Friday, 26 June 2015

Born Middle Aged

While most children spend most of their childhoods (the waking part)
   variously complaining that something isn’t fair, fighting with siblings,   
   shouting at parents, and generally being one way or another permanently
By contrast, I had a brother who was born middle-aged.
Now, no doubt some of you might start thinking, ‘Oh, I had a cousin like 
   that; we used to call him Captain Sensible,’
But I would have to stop you right there, for the level of juvenile midlife
   behaviour displayed by my brother was incomparable (as well as being   
   utterly incomprehensible).

For example, once, when I tried to goad him into a full-on dramatic and
   infantile retaliation,
He simply reminded me of his solicitor’s most recent legal communication.
‘The key phrase,’ he said, barely looking up from his Times crossword, 
   ‘starts with the word  restraining...
Now, enough of your foolish and puerile feigning,
Run along while I solve seven down:
Synonymous with younger brother, five letters – clown.’

For his sixth birthday, I rashly bought him a cute, cuddly teddy.
He just looked at me wearily, sighed, took his glasses off, rubbed his eyes, 
   and said, ‘What? That time of year already?’
The thing is, because he liked things to be ‘really straight’,
His transitional object to date
Had been a set square,
And I had naively thought that a teddy bear
Might be more suitable.
He unwrapped it and then sat there, his expression inscrutable.
‘I’m sure it’ll be very useful and it is just what I have always wanted,’
 He eventually said, before placing it in the wastepaper basket.

My brother’s middle-aged childhood seemed to be an endless
   merry-go-round of:
Advising father about his pension,
Taking inhibitors for his hypertension,
Talking to ‘young people’ with complete condescension,
Spending Saturday afternoons cleaning the car,
Being snooty about music with ‘the electric guitar’,
Writing letters to the local journal,
In the hectoring tones of a retired colonel,
Using words like ‘preposterous’ and ‘infernal’,
Insisting his milk be at least semi-skimmed,
Keeping the edges of the lawn neatly trimmed,
And his favourite treat:
Pruning the wisteria while listening to The Archers’ Omnibus Edition.

You’re probably expecting me to say, ‘And then came the Midlife Crisis,
   which turned out to be adolescence, after which he started hanging out 
   with other teens;
He even started experimenting: with the idea of wearing jeans.’
But my brother wasn’t cut out to be that unconventional,
He stayed middle-aged and continued to view us childish children as
   dim and one dimensional.

I think it must have been a really tough gig, being naturally self-disciplined,
   when all the other children were naturally self-naughty;
Adults always saying that you’re seven, going on forty;
And years later, when everyone’s forgotten,
Along comes a younger brother with some wholly misbegotten
Poem... reminding everyone.
I fully expect the last laugh to belong to my sensible sibling:
While we enjoy our ‘second childhood’, all senile and dribbling,
He’ll be gleefully running around, experiencing the new found freedoms...
   of his first childhood.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Poem-a-day Parts One-Five

'Day' 1: About a week ago, William nominated me for the poem-a-day challenge. I would like in turn to nominate Thomas Cromwell. My first poem is from the Unsentimental School of Verse and is called 'The Flower'. It's not a good poem, but then, why should it be? No bloody flower's ever written a poem about me. I may do these in quick succession. Perhaps I should have written another poem about cats.
The Flower
It’s not my normal subject matter,
the flower. Usually, I’d shy
away from trying to scratch some lines
on such a thing: it holds no interest
for me at all. A flower’s just
a flower. Don’t misunderstand me:
I like their colours in the spring
and summer months, but mainly, when
they’re there, I do not notice them;
I do not miss them when they’re gone.

'Day' 2: Well, I'm now on day 2 of the poem-a-day challenge. I would like to nominate Judas Iscariot as the next poet. In the meantime, here's a woefully short permutational prose poem called 'Leftover Soup'.
Leftover Soup
I remain indifferent to your indifference. It leads us all to a better understanding of tintinnabulations. Let me show you how to order pizza using carrier pigeon. The last to arrive always spoils the party.
I remain indifferent to your Empire-building obsession. It leads us all into not-quite-blind-but-certainly-short-sighted-alleys. Let me show you the shortcut which will get you even more lost. The last instruction made about as much sense as a dolphin speaking Polish* (*like normal dolphin, but without the vowel sounds, capiche?).
I remain indifferent to your political opinions. They lead us all to conclude conclusively about your lack of sanity. Let me show you with this diagram. The last figure, although it looks rabbit-shaped, is, in fact, a hare (a hare Krishna).

'Day' 3: I made it as far as day 3 of the poem-a-day challenge. I now nominate any passing clouds who wish to identify as poets. The third poem looks like a stylistic mash-up of the first two inadequate poems (mainly iambic tetrameter meets repetition), but that's just coincidental. It's called: 'I Ran Out of Words for the Final Stanza (But At Least I Kept the Meter Going)'.
I Ran Out of Words for the Final Stanza
(But At Least I Kept the Meter Going)
You said you had no need of friendship –
until those big boys came along,
then you were all, like, ‘Save me, save me!’
It really was pathetic.
You said that things are never real –
until they repossessed your house,
and you were all, like, ‘That’s my house!’
You’re such a hypocrite.
You said that arguments were futile –
until you won one (quite by chance)
and you were all, like, ‘Ar-Gu-MENT!’
That way you turn the charm on.
Blah BLAH Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH blah –
Blah BLAH Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH,
BLAH blah blah BLAH Blah BLAH Blah BLAH.
Blah BLAH blah BLAH blah BLAH blah

'Day' 4: The penultimate day of the poem-a-day challenge. I neck-nominate Ronald McDonald for the Poetry Ice Bucket Challenge. As for the poem, it's a thing called 'je suis dystopia' and does not do justice to the title. As for the way it just stops. I mean, really. Is this the best I can do?
je suis dystopia
has eight facebook friends
and their horses
mad frank
status update
armageddon it
four people like this
four horses like this
has created an event
7 billion people are going
ask dystopia
for a music recommendation

'Day' 5: Well, I made it: the poem-a-day challenge in less than an hour. For my final nomination, I would like to nominate Switzerland. For the last poem, and I use the term incorrectly, I have written a haiku. It may be the wrong season, but at least it mentions a season (in the title). Also, in Japanese, they don't have to have 17 syllables and are written on one line, so just what we think we're doing when we're writing haikus is anybody's bloody guess ('being lazy' is mine). It's called 'The First Haiku of Spring' and it goes like this:
The First Haiku of Spring
cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck-
oo, cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck-oo,
cuck-oo, cuck-oo, cuck.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Becoming Spring

A ghostly breeze, bone-chilled from Winter’s shadow,
crawled past as I exhaled, and stole some warmth
from human breath, which gave it thoughts of Spring.
‘Ha! Spring does not exist for Winter’s friendless
breezes,’ the lifeless landscape sneered; but as
it spoke, that Winter’s shadow grew quite faint
and disappeared to nothing, while the Sun,
obscured behind a shapeless cloud for such
a time that I had quite forgotten her
existence, showed her face and blew a kiss
of heat towards that breeze which once was ghostly.
‘Remember this,’ she said, ‘in every breath
of human life, there lives a thing called Hope.’
The warm and friendly breeze was charged with joy,
and flew across the land, becoming Spring.


I ponder on the things in life I’ve lost,
And wonder at the quite preposterous cost
Of being such an absent-minded fool,
First losing ‘things’ then losing poise and cool.
The countless times I’ve groaned with tortured frown:
'I can’t remember where I put it down!'
Well, maybe had I kept my mind switched on,
I might still have some treasures long since gone.

A Waterman, that special pen
My mother sent with me to school,
That radio I bought aged ten,
That watch I left beside the pool.

That trilby hat, an affectation
Black and sleek, which once I wore
When trying out sophistication;
Just that once and never more,
(I took it to a Jazz Club, left
It on the hat-stand by the door).         

That old guitar, I lent in haste,
To someone whose address went stray,
Some brand new shoes and, what a waste,
That watch I lost on holiday.

That Bible bought for me by Dad,
When I was only eight-years-old,
Another watch (oh well, too bad);
Initialled cuff-links made of gold.

I’ve lost my favourite teddy bear,
I’ve mislaid clothes and socks galore,
I’ve lost the odd watch and, I swear,
Enough loose change to feed the poor.

In years to come, I’ll lose my mind,
And doubtless lose my hair as well,
I’ll lose my sight and end up blind;
Once dead, I’ll lose my way to Hell.

Most things we lose are rarely missed for long,
Forgotten like the words of some old song
Whose tune you half-remember, if at all;
Things come, then go, but where? We can’t recall.
When life is lost and nothing’s left to lose,
Not pens, not hats, not watches, bears or shoes,
We’ll sing that song at last and gather round
The souls of all the things, once lost, now found.