Poem: ‘England’s Glory’

man person men old

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He taps the roll up on his weathered
seat, strikes the match
towards him as an old man should, a box
of ‘England’s Glory’ and tobacco bag
thrown at me, as if they weren’t
all his worldly goods.

“No thanks, I don’t.”

He shrugs as if it’s my loss,
cups the yellow light with
the nonchalance of a friend, his hands
raw and dirty. He draws, a near
toothless mouth collapsing
like worn bellows;
he exhales, deftly aiming a spit
of spare flake to his right, while knotty
fingers wipe wet lips— the sound
of sandpaper on wood. And so
the coughing starts. There’s little else
to fill the new day.

* ‘England’s Glory’ is a brand of match

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

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Poem: Blindfolds

think2

There is no crisis
that’s never been made, no war
we’ve ever had to join. Why
don’t you stop! – look

at what you’re doing? Don’t
accept it,
turn off the TV and ignore
the paper headlines stacked

in front of you, they lead you into their
traps,
their pigeon-holes.
What are you? Can a jackass

stare back from the mirror? Even
gods call you sheep, creatures who
need to be brought in – whoever said
this

should be so? The more I say no, each
time you refuse to
toe the line, so much sooner
you and I become us

and then we

© copyright David F. Barker 2013

I am not a pacifist, but most conflict is avoidable.

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

Poem ‘Perpendicular’

I’ve been baffled by this talk of
perpendicular, amused by the students
drifting by
in lurid hats and long scarves. Some are arm-
in-arm, quite oblivious to me, their
languid strides taunting
my age.
It’s a peculiar English thing, this style
of architecture,
(I know it hurts you to say) but I pretend
not to care, because my
recall of art history class is minimal
at best, a choice
that perhaps I regret now in these
idle moments,
sitting hunched in this cafe on
the square, bleeding its pasts. Maybe I’m jealous of
these boys, their short-skirted girls
with dark tights going on forever. And that bell,
it has a continental ring; I see
other occupants here, the shadows
of angular men in martial grey, mingling
with the smiles and chat of stylish women. But
now I have to watch you eat, your
gannet-eyes sucking coffee, washing
down the sachertorte you wolf. The mere
thought of those cobbles out there just beyond
this warping glass— you know
they are as hard as the freeze
which grips this place, the tissue of
your frozen heart

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

Poem ‘Meditation’

Sometimes I hate you, I must
avert my eyes.

Other times I love you
and I’m crazy, I can’t leave you
alone.

Mostly though I’m indifferent,
you’re something there out
of my window on any
random day,
like the sparrows who chat huddled
side by side
on their privet hedge.

But whether you’re friend, enemy
or mere acquaintance, you are all
outsiders—
intruders in this precious
secret space

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2012

Poem ‘Rear Gunner’

I come here most days
after school. Dad says it’s ok, so I
head straight away to my

friends, the chickens; I help them
dig for worms. Sometimes
a school friend drops by too

and we race up the stacked bags
of guano; they’re almost warehouse high, our
voices muffled like we’re in a cave. Later,

when it’s time to go, I sit and wait
for Dad, stare at old pictures
on the wall. A bomber

plane in camouflage, the rows of cheerful
men before it with little to smile
about, Dad said. I can

point to his friend, the rear
gunner who never gets out. I’m stuck in
there, spinning round

and round in the noise, the ground’s
approach quickening— then nothing—
until this awareness

and I am his son

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

*Notes: When I was seven or eight years old, my Dad used to work in a warehouse and I did play with the chickens, climb the bags of guano. There was an office, with a picture of an old British Blenheim bomber, with rows of RAF men lined up in front…

Poem ‘Flux’

The window is
ajar,

just enough to
let in some air, to

tantalise the cat
hooked by

night’s soft invitation.
Something outside

is burning, hangs
in the yielding light, though

I’ve never
seen those crimson clouds

phase
to dusky pink

and then to grey.
It’s a flux which

eludes me
every time.

Magic, you might say,
like being in space,

and now

© copyright David F. Barker 2012