#poem #poetry #amwriting #ilkley writers group

don't mind me....

I'm just putting together some poems to read at ilkley writers group...



the room lay up three flights of stairs
the telephone three flights down again
and those below never climbed
   when it rang
- which suited me just fine -

for in my simple life of luxury
- of foldout bed - I sipped my tea
from the finest china tea cup I have owned -

when the door closed behind me I was alone -
free to view from chimney height
   the backs of houses opposite
and the higher clouds that drifted
above horizons out of view -

and there was no you -
to interrupt this life of what could be boiled
on a single ring -
and there was no you to interrupt
the blissful silence of reading


 english carnival

there's something splendidly naff about an english carnival
those smiling children in costumes plucked from the dressing up trunk
and the town crier ringing his bell - crying 'god save the queen'

boxes with holes cut for the head and for the arms
   on which are sketched big ben or books or playing cards

the brass band - marching to the beat of the big bass drum -
playing colonel bogey and dambusters always a little off key

cake stalls and the ubiquitous tombola
with yellow tickets for sweets and pink for adults
   the star prize always a bottle of whiskey

yes there is something marvelously naff about an english carnival
                                                          which makes them so special


after an early supper

 grey night shrinking without sunset settles
in like a moth on paper - as rainclouds
swaying full gutted and black scut tittle
the moon in malicious jest - for night
knows best - knows the hidden corners
of our shadow - collects our shrouded
self in sleep and pours in those things
often misforgotten - often slight -
but grey as this shrinking into night

when we look again through the window
the clouds have dimmed and night pulls in
and that which was shrinking darkens
quicker than the spill of electric light
can fill - from the garden comes a child's
voice - of an injured cat limping
from a fight whose ear torn price
it has paid - and we close the curtain -
cover the still soapy dishes with a teatowel
and turn our backs - though some still pray


on the royal birth

I shan't buy a mug nor wave a flag
or run excited naked through the streets
my life won't change - rearrange -
in fact nothing about it will have the slightest effect
                                                                         on me

but I am glad that a child has been born
and I'll not succumb to the fascist wittering
of those dullards who hate the royals
and complain
oh how they complain
that this child will not want when others do

yes that's true

but neither will the thousands
dragged up in the gutter
be helped in the slightest by wantons
who mutter and carp and bleat
and express their sad lives in jealousy

and so congratulations to kate and princess will
and their son - what-his-name -
who will no doubt have his nose put out of joint
                                                            by a sister



my arms are pulled in two directions
by boys o'erwhelmed by confections
of spinning chairs and swimming ducks
and barkers crying to try one's luck

I rein them in and note the prices
and look for bluetack under prizes
as round we go once to check the rides
they may pick two I gently chide

but all is new and all exciting
walking is poor in place of riding
they see the faces of the paying guests
and those two boys want nothing less



the rain so light is
so light it hardly noticed be
tickles the ransom
   and the bluebell
to fill this world of wood
   budding leaf pale green
with all the powers of the earth

no birds sing today
clustering within themself
taking shelter where they may

and in this silence footsteps
   against this thickening
   wall of summer
coming drown from the hills
    in the drying draining streams
of unreflected luminescent sky
the water may be of itself
   clean and clear as tears we cry


 the dying wish of the shaman

footprints in the bacon fat
the pin-tin upset of it's contents
   red-head green-head blue-head
   settle where they will
for angels rise on point
                                    but not to scare
the sheep of the field - now in the garden -
    and barely disturb the flapping red curtain
    at the cracked window pane -
       for black roses and lilies taste too good

but not as good as old tom
   on the brown tiled kitchen floor
   - face half lost and fallow -
one arm reaching from the phone

even in death he has retained
style and keeps his cap
in place
             the mousey nose
             in the jowl eaten jaw
   widens his beatific grin

they shovel him out when the dog starts to bark
    and cover their noses with chemical masks
    and everyone says it is all such a shame
for a lover of nature
                              to go in that way


spelling test

this morning the sky was brightest blue
blue as a child's eye reflected on the sea
when after a period of pleading
                      they run to get ice cream

after laying in late we ate toast
hot from the toaster
                       with watery butter
that ran to our cuffs
before stepping into the morning warmth

spelling test today
                     last day of the week
cribbing 'excitedly'- making sure
you keep the 'c' behind the kiss
three times and each time correct



twice nightly
   - three time at weekends -
   they die
in pealing laughter
   - bow to the paltry applause -
in seaside cabaret

it doesn't help
that the false bottom of the cage
   gets stuck
so he never knows if the dove is gone
   when he pulls the cape

nor that wanda
   - real name beryl -
has got ideas of spring in rhyl
and fallen in love with a bouncer
called errol
who doesn't like the cut of her cloth

it really isn't right
for a magicians assistant not to show a bit of leg
but errol will not have it
and stopped her getting sawn in half
    which mainly leaves the cards

they'll not get booked again
the manager has told them so
   but twice nightly
   thrice at weekends
they play the trooper in a seaside magic show



he's sitting in his dressing room
cleaning make up with a greying towel
   stained with five and nine
   at each passing of the rag

I knew him first from television
   have admired him from afar
watched across the orchestra pit
in full voice the tragic actor

now I see the real tragedy
as I offer my book and pen
did his performance fulfill
tell me tell me once again

nothing can convince him
of the finest of his craft
the lines multiply with each
'thank you - how kind you really are'



he's more real than when he was there
those wisps of his scent in the chair
the cold bed

the things that didn't need to be said
in the unspoken mirror of feelings
half the peelings

half the portion and all the bed
in sickness and in health you said
his chair

now moved for the sake of change
and the ornaments rearranged
he's more real

when you shut the door and call
'I'm home' at that blank wall
within you

and without you as you face the world
the sense of strength and the aching ball
of grief

is more real now he has gone
as you escape to his side
of the bed



The Blue Book