Yellow SmilesI smiled at the world,
and the world smiled back.
They think that I’m mad.
That appealed to me.
And my eyeballs twirled.
And then I felt sad,
knowing what I lack:
pleasure can be shown,
and others included,
but joy’s on its own,
vain and deluded.
No. That I rescind.
Joy is joy that’s all.
Under your tamarin
tree, I sit on a wall.
‘Life must bear the same
grin for everybody.’
So the Cynics claim.
‘It’s how it must be.’
But no one’s a saint.
Or wholly made whole.
is good for the soul.
The Man at the WindowI saw you at your window
looking out on a blank wall.
And you were wearing a hat.
Of course, I wasn’t to know
you were thinking that was all
as cancer cells played their rat.
It was hats off when we talked.
Your hair was dyed a rust red.
You doffed your shirt to show neat
surgical scars. But I baulked
at asking why you’re off the street.
And now somehow you are dead.
flames rise from the mud splattered with white blossom
under the almond tree, irises to ignite
wildfire on the foot-hills, the yellow smile of spring.
The snow on the Pyrenees is its raised eyebrow.
Mimosa, mimosa. Even your name is false.
The troubadours changed it. Acacia Dealbata
wouldn’t please the ladies. You were the cuckoo
in his lordship’s nest, the bouquet of dead flowers.
The droop of your foliage keeps us in the shade.
Your flamboyance is not the kiss of death for flies,
only a trompe-l’oeil. Still when the tramontane blows
you make a mockery of your own pretensions.
Your pouting buds battered with hail-stones snap shut.
Avalanches of snow break your slime-green branches.
So ignominy crowns your moment of glory,
as cruel winter comes back with a vengeance.
The birds are not fooled by premature disclosures,
and spin their cat’s-cradles in your undergrowth.
The troubadours know that with the lords and ladies
there’s a time to lie low and a time to spring up.
The poets come into their own with the genêt d’or,
golden broom sweeps the mountains and winter away.
They sing of building nests, and the comforts of life,
butterflies, and swallows sporting flowers in their beaks.
The true mimosa is mimosa pudica, the original Sensitive Plant (its flowers attract flies to trap and eat them). The so-called mimosa of Languedoc Roussillon, the region where troubadours originated, is in fact an acacia, which mimics some of pudica’s attributes. Its flowering is associated with the allergy, spring fever.
Exit Song 2Wondrous sky
I’ll be yours
when I die.
I give praise
to the Plough,
the Milky Way.
Come the day
part of it,
my dust spun
There you are.
Not yet all mine.
Exit Song 3Here I see the beauty of the banal,
and the banality of beauty too.
I’m resigned to be an endangered species.
I’ve been tamed by time, no longer wild.
The door is open and possibilities
have bolted. I’m left with the inevitable.
The sombre stain of the sky is broken by
a ray of sunlight. It brings back the future
for a moment. The smile of brightness raises
my hopes. But the caprice of a cloud crosses
my vision, and I’m back where I started.
The indelible stain on the shroud
is me. But I will be cremated.
Hat over ears. Potiche
straw hair, turnip nose.
And it’s not comic.
It’s how it is.
One never knows
what’s behind those
thick glasses, or inside
the carapace of clothes.
Does the body exist?
Press the button that’s discrete-
ly hidden, and a metronome
voice from another age
will cut in to repeat
the same message:
‘Nobody at home’.
the sea for its persistence.
Cliffs crumble to it. It’s existence
impinges on the ground we stand
on. Life sprung from it and will land
anon. But why men always throw
stones to skim it, I don’t know.
The Family Crest
In sunshine I smile.
When it rains I cry.
On a cloudy day
I always espy
the silver lining.
And when it snows down
I’m the rose that falls
on its own thorns. Yet
in a storm I am
shouting what I like
about what I hate.
But my thunder comes
before the lightning.
I conduct my strike
so it earths itself
and there’s no harm done.