Jangle Bells Redux

A new year yawns; faux fashions discommode us.
We fuel, feed and fear new holocaust.
We buy indulgence from winds that erode us,
and turn our backs on those who would accost
our careless souls — the same as decades rode us,
roughshod across emotion’s permafrost —
with truth and gentle kindness. I suppose
you’ll visit me this month; ask I write prose.

You are consistent, probably embarrassed.
A father in asylum’s bad enough,
and worse is one (well, me) whose rhymes come harass
productive people. Lines that shred like snuff,
provoking sneezes. Wish me then nonparous.
Wish away the smooth then, with the rough.
Blood children, way! Way, verse! — like last year’s clothes.
Perhaps they’ll let me out if I write prose.

Removing all the line breaks should be easy.
Discarding end-rhyme, or making it so slant
it glides down like fried okra, nice and greasy.
You’re looking at me oddly. Think I can’t?
Speak like your mothers, zeds ironed flat and sleazy,
and note how I have slanted out the taint
of poetry. Perhaps this year’ll disclose
how I’ll earn fortunes writing, now it’s prose.

The Poets’ Dilemma

A cri de coeur can’t be a work of art.
Its zealousness drives sense away, sends rhyme
to moon at June and here (forgive me) ‘heart.’
From paucity, some poets may try on ‘clime.’
Aboard the wagons of the criers’ band,
the preacher’s prattle petrifies the mind
that tries to get away with sleight of hand.
We throw away the melon, serve the rind
whenever we press thoughts down for the counts.
We, Honest Poets, are prone to masquerade,
expose our raison d’être in petty flounce,
and lose an audience we quickly jade.
We could express ourselves in prose that’s terse,
but then we’d be believed, and that is worse.

The Poet’s Dilemma read by Peter Crofton Sleigh:

Good Morning

I check the time and see that it is now.
Outside as far as I can see is here.
What I can choose to do comes down to how
I evaluate and act upon this dear
and precious present — what a perfect word.
Here-and-now is all we have in the absurd
cat’s cradle we construct from might-have-beens
that curdle while we conjure larger skeins
of wished-for lies that we fantasise are wool
that, if we weave it well, will give us full
control and meaning for the lives we lead —
or, better, follow — out of some daft need
to imagine our existences are more
than moments to experience and adore.

Bernard’s Taps

They are more frequent, and increasing in duration,
these blackouts blinkering Bernard’s sense of self.
Less often taxed by bouts of cogitation,
his brain retrains, inviting him to delve
into the subject matters that still matter:
the good life, what it is, and how to spend
what’s left of it. Bright shards of thinking flatter
old Bernard into thinking he may end

up well, and, if he’s lucky, not today.
He imagines what shines on him are not stars,
but that he’s seeing nascent angels play.

He’s not grown up in the accepted sense,
he thanks his stars neotenously. He wets
his whistle with Glenlivet and spring water

and quotes from his own diary’s scuffed, foxed notes:
‘We are by nature fragile and capricious.
Unempathetic. We fantasise we’re gods.’

A Fleeting Vision

I see a thought large as clouds would be,
were clouds as small as squirrels.
As quick as rumours, as rare as truth,
the promising thought unfurls.
I see it as a puff of smoke
too wispy to decipher.
This thought is worth more, it itself asserts,
than empires people die for.
I suddenly see — epiphany! —
how this can save the planet.
And then it’s gone, like forgotten song.
I no longer understand it.

What a Piece of Work is Man

(The Bunting’s Aria)

Some years ago I read, I think in Time,
a minister of India, its prime,
had mentioned he liked drinking, mornings, neat,
his urine fresh from, as it were, the teat.

‘Flibbertigibbet,’ I said. ‘It’s time Time’s sued
for passing water tales that wee bit rude.’
The minister left chambers; others fill
his shoes, inserting dry hands in the till.

When Time passed on to buying CNN,
the torch passed to the Sunday Times, wherein
a hack wrote that Mitterrand, the week he died,
enjoyed a meal where he and friends had tried

a table sports event, a biathlon
not needing skis nor skeet but a snuffed ortolan.
They plunged each bird headfirst in Armagnac
then roasted song and body until black.

Eyes watered by his self-imposed scotoma,
each diner cloaked his head to boost aroma
then bit his (the bunting’s) head off, closed his (own) mouth,
throat tight to stop the song from going south.

Each epicure, alone in his own organdie,
filled his mouth (and the ortolan’s) with burgundy
for twenty minutes till the bones were felt
as being up for downing, for heads are slow to melt.