Author Archives: Jonathan Mayman

A run in the dark

A run in the dark 

Headlong down a narrow entry between
two high brick walls. Claustrophobic.
Black, only a faint strip of light above.
Runaway feet reverberating.
Eeeeaaawww! Something leaps beneath me.
Shy away, thud into one wall,
rebound onto the other, end in a heap.
Oh, just a cat… and I’ve given Paul the slip.

“Boys, please!”
As I pick myself up I remember how she stood
distraught between my warring older brothers.
Mike landed a blow on Paul who pushesd her
into the standard lamp, its light swaying crazily.
“Paul, dear, do stoppit… Oh!”
I was pummelling Paul: “Leave Mum alone!”
Then BANG!
“You little fool! I’ll give you more than a black eye.
I’ll kill you, d’you hear, KILL you
Racing off into the night I was aware of the
startled expression of Mr Green from next door
who I passed at our front gate.

Much later, in case Paul is still lying in wait
out front I clamber over our rear fence
every inch the hero and open the back door.
She looks up from ironing. She’s been crying.
“Where have you been? How could you be so silly?”
“I, I…”
“Why did you run away? Paul didn’t chase you.
We all went round calling for hours.Your father was
so annoyed. If you hadn’t stuck your oar in
it would have blown over by the time he got home.”
A straggly strand of hair has fallen across her brow.
She brushes it back with a jerky movement of her arm.
“Well, don’t stand there like a lost soul.”
Balancing the iron on its stand, she comes towards me.
“Just look at you, you’re filthy.”
Starts dusting down my jeans.
“Such a fuss with Mr Nosey Parker Green watching.”
Runs her fingers through my matted hair.
“Anyway, you’d better bathe that eye of yours.”
Dad looks out of the living room as I burst
through the hall, throwing myself up the stairs.
In the bathroom he prises the flannel from my eye.
“Mm, not too bad. Now, was it Paul who hit you?”
“It was nothing, Dad, honestly. All my fault.
I was silly, really very foolish…”

Stoned

Stoned

I’m struck by the stones
not pebbles smooth rounded stones.

The deserted cove I’ve come across
is filled with millions of them

from the foot of the cliff to where
they disappear beneath the waves.

Stones small medium large
every shade of grey.

I pick up a few of these ovoids
weighing them in my palm.

Balance ones of decreasing size
on top of each other constructing

a watchtower in the face of
the tide that foams ever closer.

Next day I return to contemplate
such ruins as remain.

Nightwatchman

Nightwatchman

Sleep seeps through the house
from room to room
like evening mist,
enveloping one by one
the bodies laid out
in the darkness.

Now only the last pair of eyes
gleams white in the night,
just that last brain remains
under management control,
turning over and over
some scheme or other.

Candle-power

Candle-power

Strike a match,
flares into flame.

Light the wick,
glows into life.

Illuminates our faces,
gleams in our eyes.

Gilded within
our magic circle.

But a spell with
a strict time limit.

Even Cinderella’s
expired at midnight.

Reduced to a stub,
gutters and dies.

A wisp of smoke
in a pool of wax.

Voodoo

Voodoo

Inscrutable presence
the red and black mask
on our wall.

You can sense
ancient wisdom within
the curve of its brow.

Eye holes dark voids
through which it watches
what’s going on.

Shell earrings dangling
on both sides
pick up every sound.

Slab of a nose
all the better
to sniff things out.

Finely chiselled lips
silent now but one day
will pronounce judgement.

Cat and mouse

Cat and mouse

Sun bed, shorts, sun cream.
Another chance to top up his tan.

A cloud smothers the sun.
Temperature plummets.

Sticks it out as long as he can.
Finally, pulls on his sweater.

As if on cue, the sun re-emerges.
Hotter than ever.

All morning: sweater off, sun in.
Sweater back on, sun back out.

Only when rain sweeps the patio
does he admit defeat.

Retreats indoors, to be met by
the Paleface’s feline smile.

House of the Rising Sun

House of the Rising Sun

That’s all for this week, see you
next week.

That’s how he always signs off,
good ol’boy Brian Matthew,
radio DJ extraordinaire.
His unmistakable tones
celebrating the music of my era,
sunrise on Saturdays since time began.
Sounds of the Sixties and before that
in the glorious decade itself
never-to -be-forgotten Saturday Club.
The music will always live on:
Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Animals etc.
But what of Brian… and me?

That’s all for this life, see you
in Strawberry Fields Forever.

 

PS: If this is the end of StaPoWriMo2016, as Robbie has hinted,
I’d like to thank her and Martin for such thought-provoking prompts.
Breakfast will not be the same!

Coming ready or not

Coming ready or not

ten, nine…

You’ve run off to hide.
I wonder where?
When the countdown
comes to an end
I’ll be free
to seek you out.

eight, seven…

This counting has
gone on far to long.
We are too old
to be playing games.
Let’s get serious
before it’s too late.

six, five…

My eyes are shut
as I count but
I can see you
in my mind’s eye.
You are always there.
I must find you.

four, three…

Is your hiding place
untraceable or have you
left me a sign?
I’m counting on
finding you. Are you
counting on being found?

two, one… ZERO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over-egged

Over-egged

I’ve always had a sweet tooth,
not least as a child.
It was a big ask one year when
Miss Smart our Sunday School teacher
suggested we all gave up sweets for Lent,
keeping carefully those given to us and
bringing them in to her on Easter Sunday.
She would send them to poor kids
whose parents couldn’t afford any.

Must have had a crush on Miss Smart
because I was very keen to please her.
Not a single sweet passed my lips
for the duration and I collected them
in a large tin under my bed.

Awoke early on Easter Sunday and
took the lid off the tin, full to the brim.
Festive eggs, toffees, peppermints, licorice,
nougat, fudge, the odd gob-stopper or two.
Popped a fruit pastille into my mouth,
lay back in bed savouring the moment.
Couldn’t resist trying a chocolate,
rather a scrumptious strawberry cup.
In no time at all the tin was empty,
bedroom floor scattered with wrappers.

Suddenly felt queasy and only
made it to the bathroom just in time.
Even worse was the thought of facing
Miss Smart later that morning.

At breakfast eyed warily the man-eating
monster of a milk chocolate egg
presented to me by dear old Mum and Dad
with my name on it in sugary icing.