Poetry and Alcohol

 

Biblical Flood?

Now that mighty rivers overflow
and bridges, If not St Louis Ray,
are falling down -
disasters of biblical proportions are causing
the religious zealots to rub their hands in glee, claiming it's god's warning to man
to behave the righteous way,
which translates into eradicating those who do not agree with them.

Meanwhile, good people do their best
to save life and give food and shelter
to the homeless, perhaps with a greater humility than before, now that it has become clear
that this is not the end but a time for greatness,
as we see that we all need one another as never before, but will we remember that when normality resumes?

The Hidden, Exposed



The storm shifted the golden stone and we,
aghast dreamers, saw poverty
and its siblings, illiteracy, ill health, hunger
and the ugly, boastful face of capitalism
that disown its citizens
and only sings the song of financial success -
and of charity that is tax deductible.

A violent system, that bald-faced, is called democracy. Vicious Pride,
come down from your mighty pedestal,
show a little humility,
is the verb "mercy"so difficult for you to pronounce?
Is it forgotten that bombs still fall
in Iraqi towns making soldiers,
from your underclass,
into war criminals?

 

 

Forget Them Not


Of a war torn skeletal iron ship beached
On a sandy shore where the glamor of war
Is gone and palms whisper in the wind,
I made a double bed and painted it blue.
Built a bamboo hut, too, and a veranda
Of driftwood; watched the sun doing its
Endless rounds and waited for you.    

Ten times, under full moonlight, I stood
On the shore of the sparkling ocean, but
You didn’t come as promised. I did see
Ghostly faces of perished sailors floating
Silent on dark waters streaked with silver,
I promised to remember them and your
Betrayal means nothing to me now.

Watching the Road



On the long road, on the plain, going from
one horizon to the next, I saw a cyclist - first
as a shimmering dot, then gradually clearer
till the biker, a young woman of instantly
forgettable features, cycled by as I sat under
a tree eating a ham sandwich and drinking
water from a plastic bottle.

I watched as she became a shimmering dot
again, falling into the horizon and gave her
no more thoughts than if seeing an ant on
a plank; went to sleep hoping the day would
bring clouds on the dim blue sky, something
to look at, confined as I am by the bareness of
knowing that nothing really matters.    

Homecoming



Summer days and he was home from the sea,
childhood friends had dispersed, married and
disappeared from the scene into serious adult
life. Met, at the café, a group of people who
laughed, made fun and seemed to enjoy life,
pleased when they asked him to join them on
the beach next day, none of them seemed to
have a steady job.

He brought cold beer and the day was spent
in the sun and in the evening the met at
the café again and he paid for the beer. Knew
they didn’t respect him, when he spoke they
exchanged glances arched eyebrows, smirked
thought he was boring, but he let it pass it was
summer and he was home from the sea.

Algarvian October Days



This October morning the sky is obstinately blue, sun buttery and promises to get rid of dew on parked cars and grass. It is as the year refuses to accept the passing of youth into middle age stridently holding on to and trying to live in the memory of a summer it never had; gets too hot and fluttery at noon, people are tired of the heat and long for cooler days.

This afternoon, in the tussle to keep up the illusion of eternal youth the sun shines as a demented imp, makes people mad; there are outbreaks of road rage, fatigue hangs as abstract shadows under streetlamps. when sun drops into the sea a cloud of steam will arise smothering the coastline in the sad tears of one who fears the long, long night.     

Itís just a Movie



Last night I went to bed late - had been watching a gangster movie Tom Hank was the hero and he had a clever twelve year old son, but before going to bed I drank yoghurt only, since it was two in the morning, if I’d had a whisky it would be like a morning drink.

In bed I re-enacted the movie with me taking Hank’s role, the boy I substituted for a girl I needed someone who could make coffee in the morning. Together we robbed banks for money that belonged to the mafia and gave it to the poor who got greedy and asked for more.

Tragedy struck - my little girl got run over by a tram and my eyes were full of tears, each with a tiny rainbow inside. Opened my eyes, after the dream, and a sunray sat on the windowsill and knew that I didn’t have a daughter, once had a lady dog, though, but she was run over by a train.

Early morning, body and soul in harmony with nature, weightless, I was the sunray on the sill, the morning air I breathed, I flew and saw my home from above, because I was the blue sky. Remembered a line from a song:

“No, no you can’t take that away from me.”  

Peace in the Afternoon



Now in late afternoon heavy clouds
have parked on the ridge for the night
and further down the valley the air is full of muffled sounds.
Under a tree I found small plastic bottles of liquid yoghurt, empty now of course
drunk by sparrows that get high on that stuff
fool around and want to build nests in my hair.
Shook the tree and down fell a dove of peace,
it had a message wrapped around a spindly leg
it read:
“All Quiet on the Western Front… M.R.”
War is endless, never stops,
it moves around like cancer in the body of humanity, it’s in Iraq now,
but as Iraq has got a new constitution
and is full of liquid democracy
the illegal occupation can come to an end and good Christian soldiers can go home.

Plucked the dove, white feathers for all of us
its meat was tender, but not enough to feed a world
full of hunger, disease and fear.

The Holders of Power

The elite in any country are born collaborators they find an intellectual and a economical reason for treason, when the occupiers leave and the expendable are hung they are back on top again.

You may call this wrong, bit it’s survival instinctand that makes them stronger than us and they deserve their privileged position but only because we are stupid and let them use us.       

Haiku

A fly’s problem… is
That it isn’t cute and cuddly
Like a lady bird.

Europe’s history is
A slag heap of broken dreams
Sliding into the future.   

The future? A place
Where new singers sing
The past’s libretto.   

Driving Mother

Lung problems she had to see a doctor once a month, uphill most of the way,
difficult for her.
"When I'm grown up I'll buy you a car so you don't have to walk"
Mother smiled, said she was looking forward to that, she patted my head
knowing well I was not practical or very smart.
I was forty-five and mother was eighty when I finally bought a car,
automatic, easy tohandle but I had no license.
Now, let's go for a drive.

Ok, I had to carry her down from the second floor flat, she was feather light,
so we drove then to the coast
she wanted to see the sea,
down a narrow lane
and I was worried how to turn and drive back.
On the way home we stopped at a café,
we drank coffee and had a cream cake each
and everyone was very kind to us.

Mother was tired went early to bed -
in the night she called me, wasn't feeling well:
"drive me to the hospital," she said.
I did.

There the staff took over, they gave her a room of her own,
I sat by the bedside, looked at her folded hands,
they looked like a sparrow with folded wings,
she closed her eyes - we didn't speak
and after a while when the sparrow didn't flutter
I knew she had died,
but for a long time I sat there pretending it didn't happen;
mother looked so at ease

and I was glad that she had had a good death.

Going Home

Late afternoon the moon is a thin scar on
the pale blue face of the sky, a plane going
north catches the last rays of the sun and is
lit up like an eagle made of gold.

Going north, going home I was heading
that way once but it took too long and now
another year has gone; no one, I know, lives
in my hometown anymore.

The drink

Magritte used to sing rude French songs with
A cigarette husky voice, a sociable girl then
Loved by many, yesterday I saw her coming
Out of a low life bar, a dive her once radiant
Face was bloated, rhinoceros hips and ankle
Swelling like grey dough over her high heeled
shoes, forty seven but looks harrowing more
I loved that woman once, still do, booze took
her away from me, in her ruined face I can
see her grace and in some strange way I love
her more today than when I was young, but
I stay away if she sees me she will feel agony
and I may not be able to hide my shock of
what she has become, this suffering bride
wedded to a master that knows no charity

An Execution Place

The wall in the car mechanic's yard is pockmarked,
there also used to be a door in the wall
leading to the cemetery,
but it has been bricked up,
in the days of dictatorship
political prisoners used to be lined up against the wall and shot.
Standing along the wall
with my hands clasped behind me
and the sun in my face, blinding me,
I try to feel the tremendous fear that must
have surged through the condemned,
the mechanic starts a car to test it,
the car backfires and bullets tear through soft flesh,
when I open my eyes everything is blinding white and I hear a soothing voice:
"Your car is ready."
But I do remember a serene face,
never seen before,
and I felt the pulse of terror.

Father & Son

The man who masturbated under an oak
in the hope of being father of a tree
was pleased when a sapling grew
on the spot of his ejaculation,
only it didn't grow tall enough to be a mast on a schooner,.

It was crooked and had few leaves
and its bark was pale and sickly
so he stopped calling the tree his little baby, chopped it down instead
and used it as a Christmas tree.

Everyone laughed and danced around the sad tree that wore a red paper hat and not a star on its top.
Sadness turned to hate.

In the night, when everyone was drunk and asleep, it self-ignited and the house burned down, as snow fell and roseate smoke lazily arose
in the winter night.

left out

on whispering tide like soft sighs
a blue rowing boat drifts in a deep
fjord where light and shadow
dance to an echo of final words

abstract silence in harmonious silt
dead anglers sway and see the future
and high up mist glues snow capped
mountains to the sky

a  seagull is stuck on gray canvass
as the day's indifference is framed
on my mind

Stones of Love

On the outer field where cattle feed
to get fat for slaughter I found two
stones half buried in soil made soft
by dung and cloven hooves.

Their lightness made it clear, they
were fallen stars that had lost their
sheen and been thrown down to
earth by uncaring gods.

In total disregard of the service they
had performed lightening up the lane
where rejected lovers have to walk
alone through the ages. 

Morning Haiku

Awoke before dawn
Swam in a lake of silence
Purified my dreams.

In an empty room
Drops of sunlight on the floor   
And dust of neglect.



On a sunny wall
Bluebottles hum and feel safe
Spiders like the dark. 

Rocks in the lake
Are older than the blue mountain
Petrified stars?

Natural Art?

Choppy sea till evening time the cook served bangers & mash as full moon light came and moistened the ocean’s creased surface

Alas a tanker came and ploughed a scar that
only slowly healed, by then the ship had hit
a reef and crude oil painted fatal rainbows on  undulating silk.

Mesmerising stuff really, work of art by man
and nature, pity about the lumps of seals and seabirds, though, that bobbed up and down.

I see, I saw

It was June when I drove into a painting on
a road flanked by succulent trees yellow
weeds, vines and poppies, but I got lost on
the painting’s hidden side, cardboard and
shadows unborn thoughts an unseen world.

Not even a pencilled line pointing to a likely
future, so I filled in, on the painting’s dull
cardboard back abstract colours and tango
dancing shadows, clowns balancing on a line
and rainbows that deliver pots of gold.     

Natural Art?

Choppy sea till evening time the cook served bangers & mash as full moon light came and moistened the ocean’s creased surface

Alas a tanker came and ploughed a scar that
only slowly healed, by then the ship had hit
a reef and crude oil painted fatal rainbows on  undulating silk.

Mesmerising stuff really, work of art by man
and nature, pity about the lumps of seals and seabirds, though, that bobbed up and down.

Freedom

At the dinner table mother gave the biggest piece of meat to my older brother; he's a growing lad and needs his strength, she said and that made me smaller than I was. My brother became a prize fighter, made lots of money, bought mother a house, she couldn't stop talking about him, people had the impression she only had one son.

Blood clot on the brain, the doctor said, when my brother collapsed and died in the boxing ring, house, not yet paid for, was sold and mother moved into my flat and for years she spoke of his success and my failure till I pushed her down the steps. She survived but got so brain damaged that she now thinks I'm my brother and I know that I shall never be free.

 

Coming Home

My flat was in mourning, layers of dust were veils
of sorrow, I had been away for weeks leaving
it in darkness and in the melancholy of confusing
half light, not nothing whether it was dawn or
evening. I switched on the table lamp opened
a widow and the room breathed in relief, it was
built to house humanity, had felt rejected and
was beginning to take on the lifeless coldness
museums and art galleries have after closing time.

Opened the fridge two tins of tuna fish, wasn’t
hungry, but to the gladness of my heart a bottle
of red wine; uncorked it, lovely aroma, filled it
to the brim and drank. Shrugged of the nonsense
said at the clinic, where ex drunks who had never
enjoyed wine, tried to convert me to a sullen
existence of meekly accepting the arid life. Took
the bottle into the living room switched on the telly
and we, the room and I, were great friends again.      

A Small Elephant

In the half-light of a rain heavy Sunday dawn
I saw an elephant on the balcony flapping its
huge ears. Awoke and told my wife, she didn’t
believe me, insisted the balcony was too small,
told me to come back to bed.

Before falling asleep I could hear rain, constant
emotionless drizzle, and thought of the poor
animal stuck on the balcony when it should be
on the great savannah, trumpeting and chasing
clueless lions into thorny bushes.

    

Prince Of Norway

The field, where I
buried my dog, has
been ploughed up,
her bones exposed.

Took the skull home
polished and painted
it black, stuck a 100
watt bulb inside.

I've a pathological
fear of darkness and
it's now a nightlight
on my bedside table.

Poetry and Alcohol

The two of us we have lived together long,
she sits in the kitchen watching Brazilian soaps,
I read TLS which gives me an edge even though I think some of the stuff is effete and some of the famous writers and painters are totally overvalued.

I do catch a glance of the TV in the living room from
time to time, a nature program that irritates me, the
Australian hero is actually worrying the wild animals and I hope he will be bitten by a crocodile, or trampled by an irate elephant. No such luck.

Andrew Motion wrote something about oral poetry,
I appeared once at poetry venue, nervously drank
too much, and insulted the organizer. Wish the TLS
would adopt me. Really!  But like late George Best,
I'm a loose cannon liable to tell them to fuck off    

Katherine and Charity

The widow, at the poetry reading,
who saw me filling my pockets
with miniature pork pies,
offered me a lift
and I ended up living in her house.
Dressed in one of her husband’s suits, and shoes, which were just a bit small and made me feel inferior, we daily fed the ducks in the park,
pastry crumbs, and I knew how ducks feel
when relying on human kindness for their survival in city winters.
When spring comes the ducks usually disappear, visiting lakes and having a congress.
I took a train to another town sold silverware
(not mine)
and met the girl I had been looking for all my
life,
she works in a cake shop, her name is Katherine
and every evening she brings back a bag of cakes
not sold that day.

The Fame

In the forest of contemporary poetry review,
Andrew Motion's poem is perfection,
solid doors and workshop double glazing,
only I hear no voice inside,
perfection for its own sake is cold.
Deeper in the tall forest away from the tall trees
that could be splendid masts on a tea clipper
to sail to India and back in a fortnight,
I found a haiku,
a sapling that was mine,
a tiny voice asking to be heard
and for a moment I was gloriously famous
in my own mind,
but happiness is transient.
Heard my business brother's voice ironically
asking how much I was paid for my three
modest lines.     

Death In The Forenoon

A bishop in Sweden was so afraid of dying that he
spent the last twenty years of his life sleeping in
a chair,
sleepwalked, he did, and fell to his death down
marble steps.

Here, in my valley, the winter is green
today, no wind, and the sun caresses my face,
the dog sitting by the sunny whitewashed wall, is reluctant to come with me for walks
so I don't insist, she closes her eyes and lets the sun warm her aging bones.

A bulldozer is pulling down ancient stone walls, to
have a more efficient farming, arable land needs to be bigger, ok, a pity though, the walls were built with pride.

The transition from life to death is made easy too,
an injection and the ending is a fearless dream, an agency does the rest, no need to worry, beautiful memories, piped music. And the damp hole in the ground is covered by a blanket of artificial grass.

Eternity

Heat and ominous thunder from the east, sought refuge in a cellar of a department store, slept on a sofa and drank Bordeaux wine. When I, on the third day, ventured up andout I found a world void of humanity and animals, not evena barking dog; the silence intense, I had to stick cotton ballsin my ears and whistle a Dixie tune.

Drank beer in a local bar, didn’t have to pay for once, drove a Rolls Royce around in the hope of finding fellow man …nothing. Unbearable loneliness, jumped into a pool but, floated like Portuguese phellem, threw myself off a tall building but descended slower than the tail feather of a sparrow … so suicide was out.

Derived of sleep and spooked by numbing solitude, fatedto stalk city parks among dead flowers and petrified trees.

I’m naked now, save for a can opener around my neck, leather sandals and a happy teddy bear that I have taught to speak, we tell rude jokes and sing: ”they are coming to take us away… ha-ha.

And we laugh and laugh.  

 

Water Babies 

Tiny raindrops, water babies rolling down the window, drying as they do so, leaving insignificant tiny white marks that easily come off with vinegar and chamois.

It shouldn’t really be raining now that sun is around, drying flaking cement walls, homeless dogs and damp mules that are like statues under carob trees, watching

the roads with superb disinterest, with eyes that only see the world in black and white, which make them unsuitable as art critics.

The woman at the bus stop has long black hair, full of tiny pearls and she’s a princess in a fairytale, I onder what prince she has in mind

The Fame

In the forest of contemporary poetry review,
Andrew Motion's poem is perfection,
solid doors and workshop double glazing,
only I hear no voice inside,
perfection for its own sake is cold.
Deeper in the tall forest away from the tall trees
that could be splendid masts on a tea clipper
to sail to India and back in a fortnight,
I found a haiku,
a sapling that was mine,
a tiny voice asking to be heard
and for a moment I was gloriously famous
in my own mind,
but happiness is transient.
Heard my business brother's voice ironically
asking how much I was paid for my three
modest lines.     

street art

the august heat so fierce that oil paintings in the town’s art gallery, near the slave market, melted…creamy sheep on green, pink flowers in yellow vases, blue mountain lakes;

whitewashed cottages in hazy morning glades and fat trout in a river that meandered in a landscape of dreams merged, and an idle stream of colours trickled down roman steps and absorbed glittering dust till it came to halt on bubbling asphalt street;

when the cooling breeze of autumn camethe great grandson of slaves cut the street in squares, framed and sold them back to the gallery as abstract art, with tyre marks on cruel abstraction that told ofbitter abuse through human history