By The Rules

Morning.

No fudging!

No Steelies!

Play for keeps!

A dusty rut marks the circle

where animated boys ring the orbit

for play, to cry,

“No Girls”

Egged on by allies, they shoot,

Aggies, Cat’s Eye, Milk glass,

hunkered down, fist on ground, 

a Lemonade Taw knocks out the Glassie,

et shot tour de force.

Penny marble,

threepence at most, 

all Spud needed

to fill his drawstring bag. lunchtimes

when rules, ruled.

Afternoon.

McMahon’s marble fell,

Marlene’s groom Ian

marched, measured, militarised,

fit to kill

fell on a foreign paddy,

loading artillery 

fifteen kilometres

from the action.

The town turned out 

when 3791583

marched home, alone

on a fancy gun carriage.

Rulers decreed — Regimental rules applied

Evening

All welcome.

A roulette marble drops,

winners play on,

launder money,

or lose the house.

The game played for a government’s budget has,

all white,

or ocean blue chips,

to cover 

the dollar,

or thousand, each represents

because no one needs a drawstring bag

in a cashless world.

Rules, rule in the house,

“not fit to hold a licence.”

Be Yourself

photo. Rattle Poetry Ekphrastic Challenge : Claire Ibarra Photography


Overhead a Rorschach test of brambles

Cast shadows across my pool.

There, fat goldfish beckoned the sky fall

and secret them in the amniotic fluid.

Birds, soaring over the pond,

returned to spear an exhausted fish,

floating belly up, as the in-waiting

swimming thing gasped its last palliative breath.

A fish net soon crisscrossed the pool

and stymied — natural selection.

Testily a bird rebelled. Wildly plucking at the screen

until, flying light, away it flew as

the horizon flagged the sun to rest.

The painter’s brush of lattice web

instructs viewers to remember

Fraser’s words, “Life is not meant to be easy.”

or, being yourself requires tactical grit.

Characters Imagined

ref: Gladstoneobserver.com.au
In five hundred languages
Ancestors
Dancing dreamtime song-lines
Taught wisdom
Millenniums before folk in
Powdered wigs
Sent men across seven seas
To plunder, rape, and murder
For a King
Claiming fauna, flora, soil
Enslaving all as labour.

1967
Marked its end?

Yesterday
In the lived experience
Of wary warriors
Characters imagined
In television studios
Knowing hatred is learnt
In burnt cork antics

Look in the mirror
And see your act
Is not the colour of
entertainment
And no excuse
Of ignorance
Will soothe the wounds
Caused to people
Of ancient grace
Ill from your cold lessons of bigotry

It was in the news months ago. Something about Netflix. I cannot fix it because my words are insufficient but we can.

A Pyramid Scheme

John Hopkins University 25/01/2021

One

Year on

This sober anniversary

Marks the first reported

Transfer of the mysterious disease,

Coronavirus. This unwelcome case was first reported

Here. Few paid any real attention initially.

“Don’t know about you”, said the Prime Minister.

“I am off to watch my Sharkies play football”

“I think you misunderstand the point of what we’re doing …”

Devoted Australian family man, James Kwan, died in Perth, February 28 2020.

The retired travel agent was a passenger on the ship, Diamond Princess

Quarantine Isolation policies, couldn’t stop Ruby Princess folk spreading the virus nation-wide

Intermittent border closures lead to crazy disruptions to daily lives for everyone

This crazy pattern has continued for 365 days. Of sorts, corralled, we mourn all dead.


My thoughts go to all the first responders (and those who act as the last responders) and to all caught in the Covid 19 pandemic.

To us all: wear a mask, wash your hands, practise social distancing, and help everyone stay safe.

An Ode To Lynette

Ref: Esty.com
I turned,
As passed me by
An unknown sight,
With flashing lights,
Painted contours,
Sirens Screaming,
Accents stilted,
A debutante queen
Draped in crinoline.
As black-tied men
Pretend to care
Importance springs
From formal wear.
When we all know
A line of print
Makes impressions
When words remain crisp,
Or seem confusing
If short twisted tones
Really haughtily give,
“She passed me by”,
Coquette Lynette
The perfect subject
From way back when
As opening lines —
Such nonsense sprang —
“I turned as passed
Me by”, and love
Was yet an alien.

I met with “H” again this week. He asked if I was still blogging. On learning I still type he recited these words he wrote about 15 year old Lynette 70 years ago.

“I turned as passed me by an unknown sight”.

He said he had started an Ode to Lynette and never finished it and asked I could. I have tried. Now friends it is your turn. This is my challenge. Can you finish the lines “H” started back in 1951? It can be your gift to give him another idea of how his lines should end.

“I turned as passed me by an unknown sight”

Print your poem on your page and send me your link in the reply box. It will make “H” young again to see what you can do.

Sanctus Seraphin

Image Author

How mellifluously did the fiddle play?
Bought in Horsham a century ago
From W Sack, Watchmaker of Firebrace Street,
Horsham, Importer of fine instruments.
Was R Blake, the buyer, a musical prodigy?
Or was the play to amuse oneself by
the fireside, on chilly winter nights?
The musicians choice, “Sanctus Seraphin”
A violin with a name famous for
All the attributes that soloists are
Continually hankering after.
I know it is cruel to mute all notes
Of such beautiful wooden craftsmanship
Yet musical shortcoming dooms it lie
In a black wooden box on soft green baize
Silent as the maple in a snow field.

This copy of a violin from the famous Italian maker of the sixteenth century has been silent since I bought it. (Our children have taken it out of its case and abused its sound, from time to time.) But mostly I admire the majesty of its unknown history, and the luthier’s skill.

Minotaur’s Sarcophagus

Ref. gettyimages
A simple rubber ducky
plucked from a water-bucket
twirled the surface tension,
stirring broken promises.

Tectonic activity
and brute Coriolis forces
threw the sleeping monster,
Minotaur, upon ochre clouds.

Crazily aroused, he rampaged,
in this unexpected setting,
tramping clay underfoot
relying on primitive reflexes
instead of containing his anger.

The stench of sweat,
and the fear of failure,
trapped him in a mortal
brawl of self doubt.

Still maddened, and bellowing
vexatious oaths, he burnished
an enamelled labyrinth
into his lonely sarcophagus.

Hearts emptied of childhood
dreams, replaced myths with other
tenets, messed with phobias and
prejudice to colour this
grand opus, this time on earth.

I am seeking your comments on this piece. Is it too oblique? Perhaps you find it gloomy. It will help me if you take time to pen a comment. Thank you

Forward Into A New Year

Photo Author

Fish know life goes forward


eight hungry pond fish circle restlessly 
rushing the surface water
to intimidate
nourishment shaken
onto whirlpool’s eddy
formed in the steady mock stream playing
from the aerator we hear burbling life
into freshened aqua
reflecting gloomy twilight
and moody clouds float by overhead
folded into dark blankets threatening heavy air
daylight hour
dawning New Year’s Day
carefree
fish know life goes forward

Friends, please allow me to call you friends? I wish you good health, peace, and that your love is met in the dawning year. May 2021 be so good we can all put 2020 out of reach.

Under Milkwood

Dl.uk

Ever keen to invoke a love for language in my grandchildren, three of the four were with me in the car when I switched on the radio. We did this despite my very best practise to condemn such a distraction in a car driven by a learner. 

Let me clarify what we were doing, so you have a better idea of how my distracting behaviour killed my hubris. Charlie was keen to take us for a drive so he could show how prepared he is for his licence test. (Last time I wrote about his driving, 120 Hours At The Wheel 22/03/2020, he had just started to drive) On the pretext I wanted to check on our distant bee hive I gave Charlie the keys as he had said he would love to drive somewhere. With the permission of the Law and their parents, Sam and G sat in the rear seat, and I sat in the front beside Charlie as I was the supervising licensed driver.

We drove in muted silence for about forty minutes. Charlie drove carefully, yet confidently. On this part of the trip we still had several kilometres to travel, and he was driving very well so I broke the rule I had set and turned up the car sound system. All along the road I thought it was off. Instead, we drove, sound muted on our journey. Looking about the display screen, I saw bluetooth was playing Under Milkwood. That was when my vanity got in the way of common sense.

I was so thrilled to see the name scrolling across the silent screen as this piece, written for the BBC, and read by Richard Burton, is one of my favourite examples of spoken word. It is neither a play, nor a poem, yet it is such a splendid piece of writing telling, as it does, of life in the day little imaginary Welch village of Llareggub

Dylan wrote of the characters one might meet in the township – with a name best read backwards — if you want to get a better grasp of his humour. It introduces us to characters such as Captain Cat, Willy Nilly, Mrs Pugh — (Oh, there are so many lovely people, read it, or listen to it yourself.)

If I may, I will return to what was happening in the car as Charlie drove us home. Unaware the reading had been running for some time, I tried to explain why I liked Thomas. I spoke to the kids of the musical nature of the work. (I didn’t tell them I first heard it soon after Alan Woods invested a sizeable portion of his wages and bought a radiogram, and the LP recording, when he had no home in which to store it, and long before he became my brother-in-law. It so happened for security he had it installed in the Vicarage parlour on proviso he could at least listen to it sometimes until he had a place of his own.)

At the point Georgia, Sam and Charlie first heard the words of this dark, comedic writing the village children were in the school playground singing, rhyming verse to a skipping game. Instead of the intent I expected of the moment, they lost all control when they heard the children’s voices singing. For a few minutes after this we heard only their laughter – as they laughed at my expense.

If they ever take time to read my silly stuff, I hope this story reminds them of Christmas Eve 2020. And they take the time to find Under Milkwood I do love, and they listen to it for their own enjoyment.