Showing posts with label Poetry September. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry September. Show all posts


Sept 29th - The agency...

The agency...

...reserves the right to terminate its staff
at any time.  The agency requires
your secret pocket phone upon your person,
turned on, and with the flex not tied in knots,
for twenty-four hours in the day.  We may
at our discretionsubject our personnel
to physicals or medicals or days
mysteriously missing from their week...

...because, the agency...

...henceforth known as The Agency, at will
may, without prejudice, amend your friends
to suit its needs, inserting random strangers:
have you met "Denise"; and rubbing out weird Joe
who once you were quite keen to know and who
still makes you laugh sometimes.  We will provide
a set of field-expedient manuals
with all the humour you require.  We are...

...the agency...

and may place items in your Twitter feed,
your shopping trolley, or your secret heart.
Dating co-workers is required, but please
check codewords every time you meet, and sex
must be according to the book.  Ask for:
(or F-dash-C for colour illustrations.)
For clarity, the sum of agents is...

...the agency...

...and we express no preference for gender,
creed or colour; so neither should you, either
for your self, nor for your special friends.  Agents
need to respect the social order only
for psychological profiling.  You are
a professional intelligence worker:
no t-shirts, beanie hats, or jeans.  Which means
when you are undercover you deny...

...the agency...

three times, or else you're violating our
dress code.  We are ISO 5000 accredited,
a best-in-class spy-service provider.  You...
are a suit with a badge.


Sept 26th - This is the epiphany room...

This is the epiphany room... has to be furnished in this way
for you and at this time.  Do not
attempt to turn on the light, do not
try to force it.  That never works.

This is the faithfulness door:
as long as you don't try it, why,
it is not locked.  You may, however,
enter the room at any time...

...although the how and why of it
are left as an exercise for you.
We did not feel it right to do,
or rather give, it all.  Now watch,

this is the revelation switch:
rest your finger lightly on the top.
OK, I think that that's enough!
Go back into the darkness now...

...but always remember this
was the epiphany room.
We thought that you should know
it was here.


Sept 25th - In the horological gardens : function vs. form

In the horological gardens : function vs. form

The sundial stands in a patch of grass:
that is a wabe -- as C.S.Lewis
assigned the name, but it is not

the wabe that makes the dial into
a sundial.  The plinth of this one carved
with summer sun and autumn leaves

and with today's bleak winter trees
but mere plinth is not sundial.  The gnomon,
all rough with verdigris except

where hands have worn it back to smooth
and bronze, also its leaching copper
has stained the dial, but though this wedge

and dial are necessary for
a sundial, they are not sufficient:
another thing's required. There's rain

upon the sundial all today,
the sky of grey has left my time
quite undefined: a dial undone. 


Sept 24th - Making distinctions

Making distinctions

Some say
the gills are grey
beneath the fringe
and that is how you tell,

and snobs will claim
the acid-test remains
in how they hold their cup of tea.

Another thing that you might see
is if they feel the need
for any special clothing
or badges that propound a creed.

Landing with their wings spread:
is another popular sign,
but you must check the antennae ends
for knobs,

and finally, many swear
you can note the length
and parting in their hair, or the side
on which they wear an earring --
if they have one.


Sept 22nd - In the horological gardens : ruderal moments

In the horological gardens : ruderal moments

you are
beneath a tree; the leaves
a semi-parasol; the sun
pleasantly hazed by high thin cloud; the blanket
slightly dusty/musty in your nose; the rain
was brief but left that hint of petrichor; the crowds
of toddlers are thinned now; the birds
make bird noise in the tree; the other
on the blanket rolls towards to you...

you are
on a bench; the clock
chimes in the tower beyond the wall; the seat
is cold beneath your bum; the dusk
is drawing on; the burger
gone, you lick your fingers optimistically; the plants
are brownish twigs; the steps
down to the path are lit: the lamp brightening; someone
walks through the pool of light...

you are
sitting and rolling in your chair; the nurse
pushes towards the tree; the sun
is hot today: we'll go in the shade; a pidgeon
is strutting by the bench; a woman
eats sandwiches; some dust
blows past your feet upon the rests; you're cool
within your buttoned coat; your mind
grasps at some moment, but it's gone


Sept 21st - In the horological gardens : clock tree

In the horological gardens : clock tree


The seconds peel from branches stuck
at five-to-midnight.  The second hand
slows, frost grinding in the mechanism.
The bobble hats stamp woolly gloves.


The pendulum is stilled and frosted
the clock glass shows no leaf or flower
or time.  Nobody walks the shade
(which is everywhere).  The trees endure.


Finally.  The sun warms sap, clock oil
becomes a fluid once again.
Behind the tall door in the trunk,
the weights pull down, buds green -- tick.


As, mechanical, a bird wings in
to peck at tiny insect cogs,
the balmy time escapement sings
too fast, the hands are edging vertical.


Sept 20th - On brightness boulevard...

On brightness boulevard...

On brightness boulevard the sun leaves town
precisely in alignment with
the white line on the road.
The cats have lurked
all day

beneath Ms Wendy's battered 2CV.
We drank through all the afternoon,
and we saw everything;
ignored it all.
We laughed,

our understanding small, our care careless.
The Sun swung shadows underneath
the porch and Edward swore
and fanned his face.

is on us now and Mrs Richardson,
the old man, Wendy and her son
point telescopes at lamps
so far away:

believes they may not now exist.  I'm tired.
I watch the old man load the car.
They all pile in.  The engine
shrugs with Gallic

then fires -- an air-cooled warp engine.  I run
out onto Brightness boulevard
as everyone I know,
except for Ed,
leaves town.


Sept 19th - Firmness, commodity and delight...

Firmness, commodity and delight...

...was how Vitruvius put it, meaning buildings
should not fall apart, be useful, and be easy on the eye.
I gently unroll a loop and pull it up from buried
beneath the interface to right there in the UI code
where error codes can be ignored.  That's useful.
OK it's ugly, but it's how I'm fixing this.
On this I'm firm.


Sept 18th - Midnight in the house of books

Midnight in the house of books

An infinity of clocks are chiming -- all
throughout the echo of the house.  Feet, cold
upon the hallway flagstones, roused from normal
somnolence are following a candle glow.

Dark unfolds ahead, flows past on either side
(pressed back against the shelves so hard it's squeezed
between the spines of books) and we're not looking
behind us but I'm sure the darkness folds

right back together perfectly.  You won't
see any joins between the chapters, and I
cannot see any holes within the plot.
We try to work it out a lot, all sat

around the battered kitchen table, mugs
steaming in front of us.  We're characters
each seeking our true roles and I consoled
young Eglantine today now she admits

that "action hero" never would have fit
her eleven year old frame.  Still, all the same,
we are all quite the same; all searching, for
some handle on the drama.  Me more than any...

which is why they're in bed
and I'm here with my candle.


Sept 17th - Voyaging


The ocean of ships extends
all the way to the sunset, and even now
a valiant steam launch may be trying
to find out just how far that means;
bulling its way between kayaks in the sea of dreams
having skirted the American fleet
around tranquility base
so long ago
and headed into the ocean of night

porters.  There is no, probable, body at the front desk,
if it should even lie somewhere beyond
the point where all the black and white floor tiles merge
in formless grey.  If there was
some vessel to carry us that way:
you, me, the luggage and the parrot;
but every wave now seems glassy:

the frontage of some cabinet
with dark varnished wooden frames
and in each one the little printed card,
which puts the content firmly in its place.
This ocean of wax polish somehow
free from real ships, even as
the possibility of shipness sails forever.


Sept 12th - Communications strategy

Communications strategy

Did you hear them talking about it
when they thought we were not there?
About some evil star, some chance,
some future that's to come? Did you hear them

drag some expert from his paper-cluttered desk
to make a sage pronouncement on what we need to do?
And did you listen
or turn back to the carrots,

and think such things were not for you?
Well they are, but the road is winding, long
and narrow; and the voice
from out the speaker grill

will never ever mention
a thing you want to hear.
Did you chance to see that note they left
screwed up small beneath the chair,

forgetting, perhaps that we can read?
It is quite their style
to mither in the evening press
about some nonsense nothing

and leave us all to guess
such facts as these were in the case.
But if you sit back down again,
I shall write upon this blackboard

all seven things they ought to know,
and certainly we'll wipe it clean before we go.


Sept 11th - Fifty shades of lime

Fifty shades of lime

How can one lime-green balloon
hang so still,
in an otherwise empty sky?

How does Antonia still work
in the vegetarian cafeteria
with Lucy and George
when the only one working is Antonia
and George is with Lucy?

How can one lime
-- halved and squeezed --
make so much difference
to vodka and tonic?


Sept 9th - An antithesis for every thesis

An antithesis for every thesis

We drove through Wombleton this afternoon,
and I am sure that cute and furry
Wimbles were, hidden in the bushes, decrying
the scarcity of ornamental trash,
the shortage of old newspapers, the lack
of plastic bags flapping wildly in the gaps
in chain-link fencing and I imagine
Uncle Etruria would charge the gang
to, after the everyday people are gone,
get out there with their bags and barrows, scattering
some crisp packets and tins and KFC
gnawed bones, to pretty the environment
and generally to give the place some tone.


Sept 8th - Who cares for the lichen?

Some lichen,
earlier this year...

Who cares for the lichen?

Who folds its laundry, warm from the machine?

Who keeps its kitchen clean and spits upon
a cloth to scrub behind its ears?  Who calms
the sorts of fears a lichen feels, insists
the environment is full of rough faced rock
and trees with sensually craggy bark?
Who monitors air quality between
those trees?  Who sees where a Vibram walkers sole
has gashed a divot from the matted growth
and gently smooths it back?  Who stacks dry stones
to form a wall where lichen fragments drifting
in the breeze drop into place?  Who meanders like
a tardigrade between the hyphae, pushing
eight legged from strand to strand?  Who stands to shade
it from high summer sun?  Who splashes dew
on it?  Who carves the hydrogen from water
using sunlight as a blade?  Who captures carbon
from the air and rearanges atoms into rings
of sugar, which leak through cell membranes to feed
their symbiotic partner in the dance?
Who leaches micro nutrients from stone?
Who lives, happily together alone, on any
handy outside surface?

Who cares for the lichen?


Sept 7th - When there's a murder in an old, old movie...

When there's a murder in an old, old movie...

Please try to keep sand off the body!
The SOCO shouts
for the seventeenth time.
However, with great solemnity,

and at one quarter speed
Wilson, Kepple and Betty continue dancing
the sand dance just outside the crime-scene tape.
Oy you!  Screams DI Blenkinsop,

I saw you hook that glove up with your cane,

Chaplin!  He fumes.  Let's have more happy/sad
clowning from you, and less sneaking off with clues
to check out in your own time.

In fact
, he concludes, why don't you go
find Laurel and Hardy
and ask what's taking them so long

fetching me a bloody stepladder...


Sept 6th - Contrary to previous reports...

Contrary to previous reports...

...the revolution is being televised.
Sue has two leading revolutionaries
on the sofa; and in a while, Tony, our man
in the line of fire, will be reporting from

an ambush, somewhere outside the city.
The revolution is being televised,
remember that you saw it first on Yay-
Today!  The station with the sparkle

and an improvised explosive trap.  Talking
of which, later Wendy will show you how
to do one for yourself and detonate
by phone -- please get permission from whoever

pays the bills.  This evening we'll have live debate
between El Generalissimo himself
and, most secret of the rebel leaders, The Fox,
who's just become the media director

for the revolution... but now here's Bob with today's
civilian damage and casualty news.


Sept 5th - No man

No man

I don't see people any more,
they're all atoms and tissues and fresh
angles on psychology and neurology
and social roles made flesh.

I shan't see people any more,
I feel I have already seen
every option bulk mankind can offer me,
everything you could have ever been.

I won't see people any more,
I hear them distantly, muttering of thoughts,
perhaps their needs, I do not heed,
won't stand before that juggernaut.

I haven't seen people for years,
their tears or fear.  Oh, I see their tracks
and desperate graffitos on the walls
but human contact, I do not feel the lack.

I can't see people any more,
I do not have the eyes
so if I seem to look past you, or through you,
forgive me, I am a victim of solipsistic philosophy



Sept 4th - Coming apart

A sonnet on the subject of: "quit", "exit", "farewell", "give up", "depart", "parting", "drop out", "get out", "go out", "go away", "leave behind", "throw in", "chuck up the sponge", "leave of absence", "leave-taking", "go forth", "throw in the towel"...

...and also: "keep", "preclude", "forbid", "forestall".

Coming apart

They say, they say, they say you've gone away
and that there's nothing I can do or tell
to change the fact of absence.  I shall not play
this game by other people's rules, not dwell
upon impossibility.  There must
be something, somehow that a man can do
and I'm the one to do this.  I need to trust
in me; to find what route your 'plane takes through

the travails of whateverness. I shall pin
a patch to physics to let me fold the sky;
I'll bowl a curve-ball; find the true McGuffin;
whatever is the exit strategy
to let me say exit's not happening.
Please take my callI can't see why you'd leave.


Sept 3rd - Engineering


...come with me for there is much to do,
coils to degauss and pets to delouse and exoplanets
to scope and spectra to analyse
and there are needs
to edit out of the human psyche
and bugs in our genes and there are machines
to design and build and machines for planning
the mechanisms for other machines to construct
devices to make machines that fix
the faults in all our stars and all I ever wanted
was that big swivel chair with the screen
to show where we are going and one day
we'll play Thus Spake Zarathustra and one day
right there in easy reach
the big lever...


Sept 2nd - Malmesbury

We went on holiday to stomp around our old stomping grounds near Bristol and Bath.

And we took advantage of being there to visit a few places that we'd never been before, such as Malmesbury.

All the time, while we were wandering around, little scenes kept presenting themselves to me, waving carefully inked placards that read:

"You ought to put me in a poem."

So I noted them down.  However, when I reviewed the list later, the sequence of random observations didn't seem to really add up to a poem about Malmesbury.  So the list languished in my backlog until this morning, when needing a poem for my poem-a-day, I dug it out, blew the dust off, and started again.

Today's new trick was not to write poem about Malmesbury, but rather about our visit.  So this is the experience we had.  This is, if you like, a poem about the notes themselves, or maybe about the process of taking them...

It is not, however, about the excellent free WiFi they had in the 7th century abbey.  That only appears here in these notes.



Badger giblets on the bypass
toast gently in late summer sun.

So many picturesque bridges
in the booklet and beneath our feet.
There's one out of this car park
or even three.

Parking is suspended for late night shopping
this midday,
while two blokes fix the roof.

A tiny pavement café
with pretensions of Paris,
however this morning,
seating is reserved for only jackdaws.

A light lunch

Most shops bustle, but this one's empty,
a dying spider plant in window;
it takes a lot to kill a spider plant
and this one's plastic.

Another café—inside this time—
there's paintings and a "Freedom" collage.

We drink tea while the owner discusses
"theory of café catering" with the waitress.
Everything is for sale.

In W.H.Smith we buy "easy tear" tape
to fix the lad's spectacles.

In the abbey

Norman in Norman in Norman, the Abbey door:
a medieval stab
at post-modern architecture.

Inside, a lost killer whale hydrogen balloon
presses against the vaulted roof
slightly West of centre.

Two floors up on the south wall
a security kiosk that some medieval abbot
had built to keep eye on pilgrims
round the relics.

Beneath my feet
three generations to the first brass plaque
and also with "also" on the second plaque,
wisely twice the size
another three generations
and an empty space...

And done

The sun shines all the day;
we wander after some time on our way
pausing only in the bypass supermarket
for wine for relatives
we're later dining with.

Badger giblets still
upon the bypass
we're on the other carriageway now.