Friday, 11 November 2011

My Waifs

These days, I seem to be collecting waifs
like others collect stamps
or the numbers of trains.
It’s a queer hobby, I know,
and not one I’d recommend!
Unless you have a strong heart
and much time to lend.
They pop up as unknowns
at the foot of my screen,
urgently requesting
my immediate attention.

Sometimes I am glad of the company;
sometimes I am glad to be in demand,
for it gets lonely in my basement study
now that I am home alone,
with time at hand.
Sometimes the request
is an interruption of thought
or a distraction from
one endeavour or another.
Sometimes a moment
of solace is besought,
sometimes advice
as from an elder brother.
Always there is a need,
always a life is fraught.
Always there is pain,
always there is despair.

Generally, they are reticent
and coy at first;
but all it really takes
is an invitation to share
A “how can I help?” or a “how are you?”
and a whole sad life-story out does spew.

Some of death too much have seen,
Some by parent abandoned have been.
Some fear rejection for telling their truth.
Some condemn themselves
for being uncouth.
Some with guilt and self-despite
are burdened.
Some are so angry and
with violence consumed.
Some feel wound up tight
and fit to burst.
Some feel unloved
and for love sorely thirst.
Some have broken hearts
that will not mend.
Some see too clearly of this life the end.
Some feel empty and so, so sad.
Some feel wicked and so, so bad.
Some despair of finding peace.
Some in self-harm seek poor release.
Some seek solace in vodka or rhy.
Some their death themselves do try.

Each bares the scars of despite.
Each one cowers in the night:
frightened of the darkness
that lurks there as a sickness
threatening in its slickness
to overwhelm their soul
and render them unwhole.

I do what little I can to help and mend.
I listen, affirm and tell them I understand
(Because I do understand,
for I have been there.
I have ridden the bucking nightmare.
I have felt the gut-wrenching sorrow,
with no prospect of a dawning morrow.
I have had my full share of strife.
I have at times lost faith with life.)
I try to give them hope,
when faith they do not know.

I tell them they are loved;
that mercy they must show;
and that they must themselves
forgive and loose the guilt
that holds them fast and
has a fortress round them built.

I tell them life can be
a glorious exaltation
something of sturdy
and stalwart stone and ice:
something of fluid
and playful conflagration
varied and multiform,
yet stable and precise:
an intimation and disclosure
of heavenly eternity
thrusting forcefully and surely
into earthly futility.

So much sorrow, so much pain.
So many people lost and forlorn.
So many people in need.
So many souls to feed.
So little that I can do;
but I do what I can, will you?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Popish Plot

Under the hallowed halls
the noble band had hid
cask on cask of powder
as stalwart Fawkes had bid.
The morn before King James
came to address his Lords
they crept unseen through darkest gloom
most unaware of their fell doom
down narrow ways unto that room
where waited men with swords.

To deeds extreme Fawkes had been led
by agents of the Crown,
who sought full long,
through shire and town,
some hapless man who’d loose his head
when he had carefully been fed
a silly, hopeless plan.

“Alas, we are found out!”
cried Fawkes, full of alarm.
“We are betrayed! Flee if you can!”
as he did spy the harm
that waited in the form of men
intent to thwart his naïve plot
to kill the King, the royal Scott,
and so to end the state’s foul rot
that stank as stagnant fen.
The brave souls were beat down
and trampled under foot
their hands were bound,
their necks were bent
their hope was from them cut.
They were brought forth in day’s sad ray
their love for Pope and slight of King
made plain for all the folk to see:
and they did anthems sing!

Unto a gallows tree
the plotters were soon brought
and they did dangle most merrily
as of the Earth their feet came short.
The people did rejoice
and tell with glee full keen
how good it was that popish plot
had wisely foilèd been.

And now we labour hard
’neath traitors’ iron hand
(of Whiggish temperament
who of their ill will not relent)
and hanker after that good Guy
who would have downcast tyranny
and set fair justice on the seat
so all might have what’s meet.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


There is a hatred,
reserved and well matured,
fermented long
– and then three times distilled –
that’s set aside for those
that once were loved.
Its bilious hue is intimately known
to all who’ve been betrayed
and who have had heart broken,
all who have been abandoned,
left disgraced – as for dead.

All those who drink this draught
will live to rue the day:
for it transforms the good into the bad,
and changes all affection to despite.
So when this cup is offered thee,
cast it away.
Do not hesitate.
Do not delay.
Remembering what was good,
though it is gone.
Accept the loss,
allow the wounds to heal;
let drop whatever tears must fall
and then pass on.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Dark Light Shines

In the night the dark light shines,
deep within the shadows.
In the dimness softly glows,
the heart of all believing.

Cold my brain and dim my eyes
and yet I grope on, hoping
(despite my fears and anger hard
and desperation growing)
that it is there, and solace gives;
gainsaying all appearance.

I come upon the deep abyss
of hate and pain and sorrow
where love is lost and swallowed up
in fulgin eve that vastly falls
to spite all word of morrow.

I drink my fill the brook of loss
that plunges there in torrent
down cruel rocks that know no joy
but battered are by years of bloody woe.
My thirst assuaged, I risk the sight
gained at the chasm’s brink.

I stare into the dark of death: the end of being fell.
I feel it steel into my soul and recognise it full well
for what has always present been amidst my tawdry hopes;
the lie to all my vanities, the cusp of all conceits,
the worm that gnaws my heart away:
the knowledge of mortality.
I long to fly the deep descent
which offers me release
from suffering and hate,
to embrace the arms of hostile rock
and shatter in their urgent grasp:
to spend my life in one last spill of blood;
but at the edge
some unsought instinct speaks,
an unseen hand does stay my step,
and I pull back.

But I am lost, I have no guide
to tend my way or point me right.
As I advance the choice repeats
again and again, without release,
’twixt life and death, ’twixt good and ill.

But why chose life, when life itself is ill
and offers naught but pain
and prospect more of same?
Surely ’tis better to be dead
and put an end to doubt and dread
if life itself’s a living death!
But still ’tis life I choose,
though it is fraught with woe;
for one thing’s clear:
that if I once choose death
there will be no ’morrow
in which to make another choice;
no chance to regret any choice,
no chance to grow,
not even chance to know
the pain of loss and of sorrow.

While there’s life there’s room for hope,
even if that hope be false;
and, though false hope is foul
and ne’re to be desired
(a spectre which despises life
yet offers what it hates)
still, life will always demand hope
and hope will promise life
in everlasting play
and dance reciprocal.

Perforce, I live in hope;
and, though I may in despair die,
I can not help but hope
or else, e’en now, I die.
Far in the West, I glimpse the end
of all my paths and choices.

No matter if I soon find joy
in little things of hearth and home,
or greater things of art and skill,
or greatest things of wisdom’s kin,
or even love that thrills my soul
and my whole heart does win;
still I shall die
and all my enterprise shall come to naught.

All I hold dear shall be undone
my fine conceits be futile shown.
So what for hope and life?
This life is dying as it lives: it is not e’en itself!
The law of identity it denies
and can’t keep faith with its own name!
Its hope leads surely to the clammy grave:
and so is shown most truly false!

Still, in the night the dark light shines,
deep within the shadows.
In the dimness softly glows,
the heart of all believing.

Cold my brain and dim my eyes
and yet I grope on, hoping
(despite my fears and anger hard
and desperation growing)
that it is there, and solace gives;
gainsaying all appearance.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Death Sonnet

That hour will come at last my breath to take.
Forlorn the hope to void Death’s certain bond!
He will not suffer me a breach to make,
he holds me fast in much too firm a hand.
And yet I know that when my life is void,
still will the stalwart sun pursue his course;
and when my bones are ’neath the sod low laid,
seasons will flow according to those laws
which surely fix the bloom and fall of all
who live and die beneath the austere sky.
Therefore, I plead, when I must heed that call
should linger here, not as a whiff of smoke off fly,
some remnant of the being that once was me
my case, dread Fate, I now consign with thee.