A Light Slumber

When in lost youth smelled astronaut glories
From stick-on skies, aviator stories
Filled empty hours adding noise
Pretending these much more than toys.

More real, then, no glowing sorrow:
Of all that, “What will you be tomorrow?”
When you grow up, grow tired
Of such delights finding life mired,

Yourself possessed. For whose sake
Those games, those laughs, now fake
Reminders that haunt his daydreams
As he slips from recounting endless reams.

Pastoral of middle age or floating sights
Caught up in that enslumbered head:
What lives on in these late, drifting flights
But dreams once thought laid to bed?

The Passing Of Amelia Blue* (20-21 November)

*What follows is a poem co-written with a student, Melissa. When Melissa starts publishing her poetry (a must), this will link to wherever she publishes. (Melissa’s writing is in regular text, mine in italics)

Strange they said was the passing of Amelia Blue,
The cat said ‘woof’ and the dog ate shrews,
The doorbell rung and the floor-mat shivered,
Two pills in bottles and the bedsheets quivered.

Eight to two the kettle started boiling,
Kitchen lights off, the bread started toasting,
The tea was ready, the China set in place,
The curtains were impatient but the room made no haste.

Strange they said was the passing of Amelia Blue,
Strange they said what they thought was true,
For my eyes alone saw the strangest truth:
Through the Gates of Hell walked Amelia Blue.

Amelia raps at the solid cedar frame
A dull and listless tragic tapping
Accompanies this futile midnight game
She knows won’t lead to any sudden napping.

Trapped in an endless flip and flop
Against the humming of this backlit clock
Whose azure digits refuse to stop
Announcing each mocking whispered knock.

We wait in nights’ ever-spiralling descent
A hypnotist’s mind-bending wheel
With scratching, seething claws hell-bent
On making sure Amelia will never feel

Pale shadows streaking windowed walls,
Diaphanous curtains leaking the silky stain
Of bleeding moonlight whose faint catcalls
In dreams alight where she has lain.

Amelia needed a roof over her head.
Nourishments, encouragements and a bed.
To rest, to cry, to sleep for the night,
To live, to die, for all that’s right.

Lost Nightmares, the Sandman and his mischievous imps,
Hid in nooks and crannies shy of Moon’s glimpse,
The shivering stopped and her body froze
That was the cue – all mourners rose.

Muttered condolences, unflowing tears,
No family, no friends wait by her here,
Lengthy sopranos of dirges we hear,
Courtesy of cicadas, crickets and peers.

Fireflies lined, soldiers in garrison,
Amelia rose:
Light her way to redemption.

Fireflies pop and crackle at the river’s side,
Night music summoned to these grainy banks
Whose ceaseless flowing shows no thanks
To Amelia, waiting for these notes to subside.

Accompanying this rolling, twisting, waiting
With a boundless leap from river’s edge
To cross foreboding Styx on ferry’s ledge:
This deadened hour needs further sating.

It gnaws and nibbles at her soul
For we know she’s yet to pay the toll
In full, or half: not quite enough
This nocturnal journey will soon get rough.

At the glass (May 11)

Not for the first time these
fragments leech from your hand
leaking through darkened grates
forgotten in murky traps

where that first spit-shock smack
of invading mint against your tongue
sets in motion a dozen night-lamps
clicked to dark, launching

countless nocturnal journeys
back to first night, bordered by
permanent hum of pulsating
electrical breeze that amplifies

your tick-tock inhalations
metronomic rise and fall
teasing out the timeless hours
before another fading fragment.