EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

POEMS  

by

SUSAN JARVIS BRYANT
____________

WA R

Your history in this world is writ in blood –
The blood of men of battlefield and trench
Whose grit and guts were swallowed up in mud.
Such gallantry has faded with the stench
Of mettle, sweat, and putrid rotting flesh.
You’ve ditched your axe and spear and bayonet –
Your barbarous acts of butchery are dead.
Your guns and gas gave way to something fresh –
A craven age of slavish etiquette;
A world where verve and valiance have fled.

Today you will not stir for kith and kin.
Today your ire won’t fire tenacious veins.
Instead, you’ve turned your hawkish focus in
On citizens the fickle devil names.
To fight for all our hearts hold close and dear
(Our family, our country, and our friends)
Is frowned upon as patriarchal greed –
A heedless deed that draws your scornful sneer.
This is where our symbiosis ends.
You’re in the grip of Satan’s wicked creed…

You’re allied with the demons of the sphere.
You’ve tortured truth and trampled on our trust.
You’ve gagged us, locked us up, and fed us fear.
You’ve seen our dreams and businesses go bust.
You’ve slaughtered hope. Some cannot cope. They hang
Their heads and weep as woeful spirits die.
You’ve slammed our sex, our culture, and our skin
Without the boom of bomb blasts from a gang
Of soaring war dogs blazing in the sky…
You are the beast we kindly welcomed in.
 


WAKE

At night I quake and lie awake in bed.
My racing mind likes pacing to and fro.
My thoughts, they peck and caw just like a crow.
I’m in the grip of woe from tip to toe.
The paradise I knew is lost or dead –
At night I quake and lie awake in bed.

My head is shrouded in a cloud of dread.
A veil of darkness dims my guiding light.
A grim penumbra lingers in my sight.
I pine for times before this frightful blight.
At night I quake and lie awake in bed –
My head is shrouded in a cloud of dread.

I mull and muse until I’ve lost the thread.
I ponder on the after-dinner news.
Women are extinct. They leave no clues
To what they were – the whys, the wheres, the whos.
My head is shrouded in a cloud of dread –
I mull and muse until I’ve lost the thread.

I moon till Venus, Mars, and stars have fled,
Till Earth and what it’s worth has fallen flat,
Till blame and shame are foisted on a bat,
Till rats run with a fat-cat technocrat.
I mull and muse until I’ve lost the thread –
I moon till Venus, Mars, and stars have fled.

I mourn as dawn is born in cherry red.
I watch the pigs and rooster rise and fly
To greener scenes beyond this scarlet sky.
I brave the new world with a wistful eye.
The paradise I knew is lost or dead –
I mourn as dawn is born in cherry red.



A PEACHY PANTOUM

The mockingbirds are keen and mean of beak –
The peaches ooze with juice beneath the blue.
They’re plump with pleasure feathered devils seek.
Their perfume clings to summer’s honey hue.

The peaches ooze with juice beneath the blue
As Sol caresses fuzzy, blushing skin.
Their perfume clings to summer’s honey hue –
The stickiness of noon is ripe with sin.

As Sol caresses fuzzy, blushing skin
Hunger heats the breath of Eden’s kiss.
The stickiness of noon is ripe with sin –
The breeze cleaves through the leaves. I hear it hiss.

Hunger heats the breath of Eden’s kiss.
Fragrant flesh is feasted on with greed.
The breeze cleaves through the leaves. I hear it hiss.
Beneath the trees the plundered peaches bleed.

Fragrant flesh is feasted on with greed –
It’s plump with pleasure feathered devils seek.
Beneath the trees the plundered peaches bleed…
The mockingbirds were keen and mean of beak

FOSSIL

They gathered at the entrance of the park
On roller skates and two-wheeled steeds of steel,
All set to ride until the dawn of dark
And hunger chased them home to evening’s meal.
They conjured realms of wonder in the wild –
That world of witch and warlock in the shade
Beneath the oaks where every local child
Would fly a dragon through the bluebell glade.

They played away from home without a phone.
They hid where wrinkled sages never pry.
They danced where seeds of gut and grit are sown.
They stared a pterodactyl in the eye.

These roots have blessed the boomer dinosaurs
With granite spines and blockhead-blasting roars.

Return to Poems Menu

 

 

           ____________

 

 

KILLING TIME
       Inspired by Leisure ~ W.H. Davies

In moments we no longer share,
Time beckons me to stand and stare

At plumped up pillows on our bed
Without the dent left by your head;

At sunless silence filling space
Our songs and secrets used to grace;

At butterflies beneath the oak
Where one heart stopped and one heart broke;

At Autumn’s kiss of burnished gold
On leaves that drift where we once strolled;

At bluest moons in blackest skies
As stardust wells in wistful eyes;

At bitter Winter’s scathing gaze,
Dismissing dreams of warmer days;

At bleak vignettes of used-to-be…
I’m killing time. Time’s killing me.


LUSH
      ~ a rondel

I revel in ripples of sun-ripened fun –  
      The zing of a tipple enlivens my day. 
I quaff as I waft in a zesty bouquet 
      So beautifully fruity I can’t stop at one. 

I sing and I spin till my wits come undone. 
      I jig as I giggle all niggles away.
I revel in ripples of sun-ripened fun –
      The zing of a tipple enlivens my day.  

I hear Bacchus bellow the parched shouldn’t shun
      The nectar of gods – a liquescent buffet
Of plummy elixir – a peppy ballet 
      That tickles the buds of my tantalized tongue…
           I revel in ripples of sun-ripened fun. 

 

A SHRILL VILLANELLE

My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.
I seek a peaceful heart and blissful sigh.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

I burn to quell these hellish fits of pique.
I crave a cloudless air and cool blue eye.
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.

The rosy balm of calm is ultra-chic.
I hold the bold control of angst on high.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

I want to purge my surging urge to shriek,
But cannot let a crass quip pass me by –
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.

With zeal I screech and squeal just like a freak
When witnessing a jackass tell a lie.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek…

But when a politician starts to speak
My brazen lips will bawl a battle cry.
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek –
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

 

MIND GAMES
   ~ Three Cerebral Triolets

Propaganda

It wants your mind. It wants you blind.
It warps and washes wayward brains.
It gains control of humankind.
It wants you blind. It wants your mind
To cave, to close, no cogs to grind
Till not one stain of you remains.
It wants your mind. It wants you blind.
It warps and washes wayward brains.

Plot

They want you led. They want you dead.
They’re carnage cloaked in care’s disguise.
They want you cowed – afraid – unfed.
They want you led. They want you dead.
They wield the reaper’s scythe of red.
They suck the soul from guileless eyes.
They want you led. They want you dead.
They’re carnage cloaked in care’s disguise.

Ploy

Delight in dreams and set them free
Like butterflies and birds in flight.
Rejoice in treasured reverie!
Delight in dreams and set them free.
All hope is fair and feathery –
It rises like a wind-kissed kite.
Delight in dreams and set them free
Like butterflies and birds in flight.

 

           ____________

 

“Peace is possible, truth at all costs.”
          ~ Martin Luther

PEACE BE WITH YOU...
     a pantoum

The churchyard cat is terrified
The belfry bats are numb with fear
The oaken door creaks open wide
The luckless flock is drawing near

The belfry bats are numb with fear
The altar drips with crimson wine
The luckless flock is drawing near
A shiver waits for skin and spine

The altar drips with crimson wine
Grackles cackle from the steeple
A shiver waits for skin and spine
Something eerie greets the people

Grackles cackle from the steeple
The organ’s voice is sharp and shrill
Something eerie greets the people
Something spooky sends a chill

The organ’s voice is sharp and shrill
A cassock cloaks a beastly bent
Something spooky sends a chill
The sermon isn’t heaven-sent

A cassock cloaks a beastly bent
The oaken door creaks open wide
The sermon isn’t heaven-sent
The churchyard cat is terrified

 

HACKABLE ANIMAL?
      
a villanelle

I know that I am more than flesh and bone;
My heart beats to the music of the spheres.
Beneath my skin is where my soul is sown.

I’m independent, yet I’m not alone;
I revel in the wonder of my peers –
I know that they are more than flesh and bone.

I marvel at each different shade and tone
Of voice and choice – our highs and lows and fears.
Beneath our skin is where our souls are sown.

In days when minds are prodded, probed, and prone
To truthless vows from ruthless racketeers,
I know that I am more than flesh and bone.

My spirit can’t be tracked or hacked then thrown
To greedy ghouls who lap up lab-rat tears.
Beneath my skin is where my soul is sown.

No bureaucrat or autocrat will own
The passion in the prayers my maker hears.
I know that I am more than flesh and bone –
Beneath my skin is where my soul is sown.


SCORNED

I saw my fella kiss his secret pleasure
On chubby cheeks at checkout number two.
I saw her eye the region of his treasure.
That frumpy, dumpy, horny little shrew
Mocked me with her shocking brand of matronly.
I couldn’t stand it. How could I ignore
His penchant for a lover who was motherly.
I’d rather he had run off with a whore.
I get the burning turn-on of a siren –
The tits-and-wiggle jiggle of a flirt.
I couldn’t keep my flossed and glossy smile on –
His fling with apron strings had left me hurt.
The green-leaf grief of lettuce lunch now rankles.
My gym-slim toil for him robbed me of joy.
He spurned my limber thighs for tubby ankles –
That girdle-smitten, closet mommy’s boy!

I’ve one more thing to say before I go –
His name was Oedipus not Romeo.

 

           ____________

 

 

BOO!

I feel a fleshless presence –
A faceless, soulless call
To tomb-doom acquiescence
Beyond a graveyard wall,
Where ghoulish effervescence
And ghostly iridescence
In moon-kissed opalescence
Enthrall at evenfall.

I hear an eerie sighing.
It jars the very bone.
A petrifying crying
Beneath a marble stone.
The moan is terrifying.
The tone is mystifying –
What spook is occupying
The dust-and-ashes zone?

I feel grim goosebumps prickle.
My knuckles burn bright white.
Cold sweat begins to trickle.
I’m riding tides of fright.
I’m in an awful pickle –
The reaper’s whispers tickle
The ears that fear his sickle
Will scythe on through the night.

Each year this fear comes rocking
And rolling up my street.
Its visit’s always shocking.
My heart cranks up a beat.
My knees begin a-knocking,
As zombies come a-flocking
All cackling and mocking
And howling, “Trick or treat?!”

 

AUTUMN

She simmers through morning in saffron and gold,
Voluptuous russet – a blaze to behold.
Her feet heat the hilltops, her lips kiss the trees;
Like Carmen she dances and scorches the breeze.

She sashays and sizzles and simmers through noon
In swells of ripe mulberry spicing the gloom,
With harvests of nectar exciting the tongue
With fruits of the forest engorged with the sun.

She teases and pleases and rustles and plays
Through amber and tangerine, butterscotch days.
She’s bawdy and gaudy and earthy and brash.
She dashes through dreams with crimson panache.

This harlot in scarlet, this hot extrovert,
Will waltz you through wonders – a fiery flirt,
Until her eyes freeze with the seasonal chill
As winter moves in for the cold, callous kill.


SWOON
    
(a sonnet in iambic monometer)

The moon
Unfurls.
A bloom
Of pearls
Ignites
The sky,
Excites
My eye,
With beams
So bold
In dreams
Untold…

Of you…
In blue.

 

A POX UPON MY HOUSE
       a pantoum

I heard the hiss of sickness as my mind cracked.
I scoured and bleached and reached new hygiene heights.
I locked down, muzzled up and shunned all contact –
Its moans and groans still stole my sleep-kissed nights.

I scoured and bleached and reached new hygiene heights.
Contagion slunk and skulked and skulked and slunk.
Its moans and groans still stole my sleep-kissed nights –
I pitched as prey to pestilence’s funk.

Contagion slunk and skulked and skulked and slunk.
It gnawed beneath my skin and bored through bone.
I pitched as prey to pestilence’s funk –
It burned my brow and turned my limbs to stone.

It gnawed beneath my skin and bored trough bone.
Blood boiled with bitter bile and fevered jitters.
It burned my brow and turned my limbs to stone,
Unleashing piercing beasts and godless critters.

Blood boiled with bitter bile and fevered jitters –
No prison keeps this poison pox at bay.
Unleashing piercing beasts and godless critters,
This vile and wily virus made me pay.

No prison keeps this poison pox at bay –
I locked down, muzzled up and shunned all contact.
This vile and wily virus made me pay –
I heard the hiss of sickness as my mind cracked.

           ____________

 

RHYME & REASON

I’m often asked the question of just why
I pulse with passion for the woven word –
How could I let the time just tick-tock by
While steeped in reams of rhyme? It seems absurd!
Some wonder how a sober mind is stirred
To bring to life the music of the spheres,
When troubadours have sung and gone unheard
By multitudes who choose to turn deaf ears
On poesies prone to pale with passing years.

My answer is – each word calls out my name.
Each letter knows the rhythm of my heart.
My fortune isn’t found in funds and fame;
It beats within the anthem of my art.
It drifts upon the breath my thoughts impart
In drafts that waft through dreams to meld and mesh
In images that bud, then bloom, then start
To paint the page in visions, bold and fresh,
That rise to my surprise as words made flesh.

My words parade in skies that cradle stars
In silken swathes of ebon's smoky hue.
They melt the opal moon and march with Mars
Who bloodies clouds when bidding night adieu.
They dance on diamond lawns in dawn’s voodoo.
They thrill with treetop trills as morning flares.
They boost then bruise in brazen shades of blue.
They’re splashed with tangerine and lemon airs –
The zest that catches senses unawares.

I’ve gazed in glee and gasped in giddy awe
At odes of bards of old casting their spell.
A blazing tyger and a raven’s caw
Ignite the DNA of every cell;
I have a yen no pen will ever quell.
I crave to conjure mariners at sea,
Those lesser traveled roads and trips through hell...
Then when death takes the time to stop for me,
My words will flirt with all eternity.

 

Two Summer Villanelles

   l. LONE STAR SEAR

The burn and boil is grim for some.
I’m red of neck and flushed of cheek.
I’m roasting under summer’s thumb.

Cicadas thrum and twang and strum
Their shrill and tinny, eerie shriek.
The burn and boil is grim for some.

Plum-drunk hornets swirl and hum
Round putrid fruit in rot’s mystique.
I’m roasting under summer’s thumb.

The mad dogs melt in midday sun;
They pant in fits of fur-coat pique.
The burn and boil is grim for some.

Mosquitoes suck till I become
A bloodless husk; a withered freak.
I’m roasting under summer’s thumb.

These sweat and swelter days are glum;
This sticky cling is far from chic.
The burn and boil is grim for some.
I’m roasting under summer’s thumb.

   ll. LONE STAR CHEER

Hot molten gold ignites the sky
As hummingbirds zip here and there;
It’s summertime. I’m cirrus-high.

Soft tufts of cotton occupy
The fevered field and farmer’s prayer.
Hot molten gold ignites the sky.

I watch a flirting butterfly
Dance to a scarlet trumpet’s blare;
It’s summertime. I’m cirrus high.

The crickets chirp. The nightjars cry.
I breathe star jasmine scented air.
Hot molten gold ignites the sky.

I sip iced lemonade and lie
Swathed in heat’s hypnotic glare.
It’s summertime. I’m cirrus high.

Sol’s sizzling kisses draw a sigh
In lazy days that lay skin bare –
Hot molten gold ignites the sky.
It’s summertime. I’m cirrus high.

 

A SILVER-LINED SONNET

It’s said that during times of heightened pain
Your world contracts. You’ll find it’s apt to shrink –
A small domain; no fuss, no stress, no strain –
A place for you to breathe with ease and think;
A space for you to drift away and float
On gentle waves that quell the swelling seas;
A spot that’s isolated and remote,
A raft on rising tides of panicked pleas.

As frenzied ire rips through the afternoon
And fever spits white fire and blazing gall,
As horror looms and wallows in the gloom
My world scales down until it’s super small –

Upon a lawn beneath a leafy tree –
A book, a grin, a buzz, a gin, and me.

A HEARTFELT KYRIELLE

To faults my mind is often blind.
It’s prone to leave me in a bind.
Although I’m logical and smart
From now I’ll listen to my heart.

Too oft the good have left me sad.
At times the bad have left me glad.
To tell the good and bad apart
From now I’ll listen to my heart.

When hope lies drowned in squalls of pain,
I’ve got my straining brain to blame
For trusting Science, never Art.
From now I’ll listen to my heart.

My heart beats with the sweetest voice.
Its rhythm makes a joyous choice.
It takes the path of Cupid’s dart.
From now I’ll listen to my heart.

 

             ____________

 

We could hardly let Shakespeare’s birthday (April 23)
pass by without notice. Here’s one view of the Bard:

BARDOLATRY

He boasted an iambic ear,
That playwright with insight, Shakespeare;
Yes, Measure for Measure
He’s given much pleasure
With Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.

The Bard’s jealous fellow, Othello,
Brings lust, unjust murder and bellow –
You’re after a laugh?
Then check out Falstaff
Or Malvolio’s tights of bright yellow.

In mystic Midsummer Night’s Dream
Titania’s a mean fairy queen;
There’s Puck, of wild antic,
And Bottom, a frantic,
Crass ass who’s an absolute scream.

Try Shylock of harsh bond indeed
Who glides to Antonio’s need –
For flashing his cash
He fishes for flesh
Sans blood – will he ever succeed?

Juliet Capulet gets upset;
Beau Romeo’s life’s under threat.
His name, Montague,
With regret, just won’t do –
Star-crossed love pays the ultimate debt.

King Henry, a valiant peach,
Assures Agincourt’s within reach –
His speech fuelled with fire
Stokes tired men’s desire
To charge “Once more unto the breach!”

If sorcery and books are your quest
The Tempest’s a rare treasure chest –
Sweet music, hypnosis,
A monster’s psychosis,
All whirl at a wizard’s behest.

If mystery and history’s your thing
Then Cleo and Tony will bring
A cuddle, a quibble,
An asp and his nibble –
A poisonous price for a fling…

Which brings me to Richard the Third,
The hunchback of arch act and word –
A horse, a damn horse,
For his kingdom, of course,
Leaves everyone shaken and stirred.

You yearn for the taming of shrews?
I’m thrilled to deliver this news –
A Kiss-Me-Kate fest
(Cole Porter’s the best)
Will kill Doll’s House Ibsenesque blues.

So, let’s raise a glass to each play,
No one will surpass Will’s array –
Did someone shout Chekhov?
The Seagull can peck off!
Much Ado About Nothing, I say!


F E V E R

Blooming Spring!  Blooming Spring!
Thaw the sting in Winter’s grin,
Melt the ice on Jack Frost’s chin –
Let sunshine in!

Budding twigs! Budding twigs!
Pussy willow, maypole jigs,
Cuckoos, catkins, crocuses
And lilac sprigs!

Jocund thrills! Jocund thrills!
Hosts of golden daffodils,
Bluebells, jonquils primrose spills
On emerald hills!

Fluffy chicks! Fluffy chicks!
Gangly calf and piglet fix –
Leaping lambs heaped in the mix
For new-life kicks!

Bumble bees! Bumble bees!
Thrumming in the trumpet’s tease,
Flirty doves fan in the trees
Love heats the breeze!

Blooming Spring!  Blooming Spring!
Rip the thermals from my skin;
Let the frolicking begin –
Bring on the zing!

THE PERFECT MURDER

Mesmerized throughout the night
(Her knuckles white and eyes alight)
With vast, rapacious appetite
For every grim and ghoulish sight;
She drinks in all that’s on the screen
While scarfing olives, quaffing wine,
Glued to every gruesome crime,
Till sickle moon has bled its shine
And sticky footprints flee the scene.

She dreams of hemlock, knives, and rope,
Of blood and bleach, slick hands and soap,
Of saucer eyes devoid of hope,
Of sin beneath a microscope –
Screaming clues that gleam with truth.
Though, no one hears the ghost of Jones –
Lime and Lysol muted moans
As Fido dined on extra bones…
Her Prime-Time lessons killed the proof.

Each lurid, fact-stacked, gore-packed show
Keeps closet villains in the know
Selling seeds they yearn to sow
To bloom beneath their patio –
A couch-potato travesty,
Where sorry souls are swept away
Without a trace of DNA,
And sweet old ladies never pay
Courtesy of Crime TV.
 

TEA FEVER
      With a nod to John Masefield

I must boil the kettle for tea again for my burst of thirst at three,
And all I ask is a china mug and a fruity slice of Dundee,
And a glug of milk in a sip of silken heat to quench this yearning
For the peaceful glee of a rosy lee while the toiling globe is turning.

I must boil the kettle for tea again, as that yen for the tang of Earl Grey
Is a wild yen and a clear yen that cannot be kept at bay;
And all I ask is a lemon twist in a mist of fragrant steam – 
That trace of grace in the sun-laced taste of my heavenly beverage dream.

I must boil the kettle for tea again – I’ve a longing to read those leaves.
I’ll sup it up and drain my cup to see what the hand of fate weaves;
And all I ask is a brimming flask of golden, nectarial brew,
And the luscious flow of that liquid glow in afternoon tea for two.

 

URBAN LION

Beneath its gilt the golden city’s red in tooth and claw;
threat sneaks and seeks in bleak back streets on velvet, padding paw.

When bustling bistros close and Broadway shows bolt up each door,
that’s when the purring prowlers prey and pounce and pierce and roar.

The broke succumb to hunger as it gnaws their homeless bones.
The thieves unsheathe their feral as they ravage lavish homes.

The feline sirens sell blue spells of sin in red light zones,
as kings of concrete jungles spring from brutish, moon-kissed thrones.


 

                                                                 ____________

 

CRUSH

I love English Literature,
especially my Master -
Atticus Finch with a pinch
of Rhett Butler
and the lure of Count Dracula.
Oh, the droll roll of his tongue
around ‘onomatopoeia’
sends a spine-tingling shiver...
a ripple and quiver
like a leaf on wild water.


He says that's a simile
in tones crooned to thrill me.
He’s my period six lover
(he’d say that’s a metaphor
although I'd beg to differ)
and no other teacher
comes close to this preacher
of literary delights...


He ignites dull school days
with his suave Mr. Darcy ways.

 

A CHILLY TRIOLET

Mid-Winter’s sting and icy spite

Has made me keen for Spring’s green kiss

To melt the moon and thaw the night.

Mid-Winter’s sting and icy spite

Has scorned all jonquil days of light

And banished rays from grey’s abyss –

Mid-Winter’s sting and icy spite

Has made me keen for Spring’s green kiss.

  

AN ARTIST'S PRAYER

O saffron splash of gold on canvas –  
solar flash of floral madness, 
brush bleak demons from my darkness –
dip my dreams 
in light 
 
O palette of celestial prowess –  
midnight waves of swirling solace, 
lemon lunar-laced caresses –  
spawn a starry
night

 

BUTTER NUT

 

Lush lubricious Butter, 

You've set my dawn aflutter 

With your silky milky utterance of bliss. 

I wish a dairy fairy 
Would care enough to spare me
From the creamy dreamy dare-me that’s your kiss...

That mellow yellow sizzle, 
That smoothly oozing drizzle 
Of your tell-tale trailing dribble on my chin... 

My spread-the-bread temptation,  
My toasty fascination  
And such drooling captivation whisper
sin

Before you harm my heart 
I know we have to part –

But, my days just won't kick start without you in!

 

 

L O V E...

 

It’s not a dozen scentless hothouse roses.
    It’s not a chocolate-box of sweet cliché.
Its not the scorching kiss that lust imposes
   To lead the fired and fevered flesh astray.
It’s not an aphrodisiacal dinner
   Or the sigh in dizzy highs of fine Champagne.
It’s not a diamond pledge wedged on a finger
   If Always means till youth and fervor wane.

It’s words all selfless souls have thought and spoken.
   It’s songs that soar above the spinning sphere.
It’s beaming smiles – a gift, a golden token
   That shines its rays when days are dark and drear.
It’s ears that hear the fear beneath our laughter.
   It’s eyes that warm us when our world is cold.
It’s hands that hold us here and ever after –
   Beyond the age when bones and hope grow old.

It’s never been a borrower or lender;
   It’s care is given unconditionally.
It’s flame burns with a beauty, truth and splendor
   That blazes in the bond that sets us free.
It’s rest when we are weary, lost and lonely.
   It’s peace when here on earth we’re ash and dust.
It’s forever – it’s our cherished one and only –
   Love’s our pleasure… Love’s our savior… Love’s our must.

 

 

                                                                 ____________

 

LET'S DO IT

The surgeon does it in a snip within a stitch of time.
The comic does it with a quip, the actor with a line.
Morticians do it clad in black with grave and stiff demeanor.
The lawyer on the legal track while clutching his subpoena.

The padre does it with a prayer and flourish of the cross;
The pirate with a patchy stare, the model in lip gloss.
The surfer does it with a wave, the pilot on cloud nine,
The barber when he’s had a shave, the fullback at halftime.

Sopranos do it in full throat, librarians are hushed,
The flasher in an overcoat, the plumber feeling flushed.
The chef with zest and extra spice, the counselor with care.
The jogger does it in a trice in Lycra underwear,

The ballerina on her toes, the archer with a quiver,
The drunkard with a rosy nose, the coward with a shiver.
The gardener does it with a dig, the con man in cahoots,
The sailor with a hornpipe jig, the cowboy in his boots.

The artist does it with panache, the florist wreathed in scent.
The diver does it with a splash, the nun with good intent.
The barman with a stir and shake, the gymnast with a roll,
The altruist for Heaven’s sake, the pianist with soul.

Magicians do it with a trick and something up their sleeve,
Philatelists in just one lick and hypnotists with ease.
The zombie does it in a trance, the optimist with glee,
The diva with a song and dance, Mad Hatters after tea.

The prankster does it with a wink, the gangster in a mask.
Ventriloquists while sipping drink (they’re born to multitask.)
The maestro does it in a beat, in bow tie and tailed coat.
The buzz upon the busy street is – get out there and vote!

                                * The writer became a citizen in 2018

 

A BOWLFUL OF AUTUMN

Yesterday, in Walmart, next to the prickly cactus
(a spiky reminder that I'm living in Texas)
were leeks, leeks, leeks upon leeks.
They were long and cool and cream and green,
dusted with earth and the dream of soup.
An autumnal bowl of soul...

Today, I snip, slice, dice, steam and stir
until a cosy aroma of my homeland
bubbles to the top of the pot.

This evening, as dusk's haze of humidity
seeps beneath the mesquite,
and runs in rivulets down Lone Star longnecks,
I'll serve my velvet broth.
I'll garnish it with talk of flame-licked trees,
frost-nipped leas, Guy Fawkes and bonfire smoke.

 

 

A VULGAR VILLANELLE

Uncivil tongue
In shades of blue,
You’ll come undone.

You think it’s fun;
You have no clue
Uncivil tongue.

The gall you’ve spun
Won’t bid adieu;
You’ll come undone.

Let poison run,
Let rudeness spew,
Uncivil tongue.

For those you’ve stung,
Each barb you’ll rue;
You’ll come undone.

You haven’t won;
You’ll pay your due,
Uncivil tongue –
You’ll come undone

AN AVIAN KYRIELLE

Their lilting trills fill twilight skies,
Their aerial flair delights my eyes,
Their wings fan dreams with certainty –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.

They hop the trembling treetop trail,
They skim the breeze, they surf and sail;
Resplendent in God’s livery –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.

They lift my heart when life is grim,
They’re feathered blessings, Heaven’s hymn;
They’re hope’s celestial artistry –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.

 

____________

THE SPYDER

Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
in the moon-kissed bloom of night,
gracing air with prayer of death
before dawn draws her morning breath;

cloaked in husk of bristling jet,
lurking in the devil’s net,
willing teasing breeze to bring
a lush and juicy wing-éd thing;

looming ghoul of drooling fang,
watches flitting pretties hang,
scuttling in to pierce and wrap
the manna snared in terror’s trap -

moreish mite in sticky silk;
hors d’oeuvre served for fiend to milk
and guzzle on ambrosial grub
with the zeal of Beelzebub….

Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
in the blue-moon doom of night,
lacing air with lair of death
before dawn draws her mourning breath.

 

DRAWN TO THE WINDOW

I’m drawn to the window where dreams drift and fly
to celestial realms above the sun’s eye;
away from the fray of the rat-racing day
where time has succumbed to eternity’s sway;
beyond your goodbye and my question of why.

I gaze past the blaze and seek a reply
to the sob in my soul and the grief my eyes cry.
While the moon soothes the night and knees bend to pray,
I’m drawn to the window.

As dawn dips the earth in a gold-dusted high
I yearn for your words and to feel you nearby.
I burn in the sting of my searing dismay
at the day when your wonder was wrested away
to a place above space, beyond the word “die”...
I’m drawn to the window.

 

HAVISHAM'S KNELL*

She’s locked behind the bars of time
where roses fade and dreams decay
in crumbling cells where death knells chime.

Her clocks have stopped. Her sun won’t climb
on wishes where Spring zephyrs play.
She’s locked behind the bars of time

where weak bones creak and grim ghosts whine
and peach-cheeked grins have dimmed to grey,
in crumbling cells where death knells chime,

as slighted soul seeks heaven’s sign
that stars still shine at ebb of day.
She’s locked behind the bars of time

enmeshed within cobwebbed confines,
where weathered lips kiss yesterday
in crumbling cells where death knells chime

and salt-seared eyes sting at the crime
of hands that crush love’s lush bouquet.
She’s locked behind the bars of time
in crumbling cells where death knells chime.

      First printed in Openings 31 published by Open University Poets, 2014

 

 

 

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