A lone man polishes his car lovingly with big white cloths,
Pausing to reminisce momentarily in his quest for the perfect gloss;
Thunder-thighed girls on suet diets,
The ‘English Rose’ – reality a farm of heifers –
Lurch behind hockey sticks as they chase failed dreams that failed in the dreaming,
All down-to-earth, mundane stuff
That shapes their bodies and thin, urgent calls
Stabbing peremptorily at the bounded worlds they live in;
A toy-town jeep carries home the smile of a man who stopped smiling,
The pinnacle of his achievement this crowning glory in blue,
Hopes lived out, dashed, all coalesced in this one symbol of the estate, the multimillionaire, the cool,
Four wheels and a coat of paint –
Two teenage girls, thin lips, sour minds,
Argue in bric-a-brac thoughts over the rights and wrongs of nothings,
Leery-eyed, ready to pounce on the technicalities
Whilst missing the purpose,
Lives of needles and pins and baloney balancing on the tightrope of social acceptability.
A dumpling woman says ‘Hello’ to the cats and the trees,
Somehow life lived passed her by,
She was there, she took part, but never noticed,
A teflon spirit that says all the right things,
Felt no impact, had no impact,
Gaudy butterfly seen better days,
Wanderer alone in the woods of her mind where everything sings –
Off-beam and only odd when you look.
Here marches an old lady,
Vera Lynn and memories of war,
Hair fell out when she passed 80,
Kidneys and boiled cabbage,
But she’s happy,
Stoic in her lot –
The walking stick her friend –
Pausing to genuflect briefly at acquaintances who nod,
Birds fly by,
The sun sings,
Invisible to the naked eye:
But my eye’s not naked.
A teenager on a buzz-board
Craps up and down the road
In a fart of cracking sounds
That echo like ping-shots
Off sullen, browbeaten suburban-semi walls –
Not his Mum, dumb,
Proudly staring, oblivious to social responsibility,
The new breed of flawed womanhood,
Do you see those stars?
Do you see those stars?
Each one is a person,
And here we are in our untold millions:
God made our lives,
And each life runs its course and then is done,
All dues totted up before the One –
Live tall; stay strong;
Listen to the Right, ignore the Wrong;
Fight to keep your gaze upon the Sun:
The future’s always Truth, where you belong.
Three spiky-minded little girls,
Princesses in pink and designer-wear,
Sharp like new nails,
Stab stiletto thoughts round the sunshine of their laughter and smiles,
A camouflage of gloss that’s all too perfect,
Hiding the sneak-thievery of their minds
And eyes aware with calculation,
Modern kids with rights –
The right to be subtly insulting,
The right to be nastily manipulative,
The right to instil fear with lies,
The right to set one crazed, maddened adult against another,
The right to be innocent and never in the wrong,
The right to do as they wish, really,
‘Cos that’s all that matters.
Estate Dad glowers out of the window,
Escaped from the hell-hole to here,
Not quite adjusted,
His kids snapping and snarling in their minds –
Outward pretence is fine but the dog-eat-dog surfaces
In low-grade amorality,
The drifting street thugs coalescing around this low point in acceptability
Where anything goes,
Raucous threats and denials –
‘Don’t you accuse ME! Or I’ll have my Mum on YOU!’
It must have been bitter where they lived, for their hearts are frosted over,
And for some the thaw will never come –
Too long, too late,
Twisted out of shape,
Like stunted trees in a cold, cold wind.
Here comes Fred:
Alcohol did for him,
And the wife-beating;
Look in those eyes and you’ll see he always took the easy way,
One of the gang, blowing with the wind –
Strange how it affected him.
Being pals with everyone is pals with no one
And a stranger to yourself,
It was the loneliness that crushed him.
Upright and moral,
The Kashmiri family (network, meshwork)
Maintains a dignity and respect (interlaced)
Within its own structure (inward-looking, strong)
That fails to see the outside world (it doesn’t exist)
For anything important (family, family),
A self-referential oasis in the dead-souled gloom (locked-in, solid)
Riding the waves of News like a little boat
Pretending the sea isn’t there –
Islands are all right,
But isn’t love turned inwards just selfishness?
Glam Mum walks past and the sadness trails behind her like her child does:
Glam Mum defies age,
Her beauty burnt on her skin with the harsh glare of UV,
Her clothes from all the best shops,
Like her face.
Glam Mum divorced and lost her heart,
And found it replaced by bitterness,
Which doesn’t show,
Not on her –
Her child carries the weight:
Poison like pus wells up from the child’s heart.
How did it happen?
Another child with Rights and unhappiness,
Twisting every careless word into a knife she harbours and then unsheathes –
Keep your mouth closed before her because she’ll
You won’t see the blow,
Just feel the after-effects,
The rage of stung adults,
The fire of tormented youths;
Glam Mum walks into the distance,
And the child casts a mean glance backwards.
A Drunk for a Husband
This woman has a drunk for a husband,
Her culture makes it unacceptable not to accept,
Buttoned down, buttoned up,
Under the carpet,
Behind the stairs,
She cries in the night like a cat, no tears,
All her sadness whispered to the moon
And me – who once was there.
The rage is tiring her, escaped,
Always out of her grasp:
She has no focus to direct it against the man who, slab-like,
Wobbles his belly along the street
In upright, overweening pride –
Oh culture, this is thy shame!
In his loneliness
A wilderness of hurt:
His instability is frightening,
Hid behind a shark-lip smile.
Touch, and he explodes;
Push, and he lashes out:
Best left alone in the dark silence of his mind.
Too near the edge and he’d jump –
He finds an obsessive quest that keeps him on the straight and narrow.
Here it is, then,
An unwillingness to change,
An inability to compromise,
A world-view that says he’s always right.
Now, in his loneliness, he faces up to himself,
For it was his self that brought him here:
He rages, but not at her.
The lesson learnt, he focuses his anger on his stupidity
And walks out into the wild wind.
What do we know about Smiler?
As the wind whips her face she smiles,
As the grim thin thoughts of loneliness curdle her brain she smiles them away.
Smiler no-mates walks with a mask etched on by torment only guessed at,
The dowdy one at school,
The one left out,
The one stabbed with words by the sheep-brained stiletto mob.
Smiler! I catch myself thinking, there’s a beautiful person in there,
Sunshine and smiles and warm cuddles,
The bastards have gone away!
You’re free now! Drop the mask!
But Smiler is too scared and the bastards have won,
The shallow-eyed suburban wretches who retched out the vomit of their minds
On this poor girl –
I wish them all to hell.
Smiler the Strong One,
Smiler the Thoughtful One,
Smiler who can’t – won’t – let go.
Three youths, brothers,
Their father was too rich,
Spent all his time loving money, not his kids,
Had the car for show,
Wore nice clothes,
Looked up to, a pillar of the sheep-like community,
Who ‘baaaad’ their approval
And can’t understand why his sons are so baaaad.
Busy, busy, busy
This woman is busy busy busy,
Work is HER ethic:
The harder you work, the happier you are;
Thoughts went out of the window a long time ago,
Once she’d found a rock to cling to.
Her certainty makes life easy,
Though she slips and slides and slithers:
Somehow, however, she always ends up atop her rock,
Proclaiming to the world how right she is,
How right she was all along.
Here comes Christine:
A professional Christian, she glad-hands me,
Smiles in warmth and splendour,
Asks after my children, my wife,
Laughs and exclaims, ‘The world is full of Joy!
Are you saved?’
‘Come and see me sometimes!’ she says,
And I nod again –
‘Thursday at 2?’ I ask. ‘I’m free then’.
In slow-motion her face freezes,
Her eyes die,
The muscles round her jaw gasp for air.
‘Or maybe 5?’
She nods and stammers incoherently,
Just for a microsecond,
Her mind casting round for ways to escape;
I didn’t hear the excuses,
Too amused by the action in front of me:
She blossoms up flowers without substance,
Petals evanescent as they’re born,
Words and pictures that camouflage her retreat
Quite nicely, thank you.
Who would know?
Abrahem came here looking for hope,
Found only despair:
Abrahem spends his days scavenging off bits of work that float his way –
Too often fleeced, he bobs along in the undercurrent of society,
Not visible unless you look,
Slowly drowning in a torture more sweet than any by Saddam (Bastard!) Hussein.
Abrahem lost his wife and baby son,
Killed by a bomb,
A gas attack on the Kurds:
For two years he wasn’t quite sane.
Stuck between two rival guerilla armies, he joined one,
Fled when his mind came back and he saw how amorally it was run –
Abrahem, poor Abrahem!
Russia, Greece and Spain,
Days on a train,
The winter cold and crooks along the way,
He survived it all to land in the UK,
A land of drear not cheer
And a deluded leader with a career plan of WAR!
He wasn’t made welcome.
Filled with the retchings of the crapoids
The blank-eyed population buried their heads in work
And looked on with hostility:
Laws, and the tightening of laws, and the tightening again,
Slowly, like a noose,
Pumping out his breath,
Bit by bit, Abrahem, died, inside –
Integrity corroded where no man can stand the hidden insults,
The withholding of work and rights –
The English way,
The sad, sad English way,
The selfish way,
The pretend-it’s-not-happening way,
The sad sad English losers’ way.
Abrahem died one night but his corpse still walks the streets
As we English scurry home.
This is Rachel,
Lives in a house of chaos –
Unhappiness is her way of life.
She walks the streets in the rain bedraggled,
Hair lank and the smile of laughter died in her eyes.
No one looks after her.
Crisps and pop pile up in the kitchen,
Cheap abundance in a household of smells;
The T.V glowers darkly,
The lights are off,
A fug surrounds this focus of insularity
In Mum and Dad’s dank sweat-filled world.
Poor Rachel –
She could have been a Star.
But Mum has young children and no ambition,
Dad likes to veg. out,
And between them there’s not enough attention.
A life of loneliness,
The pressure from religion,
A screaming intensity of excitement and activity
Followed by a decline into sadness and despair
Too cruel to say he’s gone,
But he went.
Blossomed in defeat,
The flower and shell opening,
The world carved up before him;
All was open for those who knew.
But openness doesn’t get you a job,
Won’t help you find a girlfriend;
The fragility and tenderness of the underside exposed
Does nothing in this world without stability.
Was it chemicals in his brain?
Did he really go insane?
Or was the ‘flip’ a bigger version of our daily lives,
When we too jump and jerk around in surprise
At what Life throws our way?
Derek had to stay in a home.
Well, that was the end of a life short-lived,
The roll-ups, the baccy, the clothes slightly tacky –
No, I can’t go on.
But now the world was different, at least for him,
And I looked in and on.
You walk the street in your army surplus camouflage gear
And all that holds you to hope is a name –
Not any name,
Now this is the strange thing, Elvis,
That actually you’re not the only Elvis,
But one of many the same,
A little lost, a little confused,
No home yet
And dreams and ambitions beyond your reality.
And so you find a name to cling to.
I have respect for you,
But a cautious respect,
Because the volcano of instability that is YOU
Hides behind the Man’s name,
Ready to nail me with a fist
When the Man has gone –
And he goes when you’re questioned too deeply,
When you feel threatened,
When the ego behind the mask can no longer hold the heavy weight
Here’s a safe middle-class life:
Her aspirations were good,
Her hopes clear and mundane,
Her children smart,
The home well looked after.
But something was amiss –
In all the tumult of her success,
The welter of her friends,
The slow progress to status,
There was a shadow concealing a flaw
That cracked her bliss.
It was never her fault,
Never would be –
Someone was Always To Blame
You wouldn’t have thought it,
Not to look at her,
But how can you communicate when You’re Always In The Wrong?
Sweetheart is friendly with everyone,
But it’s a saccharine insecurity
That drips me in honey and flowers,
And after a while the sweetness is too rich
And I yearn to get away.
Frightened of offending anyone,
Sweetheart yearns to be loved,
And walks the extra mile a dozen times every minute.
She was there when I needed her,
And my gratitude is deeper than her well of caresses –
But don’t come too close.
Rage was her compressed drive,
But a rage kept well-hidden –
Propelled her through the ranks to junior level,
Where her aspirations set their sights on the Top.
To get there would be a struggle,
But she was determined –
You would all struggle with her,
Due to her.
Ah, the delights of the Junior Manager!
The political wheeling-dealing,
The arbitrary commands,
The total ignorance of personal interaction,
The selfishness, duplicity and arrogance that marks out the craven wannabe
Chasing her ‘destiny’.
And then she had a child.
Returned to normal,
Mellowed out, chilled out, hit the real world
I recommend that all bosses should bring up a baby single-handed for a year.
Our hope paints the future
Our hope paints the future,
Our very breath carries our weight of spirit to the stars,
Our dreams are our connection.
Let us, then, seek the clearest light;
Let us listen to the simplest truths;
Let us yearn for the plainest joys.
We are, ourselves, greater than we believe –
Our task is to uncover our strengths,
Our purpose is to speak out our lives.
Let us live with integrity;
Let us be born with compassion;
Let us burn with the desire to change.
We hold nothing but life –
In our eyes is a spiritual destiny.
And I mean rough –
A scraggly briar by the roadside:
This is an estate that throws them fertile in the air,
Watches them land,
Like popcorn in a pan hurled out of their hot home.
Something inside must tell them to attempt escape,
But half of them fall back in,
Missing family and easy, lowest-common denominator normality –
This fishwife tears her tongue out and beats it against your wall just to get in,
Brazen in the cadging of fags,
Bringing up two children like semi-feral wolves
Hunting through your clothes and drawers –
Best mates with everyone instantly,
No parenting skills,
Pass the blame and pass the buck,
She’ll give permission to her children to stone your windows
If you don’t bend her way
And pretend to give a f***.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasel
Mr. and Mrs. Weasel
Drip down the road like slugs and oil,
Buttery and flowers,
He with the sharp eyes and no morals,
She with the loose jowls and sliding talk
Impossible to pin down.
Their house is nice;
Their car is nice;
Their friends are whoever’s useful.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasel –
Also known as the Slipperies –
Have modest jobs and minor authority
They exercise with as much dignity
As a King and Queen.
Woe betide the revolution!
They’ll tick your names off as you go for execution!
Oh, the grief has drained her face and all her energy,
Walks without a smile down the long road towards oblivion,
Her cares are no-cares, for what does she care?
All lost in the wind;
The wild, wild wind that sweeps them all away
Like leaves on a breeze
Towards the mountain that is Home:
All gone, and just the remainder left behind,
You’d walk in her shoes but they’re cold,
And so you smile and avert your eyes hastily:
Her oblivion, so yearned for,
Contrasts sharply with your desire for life.
This man is a ghost,
I’ve seen him from my past –
The claustrophobic carpets, war-time music, teak-veneered furniture,
Gas fire always on,
A snug little home,
A hell-hole for a rat to gnaw on plump kittens.
Don’t take a bath – he’ll peek round the door!
The psychological warfare begins in the morning,
The casual undermining, the pleading, the criticism,
Then continues in the evening –
Chocolates, your favourite music,
He treats you well, this damp little man.
A motorbike accident crippled his balls, apparently:
He can’t get it up.
Three times in a row his hot water bottle bursts,
Three nights he inveigles himself into my bed and tries it on,
I finally twig and I’m GONE.
‘Oh yes,’ his colleague says casually, ‘Ah!’
Screams, and more screams:
The thin life of the young mother perambulates towards me
In chaos and smacks and shouts,
Not one person but three,
Because she lost her identity;
Recovers it in an instant as we pass,
Remembers who she is, what she is,
The dreams she had,
The personality that encased and expressed her.
We exchange pleasantries,
She drops down the facade like steel shutters masking her despair,
Expresses pride in her kids, rolls her eyes,
Carries on –
Not one but three,
And the wind sings their tune backwards,
‘Three into one don’t go,
But we try,
My God we try!’
Three into one don’t go,
And in the distance she pushes on.
The Hard Kids
Here come the hard kids,
A slovenly gang on the way down –
So much status at school!
But no one told them that school’s an illusion,
That out in the real world no one gives a damn,
That the power-swagger and the gob,
The lead-weight resistance and the bullying count for nothing.
Set in concrete from too much practice, their mean and angry faces
are losing it,
Uncertainty like a glimmer creeping in:
You can see it in their eyes,
The slowly dawning surprise,
The future fading, no jobs, no hope, no money,
And all they have left to cling to is their yobbery.
Factory-doomed (if they’re lucky)
The group will split in ones and twos over the coming years
As reality settles home,
And this one marries, this one moves house,
This one attempts escape and this one dies.
But for now, chunky and forlorn in their base certainty,
They pose in their washed-out clothes outside the school gates
And try and recapture their authority.
A small life went wrong.
Somewhere, behind those angry eyes,
There must have been dreams
But the dreams have all gone.
Now you make people’s lives a misery,
Treading the tram-line rules,
Treating as a weapon your little knowledge on a small thing –
It’s an excuse to let the hatred out.
You escalate with as much skill as a fisherman playing a fish,
Luring into the dark weeds of deeper, more formidable rules
Your naive prey:
There’s always the hope, then, that you’ll catch a Big One
At the end of your mean-lived day.
He looks so cool, so full of life,
The flushed cheeks, the manly swagger,
Bonhomie exuding from his pores like his sweat,
But he has a secret – quite a few.
His qualifications false,
He leans his weight on those around him
And sucks out their force.
The last one you’d expect,
Vampire-man drains ideas, sympathy, emotions,
And leaves everyone feeling faint in his path.
He pushed – and then he pushed again –
And when he could no longer push he pushed some more.
He had it all for a moment,
But the moment didn’t last,
And was just the transition before the balls began to fall.
Juggling his life, desperate for success,
Karate-man had the glamour,
The big house,
His health went first –
Kidneys, I believe –
But who cares?
It made no difference:
It all began to crumble away.
Built on fast talk and illusions,
In a pseudo-world of deals and regulations,
He played the game like it was a game to be played,
Divorced from reality.
The pornography of business-speak seduced him:
He didn’t realise it was just that,
When he went down he fought like he thought all good businessmen should,
High drama, an exploding ‘engine’, a big crash –
Last I heard of him he was in a nursing home,
But who knows?
You can’t live your life from the outside, like the world says you should –
You live it from the inside, and the reality you create reflects YOU!
Actually, that’s what he did.
In The Same Arc
Here’s warmth unremarkable,
A lifetime of struggle cheerily overcome,
Three kids, an alcoholic husband, divorce,
The day-to-day miracle of kept integrity
Forging through life
Whilst all around fall.
It’s a privilege to meet you,
A privilege to see the lamp held and to follow the light,
To be in the same arc –
Not many walk this way in the night,
And the lights are few:
I trust your sight.
Your dream is your dream
Your dream is your dream;
Your hopes are your hopes;
Your Way is your Way.
Each of us has a Dream,
And each dream is a burden and a hope –
You were made strong enough to carry your dream:
No one can carry it but you.
In your weakest hours, when the vessel’s broken, pray;
Your spirit is forgiving.
Dig deep, and beneath your Dream is a purpose,
And that purpose stays the same.
Chase your purpose;
From your purpose comes meaning.
Your dream is your dream,
Your hopes are your hopes,
Each day is another day.
She carries her strength in her bitterness,
Overdrawn on love:
The projection of all that’s Outside through her voice and attitude
Is her triumph.
Being strong, however, comes from within,
And burning the flame with a view to the Outside
Starves the within of oxygen;
Her great pretence devours her.
Where’s all that strength now?
Cancer invaded her bones:
The wish to be strong to the outside world
Sapped her vitality.
I still live;
And her great dream, to be carried through by force of will and determination,
Died with her.
Pretend not; be as you are; fail, and worry not:
The future can’t be forced.
An illusion of beauty,
You’ve got the clothes and some glamour,
Not quite mutton, certainly not lamb,
But there’s no discipline, and the body’s turned to fat.
Headscarf off, smart car,
This is Identity held to Money,
Yet somehow the two don’t mix.
A few years at most and then you’ll be bored,
Perhaps an affair,
Perhaps a job –
Or sadness and despair.
Lonely old age
Loneliness creaks her bones through their life,
From the very well of her being she drinks up her despair,
Surrounded by the shadows of vitality
In their children, their cars, their clothes –
No man will have her now, as she echoes on the landscape,
A faint shout too dried up to care:
But she cares.
The shades are welcoming her in,
The door’s around the corner, a little open:
But still, she’s a woman, she’s alive.
Husk-breath escapes her thoughts,
Her soul shivers as it’s beckoned,
The vestiges of the long dance prey on her mind.
There’s a yearning,
A call to the soul of the wild,
To very life itself, faint and distant,
Melancholic but insistent,
Before she says goodbye.
An Army Man
An army man and gruff,
Seeks refuge in a bottle,
A man’s man and tough,
Always on his mettle:
This is a man with a thousand faces from the army,
Hammered out on the conveyor belt of Responsibility, Courage, Rules,
Thought is allowed, but stays mundane,
Solves problems within limits, but never strays beyond those limits.
There’s morality and integrity in spades, bravery in the face of the enemy,
Courage beyond courage,
But he’s running away inside –
Demons, for sure, that drove him here,
Yet without those demons he’d be nothing.
What can you do?
His path’s set –
Change the man and destroy the man:
Strong and on guard he forges unwaveringly through life,
Gripping tight to his certainty.
A Dragon’s Curse
A Dragon’s Curse,
Treasure revealed as turds,
Clouds as fag-smoke settled on the walls,
The mountains broken buildings.
And now you beg.
Star-dust before your eyes and the emptiness that was
Filled now with the dread of loss of nothing that you had,
For the Dragon’s breath is a curse that expands into emptiness,
But leaves a gaping void more dreadful than the hollowness of before.
You bleed –
There’s proof of that.
Ice wouldn’t melt in her mouth;
Her eyes full of calculation,
Buried behind a smile and a beautiful body,
Ice Queen had it all weighed up –
But something’s gone wrong.
Time’s running out!
Find a man!
She hunts through the pack,
Shuffles the cards,
Finds one that’s dumb.
Not too bright, not too aware,
He sleepwalks to her tits and curving finger,
Fascinated by her face and figure,
Seeing warmth and laughter
Where all others hear ice-crystals shatter.
There’s a mundane life ahead of you now, my son;
You’ll work for her baubles,
Be shaped by her foibles,
Drown in her desires, which won’t be fires.
Enjoy her cold warmth for a while,
Imagine you’ve found The One.
There’s no escape;
She’s far too clever,
The future’s mapped out,
The trap’s been sprung.
But a shadow,
Her dream consumed and left a husk of humanity,
All warmth gone in the ticking clock
That marked her progress
Towards The Dream.
Ah! The Dream!
Movement dies in the pursuit of emptiness,
And all that’s left is a shell
Abandoned to the street, her kids snuck and stumped
In feral loneliness
And the wild in their eyes
Set their course for life.
Four lives fucked:
The dream withered and died.
Sandra lives in a world of make-believe,
Sucks all around her into a vortex of uncertainty –
But it’s uncertainty without boundaries,
Greys upon greys, shades into shades,
Where the sun becomes the moon with the lightest touch
And a mundane life transmogrifies into drama –
A dawning awareness creeps into the lives of the shadow-pawns
She plays with as much skill as a Master,
Taken for a ride,
Worlds in collision,
Chaos and confusion –
It Can’t Be!
Heads hit brick walls
And for a while the planet forgets to sing.
But there’s recovery –
For her, maybe, if she plays the game right –
And Life Will Go On,
Though shock and amazement have tilted the Earth off its beam
Permanently for some.
The Hippy-Hippy Shake
Let’s do the hippy-hippy shake!
Cold mountain streams,
Mist in the mornings,
The sea crashing on a thunderous shore,
Rain, and sun, and a dead turtle on the beach;
A mulberry tree, a well,
A fire, fresh fish –
Who could want more?
Out in the distance there’s always a horizon,
Always a new camp,
Always a future;
And a willing soul, trudging up stony paths,
Living life to the full.
Hey! I salute you!
But when the journey’s done,
Where do you return?
Exploration is its own illusion,
And the seas and the clouds offer no solution,
Only a partial redress of what was never a mistake,
Sit in the pine forests,
Listen to the drums,
Have the eagle land beside you;
You’ll find no answers until your heart’s ready,
And your heart could have been ready at home.
But hey! Why worry!
This is your journey,
And may the ice-cream and smiles of your life light up all those around you.
Here is the moment
Here is the moment touched in a fleeting feeling,
And all the moments are but one,
Take this as the day’s treasure, piled unseen:
The Moments accrue.
Slowly, with a change so deep it becomes meaning, you change,
And the moments have a use.
Now there’s purpose in what you do,
An intensity of direction,
A joy and triumph of the Will.
But willpower has to be dropped:
Life lived transcends such machinations;
The clarity of the moment returns.
On, on to a clean spirit;
On,on to a clean life;
May we be beautiful in our Awareness.
This woman has a hard face turning sour,
Too much power,
Too easy a life,
Too used to getting her own way.
Look in those eyes and die –
The façade is strong when it needs to be,
Full of cheer and vitality,
But the spirit’s Wrong,
Turned to selfishness and brittle intolerance.
She’ll squash you with a thumb,
Put you down with cold oblivion,
Trample your existence with contempt
As she basks in the dancing light
And for the moment is One.
Good to see you fall,
Crashing like a child on a spoilt day out,
It surprised us all
How your strength was but an illusion.
Another sharp girl plus degree –
Bubbly, full of life,
She has it all, the looks, the glamour (yawn),
Knows how to present herself,
What to say, when to say,
Ohh, Miss Purr-fection,
What a confection,
Where do they all end up?
How come they aren’t all
Rupert has a soul trapped within a bubbled body,
All wobbly and loose,
Disjointed and fractious in the commanding,
A legion of signals misheard
Whilst the commander sits in the ivory tower in despair,
Distant from it all
And the world running madly around.
Through his telescope Rupert spies on life,
Getting it all wrong sometimes,
Not making sense of it,
And other times sending his spirit to the heart of the matter.
Rupert lives to survive,
Breathes to live,
But in his breathing there’s desperation,
For what is life without the living?
No life, for sure;
And so he concentrates on the breathing,
Letting sunshine in – but not too much,
And will destroy him as surely as a butterfly trapped in a cage.
Can anyone let Rupert out?
Can anyone hear him shout?
He keeps his shouting to a minimum;
Hope rustles the leaves and wakes the dead,
But Hope has a future, and Dreams,
And Rupert has None …
You wouldn’t want to be Eric –
Eric was a policeman once, suffered a stroke;
His wife tried, but couldn’t cope,
And one day Eric arrived in hospital, covered in burns.
Look in her eyes now and see the hurt –
He stays quiet,
Says not a word,
But he must have known
It wasn’t the water-bottle that burst.
It’s all too unforgiving …
And now Eric sits in a chair, dribbling.
The visits are infrequent;
The children rarely come;
The geriatric ward is long,
And there’s a clock, silently ticking.
Kamal has an itch that niggles and gnaws,
An urge like a beast that whimpers and paws
And will leap to its feet with the angriest roars,
And inflames and detains and begs with its claws,
King of the flaws,
Get down on all fours,
Thoughts without pause,
The mind at its wars –
Kamal has an eye that roves and caresses
The girls’ long tresses,
Removes their dresses,
Kisses and presses,
Kamal is driven by a permanent mission,
He hasn’t got permission,
He doesn’t want confusion,
He only likes the fusion,
Love is an illusion,
Convenient conclusion –
But his missus isn’t pleased
At the spilling of the seeds
And his life soon goes awry
After she’s had her good cry
And now he’s on his own
With just a mobile phone
And the heat has left his bones
And all those groans and moans –
Came to Nothing
Delayed by religion;
Andy shows concern by draping his eyes in platitudes
And soft-focussed care,
Mirroring (as he’s been told) your every move
And echoing your words in one long non-judgemental session.
Andy deserves to be hit:
He’s carefully crafted, this shit;
Hides from himself himself
And piously works towards heaven.
Life is in the detail,
And the detail’s known;
Sharp to a molecule on a feather,
Gary’s knowledge is perfect,
And the world explained with precision.
He’s always right –
But living sapped him,
Knocked him out,
Threw him off his certainty,
And he left the fight, head ringing.
In the abyss where logic refuses to go,
Where hurt and pain can’t be measured,
Gary found himself wanting.
It’s all right; he’s calm; he doesn’t understand;
Humble towards the future now,
He’s left the past, haunting.
Her life is thin; no depth:
Somehow doesn’t connect:
Flows smoothly, without warmth –
She does her duties, knows the rules,
Knows precisely where ‘Right’ falls
But lacks a strategy.
Oh, the career’s planned and the kids;
The new-build house with the kitchen just-so,
And the expensive car in the drive –
But there’s no meaning;
She’s concealing what she knows.
The mirror hangs on the wall,
The lights are on,
Perfume scents the air –
But she’s not there.
Trimmed grey hair,
Piercing eyes (yawn)
Stands at the podium looking wise (sigh),
Talks with deep authority (yeah …)
About the Impossible that they WILL achieve (snicker)
To an audience of – well –
And how long have you been here?
You know, feller,
If you took that silly hat and uniform off you’d just be -?
A senior sales manager?
An executive in Big Corp PLC?
Of course you have to play the game,
Bulling it up,
Creating the fake aura of power –
I know that.
We both do.
But really – let’s cut to the chase – you haven’t a clue.
No, not really.
You do very well in the practical stuff,
The fighting of wars according to manuals,
The leadership of men by the book,
The presentations in big tents to the world’s media
(Relax, you weren’t THAT bad),
But I think you’re out of your depth.
It’s not coming from the heart.
There’s no passion,
It’s just a job,
And the morality of Smart Bombs, Dumb President has outfoxed you.
So you retreat.
That’s what you do.
Step through the motions,
Play the General game,
A bit of fancy dress –
Would I come to you for great insights?
You’re as clueless as the next man,
But your pretence is deeper,
And you’re the more dangerous for that.
Sales didn’t involve so much death, did it?
Hold fast to your dreams
Hold fast to your dreams,
Let no illusions sway you from your path;
Dream, and in the dreaming become yourself, One.
Look to the Future, remember the Past,
And each day live life to the full.
Your spirit must progress;
Change is in your Nature,
And the Future, and your Dreams, belong to you.
Each day holds a Mystery,
Each hour is your Dream well lived,
Each moment is your Experience realised.
We belong in the palm of God,
We shout to the heavens for joy,
We are Warriors in our Struggle
And beautiful in our flawed humanity.
Let us fail in the living, but live each day with Hope;
Let us weep at our inadequacy, but know which way is true;
Let us have the courage to face ourselves, and the wisdom to see our faults.
What brings you here, surrounded by rogues?
I’ve seen you in your monstrosity on T.V.,
Consuming your people’s hearts –
The palaces built of bone-ash,
The fountains spewing blood,
The children dancing in bile.
What makes you travel so far from your home?
Your purpose is lost in destruction,
Your face is set to the cold,
You walk in grim friendship with death
Forgive me for asking, but why bother?
How many Golden Peacocks can one man eat,
How many pairs of shoes can one woman wear?
You live your life through terror but it’s just as easy to share.
Ah! The country slides into oblivion,
Your wife buys up half of Paris,
You sell the land to no-men with no-souls
Who support you with their guns.
How did you do it?
How did the dross and the scum,
The small-spirits and the no-hopers
End up in power,
And where will they be once you’ve gone?
Drifting back to their small towns with masks over their invisible faces,
Pretending to themselves they did no wrong.
Stumble by, then, with your anger and your thugs,
Your ego-trip, your paranoia, your fake victimhood,
Tell the world how you’re protecting your people,
How your country needs someone strong –
Poor child, lost in a sea of confusion,
Trapped in the body of a man,
Out of your depth and vicious,
Doing the worst you can.
Catherine has the body of a ghost:
Her diet’s wrong.
Her face is white –
She sows loss and confusion
As a temporary solution
To the imbalance she feels in her soul.
Imagine, then, if Catherine knew
What the heck to do.
Slowly, over the years, she’d kick those fears,
Get a glow in her cheeks,
Think before she speaks,
Find a worthwhile goal.
The delights of Qi
Flowing where it’s meant to be.
This Charley has a silver tongue
And the morals of an eel;
Legalistic pedantry coats his lies in sugar,
But there’s spice, and a knife:
Cross him at your peril.
Through the voyage of his ambition
Stands one thing tall,
Straight in a crooked world:
He’s the very Devil.
The years go by; High Office calls;
History casts him in a favoured light:
Those who can hold back their spite.
Plaudits are won, gravitas restored:
Everyone forgets that Charley’s flawed.
Rita lives in a cave,
Hollowed out of her own soul;
In the darkness she cries
But no one hears her.
Movement becomes inaction, and inaction becomes a lead weight:
Sometimes The End seems her only Fate.
Living each day without Hope,
Rita would long lovingly for Life
If she could remember what longing was.
Here’s stasis; here’s life on a point of Now:
Here’s despair that nothing ever changes.
This woman spoke unvarnished truth:
Rough-hewn, strong, she put the world to rights,
Crusaded and appealed,
Would never yield,
Slept easy in her bed at nights.
But Truth’s an easy friend when light,
When others hold a burdened weight:
She found she had a different fight
When Truth was sent her way by Fate.
There – in her soul – the War began:
Power fought Pride, and Status won;
Her integrity was gone.
Time slipped by; Truth changed its face;
She realised to her disgrace that she had bought a lie.
No matter: the damage done,
Her essence torn through to the bone,
It wasn’t Truth she couldn’t bear
But what the mirror showed was there.
All alone you sit in a room,
Held to the ticking of a clock,
Sunlight strikes the dust.
Downstairs, children call and mew;
Life is faded.
A lone fly marks time,
The years begin their dance again,
Your foot moves.
Sunshine and smiles burst in upon your life
Behind the impassive face,
As each memory receives a warm embrace.
Sunglasses and cool,
He walks with the easy lope of the uninitiated
Future mapped out, career planned,
Eyes on the greasy pole.
Someone foolish will give him a job on outrageous pay,
Fast-track him through management,
And still our hero will complain,
His lack of life-skills and wisdom no barrier
To the executive chair
And the greased-back hair.
Can’t understand it, myself;
From school through here to the job in one long blinkered crawl,
Producing an educated fool.
Down and Out
Drunk – but not drunk –
You’ve reached a state of bliss
Where no feeling’s gone
Because there are no feelings –
The body a clammy shell that jerks and twists,
Fingers misshapen, blackened, crushed and bleeding,
No Jesus Christ You
Though you echo his name
But surely Jesus would have reached out a hand and touched more than the few coins you gathered up
If that is what it is
Towards the cans of Special Brew –
Your heart was soft once, still is,
Though it’s hardened now to oblivion;
For you it began with the death of a loved one,
Despair set in,
The drink started,
The job was lost –
There’s no reaching you now,
Your journey’s almost completed.
Don’t cry in the night
Don’t cry in the night:
Shed no tears for those who’ve gone,
But consider their passing a Joy,
For they brought Joy into your life.
All those who walk upon this earth must leave;
There is no tomorrow that holds a certainty;
All life must love and grieve.
In the stars remains our humanity;
In our hopes a future’s born;
Peace is within,
The stillness of the dawn.
I’ve seen this girl,
Rages in her sleep:
Life bitter dropped her
And now she runs,
Too loud, too scared –
Failure is her ground,
Nowhere to fall,
No heights achieved,
A young child,
Boyfriend locked up;
The madness of drugs took her for a whirl,
The sordid soiled misery slept inside her head,
There’s been no escape.
Now she ‘manages’,
Stick-thin, teeth all bad,
On the grim estate.
Ah! This man I know,
He had it all,
But it’s lost its meaning.
What are you doing walking?
There’s a surfeit of shadows across your face
But your suit’s all smart –
What’s going on?
You tasted wealth and success,
Untold status –
I don’t understand.
Something wells up inside
And you try and push it down –
Only your eyes give the game away,
Raw and hunted.
What’s gone wrong?
The thin lips, steely gaze,
The climbing ability and fencing skills,
Kiss up, kick down,
Kick ass all around –
A poison in the soul of the Earth.
Corporate Man knows about responsibility –
He read it in a book –
And mouths the platitudes continuously;
But Corporate Man is a monster,
Blinkered, one-dimensional, certain in his uncertainty
(Which doesn’t exist)
Always with his eye on the main chance
And the fat wad in the back pocket.
You’d employ this man if you needed a machine.
Smart kid, cool,
Toilet-brush hair and a mean smile
Hiding thin words and weakly jabbing needle thoughts –
This is a Nothing loud in his espousal of Right and Wrong –
WRONG to wear those shoes,
WRONG to drive that car,
RIGHT to have that hairstyle,
RIGHT to own that gadget.
Cool kid, Empty kid, Nothing kid,
Doomed for a life of chasing the breeze
Wherever it blows,
The smart car, the Executive House
On a grimy new-build estate,
The pub and social club,
The empty life leading nowhere …
She lives her life in boxes,
Puts on a new hat to suit the clime –
Mother at home, shark at work,
Snake when she needs to be.
There’s no purpose to her existence,
Apart from money –
The glam clothes, the car, the house:
She wriggles and crawls to the top,
Then sits there, an empty, compliant face
Full of mean authority and fake bonhomie.
She’ll stab you in the back for nothing,
Go with the Big Man’s crowd,
Turn your words upon you and kill you with her contempt.
An easy game to play, corroding her from the inside:
She talks at times as if she understands,
But never makes the connection.
How do you deal with such raw greed?
It’s her intelligence that hides it,
And she’s far too skilled ….
So here you lie,
Before a wall.
You could be anyone’s child,
But you were one man’s child,
It wasn’t for this you came here.
I apologise again, since no one else will.
Ah, it’s a dream!
When the insane take control they lose it all,
Playing out their illness on a stage, as if anyone cares,
Slippery words and good lighting their only meaning,
Burying their feeling,
Timid beyond belief in their dogma and steel.
It’s Surely Just a Dream
It’s surely just a dream,
This walking through life,
This waking movement forever forwards
Until the Day is done;
Just a dream.
And here am I, lost in my confusion,
Waiting for what’s to come.
Let me sit here for a moment
And watch the skies,
Listen to the rain
And the soft wind,
Feel the earth beneath my feet
And the sun on my cheek.
Is that a dream?
Is the moon in all its beauty just an illusion?
And beyond – what lies beyond?
And within – dare I go Within?
Sure, I dare.
And I dare to call out to the wild Birds,
And I dare to Sing with the Streams,
And I dare to put one foot in front of another and carry on –
For what is a Dream unless it’s lived?
You’ve got a young face
In your scream of agony –
So which ‘Great Nation’ did this to you?
Boxed in, trodden on;
Your captors imagine themselves humane,
Conjure up great delusions to justify their means,
Take comfort in their mother’s-milk Arcadia:
A land of guns,
Where the poor get poorer.
You pay the price, then, for their reality-check:
The weakness of the dirt-poor makes the dirt-poor stronger.
When you have nothing, you have nothing to fear;
Ideas become your weapon,
And what greater idea is there than that of God?
So now it’s God against God:
The poor God,
The rich God,
Chosen Few against Chosen Few.
Whose side were you on?
Insanity against insanity,
Warlords and Big Corps,
A dirty war without morality,
The thieves and crooks in high palaces
Slugging it out with the crooks in alleyways –
Selfishness and greed the new terror.
Towards the Sun
I see a stream of men,
And the sky is dark and the years are long,
But softly they sing of Hope,
Which is the boundary between reality and dreams;
I see a river of women,
And through the evil of despair
They cling to the God of love
And wish for heaven;
I see the boiling clouds of war
And the leering face of destruction,
And the human spirit reduced to its essence,
Quivering in the raw sunlight of pain and rejection;
I see the Moment,
And the fear,
And the dance with no end that must be stopped for the Now
And the Moment turned towards creation;
I see the human heart,
And the heart is strong,
But the battle’s with ourselves
And the battle’s not begun.
Towards the sun, then,
Until the dawn,
And everything to play for,
And nothing’s yet been won.
Edward’s a thief,
Caught out by his own stupidity;
He stumbles through life with the glazed eyes of a cat
In another world,
No one wants him,
No one likes him,
No one cares.
Chaos creeps up behind him,
Overwhelms all attempts to play a role,
Reduces to futility every goal –
The laughter isn’t clean,
But Edward hasn’t seen,
That’s why he stole,
Completely oblivious to the obvious,
Haunted, hunting, hiding from us.
Now he straggles through the streets,
A little confused but causing no fuss.
Frog of the Junta
It’s cold being greedy, isn’t it?
You chose your goals,
Leaving destruction on the way;
Your advantage is their loss,
And their loss puts them beneath you.
Please! Just stay!
(No, don’t talk to me like that –
I might bite back.)
Tell me now, how did you achieve it?
You played sharp and loose, and lied,
Chose a set of rules in which compassion died,
Then played your life within those lies,
Which justified being a shit.
The smart suits, the fast cars, the arrogance all followed,
Your eyes wantonly blind to the world;
Slowly you built up an edifice of wealth around you,
Surrounded yourself with drones,
Let your world-view set like stone until completely true.
You have no more self-awareness than a frog with gaping eyes
Leaping from one chill patch of greed to another,
And yet – here’s the strange thing –
You think your banknotes give you insight.
I hear you organised a coup
Took over the T.V. station,
Swallowed money from the Great Satan,
Stamped on the crowds,
Spat bullets through your teeth at innocents;
Now, blinking in the camera lights,
Surrounded by other frogs,
You proclaim martial law
And shoot at ‘dogs.’
Your money’s safe now,
You and the elite,
Controlling the airwaves,
Shouting out your twisted morality,
Proclaiming your grand vision of things and your fear and hate.
Go then, go!
Waddle off in your finery,
Suck the blood from the country,
It’s your business to ruin the State.
Here’s a clerk;
Found himself in a place where he could be an oligarch.
Lies and thievery followed,
The mentor stabbed in the back;
Shares were bought,
Fled the country before he was caught;
Lives it up now with the venal,
Blind eyes turned,
Connive with evil.
Turn your head,
There’s many wish that you were dead –
How do you sleep at night?
An Age without Reason
It’s an Age without Reason;
The sky full of Dark Promise;
Foreboding hangs in the air,
The weak are elected,
Bitterness and strife divide us,
And everyone’s for themselves.
Here, the Spirit dies;
Thunder rolls on the horizon,
Divide the curtain,
Peer into the Night.
The roiling clouds carry the weight of our confusion,
And All is Despair.
But wait! There, in the distance,
A single light calling,
A voice shouting, ‘Here!’
How can one voice say so much?
A million candles shimmer into existence:
A million voices call out into the night,
There is no easy answer;
The mountains foil us,
Rivers divide us,
The wind tears at our hair.
Getting close –
Three billion – we’re there!
Three billion voices,
All shouting, ‘Here!’
Rodney has a broken back,
Hunched, doubled over,
With a twist to one side.
Somehow his back broke in the womb,
And his face, scarred by Life,
Was melted, reformed and then pasted on.
Inside Rodney’s brain shadows move;
The complications of a world he’s ill-equipped to absorb
Play on the screen of his consciousness,
Shattered into a thousand fragments
But pulsing, alive,
A thread he holds to,
A rope he clings to through the daily confusion.
Dig deep, beneath the turmoil of his flesh
And the ache of his mind
And Rodney’s human.
There’s no job too small for Diane;
She won’t do it.
Obfuscation is an art;
The go-slow a Zen-like state of mind;
She knows the rules,
And who to butter and flatter.
With infinite cunning she works the levers of power,
Sinking her teeth into the body politic;
All around her fall.
Mean-spirited, selfish, there’s no generosity to her life;
She rides the waves of gossip,
Subtle with her knife.
Give her a call!
She won’t help,
But parades an endless series of lies, excuses and half-truths,
So much more fun than work.
A dog his only friend
A dog his only friend,
Life sucked out of him, leaving a shell of wrinkles;
At home the bedroom smells,
The lounge’s a mess,
Baccy spilt, dog-crap on the carpet,
Daughter never visits, wife died long ago:
It’s a miserable existence,
Marking time before death.
There’s no fire in the hearth,
No Hope at the window,
No understanding in the fog that surrounds his life,
No grasping of the Future,
Just this husk going through its motions
Floating off on the sea towards oblivion.
A Vital Fellow
The easy wealth of laughter,
A vital fellow well-met:
Easy to smooth the path ahead,
To wrap a hug, slap a back, roar a laugh,
Knit together with jokes and bonhomie the spirit of the group,
To stride centre-stage and hold the circle,
Light flowing out through the dark,
Life infecting the souls –
This was a gift from birth,
A kiss from God,
Sunshine in the gloom.
Life, then, is largely effortless,
At least in the living,
The moment-to-moment confusion and puzzles that afflict us all
Overcome through the sense of giving.
Here’s a life snapped out in the middle of its long run –
Her shadow lingers in the gloom,
Whilst all around, those in the middle of life
Sunshine and familiarity are momentarily removed;
Grief and shock replace them.
It’s too much;
It’s the taking of a life towards God,
And we in our darkness are befuddled and bemused.
Slowly the petals wilt;
Life and memory loses its sharpness;
The long road ahead becomes unbearable,
And the heart cracks in two.
Courage, my friend!
There’s no depth to your despair that you won’t plunge,
Sinking deep towards the darkness,
But there is a God,
There is a Power,
There is Life,
There is Hope.
Say a prayer of love and dream of the high mountains,
And your Loved One waiting there for you.
Hours beget hours
Hours beget hours;
Time stands still;
The Future runs to the past,
And the past looks dismal.
There is no peace in this rest;
No rest, because there is no peace;
Just a solitude of waiting.
Grey upon grey, rain upon rain,
A trifle of moments grandly circling,
The world, neither asleep nor awake,
Holds its breath;
The clouds darken:
Tragedy marches on every horizon.
Lost in its imbalance,
Mad in its stupidity,
The human race sings nonsense to the wind,
But what hope is there?
Kings are made, not born,
But – still Kings – they parade their greed and excess,
And Wisdom leaves no mark.
I would there were habits better read they could cling to;
They do us all no favours.
Their mirror is a pain to see;
We see ourselves, but think us innocent;
We are no different, given the circumstance.
To a future where love is cold,
Where the destruction has begun.
I want not this;
I see only death.
Here is a planet of mystery,
Of beauty so profound we can’t see the tenth of it;
Not even the hundredth;
It stretches to infinity.
Beyond ourselves, within ourselves,
A brother’s weight
In the dark abyss where blood flows
This man found the mud of his soul
Spread in the screaming blackness without character
Where no-man lives,
And the stab and the wrench of his knife
Spared him from thought
Sharp as the story he later told,
Wrestled with valour from his searing awareness
Hot and steaming,
Gushing, biting –
And as he died his enemy caressed him.
How can you be so close and hate each other?
Two men who loved and hated the same,
His memory is haunting,
A brother’s weight.
It’s a long walk through the woods;
A future, vaguely seen,
A sense the world’s unclean,
A desire to tap into spiritual growth.
But the spirit’s flawed,
Too weak in its quest,
Too willing to listen to others,
To display on the outside through symbolic clothes
A certainty that should be kept silent.
Here then the chattery one,
The fairs and good causes,
The energy expended in words,
The moral high-ground that doesn’t extend to real life,
The petty friendships, the obsession with detail,
The frantic action,
Whilst the big picture marches irresistibly on
And the world turns without a moment’s care for what you’ve done.
I’d help if I could;
But you’re too scattered,
Too angry at yourself.
Make your peace and pray, and mend your heart;
It’s a start.
Angry Man rages by, eyes glaring:
Good job he’s on the other side.
Angry Man has mates, lives in the pub,
Life’s simple for him –
Hates the Pakis, Iraqis, Somalis,
Hates the Sun,
Hates the Moon,
Hates the wind, hates the clouds.
Something went wrong, but where?
How deep do you dig?
Angry Man is a force on his own
Past mending –
Too many problems rooted too deep in his cancerous bones,
A world viewed through a 64 pixel lens,
Scattered insanity that literally makes no sense
Unless you live there,
And then the sense it makes is nothing.
Jennifer and Ted
Jennifer and Ted:
Hand in hand through a muddled world
They hold their steadfast way.
He works reliably;
Their life is neat and ordered,
Their interests unremarkable,
Their passion pleasant and their insights well thought out.
Two children phone at regular intervals,
The flowers bloom with the seasons,
Their holidays fit in with their financial situation.
Jennifer has religion:
It warms her heart like a fire from a distance,
But her own hearth stays cool.
Expert at nothing, proficient at everything,
Absorbed without being absorbed, he drifts along.
Each year they send cards that get no reply,
Birthdays and Christmas,
Ticked off from a long list,
They send their awareness into the universe,
Registering with life.
But life ignores them,
Won’t let them in,
Sends comets round the planets,
Makes dogs howl,
Throws wind at buildings.
Water turns to ice,
And spring explodes in frenzy.
Jennifer and Ted keep walking along,
Undisturbed by it all.
Mandarin: another language –
Or a civil servant, all brain, no brains,
Issues of life and death seen from a distance,
Killing fields reduced to dots on a map,
Airlifts mere logistical problems,
Floods and wars the seasonal charts of humanity.
Mandarin: a remote comfort in a well-lit office,
Cyphers chased through mental space,
Grand conclusions and summing ups carefully weighed.
Here are all the trimmings;
The status, the perks,
The toy-town gongs.
Carefully woven through decades,
A thin narrative has propelled this one to the Top,
But there’s no vision,
No ability to make things happen –
Only the role confers power,
A role hungrily chased.
Hush! As the seas roil,
Sssh! As a young child dies,
Beware! As the skies darken.
Life is powerful and vibrant,
And a Mandarin just a speck in infinity toying with illusion;
Remove the gossamer backdrop and there’s just a washed-out soul,
Too intent on its own purpose to be useful to anyone.
Our reality has failed us
Our reality has failed us;
Our leaders are losers in the dark;
Our dreams are no more than Chimeras boldly realised.
The sun shines on the grass;
The wind blows in the trees;
Our spirits stand in bafflement.
Hope, then, is poor,
And all that’s wrong is running wild.
Our future fades before our eyes:
Our children walk with the dead.
Now is the hour, now the time,
Not for grand statements, but for the poetry of the heart.
Each dream you have is a dream of tomorrow;
Each hope, a newborn child.
Choose your dreams well;
Your choice is your life,
And all our choices are our Beginning.
Slips silently through the skin of the world,
Eases her way between ideas and personalities,
Entwines herself in technicalities,
Nudges at the Moon,
Peers into the souls of those she would dispossess.
Moves slowly – at first –
Fixes a smile on her face,
Does as she’s told, reluctantly,
Looks keen to learn.
Already the bright-eyed and alert sense something,
But Miss Snake reflects shadows,
Has no weight.
Out of the sunshine come Ideas and Hopes,
Swallowed lazily, almost insolently,
As birdsong dies on the trees.
Miss Snake wraps herself around the spirit of the group,
Creates space for those who would give her life,
Begins to suck on the bones of those who WORK.
Compellingly, hypnotically, she tightens her grip.
No lies can slip between HER lies and the Truth,
But your Truths die.
You watch her charm and focus on those who hold power,
Painting mirages for their delusion,
Now, as the mud of her ambition begins to solidify,
She reveals her painted face, cold and harsh,
And her commands become more peremptory.
Only brazen stupidity can loose her grip;
But even in stupidity she’ll slither free,
Finding other places.
Time will tire her;
Her lies follow, at a distance;
Her home-life shatters and crumbles;
Illness creeps up from behind;
But in these sunshine years of her life
Miss Snake is the very devil.
We are the dreamers
We are the Dreamers,
We, who take our hopes and spin them into tomorrows,
Creating out of shadows Resolution,
Lifting from experience Wisdom,
Warriors to our conclusion.
We are the Dreamers:
May our dreams be worth fighting for,
May our spirits carry our burden,
May our hopes turn into joy.
This rat-child is always first,
A little Missy driven by expectation
From Failed Mum.
Marvel! As she wins!
Stand back in awe of her ambition!
Her future’s assured!
But Life is full of frustration,
And her easy dreams soon slip away.
It’s the heart that matters,
Not the frantic climb to the top in a non-job,
It’s the depth within that counts,
Not the unthinking, the non-thinking, the ability to conform.
How can you tell her that brittleness breaks?
How can you tell her that dreams must have power?
How can you say that Life takes skill and that as the pressures mount
Pointless drive is not enough?
Let her find out for herself the hard way.
Grief wrapped up in hurt
And the weight of the world in her body,
A pain that nails her to the floor and screams inside her head;
Her child’s name,
A flower too precious to look at,
And all the winters of her youth gone in one long desolation
She walks numbly through:
Not walks, but exists, as the world travels past;
You cannot comprehend the isolation and the desire to leave:
Her ache is beyond aching
And the stars too cold:
No gift can bring her back to joy.
Hush, sweetheart, hush.
Dream, and on the wind catch your child’s name,
And in the seas hear your child’s voice,
And in the night wish yourself to heaven.
Send your child’s spirit your love,
And ask your child’s spirit for love and compassion.
Jean and Jack
Here are Jean and Jack;
They live in the posh end of town,
And drive over to Do Good.
Well-dressed and versed in intricacies they hold endless meetings,
And labour under their burgeoning ‘case load’.
Jean and Jack believe in fairness and equality;
Their generous wages fund an orphan or two,
And their worries are about humanity.
But Jean and Jack have lost track of reality:
Relationships are a fake priority;
Though they discuss ‘community’
They’re will o’the wisp figures of authority.
Their comfortable lives, their flitting to the ‘right’ side of town,
Their staggering up the career pole
And their interchangeable, pretend-friendly faces
Create lives of stasis:
No root change whilst these two are around.
See this innocence?
It’s as sweet as the water,
As clean as the day.
In this child’s voice is nothing but Hope,
In this child’s stride is a walking to tomorrow.
As fleeting as sunlight,
Raging with the winds,
As clear and calm as the stillness of a waking sea,
This child holds life in all its Purpose.
A faint miasma of depression has crept round her feet,
Spiralled up her body,
A tiredness, a weariness,
The sunshine years of bright and happy optimism
Like a gate shut behind.
Life now is problems;
Health, and relationships,
Purpose worn out by a sea of competing demands
Beating up against her fortress of strength.
The future is bleak;
Death looms, too close;
Spirit, undimmed, is casting around in the Black,
Her skills, unused, have drained her of confidence.
Paralysed by her paralysis, she sees no Hope,
Locked into Existence, she’s forgotten how to tread.
There’s no Rescue;
The Fire within draws the Fire without;
Spend yourself in Prayer.
Switch off the News;
Look up towards the Sun;
Begin your lonely walk.
There’s so much beauty, so much life –
We, who can, call out all your Tomorrows,
And others call to us:
You alone can take those steps.
You’d say he told the truth:
But no truth should hurt so much.
In his way he carries nobility beyond the pain,
But it’s the pain that drives him.
The ready smile and the firm handshake seem like briars –
You gripped so hard in friendliness, and carry now his thorns.
Not loved, that’s for sure:
There’s an understanding in this place of where he’s from.
That he survives is his miracle,
Stumbling about from day to day,
It’s only his persona that holds him.
A grim end is his foreboding,
The Darker Self, and his spirit scattered to the winds.
This, then, is how he lives:
Holding to the minutes,
A prayer of hope
Sleep, in the stillness,
Watch your breath create dreams,
Travel, in the night, to all you know.
Let Truths be your guidance
And the Sun your light,
And may all your beauty return, unformed.
This dream is now reality,
Shaped by your own desires:
Desire only the best,
And live only by your Truths.
Hold shadows for what they are – shadows;
See Wisdom as your end;
Touch upon the greatness within.
This is your time, your life:
Use it well,
And leave the world a better place than when you came in.
Ideology drives this man:
An easy way to order the world.
No thought is required –
Rules structure his purpose,
Conveniently shaped to fit his desires.
Hidden behind tales of ‘The Greater Good,’
‘The Trickle-Down Theory’,
‘The Creation of Jobs and Wealth’,
A ruthless shark stabs and drives his way amorally to the front.
Behind him he leaves chaos:
His nasty certainty destroys countries,
Cripples humanity, corrodes vision.
Eventually he disappears, to honours and polite applause,
Walling himself inside his ranch,
Refusing to look at the conflagration.
The Holy Gossip
Holy Orders called him –
But the minutia of life appeals far more.
There’s the worming around of issues,
The technicalities that absorb so much interest,
The Spite, carefully disguised, that must be harvested, aimed and set free.
Dusty books and cobwebs have their uses,
But it’s all in the chase,
The cornering and the despatch
That he comes alive.
The Church, like a leaden weight, anchors him to his bitterness:
A twisted spire is his true shape.
A gossip among gossips, he delivers sermons with intensity and precision,
Cutting through the anvils of his True congregation,
Who flutter and commend his genuine vocation
Before setting off to Continue as Before.
Sunlight creeps in through the windows,
The old stones echo to years of worship,
History places a calm hand on the stillness of the place.
Time takes its time;
There’s a spirit of silent wisdom;
A blossoming within for those that stop and listen.
The sheep and their shepherd walk in oblivion.
A Vacant Life
Here’s a vacant life:
No memories invade the mistiness of her eyes,
The long hours and the draining day are as Nothing,
Just moments in a long-forgetting.
Touch upon her truths, and she gives no reply:
Wisdom was yesterday,
And a non-wisdom at that,
The echoing of experience back at the world.
You’d think she’d have left a mark,
There’s been no Awakening,
And Life was thoughtless in her creation.
A curiosity, then, this woman,
Starting down the road,
The bells and whistles of a thousand months having no bearing,
And all the turning of the world carrying no weight.
Alice pecks at the world,
Her thin figure hovering between buildings as she hurries along,
Her wan face touching the sky with her pseudo-thoughts,
Her lank hair haunting at the window behind which she works.
Life is one long struggle to keep up,
To play the game,
To almost fit in,
Scurrying around the photocopier and between the coffee,
Afraid to be noticed,
Afraid to be different,
Rain and tears are her natural environment,
Wind shudders her soul,
And the sun is to be hid from.
A long time ago she met her boyfriend:
Mutely, decorously, they make love;
She serves him tea, and they sit silently watching the telly.
No thunderclouds form in her brain:
Her hatred’s thin and reserved for the conventional few,
The shadows she sees are washed-out
And the passion of Nature’s just an illusion.
When chaos flows into her life she’s knocked out;
The frailty of her existence is exposed:
She has neither the time nor the dreams to care.
She leaves no mark in her whirl of disintegration.
Pity this flitting soul, and look to the sea and the mountains:
A puff, a trace of air shows her passing.
Have you no voice?
Have you no voice?
Then I will help you.
Have you no ears?
Then I will listen for you.
Have you no sight?
Then I will see for you.
Have you no dreams?
Then I will dream for you.
Have you no breath?
Then I will breathe into you.
Are you without hope?
Then I will place hope in your heart.
Are you alone?
Then I will sing to you.
Are you afraid?
Then I will give you courage.
Who am I?
Who are you?
Here’s a sour-faced woman,
Trapped in a safe rage against the world
That Wrongs her:
She lives her life Right,
By the rules,
Snaps out her dislike,
Rails in private against today’s enemies.
Life is comfortable, as it’s meant to be,
Wealth gathered-in through hard work and cunning
Pushing out all her sympathy.
For her it was easy, an exercise in blind-eye amorality
And understanding how the World works,
And from her bastion of materialism and hard certainty
She surveys the world.
Do not approach.
This woman fights off all challenges as if her life depends on it,
Which it does.
The circle is complete around her.
Even with age, and the crumbling of the soul and body,
No doubts have ever entered her mind,
And whilst she sees beauty it’s cold or man-made.
Not for her the stars and the morning dew:
Her appreciation is kept at a distance,
For life depends on the experience,
And her experience is contained.
She likes it that way.
Untouched and untroubled,
Content in her darkness,
She blows blindly through each day.
Dark force and anger,
Used to getting his own way through sheer intensity:
Suffocating; powerful; testosterone-driven,
This Patriarch lives in a black-and-white world,
Brooks no dissent, controls,
Heavy with a sea of certainty.
Life is for the taking,
Strength is stubbornness,
Right is HIS direction.
Crisis, when it comes, is batted away,
He doesn’t understand being Broken,
But broken he must be, one day,
Though whether he sees it like that …
Buried, that’s his secret,
Even from himself he hides,
Content in the outward expression,
Dangerous in his stupidity,
Insufferable in his conviction –
He defends with vigour and low cunning his fixed world view,
Impossible in the interrogation.
Call him a bull,
Call him a fool,
No glimmer of insight lights the inside of his brain,
No touch of empathy accrues from his experience:
He’ll find an intolerant structure,
Be the cheerleader for control,
Enforce laws and rules that favour him,
Live fat and full of authority,
Die unmissed but for a few.
What can you do with such a creature?
This man owns nothing,
But walks with the wealth of the world,
Dreams beyond the delivery of reality,
Touches on the unknown,
Sings to the Universe,
Is brother to and part of life:
This man, though, is a man,
Burdened down by the essence of man,
The troubles and weights of living.
His burden is your burden,
His pains are your pains:
Only his truths are deeper,
And for him Life has more meaning.
Hold fast to the future,
Let no one take your Light,
Dream, and in the holding of dreams be yourself.
See with eyes of tomorrow
And listen to the Voice within.
Here’s a man with brilliance on his mind:
Balanced, calm and perfect he holds out Truth,
Measures with judicious equiprudence his thoughts,
States with authority how life is run,
Careful to leave compassion, humour and insight on the table.
Mark though, this:
There is no great leap beyond the world he’s created,
No attempt to move beyond the known and the carefully calculated.
His Always-Rightness makes him impermeable to wisdom,
Impervious to deep-seated doubts that tear and twist at lesser men,
His balance leaves him adrift,
Floating on a sea of failure and passion.
Lesser mortals bow, askance;
Looking in, you run,
In case you too are wrenched by group-think into obsequious oblivion.
And yet this fellow fails in the greatness,
Knows it all, does a bit,
Plods a standard course missing the heights he so clearly sees:
Greatness never touched,
Brilliance blinded by brilliance,
A gaping crowd of slack-jaws coughing on the wind.
Sylvia lives each day –
It’s the best she can do.
Life has no meaning
And the long days stretch ahead:
Her illness holds her in its grip,
Framing her existence,
Creating a lens of oblivion in the Now
Which she hasn’t the heart to See.
Don’t ask her about her dreams:
You’ll start the tears.
Don’t point to all your tomorrows:
She has none.
This is moments on the edge,
Lapped by insanity and despair,
Facing a lingering death.
Sylvia, if you have the strength then pray;
And if not, in your battle of the soul and mind
Give in, and be open, and let a peace descend.
The real kids
Everything went bad –
She had a step-dad.
Now the days are spent in misery and smiles,
Drink to her face,
Smoke in her lungs,
A collection of painful memories paraded before a cruel judge,
Who sentences Life to oblivion.
Did in his head.
Took a ride on the comfort train,
Has a habit to feed.
Behind him stalk figures from his mind;
Within him is a crumbling;
In front is a land without hope.
One day things will get violent,
A latch will click,
A one-way ticket down the ride of despair.
He doesn’t bring friends home,
You can never tell what state she’ll be in.
At first he used to care – for her –
The toddler on his own,
The young child,
The school kid,
But something hardened so he could cope
And now he’s in volatile denial,
Pain turned outwards,
Anger in his step.
Always on the streets,
Sometimes he’ll beat her:
Funny how foundations are built.
Dad’s not well,
Life is hell.
Mum left for another man,
Dad does the best he can
But cries himself to sleep.
Wherever he is,
Dad’s not at home,
And Vicky worries herself thin.
Now she plays Mum,
Keeps him at arm’s length,
Looks after her two younger sisters.
Fear of Social Services prevents her from speaking;
Soon it’ll all turn inwards and she’ll collapse,
Another future build on the ruins of the past:
She does right to be scared.
Kylie has no Mum,
And that’s not fun.
Late at night on the dark streets she plays on her own,
Searches for company,
Knocks on doors.
Mum lost interest,
Had her own agenda,
Was never around,
And so Kylie wanders, lost in life,
Dark eyes anxious,
Learning to survive.
She has no expectations;
Sees relationships as futile;
Has been groomed for failure and a diet of micro-concerns in a shallow pool.
Do you see this star?
This star is Hope,
And the welcoming of the future.
Do you see this star?
See how it shines in the night?
All our tomorrows are in our Hopes,
And all our dreams the distance we must travel.
Hope for a greater You,
And aim your Spirit for that star.
Colin sits in a room of certainty,
Surrounded by the things he loves –
Order, rationality, microscopes and beer.
The days are consistent, problems unremarkable,
Relationships steady and narrow.
There’s a girlfriend (works in a library),
Folk songs at the pub,
A cosy circle of friends to discuss minutia.
Nothing disturbs his world –
Earthquakes and starvation,
Wars and disease,
Tragedy and conflagration,
He meets it all with understated consideration.
There’s more insight than you might imagine,
But no curiosity beyond his little kingdom:
Safe in his box, rejecting risk, he dabbles in detail,
Lets his mind soar in the confines of the irrational,
Builds a wall around his reality through which he peers.
But it’s all an illusion;
He scurries back to the earth and the real,
Embracing the known.
Holly lives in a world of intrigue,
Glued to a mobile phone:
Her harsh voice carries easy certainties and authority,
The simple laws of the street.
Seen it all,
A little terrier snapping and yowling at life,
Self-consciously proud of its tiny strength.
Life, though, isn’t amused,
Throws stones at her box,
Keeps knocking her down.
She struggles to make the connections,
Doesn’t like cause and effect,
Prefers to go her own way
Living the Dream of Doing What She Wants.
Well versed in blame-shifting,
Adept at missing the point,
Holly hunches over her mobile,
Tuning in to the questions Life asks.
Tony’s lost in a world of now,
Pulling back the curtains from his busy life in horror:
Clarity is for the moment and the place,
Wisdom holds to the insights of the known,
Depth is for tomorrow.
Superficial success has marked his face;
Turmoil clings to stasis;
The horizons stretch and are ignored.
In his rational madness Tony spreads out plans,
Plots his course,
Burns off fires for tomorrow.
Yet each tomorrow never comes:
It is but a today;
Tony hasn’t noticed.
The mountains have deep spirits,
The rivers call to the moon,
Dogs howl, and the wind barely wakes –
Tony, blind in his life, is trapped in his life.
Touch the seas and whisper to the stars,
Walk in silence to the Unknown:
It’s but a small step.
Beneath each star
Beneath each star lies a Hope,
And each Hope belongs to a person –
And all our Hopes together make our Future.
Look to the stars and count our Dreams;
Sense the night air and be still within;
Travel on the silence to the heavens.
No man or woman can hold you:
You are yourself, and must go your own way:
Take the light from above, and the earth from below,
And travel as you will.
Friends with everyone,
Friends with no one,
A slitherer glad-handing his life through career;
The buttered cheeks and easy eye Welcoming
Whilst the knife hides sheathed.
Cabals are his environ,
Alliances and deals the weights he plays with,
The future a longed-for totem atop the pole.
Half-truths in the darkness are his speciality:
But even in light there’s no shadow, no side to be seen.
You cannot compete,
Not in this domain:
It’s almost an illness that saps your soul.
Power feeds on itself and wants more,
Care is consumed by care,
The moments are a rush to nothingness.
Far better to fish,
Or watch the stars,
Or sleep on the beach;
And yet …
Tone down the values,
Create a purpose greater than the man,
Put fire and joy in his belly
And he’s a life worth living.
There’s a road ahead
There’s a road ahead and a thousand tomorrows;
There’s sunlight and wind, and too many adventures to count:
And always, in the air, a Dream.
The Future calls and it shouts out Hope,
The horizons stretch, touching sea and sky,
The stars rest in the heavens, and mist washes the ground.
Forwards! With excitement,
Onwards! With joy,
Forever! In love.
Hold to the moments and touch your eternity,
Grace the world with your delight,
Smile into the rain with your learnéd wisdom.
Life is for the dreamers, and no one can hold us back;
A dream breaks stone, and tumbles down walls:
We are ourselves stronger than we can ever realise
And touched by the spirit of God.
Well, the mountains are calling me home
Well, the mountains are in the distance, calling me home,
And the sun, and the sea, and the wind;
And my ashes will be scattered in the gloom,
And everything is said and gone.