Poems (2016 on)

The Thomas Nickell limerick
Happy Birthday! (18 July 2016)

A talented kid called Nickell
With skill did the piano tickell:
     His renderings of Liszt
     Left the audience bliszt
And keen for an early sickell!

Music to hear… (23 April 2016)
A sonnet for Dobrinka Tabakova, David Curtis, and Nick Hodges;
and Immortal Shakespeare (on the occasion of his 452nd birthday)

My heart is readily undone: two strings
     unbow my reason; tears come easily.
     The keys of words and music equally
unlatch such salt; its masochistic stings
threading my cracked cheeks; such confluent springs
     whetting my lips, weighing so heavily
     upon my tongue; yet fetching hope, fully-
formed – bursting as my freshened spirit sings.

That I am unashamed in my parade;
     that I am not so singly passionate;
          that I am glad to let my weeping flow –
impelled by truth; no paltry masquerade,
     but honest force that does not personate
          affect – is such compels my soul to grow.

In limbo (I feel that I am nowhere now)
For Gilly, Graeme, and Rose…

I am not dying
     (except in the usual gentle way)
And am only old
     (to those whose adventures are over brave)
Between these two states
     (a permanent purgatory of sorts

     where devilish disease with virtue sports)
Such circumstance grates
     (marking but not able to heed the grave)
Thus no longer bold
     (snatching at clouds brandishing words of clay)
I am but sighing
I am not living
     (with the clear significance of just men)
Though inanimate
     (a mirrored model of most needful toil)
Stagnant but not still
     (oppressed by judicious expectation

     and circumscribed with patent frustration)
Lacking want nor will
     (aspiration shall replace all shook foil)
Hence to demonstrate
     (however abject yet ever driven)
I am forgiving

The Tamsin Waley-Cohen limerick

A keen fiddler called Waley-Cohen
Gleaned reviews that were always most glowin’ –
     With technique confounding
     And emotion astounding,
She’s really fantastic at bowin’!

The David Curtis limerick
Happy Birthday! (29 January 2016)

Loving music both funny and serious,
But, with his orchestra, never imperious;
     Shorn of all locks,
     Wearing bright-coloured socks:
What a man to share birthdays with Delius!

Prologue to an (as yet) unfinished play…

Once my world was the world, a world entire;
I made it mine, stamped my feet hard across
Vancouver’s islands and Pacific coasts;
Ascended tall Chicago towers, relished
Michigan’s shores, its pier, its peerless art
Made concrete; crossed the Seine at dawn; explored
Deutsch Kirchen; Dutch kerken – sang their echoed
Magnificats to an unknown godhead;
Wandered Swedish forests, paddled broad fjords;
Crossed seas; strode Highland glens and Lakeland fells;
Broke the back of Beacons; dark Pennine moors;
Rode ridgeways; saw spires; edged Midland waters;
’Til I found my home safe beneath Edge Hills.
My world – a world without limits; without
Unknown places that could be turned knowledge –
Turned small.

                    A fall of curtain too early;
Too soon before its call could play its turn;
All dramatis personae vanished, too
Soon, before their parts completed starring
Arcs across the heavens of their stagecraft.

Once my world was the world, the world entire;
Now it is a village, at best; a house,
When less better; a room; a bed; myself –
My world has shrivelled into my grey skin.

All know that with age comes unkind shrinkage:
Of height; of mind; of friends’ encompassing
Love, and life – a narrowing of knowledge
Expected: as arteries atrophy,
No new blood is made to warm our fingers
Or our toes.

                    But not too late; yet, for me,
Ever too soon; too far; too quick. Finis,
Before the second act has started on
Its way: ices yet to melt; drinks not drunk;
Rôles to be delivered; and plots entwined.
Too soon, too quick, my mind may be my world:
Complete as the sun; wide as planets; bright
As the moon; journeying as comets do
To fantastic destinations not known…

     Shrunk to a stop: a black, marked point of
Pressed ink, deep within blank, bleached, milk linen –

An original space to be filled: with
All that was my last world; made new with new
Imaginings; explorations; visits
To the broadest limits of my new-found
Loam; and then beyond. I will not be bound
By infirmity or pain. I will face
Impositions; false borders of barbed wire
Erected by dull, slow expectation
Against the anarchy of thought; against
Sprinting regular creativity;
I will face them with joy and rare strangeness;
From my infinitessimal blot I will
Trumpet, demolishing establishment;
Will blast loud: shout My world is world enough!
Collapsed, my corner may well be; subdued,
Punctured, rendered miniscule; but not done.
I am not done. Not done. This is no end –
It is a chance; a vantage: not over,
But [grins] an overture! So, let’s not dwell on death:
But fill our heads with light; our hearts with spring’s bright breath!

Ecce homo (influenza)

It’s not just the sniffles, or trips to the loo;
It’s not the aching of joints that you get with the flu;
But the Richter-scale cough that always continues
With Beaufort-scale sneezes to rattle my sinews.
They’re a pain in the neck, the head and the chest –
To be utterly honest, I’m not feeling my best.

I must down

Ensnared by a sea of sheets and squalls of sickness,
Out my rain-spattered porthole I peer:
Steaming by, a breasting behemoth of cloud –
A veritable fleet of weatherships – crowning Tysoe Hill.

The trees beneath are porous at this time of year:
Squint between their splayed withy fingers
And foresee remembrances, which
In summer will be masked by verdant fire;
Yet now thaw my beached body, deep in its brumous sleep.

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