Lee Shore

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Image by David Rowland

 

I remember the day the tied went out,
with my toes in shifting sand,
the day we walked by the restless sea
with our backs to the huddling town:
when the salt breeze lifted up your hair
and I failed to understand
that, on this day, the sky would fall
and the stars flee underground.

We strolled from crop to rocky crop
across the sun-streaked shore,
and laid our fleeting tracks of time
where none had been before;
and I called to you above the wind
but it chanced that you did not hear;
for you turned your steps towards the waves
and I was left standing there.

Perhaps it was the sea’s complaint
that rose and fell in your head;
perhaps, it wasn’t me at all,
nothing I did or said.
I like to think you didn’t know,
that it took you by surprise,
the day you shook the heavens
till the stars fell from the skies.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley (previously Wyatt)

Ice Age

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This time we more than disagree;
the air between us is arctic.
Though I hear the snow shiver
and the ice groan,
there is little hope of a thaw.

I search your face anyway
for signs of spring;
the poppies on your lips still flower;
but your tongue tears
at the root of my mouth,
and your sharp eyes.

Solstice

We need more the power of magic now
since we turned our gaze away,
since we closed up our ears
to the earth’s sweet hum
and heard only the great
rasping of our greed;
though we wear our science artfully
still it catches us
and snares us in;
our little learning is lost
to us in this scrabbling
and lusting after wealth.

The ways of magic woo us
now that we are cast adrift.
(It was long ago we broke
our faith when we made
our wants our creed.)
If the great oak cracks
and bows his back
and the green girl tears at her veil,
we will bare our bones
and feed its fires
while the great wheel
hurtles and burns.

For the chorus of the magi calls:
though we shrivel and we shrink,
the dragon rises up to roar
and we must feel its breath;
and we may be heroes, all of us
that grapple with the moon
and brave the flames
to find again our vision
and our strength.Image

‘Coming Soon’: My Poem Appears at Poetry 24 Today

Recently, while catching up on what the BBC is pleased to call its News Channel – although it is, in fact, increasingly dominated by topics which are not actually news – I witnessed a shameful display of gerontophobia from the three presenters who were involved in ‘The Papers’, a nightly discussion of the stories appearing in the next day’s press.

In the course of this item, all three of the presenters laughed and joked about the suggestion that elderly people were being passed over for medical treatment on the grounds that they were old and, therefore, in terms of economics not ‘worth’ saving. The ‘problem’ of pensions was mentioned and it was pointed out, still amidst much laughter, that it would be a good thing if some elderly people died because their demise would help solve that problem. My partner and I sat open-mouthed and this display of mindless cruelty on the part of three people in a position of privilege and what should have been responsibility. I was extremely upset by the incident. ‘Coming Soon’ is my response.

Read ‘Coming Soon’ here.

Politics vs. Literature

(with apologies to Mr Orwell)

Let’s keep politics out of this.
It’s only entertainment, after all.

There are many Truths and Beauty, as you know,
is always in the eye of the beholder.

As for narratives, be they ever so grand,
they really are so very last year.

Let us, as professionals, polish our skills;
let us make a whetstone of perfection.

Poets, though, do it mostly for love,
there being piss poor profit in verse.

So when is a poem not a poem at all?
When it’s song that breaks the rules.

And when does the song-bird forget to sing
if not when she’s hobbled and tied?

The smart set would strive for anonymity now
but how will they know when they arrive there?

Perhaps, after all, we have waited too long
to find we all have a story to sell.

Orwell’s essay here

‘The Repo Man’ and Other Horror Stories

On TV today, ‘The Repo Man’,
a look at life lived on the edge
that comforts and scares in equal measure,
we who have so much still to lose.
Though we are not there yet,
on the grim edge of the abyss
we may, at any moment, miss our footing;
and to think of this man, like a broad side of beef,
with his hand as big as shovels on a digger,
reminds us of the way we may go
and causes us to tremble in our boots.

Our schedulers are kind, though: they offer us shows
that help us to see our silver linings:
our prime-time viewing is composed
of the lives of those who must struggle to eat;
then there are those who, by disease or misfortune,
have been robbed of their chance for simple happiness:
freaks and midgets and paraplegics,
those who are marooned by their own appetites,
those who are paraded to cavort like grotesques
and caper like hunch-backs and fools.

It is we who are the fools, though, for we are taken in,
dumb in the face of so much outrage:
by our dull consent, we bring to our own homes
the stink and clamour of the booth;
and, by its execution, this ‘entertainment’,
makes a fairground and a circus of humanity.
Who profits by it? Who oils the wheels?
What is the hand that cracks the whip?

Song of the Labouring Poor

(written after the burial of Margaret Thatcher)

We’re all as rich as Croesus now
and the labouring poor is no more.
Class war went of the window;
and, instead, we have social rapport.

Since Marx was proved wrong, the militant left –
and it never did know what was what –
has found itself bruised and divided,
bereft of all hope and sans plot.

Today we have ‘strivers’ and those who ‘aspire’
and consumers hell-bent to consume;
but, try to disguise it however you may,
the truth is it’s all bust and boom.

Joe Public won’t even get angry
at the way the big banks carry on:
he’s stupid and slow and appears not to know
how the great money swindle was done.

No one believes in the family of man;
it’s every man jack for himself.
It’s less about truth and conviction than
power and status and personal wealth.

At the top it’s all champagne and roses
and, while those in the middle get squeezed,
they still get to look down their noses
at the class this last century deceived.

But it may be the time is for turning:
this circus may prove the last straw.
The bonfire she lit is still burning:
may its torches not light us to war?