The Other Way

Such is the fate of the timid

That chance will be denied

Scenes of what might have been

Are painted on eyelids, inside

….

Memories that have no past

Faces and places never seen

Hands wanting for the holding

The other side of time’s screen

Dreamers know such losses

On nights that last all day

Things that would be different

Had they taken the other way

The Stokers

A freighter ploughs through heavy seas

Navigating oceans by degrees

Racing to bring precious cargo back

Convoyed to reduce the chance of attack

….

The war effort needs these crucial supplies

Ferried to Britain under pewter skies

Below in the cold and merciless deep

Lies a deadly enemy that does not sleep

….

U boats silently stalk their prey

Alert and watching night and day

Silent, merciless cylinders of steel

Torpedoes armed, aimed at the ship’s keel

….

In the freighter’s bowels, ‘neath bulkhead light

Stokers swing shovels in constant night

Sweat, coal dust, crippling heat, endured

Power for the engines must be assured

….

In the stern, the propeller churns

Boiling the sea, the ship tacks and turns

On the bridge the look-out is slack

Failing to spot the moon-silvered track

….

Hell is let loose near the water line

Two explosions rock the ship’s spine

Salt seas pour in with torrent strength

Alarms ring out along the ship’s length

….

The stokers know the emergency drill

But the deluged furnaces are quick to kill

“98 hands lost”, the official post

“Ship sunk within sight of the British coast”

IF

If the sky was green would the trees feel blue?

If all hearts were sincere, what we say would be true

….

If nature was kinder, there would be fewer storms

If politicians cared more, they would bring about reforms

….

If hate speech was outlawed, there’d be no demagogues

If humans were nicer, we wouldn’t need dogs

….

If the world was perfect, it would be prejudice free

If that is to happen, it’s down to you and me.

Football’s Lost Magic

Kicking a worn-out ball around the streets

The lucky ones did the same in a park

It was something to do with your mates

Better that having a lark

….

Jumpers or coats for the goal posts

Boots were your ordinary shoes

A ‘strip’ was out of the question

The oldest had the right to ‘choose’

….

The’ game’ itself had no special aura

Except the playing, and those you played with

This was the stuff of friendships

Building bonds, being collaborative

….

Then school taught the art of competition

Sides became teams and you needed to win

The result was what now mattered

The captain became the team kingpin

….

Commercialism entered the equation

The best could win money and fame

These became goals in themselves

The green-eyed god had its claws on the game

….

Fast cars, loose women, high living

Dreams of the working classes

A career for the few with real promise

Aspired to with rose tinted glasses

Privateers

Oak for the timbers, rudder, keel and mast

Granite from Cornwall for the hold’s ballast

Jute for the ropes, when the mate shouts avast

Iron for chains and anchor once the die is cast

….

Canvas for the sails to push us on our way

Ship’s bell to signal watches and the hours of the day

Grog for the crew, just part of the pay

Tackle to be tightened on the aft mainstay

….

Barrels for the water, grog and other stores

Canon to fight pirates and enemies in wars

Telescope to find important distant shores

Gangplanks for the quayside, doubloons for the whores

….

Pressganged and willing, hardy men and true

Captain, mate and bosun, the rest of the crew

Cutlass, sword and dagger, all could run you through

Men scouring the seven seas, but not for the view

A Moment in Time

Racism is treating people as ‘others’

The opposite of acting like brothers

We are not designed to be the same

Whatever we are, we are not to blame

….

Is it part of the human condition

To want to establish our position

In some imaginary pecking order

‘Us’ versus ‘them’ from a historic border

….

It seems we have an inner need

Looking down on some other creed

To feel a bit better about our lot

Rejecting notions of a mixing pot

….

But assimilation is nature’s way

Differences, ultimately, become passé

Though bigotry and injustice may cause delay

All will be free to be who they are, one day

….

Until then, use well the power to vote

Campaign peacefully, equality promote

Practise humanity, value all life

Have empathy, turn your back on strife

Insomnia 2

Lying, as if in sleep, though clearly not

Wondering how many out there share this lot

On the backs of eyelids, projected scenes

Greyscale phantoms on vein-mottled screens

….

Shapes shift and drift in random flight

As clouds might in the dead of night

Ghosts with metamorphic swirl

Form in slow motion, then unfurl

….

Dawn waits to cast its calming rays

On another of many similar days

That end the same, as sleep I feign

Unable to halt imagination’s reign  

Dawn’s Promise

As the dim, slate grey sky of morning creeps from the horizon

Whist birds cling yet to their roosts, waiting permission to sing

Listen carefully in the still air to the sound of dawn breaking

It is as real as you

….

Gentle zephyrs and eddies can be felt as birds and leaves start to stir

A low vibration hums electrically, almost imperceptibly in the air and through the ground

Light is changing, warming, as the first rays of the sun define individual clouds

A new day brings its promise to those who can look, listen and learn.

After Covid

We must get through this, pulling together

No cause to even consider whether

But what of the future, after the storm

What will be the post-covid ‘norm’?

….

When this virus has gone, before another arrives

People will pick up what is left of the lives

So much of what was usual before

Will not be so, for most any more

….

A vaccine would let contacts resume

There isn’t one yet, so let’s not assume

Jobs will have gone, shops and businesses lost

These will only be part of the cost

….

Public health weakened, treatments delayed

Diagnosis of new conditions simply not made

More children and adults with teeth decayed

Increased obesity for many not weighed

….

Councils struggling to make ends meet

Unemployed and homeless out on the street

Promised grants from an empty purse

Not enough to stop matters getting worse

….

Society itself will become more fractured

Less money about, fewer goods manufactured

A bigger gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’

Inequalities increased, demos and boycotts

….

Lost schooling reducing chances for many

A shrunken economy another enemy

We must stay united, support those in need

Act for the common good, then we’ll succeed