When this is all over: Day 8

I was delighted to finish yesterday’s selection with a Jack of all trades; pretty much how I feel today, having spent several hours doing a job that involved trowels, plaster, decorator’s caulk, two stepladders, boiled linseed oil, three collapsible crates, kitchen sealant and a bucket of emulsion. I took a cupboard down, skimplastered the wall behind it, let it dry, emulsioned it, let it dry, and then put the cupboard back up . I had it in my head that it would take an hour or so. Jack of all trades, master of none. That poem resonated with me. As did the idea that when this is all over….I’ll have a coffee and a smoke. And at three o clock, I did. Sometimes it would be nice to simply get a proper man in. I imagine that royalty live like that, unthinking, blithe. Stuff just gets done.

.

The King   

When this is all over, said the King

I will pipe down the hammocks

float out with the tide

drink from an everyday jug left in the rain

later three sheets will blow in moonshine

                     & in the offing

                     watch the water-colour sky unfold

On days it’s pouring I’ll take long walks

            meet rainy day women shopping in doldrums

            who know the ropes

            grabbing hand over fist 

            for frozen tiaras & fishnet dreams

            who have no idea 

                       my heart

                                is at a loose end

they are deported in ships of fools

escaping through portholes

 I’ll chase their chasing shadows 

when I’m through      put on my shades

                    knock on your door  

                    bend on a royal knee 

like a seasick sailor      wave goodbye to the sea

                    hand you my heart 

                                       like a crown

  .

 Kitman

When all this is over, said the kitman,
I will hang up the whole squad’s boots & never marry 
up a shin pad with its partner again. 
.
I’ll visit properly all those cities we played in 
that season we reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, 
back when we were decent:
.
Split, whose crowd would’ve killed us just for opposing; 
Istanbul, where the warm-up climaxed 
in goat sacrifice; Vigo, the Grimsby of Spain; 
.
& Parma, home of the winners, who spanked 
our arses. A solo Grand Tour. In each, 
I’ll seek the pleasures I had no time for then: 
.
hire a Vespa, shoot up Roman roads & stop for limoncello 
poured by somebody luscious, 
who’ll ask me if I’m free; 
.
& like the silver fox I am, I’ll take off my shades, 
flash my new gnashers & answer 
in smoothest Schteve McClaren Dutch.


[Note: When he managed FC Twente in the Netherlands, former England manager Steve McClaren notoriously answered interviewers’ questions in a peculiar, ‘Dutch’-inflected accent.]

.

 Late Chain Survey             

We drag our chain to the fuzzed margin,

        the field for us the only field on earth,

.

all else is blur. We rod the line,

        behind us upright wisps of red and white

.

and one distant in front. Then twilight’s grey pall

        and beyond the hedge falls black.

.

Our thin tape rasps out the offsets.

       The rye grass offers no mark,

.

the same in this station as the next.

       Then the chain goes forward.

.

Your figure quests onward into dark,

       until, link by link, there is only the moving chain.

.

  Listener

.

When all this is over

my ears will have grown

been re-minted

learnt to swivel, independently, and often

to the rasp of damp grass 

the thump of butterflies’ feet

the thundering rearrangement 

of feathers on tucked-deep nests

badger air’s duskly snuffle

oxygen easing from trees’ leaves.

.

It will be, by week three, as if I had laid

your Windmills of Norfolk teatowel over the daisies;

reached in elbow-deep through my clogged glup of Icarus;

to unpin; held my auricle to the sun; become cog-carer.

Disassembled helix and anti-helix onto Cley-next-the-Sea,

tragus and anti-tragus to Burnham Overy, concha and lobule 

(strange to remove my gold sleepers only now) safe at Stow and on 

into the percussion section – malleus, incus, stapes to Turf Fen – 

for the full Spring clean while pear blossom snowed the veg beds

confusing the bees for days.

.

.

Then 

crowdscarsbuildingsitesplaneshornslorriescrowdsbrakespiledriverscarsplaneslorriescrowdscarsthebellowofgooooooooal

And once more 

I shall be deaf.

..

Lorry Driver

When all this is over, I will take to the road 

where day starts at 3am
and conversation is largely a matter
of country on late-night stations.

.

I want to learn a new language: 

to blow my doors off, to be south bound 

and hammer down through Europe, 

to drive through centuries of forest,
the memories of trees in the dark.

.

I intend to travel in straight lines,
to be shocked by the colour each morning
and stop only where the services are worth it.
I want to be stalked by wolves, to be prepared

to drive on bridges that might not hold.

.
I won’t hurry. On the high tracks over La Paz
I will take it steady
where dusty plastic flowers mark the graves.

I will be adept with a mallet and hammer
and the weather will be my story.

.

The world will shrink in my mirror, 

storms will approach me.
I want life to drive towards me all lit up. 

I want to be awake through the night
with hundreds of miles still to go.

.

Magician

after Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin

.

When all this is over

I will wear cardigans, not cloaks.

I’ll enjoy the firm oak floor, 

solid beneath my feet.

See a cat flap for what it is,

rather than an opportunity.

I will use a handkerchief to sneeze into.

The rabbits will grow un-tame

in the back garden.

Their pink noses soft and twitching

see-sawing dandelion leaves

late into the evening gloom.

When I enter or leave a room

I will utilise the traditional means.

Nobody will gasp

excepting Mrs Suprendo

who, on a Sunday night

will challenge me to poker

and make me deal,

do a swing cut, a riffle shuffle

the cards purring through my hands.

.

Magic. There’s a note to end on, like the swish of velvet curtains and rapturous applause. We’re half way through the alphabet, and not quite half way through the poems. Day 9 will feel like a watershed. See you there, on the ridge.

When this is all over :Day 7

Hop picker

.

When all this is over, said the hop-picker,

I’m going back to the time before the war

when there was morris dancing and singalongs

and blokes called Len who looked after their own

.

unless they were in the Scrubs. Before my time,

of course, same as the hop-picking.

But I almost remember the caravans

where you used to sleep, and being poor but happy,

hungry but happy, maybe, or just plain hungry.  

I’ll flog the telly,

cancel the direct debit on my phone,

.

and set off on foot to Kent, to sell my skills

to whoever needs them: people with polytunnels

who’ll show me a bed in a shed with nine other men

and no running water, and take the bed-and-board

out of my pay, so I end up owing them.

.

The Horologist

I’ll tell you about time

You see enough, you come to understand

how shallow the conceit

that one might influence the falling sand

.

The tiresome tick and tock

my patience never tested so before

The plague’s relentless mock

beat us till we in blind obeisance swore

.

I need to clean my hands

This work requires a sterile atmosphere

Should you wish to observe

then do the same before you enter here

.

Bring me your broken clock

chronometer or clepsydra to mend

This is my element

a steady eye and yet more steady hand

.

I’ll show you whole worlds

within the shifting gears of this chablon

but out beyond these walls 

could you be sure that life and love go on?

.

And though time finds its voice

from pockets, mantle pieces and bell towers

now clocks can only serve –

each timepiece striking off life’s hollow hours

.

When all of this is done

would you meet me by the meridian?

We’ll take a quiet turn

I’ll tell you of the great John Harrison

.

Ice Cream Man

.

I pass the cones across the shelf,

planting them like light bulbs

in their fists, livid blue bubble gum,

squat tubs of ripple,

coffee and walnut tasting of nothing.

.

Tourists, mostly, even in winter,

detouring south to the beach

we aren’t famous for

before heading to the hills 

where at least the ice is real.

.

Or these schoolkids and their mams

for their three-thirty rush,

tips slimmer than I used to be,

hips held in by elastic

that never sees a gym.

.

I wipe things down and see it shine

between indecisive anoraks.

I never pretend to smile.

I have worn this badge so long

I have forgotten my own name.

.

( Synergy, or the infinite bloody mindedness of the univers. …..you wait for hours and them two turn up at once)

Ice-cream Man

When all this is over, said the Ice-cream Man,

I will not hum along to any blasted tinny chimes –

Greensleeves and O Sole Mio will be put on ice.

My puppies will never be slushy or mushy

or outrageous blue – they will be fawn and warm,

with abrasive tongues like Wet and Dry.

I will not spell Kool Ices with a ‘K’ or have rivers  

run in ripples across my tongue. I will mow down 

the ninety-nine waffled police cones outside my house

and not Watch that child! I will eat scoopfuls 

of burning chilli flakes and peri-peri chicken, 

drink huge mugs of steaming chocolate, 

raise tropical twirling flowers of peach and tangerine

in my roasting greenhouse. My thermometer

will rise at night to twenty-five degrees −

I’ll tie a hot water bottle to my waist, 

look up to the stars through misted glass 

and know my eyes will not waver,

they will not be fogged; they will be dry.

.

Jones y Cig

Pan fydd hyn i gyd gorffen, meddai Jones y Cig…

                                Bryntir ap Gof, Glyndyfrdwy

.

When this is all over, said Jones the Meat,

I’ll sell the blydi siop.

For years, I haven’t eaten flesh and blood.

I hope I haven’t left it all too late,

but Jones the Bread might buy it, double up.

When this is done, I’ll tell him that he should.

.

I’ll move up to the Hafod on the hill.

It’s rented now, I know,

but soon the shepherd’s lease will run its course —

they’ll take away the bleats and passing bells.

I’ll dig the garden up and try to grow

my sort of food. I’ll buy a working horse,

.

and call it Patch, like Dafydd’s used to be.

I’ll turn the tractor shed

into a stable, plough the upper field for wheat.

Or maybe leave it growing wild. I’ll see.

When all of this is over, if I’m not dead,

I’ll close the blydi siop! said Jones the Meat.

.

Jigsaw puzzle designer

.

When this is all over, said the jigsaw puzzle designer, I’ll stop looking for identical blue bits and dark shadowed edges with the faintest hint of grey. I’ll abandon beige for the rest of my life, seek out the single bright stem, the gimlet leaf, leave overblossomed branches for someone else to fret over. I’ll take a long flight somewhere warm and as we pass over the sea, I’ll stop noticing puffs of wavecrest as differentials, and take a merlot without matching it to the headrest. When the scented woman next to me asks what I do, I’ll look at my blunt, practical hands and say “Carpet fitter”. I have transferable skills. 

.

Jack-of-all-trades

.

When this is all over, said the jack-of-all-trades, 

I will focus on doing one job really well. 

No more of this fixing, mending, bending, 

up-ending, tapping, wrapping, brushing, 

rushing, slushing, plunging, de-gunging, 

wiring, re-firing, all in one day. 

I will be full fat perfection

in my niche, I won’t spread 

my margarine-self 

so thin 

the toasty burns shine through, 

I won’t be busted for my lack

of quals or certs. I will master 

my destiny, choose my path, walk the walk 

and talk – well, I’ve always been good at that

When this is all over: Day 6

Flower Grower

Searching for seeds online, I discover

Thompson and Morgan suspended orders,

there’s a queue to get onto Sutton’s, 25571

is my number, 6,630 people ahead of me.

.

I send a help message. Try Sarah Raven a friend

suggests. My brother calls, he was lucky

on eBay. I’m not snipping and bunching now

not even for the dead or dying. 

.

The birds seem louder than ever 

and I’ve never seen so many butterflies 

in a month. I view pictures of pendulous 

flowers of rusty foxgloves and bell–shaped

.

purple columbine, deep–blue cornflowers,

forget–me–nots, ragged robin, feverfew,

herebell and hemlock. I find wild flower seeds,

buy–two–get–two–free deal with free postage.

.

I order four packets for £6.45, calculate

100 grams will do 20 square metres.

When this is all over, my colourful

heads will thrive there, undisturbed. 

.

Forger

. 

When this is all over, said the forger,
I will lay my brush aside
and drown the bristles in unglassed water
for there have been too many purple skies.
.
My first had to be signed ‘necessity’
and it was the hardest I had worked,
to catch the lie from another’s teeth
in a painting that wouldn’t hang crooked.
.
The orders fell like words after the first
and always a new trick to hide
myself in the gilt frame’s tryst.
I mixed tears to star my nights,
.
crushed toenails into a dull pearl,
yes, blood in a scarlet Hannibal glow,
every one with my back to a world
that tallowed my spine through the window.
.
It takes closed eyes, bathed in linseed and lime
to peel rhyme from an orange,
and what canvases I would unprime
for a single skin of my own paint.
.
To colour my lost moon of Etta
I would lay my lies aside.
When all of this is over
I will find a new line.

.

.
 A Gardener in Lockdown

Life has become verbs,

suffer    isolate    survive.

Out here verbs are kinder,

dig    plant    clear.

There is optimism in a seed.

A present of green space,

cherry blossom, herb 

and rosebud. I look at peonies

beginning to grow

and think about the summer

into which the petals

will blossom.

Even the weeds glow,

and the work is good and slow

and a piece of sky is mine 

whenever I look up 

from the soil. 

.

The Gardener

I lie down on the cool grass

and feel each stalk push gently

against me, trying to raise me.

I hear the sound of the bulbs 

pushing through the loam 

and pinecones cracking in the trees.

.

The garden, the only sane 

place to be, now or ever;

close to nature, your hands

feeling the essence of the earth,

your mind freewheeling

as you hear the bees breathe.

.

The sun is warm upon my face,

and birds call, oblivious to chaos

coursing through man’s world.

Dates unpicked from diaries,

appointments erased or virtualised,

liberation amongst confinement.

.

And as we emerge the other side

and look into each other’s eyes,

neighbour, kinsfolk, countryman,

any citizen of the world, we will know.

Know what they have seen,

know what we have all seen,

and felt, together.

.

The Graphic Designer

When this is all over, said the graphic designer, 

I will remove my Pantone® tinted glasses,

allow the sky to be a colour, not a number, 

lose focus as I Instagram photos without filters, 

that ignore the rule of thirds.

.

I will take a blunted pencil and sketch

bowls of fruit, half-imbibed goblets of wine,

and I will hang them in my hallway,

on nails hammered without measure,

ignore the fact that the picture on the left 

tilts with a 4° lean to the right.

.

I will default to Comic Sans, 

use emojis with wanton abandon,

crease the corner of the page

learn to colour outside the lines.

.

……………that’s we should be doing. Colouring outside the lines. More tomorrow. Jobs starting with H.

When this is all over: Day 5

Explorer

After Eilean Ni Chuilleanain’s ‘Swineherd’

.

When all this is over, said the explorer,

I’ll find my kaftan and open-toed sandals,

twist my tagelmust onto my head, pack

water, factor 50, dark glasses.

.

I’ll hail a camel, climb up between its humps,

pray I’m not seasick on our voyage into the desert.

We’ll follow corrugated tracks over the stony plateau,

turn our backs on dust storms and tourists.

.

The days will shimmer and I’ll chew figs,

drink mint tea brewed in a pot on a stove

at the edge of our path. Three green glasses 

at one sitting. We must move on. 

.

At night, I’ll shake out my clothes, my stiff legs,

lie in a scoop of sand under constellations

I can’t name, a nomad at sea in heatwaves, salt.

I will trust only the camel and go on.

.

Embroiderer

after Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

.

When all this is over and Covid-Bayeux 2020/21 declared complete

I shall leave my confined space with its fine stretchered linen

and woollen threads in every shade; I shall stop working spheres 

with stem stitch and couching — spheres I have observed 

with their particular hues, their colour variations captured

in my sketchbook along with samples worked with crewels —

I shall leave off embellishing those beautifully terrifying spheres

with their perfectly contrasting peplomers in French knots,

bullions, beading; with sequins and metallic threads; yes,

I shall stop all of this and go to where my machine’s

been waiting this long time and thread it up with best polyester;

I’ll lower the feed dogs, set tension to five and place a hoop 

of taut poplin under the 90/14 needle; press my foot

to the pedal and free motion my way out of all this.

.

Trending

(The Fashionista).

when all this is over

said the fashionista

I will flare again

.

I will zoom to Milan

and work the crowd

if I live

my style will be viral

until I pass on

if I live

if I can

crowned queen of trend

myself forever

if I live

if I can

if I want

.

but why wait at all

said the fashionista

my mask is so now

.

Firework maker 

.

When all this is over said the firework maker 

they will be calling me back

to load the gunpowder spaces in grey tubes

in a coat of carnival names.

.

There will be an explosion far from my home.

Both my ears will have turned deaf

to anything but the softer sounds

of You are my sunshine, breath

.

in a penny whistle promenade.

I will lie on the beach learning the language

of plane trails in a silent sky.

We will talk only of lining and piping. 

.

In the forest I will pick up a crab like a china cup and saucer.

Pink wafers will crumble between my teeth.

Under my fingernails forbidden warm tar 

will paint petrol perfume on the skipping rope handles.

.

I’ll follow the flanks of the great brown horse 

leading the canopied red milkcart 

as it disappears round the corner. 

Listen — the wren’s tremolo fills the wych-elm. 

.

I really liked the idea of learning the language of con trails….particularly since I live below one of the busiest long-distance flight ‘junctions’ in Europe, and I’ve learned again what a silent sky really is. I hope you’re all enjoying this as much as I am. More tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…

When this is all over: Day 4

I’m utterly delighted to start this Monday’s post off with the ultimate tradesman:

.

The Creator

When this is all over,

I’m no longer needed, and

I can finally put my feet

Up (so to speak),

For a moment I’ll take the 

Spectacle in – 

The morse code of stars,

Fields buttered with spring.

If I had a last wish I might let

Rain do what it wanted 

To do if I hadn’t invented gravity,

Or, bring the clouds down to

Flow in the river bed.

Even absolve the sins 

Of the haunted dead!

But really, these powers are

Beyond me.

No, when this is all over

I’ll take my time, carefully pack

My pillowed robes.

I will dip myself into the 

Universal sea, dissolve –

Slip between the trees –

And become unknowable

.

When this is all over: The Curator

I will rise before the sun

make my way through streets

still claimed by foxes, feral cats.

I’ll catch the first train,

sit, as before, in the middle carriage,

watch it fill.

.

I’ll listen to every word

of the litany of announcements:

a selection of drinks and light refreshments…

if you see anything suspicious…

the next station stop is…

.

When this is all over

I’ll slip in by the museum’s side door,

walk down the echoing halls

lighting each cabinet as I pass –

ridged spirals of ammonites,

a hail of belemnites,

the great grinding teeth of mammoths.

.

I will run a soft cloth 

over dusty jawbones, femurs, 

pause a while 

by the protoceratops hatchlings,

breaking out to their Cretaceous dawn.

.

When this is all over

I will fetch the step-ladders

from the caretaker’s cupboard,

set them up beside my dear diplodocus,

I’ll climb to the top,

lean in, rest my head against 

the coolness of her cheek.

.

The Dental Hygienist



.

when all this is over, said the dental hygienist


when I’m done with full protective gear


with trolleys and body-bags


and the long slog in sticky heat


from Intensive Care to the refrigerated 


trucks lined up on the far side


of the overflow car-park



.

when I’m done with the stink of death



.

I’ll be glad to get back to the office


the tropical fish flickering in their little sea


the dolphin poster blu-tacked to the ceiling 


the tinies eager for their reward stickers


and the old ones with their bleeding gums


and their knock-you-out-from-two-yards breath

.

Dustman in the days of the plague

.

I work at the dustmen’s depot

Right from seven in the morning till three

Scrubbing floors and wiping the tables,

Boiling water and brewing ‘ot tea.

.

I’m alone in the canteen all morning

Now the rest have all fallen away

But I cheer myself up by elevenses

When we all have a nice cup of tea.

.

I’ve sorrows and joys just as you have

And my feelings get just as welled up.

I have laughed with me friend the night porter.

I have mourned with the crack in a cup.

.

I know you think I am dispensable

But I’m only apprentice till June

And I hold the key to the cupboard

And I know where I keep the spoon.

.

So I know that you’ll see that I can’t die

Cos they don’t know where I keep the key

And besides just you think of the dustmen,

How they’d feel without cups of ‘ot tea.

.

I appeal to all kindly ‘and washers

To preserve me from ‘orrible doom.

Keep your distance and leave tables tidy.

Don’t anyone finger my broom.

.

The Drystone Waller

.

When all this is over, said the drystone waller,

after the long silences of millstone grit,

I shall turn to verse,

pass my days gathering myths, gathering words,

eyes adjusting to distances, looking up

to gaze at hills and seas and clouds.

.

I shall watch county cricket at the old Park Avenue,

sit on a wooden bench at the pavilion end

between Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie,

Trueman bowling to Cowdrey. 

In the luncheon interval

Brigitte will go and buy the pies

while Julie and I discuss field-placing

and Ovid’s Amores.

A day they will remember always.

.

Or we’ll wander barefoot through meadows

fresh with the flourish of early summer,

rest beneath glad green leaves by a clear stream,

its banks dense with the scent of wild garlic.

They will listen, eyes closed, 

as I recite from memory, wishing only

for more such afternoons as this.

.

And I shall build lyrics, course upon course,

shaping syllables to the memories that followed;

trade hammer and chisel for a fountain pen,

when snows are gone and warm winds blow again.

.

What a lovely last line to sign off on. Ironically, since I’m writing this in advance,the weatherman tells me that temperatures will plummet tonight. Apparently it’s all due to the Arctic Vortex. Snow forecast for the NE USA. Get your bobble hats out.

When this is all over. Day 3

Cats’ Meat Man

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

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

..

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

..

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.

………….

When this is all over: the Cleaner

.

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

.

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.

Four more poems [in the the Key of B]




(Baker)

In which he was able to stop 

When all this is over, said the baker,

I will write a note in flour dust,

poke my name and back in 5 minutes.

I will pull up the blinds to the afternoon;

let the sun melt macaroons and French fancies.

..

I will put down a carpet, I’m tired 

of hardness, I want something with more – give.

I’ll run a bath and sink to the chin,

lie for hours, let the cold out, more hot in.

I’ll go to bed late, wake at dinner.

When all this is over I’ll buy cheap white

from the corner shop, take out two slices,

slather on butter, fill them with crisps.

I’ll press them, thin as paper between my palms,

just so I know what I might have missed.

..

(Balloonist) When This is All Over

When this is all over, said the balloonist,

I will bring my basket back over Burnsall Bridge,

causing a raucous scatter of rooks and mallards,

ducking through ancient trees and modern hazards.

Runners will chase my shadow, my full-bellied ghost,

as it wheezes and roars overhead, buffering through

fleeced flocks of scattering clouds in pastures of blue,

their shadows racing the sunlight roaming the fell.

..

Then rusty weekend campers from Appletreewick,

and hikers, booted in blisters, too long off their feet,

will cluster outside the Red Lion, that first siren thrill

of real ale loosening anecdotes too long left dry.

..

And I’ll bump my basket down through bracken and gorse,

the tang of horse and Friesian, and Swaledale sheep,

my envelope like a stray rainbow settling to earth,

buoyed by belief and helium-high on hope.

The next poem broke all the rules, or simply ignored them. But it made me laugh, which more than you can say for the daily news..

………

Bingo Caller Blues

Rise and shine, a cup of tea

For you and me at Torquay in Heaven

Berlington Bertie and Dirty Gertie

Nearing the top of the shop

We’re staying in……….. distancing 

on Doctor’s Orders , staying alive, 

out of Boris’s Den, almost retired 

should be feeling Zen.

..

But me? I’m only halfway there

I got the bingo caller blues

Can’t call it out.  

My numbers not up 

and there’s no full house.

Can’t exercise my right

to rhyme every night

I got the bingo caller A-Z

1 to 90 blues

My Queen Bee, she loves to stay indoors

counts 39 more steps In her droopy drawers.

Then makes another Christmas cake

She’s tickety boo, not  in a state

baking brownies in the oven by the triple dozen

..

But me ? I’m only halfway there

I got the bingo caller blues

Can’t call it out

My numbers not up 

and there’s no full house

Can’t exercise my right

To rhyme every night

I got the bingo caller A-Z

1 to 90 blues

..

Every now and then we hear the garden gate

We’re not suffering a Ghandi’s Breakfast fate

A knock at the door bringing Chicken Vindaloo.,

It’s time for tea, anyway up, 

meal for Two, a favourite of mine, 

Grandma’s getting frisky, she’s so damn fine

..

But me? I’m only halfway there

 I got the bingo caller blues

Can’t call it out

My numbers not up 

and there’s no full house.

Can’t exercise my right

to rhyme every night

I got the bingo caller A-Z

1 to 90 blues

..

I’m feeling two and six

need to get up to tricks

take the key of the door

think young and keen.

There’s one score in me yet

I’m not a has been  

and it’s a bull’s eye!

I’ve still got it @Danny La Rue. 

I’ll use my legs eleven 

on the stairway to Heaven

To buckle my shoe

to get up and run

have some duck and dive fun

.. 

Jogging along, this Kelly’s Eye

Shouting out my numbers at passers by

On the sunset strip along the Brighton Line

It soothes my soul, don’t ask me why

Then unlucky for some just as I’m feeling fine

Here comes Herbie with his sirens on

I get arrested waiting in the queue 

For Fish Chips and peas

–           For shouting “ TWO FAT LADIES

–           HIT THE FLOOR,

–           DOWN ON YOU KNEES

That’s why, I got the bingo caller blues

Can’t call it out

My numbers not up 

and there’s no full house

Can’t exercise my right

To rhyme every night

I got the binger caller A-Z

1 to 90 blues.

..

The Bookbinder

When I retire, I’ll shimmy 

from my dusty workshop

and the smell of fish glue

will be laundered from my skin forever. 

..

I’ll give my scapel, 

Stanley Knife, 

and cutting mat 

to my red-haired daughter. 

..

I’ll show her the secrets

of the trade: the lock stitch 

and kettle stitch, 

the flat back and fly-leaf.

.. 

For I’m weary of straight lines,

embossed leather, the weight 

of volumes on bookshelves

like Vatican crowds demanding communion.

.. 

I long for an open road, a mandolin 

and an apple, snug in my pocket, 

evening sun catching the light of

that curved square in Sienna.

… 

The Boulangére

When the last embers die in the four, 

and the door scrapes its final crescent over the floor, 

I’ll watch the moon scythe through night’s prairie, 

track the Milky Way’s dusted trail to the doorstep of morning.

…..

I will spoon with my man, shape his flesh until he yields to my need. 

We will not rise until the sun sinks into earth’s golden crust.

Day and night will roll into one like a heavenly pain au raisin.

I will grow fat on the sweetness of it.

..

There are those who like to bake on a beach in the Med.

A run-of-the-mill type, I have little appetite for the exotic,

I’ll bare my head to a fall of snow, let it lie on my shoulders 

like grist, or the dander of my dead self.

..

I will dress in red, take up calligraphy, dip my pen in the blackest ink, 

swash through the bleached white space with a new vocabulary.

When I tire of that, I’ll sling a hammock between trees, 

sway like a pale baguette, naked and wanton.

..

On weekdays I’ll lie on my back in a cornfield, hear 

through its ears the scutter of mouse, feel in my bones the creation 

of mole’s orogenies, until the sky breaks its monotony 

with a brazen streak.

…….

I’ll go home to the warmth of a rekindled fire, 

the homespun house toasty as a new baked loaf, 

wine breathing soft in the carafe; proof of a man’s good love.

When the last embers die in the four, may it give us this day.

………

More tomorrow. With all sorts of possibilities…like carpenters, chauffeurs, chiropractors, cabinet makers, chemists, cleaners, cooks, chefs, chimneysweeps, clockmakers, chiromancers……….Who can say?