Poppy Charades

dismembering men
remembering them
put them back together again?
not a hope in hell’s chance

the bomb’s glance
their limbs danced
what merry tunes
the bugle men played

at the going down
at the blowing up
there’s nothing left
but poppy charades

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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.

 

 

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/

 

the good soldier

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the girl with the bloody doll
you come and rape my mother
then you want to marry me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the boy with the wooden gun
you come and kill my father
then you want to enlist me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the old woman in the black shawl
you come and burn my family home
then you pity me

there’s no such thing
as a good soldier
said the good soldier to himself
I don’t know what I’m fighting for
then I fight some more

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

Dead Dove Sketch

‘Ello, I wish to complain about this dove of peace
what you ‘ave been selling for over half a century
from this very international alliance boutique.

Oh yes, the, uh, the United Nations Blue…
What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my good sir.
It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

No, no, it’s uh,…it’s resting.
Remarkable bird, the U.N. Blue. Beautiful plumage!

All right then, if it’s restin’, I’ll wake it up! ~
‘Ello, Mister Secretary General!
I’ve got a lovely fresh war for you if you wake up…

There, it moved!

No, it didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!

I never, never did anything…

Exactly! Now look, mate,
I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this.
That dove of peace is definitely deceased,
and you assured me that its total lack of movement
was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out
following a prolonged debate.

No, no…..No, it’s just stunned!

STUNNED?!?

Yeah! You stunned it, just as it was wakin’ up! 
United Nations Blues stun easily, sir.

No! That’s what I call a dead dove of peace!

Well, I’d better replace it, then.
Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the HQ,
and uh, we’re right out of doves of peace.

I see. I see, I get the picture.

(pause) I got a slug?

 

30716597_1844407145582937_4314186840857903104_n23

with thanks to Monty Python and the artist Yücel Türkoğlu
for the inspiration.

between clouds of uniform solidity

between clouds of uniform solidity

a breath taking harmony decreed

in topographic light transmissions

salient life forms scaled the trees

 

forbidden minds in locked obedience

chance takers from neon quasi-fields

forced through an eye into a sequence

magnetic needles jab waring screams

 

came as locusts on a plague storm

sharpshooting minds along the way

underground laser fighting troops

fornicator warriors must be obeyed

 

they saw the parting of the death cloud

prayed on bended knees to gods above

burnt their faces within a fire shroud

counted out the last breaths of love

img_20161018_23280625

I’m on a slight sci-fi roll if you hadn’t noticed 🙂

Home Schooling

I don’t like the smell of these candles! said Peter.

It’s all I could get hold of, his mother replied.

They smell of sick and dead things!

When is the electricity coming back on?

I don’t know Peter. When it can, I suppose.

 

Peter and his Mum sat huddled together,

Curled up under blankets on the comfy sofa,  

Watching the TV that would never work.

Not without electricity. The candle flickered,

A reflection in a screen of blankness.

 

When is Jane coming home? asked Peter.

Your sister has found a new home, mother replied.

Is it up in Heaven? asked Peter.

Yes dear, I’m sure it is. Mother smiled.

Did she take her arms and legs with her?

 

Outside the street was deserted,

Ominous thunder shook the world.

Peter imagined it wasn’t thunder.

He imagined his Dad up there somewhere,

Like Jane, but in a different way.

 

No school again tomorrow, said his Mum,

We have to go fetch water, find some food.

I’m hungry! said Peter, and bored!

I know, said his Mum, I know.

This game’s not fun anymore!

 

home-schooling