The Supplicants

Long the line of supplicants

Before the tyrant king,

Begging for the favour

Of kissing hand and ring,

While round the throne

Attendants stand,

Silent, severe, serene,

Who truly rule the land

But speak only to them selves,

Gathering in secret,

To dangle puppets from their strings;

It’s all a vast confusion,

An illusory, shadowed world,

You and I forever lost, not knowing what to do,

What is right or what is wrong,

And right and wrong for who.

 

The Tolling Of The Bell

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Blades of grass caressed my shoes

As I walked slowly past,

Thinking of the shapes of clouds,

The shadows that they cast,

Of all the things that come to mind,

Yes, the kiss that was our last.

The sun was warm upon my face,

And on the silent stream

That waters flowered meadows,

As if it were a dreamy dream,

Of yester-land, of other times,

Or so it all did seem.

And with each step, with each new breath,

A memory blossomed in my mind,

And soon, there were so many,

Of every shape and kind,

That Time lost all its sense and shape

As if the world was going blind.

Then a songbird trilled its happy song,

That woke me from my spell,

And on I walked past hedge and field,

Towards the village, church and well,

Where I lay beneath an ancient tree,

To listen to the tolling of the bell.

The Say This Is Democracy

 

 

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They say this is democracy,

I get to vote, oh that I see,

For parties that care not a jot for me,

That make me work for life for free.

 

For that’s their racket, poverty,

For that there’s always liberty,

For riches come from larceny,

Planned in boardrooms over tea.

 

“We pay for fuel, machines and rent,

For materials and for management

At cost, it’s money that’s well spent,

For profit comes from labour lent,

 

“For which we never pay the debt,

For labour’s added value, those riches that we get,

Is kept by us instead of them, it’s how we have things set,

Oh, we throw them all some pennies, that’s all they’re gonna get.”

 

They say this is modernity,

They’re all for human rights,

But we’re all still slaves it seems to me,

Wake up! Revolt and take the heights.

 

 

 

A Small Café

 

river cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sat that day in a small café

By a shaded riverbank,

The noise of town seemed far away

Though ducks quacked by in rank,

The anglers seemed to rest in dream

Rods resting from the cast,

Dozing on the sun’s warm beam,

Ah, to live this way at last.

 

The boats passed by and in their wake

Trailed spirals, spinning, silver white,

That always seemed about to break

And scatter shafts of light.

From lazy decks came shouts and song

And once a girl blew me a kiss,

From a boat they named So-long.

That brought the taste of bliss.

 

And then a sparrow, small and frail,

Among some branches overhead,

Began to tell his epic tale,

We hear as song instead,

Of travels far, among the clouds,

The skies, the stars, the seas,

Far from cities, far from crowds,

It near brought me to my knees.

 

So rare it is these days to hear

Such music so profound

When life costs us all so dear

And death is all around,

I dared to think the sparrow knew

That in his happy air

Lay some Hope, to bring us through

And save us from Despair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









A Silent Place, In Spring

A silent, greening place, in Spring, among the hills,

A bower soft, of moss and fern, a secret, lonely, scene,

Where singing birds have never come, and now they are so few,

And almost silent now their song, yet leaves still dance upon the breeze, 

And turn the hills, first dark, then light, as veils of mist conceal the sun,

Then, like spirits, swirl away, transformed in shape and mood,

And in the air the changing scents of blossoms, white and pink, 

The humming of the bees, and by my side a quiet brook,

To lay and read a precious book, in precious solitude,

To reflect on life, on what my youth was like,

And what the years have brought and made.

Here I sit, just looking on, at the beauty that is left,

While scents and sounds wash over me,

Enraptured by a lotus dream, of a world beyond this glade,

A world of love and joy, where Paradise is real.

 




For no matter where I look, a Darkness sits in wait,

Some melancholy brooding thing, that thrives on wickedness,

That, like a pestilence, has spread, among those who think they’re good,

Who, to an unnamed god, still pray, who other gods ignore, 

And wonder if they have it wrong, for gods will have their say,

Or so say those who still believe in miracles and saints,

That vain attempt to make divine an ape, ashamed of what it is,

And as the darkness spreads afar, I seek calmness in my heart,

Weighed down by all I see, the chaos, and the misery, the sad polluted sea,

By fear and rage, by hate and lies, by conflicts yet to come; 

Carnage walks across the world, with Slaughter by his side

From west to east they stride down roads built long ago,

By Ignorance, by Tyranny, overseen by Greed.

We have murdered and destroyed, as my countrymen applaud,

Nations who’ve done no harm to us, they won’t forget our name.

 

And here we brag of liberty while breaking all the laws,

Living in a fetid swamp where Hypocrisy reigns supreme,

Protecting all the cheats and frauds, from exposure to the light,

And in that muck lie banks and courts, and rich men’s parliaments,

Those staged democracies, those illusions for the poor,

And poor because they’re robbed, just slaves who think they’re free,

For, as McLuhan said, “Of course, that’s why they have TV,”

My heart sinks more on recent news we’ve sent robots into space, 

To search for life on Mars, while extinction looms on Earth;

The madness of Humanity, we’re Nature’s worst mistake,

So, I’ll rest my head and read this book, written long ago,

Of the Golden Age, that never was, but on reading becomes real,

And dream again of times long lost, for what else is there to do,

When Oblivion is in motion, our common Fate now sealed,

But imagine what we cannot have, and what we cannot do.

Clouds

clouds are splashed across a turquoise sky,

like gestures of a transformed world, 

-a world to us unknown-

or spectral bands by ghostly hands,

heralding a new dawned age, 

beyond the age of man,

and once we’re gone, 

then who will care, 

it cannot be our gods,

for they are frail and changing things, 

born of desperate minds,

the universe grown conscious, 

but of itself afraid,

that became a force of nature, 

but now the force is spent;

Philosophy has failed us, 

the Enlightenment was slain,

and now, on the near horizon, 

darker clouds appear,

from which there flash the warnings,

with thunderous cannon shots,

that shake the world’s foundations, 

long crumbling into dust.

Another Brief Encounter

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A Ten Minute Sketch

Character: A man and a woman

Scene: small shop, counter, woman standing behind the counter placed slightly to stage left, at an angle on the stage so that she and the man can be seen in full profile) tidying things as the man walks on stage from stage right-hesitates, looking out to the audience, hesitates, then turns and approaches the counter.

Woman. (looking the man over)  Good afternoon, 

Man. Good afternoon.  (He looks at things on display as she continues to tidy while watching him. The objects can just be suggested)

Woman. Can I help you find something?

Man. Perhaps, I don’t know what I’m looking for really.

Woman. Then everything can be considered. Is it for you or a gift?

Man. For a friend, well, more than a friend, a woman, at least…

Woman. Without knowing what she means to you makes it difficult for me to recommend anything. Your wife, perhaps?

Man. No, but we had plans, anyway we talked about it-I’m not sure now, you see, she’s not well and I wanted….

Woman. To cheer her up.

Man. That would be difficult, she’s ill, might be dying in fact.

Woman. Oh, I’m sorry. Is there no hope?

Man. That’s just it, I’m not sure. She won’t return my calls now. We had an argument about it yesterday. She was fine one minute, angry the next. Told me to forget about her. Said she didn’t have much time left, wanted to be alone.

Woman. But you can’t be?

Man. Love doesn’t’ just end when someone hangs up the phone.

Woman.  But, if that’s what she wants…

Man. If I knew that, it would be simple, but she does this quite a bit. Stops calling, Hangs up on me, tells me she’s dying, then days later will call as if nothing happened.  Now I’m not sure what to think, so I thought I would get her a gift.

Woman. And buy your way back? 

Man. No, not at all, show my concern, my affection. 

Woman. Isn’t it the same thing?

Man. Is that what I’m doing? Trying to buy her love?

Woman. I can’t say but it seems too late – perhaps you should move on.

Man.  That sounds like giving up. But I’ve never been good with reality.

Woman. Maybe she’s testing you.  Is she your age? 

Man. She’s younger. (a beat) Of course, I can see what you’re thinking, and we talk about that a lot, when we talk that is, and about the other issue between us?

Woman. You’re married? 

Man. I know what you’re thinking.  It’s typical, and I never saw myself as the typical man. To find I am is depressing me. 

Woman.  Or to be a typical woman.

Man. You too?

Woman. It ended a year ago, my affair.  As for my marriage, well, We pretend we’re very sophisticated. But, in the end it’s very tiring.

Man. What does it all mean then? I don’t know anymore. I don’t even know why I’m talking to you like this, just walked in off the street.  I’m sorry.

Woman. Oh, don’t be. It’s been a slow day and when there’s not much to do, the mind tends to wander into all sorts of places.  

Man. I.m not sure what you mean?

Woman. Well, there’s got to be more to life than just the living, don’t you think? 

Man. Yes, but I’ve no idea what that is.

Woman. Love. What is there without love? Just the dreary day to day.  Isn’t that why you’re here? 

Man. For what?

Woman, For your love of this woman. (she laughs) Have you forgotten here already? (She almost twirls away from as she pretends to rearrange the items on the counter.

Man (Now a bit confused by what is happening but can’t help himself.) I, uh, I, yes, …for a moment, she passed right out of my mind. 

Woman. Something bothering you? Come on, the truth, if you dare. (She moves closer to him, this time just touching items as she moves)

Man  A dare, I didn’t really come here to be dared, but alright, why not, Yes, The way you moved, what can I say, it mesmerised me.

Woman. Mesmerised you?

Man It was like stepping through a magic door into another world.

Woman. Why do you think that is?

Man. No, now its your turn. Why did you make that move. Why did you want me in that spell or know I’d like it?

Woman. Because it makes us feel alive. 

Man. (Moving closer to her) You’re pretty fast are’t you. What about the lady I came in here for?

Woman. What about her? And my husband, what about him? What’s this got to do with them?

Man. Look, don’t get me wrong, I feel strongly attracted to you, but we have obligations, why should we hurt others, betray them for….

Woman. For what? For real life. To feel alive. As for hurt feelings. Well sometimes the moment overwhelms you, all those things holding you back, the chains are thrown off.

Man. (Suddenly stepping back) I’m not comfortable where this is going, I think I should leave, (he turns to exit stage right)

Woman. You haven’t bought your friend a gift. You might as well, now you’re here. 

Man. (Hesitates, steps forward) Yes, I suppose, why not. What do you suggest for the woman I described?

Woman. Another man. 

Man, “What are you doing later?”

Woman,  “You need to ask?

End

The Denouement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread deep beneath these veiling thoughts 

Twists the tangled vine of I,

Rooted in the darkest depths,

Where saints and monsters lie,

All tangled with each other, even as I die,

Whose roots are sunk in ancient times,

When first we sat before the flame

And talked in wonder of the world,

Of our sorrows and our shame,

And so began our futile quest for gods to share the blame,

That led us, as though blinded, 

up that shrouded, misty peak

where Illusion’s understanding,

made mad those who dared to speak,

with spells and incantations, the truths we all did seek,

We stare into a vast unknown,

we’re a million years too late,

have come no further than the caves,

though Lucretius tried to set us straight,

on our origins and fate,

of the riddle of the universe, 

that with us became aware, 

of existence as a solitude

the very gods can’t  bear,

and so invented us, we say, their loneliness to share.

But, my time has run, the lights are dimmed,

I take position on the stage,

to play at last the denouement, 

some say was written by a sage,

who stained with tears his each and every page.

 

Fading Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While robins woke to fading stars,

That drew fat worms to morning doom,

And tired hands sought coffee jars,

Still half in dream and nightly tomb,

While prostitutes and presidents,

Walked secret streets, or secret rooms,

And madmen claimed it all made sense,

But nightly danced in drunken fear,

While others stared in innocence,

But couldn’t help a sudden tear,

Rising from their aching hearts,

For those they lost they once held dear,

A message came from foreign parts,

Of something strange passed through the air;

As if a fusillade of poisoned darts,

That pierced the old and young, the sad and fair,

In silence, swift, and thus, unseen,

As Satan climbing Heaven’s stair,

His strength renewed and body lean,

To reclaim his old authority,

And sit the chair where God had been,

Sans remorse, regret, sans pity,

First one succumbed and then the many,

From east to west, in town, in city,

The working poor lost every penny,

And sat alone, apart, in wonder,

For them escape there was not any,

As the world around them broke asunder,

For existence cares not what your name,

Or what day they put you under,

And while many played the ancient game,

Of searching entrails for some secret reason,

A bleating scapegoat they could blame,

Others knew we’d had our time, our run, our season,

Had squandered all, destroyed the world,

Against Life itself had plotted treason,

So down the great abyss were hurled.

 

So far From Barren Hopes They Lay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far from barren hopes they lay

They silent spent the break of day,

When from their dreams they started up

And drank their last from one shared cup.

Then, as one, they rose, with hollow eyes,

To don their arms ‘neath scarlet skies,

Red with bloody disillusionment,

The deaths of Reason, Art; Enlightenment.

They gathered round in sad conclave,

In secret grove by secret grave,

Where Justice lay in righteous earth,

Wrapped in memories of her worth.

And swore an oath with up-raised fists,

As vows rang out through gloomy mists,

To search each land and distant sea,

And slay the Hydra, Tyranny.

But doomed they were to search in vain,

With broken heart and endless pain,

For, in them, it was, the monster slept,

And, as they left, the heavens wept.