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Youth - revisited
(On going to university at the age of 45)

University of Warwickshire

Youth, you who passed before I knew you,
Welcome yet again in median age.
Is’t really you that quickens so my step,
Sharpens keen the sparkled eye and catches
With excitement at my indrawn breath?
Perhaps ‘tis only circumspection fled, or
Sobriety anaesthetised whilst greater
Wisdom hides its face in blushed embarrassment.
What'ere it is a spring ‘midst winter flowers,
A river, electric, flows with purest energy,
Eroding banks of static time and
Flushing dead ideas, detritus of dull routine
From stale channels, freshing chok-ed roots,
Cleansing, renewing, setting new ‘gainst old,
Dead ‘gainst live and ignorance against a
Fountain of new thought.
Apollo and Athena walk with me
Whilst goddess Até plays a Pander to my Troilus
Outside the rules of royal rime, and engages
Me in thoughts of time disjoint with time.
Welcome and thrice welcome thou my youth
Delayed from time past to time present, let
Not these knees unlock or eyes dark mist
Before this youth has run the gamut of time missed.

Memory of a Suffolk Tea Party

What lingers in my mind is how very extraordinary
The ordinary seemed to somehow be.
Warm ordinary, friendly ordinary, fresh ordinary,
A completely unpretentious ordinary tea.
The sausage rolls I’ve had a thousand times,
The salad rolls and vol-au-vents and
Things on sticks like plates of timber porcupine.
But it really was extr’ordinary
How delightful the ordinary seemed to be.

A Tribute to My Grandfather
(William 'Bill' Oakey, a policeman at Hay Mills until his retirement in 1931)

Born upon Sabrina’s banks in verdant Worcestershire,
A ferry boy at Lenchford, he plied himself for hire.
Cradled in that Severn vale to fullest stature grew,
Until the Queen she called him to fight a country new.
To fight for life and liberty, Old Kruger called the Boers
And grandad went to fight the first of many wars.
From rolling sward to blistered veldt, grandad rode his steed,
Chasing Boer shadows and cursing at the need.
But he grew to love the sun scorched earth and every sun bleached bone;
He swore that he’d go back there, when they sent him home,
But he was an honest man, straighter never walked;
So he signed on as a constable and criminals he stalked.
When gas jets hissed and pubs their violence spewed,
Grandad strode in fearlessly and peace, with fists, renewed.
A Georgian King now called upon this warrior’s time,
To serve against the Kaiser in the army’s foremost line.
Blood and muck and bullets, goes the modern joke,
But not when grandad’s uniform the blood began to soak.
When the Somme and Ypres and Passendale had faded from the mind,
Grandad joined the police again to be with his own kind.
An honourable career with commendations proper,
No promotion or commission, just a very solid copper.

In the quiet of his life respect he did create
From all who ever met him, of high or low estate.
He had no time for falsehood or hypocrisy’s two face,
He only knew that those he loved earned in his heart a place.

Also see the short story "Grandad"

Really There?

Yesterday upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
How I wish he’d go away.

Just lately there’ve been many men,
Men upon the stair.
Men who vanish into prison camps,
Men who’re never there.
They vanish into limbo,
Gone without a trace,
Denied by all about them,
Men without a face.
Were they ever really there?
Did they physically exist?
Or are they propaganda tools,
The illusion of a terrorist?
I deny their non-existence,
Protest their bland denial.
Without our recognition
They die without a trial.
Can we deny their presence?
Cease to ratify their living?
Will they really go away
If we refute their being?
No, they’ll never go away,
Those men upon the stair,
Because there are a few of us
Who know they’re really there.

Stop the World

No Nietzsche splendid, predatory animal.
No red blood singing in the veins.
A dead world of pristine stone
Erected from Man’s mind.
Earth’s crust a ferro-concrete layer
And seas a slowly, heaving, turgid mass.
Corrosive on the upturned cheek
A prussic acid rain-drop falls
From an artificial coloured sky.
No birds greet this dawn, just
The twittering electronic chatter
Of computer controlled humans;
Jellied legs petroleum decayed
And button dimpled fingers soft.
Mindless bureaucrats, paranoid at
Nature’s wilful intransigence;
Trees fill no forms, nor pay taxes
And their leaves untidy lie.

The Wave

The wave gathers slowly, far out to sea, rises, curls,
Hangs suspended, lunges, crashes in a spume of spray
And retreats in shuddering undertow to be renewed
Somewhere in the vastness of the deep from whence it came.
Thus does passion ride the mind, torment the body
And spatter its essence into the chasm of desire
Only to renew itself in some hidden corner of the body’s deep.

The Caesars
(a tongue in cheek epic of the Roman Empire)

Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey,
All made a bid the Empire to sway.
But Julius arrived to cut out the rot
And slit a few throats to cry "That's your lot!"
He assembled the plebs and cried with salt tears,
"Make me your Caesar and lend me your ears."
Casca and Brutus sweetened his wine,
Slipped in the knife and made him divine.

Cicero, briefly, took up the reins.
Anthony caught him and opened his veins.
A trio to rule they decided upon,
But Augustus Octavian wanted just one.
Anthony busy, with the Queen of the Nile,
Was caught with his pants down and died without style.
Aemilius Lepidus, third of three,
Lucky in Carthage contrived to stay free.

Augustus the sage ruled cruelly they tell,
Pulled by the strings of a wife straight from hell.
Through age and false trust his attention did nod,
Livia, the wife, made him a god.

Adopted by law came stern old Tiberius,
Gay as a fairy, but terribly serious.
At Capri in his villa he kept all his tarts,
And had new-born babies to suck at his parts.
The irony was to one steeped in sin,
It was Gaius, his son, who smothered him.

But the sins of the father, it could be said,
Shall ever be called upon that son's head.
In the case of Caligula this never was so,
He invented more sins than his father could know!
Bestiality, sodomy, incest as well,
A list as long as a book could tell.
Mad as a hatter he finally paid,
Skewered on the end of a Praetorian's blade.

Stuttering, limping Claudius came.
Reluctantly called to that hall of fame.
Good he tried, but found alas
He'd throats to cut before he'd pass.
Messalina, Clo Clo's wife
Led a very hectic life.
Shafted left and right and center
Straight to Hell Clo Clo sent her.
Agrippina, Nero's mummy,
Slipped a drug into Clo Clo's tummy.
Sitting on poor Clo Clo's deathbed
"Claudius names my son." She said.

Drusus Nero, queer and rotted,
Told the Senate to 'get knotted'.
Musical and gay to boot
All he cared for was the loot.
Told the plebs had denounced perversion
He fired the city as diversion.
Evil deeds his doppleganger,
Cut his throat to dodge the anger.

Galba next by deeds renown,
Strict and brutal, himself did crown.
Flabby Otho spurred by greed
Had him slain, but foreswore the deed.
Otho in his bloody path
Took the mantle and the wrath.
None can say what a King intends,
As all discovered, when he slew his friends.
Sick of Otho's heart of stone
Vitellius' army fell on Rome.
Short and bloody Otho's reign,
Took his dagger and died in pain.

By spoils of war Vitellius came
And outside Rome began his reign.
Terrified of plots to life,
Vitellius sanctioned rape and strife.
Vespasian, by plebs demand,
Took the crown and command.
Vitellius still with firm ambition
Fought a war of attrition.
People clapped and cheered and hooted
As the battle raged and Rome was looted.
Bound and dragged Vitellius fell,
Beneath a rain of stones from Hell.

Sixty-nine was a bloody year
When Caesars three died in fear.
Still within the twelve month span
Vespasian became 'the man'.
A half-score years were to pass
Before another roused the mass.
Vespasian's rule was long and sweet,
A time to build and none defeat.
A Caesar true of level head,
One of the first to die in bed.

Vespasian's son, Titus the true,
Pledged peace and love and joy anew.
Not being cruel nor showing the fist,
His brother, Domitian was allowed to exist.
Two years, two months and twenty days,
Titus ruled in that ancient of lays.
When he died the people mourned,
Twice as much had they been warned.

Domitian called the old times back,
Rape and murder, cross and rack.
Fat and gross he delighted
To see his enemies and friends benighted.
Drunken, sotted he could but stagger
And died beneath an unknown dagger.

More Caesars came, more Caesars went,
Some were good, some were bent.
But none could equal in renown
Those first to bear the laurel crown.
Paedarasts, murderers, rapists these,
Plumbing depths to make blood freeze.
Enemies they took in stride,
'Twas from their friends they usually died.
To Senate, people, soldiers all,
A ripe round raspberry was their call.

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