If I could

I would

Pen some pleasant paean
To the fire-tinted fall
The heavy apples hanging
By the garden wall
The splash of geese arriving
On the silver pond
The view across the ploughland
To the hills beyond.
The buzzard slowly circling
In the endless blue
Or even of the weather;
Anything would do.

But when the world is burning
And danger is at hand
With enmity and violence
Poisoning our land;
When all we knew is ending
And everything’s in doubt
The darkness is encroaching
And the lights are going out

What is the poet’s duty?
Who am I working for?
Do I serve truth and beauty
Or rise and march to war?

Rain

Like I’ve not seen
In many a year;
The riding-through-a-carwash kind
That makes paper bags of clothes
And sieves of shoes.
Blinding, drenching, driving warmth
From face and fingers
Streaming from chin and elbows
Arcing in graceful rooster tails
From sibilant wheels.
Rain that would keep
Anyone slightly sensible
Safe and snug indoors.

Not me.

Bring it. For in that roaring, stinging madness
There is a will
To strive and conquer
A strength undaunted
An iron grip
A laugh that echoes from the woods
And a peace I all too rarely find
When I look for it inside.

How do you do it

She asked
With her customary
Lack of preamble.

Now that
I replied
Is an excellent question
And the greatest mystery
Of them all.

It can start with a word
That you’ve glimpsed, overheard
Or that simply popped into your head.
You might get an idea
That will give you a steer
But you often just go where you’re led.

Could be sparked by a question
A casual suggestion
A challenge, request or a dare.
Some can summon the muse
Any time that they choose
(Which the rest of us think is unfair).

Poems sometimes arrive
Fully formed and alive:
Get the thing written down and you’re done.
Or they may stretch your powers
To the limit for hours.
You never can tell. That’s the fun.

What I seek
Is that slender splinter of truth
That gets under your skin
And begs to be worked out.
That’s all a poem really is.

And on a good day
A shard of that splinter
Gets left behind;
A constant presence
That never quite leaves you alone.

She looked at me.
Oh.
So you don’t
Really know?

Endgame

All we can do is wait
Helpless, powerless
As the long game plays out.

We are not participants
Muddied, bloodied
Who can change the final score

Umpires or officials
Bristling, whistling
Empowered to enforce the rules

Fans or spectators
Baying, praying
Who choose to watch, and will be entertained.

No. We are locked outside
Ignored, deplored
Knowing we have already lost.

Post-downer

Where am I?
The first question someone asks
In the movies
When they wake suddenly
From a perfectly-coiffured coma
Or cartoon blow to the head.

I have come round
From another lost week
And I want to know
Where was I?
And more to the point
How do I not go there again?