IM Walter Benjamin
See Port Bou
Climb the rust red
to an olive tree
into the sky.
Below the ocean
of your thoughts
into a closed
You weep humidity.
But a strong wind
cools you off.
A Pangur Bawn Moment
with Seamus Heaney
Speaking of cat, the charms
they have spelt out with purrs,
so their comfort is ours,
And what harms
they’ve quelled in us, what ease
they’ve put us at. Creatures
of philosophy (furs
keep the cold out and please
Cum grano salis,
they lick the health from hair
(what vitamins they wear?).
The sole absolute is
experience. And you,
a poet with a corpus
behind you, before us,
stroke the cat till it mews.
Stevie Smith Lives
Let’s give Stevie Smith a twirl:
the poems forty-years on are
pleasures peppered with alarm.
Excuse-me, where is the bar?
You never were a certain
age, having made a pact
with the devil you don’t know.
Charm disarms a matter of fact
despair, and a lemon élan
not to be squeezed. I am loath
to turn the pages, forebod-
ing the next vanishing act,
like the dud men in your life.
O they were an uncut book
opened only with a knife.
Though you wouldn’t want to look.
I see you in the Lamb and Flag
mocking the world that mistook
your chiffon for a red rag,
your felt hat for being forsook.
There you are, Queen of the Night.
telling off les ridicules.
Closing comes and you take flight
for Palmers Green. O the fools.
I’m my own dog.
I walk myself,
minding my own
my own nature,
without an owner.
Those who have sold
their canine souls
to a master
with a loud voice
in exchange for
false bones and pats
I must disown.
Something Small for Finlay
The death of a small dog in the larger scheme of things
is no big deal for the gods, but the sorrow it brings
makes humans more human, so returning them to scale.
The simple’s not trivial - like the wag of a tail,
the lick of a tongue evaporating after a run
on the wild scent of a rabbit. Adding up the sum
of such good moments may not come to a great amount
in the bank of our lives, but it’s a memorial fount
with a jet of joy, an inscription in fleur-de-lis.
‘From bone to bone perhaps. But, good dog, you begged to please.’
Know Your Rival
I’m happy to meet my designated rival,
that old cake DuLevant, when all is going well.
I pick him out from the godforsaken forsook
at the quiet time in SuperU. His second look
is surreptitious, the donkey jacket buckled
at the waist too tight. Like me, the buffer has struggled
with the complexities of getting his clothes on
the right way round, zips to the front, and avoiding
conspicuous slops at breakfast. Putting your teeth in
restores the jowls, and bite, and you can keep smiling,
but the dribble has to be sucked away. We rise
to the occasion, facing the day and the world’s eyes.
Still today he’s off his trolley, picking his nose,
and eating the harvest, while fumbling groceries
about to fall from the shelf. I would like to shake
his hand, only my skin is beginning to flake
from forgetting all too often to dry mine.
Instead, I cross my fingers, and say, ‘You’re doing fine’.
Winding The Clock
Pour M. J-C Amen, Horloger
The civil clock-tower has no bell to chime.
The winds blow the hour, and the hands two-time:
forward for the north, put back for the south.
Time’s read in accord with what wind’s about.
But nobody minds. In Venus’s city
a citizen spells out punctuality
by the next verre rouge, or two-hour luncheon
and, if he has to bouge, the height of the sun.
The rain is coming down in cords.
And the high winds is knotting them.
My mind recollecting backwards
is a blank, all lies forgotten.
I’ve to write the obituary
of myself. Though it’s a point of view
best left to a worst enemy,
perhaps, the fact of death is true.
The facts must be given their due
as events under description.
But the ideas behind them do
not add up. My inscription
ought to read: 'A life that sort of
lacked a theory which could prove
it was all worthwhile. There was love
lurking somewhere making a move.
'His glory was in the mother’s
womb. The very most he could claim
as distinction in the eyes of others
is that nobody was to blame'.
With legs like mine
taken in hand in time,
I might now be
an Irish Nijinsky.
But, of course, no-
one bothered: my torso,
without clothes, is
a loose float of spare ribs;
for want of meat
my shoulders almost meet;
and in my back
two wandering wing-bones flap.
Still I’m stocky
enough to be a jockey:
my neck is thick,
and my thighs wouldn’t lack grip,
above the waist. Can’t wait
to mount my pride
to find my legs astride
some unknown hack
from off the beaten track,
the fancied field
in my stride spread-eagled.
is presented to me -
on level pegs -
I’ll shake hands with my legs.