(He had not been to the cinema in decades,
decades Eight through Twelve, if you’re taking notes.)
He entered a lobby featuring popcorn and armed guards.
He went through to a bar with head-high stools.
He climbed a stool. He drank Dutch gin. He listened
to a waitress singing Verdi sotto voce.
‘Will there be a film?’ he asked. While no one sneered
the waitress snickered, pretending he was joking.
He took the hint and laughed along and waved
his hand near but fortunately not against his glass.
A bell tinkled … (No, here’s upmarket … “a bell tolled”).
In five languages including three he recognised.
a voice said, ‘Please go in. The programme starts.’
He climbed down from the stool avoiding jokes or toppling.
He followed the others. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffling.
He took his seat in tiered rows of luxury chairs.
The lights went out. On the intimidating screen
floods of coloured moving pictures glared.
Walls of noise drowned him. Surround sound.
The wind had ‘abated’. He plays with the word, lets it go.
His need to play clever departed an aeon ago.
He stands on an edge. It is always an edge, but of what?
He steps toward the centre, he hopes. Hope is all that he’s got.
An albatross stands in the only path, blocking the way.
He thinks of a smart word, forgets it. The bird wins the day.
‘You win,’ he admits. The albatross says, ‘So do you’.
They stand quietly together admiring the infinite view.
There was little to say at his christening. We said it again.
He breathed. He was noisy. His minders hoped he would have friends.
‘Or not,’ we whispered as his minders took him back home.
There was little to say at his weddings. We said it again.
His brides mostly smiled. His best men were maybe his friends.
Or not, we had noticed. It was eventually just he who went home.
There was little to say at his burial. We added it up:
his occasional successes, how he had longed to have friends.
None were there that we witnessed. This time he did not go home.
They joked about how statistically they should be dead.
So far nothing had disproved that they’re immortal.
‘We’ve had occasional glimpses of the portal
between this life and the next,’ one of them said.
‘But we haven’t touched its handle,’ another chortled.
The needle of the health gauge moved to red.
He pretended to write a panegyric poem.
‘Someone ought to,’ he said. Rome seemed far away.
As did the Hare Krishnas chanting, ‘Ohm’.
Or Ampere? Watt? — He’s not sure what they say.
The wind resembled things that have no name.
Leaves fell. They would. But should not. This was Spring
when a young man’s heart should turn to fancy fame.
The police cat made a mess of balling string
or was that stringing messes? What was clear
was that fog was creeping over slime slick stones
and chill was claiming children he held dear.
The village wizard read his fate in bones
cast tumbling from an antique leather cup.
The story — gory, glorious, and wild —
accelerated till his time was up.
He pretended that was his intention all the while.
It’s a challenge to stay sane now it’s the season
for madness what with idiots giving voice
to power-mad ogres who make a scurrilous play
to enslave us, saying they will make us great
again. As if we ever weren’t. The race
for now is finding judges who’ll convict
these fools who say we are led best by a convict
and by prevaricating robber thieves who season
dissent with hate to sensitise minds to race
and gender as being divisive. A loud voice
incites us to rate differences as great
and to welcome how there will be Hell to play
in, as our new home. This will be a short play
with no intervals, just the role of the convict
in many guises all of which are great
crowd pleasers in their wished-for silly season.
Off stage we hear a single plaintive voice
they calls us to our senses as we race
pell-mell to Hell. It tells us, ‘Stop your race
to perdition. You have other roles to play.’
It could be you. It could be me. This voice
is still powerful, though still. It can convict
the robber thieves who try to steal this season
that’s meant in truth to let ourselves be great.
Not again, but still. We always have been great.
It’s silly, you could say tragic, how we race
to partake of useless potions with which we season
emotions so the negative that can play
havoc with good living. Tricks convict
only people who don’t heed their inner voice.
The morning sun survives. It gives us voice.
We rise together and our power’s great.
We free up love and reason, and we jail the convict
who tried to divide us up by sex and race.
What had been tragic is now a morality play
that teaches how to have a blessed season.
Oh Love, oh Reason, be our guides and race
and win against the evil men who play
for evil. Let this be a blessed season.
The first blank fired toppled Igor from his rhino.
Not that it could have hit him but because
His steed stopped short from panic making him go
Airborne with lousy luck into the jaws
Of the castle moat’s dire guardian, the dogo.
A second blank detonated, making the dog pause
Its mastication of felled Igor’s limbs.
We watched in wonder how fast Igor swims.
2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge — 5 April
I mop rain drops from the pommel of the packhorse.
From my perch high on my chestnut stallion’s back
I gaze across the river at the black source
of the kingdom’s wealth. The factory’s chimney stack
spews dragon breath. With my spyglass I track
green smoke to where it buries itself inside
the castle of twelve princesses. I ride,
packhorse behind me, across the swaying span.
We gallop. Arrows fly. A sentry cried.
With sorcerer’s sword I slay all the trolls I can.
2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge — 4 April