Saturday, 30 January 2016

Christmas every day....

'Is that a carol you're humming?'
'Of course.'
'But it's nearly Feb--'
'What it is, Piglet, nearly or nearlyless, is neither here nor there. Remember the saying: "Christmas is not just for Christmas, it's a dog's life".'
'I think it's, "a dog is for--"'
'Shepherds still have to wash their socks by night.'
'But that's just a timetabling issue, it doesn't--''
'And the snowfalls in the lane, Piglet, they don't say to each other, ok, lads, I've had it with this glistening, football's on, let's leg it.'
'Pooh, I'm not sure that snow has--'
'And you don't get the air, the on high, telling the bells to shove off and take their ding-dongs elsewhere.'
'But it's been weeks since--'
'And everyone bangs on about the first Nowell. Oh yes, very grand . . . angels' pet . . . right, then, people . . . first Nowell at the ready . . . let's off-road . . . pick on certain poor shepherds in fields where they lie--post sock-solutions--but what about all the other Nowells? Where are their angels? Where are their certain poor shepherds?'
'Otherwise occupied? Sock malfunction?'
'No, if we don't keep humming about them, those Nowells, see, they'll get disillusioned, they'll feel marginalised.'
'Pooh, I'm sure that's very noble--'
'Turn all anti-social, see, Piglet? Leave chewing-gum underneath café tables. Knock dustbins over by places of commerce.'
'Pooh, how can a word knock--?'
'Roar off to Brighton on scooters. Next thing you know, Laurel and Order break down.'
'Total anchovy. Now . . . any requests?'
'I quite like The Little Strimmer Boy. Or that German one--'
'Ah, yes, Still the Nacht, Hijack the Nacht. Right, then, after three…'

Thursday, 28 January 2016

M Beckett et l'agent de police

'Me and Eeyore met that rambler Mr Beckett too, just today.'
'Eeyore and I.'
'No, no, me and Eeyore. We called for you but you were out.'
'What I meant was...well, did you have a nice chat?'
'Not really, he was distracted.'
'Was he?'
'Climbed to the top of a tree, looked out, gave a mirthless laugh, climbed down, climbed to the top of the next one, looked out, gave a mirthless laugh, climbed down.'
'He does mirthless really well, though, doesn't he?'
'Oh, born to it. Wholly sans le chucklage, Owl says.'
'So what was troubling him?'
'Hard to tell at first. Talking in riddles he was. Out of the blue he ups and says "They give birth astride a grave." Well, of course, Eeyore had been catching up with Call The Midwife on his tv, using that...oh, what do you call it?'
'i-Pliers, exactly, so he was able to tell Mr Beckett that wasn't quite how it goes.'
'How does it go?'
'Well, they give birth astride a rather rumpled but not unpresentable bed in an upstairs room in Poplar.'
'Everyone? The same room?'
'Oh, human beings, Piglet. Creatures of habit.'
'So did that settle him down?'
'Not really. He said that the light gleams an instant and it's night once more.'
'Well he should get up earlier.'
'That's what I said...nearly said...but he started turning his sandwiches round and round and doing another bit of mirthlessness. Well, I say, bit...industrial strength, actually.'
'The only way to treat Branston pickle.'
'No, no, turned out someone had stolen one of his sandwiches. One end of the paper was in tatters.'
'No idea who, I suppose.'
'Could be that Camillia Long. She's still hiding out round here, apparently. That's why he was climbing the trees, I think.'
'To zap her with mirthlessness?'
'No, he'd been in touch with a policeman, who told him to stay put and he'd come and investigate. Looking out for him, I imagine.'
'Ah...waiting for Plodot.'
'You had to say that.'

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

'Feste Packs' (Twelfth Night)

Feste packs

Twelfth Night

‘A sister,’ says Olivia, ‘you are she.’
Viola giggles, takes Orsino’s hand
while Sebastian lurks, grins, looks . . . well, married.
And so the whirligig of toffs brings in
its closure.  Time I wasn’t here, although
I’ve been requested (in the way that kind
request) to derry-down at their big feast.
Well . . . no . . . besides, some of the others have
cleared out already.  An hour since, Fabian
took horse, a deep pouch at his waist clanking
as cloth does not, as pewter dishes do.
Sir Andrew’s long gone: maundering the way
to his estate with empty heart and purse.
Toby, of course, will stay for whatever
he can push at that gross mouth—capon, sack,
wench’s quim—till Maria spots his game
and shrieks, explodes, flails, gets them both slung out.

Did no-one hear the sulphur words he flung
back at our faces as those yellow legs
spindled him off?  Does no-one have a care
for ends untied, for prayer without amen?
He’ll come after me first—and last, maybe,
making me serve the pack’s turn.  Even now,
I’d guess, he’s down the city’s rabbit-holes,
a fist of tankard-pay for each soldier
inert between our wars and keen enough
to keep in trim with midnight clutch-and-slice.
Can’t blame him—well I can, I hate him—still,
the joke was winded from the start, and yet
I dived straight in, tormented, gurned—ah yes,
occasion was ministered and I fell
exactly as the doormat steward sneered
that time before my lady.  Damn his truth,
damn jokery.  Damn all this.

                                                    Packing up?
A moment’s work when you have nothing more
than one change of jerkin and hose to roll
beneath your arm, odd bits of maying rhyme
and flash quibble to tuck inside your head.
I might, while daylight holds, take one last tour
of Olivia’s lush parts: the spinney
where I’d sleep under last night’s tavern-load,
the park where I’d sing death to come away
and death would snort and cry, not likely, boy,
you’ve years tied to your tinpot minstrelsy
before my appetites alight on you.
Forget that.  The terrace, then, I’ll stand there
a few vague moments.  Nothing I love more
than colonnades with sunlight failing west.

And after that?  Sir Andrew.  Yes, I’ll track
the long throw of his lanky shadow, sit
beside him halfway up his hundred steps.
Unbow his head, or try, with my best songs
for patching hearts split double-fold by love
untendered, friendship made a pool of piss—
Belch’s sour malice when the jig was up,
the sailing disregard of my lady
as was.  Go, I’ll advise, seek out the shores
of seas tropic and icebound, passes through
mountains whose air outdoes a drum of sack. 
Stand still and stare, think nothing save for how
you were (you told us) adored once.  Perhaps
you’ll happen on that lady at some strand
or by a lanterned bridge when day’s played out.
Fantastical?  How so? Consider all
the fairy doings we were caught in.  Still,
if not, no matter.  Bear on with a care
for your mending spirit.  Be civil but
be strange.  Friendship does not rattle its glass
and furl the bill’s dry numbers in your own.
Your smile, salute—these are portable.  Give,
yes, but giving done, take both back.  Goodnight
should always play the shepherd to goodbye.  

And then for me a journey too, a song
to baffle time and space.  I’ll swing off through
the changeful ages, scramble up and down
the future’s hills.  Seek out all those who are
as I was, mud-holed at a story’s end,
unable to break finis down and step
into their true pace, own their tomorrows.
Feel, I’ll whisper, how the wind disarrays
your coat, how the rain muslins your sad eyes
enchantingly.  No tall yarn prisons them.
Even as we talk they play plait-the-grass
and splash-the-skull round certain faceless tombs
of some to whom I bowed and some with whom
I shat life like crow-pellets.  Take my hand . . .
up . . . easy . . . up.  We’ll walk to the next rise
and you will see the plains and valleys of
time after tales.  I’d say you’ll find, like me,
that dust-broad highways mix contrariwise
with sloughs.  But all is yours to age along.
Just train the corner of your eye to note
the tree that bends upon a ridge, the cloud
preparing ebony confusion on
the downlands.  What breathes in and over them
tousled Eden and will only go out
with the sun.  Here we are.  Look on your miles,
take your step.  I’m this way.  Mind how you live.  


Sunday, 24 January 2016

It Slipped By ('the new year / did not come in')

it slipped by

the new year
did not come in
it slipped by
on the last street of December

formally dressed
collar and pin
as if summoned to hear
what was no longer
just in the offing
and nod
and see itself out

at all the midnights
planted through the world
fire-workers crouched at their buttons
champagners gypsied their heels

but the twelve tolls
were the steps of a man
with no head for heights
backing down a long long ladder

time hid beyond
the last reverberation
the new year
pushed that jellied globe aside
straightened a skewed cuff

time shuffled out
fell in step
as they walked

through peach-blossom
summer deeps
the bright cut of days back-endish
lamps chatter-headed in a nave

all bits and dabs
conjured by time
to sweeten the dying way
ended with a gust of old leaves
like a snow-weight absently lifted
absently set down

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The origins of Godot: Piaf, Re-Branding, Vladimir and Oestrogen.

'I met that rambler Mr Beckett today.'
'Oh, yes? What was he doing?'
'Oh, you, know, just sitting under a tree by the lane,
practising his mirthless laugh.'
'Nice to have a hobby.'
'He wants to make it more plangent.'
'Does he now?'
'"Don't mind me," he said. "I'm just fettling my plangency".'
'What, in broad daylight?'
'Of course, I had to ask him…you know….'
'Ask him?'
'The Question.'
'What question-with-undue-emphasis-on-the-q?'
'Did he ever turn up?'
'Did he have a turn-up?'
'I should think he did. Two. And still does. That's the zen of trousers.'
'No, no. Did-he-ever-turn-up? Godot?'
'Oh. Ah. And did he?'
'Well … poor Mr Beckett, he had to make the whole thing up from scratch.'
'There's a thing.'
'Apparently Godot arrived within an hour. He was a music promoter from Lille and someone told him about Vladimir and Estragon. Gave him the impression they were a Belgian close-harmony duo with a weakness for pastel jumpers. Well, of course, he turns up to hear them--'
'--well of course--'
'And they can't carry a tune in a bucket. Can't carry a bucket, either. Mislaid it in the Macon country. But they tried their best.'
'That's nice.'
'They'd re-visioned a song by Edith Piaf.'
'How do you re-vision what you can only hear?'
'Tigger says it's all the rage. A necessary step to multi-platforming.'
'Is that standing on more than one platform at once?'
'No, Pooh, you're thinking of multi-tusking.'
'Ah, the elephant-in-front-of-a-dozen-mirrors routine.'
'Exactly. So they sang him their homage to Piaf, "I've Had Nothing But Regrets, Me, And If You Have Any Spare I'll Take Them Off Your Hands, Say, Twenty Francs Cash".'
'How did that go over?'
'Mr Godot got in a right strop. "Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed rhyme?" he yells.'
'So no forthcoming appearance on "Britain's Got Dossers"?'
'Well, he had a ponder, Mr Godot.'
'In front of everyone? No bush to hand?'
'He said that, since Major Tom's gone, there's a gap in the androgyny market--'
'Dear Liza, Dear Liza--'
'He said he could re-brand them.'
'Ah, so the farmer they belonged to wouldn't know. But that's swizzing--'
'Yes, in broad daylight. "How about we call you Vladimir and Oestrogen?" he says. Asked where they were going, said he'd give them a lift so they could explore image-focused vectors.'
'Good grief! Well, I suppose they'd have sped past before anyone spotted them at it. And where were they going?'
'To the outer rim of desolation, Vladimir said. Mr Godot said he was going via Toulon, would that do, they said it'll have to and they hopped off.'
'Hopped? Funny sort of car.'
'Well … showbiz, Pooh, you know how it is.'
'Haven't a clue.'

Monday, 18 January 2016

'Only a rose'

Only a rose

Only a rose in an area window
telling the tale of a sportive yesterday

or pressed in haste on someone by somebody else
who’d been stood up but still wished love to dance 

across the evening.  The rose knows nothing
of what it was meant to say, how it was dressed to say it.  All it wants 

is to sing back the glow of the moon, which never says
what they say it says either but happily listens while nosing apart

the dark of the rose’s room—fixing the way an old-gold blouse
pours down the back of a chair, how a clock tickles the low hours. 
Only a rose and only a moon doing what nobody sees
free from all the mortal chat of need or contrition.

If the rose dreams, it’s of rain’s delirium.  If the moon dreams
it’s of birthing its own light, quitting as gofer to the sun.