Disposable Income

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Disposable Income

Of all the tax I’ve had to pay
For all my working life,
I’ve only seen a fraction of its worth –
I’ve never used a bridleway,
Or been a battered wife,
Or dug up ancient pot, or given birth.

I’ve got no kids in need of school,
I need no legal aid,
And need no shipping forecast out to sea –
Not done the Tate in Liverpool,
Nor called the fire brigade,
Nor wandered through a managed forestry.

I guess I’ve got it breezy,
Where the gremlins never struck –
But still I always shrug and pay the price.
It’s like a tax on easy –
But if that’s the price of luck,
Then ante up – I’ll gladly pay her twice…

For teacher, binman, judge and ev’ry nurse,
I stump up for them all from out my purse,
And whether Fate shall reimburse,
It’s just the cost of our society –
So take your bobbies and your squaddies,
They’re not mine, they’re ev’rybodies !
Help yourselves, my friends, they’re all on me !







Damascene tiles, centuries old,
Victorian acquired –
Beautif’ly painted in blue and gold
As fresh as the day they were fired
Geometric, dense and hectic,
Begging to be admired.

But most of all, of all I love,
It is the birds that shine –
Each lark and parrot, peacock, dove,
Are delicately fine –
With vibrant tints and eyes that glint,
Each heavenly divine.

And yet I missed, for all they shone,
(Had not the tour-guide said)
That ev’ry gorgeous bird thereon
Was elegantly dead –
A single stroke had simply broke
Each neck beneath each head

Apparently, this trick was rife
Throughout the Eastern land –
In Islam, images of life
Were well-and-truly banned.
But corpses were quite de rigueur
And here, the stiffs were grand !

But oh !, those crass colonials,
Those patriarchs on tour,
Who bought up ceremonials
From natives by the score –
They couldn’t see the subtlety,
Or else chose to ignore…

Without the least misgiving
They’d appropriate the style,
But paint their birds as living
On each modern-ancient tile.
Their arrogance had quite by chance
Now caused them to defile.

Or maybe they knew, and rejected –
Just took what they wanted to keep.
And who are we, self-selected,
To label them shallow or deep ?
Well, I for one, see much more fun
In birds who can still go ‘cheep’ !

Damascene tiles, centuries old,
Victorian acquired –
Marvelled, then improved, all told,
As their inspiration fired.
And we in turn must gaze and learn,
Then change to what’s required.



The Book of Numbers

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The Book of Numbers

As a kid, I had a Bible,
But I only read the bits I knew.
Yet in the front, it listed all
The books therein, and quite a few !
I read the titles, wondering,
What ancient tales they must contain –
Though most were called by random names,
Which sounded boring, sounded vain.

But one stood out – The Book of Numbers !
Was it all divine geometry ?,
Secret cyphers ?, Sacred fractals ?,
Heaven’s holy trigonometry ?
Did it declare why the speed of light
Is the very speed it is ?,
Or how the cosmos banged so bright ?,
Or how the atoms whizz ?,
Or how entangled is the quark ?,
Or why is so much matter dark ?,
Or are the anti-particles still His ?

I should have known –
Nothing but a census, a way of keeping score.
When asked for facts, the Lord has shown
That nothing matters more than tax and war.



Work in Recess

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Work in Recess

This one’s for the redraft pile –
It isn’t good, but it is a start,
And I know there’s something worth-the-while
At its heart.

Somewhere in there, something good
(Not yet, but will be) sleeps.
I dare not wake it, even if I could,
In case it leaps.

No – let it lie – let it breathe
A month – or two – or six –
Let’s let it simmer, let it seethe,
And let its image fix.

Then pull it from the memory drawer
And shake it out beneath the light,
And get to work – a lot of work, I’m sure –
But not tonight…




antique crumpled crumpled paper dirty
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Keyring keys of ev’ry shape,
With some for deadbolts, some for latches –
Split-ring lodgers, each one waiting
For the only hole that matches.
Take them off the circlet, though,
And whether iron, brass or chrome,
They’re all alone and naked
With no hint to tell us where is home.
Somewhere, a patient lock is waiting,
But some keys hate to be tied down –
And keys that leave the ring of safety
Rarely ever will be found.
A life of orphan-hood they chose,
Who never will be collared through their bows.




The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot



Many believers I know are heretics,
Spitting in the face of their Lord.
Not that they would credit my judgement,
Not that they would ever spit.
But their God, their God of love,
Is a god of hate with a jealous sword,
And His book, their book, is a pompous monster,
That they know is a monster, if they’d only admit.
Burning witches,
Slaving slaves,
And all because their Saviour saves –

But many believers I know are lovers,
Who loves the world and who loves its people,
Its ev’ry people, without exception,
When giving their time, their strength, their soul
To the homeless, hungry, the troubled and lonely,
Inspired, for sure, by their Sunday steeple.
Point to the scriptures, they shrug about ‘context’,
And get on with giving, and charging no toll.
Gays and women
Welcome here –
Despite each prophet, priest and seer.

Many believers I know are heretics –
Thank God they’re heretics !
Thank God they disobey !
Pray, God, turn all of your faithful to hypocrites,
Help them to spit, and to show You the way !