Category Archives: Old Day 02

Spirit of the apple tree

Spirit of the apple tree
Smile down on me
Ethereal apple tree
Old and gnarled
Stands with ancient boughs
Burdened down with fruit
High up
Tremulous arms
Out splayed beseechingly
Spirit of the apple tree
Old and gnarled
With your drapes of gossamer
Webs of the spider
Sails swaying in the breeze
And your old bark
Marked and stained
Do you have a memory
Old tree?
What would you say?
That you have seen in your day
Old tree?
Spirit of the apple tree
Old and gnarled!







If I walked backwards in my own footsteps
I wonder how I would feel at finding me
waiting in Nottingham’s market square
for a black haired, leathered jacketed
Ukrainian. My own blue hair exploding
when we danced our way into each other,
the stack of speakers drowning the day.

Music spilled out through my cracks
like an up surging of spring water
or blood. It was always like that.

We went to the cinema all the time
and one time saw The Unbearable
Lightness of Being and I cried
because I knew that ache.

My reflection would haunt me as
I dodged past shop windows
and bathroom mirrors until one
day I looked and saw a little girl
in shadow, hurting on a bed.
There are no words for this pain.
It is unutterable.

But somehow the act of looking
anchored the inevitable drift of light
and I sink with gratitude into weight.

On silent ears

Our father buggered off years ago with a nurse
mother gets drunk every night and starts to curse

Oh Lord, what can we have for dinner tonight?
Cutting down on carbs as my jeans are tight.

On earth it’s not always as exciting as it could be.
Someone’s got to win the Lottery so please can it be me?

As it’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow can we have a lie in
the bloke next door’s got a new bike and God what a din.

Deliver us that Amazon order whenever you can.
It’s something special we’ve bought for our gran.

The power’s dodgy at the moment on car.
Something about the starter motor – so we can’t go far.

For ever and ever,

Should it come to this

Like yesterday’s poem I started with a poem in Russian by the young Ukrainian poet Ilya Kaminsky and fed itinto Google translate. I’ve never seen a real translation, but doubt it looks anything like mine.


Should it come to this

In this city of bread ovens,
this stateless place of four winds,
cousin Zelda speaks the patois of yeast,
her nose twitching in sympathy with her lips.
Sometimes she sings hymns for the local pharmacopeia.

Zelda befriends buskers and priests, knows
that uncle Kurt is responsible in these parts
for the uniform distribution of clouds.
But that’s just a rumour put about by his enemies.
They claim he once made a tram mow down archbishop Schmidt
because he was carrying tomatoes in his holy pockets.
And once he danced naked on a table in front of our window.
The Guardians shot him, but not before
the state prosecutor interrogated Zelda
dipping his pen between her legs in bureaucratic zeal.

Somewhere in the annals of human misery it says
numbness disappears, silence disappears,
yet we know it lives on in us, the survivors.

And it’s like crazy not to fall, not divide
the space between busker and prosecutor.

All our words blow about in the four winds
like the feathers of raised memories.


Prayer power

Prayer power

Acolytes motion me forward.
I climb the steps, reverently, to where the Sage sits,
cross-legged, on top of the Grand Drum of sacred fluid.
The extraordinarily long nose of the Sage points skyward,
deep in contemplation.
“Ah, my son.”
A soft, sibilant voice, slightly breathless.
I look up.
The Sage’s eyes, deep pools either side of that nose,
bore into mine.
“Be at peace with yourself, my son.
Be at peace with the world.
The answer to all prayers is to be found
locked away at the heart of the universe.
The Key to life is…”
He leans forward, the sacred fluid
sloshing about in the Grand Drum at his every movement.
His long nose swoops down towards me,
as I stretch up on tip toe.
This is it! The culmination of my pilgrimage.
The Sage is going to whisper the Key into my ear:
Don’t quite catch it.
I’m left staring blankly as the Sage sits back up,
his nose coming to rest, his eyes closing once more.
His benign smile signals that the Key has been passed on.
The sacred fluid regains equilibrium.
Acolytes step up on either side, take my hands,
draw me backwards, down from the Sage’s presence.
I’m given a flask of sacred fluid.
Stand with a group of enlightened ones
who, like me, have been passed the Key.
Their faces shine, their eyes glow.
They are chanting praises to the Sage. I join in.
Almost at once I, too, begin to shine, to glow.
Feel at peace. Know the answer.
Realize I do possess the Key, whatever it is.