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

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Poem ‘A Tale of Love’

I first fell in love with you in a map,
a sort of pentagon, sacré, teased out
a touch like a stretched piece of dough. Then
it was the names, the easy non-phonetics
conjuring visions and colour through
Fontainebleau and Versailles. But then,
of course, it’s the history that defines me
and you, those first tragic lines etched
large, bold and bloody by le Bâtard, a family
dispute of a single culture cleaved
by hatred and greed, melded by chivalry.
For so long la Manche was not a divide
(and never la différence), more a conduit
of ideas flowing north, longbows sailing
south. Oh, we have divided since; your gift
for re-invention, dispensing with kings, that’s
something I cannot conceive, even though
we did have a go. But I only have to
look at Claude and Edouard, Paul
and Vincent, to get it, to understand— there’s
a love neither can openly express, though
look more closely, you will find it in our eyes

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

Poem ‘October 15’

Electric soldering iron

Electric soldering iron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 15

Lingering smells of vinegar and fish,
red and green smears on an empty plate,
a solitary bone in a serving dish.

The constable pours tea
in a room drenched in sunlight;
an incongruous joke becomes light relief.

At his age a simple case of lights out, it’s said,
something you have to believe.
Only an hour before he stood at the door

complaining of chest pains that
Alka Seltzer would not relieve.
The neighbour walks in wiping her eyes,

tells of a conversation by the fence.
She cups her drink, shakes her head,
unable to make much sense.

Light another round of cigarettes,
though wherever the eyes fall
there are many reasons for regret.

So stand, walk around,
peep through the net curtains where
the ambulance casts its shadow – no sound.

You’re numb with facts that won’t ingest;
a still hot soldering iron, pliers, cut wire,
like something from the Marie Celeste.

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2012
* first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com

Poem ‘Dark’

Dark

Rook on the road verge ahead
how casually you’ll step aside,
only just avoid my wheels.
Is that why I smile at the mirror
where you promptly step back
to continue to pick and prod,
pulling at the roadkill entrails
some straitjacket driver provides?
Like the crow, the raven— few
are as bright as you, so dark
in colour and reputation

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012

Poem ‘Safe Distance’

Trench Warfare, General Conditions: A party of...

Image via Wikipedia

Safe Distance

Another old soldier who never speaks.
Sitting stiffly in braces and polished leather,
his medals left in bric-a-brac drawers

with sovereigns and half crowns,
concealing the nugget –
the tale worth telling from this safe distance.

A story of a corporal who carried
a limp subaltern from no man’s land
to safety through a Belgian quagmire.

Lieutenant Turnbull was a right bastard,
but no point in resentment or fear
when a bullet could tear through your head

at any time. Simply had to do it and get on.
His blank eyes, though still blue,
cannot disguise the bare brown soul,

like the pounded landscape, the kit bag
he carries around everywhere.
Until the lights go out.

© copyright df barker 2012
First published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com

Poem ‘The Poppy Murders’

The Poppy Murders

They have gone,
all the poppies. Gone.
Please, don’t look at me like that,
it was none of my doing and

besides, there’s too many seeds.
You would have to sift the soil
to find them all, believe me,
and you know I’m not that patient.

It’s not that I hate them, who would?
So delicate and bright,
like bloodied tissue, though
they did rather crowd the lavender

last year you must admit,
sort of snuffed it out if I recall.
In the end, with a heavy heart
I had to dig it out, remember?

So, yes, maybe I did strip them back,
(just a touch, with a scythe),
merely to protect, you understand,
that last remaining lavender bush.

And after all, we should be satisfied
that the poppy grows wild
almost anywhere. Except here.
Not anymore.

image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012
**poem first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com
* image is sketch in oil

*it’s so cold here I needed something to remind me of heat!