All my school-mates, all my former colleagues – All now broken links. When clicking on their memories, I find each name and face un-syncs. I’ve left a trail of 404s behind me, An archive of data decay – I’ve got no backup with which to remind me, As all my friendships leak away.
Plenty of poets who only learned English later Have plenty of English to tell, Which makes their poems all the greater – Using their step-mother tongue so well. But usually, only in free verse, it must be said, Not often in rhyme – (Unless they are writing in pop instead, Cos that happens all the time !)
Blue, is hard for nature to be it – We’re told “no pigments” is the why. Forget-me-nots, though, give the lie, And kingfishers darting by, And rocks of lapis lazuli, And the irises of Lady Di – And Planet Earth, I hear you cry, Together with the frigging sky ! So yes, the ancient Greeks could see it, Just as well as you or I.
The garland-weavers’ co-op Having pruned the May-queen’s crown With the wrong sort of dead-heading, Give the Springtime Sun a frown. Well, the pole-erectors union Won’t take this lying-down !, As the tulips will not open, While the waterlilies drown – And the morris-men eschew the white, And the Beltane brides the gown, As the fellowship of fairy-folk Are marching through the town.
A cup of flour ? How much is that ? An onion, small ? How small ? How closely should I trim the fat ? How round each stuffing ball ? Cooking lacks precision, And quality controls – Explaining my omission Of some toads to fill these holes.
My end was written into my very beginning, Into my terminal genes – My past and future are always inferred, Before I was born, my death was assured. With fate or biology, there is no winning, We’re entropy machines – But the road we take is mine and yours, To pass the time between the wars.
Despite the chimes and fireworks, Despite the cheers and resolutions, New Years start off slow – As continuity, not revolution. The banks begin on holiday, The schools are easing into term – There aren’t too many early birds, But then, there aren’t that many worms. The world is in need of a lie-in, Before the problems start to press. Even I am barely trying, Slurring rhymes with extra esses.
My feet were frozen, but for you, Who sheathed them safe in cotton. My toes would wriggle, all day through, My nails were chipped and rotten. My shins lacked spots beneath my trews, I couldn’t slide on wooden floors, My feet were too-small for my shoes, And empty was my chest of drawers, But you have given me a lift, I’m walking taller, free of holes – All thanks to your so-thoughtful gift, That sweetly saves my soles.
I asked her what was the tartan she wore, She smiled and told me Smith. I’d never considered that Clan before, But fair enough – the Smiths of yore, The Sassenachs of Aviemore, The flints in the monolith – The common Clan for the ev’ryman, The hammers and tongs of myth.
She asked me the tartan in which I deck, Buchanan, perhaps, or Brodie, or Beck ? I smiled, and told her Burberry Check.
It seems that the Gaelic word for smith is the origin of the Clan McGowan, but that even before surnames arose in the Highlands, some Scots had Anglisised their profession to ‘smith’.
You told me how you loved me, As deep as the magma beneath our very feet – Erupting, flowing, building, forever, Melting the stoniest heart with its heat. You told me how you loved me As tall as the Andes, and ev’ry bit as tough – I thought we were raising mountains together, But in the end, it was nothing but a bluff.