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Saluting Magpies

Poetry in Motion

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soundtracks

hadn’t heard the song in twenty years
half my life. a lifetime ago
catch a plane to central America
English white girl,
what did I know

I would pick apart the lyrics
until I could roll them in my mouth
I would learn to drink tequila
and cuss
the right way round

I would merge my skin and senses
to those who shared my days
sleep out, or late, or not at all
become
the local scrap-fed stray.

Manu Chao on counterfeit CD
half my life. a lifetime ago
I had picked apart the lyrics
qué horas son,
mi corazón

no-one makes me tea

No-one makes me tea
now you’re not here.
let alone that first cuppa
carried

upstairs
carefully,
as wary of bed-hair
as of spillage.

But you never slopped the tea.
sloppy
is not in your nature
nor your resignation letters

left downstairs
carefully,
lukewarm
propped against lukewarm.

now
no-one makes me tea.

hey fever

the grass roots of it,
watered well,
are these:

yawning chit-chat of sweet nothings
sliding onto Sunday counters
softening the coffee

murmurs on old-fashioned landlines
cables curled in absent fingers
winding words between

oral flings at cold coach stations
punctures patched by perfect strangers;
our pitstop cavalry.

the life sentence

human
I feel your wistful rage
foot stamping and fist beating
rain your blows
as best you can
you are weak and ineffectual

envious of my ever-after
like all those who came before you
what would you not do,
give,
give up
for a share of my forever?

forever. yet for what, exactly
which folly is your fever
the empire you are sure to build
the indignation
of your heartbeat?

my flame goes on, and on
consumed, yet all-consuming.
what I would not do
give,
give up
for the obligation of your ending.

the caretakers

not the desperate thrashings of drowning sailors
shipwrecked on the sea
nor the glistening gashes of midnight werewolves
too deep to ever heal
nor the horror of a dreaded headline
you would have chosen not to read;

no, rather, a dull endurance.
that of

a thread-bare carpet in the hallway
once glorious at your feet
rusted signs in village squares
marked by dogs and weeds
caretakers,
constant in long duty
waking bone-dead from their sleep.

objects
serving sovereign subjects

unheard, untold, unseen.

slipstream

in the midst of mess
and clutter
the fragments, bluster
of those damned foolish others,
we must tread water

help is not coming.

we must tread water
until there is shore rest
there will be shore rest
if we make it to shore,
tread water, tread water

help is not coming.

gardener’s world

the grass is never greener
on the other side of the fence.

true –
the fence itself wants fixing
and the grass is
(technically speaking)
a collection of all things green –
but still,
it is ours.

LandLords and Ladies of diverse tenants:
some fixed abode
some transitory
all gracious about the refurbishment
apart from Ivy;
she clings
obstinately to the past.

the local musicians, self-taught,
give concerts dawn til dusk.
they won’t take a penny
must be thanks for last winter;
bird seed, to top up the grub.

of mice and… meh

Cat catches mouse
Drags it, still squeaking,
into the house.
The children are dismayed:
Maman,
Save the mouse!

Maman catches cat
Shoves it, still squeaking,
Out of cat flap.

To indignant mouse
And indignant children:
It’s alright, all of you.

Maman catches mouse
With only good intentions
Mouse sinks mouse fangs
Into maman’s fingers.

Follow expletives,
And opening of cat flap.

Cat will catch mouse
bloody good riddance –
Maman ne sourit plus.

Now teach

we have drawn some interesting
oranges and bananas in Art
(modelled in play-do
by our younger students).
Silent Reading is also less recognisable
as,
ok guys but just the one episode while I do this teleconference

we have done the alphabet puzzle
twenty-six times over
and are now, finally,
less puzzled
at least until tomorrow.
in another (class)room
our elder students are tasked with Creative Writing
and will compose prose on confinement
with six year old brothers.

History has been la Résistance
to dictées, and grammar.
Darling, underline subject-verb-noun:
« Maman massively regrets joining
that parent-teacher whatsapp »

Maths emerges as a collective challenge
division is long
the days are multiplying
in sum.

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