Four Poems
 

1

We drove up the track in search of a dog walk.

Halfway up, the track had been erased –

a giant thumb had smudged the mottled field

across it. An informing certainty, a ancient artery,

obliterated in an afternoon.

I had once known how to get onto the ridgeway

from here. Now I didn’t. I had once

known the way to your heart. Now I didn’t.

 

Is this the difference between lovers and families?

One can be plowed up, forgotten – the other lives

eternally beneath the soil, half-remembered.

2

What is it to be a poet?
It is to write poetry.
Nothing more than this?
It is to be awake while dreaming:
it is to dream whilst awake.

Who qualifies one for this?
Noone. And noone cares.
It is as if the heart
suddenly burns with love,
demanding we make some rune.

Do decent people do this?
No – they live their lives behind
a pane of frosted glass,
sensing but not visiting
this country of the heart.

Poetry is. What else?
It stands as soft as stone
within the river of time
negotiating the fluidity
of permanence.

3

We are the scuffling people:
we make do and mend:
we mustn’t grumble:
we are woodlice behind life’s skirting board.

Invisible to the naked eye,
millions of us
live and die,
merely to perpetuate our genes. 

Occasionally from the background hum
one is forced out –
a ‘celebrity’
takes a bow on the public stage … 

Mr or Ms super-average
helps for a day
to sell newspapers:
only to be recycled into darkness.

4

Visiting prison I’m struck by the pointlessness –
these are men for whom all social networks failed …
his parents split, and after that nothing
seemed right, where his heart should be is just a scar …
he wasn’t in the wrong place but could never prove it …
he is guilty anyway, by reason of his colour. 

The journey to this hell is strictly for the weakest;
hopelessly out-bluffed in life they fail, they fall,
and are swept away into a storm drain where
individuality is obliterated –
just a seething mass of caged egos, hands
pleading throu bars for an impossible love.

22/02/03

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