There’s a glassy ceiling above me,
Way up the greasy pole
But I’m still down in the basement
Just pence above the dole.
A fraction of us may hammer the ceiling,
Always demand more,
But most of us working stiffs are afraid
Of the rise of the quicksand floor.
The 6th of June is ev’rywhere, it seems,
It always turns up sev’ral times a year.
This av’rage summer day has gained the fate
Of being ev’rybody’s av’rage date.
The 6th of June has crept into our dreams –
So was it Swedes who whispered in our ear ?,
Or maybe D-Day’s up to his old tricks ?,
Or has the Devil claimed oh-six-oh-six ?
I can’t believe I actually have traffic ! I assumed I was blogging only for posterity, not popularity. Well, okay, it’s hardly the M25, but at least you can keep crickets company – make yourselves at home, pull up a tumbleweed.
So, welcome all ! Following the opening weekend and bank holiday, the rate of new posts will drop to two per day for this week, and one per day thereafter. That should keep me going for the next two-three years, and then it will drop further to once or twice a week (the rate at which I write them). I’ll also then be blogging new stuff before I add it to the theme pages along the top. I’ll also go back from time to time to add comments on them, and I’ll you know about it here.
As you have no probably guessed, I am new to blogging, and this site will doubtless be further tweaked and prodded, such as finding a way to fit my email address in the sidebar on a single line. But actually, I’m not completely green, as I also contribute to the Pitshanger Poets blog some weeks (though I didn’t set that one up). Feel free to have a nose around, or if you’re in West London you could even attend one of our workshops – they’re every Tuesday evening at the Questors Theatre in Ealing.
Anyway, here’s a bonus poem as a thank you, just in time for Summer – . .
A Friend in Blend
All through Europe, there I’ll find you.
(Never back in Blighty, mind you.)
Ev’ry café, ev’ry table –
Lipton’s Yellow Label.
Antimatter: it bugs me:
It doesn’t feel likely, it doesn’t feel clean.
But maybe it’s here and it hugs me,
Maybe it’s here and will never been seen.
And it really doesn’t matter if I really don’t believe –
Cos it doesn’t even know it, and it doesn’t even care;
So it just goes on existing, with no thought to beg-my-leave. Unless, of course, it doesn’t – cos it isn’t even there.
I am the B in doubt and in womb,
I am the G in gnostic and brougham,
The P that’s in coup, and in pseudo and pneum-,
The N there in autumn, the dumb L in Hulme,
The W lurking in answer and whom,
The E that is freeloading gaffe.
And I am the H and the T in whistle,
The K in knife and the C in scissel,
The S in debris and the comma in this’ll,
The F in lieutenant and laugh.
A poem about silent letters. Because spelling in English is always an adventure.
Since long before the Russians shook your walls,
And ere the Prophet’s prophets spread his word,
Or Alexander feasted in your halls
And found you even fairer than he’d heard –
Your golden domes upon your golden sand
Have tempted men and kings since Darius.
Who needs the Muses when we’ve Samarkand ?
What would ye, Ladies ? It was ever thus !
I met a maiden from an ancient clan,
Who’s held a gaze was old as summertime,
She traded finest silks by caravan
Across the Steppes that only camels climb
I should have bid her health, and gone my way,
And never mind the henna on her hand,
But no, I had to make excuse to stay –
Men are unwise, and curiously planned.
She showed a little of her precious stock,
The bolts she brought from China to Tashkent:
She laid them out upon the desert rock,
And stroked the fibres of the Orient.
Countless caterpillars gave their lives for each,
In patterns joyfully superfluous –
Not that they care what moral they may teach:
They have their dreams and do not think of us.
We spent the chilly night beneath their thread,
As she unveiled the promise of the East –
But come the dawn, her cloths-of-heaven bed,
Like her, had fled – and I woke ached and creased.
I wonder if, in dehydrated spunk,
I’d summoned her mirage at my command –
We Englishmen, when we get hatless-drunk,
We take the golden road to Samarkand.
Two Ways to Samarkand
What wouldst thou, Flecker, it was ever thus:
Readers are wise and rhythmically planned.
They have their Road, so do not make a fuss.
They think your Journey never really scanned.
This is a sort-of rondeau redoublé, except that the first verse whose lines then get repeated as the final lines of the others is missing, and wasn’t written by me, but by James Elroy Flecker in his famous(ish) The Golden Journey to Samerkand. From what I can gather, the poem appeared both ‘album length’ in the play, and cut down to a ‘single’ containing only the last part, both of which end with the four lines I’ve borrowed here. However, different references seem to say either ‘Golden Road’ or ‘Golden Journey’ in the last line, hence my second poem. ‘Darius’ is intended to be pronounced with the enphasis on the first syllable – I realise that some people place it on the second, but that just wrecks my rhythm. Incidentally, by ‘hatless-drunk’, I mean sunstroke.