Didn’t fix an engine
Didn’t break the ground
Didn’t sign on the dotted line
To make a million pounds.
Didn’t cut a record
Didn’t fly a plane
Didn’t cook, write a classic book
Or operate on brains.
Didn’t tend a garden
Didn’t build a wall
Didn’t do what I wanted to
Or anything much at all.
Didn’t drive cross-country
Didn’t serve cold beer
Can’t quite say what I did today
Or what I’m doing here.
Didn’t crack my spirit.
Didn’t break my heart.
Not much to show for the day, I know,
But I made it. That’s a start.
Hard, now, to tell just where and who I’ve been
These last, dark days. From some strange sleep I’ve woken;
A morning-after taste of strange words spoken,
My mind a rain-washed sky. Phantasms seen
On those dead ways I walked alone: the end
Of days and dreams – of life itself; night falling
Without a hope of dawn; the chasm calling
With sweet and poisoned promises. I’ll mend
As I have many times before; the hole
I dug myself will be filled in. I’m learning
To live again, again: a slow returning
To normal service in my shuttered soul.
A kind of death, a falling out of time.
I’ll go no deeper. So begins the climb.
Decided to try stretching the sonnet form a bit further: ABBA CDDC EFFE GG rhyme scheme, and an extra ‘weak’ or ‘feminine’ (not my terminology!) syllable on the middle lines of the three quatrains. I can safely say I enjoyed writing this piece a whole lot more than the few days that inspired it..! N.
I have found myself
So filled with others’ clamour
My own word-hoard is spent and plundered.
I have measured each hour’s value
While leaving its true worth unweighed;
Made walking in the woods and fields
Another tick on the to-do list,
Gloried in the dawn departures
And burning quarts of midnight oil,
Talked of plans and strategies,
Of doing, being, wanting more.
So I must lose myself
Again; become forgetful,
Run my hands along the bark
Of growing trees, watch the wind
Turn ash-leaves silver,
Smell the grass the cows have trodden,
Find my old ways through the woods.
And if I wander far enough
I know that I will meet myself
Coming back again.
He didn’t know
When he spied the dozen
Cakes left cooling in the kitchen
That underneath its icing
And chirpy chocolate eggs
Concealed in its sweetness
Small wrinkled packages
Of death by renal failure:
Just that they were there, unwatched
And within reach
Of his questing needle nose.
A lethal dose
In those few furtive swallows;
A moment’s greed
Became a frantic hour
Of hectic emetics
So to the vet’s
Where fair faces and healing hands
Made saviours of simple soda crystals.
The lad rose
And walked away.
And once again on Easter Day
Was made to taste defeat.
Yes, I’m afraid the whippet’s been in the wars again. Yesterday, he stole a couple of my wife’s delicious homemade Easter muffins off the kitchen worktop when we weren’t watching. Trouble was, they contained sultanas, and any grape, fresh or dried, is potentially lethal to dogs when ingested, even in tiny quantities. We couldn’t make him vomit them up, so it was off to the vets, who fortunately are two minutes’ walk away. They took the lad off into a backroom and got some soda crystals down him, which had (from our point of view, if not his) the desired effect. He seems none the worse for his brush with death, thank goodness, but by golly it’s hard on the nerves. I hope it doesn’t contravene any rules of the RCVS to publicly thank Rose the vet and Bex the nurse for their prompt, expert and sympathetic treatment – both of the lad himself, and us.