The Great Game

 

The hand
Comes
Out of the dark
And plays
The hand.

Impossible to know
Who.
Or why.

Are they playing?

Or being played?

Against the dark wood of the table
Under the swinging lantern
Only the dim shape of the cards can be seen.
Their pattern blurred,
greasy from much playing.

What lies on the table?

Is it
A trump card?
A winning streak?
Or a busted flush?

What is the game?
What are they playing for?

We know nothing.
We are not even inside the hut.
We stand in the cold dawn
On the uneasy grass
And wait.

All we know is that the stakes are high
As we look up
Fearful
Into
An empty sky.

Look for the silver lining

In the widening circles of Hell radiating through Syria,
Khan Sheikhoun
glows
with baleful fire.

But let us be grateful for the comfort
it brings in its wake,
as the vast, compassionate arms of Donald Trump
stretch
wide
over the world,
promising an end
to the brutality and suffering of humankind.

Let us stand united
against the cynicism that suggests
a failing president might
go to war
to save himself.

Who could believe
he would stride fearless
into the icy depths of the forest
to tomahawk the Great Bear
if he has been secretly rubbing him behind his ears all this time?

Look for the silver lining.

And God Bless America.

Uncle Nick

This poem is in response to a glorious article: A school in Portland, Oregon, has granted approval to a local Satanic Temple’s request to set up an after-school programme for pupils.
Children at Sacramento Elementary School, which educates pupils aged between 5 and 10, will have the opportunity to attend the Satanic club’s inaugural meeting on October 19.
Satanic Temple spokesman Finn Rezz told Oregon Live the club would focus on “on science and rational thinking,” promoting “benevolence and empathy for everybody” – while providing an alternative voice to the Bible-centred “Good News Club”.
“Across the nation, parents are concerned about encroachments by proselytizing evangelicals in their public schools, and are eager to establish the presence of a contrasting voice that helps children to understand that one doesn’t need to submit to superstition in order to be a good person.’ Apart from believing in Satan, that is.

Uncle Nick

Hello children,

Come right in..

There’s no need to be shy.

Here’s  your new buddy, Uncle Nick

He’s here to tell you why

we need a new America

that’s rid of lies and stories

so we can tell it as it is;

just like those English Tories.

 

What is it, Myleen? What is wrong?

You’re scared of how he looks?

Is it his face? I know it’s red..

When weather’s hot he cooks!

 

Is it his hair? I know it’s strange, but..

Oh. You don’t like horns?

Well, listen Myleen, in this club,

We live in our own way..

whatever shape or shade we are..

it’s cool with us, ok?

 

Just because a guy has horns,

it doesn’t mean he’s bad.

Yes, I’m sure it’s what your parents said,

but you go tell your Dad,

That he is just plumb crazy

if he really does believe

in all that Good and Badness stuff.

We’ll teach you to be free!

 

His hands are small, I do agree,

But have you seen his claws?

They’re long and gold and sharp and cruel

They’ll teach you how to deal with life..

Much better than your school.

 

We’re on your side, you little guys,

We’ll see you get your due.

Just come and sit

by Uncle Nick

and he will see you through.

 

 

 

De Profundis

Is this the end of it all?
Is the darkness encroaching on the light,
seeping into the warm corners of the room,
drowning the bright
woven colours of the rug
in ink?
Lapping at the sturdy feet of the bed,
Pooling around the empty cradle?

Are we done, Homo Sapiens?
Do we think?

I wake in the middle of the night
my mind full of war and pain
and the ceaseless movement of innumerable feet,
Of anger and corruption and greed
Of the March of the Cyborgs
Of sliding icebergs and drowning cities
And I wondered why Gaia hasn’t shrugged us off sooner.

What to do?

I don’t think the answer is heroic at all ..
I think I have already written it without realising.

Look up
Above your head
In that black sky
Can you see light?
Small points of light
Up in the sky?
You’ll see
That darkness isn’t dark at all
But full of light
All full of light..

I think it is dark. Very dark.
But what suddenly seems certain to me is that all we can do
is to switch up the light within our selves
no matter how dim and shaky it is,
Create the beauty we create
Love the people we love.

And let the world go its way.

Species Extinction

I have been in a pretty bleak place for some time now, and I haven’t been putting poems up on the blog, partly because I was tired of the sound of my own voice, and thought everyone else might be too, and partly because what I was writing was so dark. But.. here are a few of them..

You see it every time you switch on the box.
A whole species;
Evolution’s jewel in the crown,
in meltdown

Vast herds, wheeling and dodging this way and that
Compass lost,trying to force a way to freedom as their habitat
shrinks
into a noose.

Scrabbling, fighting, hoarding what little sustenance there is..

The strongest members of the tribe trampling the old, the young, the sick.

No longer saving anyone but themselves.

The Great Extinction.

What will he think,
The last Homo Sapiens,
As he gazes out over the healing flood?

American Hero

This is not the way the movie was meant to end.

Where is the dark swoop of Batman?

The fluttering glory of red cape?

The strong arms slowly turning the world back in time, smoothing away ruin, poverty, hopelessness?

The comedy chain-gang stumble of the elite one per cent on their way to jail?

Instead, a technicolour blare of scarlet

As the sun sets over the Empire

And a new Nero stands triumphant on the walls of Rome

Fiddling

While the world burns.

I want my money back.

I wish!

Merkel,May, Sturgeon, Clinton.. women to the rescue amid political turmoil?

 

The child stands wondering, clutching his teddy tight,

Tender feet cold on the gritty path.

 

He looks around him at houses filled with fire.

Sirens howl in grief.

 

In the shadows men fight,slugging it out with fists, pens, bombs.

 

Cats run yowling under bushes.

 

In the dropped globe at his feet

Beneath the swirling snow little men in suits hit each other with rolled papers.

 

Above his head angry clouds boil with thunder and spit lightning.

A hard rain begins to fall.

His hair plasters against his head.

 

But then, as he looks up, there is a shaft of light amidst the gloom.

And down floats a familiar figure,

umbrella up, feet turned out, hat immaculately placed.

 

She lands, picks up the snow globe, and snaps it into her bag.

She looks about her.

Right, she says.

Spit Spot.

Let’s clear this mess up.

And she clicks her fingers.

 

Let the right one in

When he knocked on the door I opened it without hesitation.

Why should I hesitate? He was polite, well spoken, well dressed.

English.

‘I wonder if I could come in for a chat?’ he said.

I opened it wider.

“Come in” I said.

In he came.

 

We sat, tea awkwardly perched, and he spoke to me.

I listened.

He listened to me.

He was very sympathetic; understood all about my daughter not being able to buy a house;

the trouble my grandson had because of all the children in his school not being able to speak English;

the problem of not being able to buy biscuits on a pension.

How nice my Polish neighbours were although they had an odd taste in food.

And wallpaper.

Not like the others.

The loneliness of being old.

 

It was only when he stood up to help me with the tray that I caught a glimpse of the mirror.

And saw that he had no reflection.

But it was too late then.

He was in.

 

 

Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!

 

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

 

Fascists

On the March.

 

Boots shine

Legs lift

Hair fair

Shirt black

Arm high

Blue eye

 

We  know

who you are.

 

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

 

Poles and Greeks and Englishmen

Dutch and French and Danes

Went to war together

Got rid of you for ever..

We all knew who you were.

 

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

 

On the brink of Brexit

We close our eyes and ears

Hum our little slogans

And burnish all our fears

 

Say bye bye to Europe

And vow to take control

Vow to take our country back

In one big Poll.

 

 

Marching from the faceless

-None of us know who –

The unelected foreigners

Who tell us what to do

As they fight to keep democracy

and decency alive

On an overheating planet

Where thugs and tyrants thrive.

 

 

Put our trust in nice blokes

Who like a glass of beer,

Who’ll help the poor by making more

Let’s give them all a cheer!

 

Sitting in their armchairs

They wriggle happily

Totting up the millions

They’ll rake from you and me.

 

Purring furry business men

twang their scarlet braces

and open the champagne

Waiting for the freedom

of business unrestrained

by law or curb or workers’ rights

upheld by bloody bureaucrats

In interfering Europe

who kept them all in chains ..

 

 

Hooray! We’ll get our country back!

Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!

 

 

Let’s pull up the drawbridge

And raise our flag in pride

The best of luck with that, mate –

The enemy’s inside.

 

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

Tramp tramp tramp tramp

Trump trump trump trump

 

We’ll never fall for fascists;

we all know who they are!

 

Lost in the Wood.

 

Once upon a time

There was a crinkly little bulldog pup

Lost in a wood.

 

The wood was deep, dark and scary.

 

The pup was tired, hungry, pawsore.

 

And lost.

 

It got darker and darker.

 

The Ravens flapping in the trees

screeched louder and louder and louder

until he could not bear to hear them.

 

But he had to go on.

 

He came to a fork in the way.

 

Both paths were dark and scary.

 

There was a great tree in the centre of the fork.

 

Leaning against it were two animals.

 

Both wore masks with kind, wise bulldog faces on them.

But under the mask was hair,

sleek and black,

or bushy and yellow …

And there was a glint of teeth when they spoke

And a flash of eye

And a red, dribbling mouth

he didn’t much like.

 

Take this path – you know it is the right thing to do –

Said the first.

It will lead you safely home.

If you go down the other path, you will fall into a deep spiked pit

And die horribly.

 

No, no ,no

Said the second.

Take this path, or you will be left behind.

If you go down the other path, you will fall into a deep spiked pit

And die horribly.

 

The puppy sat down on his wrinkled little bottom and began to cry.

 

I don’t know what to do!

He said.

 

Suddenly there was a humming in his ear.

A robin landed on his shoulder.

 

What’s wrong? She said.

 

I don’t know which one to trust!

Which path should I choose?

Who is the true friend?

 

True friend?

What do you think this is, a fairy tale?

They are both liars. One doesn’t care. He just wants to climb the tree.

Neither of them knows what’s round the bend.

 

So it doesn’t matter which way I go?

 

On no – it matters. A lot. There could be some very nasty spikes round one corner..

 

Which one?

 

I’m a bird. All I do is twitter. What do I know?

 

A large tear rolled down the pup’s cheek.

So what should I do?

 

Well. You’ve got a nose. Use it.

Take a very careful sniff down both paths.

And then choose one and go for it.

 

And I’ll live happily ever after? 

 

But the bird had flown.