joy

The Word is passion

The Word is fear

The Word is anger

The Word is Life

 

And the Word we live to hear

Is Love

 

I love you

Opens the gates

To heart and mind

And raises the spirit

Up on high

An affirmation of our being

A confirmation of our worth

Greeted with a sigh

At last, at last, oh, what a relief

We have come home at last.

 

******************

 

Unstoppable

 

Leaking away, time dribbling out

Through space, changing matter

Inexorable, unstoppable

 

The Universal laws persist

No brakes, forever going forward

Relentless, unstoppable

 

All is flux, order out of chaos

For an instant then falls apart

Inevitable, unstoppable

 

Minds fix moments in time

Myriads making a continuum

Triumphant, unstoppable

 

Desire for order is paramount

Failure creates catastrophe,

Disastrous, unstoppable

 

Awareness of chaos is sanity

Ignorance leads to an abyss

Conflict, unstoppable

 

Hearts striving for wholeness

Unity of will enables healing

Resurrection, unstoppable

 

*************

 

A Giveaway

 

It's strange to look at a hand

and see it looking crumpled.

It doesn't seem to be mine.

and left me rather startled.

 

Hands are a giveaway of age,

strive all I want the years to hide,

they shout aloud ‘you're old',

a fact that cannot be denied.

 

All the creams I can buy

won't remove the signs of age,

nor eradicate the wrinkles.

I have to accept this stage.

 

It is going to show ever more

hands as they are in reality,

and I must learn to accept them,

as I head towards seventy.

 

Gone are the days of smooth skin,

now I'm getting loose and saggy,

odd, I know, but I can say,

I don't care that I'm all baggy.

 

It's a relief in many a way,

not to have to strive for beauty,

for everlasting youthfulness,

now I can be a very happy wrinkly.

 

***********

 

Plans

 

The best laid plans can go astray,

not for want of trying to stay on course,

but from the random occurrences

that toss a spanner in the works,

and make what made total sense

turn on a sixpence into dust.

 

How often do we set out,

firm of will, determination

to succeed in place, and end up

nowhere near where we set out to be,

those random events casting aside

our meticulously organized agenda.

 

Then we sit amidst the failure,

wondering what can be retrieved,

if any, and review our plan once more,

remove the spanner that made it fail,

and, in a quiet moment of reflection,

wonder it was that worth while after all.

 

At the end of the day, our plan revised,

simplified, and codified into comprehensible

words for all to synchronize their actions by,

and, off we go again, for one last try

to salvage something good from what

did seem originally like a sound and foolproof plan.

 

**********

 

Precious Shards

 

There's a space in my heart

which once was full.

Now, it holds fragments

of time, like precious shards

of a life, such a small one,

a short one, but such a whole

one. And there are other's

spaces, not so full ever,

but not by my choice.

Would have filled those spaces

with love and joys, but it was

not to be, so fragments remain

of lives not shared, scared

people, narrow minds and closed

hearts but I guess none can give

what's not there, so I hold

shards still but these are sharp,

can cut, but time has blunted

them, just old fragments now

that can no longer wound.

And yet, still more, whose spaces

cannot be filled by any other,

for they departed suddenly,

in pain, wounded to the core

as they closed the door on life

and took their leave. I recall

lovely shards, but such sad ones

too. I dwell not for too long

on these fragments for life

moves on, and time heals, and love

proclaims victory as the spaces

get filled with tender thoughts,

gentle reminisces, and sad regrets,

but trying hard to clothe all in love

as the years pass, and I grow

older and my precious shards

of lives are held deep within

embraced now in sweet accord.

 

***********

 

A Hard Day's Work

 

At the end of a day when hard work

has been the order of the day,

there's satisfaction to be had

in a way not achieved if it has been

just a lazy, laid back day.

 

Though muscles might ache and the body

complain, and it's a relief to rest,

when you look at the work

that has been done, then you can say,

with certainty, it's been a good day.

 

Now, when evening has come,

and you're tired out but content, you stop

and take a well earned rest,

knowing that, tomorrow, there's more

to be done, but for today, there's none.

 

When you finally lay your head down,

and sleep comes quickly, you know

the night will ease the muscles,

take away the body's odd ache and pain,

to wake in the morning ready to go again.

 

So, whether young or old, a hard day's work

should make you pleased you're able

to do what some cannot do, and take

time to ensure that you pace yourself well

for there's always more to be done.

 

******

 

In the still of the night

 

In the still of the night when sleep won't come,

I lie with persistent thoughts rolling round my brain,

and it seems as if I'm in a loop, one that won't stop,

with no resolution, round and round it goes

like a carousel, but no merry music playing here,

and, so, with resignation, I rise, sleepy eyed,

make myself a cup of tea with biscuits

for comfort, and turn on the radio.

Why I would want to hear about the world,

I do not know, but there we go, it's not going away,

I let it in, interviews with a hungry woman,

in some distant land in Africa , war torn,

in the midst of famine, and she has six children

in tow, and I lie in my comfortable bed

contemplating that she and I are here

and now on the same planet but worlds apart

forever, no meeting point, no shared experience.

She has walked for days, had no meat for a year,

no man to share her life now, and I have food

enough to last me a year, and then I hear

of massacres, and murders, and terrorism,

and all the while I think why don't I turn it off,

but I leave it on, droning away its gloomy

messages of woe, and, maybe, I leave it on

because it reminds me how grateful I should be,

where inequality is so blatant, and I have no worries

to speak of, apart from a night like this when

I can't sleep, and so I pick up my book and read

until my eyes won't stay open anymore, and,

finally, I drop off and escape from the loop

that kept me awake so long, and from the doom

and gloom I've heard until I awake once more

in my own cosy, secure world, and wonder sleepily

about the woman and her six children now

in Ethiopia , and how she'll fare today or tomorrow,

then I rise with a cup of tea and the sun shines

into my room and I know that life has been good to me.

 

*************

 

The Race

 

A touch of weariness in the bones today,

but from a pleasurable day nonetheless.

As years pass by, the slowing down

becomes perceptible, and irreversible.

Time and entropy has its way, and no matter

how hard we try, the body will have its say,

you can go so far and no further each day,

and we know it speaks the truth, for time

and entropy catches up with each of us.

 

And so the hare becomes the tortoise

in the end, a step at a time, but still time

to do lots of things, only at a slower pace.

Now the mind must catch up with this reality,

and persuade itself it's no longer twenty

something and raring to go, full of energy

and verve. Now, it's more likely the body,

after an hour or two's exertion, needs a rest.

 

So best get mind and body in accord, and accept

that the hare has become a tortoise, who,

according to the tale, won in the end.

A fitting finale for a story of age versus youth,

written by a sage of long ago, and relevant now

in this world when so many are trying to find

perpetual youth, and discovering it really

doesn't exist. It's been a long journey

but I just embraced the tortoise, kissed the hare

goodbye, and look forward to moving more slowly

through time now I've abandoned the race.

 

**********

 

A World unravelling

 

A world unravelling, before eyes

wanting to see change for the better

but seeing none. Insecurity and paranoia

manipulated, be afraid, be very afraid,

we'll protect you. When did I request

protection? Better by far to leave

it to the people to decide what to do.

They'll chose what's best for them

and it's not war, it's not crushing

an ‘enemy'. It's living in peace,

getting on with their lives, having fun,

and working, providing for a family,

or families, enjoying the children,

wanting them to grow up to inherit

a world better than it is now, but

no chance with the manipulators

in control, those who would steer

people to believe immanent danger

is all around. That the stranger

is dangerous, the foreigner out to get

us, and all the while, at the grass roots,

people want nothing more than

to live in peace, to eat, drink and play,

and try to live as long as possible

one way or another. A dream maybe,

that people are that way in reality.

It's a hope. If there's none, I'll retreat,

close the door and live my life

for me, for my family, and, at the end,

I'll say, the hope is there but buried

now so deep, for I discovered people

at the grass roots just don't care,

so long as they can work and play,

and if the wars don't affect them

in any meaningful way, they'll say,

let them get on with protecting us

if that's what turns them on, and

then, one day, they might wake up

to find the world has gone, it went

up in smoke before eyes that never

saw it coming, and I'll be gone before

that ever happens, that's my hope.

 

*************

 

The One

 

Turn softly lest you disturb the one,

the one who walks beside you.

Not a ghost, nor a guardian,

but one who knows you through

and through, it is your self.

 

Walk with your self in peace

for too many are in conflict

with their selves, no peace

for them, at war always but why,

what ails them, it is ignorance.

 

To know your self is disturbing,

to see your self in the light,

no concealment, is to become

aware how small and insignificant

we truly are, but wondrous too.

 

For in the knowing comes acceptance,

in the acceptance comes compassion,

and, in the compassion for your self,

you see the other selves so clearly,

fragile, vulnerable, just like your self.

 

***********

 

Season's Greetings

 

There is exuberance in the air,

a sense of becoming, a yearning

to bring to be new birth, when

steps grow light and spirits soar.

When the sun gives warmth once more,

and all the plants and trees respond

with alacrity, blooming in exaltation

when the earth goes through

its annual resurrection. And we, we

walk with a sense of freedom,

unburdened now by Winter's cold.

Our bodies buoyant in the glow

of a joyful sun, and embracing the day

when Spring celebrates its release,

and sweeps dismal times away.

And, in the azure sky, blueness

brushed with feather clouds

sends messages to earth of times

of pleasure, of leisure and of mirth

when the earth and all of life

greets the fecundity of the soil

with awe and wonder, for though

each year the season brings

to birth new life, its reappearance

never ceases to move our hearts

and minds to thoughts profound,

and gratitude for all the beauty

now in abundance all around.

 

**************

 

Patterns

 

Patterns crisscross the Universe,

applicable to all, linking everything

into a wondrous and awesome whole.

A network at a quantum level

binds all things together,

entangling one and all, and

nothing is without cause and effect,

nothing without consequence,

nothing is left out. The merest

inhalation affects the whole,

a touch reaches to the ends

of the Universe like a telephone

call. And everything works in tandem,

with the dark and light co-operating,

impregnating worlds with sentient

beings for what lies hidden

will be revealed, no secret sealed,

as sentient life forms grow,

expanding consciousness ever out

to know reality, no superiority,

all with a purpose, a part to play

in the cosmic interplay to hold

a perfect balance between entropy

and new life, energy's primal urge,

replication, evolution, transcendence,

and, eventual, absorption. No waste,

no loss, a consummation by the Universe

of its integral parts, and exultation

in being, for no thing that is, is

without worth, purpose or the primary

imperative to thrive, prosper and

reproduce, and ultimately, to survive,

be it in within the defined limits

of matter, or spread across the patterns

crisscrossing the Universe linking

all into a wondrous and awesome whole.

 

******************

 

A Horse's Head

 

A horse's head in stainless steel,

it sits quietly with little appeal,

abandoned long ago, it rests

on a rusting pole, a thing of jests,

where kids play hide and seek

down by the waste strewn creek

amongst the derelicts and tramps

where many have set up their camps.

A place to wash, to be left alone,

and there their tales they intone,

not least the story of the horse

whose head is a tour de force,

a replica of those who once ran

wild and free, but no longer can,

for there are few horses left to run,

like many creatures under the sun.

 

And sometimes, the kids sit still

if, and when, they have the will

to stop and take a break from play,

the last remnant of fun left today

for the remaining young to do,

now that there are so very few.

And a horse's head in stainless steel

sits quietly in a world where none feel

much at all since the last great war,

and there's nothing much left anymore,

other than to try to survive

and sit and wait for help to arrive.

 

*************

 

Like a magnet

 

Ah, how like a magnet powerful and clear

the light draws me with clarion call, sunshine

through the window pane, a cloudless sky

and I'm held fast, I dare not venture out

quite yet, sick of body, but more of mind

for staying in when the sun shines bright

is more than I can bear. All I am longs

to be out, and I sigh deep, maybe tomorrow

we'll see, and then, I know, there will be

cloud, and the sun will hide its face

just to spite me, though I know that's untrue,

the Universe is kindly with its sharing

of the sun when necessary, so, with remorse,

I bend my head to ask forgiveness of the Universe

for careless words uttered without thought,

born of frustration at being sat here and viewing

the beauty of a day when going out is unwise

to a great degree, so will exercise patience,

a virtue, I'm not familiar with at all

or ever have been, but I suspect age

will finally force it upon me as I slow down

in time and space, but, until then, I'll sit

clothed in deep frustration, impatient

to be well again and out in the bright sunlit

days again, and now it's Spring, even more so,

for now, the year begins in earnest, and all

my hopes for the coming year will seek

fulfillment, and, right now, I have so many

to work through. They will take me right

up to the end of Autumn, and then Winter

will encase me in its arms and I'll hibernate

again, closing doors and sitting by the window

viewing its icy grip and bitter winds, and then

I'll be so grateful to be inside once more.

 

****************

 

A New Look

 

Start the Spring with a new look

that's written in my book

of things to do, a desire still

but moving closer to I will,

though there's always a danger

I'll look and see a stranger,

one I don't recognize and uncertain

whether I now need a curtain

to hide behind should someone

come near and see what's been done.

Oh, the desire to be youthful

but I just have to be truthful,

I'm not, I'm now well into the 3 rd age,

something I should be able to manage

with grace, but I really don't want to,

I'm going to do what I want to do,

and that's change my look,

I've written it in my book,

and that's it, I'm going to grow

my hair a bit longer, then I'll go

and book an appointment,

to avoid much disappointment,

with a hairdresser I trust,

because that's a huge must

when revamping your hairstyle,

after all it's been a while.

So watch this space, it might be

a fright or good, we'll have to see

what this new look will do

for me, hope I don't rue

the day this urge struck home,

now where's my comb,

need to do something with the locks

I've got as the clock tick tocks, tick tocks.

 

***************

 

Winter's Trees

 

Spider's webs of branches

form Winter's trees, black

against blue skies, or sunsets

of red and gold, or grey against

a cloud filled sky, networks

crisscrossing, like human lungs

breathing in and out, and,

in the silent moments of early

morning, the sound is heard

of the earth inhaling and

exhaling as the living planet

moves in one vast sigh

to awaken and greet the sun.

And the Winter trees still

leafless, but sensing now

the onset of new life within,

derive energy wherever

they can to bring forth buds,

but not quite yet, though

some have flowered, leaves

are yet to come, and, when

they do, the spider's webs

of branches will disappear

beneath a cloak of green,

purple, pink or variegated

colours as the leaves burst

forth, and the mists now

present in the late afternoon

will cease to be in the warmth

of the new Spring time so near

now but not quite yet, and

I can wait for two more days

then bid Winter farewell

for another year, and greet

with joy the advent of Spring

and the birth of a new year.

 

***************

 

The River of Life

 

Walking amongst teeming crowds

on left, on right, behind and in front.

A ceaseless flow of human life,

a dance to avoid collisions, conflict,

courtesy of sorts, but bags are unaware

of that, sharp ones, big ones, heavy

and onerous ones, they're carried

like trophies by some, like weapons

by others, and yet still more struggling

beneath their weight of purchases

made by stealth, by sheer will power

to reach the stand, surrounded

by throngs of shoppers each vying

for a particular item hurriedly shoved

into a trolley then hauled to the next

stand, and the process begins again,

everything to gain, a bargain, can't

be lost, a must, and the river of humans

flows in never ended streams down

escalators and up once more, paying

at the counter after waiting and waiting

and finally there, and all that's been

bought is now in bags and out into

another river of human beings

as the shoppers join the dance,

dodging and moving, some with grace,

others less so, and, on top, a babble

of Babel resounds like froth fizzling

in and out of ears deafened by buses

and cars as they stop and start

along the roads, and the people pile

on crushed, shoved, pushed but

many polite, rising to give you a seat,

and you take it grateful for courtesy

in a mad, mad world where humans

gather to buy, to sell, to window shop,

and to stop occasionally for coffee

and, maybe, a cake, or pre-packed

sandwich, baguette, or pre-filled

tortilla, and then it's off again to walk,

trying to go with the flow and stay

together in the throng, holding on

to an arm when there's a jam.

But it's alive and strange, exciting

and fascinating, an experience

loathed by some, a delight for others,

but, over all, it's life in a city,

where there's no pity for the slow

or infirm, everything is fast, fast,

fast, because everybody there knows

these days are not going to last,

so it's grab what you can while

you can, and relish the moment

that will never ever come again.

 

*************

 

Nourishment

 

My mind is weary, my body tired,

but I'm not depressed or sad,

in fact, I'm buoyant in my mood,

and well content. My tiredness

comes from a week of walking,

wandering, meandering, strolling

through the city's streets, viewing

sights not seen before, and gazing

in awe at buildings splendid

in their design, and others standing

still after centuries have passed.

They have seen fires, plagues,

wars, and life to the full, but stand

firm refusing to be demolished

or simply fall down. My weariness

comes from seeing artist's of renown

exhibit works both humbling

in their expertise and size, while

I stand amazed at the prodigious

output of each artist over the years.

A stroll through two museums

reveals the depths of human creativity.

In reality, quite wondrous in its

variety and an education in not

despairing that the human species

is doomed to blow itself to smithereens,

if it should forget all these wonders

it has made in such a short space

of time, relatively speaking. For

we've really not been creating

for very long on such a grand scale.

I hold on to the hope that, somewhere

along the line, human beings might

stand still long enough to know

how amazingly creative and gifted

are we when we stop killing each

other in wars, and bloody strife.

It's good sometimes to be weary

in mind, and tired in body, over

an excess of exercise for the brain

and body, contentment permeates

the spirit when nourished by new

discoveries and the great body of art.

 

*********

 

Another Year

 

My welcome mat was covered with brown dry

Autumn leaves, and had cat hairs where one

had slept peaceful in our porch for warmth,

and is gone when we open the door

and peer outside testing the air for whether

it's hot or cold, and retreating back inside

if the latter and well pleased if the former.

Now, I've swept it clean, banged out the mat,

and made the porch more welcoming.

A small Spring clean to welcome the season in.

The cat might return, but the leaves have gone,

and buds are just appearing on the branches,

soon to be green and verdant in the sunlight

of a new season drawing ever near now March

is here. It is the month when I grow older,

another year is added to my life, my history,

full of events, experiences, hopes, joys,

and the inevitable disappointments and pain,

mainly caused by the human inability

to live in peace, and not send the young

off to war to die for political ends, so uncertain

as the time passes of achieving anything

but loss, and further suffering for all concerned.

But, on the other hand, the wonder of this earth

still thrills me, takes my breath away,

and never ceases to amaze me, and I have

to wonder how can so many keep going to war

when surrounded by such beauty that Nature

has weaved for one and all, and spends

its time ensuring the survival of all, not

preferentially, but neutrally, and I know

we'd all do well to take a leaf from Nature's

book and really take a long and in depth look

at what we do to this glorious earth

who brought me to birth within a womb

and allowed me an extra year from then

until now, and, for that, I am most grateful

for it's another year to live, to learn,

to grow, and to exalt in the wonder of being

here amidst such a wondrous home at all.

 

************

 

Stay put or move?

 

Stay put or move, that is the question.

When you've put down roots somewhere,

and are content, there seems no need

to move and search for a new abode,

but you know there'll come a time

when the decision must be made,

when stairs become too much, when

the shops are too far away, when walking

is not easy, or you've simply grown too old

to care for your current abode anymore.

 

Tearing up roots deeply embedded

is painful, familiarity is comforting,

endowing a sense of safety, of security,

and, yet, you know there's something

unavoidable facing you in a future,

drawing ever nearer, that a time

will come when you must drag

those roots up, prune the branches

of your life and discard the excess

as you become aware you have too much.

 

Delaying tactics come into play

as you survey your world built with

love and tender care, a home made

for two, warm and welcoming,

and full of objects gathered over years,

each with a meaning, a significance,

and regarded with affection over time

as essential to your happiness,

but now you know some must go,

you're moving to a smaller home

and there's not room now for everything.

 

One day, you'll awaken and know

the time has come for moving on,

and then the work will begin of honing

your life to fit the new, discarding

what you can bear to leave behind,

and taking with you what needs

be kept for the loss would be too much

for you. And then the search for a new

home will begin, and all its pains

and joys, dashed hopes, headaches,

and frustrations will surface once again.

 

But, for now, you're staying put.

So put away the worries and concerns,

age hasn't withered you enough yet

to make that move, and so you'll rest

content in this abode surrounded

by your objects and your treasures,

and sit in its warm embrace grateful

for having such a place to live

until the day arrives when life

will force you on your way once more,

but, until then, you'll close your door,

to stay contented in your lovely home.

 

************

 

Your Box

 

And now, my child, here's your box.

Explore it, find its height, width and depth,

discover its limits, boundaries

and its place within the world

for, in it, you should stay, it is the way

of the world to fit every single being

into their allotted slot in life, somewhere

safe within its confines, know what can

and can't be done, what should

and shan't be done, and what will

and won't be done, and the one thing

you must learn is not to step outside

your box. Beyond its safe confines

lie untold dangers for the unwary.

The person floating in the world,

for all who abandon their boxes

must float between those in theirs,

never finding a new one for it must

be said, the box you're given when

young is the one you should stay

in until the end. Not exactly like

those of your Mum and Dad, but

near enough so that we'll always

recognize our child, for your aims

will be ours for you, our hopes

the same as yours for you, but,

outside the box, my child, we will

drift away, no longer will we know you,

and all your hopes and dreams

will be alien to us. So don't grieve

us, my child, by leaving this box

carefully constructed for you alone

to live and thrive within this world.

See how grateful we were for our boxes,

I mean, where would we be if we floated

away to be free? We'd be lost, outcast,

and that's no way to be, my child.

So take great care of your box,

and we'll be there for you in ours.

There's nothing wrong with conformity,

you see, without it, there would be

no reality, just plain outright anarchy.

Now, we don't want that, do we?

 

********

 

The Third Eye

 

Try as we might we can't see in the night,

our eyes were made for seeing in the light.

In contemplation, our outer eyes retire

to sleep, then our inner eye awakens

to begin its vigil, seeing what's concealed,

discerning what, in the light, is passed by,

sometimes, of no significant consequence,

but, on occasions, of relevance in every sense.

A strange thing is our third eye, the inner world

so often forgotten by many or ignored as absurd.

It's there for sure, a guardian, a protector,

a sentry at the gate of wisdom, of enlightenment.

An eye that magnifies the small so easily missed,

of great import, to open up a world inside

each and every one, where secrets reside,

hidden treasures, ancient wisdom dormant

for centuries through lack of use, but will rise

again if sought, and seen by those whose third eye

is wakened from its sleep to burst forth

into the light, and open wide its treasures

over time, for few can bear too much too soon.

 

Not other worldly in their content, but from here,

this world, this Universe, the reality that we are,

too much to bear too soon, and so in tiny portions

the inner eye reveals in cautious regard

for minds closed off for so very long, the why,

the how and the what we are, and all creation

observes in silent apprehension lest the mind

should turn away, full of fear and consternation,

and, in so doing, cut off the connectedness of the all

as it erects a wall, shutting out the reality

of existence in time, matter and space as

it returns to the world outside, preferring

the empty chatter all around for there it feels

it's on safe ground, but, the truth is, it's lost,

for in the cutting off its inner eye, it's blind,

and will never see how precious is that gift,

given to one and all from the moment of birth

to the instant of death, the guardian, protector

and sentry who stands at the gates of wisdom,

of enlightenment ready to open it to all who call.

 

**********

 

A Time of Mist

 

When a mist envelops your mind

and deadens all around, you sit

wondering why, and when and how

could such a mist arise from ground

once seen as solid now amorphous

beneath your feet, making all seem

nebulous and unreal. Distant memories

are lost within its ethereal grasp,

only recent stay, and even they appear

insubstantial to the touch.

It is a time of deep uncertainty,

when an air of unreality settles on you,

not invited, but more invaded,

and time changes to drag so slowly

as you wander lost for a time

in a maze of mist laden alleys,

back roads, and long forgotten paths

you scarce remember taking,

but now recall with a clarity

undesired and yet, perhaps, needed

for, in them, something of relevance

occurred that made you who you are

today. Troubled by a disturbing sense

of something there behind your eyes

not seen but of which you are aware,

and, suddenly, it surfaces in the mist

to show you what you would not see

and now must. Not a sign of madness,

but of the mind seeking to undo

harm caused by the forgetting,

or burying, now needed to be

remembered, faced and accepted

as momentous, life changing,

and, then, when the mist has lifted

you will be renewed, restored,

refreshed for what was sitting

behind your eyes is free, not

chaining you, detaining you

or confusing you. The time of mist

can seem deadly but, in its grasp,

the forgotten is found and faced,

and you are made whole again

when it has lifted, seeing clearly

for the first time perhaps, how

distorted was your previous view

of your life and your own

fragile sense of reality.

 

*************

 

Adages, sayings and pithy verses

 

A treasure inside is a pleasure outside,

to seek and find is food for the mind.

There are sayings to enlighten, to teach,

to chastise, to provoke and to preach.

All of them written, not as a joke,

but in all seriousness to spur the reader

to think, to ponder, to consider

their lives, their existence, the world,

and to hope the thoughts contained

will enable insights to be unfurled

in minds previously ignorant,

or not given to contemplation,

and definitely not to meditation.

 

Through the ages, sages have written

adages, sayings and pithy verses.

Probably hoping to cause reverses

in the reader's mind, or giving food

for thought, to chew upon, digest

and, ultimately, have a good brood

on what they could possibly mean

because not always clearly seen.

Whether they do have that effect

is hard to say when viewing people

today, most of whom would reject

such sayings as having much worth,

but there's always hope, it's said,

with every newborn on this earth.

 

All that can be said in the end,

is wisdom might have to descend

into the darkness for a while,

but, sooner or later, it must return

after idiocy has gone out of style.

Right now, across this glorious planet,

a torrent of crassness creeps

covering this world with a gamut

of specious, futile, empty pursuits,

the hope is boredom will grow

to a point eventually when people

will demand more, they'll want to know

the when, the why and the how.

 

On that day, adages, sayings,

and pithy verses will rise again,

and the people will learn

that wisdom is timeless, but oh

so slow to take root in the main

because seems so serious all the time,

but really it's not, it's the path

to lightness of spirit and of play,

for, with it, the world is renewed

each and every passing day.

 

***************

 

A Grain of Sand

 

A grain of sand, an irritant, an itch

that won't go away, lying in a soft

bed, moist and cosy, and annoying

every day until, at last, a coating

covers that scratching grain, and

a pearl is born when the oyster

creates a gem from its secretions,

considered precious by humans.

This, then, is not a happy solution

for the oyster. Alas, the grain of sand

kills it in the end. And yet, humans

say the whole world is your oyster

when setting the young on their way.

Implying what I have to wonder,

a saying that has made me ponder.

 

Is the whole world like a grain of sand?

Or, is it like the oyster and the young

the grain of sand in its soft mantle?

Or, as a poet proposed, ‘if you can see

the whole world in a grain of sand'.

Perhaps, that's the reason why we send

our young out with this strange

reference to a shelled mollusc

from the ocean bed, who spends

its life trying hard to rid itself

of a piece of grit now lodged

within its soft interior, and often

ends up dead through the presence

of a much sought after wild pearl.

 

Perhaps the young are sent forth

with the world as their oyster, one day

to become pearls, precious, unique,

and perfectly formed, so a fitting

reference then in the end, but still

an imponderable one in my mind,

because it does imply all start off

as a grain of sand, and makes me

wonder how many become pearls

in the end, if so rare in the world,

it's a hard message to convey,

containing a hope but not the reality.

Maybe most of the grains of sand

find a space to see that deep

within each of them, a whole world

exists, as precious and unique

as any wild pearl that's perfectly formed.

 

***************

 

Art

 

A desire to create, to make something new,

not a gift innate perhaps, but needs

drawing out, nurturing and a skill honed,

lessons learned, and you have an artist…

Maybe…art is a personal expression of what?

An inner reality perceived by a person

with an ability to put paint on canvas,

to sculpt images, to manipulate spaces,

to make videos, to take photographs

or to use their own selves for display,

but all are essentially at play when creating.

 

It is those who have kept hold of the child

within, whose minds are not closed off,

imprisoned by responsibilities, by the world

of adults demanding conformity, and yet

there's no escaping the need to survive,

to earn a wage, to make a living, and be

in this world, but not necessarily of it.

No easy path for anybody to choose.

Each work lays open their selves, and,

if not, it's not art but décor. A path

to making a living, pretty pictures

to adorn walls where nothing disturbing

must upset the ambience or the colour scheme.

 

The death of art is the painter of such scenes

as please the eye, change no perspectives,

leave all the same, and blend with consummate

ease into the background without a murmur.

The polite work of art, and, all the while,

the phoney, the pretender, the one suffering

under the delusion that their work

is special, misunderstood, or just plain brilliant

so incomprehensible to those who matter.

These add to the world of art a layer

of dross when somebody with more money

than sense sees a way of selling a piece

and, suddenly, a pretender becomes okay,

they're on their way, and the people acclaim

them while artists outside the wall gaze

with bewilderment and confusion for the absence

of content, of meaning or any value rouses

ire, and a sudden desire to burn their work

because pointless creating any more if this

is what passes as fine, they might as well

retire and take up decorating. Painting walls

has to be more useful than what they have

struggled to express for decades or more.

 

And so, what of the artist is a world where

the shallow, the hollow, the bizarre is valued

more than content or skill, and is so far beyond

the comprehension of all but sycophants,

acritic or two, and a gallery owner

trying to find the one who's totally new.

Well most will wither away or paint just

for themselves until they finally decide

to call it a day, and pack their brushes,

their tools, their videos, or cameras away,

and find an alternative way to express

what's inside, and to keep their child alive.

 

************

 

Down at the bottom

 

Standing in the rain, feeling down and blue,

a heap load of troubles all of them undue.

Once I had it all, a job, a home, a family,

and now, it seems, I've lost all three.

First of all, I lost my job, which was a blow

and, in my darkest moment, really laid me low.

Then I looked for another but none came my way

until it suddenly struck me the bills I couldn't pay.

What I was getting on the dole was far too low

and my family's distress just added to my woe.

The mortgage ran into arrears and the house went,

then my wife left when our last money was spent,

and I haven't seen my kids or her for a year now

I don't see that I could blame her anyhow.

I was so hard to live with as the month's passed

and nobody wanted my skills until at last

I got so mad I was afraid I'd hurt them in the end,

so it was best they left before I went round the bend.

Now, I'm on the streets, taking shelter where I can,

my life it seems has just gone straight down the pan.

If you could have told me a year or two ago,

that I'd lose everything in one foul blow,

I'd have told them to get lost, we were doing fine,

but didn't take into consideration the thieving swine.

They, who robbed us blind, and now we've got to pay,

and I can't bloody see why it has be this way.

It wasn't me who gambled away our money,

It was the bankerss who have given me all this worry,

and who are still rich and their lives are still all right,

while, the likes of me, our lives are just plain shite.

I'm cold standing in the rain, feeling down and blue,

need to have something good to lift me, I'll take a pew

under the bridges with others like me and drink,

only street brew, it's cheap, and helps me not to think.

 

************

 

A Fine Line

 

A fine line was drawn in the sand,

so thin it seemed barely there,

but it was still clear, go up to here,

but go no further, a limit, a boundary,

not to be crossed, both sides

can stare at one another, eyeball

to eyeball if they wish, but neither

can cross the line, now set in stone,

a division established now for perpetuity

it said, as both sides signed the peace treaty,

hiding their true feelings deep inside

lest the cameras see, or an observant

onlooker notices the loathing in their eyes

for the peacemaker by their side.

Blood has been shed by both adversaries,

too much to forgive, too much pain

and anguish for dead relatives and friends,

for brothers and sisters in arms,

for all the torture, imprisonment,

the destruction of homes, towns, cities,

a growth industry, the undertakers,

the cemeteries spread where once parks

stood, and so many unmarked graves,

a name on a stick, if that, to recall the dead,

and now, the end has come, the old has gone,

the new is heralded in, but old faces

still appear, familiar figures rise to welcome

the end of hostilities, of war, who once

when, in the thick of things, rallied the people,

spurred them to fight, tested their loyalty,

and now, with hands washed clean, they

seem to have the power to stay simply

on the grounds there are none who know

how to govern anymore, or have any idea

what's in store now peace has come,

the old has gone, and the people

need guidance to bring in the new,

and a fine line is drawn in the sand

as the ink dries, so thin it seems barely there,

but it is still clear, go up to here,

but go no further, a limit, a boundary

now set in stone, a peace treaty signed

it said, for perpetuity and the beginning

of a momentous era in two peoples' history.

 

************

 

 

Fashion trends

 

Electric Blue to light the new,

Shocking Pink to make you blink,

Luminous Green to brighten the scene,

Pillarbox Red to knock you dead

Lemon Yellow that's never mellow

Glowing White to give you a fright,

Impenetrable Black to give you a whack,

all colours used to enhance the Arts,

Pop Art leapt from the page,

the canvas, the clothes, searing

eyes with the intensity of their glow.

A blow to the pigments of the past,

but now passé, too unsubtle,

a blast of the senses that had their day,

now laid to rest and out of the way.

 

Today, subtly is the in thing,

intricacy of blended shades of browns,

greys, orange, and muted blues.

Gone the flamboyant ways, the days

when psychedelics were au fait,

dated now and laid to rest, best

to keep abreast with what's on the scene,

then forget all about them

for you know you're going to wear

the same old clothes you've worn

before, lots of black, grey, brown

and a bit of blue, but mostly

nothing like the fashions today.

 

Oh, well, as we say when going grey,

wear what you like, what you're

comfortable in, and leave the stage

to the young, who, oddly enough,

rarely wear a thing that seen

on the cat walk. They stay on the models,

so waifer thin they'd slip through

a crack in the pavements nowadays.

Not the best advert for clothes

to be worn by ordinary folk,

basically most are a real joke,

and the prices out of this world.

 

Most of us stick to what we've got

in our wardrobes. Those fashions

come round every few years we know

so why bother to buy the new.

Ours will come back and we'll strut

our stuff knowing what's sold us

as new is really regurgitated

from the past, only served up

as the latest thing, then go back

to our everyday gear happy

to have been briefly wearing

the in thing, even if smelling

faintly of moth balls combined

with a few well concealed holes.

 

*************

 

Truth

 

Buried deep inside the mass of words

lies the truth, but oh so difficult to discern.

Drowned out by manipulation of the facts,

by subterfuge, by incomprehension,

by a multiplicity of opinions, thoughts,

solutions, ideas, and, in the midst,

the casualty is the truth, the reality

behind the verbiage that spills like

the runs from bad food onto pages,

screens, televisions and computers

confusing most who try to make out

what it means for them personally,

and can find little in it defining,

or refining, really why they should

be concerned, or anxious, or even

care what happens on foreign soil,

when, in their own land, verbiage

flows as fast as any elsewhere.

 

And the people struggle beneath

an avalanche of words designed

deliberately to make it hard

to understand lest the worst

scenario should happen and that is,

the truth should be revealed.

That is undesirable, inconvenient,

positively dangerous, full of perils,

perceived and unforeseen, necessitating

the need for manipulation, subterfuge,

and the reassurance that the truth

is hidden, buried, won't see the light

of day, what would the people say

if they glimpsed for an instant

the reality that lies behind the words.

The one thing that's for certain,

they wouldn't believe it, but still

it's best to bury it in a mass of words.

 

Truth has never been popular,

and, if the truth be known, at best,

there are very few indeed who really

know what it means at all, for all

most people know, everything

is a lie, and reality is very hard

to discern beneath the multitude

of ideas, opinions and theories

that abound, and with every

single birth, there are more and more

to join the throng trying to discern

the truth, and most of them will reach

conclusions that are definitely wrong.

 

*************

 

The Captain

 

Riding low on the waves, cargo hold full,

with the wind in its sails, the ship heaves

steady as she goes, and the crew responds

to her demands while the captain on the deck

respects the sounds of the wood, the masts,

the seals, sees the men work a rhythm

as she moves through the waters, his pride

and mastery constantly put to the test,

his purpose to deliver goods from port

to port, combating the weather, the tides,

the unforeseen events that will occur,

and bring all safely home to their own shore.

 

And on the broad ocean, he watches the sun

set, red and pink and gold, and knows

the morn should bring fine weather once

again, and retires to his cabin for a rest,

while his crew take a well earned break

and the night watch will arrive to serve

the ship and all her needs as dark descends.

A journey made before and will do so again

providing care is taken, rules observed,

discipline kept and he is fastidiously

careful to follow his charts, note the sky,

the stars and know the route by heart.

 

Gulls overhead circle the ship, land ahoy

is called from the crow's nest on high,

and the crew let out a cheer of satisfaction

for leave will be theirs soon, and the port's

pleasures theirs for the taking, and the ship

obeys them as they lower sails to glide

with consummate grace into the docks

to disgorge their cargo, all safe and sound.

The captain guides them in, watching

merchants milling on the shore eagerly

awaiting their goods, their livelihoods

in his hands and in the belly of his ship.

 

The sun here is hot, the air dusty, life

is rife in every corner of this bustling,

bristling, burgeoning port when the captain

steps ashore, part of his goal achieved,

and now to take on goods for home,

to turn his ship and crew homeward

bound, with cargo hold full once more,

but, for now, a time for rest, to find

his land legs briefly for a while,

and seek out his love he left behind

upon this foreign shore, and hold his son

and her in a warm, long missed embrace.

 

So short the time he has to spend

with them, the captain knows for sure

that part of him remains forever here,

but is only too aware he must leave

them every time behind for they belong

here, not in his world, and at home

he has another family of his own,

and so, with heavy heart, he watches

them upon the dock wave tearfully

farewell, and knows it will be four

or even five years, if ever, before he'll step

foot once more upon this distant shore.

 

And, as he surely must, he looks away,

his ship his mistress now, only too aware

distractions endanger all, and so with the sails

billowing in a good wind and all's set fair,

once more low in the water, she flies

over the ocean waves as if eager

to be home again, and thus it will be

barring storms, doldrums and pirates,

some of the many hazards of the high seas,

and the captain's heart leaps for he knows

he truly has one love and it is his ship

on the oceans wide, one love he cannot hide.

 

***************

 

A Bond

 

I hold you in my arms from afar,

trying not to create a scenario

of horror, of loss, for once before

it happened, and each time now

my world turns on a pinhead

from happiness to fear when

memories stir, best pushed away

for they are too painful here,

and not appropriate, but still

Love makes of me a fool,

for I cannot keep control

of all that rises up and threatens

to overwhelm me when

the imagination works overtime,

and you are ill, are suffering,

and I, helpless, from afar

can only be there for you,

a comforting voice, a heart

embracing all that you are,

and hope, with all I am,

you will recover and again

be strong, fit, and your life

turns once more to happiness

for you, and, in so doing so,

brings happiness back to me.

Bonds in time and space,

unbreakable through everything

that might destroy, bring

crashing down, but always

built up again, for love is blind,

seeing faults, but not counting

them, always wanting only

one thing, your happiness,

a long life for you, and I will

have joy and contentment

in my own, and the pain

will be the measure of it

for you cannot have one

without the other, the yardstick

of love that, in the end,

conquers all, and treasures

another through all times forever.

 

***********

 

Overwhelmed

 

How easy to get lost amidst billions,

though just as easy amidst millions,

or even amidst a few hundred,

but, now, most feel stranded

amidst a few dozen or so,

something unknown not long ago.

Once, in the fairly recent past,

there were communities held fast

by common means, goals and class

who stuck together en masse,

noticed if someone was ailing,

or somebody around was failing,

and offered a helping hand,

taking the time to understand

another's plight or state of mind,

because familiarity can bind

people together, but that's changed.

Now neighbours are mostly estranged,

particularly in the big cities,

where indigenous mix with minorities

in a cocktail of styles of living,

some strange, others forbidding,

and all rarely mixing or knowing

what others think, and keeping

your head down is the modern thing

for fear of provoking anything

risky, dangerous or untoward.

So there's little progress forward

in breaking barriers, and reaching out.

Now, many people maintain doubt

that creating communities again

would bring anything but pain,

being overwhelmed by the size

of the world outside, believe it wise

to keep just a few close friends

amidst the billions, bucking the trends

suggesting we're now a global village.

We might be, but the general message

is, this is a village made up of strangers,

and, in there, lie the dangers.

The closeness is illusion, the reality

is exclusion, isolation and a propensity

to escape into fantasy where what's real

is questionable, what's true is surreal,

and the inability to see that humans

must meet, not in virtual substitutions,

but in the world outside, otherwise

we're all in danger of giving rise

to humans unable to communicate

unless sitting at a screen, and eliminate

a whole part of our hard won humanity

as we get lost in the world of virtual reality.

 

*************

 

The Will to Be

 

The will to be permeates all life,

pure energy surging through the world,

the Universe and wherever evolution

can occur, the desire to take on form,

a driving force that impels all before it

to shape and re-shape every living being,

every sentient brain to invent the new,

to progress through time and space

in a race against time's endless urge

to destroy, to end life through entropy,

to make way for more, not of the same,

but adaptations, deviations, mutations,

until none resemble the original,

the biological slime that oozed

the building bricks of shape and form

and made a world where life could survive,

where the will to be had a chance,

an opportunity to expand, to spread,

to overcome odds stacked against

such an event, and pure energy danced

with glee for here was a place, in time

and space where it could experiment,

perform tests, eliminate its failures,

expand its successes and, then wipe

all out, and start all over again

with the barest few. A wondrous game,

to give it a name, the player, a world

unseen by the naked eye, bringing

into being the new, the exciting, the dreary,

the beautiful, the ugly, hosts feeding

upon host, a dinner table of beings

all consuming the other in order

to have being. What a strange system,

a barbarous one, but done without malice,

no spite, simply a way to ensure continuation,

evolution, a way of escaping the ravages

of time in an allotted space, clothed in matter

for a while, some so briefly and others

so long, but all designed with life

in mind, so many, each a different kind,

as the will to be permeates all life,

and will ever be, so long as the ground

is capable of such prodigious fertility,

the game will continue, endless

in its pursuit of variation through evolution,

and accepting over and over again

the terrible inevitability of endless dissolution.

 

***************

 

Overwhelmed

 

How easy to get lost amidst billions,

though just as easy amidst millions,

or even amidst a few hundred,

but, now, most feel stranded

amidst a few dozen or so,

something unknown not long ago.

Once, in the fairly recent past,

there were communities held fast

by common means, goals and class

who stuck together en masse,

noticed if someone was ailing,

or somebody around was failing,

and offered a helping hand,

taking the time to understand

another's plight or state of mind,

because familiarity can bind

people together, but that's changed.

Now neighbours are mostly estranged,

particularly in the big cities,

where indigenous mix with minorities

in a cocktail of styles of living,

some strange, others forbidding,

and all rarely mixing or knowing

what others think, and keeping

your head down is the modern thing

for fear of provoking anything

risky, dangerous or untoward.

So there's little progress forward

in breaking barriers, and reaching out.

Now, many people maintain doubt

that creating communities again

would bring anything but pain,

being overwhelmed by the size

of the world outside, believe it wise

to keep just a few close friends

amidst the billions, bucking the trends

suggesting we're now a global village.

We might be, but the general message

is, this is a village made up of strangers,

and, in there, lie the dangers.

The closeness is illusion, the reality

is exclusion, isolation and a propensity

to escape into fantasy where what's real

is questionable, what's true is surreal,

and the inability to see that humans

must meet, not in virtual substitutions,

but in the world outside, otherwise

we're all in danger of giving rise

to humans unable to communicate

unless sitting at a screen, and eliminate

a whole part of our hard won humanity

as we get lost in the world of virtual reality.

 

*************

 

A tribute

 

A voice smooth as liquid honey,

the once lovely face now drawn,

no more the camellia in her hair

as she sits clasping the mike

in her hand, quieting its shaking

from her drug addiction, but still

the voice, mellifluous and magical,

can turn the hardest hearts from ice

to soft as cream, a melancholy

sound that sings of loves long gone,

of pain of loss and loneliness,

and no disputing the voice

is instantly known and loved

by millions across the world

long after she's gone, a victim

of her fame, another among

many, but, unlike others, she lives

on, and barely needs a single note

for all to say Billie lives, she'll

not die so long as her songs

are played and heard through

the decades. I hear her dulcet

tones right now, faint in the distance

from another room, the queen

of melancholic, beautiful songs,

straight from a heart like most

that longed for love and lost

then turned to heroin for peace

to quieten her mind, still her heart,

and give her just a bit of space

to sing again and bring joy

to those who loved her from afar,

but could do nothing to ease

her pain writ large across her face

as she sat holding a mike in her hand,

and crooning magnificently for us all,

the beautiful still Lady Day.

 

************

 

Sweet Lies

 

Oh the sweet lies that drip like nectar

from your tongue, I would hear them

o'er and o'er again, cobweb spun

their threads around me weave

a robe of such fine colours and design

I know too well to flatter and seduce,

but I care not for so few would see

me thus, and, in the rainbow hues,

you praise me, persuade me until

I dare to believe I'm so fair of face,

and so gracefully composed in body,

with hair of sunlit gold that all

who come across me at my feet

would kneel, and it is such pleasure

to hold for just a brief time the dream

that I am all these beauteous things

and more, but I have a mirror

that speaks the truth. Alas, I see

the reality that is me, and what you see

is fantasy, illusion, wondrous as it is,

all lies, though sweet as nectar they be,

nonetheless cannot match the glass

that says, ‘see, this is the reality'

and were you not intent on continuing

this strange dance with me, I would

weep for I am plain of face, no shapely

form have I, nor gold for hair,

but just light brown more like a mouse

than corn, so I must ask myself,

‘what is it that you seek when you flatter

me? And then I have my answer,

and it is so cruel as to destroy me.

 

You say it's for a wager, to find one so plain

and make her believe herself a beauty,

and then to knock her down, but why

should you tell me thus? And now,

you mock me, Sir, for you say

what was at first untrue, has since

changed you, for you see now a soul

that's sweet and kind, round of form,

gentle of face, and the sheen upon her hair,

gleams with health, and, in the darkness

of your soul, you have rued your wager,

and now forsake it, and beg in humility

forgiveness for such harm you might

have done to me. And how, Sir, can I

believe that what you say is true,

for you have flattered once, why not again

but from another tack. Tis best you take

your leave of me for, though you may

rue your cruelty to me, I can never

believe another word that passes

your lips, however sincere or true.

Begone, Sir, now, for I am worth

more than you could ever know,

and now will never know, but thank you

for, at least, having the courtesy

to reveal the truth to me of this matter.

Perhaps, tis time now to go collect your wager.

 

*************

 

The Dancer

 

Lightly she stepped, her body flirting,

her eyes skirting around the floor

seeking a man, not just any one,

he had to be just right, be okay,

good looking in a boyish way.

Brown or blue eyes, it didn't matter,

good lips, had to have a pair

of kissable lips, of that she was sure

as she made her way around the floor,

she saw him standing there, tall,

casual in his stance, lithe of body,

and, in that moment, she stilled

Time as she moved silently

and with intent over to where he stood

to stand next to him, and gave him

a look that said it all in a single glance,

an invitation to dance. He grinned,

lips half parted, his cigarette jauntily

perched between them as he grasped

her waist and swept her onto the floor,

then, with a cool move, removed

the cigarette, deftly quenched the tip,

and, all the while whirling her

with fluid motion, she moulded

to his body and they became as one.

She, light as a feather, he, leading,

twirled her around, slid her

along the ground, lifted her in the air

with a flare that took her breath away,

and she knew she'd chosen well today.

She lived to dance, her only chance

to escape the boredom of her life,

nothing much to hope for but

to be somebody's wife, but, until then,

she'd dance, forget that she was a nobody,

but, on the floor, she was a queen,

even if for only a brief time, and he,

her king, her partner, so while still

a looker, she chose carefully her man,

ever hoping he might be the one

to sweep her off her feet and offer

her a way out of her present life.

This one would be perfect, she dreamed,

as the music played and she danced

the night away wrapped in a divine reverie.

 

**********

 

A Curse

 

A gift can be a curse when raised up high,

a star placed in the sky, in a firmament

celestial then devoured in bestial fashion

by adoring crowds, the media, and hangers on,

all intent of getting their share of this star,

this fragile being, standing there, life

exposed for viewing, no secrets, no privacy,

tear the flesh away to see what lies beneath,

ignore the bleeding carcass, now let's see

what makes this human so different

from the likes of you and me. It's only

the gift they have to entertain, nothing

more, underneath that, they're mortal,

vulnerable, but scared to death of being

ordinary, of letting anybody see their fear,

their horror of the devouring fans,

the succubus media and the critics

ready to tear them from on high,

to bring them crashing down to earth

when found with drink, drugs, or some other

source of instant relief from being constantly

in the public's eye, spied on, relied on,

fed on, and spat on if brought down from

the sky to lie bleeding at its feet.

 

No mercy for a falling star, some fly

like a comet then burn out with a sigh,

a cry, a scream while others linger long,

glittering for a while until their gift

hangs around their necks, an anchor

drowning them, suffocating them,

no release, no place to hide, no where

for them to go but back into the spotlight.

The fans demand it, their backers too,

all who make their living off their backs

demand it, and, in the end, the weight,

the responsibility of it all wears them down,

and the star falls from the sky to wails

of grief, another one gone they cry,

not realizing their adoration, their demands

took their toll, killed their idol,

far too young, fledgling stars fall

all too often from the firmament

of the heavens, from their pedestal

in the sky so very high, they could not breathe

in such rarified air, cut off from all that's real.

How many more must die to satisfy

the lust for a share in a gift not their own,

a bloody spectacle equal to that of Rome .

 

************

 

A World encapsulated

 

How utterly unique is every life,

a world encapsulated in soft flesh.

Embraced within are thoughts,

dreams, hopes and all sorts of things.

Imagined lives striven for when young,

accepted ones as time passes,

resigned ones when age withers.

All revolving round others in a dance

that began at birth and will, eventually,

end in death, but, in between

are thrills and spills, rough paths

and smooth, hurts and joys,

realities and fantasies, these often

taking their toll when out of kilter.

Finding balance again means

applying a filter to rose tinted spectacles,

initially worn when all is new,

all exciting, scaring too in a world

waiting just for you, or so you think.

But soon find, sadly, it's not true.

The world waits for nobody.

It's there for you to find a niche,

a slot, a place for you to fit into,

squeeze into, elbow your way into,

slide into, mould into. Whatever way

you get into it, from there, you'll be

you, spreading out to get a sense

of what you can do, can try, want,

need, have to offer, and your life

will be one long forward movement

filled with fun, pain, laughter and strife.

 

And, through this all, you'll probably

move time and again, and start

the process of fitting in all over again

until you finally stop and settle,

when you join your world to another.

Another unique life, and, in time,

create a further unique being

like yourself and your beloved other.

And so it goes on, always hoping

it will last, love will last, it will not fail,

but it can, and does, and will.

Then, you must take your unique life

and start all over again, hard as it is,

it's what we do, rise up once more,

buoyed up by hope and the desire

to be loved, and hiding our fragility,

grasp with both hands a new reality,

for life must be lived, embraced,

and shared to have any meaning.

For each of us is a world encapsulated

in soft flesh, utterly unique and alone,

made of the stuff of the stars

and the water of life, so small,

so infinitely small, but, in mind,

so infinitely large, and desiring

one thing, to be made whole.

Seven billion worlds dance on earth,

a chance to bring something

utterly extraordinary to birth,

or stay alone, and small, and unique,

while failing to grasp the hands held out,

or comprehend at all what life

is truly all about, communion

with one another, and the Universe,

who gave us being and a home

to call our own, whispers of its own

desire to be known within its unique

creations encapsulated in soft flesh,

all forever seeking to be loved.

 

************

 

The Two edged Sword

 

Words float in the air soft as sighs,

caress wounds with a healing balm,

inflict harm with savage cuts,

persuade with coercive charm,

soothe with gentle tones,

seduce with silken threads,

abandon without due care,

propose with hope defined,

reject with cold indifference,

flatter with undue deference,

debate with passionate zeal,

commune with sincere hearts,

pray to deities with hope enshrined,

scream abuse when roused to ire,

whisper soft when filled with desire

and, overall, cast words carelessly

on paper, computer screen, on walls,

filling the air with a cacophony of sound

the eyes with stimuli for good or ill,

and rarely see the power behind words,

note the lives destroyed by words,

the people reeling before critics,

before the vindictive, the cruel,

the small minded or the bigot,

and, all the while, the words spill,

spill like a torrent in spate,

covering the world in rhetoric,

lies, cant, hypocrisy, slander and libels.

 

How carefully should words be used,

with reverence, thought and fairness,

not casually thrown in the air,

fear where they land when tossed so,

rarely is seen the damage done,

blind to the hurt imposed,

once said, can never be undone,

no sorrow offered appeases,

for words are as lethal weapons,

deadly in their accuracy,

their aim not to heal but harm.

No blood seeps from wounds,

deep hidden are these inflictions,

forever returning like infections.

 

But words can invoke wonder,

joy, happiness and contentment

in equal measure as those that harm.

Better by far to spread the former

than resort with relish to the latter.

So, when words spill from the mind,

be aware of where the arrow points,

and take care, its head is honey tipped,

not poisoned for such arrows

have a way of returning to the sender,

in double measure, one a treasure,

the other death tipped to be tasted

at the receiver's leisure. Words,

human's greatest gift, and most

deadly weapon, a two edged sword,

this precious gift, the all powerful Word.

 

***********

 

Winter weather

 

Nose out, nose in, it's cold out there!

I stare through the window, wondering,

to stay in or venture out, do I dare

to do the latter, or choose the former?

Probably wiser, but I'm climbing

the walls now, trapped in this house,

warm and cosy as it is, but all of us

need to get out from time to time,

or we'll go stir crazy, grow very grumpy

and bite the heads off anyone around.

Not that they've done anything wrong,

it's just that you need to feel space

around, not walls, it's the human lot

to escape confines, somehow, some way.

But when it's freezing cold outside,

and ice is on the ground, and snow

is falling or sleet to cut your face

is lashing down, and the wind

transfixes you with its frozen touch,

and, as you stare through the window,

you know there's no damned way

you're managing to get out today.

 

With resignation, you turn away

and go back to where you were,

sitting in the chair you've sat in now

day after day, whiling away the time,

and hoping this Siberian blast will go

and you can, at last, open the door

and escape, walk free, breathe

fresh air, and not turn into a lolly

on the spot. Go away, ice cold weather,

you're not welcome any more.

Come back warmth, sunshine

that gives off heat and not like now,

just sits there looking pretty,

but wouldn't warm a witch's titty.

I'm going to talk now to my friends,

and tell them how I'm feeling,

then I won't feel like climbing

up the bloody walls for a while,

and might even, if lucky, raise a smile.

 

*********

 

Farewell to a love

 

How much do I love thee,

Thou, my heart's delight.

Wouldst that I could spend

Each waking hour in your

Sweet company, for no greater

Hope have I ere long will I

Be betrothed to thee and hold

Your dainty hand in mine,

And swear upon the Bible fair

To cherish thee for all your days,

To keep you only as mine own,

To love you from dusk to dawn,

And, though, tis you who swear

To obey me, I, too, swear now

That I will obey thee also,

For I have only heard gentle words

Of wisdom fall from your sweet lips,

And soft teasing when I fail

In some regard, but know

That what you advise is true,

And so will most happily

Obey you, my sweetest love.

And, now, with heartfelt sorrow,

I must take my leave, hold my heart

In yours until the morrow

For then I will be back again

To stand worshipping you,

My heart's delight, so farewell,

A kiss upon your fair cheek

I will place, and, oh bliss,

To receive one back in return.

Now I can fly away on gossamer

Wings for I am so very much

In love with you, and parting

Is such sweet sorrow as the bard

Declared, I'm gone now,

Go back inside lest your beauty

Holds me tight and keeps my feet

Fixed to the spot. Deep sighs,

My love has closed the door,

I must be gone, yes, now,

I really must be gone.

 

************

 

 

Time will tell

 

Time will tell so they say,

tell what I wonder.

I ask but there's no reply.

The silence is ominous,

vacuum packed,

it sits rock like refusing

to comply, no answer

still but why, I ask,

how can you tell me

anything? Has Time

a voice? It's a mystery

I want to find the answer

to, but, if there's a voice,

it's saying nothing.

Tight lipped,

it sits rock like refusing

to comply, patience

running thin, says I,

but still Time won't tell.

It's so frustrating.

You can't torture Time,

cajole Time, bribe Time,

so how do you persuade

Time to tell? I can't tell,

I've tried every trick,

scheme and means

to draw out an answer,

but silence is there,

nothing more, ominous,

vacuum packed,

it sits rock like refusing

to reply, and I have to comply

by staying silent too.

Not easy asking something

without words, Time

has flummoxed me.

I give in, Time will not tell

and those that say it will

are lying, I won't ask again,

I'll just sit here very still,

Time and I as we wait in vain

for me to ask and it to answer,

and no sound breaks the silence,

not even the faintest whisper.

 

*************

 

The first and the last

 

The face was as sweet as sugar pie,

but there was a steely glint in her eye.

She could smile and light a room

making everybody around assume

she had their best interests at heart,

but, inside, she held all apart.

Warmth did not emanate from her,

she was just a consummate actor,

giving all the impression of intimacy

while really what nobody could foresee

was her ruthlessness to get her way

making changes without delay,

and leaving old allies confounded

as she turned away to leave them stranded,

up the river without a paddle

when they didn't accept her in the saddle.

A dominatrix of the first order,

a really powerful ball grinder,

admired by some, feared by others,

hated by many, loved by spinners,

the first and the last for many a year

as she split the land with her veneer

of caring, while busy undoing

all held dear, and ended up destroying

a way of life that had some value

to replace it with something new,

greed is good, and split forever society

into two, those who have and those

who don't, and then created foes

of all the rich and contempt for the poor

who would never get their foot in the door.

A lasting legacy she has bestowed

which has terminated in huge debts owed,

while the rich get richer, and the poor

get poorer, she broke every law

of decency and respect to further

her career as the first female leader

and ensured she'd be the last

for few will risk now another of her cast.

A sad day for women when betrayed

so roundly and cannot now be unmade.

Dancers will gather round her grave

and parties will be held for it was not brave

to destroy the heart of a country

and leave it wide open for every form of robbery.

 

*************

 

The Wind

 

The hills reverberate to the song of the wind

as it dances across them in joyful play,

light on its feet, it cavorts through the forests,

over the valleys, over the peaks and down

the dales. A triumphant, ecstatic game

as it reels and rolls its way over the land

until, sated with its pleasure, it subsides

and, in the quietening, lays down to rest

and lets the hills, forests, valleys and peaks

sleep peaceful for a while. Soon, it will awaken,

and, once again, be on its way, now zephyr,

turning to breeze and on to gust in a single day,

but, high in the sky, the airstream wends its way,

and the prevailing wind that returns each year,

heralds changes, alongside the mistral, monsoon,

and sirocco, each unique in their play, coming

as they do regularly, and greeted with alacrity,

alarm or pleasure. Above the earth, the jetstream

flows, powerful, controlling and influential,

but, the tornado, typhoon, twister, hurricane

or desert sandstorm gives birth to fear, respect,

or awe as the wind turns from play to mischief,

creating havoc in its path as it whirls and twirls

in a crazy dance, its sanity on hold, its exuberance

unchecked, and, all the while, the land holds

its breath, and peoples watch with trepidation

as the wind gathers pace in its crazy mood,

no gentleness here but a touch of wrath,

a desire for mayhem, the urge to create chaos,

and then these too subside, and the zephyr,

breeze and a soft winds reappear as if to appease,

and the hills, forests, valleys and peaks

greet the return of sanity with a deep sigh

of relief as the gentle rustle through the leaves

denotes a time of tranquility for a while.

And the peoples in their cities, towns

and villages come out again, and the breeze

kisses cheeks and flutters hair as it flows

gracefully and at ease through streets

and alleys, and along the long winding highways.

 

************

 

In the realm of Hypnos

 

The night rolled in, dark and languorous,

a shroud of mist its blanket as it turned

from dusk to black with a thin arc of moon

to light its sombre face, and lay back

to breathe out the god of sleep,

Hypnos, across the land to awaken

Morpheus, the god of dreams,

from his slumber for he was one

who can take on any human form

to wander in the minds of Humankind

as reveries, and Hypnos soothes

them in the dark while Morpheus

plays and schemes until the dawn,

when, once again, he will retreat

and Hypnos retires for a while.

 

The night though wrapped in sleep

for some, still has others arising

to greet the dark, and will, in those hours,

sport, mate, hunt and live as those

in the day until the sun returns

to claim his throne, and they lie

down to rest, sated and well pleased

they survived another night,

escaped its dangers and its threats

and, closing their eyes, surrender

to Hypnos and Morpheus in the

daylight hours, for while sleep

is needed, both will rise again

one to becalm, and the other sport.

 

Like father and son, forever bonded,

for sleeping and dreaming

go hand in hand, and Morpheus,

attendant to his god, Hypnos,

in the eyes of some, his real son,

bows in reverence for he takes care

of everything, and enables dreams

to be played out each and every night,

and during the daylight hours.

And the winged daemon, Morpheus,

his true image, flies over the land

drawing one and all into his realm

through two gates, one of sawn ivory,

the other, polished horn. From thence

come dreams, from the first, false,

the second, true, and all should pay heed

to the messages contained within

for one can spread lies and fallacies,

while the other can be prophetic and true.

But none are heeded without a warning,

Gods and goddesses play with humans,

so, while dreams can seem so real,

their contents enthralling and entrancing,

they can so quickly turn to nightmares,

and leave the human diminished

before the dark powers sporting

in the minds of fragile human beings.

 

In wisdom, lay heads down on pillows

aware that, when touched by Hypnos,

Morpheus will follow, and know

that what they share in dreams,

are but the whims and fancies

of ethereal beings, mythical creations

from the mind of humans in origin,

so gloriously cyclic in their nature,

the source of wonder to wallow in

for a brief time before the harshness

of the world returns, and reveries

founder in the limited confines therein

until the night returns, and Hypnos

and Morpheus come in to play,

sport and relish their unlimited

freedom in the minds of Humankind.

 

************

 

Death of a species

 

Tiger, tiger burning bright in a game reserve tonight,

fine of body, young in years, vigorously healthy

and alone. Somewhere in this strange new place

there dwells another, a female, but, she, like him

is new and still finding her way around this space

Reserved for a species, beautiful to behold, and

on the point of extinction in the wild. Poachers

and the humans all around kill them without care,

until 3000 exist now in the wild around the world.

At the turn of the 19 th century, 100,000 once

roamed free and more, but hunters, poachers

and villagers have chosen to hunt and destroy

the vast majority. How sad is that for generations

yet to come, for they may well never see one

roam free, but only see one confined in a zoo,

as are so many creatures now when humans

set their sights on land, or money for skins

and parts, and wipe out a species so magnificent

and dignified with little or no qualms.

 

The game reserve was a new home for the two,

transported there from another, for here,

all of the animals had been killed by poachers

and villagers, but now, the former have been stopped,

but the villagers refused to leave so, inevitably,

with their cattle their livelihood, a conflict

was going to emerge. In the reserve, the two tigers

had met and mated but there was no offspring,

and they parted to meet again when she came

into heat once more. And loud were her calls

to him but no answer came, and search parties

went out to find the missing male. He was found

dead, poisoned by the villagers for taking

one too many of their cattle, and the female

mourned loudly for three days, her plaintive

cries a funeral dirge for her dead mate so young

in years, and so unwise in his choice of kill.

 

Now the wardens try again, importing another one,

but, this time, the villagers have accepted money

and moved away, thus giving this one and

the female a small chance of starting a new

dynasty upon a piece of reserved land, set aside

for animals to live in peace away from humans,

away from threats to their lives and space.

We humans are animals too, naked apes with a brain

advanced in size and ability, but still savage

in our indifference to who or what we kill,

and will wipe out species to make money,

to eat or destroy if in our way, a terrible

inditement of our lack of care, our awareness

that this is a home for every creature,

not just us. One day, in the not too distant

future, a generation may look back on us

and say, these are the humans who destroyed

millions of species in a single century,

and now we have none left but what you see,

preserved by cloning just a few, most

as you know, we will never be able to restore,

all we have left are pictures and nothing more.

 

************

 

Hoarder

 

That'll come in useful was the plaintive cry,

a hoarder stands staring at the chaos,

determined to try to get rid of it all,

but, the gut feeling is of despair.

It's my house, my home, and my things,

the wail inside, saved over years,

things I need, I want, things I forgot

I even had, and I can't stop the tears.

My family is threatening me, my children

gone, nobody knows what's going on.

None come inside, I'm full of shame,

how did I get to this state of affairs?

 

I know I'm wholly and entirely to blame.

I can't throw anything away. I store it,

hide it, bury it, forget it, and the rats

and mice play now amongst my things.

I'm lost in a world of material goods

I can buy, on cards, with cash, and,

when I run out, I can steal, except foods,

I need money for those, but they too

get stocked up and rot down, smell bad

and I can't stop without help, but help

means losing my things, and I see

that I must keep that, and that, and that.

 

And now I can't stop it again. I'm me,

these things are me, you're taking

my identity, and leaving me bereft,

it's a form of theft, these are my treasures,

not yours, why must I part with any?

I know, I know, my family, my children,

my life is in ruins, and I hurt so bad

for the way I am, but I'm really not mad,

it's a disease, a sickness so I'm told,

but it just seems to me that I've lost control

for a while and can't stop acquiring

things, and more things, and it's not just me,

you know it, there's lots of us I see

with the same difficulty, and I'm trying

so hard to co-operate but it's killing me.

 

If I go away, I'll leave you all to clear

it away, I'm dying inside watching it go.

I know I need to keep my family near,

and my children too, so I'll leave you

to clear away my life, my pain, my obsession,

and come back when you've done the deed,

and there'll be little left in my possession

but my family, my children, and even some friends,

those I really, really do most desperately need.

 

***********

 

When a world shrinks

 

How large a world can be,

or small when it shrinks.

Inside a mind, it can be

almost infinite in its breadth,

its depth, or its capacity

to envisage the Universe

in all its wondrous complexity.

But a world can shrink,

sometimes disastrously,

and so suddenly, it's a shock.

It leaves a mind reeling

unable to take stock

of the situation changing

from one of mobility

to immobility, to disability,

from being fit and strong

to being weak and reliant

on help from everyone.

 

Then the mind rebels,

the Universe shrinks

to infinitely small, a microcosm

of what went before,

and silent screams reach decibels

when the mind absorbs the reality

that what could once be done

can no longer, the causality

a breakdown of the body,

the vehicle that is relied upon

ceases to function, the actuality

is too much to bear,

an affront to what should be,

and the mind retreats

to call up its defences,

its survival mechanisms,

as the body's normal systems

decline, leaving only the mind

to maintain the will to live,

to believe that life is worthwhile,

and courage comes to the fore,

with an acceptance of what was before,

has gone, is no longer viable,

the body no longer is reliable.

 

So the mind must be the master,

the one who sees the larger

picture in the end, and allows

space for growth and hope

even in the worst of cases,

a mechanism to help one cope

and see that all is not lost,

it's just the world outside

has shrunk, but the mind inside

is just as large, and now

has a chance to explore

when once there was no time

to do so before, now has more

than enough for journeys

of the mind to worlds as yet

unknown, and gifts to bring back

and share with those whose mobility

is unimpaired, but who often fail

to see how infinitely rich is reality.

In a world, reliant of fragile flesh,

it's a priceless gift and a treasure,

a river, whose waters forever refresh.

 

***********

 

Stay Inside

 

When the days are freezing cold,

and the weather dark and drear,

close the doors and stay inside,

or, if you can't do that, then go

into your mind and bring good cheer

inside. The Winter closes in on all

and drains energy and health.

Those who manage to stay fit

it's as good as having wealth,

for nothing is quite so debilitating

as coughs, sneezes, and noses

blocked up for days on end,

until you resemble a traffic light

on red while your general colour

is near to green on go or off white.

The amber is a warning sign

you're about to explode

with another fit of sneezing

when you've acquired a rotten cold,

Or, worse still, a bout of wretched flu,

which leaves you wondering

what the hell to do, go to work,

or stay at home? One you feel

is wrong, the other your bosses

get annoyed for losing days

off work, but, if you go on in,

you're guaranteed to spread

it far and wide, so stay inside,

close the door, and keep your bugs

indoors, it's the only way

to stop the tide of viruses, bugs

and flu that sweeps through

the country every Winter time.

it's a real bore and they weren't

here before when a lot of us

were young, but seems, today,

for all the health and fitness rage,

we're really not doing something

right because these illnesses abound,

and every single damned year

they're spreading all around.

So, take a break, shut your door,

get better before you come back

into the world because it's a bore

being sneezed on, coughed on,

or in the path of nose blow.

Do everybody a favour and think

first before you open the door

and go outside with bugs, viruses,

or colds, it's not necessary anymore.

Close the door and stay inside,

and we'll stop these wretched

outbreaks from spreading far and wide.

And I know how hard this really is

so don't tell me it's not on,

it can't possibly be done.

It has to be this way soon, because

the bugs, viruses and colds

are getting more virulent every year.

So, consider this, in a decade,

we'll all be riddled with them each year

and quite unable to get out of bed

because far too damned ill, or, worse,

a lot of us will be dead!.

 

**************

 

Foreign Seas

 

You walk barefoot upon sand,

ancient now, from once fertile plains

that, long ago, became arid when rains

failed and life died and gave way

to deserts that remain the same today.

Particles cling to skin as feet

tread on beaches laden deep

with desert sand imported on oceans

from afar to decorate the shore

of seaside resorts a thousand miles

away, bearing amongst the grains

peoples, cities, towns and a myriad

pots and pans, treasures now turned

to dust over time, remnants

of lost worlds, and seeds of distant

places that would bloom given rain,

but not washed in brine, salt kissed

now so dormant in a land not hot

enough to germinate ancient remains,

or mind being carried on soft skin

to tarmac surfaces on roads caught

by tyres and carried away to more

benevolent soil, but still no life

will be restored for what was

is long gone, dead seeds of a long gone

day when ancient peoples built

a civilization of opulence and wealth

before the rains stopped and turned

it into sand, blown now on winds

into raging storms, blinding

in their ferocity, burying more worlds

in their paths. But, far away, on shores

in distant lands, the civilization

finds rest for the sea anchors

the grains to earth, for a while,

and all find repose beneath the feet

of new people in a new world

with a new civilization doomed

like theirs one day to pass away,

but not yet, and until then, take

pleasure in a well earned respite

on tranquil shores, drifting gently

in the soft breezes of foreign seas.

 

************

 

So much better than here

 

Worlds within worlds seeking others,

others who share your thoughts,

ideas, your visions, but few are there.

Destined to walk through life

holding thoughts, ideas, dreams

at odds with the worlds around you,

out of sync, you slipped in through

cracks in time and space, not

supposed to be here, your destiny

was to be short lived, but you

survived against the odds,

putting you at odds forever

in this time and space. A niche

you honed out, a hole to cogitate

on things, on mysteries, on puzzles,

on the muddles, the mess, the chaos

you perceive, and believe you see

solutions, but few others agree,

just a dreamer, an idealist, a fantasist,

shouldn't be here, out of sync

with the times, walking a tightrope

overhead, looking down, gazing

earthward, and knowing things

better not to have known for few

agree if you say what you see.

You have hope, but it wanes

in the face of so much fear,

paranoia and underlying despair.

Still you seek other worlds,

impossible to let go, clinging

to dreams, not unrealistic,

practical, but the darkness

swells now, sadness dwells

deep for so few can agree

with what you see. Pipe dreams

they say as they turn away,

and you retreat back to your world

of hope, of peace, not utopia,

but so much better than here.

 

********

 

Fences

 

I watch new fences arriving

for a neighbour's garden.

The ground is drying now

after brief showers

followed by bright sunlight,

and see reflections on the roads.

And we build fences ourselves,

erect them, ensure they're sound,

will withstand wind and storms,

buffeting from the world,

and then close ourselves

off behind them,

fearing lest others detect

our vulnerability, our insecurity,

our doubts of our lovability,

our whims, our fancies,

our faults and failings,

and, above all, the ugliness

inside we conceal

in case it spills out and ruins

everything, believing

it's in us alone,

but, had we looked over our fence,

we would have seen

its presence is there in everyone,

in all to a greater or less degree,

an unpleasant reality but,

at least, we'd know we're not alone

in having demons of our own.

And, behind our fences, we hide

so much worth sharing,

our ability to care, to love,

to be aware of others

and their needs, our potential,

our gifts, and all that makes

us who we are, not ugly

but beautiful, unique

but so alone, as are we all

behind our fences every one.

From our birth when one

became two, we've walked

alone, it is the human lot.

Behind the fences of our being,

we're prevented from seeing

that every one is alone,

even when in constant company,

all are still essentially alone.

So peek over those fences

and see that, in inviting

others in, we might just find

fraternity in unity, sociability

in compatibility, and lives

enriched with the fertility

of other's worlds, planets

circling around in life's

galaxy, each longing

to be recognized, inhabited,

and loved until the fences

disintegrate with age

as entropy has its way,

and it's time to bid farewell,

on the day the last grains

of wood decay and fall away.

 

************

 

Poverty's curse

 

‘You wanna buy? Exotic birds, snakes,

monkeys, lorises, anything you want,

we can get.' Eager faces, cold faces,

indifferent faces of animal traders, hungry

people, need to make money to eat,

to feed their kids, put a roof over heads,

provide themselves with beds, the animals

don't matter, their health, their well being,

plenty more where they came from,

a new batch in tomorrow, tourists buy,

look with shock at birds and animals

misused, abused, and some buy believing

they're saving a few, or one, but they're not,

they're just proving there's a trade in pets

for the naïve, the foolish, the shallow,

the ignorant who prolong the suffering

of wild creatures born free now confined

in cages, boxes, trapped, starved, injured,

terrified, and the human traders look on

oblivious to it all. And the forests' creatures

dwindle in numbers with every trapping,

until extinction in the wild is a cruel fact,

and the outside world goes ‘ah, how sad'

but the trade still goes on around the world,

where poverty thrives, the animals become

a source of money, a trade, nature's products

born to be sold, some fed and looked after

for a price, but most disposable if ignored

on market day, jettisoned for a fresher lot

arriving on the boats the following day.

Poverty makes monsters of humankind.

The earth and its multitude of creatures,

plants and trees did nothing to deserve

the advent of a predator as ferocious

as humankind can be, better we become

extinct one day than they, for they are

innocent, while we kill, destroy, ruin

our home and believe we're here to stay.

Not, if Nature, has its way, balance

is out of kilter, it just beginning to show

humankind it has had its day, be careful,

we treat Nature and its creatures

with indifference and it will show humans

no mercy when it makes life on earth

so harsh it's doubtful most of us will survive

even if, our mother, that brought us all to birth.

 

***********

 

Oh, to be Buddhist

 

Oh, to be a Buddhist with peace of mind and heart,

then I could feel that I'm really playing my part

in spreading love and tolerance across the earth,

but mostly, in my mind, of peace there is a dearth.

Try as I might to stay tranquil and serene,

it only takes a moment to see a rousing scene

and I am up in arms storming round the room,

wishing I could send the buggers to their doom.

Injustice makes me mad, inequality is just as bad,

poverty is obscene and war makes me sad.

I can't accept the premise that there's nothing I can do,

I'll fight against them all no matter what, where or who.

If I can raise objections, join in protestations,

write cajoling emails, and go on demonstrations,

I can feel just a little that I'm doing my bit

to keep sanity to the fore because I really cannot sit

on my behind and keep quiet, my nature is to fight,

to stand up and proclaim what I believe is right,

and, while there'll be loads who'll disagree with me,

I'll carry on debating, arguing, and aware that I can be

a bore, because like a dog with a bone if I see a wrong,

I can't help having a reaction that is sometimes very strong.

But, behind it all, I do say ‘Oh to be a Buddhist with peace

of mind and heart to help my storms inside to cease

and, from out of me, let serenity and tranquility spread,

and still the turmoil buzzing round my head

when injustice, inequality, poverty and war, to name a few,

make me want to explode and give the bad their due,

let me step back into the shadows and be angelic

rather than what I sometimes feel and that's positively demonic.'

Though, I must add, that's only, in reality, symbolic,

it's just that, on occasions, I can feel extremely vitriolic.

 

************

 

Now!

 

The rolling hills, the mountains high,

the rivers deep, the valleys wide,

the pastures green, the deserts broad,

the glaciers melting, the oceans rising,

the flora struggling, the fauna shrinking,

the cities growing, suburbs spreading,

humans expanding, ever increasing,

a tide unstoppable, requiring housing,

needing feeding, wanting energy,

demanding products, using resources,

producing waste, forever growing,

constantly polluting, frequently warring,

spouting words, breaking promises,

trying democracy, mostly failing,

wanting leaders, getting shells,

becoming rebels, demanding freedom,

achieving dreams, getting nightmares,

everything changes, discontent rising,

happiness waning, confusion existing,

desires unfulfilled, hopes broken,

challenges overwhelming, solutions failing,

humanity dissipating, cruelty everywhere,

indifference here, heartlessness there,

future frightening, economies crashing,

new beginnings, starting afresh,

chaos burgeoning, great opportunity,

abandoning past, taking control,

people power, toppling old,

networking world, obedience gone,

authorities dying, respect disappeared,

laws broken, politicians lying,

heralding hope, collective effort,

birthing pains, taking control,

taking control, taking control,

now!…

 

**************

 

A Nebulous Form

 

Shadows hover, flitter, flutter and move

surreptitiously around you, the nebulous

form that's you plays hide and seek

as the light shines upon you casting

a darkness in front, behind or to the side

of you. If not there, then be warned,

perhaps you're not here at all, just

a figment of an imagination unable

to replicate a shadow for you're ethereal

in your substance too so unrepeatable,

a ghost, a jinn, or nightmare thing,

but, never fear, most have shadows

so know they're really here, it's just

the occasional one who breaks the rule

and walks in the light whose shadow

is equally bright, one where darkness

cannot dwell, a being wholly of the light,

a fantasy conjured up by beings

seeking comfort as they gaze upon

the dark form that pursues them

through their lives, that which hovers,

flitters, flutters and moves surreptitiously

around each and every one as if to say

you cannot escape, I'm what you,

one day, will be, a mere shadow

of your former self when from this mortal

coil you drift away, and all that's left

is the dark space you once occupied,

your one true friend who never once

abandoned you, stayed close, reassured

you every time you looked around,

your anima or animus, your shadow

self, the essential element of your being,

revealing your actual solidity for all to see,

and making known to all your material reality.

 

**********

 

The Smile

 

The smile of a child, when innocence

is still there, touches the heart so deep

that chords sing, strings zing

and the world lights up as you fall

into the eyes of a child and wonder

how something so beautiful survives

the onslaught of the world.

But it's there, beaming out at you,

lifting you from your jaded life

up to the stars and back down again

to earth, a trip unexpected

in its beauty, its awesome power

to move, to captivate and enthrall,

and wonder how one so young

can contain such overwhelming

grace encapsulated in a small frame

as the smile disarms you, makes

of you a pliant slave, and one

who would move a mountain

to ensure this little one keeps

that smile forever shining there.

And then it's gone when a distraction

arrives and the eyes are no longer

holding you, and, for an instant,

you are bereft, aware of a loss,

but, as with all moments sublime,

they pass in the twinkling of an eye,

but stay in your heart forever,

a touch of sunlight to warm you

until the next one comes your way.

 

*********

 

Metamorphosis

 

Soft words heal wounds,

But when none forth come,

The wounds open deeper

And invisibility wraps around

Like a shroud. Not self-pity,

But the urge to survive,

To keep from drowning

When the being that you are

Drifts on mists ethereal

And amorphous, touching

Nothing material as they float

In wisps by the other trying

To reach out for a touch,

A caress, reassurance

That you're seen, not entirely

Hidden, your voice shouts

But none can hear, deaf

To sounds within the mist,

Muffled, distorted in the fog

Of invisibility, and sinking

You retreat deep into depths

Not seen before, where life

Assumes a worthless mire,

A chaotic not this not that,

And nothing matters anymore,

When material being

Disintegrates to leave remnants

Of a life behind, and winds

Blow harsh and strong

To scatter what was once you

Around like leaves from trees

Caught in an Autumn storm

Before settling on the ground

To decay, providing food

For next year's growth, and you,

You are food for all, your life,

Your energy, your pain,

Your strife, now encased

In earth bear witness silently

To the pain of invisibility

Until the coldness of Winter

Passes, and the shroud

Melts in the warm sun light

To let you rise once more

Renewed, re-energized,

And content to have shed

The pain filled skin

That held you oh so tight

In the dark shadows

Of a night, and took from you

Any sense of reality in mists

Of ethereality as you decayed

While waiting beneath the ground

To be born again when Spring

Found you expectant, pregnant

With hope, and released you

From your grave and gave back

Your material world once more.

 

*********

 

Winter Blues

 

Sour feeling, blue mood,

clouded skies and lack of sun

leads to a loss of good cheer.

Bitter thoughts crowd out good,

painful memories rise to haunt

and the winter blues are here again.

 

The instinct is to hibernate,

to close the doors and stay inside,

to retreat into oneself and hide,

for nothing kind comes to mind,

only resentment, frustration

and a sense of loss, hope unfulfilled.

 

And, in the darkness, anger rises,

the sheer unfairness of life itself,

unearned, undeserved, pain bestowed,

liberally for some, while others

bask in sunlight all the time,

a fact incomprehensible and unjust.

 

Knowledge that these times will pass,

that the sun will drive the blues away,

and, what seems bleak and grim,

will fade into the background,

not resolved, but out of reach,

safe to come out into the light again.

 

***********

 

The Lady part 2

 

A restlessness overcame the lady since the visit

Of the man, who had lit a spark inside her not known

Before. Now, she prowled the corridors of the house,

Bored, and weary of the loneliness that consumed her.

Through the daylight hours, she considered her options

Into the middle of the night when all were sound asleep,

Now, she was torn with an agony of longing for his return,

And fearful lest he find another, for in great demand

By parents intent on landing their daughter such a catch.

Her mind, in a turmoil of emotions and thoughts,

Previously suppressed, rose to torment her and made

Of her life a torture. She grew thin to the consternation

Of her parents, who feared they may have her on their hands

For years if she persisted in turning away all her suitors.

Her mother, more observant than her father, had seen

The way she observed her latest suitor, and decided,

There and then, to send a further invitation to him,

In response to his second request to come a calling,

But without informing her lest she rebel and refuse

To let him in. And so, he received it with pleasure,

And accepted without delay. The lady, knowing

Nothing of this, still refused to eat, and began alarmingly

To fade away. Taking to her bed, she no longer rose

When the morning came until her mother announced

To her that her last suitor was on his way, and did she

Want to let him see her sick and pale. Upon that news,

The lady did arise, and ate some food, pinched her

Once peach cheeks now pallid in the light, and reddened

Her once natural ruby red lips with coloured dye

And put on her finest dress and made ready for him

To arrive. Her parents breathed a deep sigh of relief

When they perceived the change, and organized a feast

For the suitor the likes of which had not been seen

For many a year. Trembling with anticipation, the lady

Stood by the window watching his carriage draw

Close to their front door, and, seeing him alight,

Could scarce still the beating of her heart until

She feared she would pass out, but composed herself

And, with dignity mustered from her strict upbringing,

Descended the great staircase to greet him, politely,

While trying hard to conceal her sheer pleasure

Upon seeing him smile at her with such warmth,

Though tinged with shock at her thin appearance,

And then she knew for certain, he was in love with her,

And she with him, and this time, she would accept

His proposal. Her parents were obsequious in their greeting,

Not wishing to disturb what they now saw as mutual

Feeling between their daughter and this most eligible suitor.

When the feast was over, the man took the lady aside,

And, in the rose perfumed garden, once more he did propose.

She, with eyes downcast to hide her happiness, did accept,

And upon her finger he did place a diamond large in size

To cement their union before she could change her mind.

Two months later, they were wed, and two great estates

Became as one, as was the practice in their day,

Consolidation of vast assets through carefully selected

Suitors for daughters of the elite, but, in the case

Of these two, true love had blossomed so neither

Felt obliged to marry one who stirred not their hearts

Or minds. The lady learned of love from that day on,

And, in time, became the mother of five healthy sons,

And three daughters, all beloved of their parents,

And none would ever have to grow up in the cold

Like she, for laughter, joy and fun rang through

The fine house wherein she and her beloved resided

For the rest of their lives in sweet, unspoiled accord.

 

************

 

A mere object of desire

 

It'll take more than time to say

all that I hold in my heart for you,

I long to take you in my arms and dance

with you, to dream a dream with you,

to walk in your shoes for a while,

to take your hand and stroll down

the avenue, and kiss your sweet lips

when we say goodbye. Ah, parting

is such sweet sorrow, but I'll be back

tomorrow. I'll go to sleep dreaming

of you, my dear, and will long for

the hours to pass by until we meet

again. I will take you to the cinema,

out for dinner, to the theatre, wherever

you want to go, buy you jewels,

clothes, furs and lavish gifts upon you,

my beautiful one, and all you have to do

is be discreet for my wife mustn't know

that I'm in love with you. I know it's hard,

but I promise you I'll tell her one day,

I can't quite yet because she's been ill,

so bear with me, my love, and soon

we'll be together permanently, but, for now,

I've found a hotel nearby where you

and I can be together for an hour or two.

So dry your tears, you know I love you

passionately, truly, and adore everything

about you, just say, ‘yes', you'll meet

me there, and we'll be as happy as two

love birds can be. Are you there?

Are you there? Have you hung up on me?

Well if that's the way it's going to be,

there's plenty more fish in the sea,

my chickadee, a shame, for I'd have treated

you well, but c'est la vie, there's so much

beauty all around me, I'll find a new lover

to replace you, and you'll have missed

out on the pleasure of knowing me better.

Your loss, you, being a mere object of desire.

 

**********

 

The Lady

 

She was a lady of refinement, with a name renowned

Throughout the land, educated, one of the elite,

An aristocrat with regal bearing, peach cheeked

And ruby red of lip, with waspish waist and neat of hip,

With legs shapely in their length, small of hands and feet,

And perfect to behold, but she was cold of heart

For all her beauty and her birth, none she'd found

To melt the frost that lay so deeply buried in that part

That should, by rights, beat with passion, joy, glee

And know the pleasure of being wooed and won,

But each eluded her. Born into surroundings full

Of splendour, vast in size, an estate worthy of a queen,

With all she could desire fulfilled, except tender love

From kith and kin. Nurses, nannies, governesses,

Tutors, every one given due instructions not to spoil

Their charge, and fear of retribution made all

Obedient to the harshness of the rule, and so the lady

Grew from child to woman knowing nought

Of love, of warmth, of happiness. An only child

Of parents scarce fit to have sired one but she came

And they obliged and did their duty, lavishing

Her with material goods and a life most outside

Would deem enviable beyond their dreams, but,

Of love they gave her none, and so her heart

Grew cold, her emotions dry as desert sands,

A chill spark forever in her eye, deterring others

From drawing near, from seeking her as wife,

Until, one dark and drearsome day, a caller came,

Proud in stature, calm of face, a pleasing one

With nobility ingrained, tall and suitably possessed

Of land like her and sought her hand. It was a match

Ideal in every way, and pleased her parents full through,

But she refused to consider him. No man could melt

Her heart she swore to them, and, with a firm rebuke,

She closed the door and, in the dampness of the day,

Wept silent tears for this one had roused a fire inside

Not known before, but, now, she was too afraid

To let him in lest he prove to be like all the rest,

A pretence of kindness, consideration and attention.

He departed, saddened, and at a loss as to why

She should have rejected his proposal, but swore,

He would return again and again until the maiden

Belonged to him for she had won his heart,

And one refusal would not put him off for he had seen,

Deep inside, that flickering fire, so quickly quenched,

But there, and, now, would seek to light it once more,

This time forever, and drive from her that fear

That made her spurn anybody who came too near

For he would love her with his whole being.

She, from the house, watched him go, aching

Suddenly with an unknown longing and a yearning

To be held, and loved and, in the silence of her room,

Begged him to return one day and teach her of love,

Deprived as she had been, now longed to know its meaning.

 

***********

 

The Traveller

 

And in the dappled morning light, he did reach out

To touch with tender fingers, the apple, dew kissed

By the early morn, its red blush like the sun rising

Above the hazy misted horizon, to give way to gold

Burnished against the leafage green, and plucked

It from the branch for a repast fit for the gods

As a zephyr brushed against his cheek, and one bite

Brought white flesh dripping juices of temptation

Incarnate into his mouth, sweet and firm, the sun

Created fruit captured in a season to grace the trees

All round Albion 's fair land, and, on this morning,

The traveler partook of Nature's offering, carefree

In his wonderings for nought he owned but what he wore,

And could carry on his back, a man free of worldly

Goods but for his lute, a minstrel, and many an eye

Of buxom, lovely lasses he caught with his bright

Smile and way with words, and lay with them

Before he set his feet once more upon the road,

And now he knew not how many young he'd sired

In those moments of sweet release, but might, should

He return one day along the way he'd trod before,

so was reluctant to return too soon lest angry

Kin should seek to rein him in, and end his days

Upon the road by making of him a husband for some

Lass he bare remembered in the darkness of a barn,

Where hayloft provided both with soft mattress

For their play, and she did not protest but moaned

In passionate delight when he taught her all he knew,

And made for her a better life for she would teach

Her husband one day what she liked and they would

Be happier through his lesson taught in one single

Night of delight for him and her. And, now, his repast

Over, the traveler tossed a coin, and, wither it landed,

He would go to north or south, chance being his

Lady Luck, and good was she to her sweet minstrel

As he tucked his lute upon his back and strolled

Along the road towards the South and all that lay

Before him, to taste, give succour, and enjoy its fruits

For life was truly benevolent in every way to him.

 

***************

 

The Dream

 

‘Let me whisper in your ear sweet words of love, my dearest one.

I, who have longed to kiss your lips, kneel at your feet,

And plight my troth, dares not approach for you are but a dream,

One who walks with me when sleep enwrapped, but, once awake,

I cry out loud, for know that you are but a desire drawn

From imagination, an unfulfilled yearning for the perfect lover,

The ideal woman, a paragon of virtue, loyal, of beauty unsurpassed,

And I, who have nothing to offer such a one, but what I am,

With no earthly wealth, no name to boast upon, and an education

Passable only for the lowly, can only dream, dream of a love

To call my own, dream of a life of bliss with one so pure,

To have sons and daughters blessed with your fine features,

Not mine, for mine are coarse compared to thine. Each day

I awaken in my lonely room and wonder where did you come from?

What drew you to my dreams, my dearest one, are you lost

Like me, or have I spied you in my waking hours, drank of your beauty

And, heaven forbid, forgot that I had done so, and, now, you come

Reminding me, or are you a ghost from a distant past, desiring

To be loved again, worshipped as you well deserve, cherished

As is fitting one so precious, I would do all of these if you were

Mine, but, alas, you are not, and now it's time for me to lay aside

My dreams and off to work I go, a humble scribe, of barely

seventeen years, but, maybe one day, my works will be admired,

My scribblings held aloft, and I will have a name worthy of your

Love, my dearest one, my muse, and Shakespeare will not be a name

Unknown but one spoken of with reverence, and due, all to you,

My precious dream, who stirred in me adoration, passion, fire,

And a wonder that womanhood can be so enchanting as to make

Fools of men, and I will record these in plays, poems, words sublime

And I will be remembered long down the annals of mankind's time.

 

*************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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