Petite Fleur

She asked me if I was happy.
I don’t know, I replied, are you?
She paused and thought for a while before saying,
I think there have been periods of happiness but on the whole, no not really.

We were sat on the terrace of a bistro we used to frequent.
How many years, I asked, thirty-four, thirty-five?
We tried to work it out and settled on thirty-four.
Half a lifetime, almost.

A seagull strolled along the iron balustrade,
stopped and squirted a stream of white crap over the side.
It landed with a slap on the black tidal mud below.
This unsociable act appeared to give the seagull great pleasure.

Tilting its head backwards it squawked at the sky as if to declare
‘this is my patch now’ before flying off and forgetting,
circling away towards the new white footbridge to alight and no doubt
eject its fishy crap once more like an incontinent vandal.

A breeze blew across the line of low tide water below the houseboats.
It caused little ripples to fan out in all directions
all of which were unsure which way to run.
I looked at the side of her face. Laughter and life outlined.

The bone structure was less defined now under her fifty year old flesh.
Like myself, I noted a few extra pounds here and there.
Beneath her skin a slight translucence glowed,
a bit like an underwater river. I found it strangely alluring

but it also made me feel like I was drowning. Lost at sea.
I crossed my legs and leant forward and she turned and smiled
as if having read my thoughts but more likely a nervous reaction
to the break in conversation.

Do you remember, up on the hills? she asked,
turning to look southwards. The biplane had circled overhead
whilst down below we had made love in the wheat field
surrounded by poppies. How could I forget.

I went to get more drinks and when I returned
she was standing by the iron balustrade,
her dark hair across her shoulders, her head turned away.
In contemplation of the ebbing tide, perhaps.

I fought the temptation to stand close behind her,
to feel her body close to mine, one last time.
When she turned, her face revealed the single line
that a teardrop makes as it trickles down a woman’s cheek.

Why did you come back? she said suddenly.
Her words hit me like a gust of wind through a propeller.
I looked away and up the river, steadying my thoughts.
I’m sorry, was all I could think of in reply. And I was.

You used to call me your Petite Fleur, she said.
I’d forgotten that. A bit embarrassing really.
I had been her first and she, mine.
I had plucked the petals from my little flower

one by one, until the call had come and I was gone.
I watched her fly away in her poppy print dress.
A flock of seagulls battled with a biplane high in the sky
and I knew then that this war was finally over.

 

 

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“Daddy Was an Old Time PREACHER Man”

Been thinking about the word ‘PREACH’ today

How Madonna implored her Papa not to
Would have been a waste of time anyway
She’d already made up her mind

And Stevie Wonder beseeched the PREACHERS
To keep on PREACHIN’ to reach the higher ground

Drake said it six times – I don’t know why
PREACH PREACH PREACH – that’s three
PREACH PREACH PREACH – and that makes six
I guess he wanted to press the point home

And the only one who could ever reach Dusty
You guessed it, was the son of a PREACHER man
Yes he was, ooh yes he was, he was, he was
Yes I think we got the message Dusty

Aren’t we told to practise what we PREACH?
And aren’t we told not to be too PREACHY?

Hellfire PREACHERS do it with damnation
Missionary PREACHERS do it the world over
Evangelists do it disguised as door-to-door salesmen
Beware the black suits and shiny white teeth

AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU

It’s all very blah and contradictory
To PREACH, by implication, is to refuse debate?
I PREACH therefore I am right. Right?
Whether it’s from the Lord or from the heart
About global climate change or sport
Politics and ethics, pacifist or militarist

You gotta believe in your chosen message
Whether illogical or not it doesn’t much matter

To PREACH without being PREACHY
Well it’s nigh on impossible surely?

And the role of the poet in all of this?
To try and express what we feel not how to feel
Not as a PREACHER or as a leader
But as a reflection of us all
I believe John Lennon said that

Go tell it on the mountain folks
And don’t forget your kids.

with thanks to:
Madge
Stevie
Drake
Dusty
John
Dolly
Porter
& The Wilburn Brothers

 

 

escape routes

staring at the cracks in the ceiling
he went in search of unexplored lands
lost worlds mapped in lines and stains
one-eyed cyclopes in missing plaster caves

there the route to King Solomon’s Mines
Quatermain exhausted he falls to sleep
forty leagues of adventure dreaming
he climbs Kanchenjunga in The Lakes

exploring Slater Bob’s copper mines
‘sing out if you see rocks under water, Roger’
but there are only books lying on the floor
slipped from the hand of a tired boy

now the books are aligned on shelves
classics, fiction, poetry, art, nature, travel
and the man still dreams of unexplored lands
the cracks in the ceiling his escape routes

~

the black holes he passes through
huh, the mazes that he wanders
a different form of escape sometimes beckons
one that cannot be written in words

 

‘sing out if you see rocks under water, Roger’
adapted from Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.

Red Snow in the Morning

we watched with growing incredulity
was that really red snow on Mars?
surely the television would never lie?
or the Russians deny they’d got there first?

the son of a son of a spaceman
Buzz opened his Tesla umbrella
he bent down and scooped up a red ball
like raspberry ice cream in a pitcher’s hand

he lobbed it at Armstrong Jr’s daughter
who turned and wobbled on 3.72076 ms−2 gravity feet
Whoa! she was heard to shout at multidirectional shadows
the red snow falling thicker on the Stars and Stripes

the pair sat on the step of their BFR rover
not entirely sure what on earth to do next
we watched with growing incredulity
as they slipped peacefully into a red planet sleep

 

The King is Dead

my mother came screaming from out the kitchen
her eyes ablaze with the flames of tumbleweeds on fire
right down the steps she ran with open arms outstretched to me
the familiar smell of hairspray mixed with chillies and sweat
television news flashes flickered wildly through the blinds

I was seventeen years old as I stood witness in that dusty yard
the sunset a burning ball balanced on the mountain ridge
we live in a crater that sucks moisture from beneath the skin
spend too long out here and your brain will boil
our trailer is a white billboard advertising local poverty

seemed the devil had gotten inside and taken hold of her mind
she shook and shaked like a rattler cornered in a ditch
slowly her hands ebbed away down the length of my dungarees
her blazing eyes dampened as the heat within subsided
she lay shivering on the ground at my bare Baptist feet

my birthday ice cream melting over my hand in astonishment
she lay there clutching her heart that had busted apart
Nevada was a cruel motherfucker whore she once said
Vegas its jumpsuited rhinestone bedazzled pimp
but each day she drove into that city of music and sin

she worked the showroom of The International Hotel & Casino
showed customers to their seats with her little pink torch
and never did she miss a single Elvis show in seven years
that’s eight hundred and thirty seven Elvis shows
no wonder she grew so attached to the King

I bent down and stroked her hair with the familiar smell
but something had already died behind her tumbleweed eyes
then the words blew from out across the darkening desert
“Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?”

lyrics in italics by Lou Handman & Roy Turk

 

A Short(ish) Poem (with vaguely related YouTube link and hurriedly thrown together Oliver! meme)

oliver2

does poetry homogeny
create dull monotony
like a bowl of grey gruel
or boring school rules?

if / maybe less is snore
please sir, give me more
so rich and so fruity
like juicy Luci Watusi

a high word count
or a low word count?
it doesn’t much matter
which side you’ve buttered

as long as it’s tasty
not cold lumpy gravy
but it’s time I must stop
before this all turns to slop

and I’m tempted to go on
and on and on
and on
and

I know, it could have been shorter!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/succumb/

Meddle Music

Lying here under a warm sun
Everything seems so far away
Pink Floyd are playing with my ears

“a cloud of eiderdown draws around me softening the sound”

I like to write dreamy word poems
Imagine them painted on your mind
Know that they touched you in a certain way
That maybe only my words could set you free

“and I rise like a bird in the haze and the first rays touch the sky”

But it seems the moments may just have been illusory
The dolphin’s dive just a memory
A silenced splash in a forgotten sea

“Behold a dream, the dream is gone”

The cicadas fill the night with their incessant cries
Each one sounds so lonely and lost
As the full moon slips over the hill one last time

“and the candle dies”

 

PinkFloyd_Meddle_AlbumCoverArtPrint_Hipgnosis_full-width

(italicised lyrics taken from the song ‘A Pillow of Winds’ by Pink Floyd
from the 1971 album Meddle)