Sorry, Elizabeth

queen elizabeth tower london
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

 

Sorry, Elizabeth

“Big Ben is only the bell,”
You smugly tell,
But actu’lly, we already know.
Except you’re wrong:
It’s the bit that goes bong,
And ev’rything else, above and below.
Big Ben is the bell,
And the clock as well,
And even the whole bloody tower !
Ask any you meet
On Parli’ment Street
Whenever he’s chiming the hour.

 

 

Last Train to Nowhere

landscape view of railway station during sunrise
Photo by Stefan Gabriel Naghi on Pexels.com

Last Train to Nowhere

Another day passes me by on rails –
I somehow missed my station,
Or maybe it’s not even on this line.
I should be gathering traveller’s tales,
But ev’ry new location
Is just another wait on Platform 9.
From the milk trains to the midnight mails
Towards some destination,
But the fast express has left me behind
Somewhere between the gaps to mind.
The signal’s red, the soot is black;
My future lies on up the track.

 

 

The Second Week of January

 

17095178280_513b4aa99b_k
A Sad Ending by Rasputina2

 

The Second Week of January

Christmas is done with,
The New Year is come,
The feasting is over,
The outlook is glum,
Our work is resumed
And the weather is cold,
So uproot the glitter
And out with the old.

They’re sprouting on pavements
And swarming on greens,
They loiter on verges
Like unruly teens,
They cluster round dustbins
And litter our lanes:
Straggly and soggy,
These sorry remains.

They served us so proudly
A fortnight ago,
They warmed up the winter
And gave us a glow.
But now they are cast out
With scant a goodbye –
Destitute, homeless,
And waiting to die

The council is working
To round up the strays
And shred them to chippings
For Agas to blaze,
Or sit beneath see-saws,
Or borders to don.
By Twelve Night they’re coming,
By Burns Night, they’re gone.

Parable of Architecture

Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum infected by a wanger parasite

 

Parable of Architecture

Imagine that you’re sat at home,
Lis’ning to some Bach, let’s say –
When thudding through the party wall
Comes Iron Maiden, ev’ry day.
Now perhaps you rather like
To mosh from time to time;
But not at home – for home is Bach:
Subtle, delicate, sublime.
You’re not a snob, there’s room for both,
Though Eddie’s really out of place
At festivals of lilting strings –
They ain’t the stage to show his face.
And Glastonbury’s Pyramid
Is likewise not the perfect gig
For chamber-orchestra-quartets
To strut their stuff and make it big.
But ah, you say,
There’s shuffle-play:
A random stream shall come our way.
But if you try another’s Pod,
I bet you find their choices odd.

But now imagine, ev’ry day,
Their music blares until it bleeds –
They always crank it to eleven,
Cos that’s what our music needs.
And all your pastiche must be crushed,
For that is old and we are New;
We are the only tune allowed,
Cos all your heathen hymns are through.
But long before they moved next door
There used to live the sweetest song –
It’s gone forever, now, that air;
Alas, the future came along.
They took the song and stripped it bare,
Then slowed it down into the grave;
They tore its notes out, cleared its score,
To build their tune upon its stave.
But ah, you say,
That’s what we pay
To progress through to come-what may.
But I say we can play them both
If we just learn some civil growth.

 

 

Ba-Bump in the Night

man walking on floor
Photo by Umberto Shaw on Pexels.com

 

Ba-Bump in the Night

Why do shadows lurk and clump
Wherever there’s a lack of light ?
Why do hearts and footsteps thump
When too much nothing gives us fright ?
So why do throats grow sharp and taut,
And fingers white, and faces pale ?
And why does breath get loud and short,
And turn into a vapour trail ?

I know, I know, it’s only night
When only nerves attack…
Yet what is watching out of sight,
And turning shadows black ?

Who’s that walking where I’m walking,
Pacing half a pace behind ?
Who’s that lis’ning when I’m talking,
Twitching back the mental blind ?
What’s this tongue that’s speaking tongues ?
Who’s beating heartbeats next to mine ?
Who is that breathing in my lungs,
And shivering upon my spine ?

I know, I know, I’m overwrought,
From which my phantoms stem…
But who is thinking all my thoughts,
And who is hearing them ?

 

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

The Iron Forge
The Iron Forge by Joseph Wright

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

There was a time before the steam,
The world was truly manned:
Each ditch was dug and plough was drug
By animal or hand;
And all the light to see by came
From tallow or the sun.
So lives would trudge on just the same,
Each short and brutal run.
There was a time before the steam,
The only help was wind or stream;
So up we moved to brook or hill,
Forever lashed to nature’s will –
We’d tap the earth to drive our mill.
A little better, maybe – but we’d only just begun.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was short and slow.
Our only fuel was ox or mule,
Or when the wind might blow.
And all the heat in winter came
From hearths of wood or peat,
With forests lost to make a flame
And give a little heat.
There was a time before the steam,
Before the pitch-black golden seam,
When all the energy not hooved
Could not be bottled, bred or moved.
Our lives could only be improved
By pilgrimage to power on our thousand weary feet.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was harshly ranged;
The days were long, yet swiftly gone,
And nothing ever changed.
But then came coal – the good earth’s soul,
The black and frozen fire –
And finally we took control,
And built our chimneys higher.
There was a time before the steam,
But that was then – before the gleam
Of pistons, valves and proud machines
Whose vapour-thrust provides the means
For endless and precise routines:
To serve our ev’ry labour and to never miss or tire.

There was a time before the steam,
To which we dread return;
But once the coke is up in smoke,
Well, what then will we burn ?
We’ve still got wind and rivers, sure,
But those have local clout.
Their power cannot take a tour
To where there’s folk about.
Will there be times beyond the steam,
A flywheel to prolong the dream ?
If only we can tame the spark –
The lightning bolt, the static arc –
And store it, then release its bark !
Or else we face an Age of Dark, when all the lights go out.

 

 

The Problem with Trolleys

asphalt blur blurred blurry
Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

 

The Problem with Trolleys

Help !  A tramcar hollers and wails !
Careering for workers, three, four, five.
A runaway tram is running the rails –
How will the navvies survive ?
But wait !  A set of points are looming –
Switch the switches, stop the dooming
Of the tappers, unassuming,
Unaware they’re barely alive !

But no !  The branch line also bears
A clueless worker – just the one,
Who hasn’t seen the tram that tears,
All twenty-seven ton.
And there are we, beside the junction,
Knowing points and how they function –
Can we act without compunction,
Should we do what should be done ?

And where has Health & Safety gone,
With workers present on the track ?
There’s something fishy going on,
If no-one’s got their back.
The dead man’s handle’s truly dead,
The brakes un-tripped, the lights un-red.
Reality, it seems, has fled –
Ah well, let’s give their quiz a crack…

They say a tram is loose and live,
So should we pull that fatal lever ?
Should we kill the one…or five ?
It’s easy – we kill neither !
Cut the power, wave our arms !,
And shout a warning, raise alarms !,
To keep all workers safe from harm –
Then no-one needs to be a griever.

Make the shrinks despise and fear us,
Scoffing their contrived disaster –
If they claim the men won’t hear us,
We shout louder !, we run faster !
Who cares for the rules they set ?
We’ve got our own, and better yet.
So will we stop the tram ?  No sweat !
For only we shall be our master.