The Twenty-Ninth came round today
It’s years since last she passed my way,
But on my birthday, there she was –
Alas, she couldn’t stay.
But that’s because that’s what she does –
She rarely comes to play.
I shrug, and try to not get sad –
For oh, when she does appear,
It always makes a special year,
Like an Olympiad.
It’s not a proper birthday, I might add,
When she’s not here.
You come so soft, sweet Twenty-Ninth,
The sum of quarter-days –
You take unmissed those surplus whiles,
And solar-annual strays;
And whether you are bursting Spring
Or Winter’s final greys –
You come for free, or so it seems,
Through mathematic ways.
We owe it all to Julius,
Who’s clock the Earth obeys:
He holds in trust your orphan times,
And four years on, repays.
February – season of mists
And sniffles and sneezes and snorts.
The lurgy is lurking, the palsy persists,
That no patent tonic or tincture can thwart.
My fluid-filled senses are under attack so,
And nothing can soothe me by Pfizer or Glaxo.
Instead I must mop them with Cussons and Lever –
The sweats and the shakes and the chills and the fever.
Is it just because my hands are swollen
That my nat’ral poise is stolen ?
Clumsy fingers uncontrolling,
Rolling like they’re locked in boxing gloves.
Is it just the syrup that I’m spooning
That sets my giddy head to swooning ?
Drifting in and out of tuning,
Mooning like I’m some young thing in love.
Either way, the outlook’s flaky –
Something’s come and left me shaky.
How am I to stem this phlegm cocooning me,
That’s strewn in tubes below and pipes above ?
Unless it is you who is making me bluesy,
Unless it is you who is laying me low,
Weary and woozy and bleary and boozy
I hate to be choosy, but say it ain’t so !
A cold front is passing, a hard sleet is falling –
I hope they will blow over once spring comes a-calling…
Yet if I’m infected by what I suspect –
Then there’s no cure can save me, and no ward protect.
Is it just because my eyes are streaming
That the world looks like I’m dreaming ?
Hazy psychedelic gleaming,
Seeming strangely vivid yet unreal.
Or is it my subconscious that I’m spying ?
All the drugs my brain’s supplying
Must have set my nerves to frying,
Flying off and sleeping at the wheel.
Either way, the outlook’s gloomy –
Something’s come and left me rheumy.
How can I declare my love undyingly,
When dying is precisely how I feel ?
The Magi came to Bethlehem
As guided by a rising star,
And there a newborn greeted them
Beyond the busy brisk bazaar.
So three wise men each bore a gift –
The other nine just looked-on, miffed.
The first brought gold – a solid lump –
An ingot, so the paintings show.
That must have made young Mary jump
As Caspar flashed his gift aglow.
But prizes prising gasps aghast
Should surely be withheld till last.
Then Melchior with frankincense
To sweetly burn at times of prayer –
The sort of thing we all dispense,
To hosts and strangers ev’rywhere.
Safe and useful, just the thing
To give to clients, in-laws, kings.
And finally there came the myrrh –
Embalming oil for the dead.
A tactless gift to give, for sure,
That only brings a parent dread.
Poor Balthazar had left them cold –
And wished he’d also thought of gold !
The first discarded tree on the pavement,
The first house not to turn on its lights,
The first fallen card not to be re-hung
And we still haven’t reached Twelfth Night.
But the Tudors partied all twelve-long,
But we’re back to work by the Second of Jan –
Once New Year’s hit, we’re done with it,
We’ve season’s-cheered as much as we can.
Why did the Magi have to take the scenic route ?
If only they’d got there in a week !
I don’t think our waistlines will make it to Epiphany,
And Winter is coming to the meek.
Well, that’s another year gone by,
So chalk him up and write him down,
The first and last, the low and high –
He’ll have to earn his own renown.
So many births, so many deaths,
And passing thoughts and careless breaths.
He’s faded from the deadlines
And he’s faded into yesterday
By chart and stat and trend.
He leaves a little wiser,
If a little scarred and greyer,
In the end.
Then in the ledgers he’ll remain,
In fact and myth, in curse and grace.
We won’t be seeing him again,
He had his chance, he ran his race.
He spun us once around the sun,
And we went on, but he was done.
He’s fallen from the calendar,
And fallen into memory –
A half-neglected friend.
So many urgent choices,
So important, so forgotten,
In the end.