Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work

A Wave to Patrick Early


Life was a game you played
with your own rules, broken
only when suffering
fools gladly. Count me in. 
The world was your cocktail.
You shook it with laughter,
but knowing what a poisoned chalice
could do to your fellow man,
you shared the bitter cup.
Your passing? Passing was your life,
always passing ahead,
tapping the road   
for those following. Potholes 
filled up, tar hardened.
You were your own dog
until Rufus put you on his lead.
And together you were a pair
of old dogs nosing the earth
for terrestrial scraps. 
I’m sure when you stopped
Montaigne’s hand 
was on the brakes,
giving you time for a joke
about regret. So, ‘all is forgiven’.
Not that it was needed.
You were only guilty
of being yourself,
a poet who spoke to
the human condition
in intimate conversations.
Rhyme was not your truc.
So, if I wish you luck
in the after-life, I can hear your tut,
‘Truc’ isn’t English, try ‘thing’.
And you’d question ‘luck’.
‘Luck is strictly for chancers.
I didn’t take chances.
They took me. God knows
I deserve to be indulged’.  
Today the blackbird
battering its wings
on my windowpane
is trying to tell me something.
I’m listening for you. 
Zombie Times
Now Derek Mahon you’re safely dead
I can tell the truth you left unsaid. 
‘’Everything is’’ not ‘’going to be alright’’.
For soon the day will be the same as night.
We’re blindly entering the twilight zone,
or the hour of the wolf as it’s best known,
between the dark, the friend of criminality,
and sleepwalking into what nobody can see.
The rule of thumb is we are all gas-masked,
and looking the same, our thoughts aren’t asked.
Democritus, the laughing philosopher,
is having the last laugh. The whim of power
has Heraclitus amok in a quagmire
of his own making, a cesspool of ire
in which his ego sucks up all that’s pure
and decent, and spits it out as sewer.
Human Warmth

Warmth has been my friend.
Now she is leaving me.
Cooling off in the end
is normal entropy.
So, let your grieving be.
M stands in her warm coat
lingering for a while
to say goodbye. I note
the warmth of her smile,
that’s fading fast from me.
If she left in a steam
I wouldn’t feel the cold.
But later it could mean
the past is kept on hold
in ice and I’d feel free
in cold blood to forget
the pleasure of waking
up beside her in bed
with a new day’s breaking
with all our life ahead.

After Rilke’s Das Stundenbuch (1903/5)
Pluck out my eyes and I can see you.
Cut off my ears and I can hear you.
Sever my feet and I will fly to you.
Tear out my tongue and I’ll speak you.
Break my arms and I’ll embrace you.
Snap my ribs and I can hold you.
Stop my heart, and what throbs for you
is my brain which will think of you
while my blood forever flows with you.
 Infant Tomb in Kensal Rise
      London cemeteries are made for cycling.
      I ride round the paths. My bell goes bling-bling 
      to warn the bereaved with their watering cans.
      I'm training for the Dolomites. No hands!
      I don't think the dead have any objection
      and that's what matters. My cadenced spin
      is respectful of the cycle of life.
      Around and around we humans go. I've
      stops for water, and read the odd gravestone,
      and suppose we'll all one day die alone. 
      At the tomb of a child, I especially like
      to pause for a thought, leaning on my bike.
      It always has fresh flowers. One day I met
      the gran who told me, 'Karin met her death
      on the Finchley Road. Got out of her pram,
      and ran into a bloody cyclist’. I scram.

In Praise of Waiting
I aspire to be patient
because the longer I wait
the longer I live. I hate
it. But my person was meant
for queues, and being late,
until the promised advent
puts a seal on my due fate.
Waiting is not time misspent.
You live in hope. That’s a state
far better than when we vent
our impatience and create
scenes for which we must repent.
So stoically I await
a joyous future event.
When you hear a creaking gate
that a drop of oil could mend,
put up with it and suspend
WD40. Simply wait,
though it drives you round the bend,
for fate’s visitors who portend
arrival at a happy end.
Old Codger
IM Ian Scott
If I thought I’d live for ever
I’d be worried about my money,
going deaf and not being able
to hear the sound of my own voice.
It would be a mercy to go blind, no more
looking at myself in the mirror or canvassing
for an idea to paint my next masterpiece, olé!
Meanwhile I have nothing to offer
except bladder and bouquets.
Let me go on, babbling to myself
about there being no next. As for the roses
don’t take them personally. The important thing in life
is to have a comfortable seat, and enough air to breathe
while smoking a roll-up. Not a last one, I hope. Fancy a dribble? 
On Being Your Own Ghost
 The terror of travel is in the mirrors.
 Hotel rooms, where you cannot choose the light
 and backdrop, show you as a sight for sore eyes.
 The cracks come in slivers. You live with the fright.
  My recourse is to wear reflector glasses,
  and make my facial toilet by memory.
  And trust the staff not to wince at what passes
  for being human. Other guests, like you and me,
   live in a hall of horrors. Let them advance
   along the corridor, blinkered but unbowed.
   We see what we want to, with scarcely a glance,
   shuffle past. To be your own ghost is allowed.

On the Feast Day of St. Lazarus

On the third day Lazarus arose
and posted a message – ‘I’ve fooled those
who’d be glad to see the back of me’.
Descending into the living room
of his converted tomb, he reviews
his past life (premature birth and death).
‘How could it be any different?’
‘By changing your ways’, said Martha.
‘Jesus loves you and you must love him’.
‘I’ll judge Jesus as he has judged me.
Being returned to life’s a punishment’.
He sees a rope on a tree outside.
and tells Mary. She laughs ‘the real
miracle would be to give you
a will to live. Here come the apostles
to parade you round. Enjoy the fame
and then you can get sick again and die’. 
Madame Ondine
The blinds are down on the ground-floor flat
of the old girl with a face like a baby.
I ask why. No one knows. It’s like that
in this town. It will be the same for me.
Every day for twenty years I came
past and exchanged pleasantries. Still
neither of us knew the other’s name.
There were roses on the window-sill
that went with her smile.
                                       I won’t forget
the last time we talked was to square
the circle of a mutual regret
at the Council’s belated repair
of the potholes through which we could hear
the mountain streams meet and, at a lick,
run into the port. ‘So now, I fear,
we can only hear the traffic’,
you sighed... and a lorry trundled by.
The blinds are down, and the roses gone.
An empty flat is saying goodbye
without an echo. Still, life goes on. 
The Pyrenees melt the winter snow.
The torrent flows and its silence sings
a requiem for what we’ll never know,
and a prayer for what the future brings.

Zombie Times Human warmeth