Upon my death, should my beliefs attest
To be so wrong,
And should my doubting self yet house a soul;
Which lurks obscure until eternal rest
Proves not so long,
Then rises up when summoned to extol,
And give account of faith, and weigh agenst
A common mark;
Then let it hold no shame and hold no fear.
And should my final form be then dispensed
Unto the dark,
Still my whole life was loving and sincere.
That first date, you never told me
How afraid you are of moths,
Nor ever interrupted me
To lean across the tablecloth
And gently touch my knuckles like you do
(But didn’t do that night)
To carefully explain how you
Must always sleep upon the right.
You never said how many times
You have to check you have your keys –
Between the starter and the main
You somehow managed not to sneeze,
And while you kept me giggling with your jokes,
You wholly overlooked
To mention just how zealously
You like your pasta undercooked.
You didn’t squeak a pip about
Your overfondness over wine,
That keeps you too afraid to drink.
You didn’t think to spin a line
Of how you’d always rather lie
Than have an argument.
Or how you never understand
Just how your paperbacks get bent.
I guess I’m glad you never told me
What was lying there in wait –
For had I known, I doubt if I’d have
Ever risked a second date.
But when I think of who was sat across the table,
On display –
If that were all you were,
I think we wouldn’t still be here today.
Barbara Blacksheep bears a name
Belonging to a shepherdess
(Or else a criminal, I guess).
But Barbara won’t play this game –
Whyever did her parents think
Her life should be a nod and wink ?
Barbara Blacksheep, twelve years old,
Is fighting hard against a path
Her name intends to telegraph.
Defiance, though, makes Barbara bold –
She won’t be traipsing downs and dales
From soggy Kent to chilly Wales !
For she’s a city girl at heart –
The only sheep she ever saw
Was supermarket mutton, raw.
She’d struggle how to play the part
She couldn’t be a wannabo-Peep
For anyone, not even sheep.
She doubts all that nostalgia, though –
They weren’t romantic spirits, free,
But serfs a meal from poverty.
Yet things have changed since long ago –
The modern herders of the moors
Use phones and drones and four-by-fours.
But then she sees a painting in a book –
A shepherdess amongst the gorse
Just leaning on her crook –
Rather chocolate box, of course,
With unshod feet and peasant’s dress
But in her eyes a knowing look
That said here was a shepherdess
That knew her pasture’s ev’ry nook
And knew her ev’ry sheep by sight
And knew she’d get them home alright.
She was maybe fifteen, sixteen,
Not much older than Barbara now –
The latter who would struggle between
Telling a sheep from a cow
Yet somehow, if she’d only end her war
Upon her name,
Then give her three years, give her four,
To give herself an aim –
And could she be that confident of gaze
To watch them graze ?
And so she got to thinking deep
About her future, taking stock –
And made a choice to guard the flock.
So Barbara Blacksheep will never lack sleep
Counting ev’ry one of her charges
As each bleats and bustles and barges.
She made herself a solemn vow
To shield her yearlings from disasters
As playing fields become her pastures –
For she’s a playground monitor now –
Her lambs aren’t sheep and kids aren’t goats,
But tykes in woollen hats and coats.
A single clap, a sudden slap,
A thud against a desk,
A backhand swat, a black-red blot,
A mid-air Arabesque.
Someone let the flies in,
Let the flies invade our day,
And now we’re exercising
An impromptu cabaret.
So jump up to that buzzing sound,
And waltz your tiny partners round –
Until we run these flies to ground,
This dance will play and play.
To defeat one’s mortal enemy,
Approach him as a friend
And speak the honeyed words of peace
And fawn and twist and bend.
In time, once his guard is down
And slower to defend,
Then draw him even closer still
With bridges on the mend.
Confuse with favoured trading rights,
And treaties by the tome,
And offer cunning compromise
Beneath his pleasure dome
By breaking bread instead of bones,
And quoting “when in Rome…”,
And beating ploughshares from your swords
To bring his harvest home.
And waiting for the trap to spring,
He will not understand
You sprung it years ago, back when
You shook him by the hand –
And now he’s caged by friendship
With no anger to command,
As your lovers take his city
And your children work his land.
But best of all, he cannot strike you back,
He is too late –
For now his precious kin are settled
All throughout your state –
For he has also conquered
When he opened up his gate,
And now can only sit and watch
His people grow-up great.
When did poetry become so small ?
When did we all become about the ‘me’ ?
Self-centred pseudies up our own arses,
Full of minutia we’re bursting to free.
I blame Romantics for swooning and moping
While other folk got on with stuff.
We’re just not that int’resting – nobody cares !
So spare them our whiny old guff.
When did poetry become so small ?
Obsessed with the truth, when it used to tell tall…
We don’t need Misgavige, see,
To run our audits, rig our fates –
We’re moving up the bridge all by ourselves.
We needn’t wait till OT3
To learn of Xenu’s DC8s,
Now Teegeeack’s escaped your secret shelves.
We’re the methadone to their crack,
The thirteenth sign to their zodiac,
With a finger-wag to psychiatry,
And a less-homophobic piety –
We’re still in the zone, but at least the zone is free.
We’ve shed your cult, we’ve sunk your navy,
Quit your billion-years a slave,
Although we all think LRH is swell.
Yet still the core is true, unbeaten –
Still believe in body thetans,
Just like baptists still believe in Hell.
With solar-powered e-psych probes,
We’re the white-shirt face to their cult-black robes,
Lightly tutting at the SPs,
But never disconnection, please !
We’re an altogether healthier paranoia, with no fees.
If you want a Russian Thistle,
All you have to do is whistle –
In they tumble on the breeze.
An 1800s stowaway,
A foreign sprout who’s here to stay
Blowing ever West with ease.
Not a thistle, but as hairy,
From the steppes to claim the prairie,
Infiltrating cowboy lore.
Full of thorns and full of seeds,
These drifting immigrants are weeds
Just made to be a metaphor.
Draft-dodgers dodging wars,
Betting on the football scores –
Well, that’s the price of freedom.
Christmas Cards on sale in June,
TV news all afternoon,
And folks who claim we faked the Moon –
Cos that’s the price of freedom.
Despots have it easy,
They can do away with clutter –
But me, I’ll take the messiness
Of ev’ry geek and nutter.
So tune them in or tune them out,
But never for a second doubt
That we can ever do without.
Sticky kids on talent shows,
Tattooed arm and studded nose,
Neighbours’ hedges come to blows,
And that’s the price of freedom.
Metric units here and there,
And lots of artificial hair –
It isn’t always right and fair,
But that’s the price of freedom.
Dreamers have it easy,
They can make the world anew –
But me, I’ll take the old one
Cos it’s here and now and true.
So make it sweat or make it blink,
But never for a second think
That freedom is just pen and ink.