When this is all over. Day 3

Cats’ Meat Man (Sue Riley)

after Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin


When all this is over, said the Cats’ Meat Man,

I’ll become a nomad and travel

where everyone goes wild about birdsong.


I’ll listen to the street cries of the sellers of birdseed,

where bluetits have remembered 

how to pierce the tops of milk cartons.


I’ll learn to cook and savour the aroma

of a rich lentil stew, with never a whiff of horsemeat,

the gnarled leavings of a slaughterhouse.


I’ll lie in long grass, hear bees counting as they forage.

At the top of Look-out Hill, I’ll reach up 

and feel like I’m touching heaven.


I’ll watch the breeze stroke the surface of a pond, 

ruffle the wild thyme, 

and I’ll think of waves travelling through air.


At night I’ll feel the breath of the Sphinx moth 

as it flies by moon-light, sips nectar from evening primroses

that glow like yellow lamps.


I’ll lie in my tent, listen to the crooning turtledoves, 

and there’ll be no unearthly calls of tom-cats, 

no secretive scratchings in the garden.


Celebrity (Stephanie Bowgett)

After all this is over, said the X Factor winner,

after my winner’s single gets to number 3 

in the Christmas charts; after that Sun exposé

those teenage beefcake shots, my gay friend; 

after the glamour model I’m papped with

in Ibiza is married with twins; after I choke 

on kangaroo penis on I’m a Celebrity; score 7

on Celebrity Mastermind, nothing on Celebrity 

Chase and bomb on Pointless Celebrities; after 

no one turns for me on the Voice; after the scandal 

of Celebrity Big Brother; after my book is reduced 

to £2.99; after all this, I’ll never be able to shop 

in Tesco’s again. At least, not without my shades.


Centaur (Mike Farren)


When all this is over, said the centaur, 
they’ll expect me to be one thing 
or another. They’ll corral me
into their taxonomies, 
as malformed human or – 
to them – an enhanced horse.

They’ll make me choose between the headlong 
gallop down the slopes of Taygetus 
for the hell of the wind in my face 
and the scent of crushed thyme 
beneath my hooves – or lyre,
lust for nymphs and drinking dish, 

and in either case, they’ll judge me 
by standards that have nothing to do 
with the foster-child of Apollo, 
with the teacher of Achilles: 
they’ll foist their human morality 
on my mythic appetites 

or track me with RFID on Google
Earth, up Olympus, as I search, 
forlornly, for the gods.


Chauffeur (Mike Farren)


When all this is over, said the chauffeur, 
I shall live on a lane, where 
the unadopted tarmac thins to cart-track 
and the neighbour hides his secrets
under tarpaulin, peacock-tail-eyed with tyres.


I shall show my profile at every opportunity,
learn how faces look the right way around
and what words sound like when they are not 
addressed to the back of my head.


I mean to learn how to start a conversation,
disagree with someone who can see and hear me 
and listen to the radio news 
no more than five times a day.


I want to cultivate a garden 
of every flower and weed in the median strip
and when I dream, dream of a motorway of headlights 
turning into the Milky Way.


the Cleaner. (Ruth Valentine)


When all this is over, said the cleaner,

I’m going to be a round-the-world yachtswoman

in a boat called Cleopatra: scarlet sails,

a wind-up radio and a back-up crew


ten nautical miles away.

I’ll get an all-over tan and bleached-blonde hair

and sing along to Adele and Maria Callas

while studying charts and judging wind directions.


I’ll polish all the surfaces with saliva,

and throw the washing-up overboard, and shit

over the side, to save scouring the chamber-pot.

I’ll pretend I can’t receive the messages


from the sponsors and the film crew.  I’ll sling my phone

into the vortex of plastic that circulates

somewhere off Hawaii.  If I end up capsizing

in the doldrums or around Cape Horn, at least 

it won’t be because somebody made the mistake of breathing.


The Clockwinder (LisaFalshaw)


When this is all over, said the clockwinder, 

I wish to stop time

With the hands always set to twelve.


And when this time comes

I intend to be always early………

or fashionably late, whichever takes my fancy.

I will sleep during the day and

breakfast when the sun sets

and washes the trees with golden fire.


Later, when the time is right,

I will learn the photographer’s art;

to freeze time in an instant.

I will look out from the confines 

of a gilt-edged frame,

my face knowing and certain

as I stare inwards to the centre of a room.


Never more will time be entrusted to me.

Never again will I hold it in my hands.

Because I will let time escape;

release it and see it fly with

wings of gauze and glinting moonbeams,

and watch it whirl and spin

like a sycamore seed,

until it twists and cartwheels away

through the indigo of the sky.


More on Monday. 

cooks, chefs, chimneysweeps, clockmakers,chiromancers……….DJs, dentists, dieticians, drystone wallers, dancers, deckhands, dustmen…….who knows?

PS. You’ll doubtless notice that stanzas (and not just stanzas) are separated by dots/ellipses. Sorry, but it’s the quickest way I’ve found of defeating WordPress’ insatiable desire to get rid of stanza breaks and other breaks too.

2 thoughts on “When this is all over. Day 3

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