our fathers

give the boy a toy soldier
some tanks and battle cries
dress him up in cowboy clothes
the only good Injuns are dead ones

bang bang you’re dead son
give us a chance dad
you gotta learn quick son
yeah but give us a chance dad

give the boy a placard
hold it in the air boy
tell the boy what to shout about
doesn’t matter he looks bemused

what do we want son?
I haven’t got a clue dad
when do we want it son?
I don’t know I’m just a boy dad

give the boy a slap dad
slap him across the thigh
tell the boy there’s more where that came from
threaten with your hand held high

want another one like that son?
what did I do wrong dad?
shut your mouth and do as you’re told son
I’m really sorry dad

give the boy a rifle
tell him how to clean it
cherish this more than your mother’s life boy
because by god you’re gonna need it

point it and pull the trigger son
but it feels so heavy dad
kill the fucking deer son
but it’s got a young one to feed dad

give the boy a uniform
make him feel like he’s a god
feed him whores to steal his childhood
take it away for good

if she doesn’t want it slap her son
is that the way it’s done dad?
you gotta tell ’em who’s the boss son
I’ll tell ’em like you said dad

give the boy some power
a gang of drooling men to lead
vote for him for he’s the one
yes he’s the one we all agree

take this power and use it well son
there’s hatred in my blood dad
remember all I taught you son
yes your will it will be done dad

 

NB: this one follows on from the last and hopefully continues a thread of thoughts on a particular theme – one which is admittedly a rather odd take on Father’s Day:

https://slideaways.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/the-good-soldier/

 

moving

keep moving you whisper
the only safe thing to do
through dandelion fields
once yellow with promises
where a footpath crosses
barely visible
like the secret run of a badger
diagonal from edge to edge
avoiding obstacles with booted feet
and the air blistering overhead
wide brimmed tin hats casting shade
eyes on the scything swifts
squelch of mud between steps
and over we go
the rough lichen crusted timbers
the ivy bandaged broken limb
the stream that wets the flat rocks
rippled on a seabed before man
we climb and reach up our hands
but the fruit has not yet formed
and all about us
the song of our foot fall
repeating echoes in hollows

 

no

that time of year again

it’s that time of year again
when days draw dark curtain evenings
shorter than the nights are long
and words begin to fail me

as does the light from a depleted sun
that barely scratches holes in the clouds
or penetrates my goose pimpled skin
held together with cold reluctance

the birds seem happy enough
I keep them well fed with encouragement
their songs and chatterings valued
more than they could ever know

but still the words fail me
and with it my engagement with the world
easier to huddle down and retreat
when it’s that time of year again

Starlingrad

Up on a hill

Joseph kept watch

The bend in the river below sunlit

Chromium plated

Polished

A coiled snake between meadows

Murmuring with contoured malcontent

Slowly

Slickly

Slovenly

He wandered the graves with Malice

The Dog of War at heel salivating

Pawing the mud for bones

And feathers

Until

 

At last light

In February’s awakening

When the snow had settled

And the fighting ceased

The sky filled the ruins below

With wonderment

Upon every shattered casement

Shelled and hulled obituaries gathered

The shadow ghosts

Iridescent souls

Brought together to roost

One last time

Before

 

Chattering to the heavens

They fled

On morning’s mist

To be seen no more