Today I hung a silk ribbon on my favourite tree, an alder, to commemorate World Earth Day. My beloved ginger and white cat is buried underneath and his claw marks are still visible on the trunk. The tree was only small when my cat was alive and now it’s over 20 feet. I hope these trees will outlive us all.
What if each breath
was a cloud, each tear
-drop a rainstorm,
each word forked
lightning and eyelids
would your world be
desert or ocean?
This hideous pandemic has clearly shown that the earth and humanity are interconnected and dependent on each other for survival. Different nations, animals, plants, the climate – we all need each other. There is no room for selfishness, cheap nationalism and bigotry. The World Wide Web is not just on the internet but everywhere.
there are no birds
only the wind
and the howl of wolves
beyond the silence
we are alone
there are no clouds
only the wind
the crag of Lady Hill
we are alone
there is no sun
only the wind burns
the air is thin
within these walls
we are alone
we build brick upon brick
and watch the flickering walls
waiting for the storm
the Tower stands alone
in this Border land
we dance upon the battlements and hope
Atrocity is a wall of thorns artless
Bluebottles smashing against glass fall
Comatose to my window ledge making
Death their next great adventure
Escape to shit scented nirvanas
Filled with lost winged kin and divine
Garbage heaps piss-fountains free from
Human malevolence effervescent
Incandescence and decay so promising
Knowledge is an act of sabotage not
Limitless power but a weapon
Mother warned me about the elitist
Noah and his treachery for not
One soul is more holy than another
Paradise is an orange wasteland where
Quicksand and alligators devour
Revolutionaries with their fiery
Socks and fondness for the insignificant
Turtle neck sweaters may be aesthetically
Unpleasing but they conceal the frogs in
Virtuous throats destined to cause alarm on
Wet Wednesdays when there are no boats
Xpected but gin is being served at Erith
Yacht club as waves lap and lightening
Zaps the three wise monkeys at the door.
I usually steer away from politics in this blog but these are extreme times. In the despairing aftermath of a British election that voted for the most right wing, populist, racist, sexist and dishonest Prime Minister the country has ever seen I thought this poem by Charles Causley was extremely apt. I have changed a couple of lines including the last line. Thanks to Isabel for sending me the original poem enclosed with her Christmas card.
“Who’s that knocking on the window,
Who’s that standing at the door,
What are all those presents
Lying on the floor?
Who’s the smiling stranger
With hair as white as gin,
What is he doing with the children
And who could have let him in?
Why has he rubies on his fingers,
A cold, cold crown on his head,
Why, does he caw his carol,
“Get Brexit done”?
Why does he ferry my fireside
As a spider on a thread,
His fingers made of fuses
And his tongue of gingerbread?
Why does the world before him
Melt in a million suns,
Why do his yellow, yearning eyes
Burn like saffron buns?
Watch where he comes walking
Out of the Christmas flame,
Boris is his name.”
God help all the poor, sick, disabled, homeless, immigrants, refugees, unemployed, elderly and other marginalised people in the UK during the coming years.
And here’s a poem by Rudyard Kipling sent to me by Alastair:-
“If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf.”
– Nikita Khrushchev.
For as long as anyone could remember, the seed
had lain cold and infertile, buried in no-man’s
land like a relic from World War Zero until
the black rains began, bloody and reeking
of injustice. Diamond winds blasted, unstoppable,
eroding the top soil until the seed was exposed;
hard, spiky, toxic, untouchable. Acid rains
pooled on the stony ground forming
new rivers like convoluted arteries and veins
reviving the bodies of undead soldiers. The seed
softened and grew into a giant lightning tree
with fiery tentacles encompassing the world.
And we all waited to be struck:-
Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Tolstoy, JFK,
Solzhenitsyn, Sylvia Pankhurst, Martin Luther King,
John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Karl Marx, Frida Kahlo,
Rosa Parks, Benjamin Zephaniah, Peter Tatchell,
Marie Colvin, Che Guevara, Maya Angelou, John Pilger.
The sun more pink now.
She was afraid,
swatted it flat
and bloody with her hand.
A mermaid delivered the note, handwritten in wavering purple ink.
She chose a secret location on Long Island at midnight.
Strictly no pictures, no questions and I must come alone.
She said she admired my honesty and the scoop on Leonard Cohen.
The tide was out, the mist was in and it looked like a no show
when suddenly she appeared by the rocks, lapping quietly at my feet.
She wore a blue mac. A fedora pooled shadows over her eyes.
Such an honor to meet you, I began. Thanks for letting me tell your story.
This is not about me, well not much, she said.
Her voice rippled and skipped through the dark.
It’s about you guys. My warnings
aren’t getting through, not
even the tsunami of 04. You morons
have short memories and no understanding
of omens. We don’t know where we went wrong, me
and Neptune. We were good parents. Fuck knows
we tried our best. Ever since you crawled
onto dry land you’ve lost your way.
What do you mean exactly? I asked.
I told you no questions, she replied and a cold wave rose up and slapped me in the face.
We sent clear signs, reminders every day. It’s hard work
maintaining the tides, the rhythm, all that pulling
and pushing to teach you the value of self-discipline, of balance
and how to give and take. We’re sick
of your abuse and the shit you dump in the water. I could
go on and on but I’m not here to give another
lecture cos the truth is, you’re screwed. No,
I’m here to tell you I’m quitting.
Neptune hitched a ride to Andromeda
five years ago. He sent a postcard last month
and says he’s doing swell. I stayed behind, hoping
for change but now your time is up. There’ll be no
more marinara pizza, no more calamari fritters, no
more weekends hanging out at the beach and no
more yachting holidays for the jet set. There’ll be no
more clouds with silver linings and no
more rain on your dahlias. You will be forever grounded.
I’m off to Orion for my new job as Head of Desert Prevention.
My advice in these dying days is to forget love, it will fail you.
Read Dostoevsky and respect your cat, he is wiser than you know.
And before I could protest, she disappeared,
dancing and leaping into a vortex of spray.
Me and my mates, we rub together
swell. We’ve been here forever, fretting.
Different shapes and colors,
we jigsaw, see-saw on the front line.
We rise and fall, small tectonic shifts,
comrades waiting for the ultimate surge.
You’ll find me in the fiftieth row from the left
by the turbulence of the harbor wall.
It’s a fine spot, plenty of action.
I pass unnoticed, I’m not the brightest.
Some call me dull. I call it French
Grey, camouflaged by elegant swirls.
Poor Fred and Ginger were striking
red, arty types with a sense of style.
They were snatched away to a suburban
rockery. It’s always better to blend in.
There’s a rumor drifting from below,
the Big One will sweep us to unknown fields.
Hear us mutter, hear us moan,
the rainbow legions of change.