A middling man dances with a deckchair on the uneven beach; his neck burned ruddy by the kisses of the sun. Striped seat tacking, wood frame click-clacking, he perseveres nevertheless, and folds himself into the seat in time to watch his ex-lover leave for new horizons. As she shimmers her feisty goodbyes, an impish sea breeze rises to pick a tune on the string drawn tight between day and night, and steals the hat from the middling man’s head. The middling man throws up his arms to catch the hat, and the chair tips, toppling him. He stays there a while, curled on the beach, salt tears blotted by the still warm sand.
so difficult to achieve
so easily lost.
In this hall we stand and then the castle is ours,
with its cruck roof a fine shelter in this time;
hear merriment; see us feast well; and smell the
smoke and meat and sweat
from our revelries. Friends join us in song and dance,
faces lit by lamps and burnt orange leaping flames
which wrap around them. Sir Knight, fill my goblet
with goodly red wine,
pull your bench to mine to whisper our intent.
We’ll not leave this place till night, drunk and confused,
breaks the great door, spilling its heady reason –
We’ll not surrender yet!
I made a cake for you and me
to eat our fill just after tea,
mixed sugar, eggs and milk and flour
and baked it well for half an hour,
I tipped it out upon a tray
and let it cool for half a day,
beat sugar up with butter fat
and added loads of chocolate,
then piled it on and heaped it up
and stuck a candle on the top,
then called you in when it was done
to serenade you with a song,
and watched you blow the candle hard
and open up your birthday card,
and then we cut it into two
and ate our cake, just me and you!
Stepped from our travelling van, we
cast a blanket on the ground
beneath the spindled sessile branch.
Submerged in ferns, we watch play
lichened, long limbed nymphs,
aloft our chosen healing tree.
And as the early sun strokes
offered oak leaf palms,
stale poisons tapped, sap from us.
See how our grim forest buckles,
and melting into wilderness
we become our greater selves.
At midnight precisely, the lights go out
and electric sound ceases its insistent buzz;
a confused housefly lands on my screen.
Instantly disconnected from my senses
my inner mouth makes an ‘O’.
I negotiate the stairs and
standing on tiptoe at the window
glimpse what I think is your candle,
but may be a distant car.
It takes fourteen minutes to adjust;
I fumble for a head torch,
the housefly gets excited and sits on its light.
I rejoice in the ticking of a clock
and check the fuses.
It has now been twenty three minutes,
my batteries are about to die,
it’s been fun, sort of,
but the pesky housefly,
grateful for reassurance, is dancing
annoying tangos with my words,
and soon we will both be
inescapably in the dark.
In this melting heat I am an elastic acrobat with a pliable spine.
If this implies I remain manipulable, don’t get me wrong;
meticulously imbibed values run through me like Blackpool.
But if you insist that conflict brings about justice,
I bite through to your impervious core, and show you revenge;
when you testily suggest progress can be measured along a continuum,
I answer that the future of the earth is round.
So we (me and me) rock, split and roll over in our sweltering debates,
kicking back with Greenpeace, arcing over to Amnesty,
or throwing in our lot to proclaim belief in the will of God.
In this sticky heat I am clammy after a day of mass debate
but if I shower my body I may sacrifice the plasticity of my mind.
I’m a skinny greeny bean stalk in a
hectic screaming plot, with all the
madly waving grasses tying oxygen in knots.
Will you weed my rambling garden
with your trowel and a fork? Will you
catch me when I’m falling? But that garden cane
won’t work, because without my own direction and no mouth
to call my own, I am barely standing upright if you
leave me where I’m blown. It’s not a case of
undernourished or unhealthy state of mind; I’m just
unable to be stable for a longer length of time.
I don’t need that much attention, just some water
every day, if you prod me with a pruner I will
curl the other way. So if I wave in your direction
an acknowledgement will do, I’m a skinny greeny beanstalk
but I’m full of beans for you!