Literacy has stalled

English: Map of World Literacy by UNHD

English: Map of World Literacy by UNHD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sun only slowly burns off the morning fog;
a mind is clearing.
I’ve been cursing the cold and remind

myself of the time of year.
‘Literacy has stalled’. The radio spits out
this throw-away phrase.

It gets stuck in my craw, as if
this country hadn’t already been thrown
to the dogs, its mangled corpse

not tossed around for years, plaything
of the Whitehall hounds
and their circling vultures, both

rather good at feigning that they care.
‘Literacy has stalled’. As if it ever really
got going, it’s been a hidden truth

for decades; those miraculous exam
successes where league table is king. Never
common sense, not discipline and

certainly never values. And here’s
carte blanche to dress it all up; new curriculums
and shining academies: Zero times zero

equals zero.
Literacy has stalled: so tell me something
new! Nearly everything learned I’ve taught

myself, it’s a case of needing to but
I’ve yet to train my eye to spot who’s
behind the tail that wags the

elephant in the room

poem © copyright Dave Barker 2012

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Two Guitars

2guitars

How far could we have pushed it? How far did we
dare? The cold didn’t
hit us so much then and our bones weren’t

the barometers they are now – not
so plainly breaking
down. And time, he was our slow

playground friend casting his long spell,
fooling us to think that
what we had was real.

But a new chord
could send our minds off in tangents to those
places of colour, much better imagined

than experienced. Two guitars, two
minds playing like John
and Paul, though minus their gifts, their

backgrounds; all still ideas
in the ether surrounding, mingling even with
Alexander’s breath, the vapours of many

great men – and
where are they? Great only
in books, and how much

lesser are we?

© poem and image copyright Dave Barker 2012

Sad Songs

sadsong

Where have all the sad songs
gone? When I was young I sang
the saddest songs; there was

a depth, a yin as well as
yang, like the love
of a minor chord, or a melancholy

walk by the sea –
and it was all so much bigger
than me. Something

tells me that I can’t be
ageing well, not when
all the songs sound the same,

where the tide never rises again

© copyright Dave Barker 2012