Lifescapes, p.1
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Lifescapes
LIFESCAPES

  Poems by Pam Crane

  Copyright 2017 Pam Crane

  Thank you for downloading this free ebook.

  Forward to Index of Poems

  MATURITY

  IRON

  In the crust of a thousand islands,

  In the rocks and the dust of Mars,

  In the core of a whirling planet,

  In the breath of a billion stars

  The metal of Man was waiting

  For a brain and a thumb and fire.

  An age of history-making

  Began with naked desire;

  Firing, hammering, honing,

  Ready for food and foe,

  Blade and spear in the forest

  To swing, to thrust, to throw.

  Mankind has harvested iron,

  Harnessed its weight for war,

  Hard in the mouths of horses,

  Strong on the fortress door;

  Melting, moulding and casting

  Cauldron, helmet and chain,

  Armour against the weapon,

  Shield to carry the slain.

  Hoops for the cooper’s barrel,

  Rim for the carter’s wheel -

  And then the gun. And the girder.

  Man has discovered steel.

  With steel he plunders the planet.

  With steel he murders the trees.

  With steel he conquers his neighbour ...

  But loses to Heart disease.

  The crust of the whirling planet

  Is left with the rust of war,

  Waiting for souls to ripen

  Just as it was before.

  Forward to Index

  MY CAMPAIGN

  Roll up! Roll up! And vote for me,

  This rare day of democracy!

  Your Independent candidate

  Is up for vigorous debate

  On any issue - you may pick it;

  I shall add it to my ticket.

  Join me! Wear my fine rosette!

  I found these on the internet,

  The symbolism quite apparent -

  Frills and ribbons all transparent.

  My platform? I am anti-greed.

  ‘To each according to his need.’

  So - nurses’ wages? They must rise;

  That should come as no surprise.

  I am also on the ball

  With soccer - salaries must fall

  To where they were back in the day

  When games were televised in grey;

  The pricey foreigners must go

  So local lads can run the show.

  Then we can all afford to cheer

  Our teams three dozen times a year!

  The beating heart of my campaign

  Is second homes. Let me explain,

  That only for a licence fee

  In this corrupt economy

  Should anyone at all be given

  More than a single house to live in.

  After somewhere nice to stay

  With kids or friends on holiday?

  You’ll have to rough it like the rest

  Of us, and be a hotel guest.

  Open the villages again

  To local folk and working men!

  My logo is a garden gnome:

  “Make every house a proper home.”

  Still on the theme of rural life,

  One phrase that cuts me like a knife

  Is “National Park.” A park’s for play.

  We’re throwing peace and space away,

  Granting the ignorant permission

  To tramp the wild into submission.

  I’ll curb the greedy National Trust,

  Stop all the farms from going bust,

  Punish the waste of food, and pull

  Strings to revive the trade in wool.

  (... Remember the verses on the bus

  And tube that once delighted us?

  When Brummel Beau, the swell of swells

  Electrified the Brighton Belles,

  The Prince would hover in the offing,

  Killing romance with fits of coughing.

  ‘Another cold, Sire? Listen do!

  To be well-dressed be wool-dressed too!

  In elegance it is the rule,

  There is no substitute for Wool!’)

  We must control our lust for oil,

  Return the plough-horse to the soil.

  Spread the forests, marsh and heath,

  Meadow and moor, till we can breathe.

  I can see progress here and there,

  But people need another scare -

  We’re seeing fewer plastic-trees

  Yet micro-beads are in the seas

  And particles lodged in the brain

  May drive us secretly insane.

  Is our poisoned air why we

  Deny the world’s divinity?...

  I’ll fight the rising tide of noise

  From shrieking girls and fighting boys;

  The clubs and bars will close at ten,

  And we can get some sleep again...

  Under a blazing Milky Way

  Once light is limited to day.

  No fireworks may be lit before

  November 5th; I’m waging war

  On every huge exploding shell

  That turns an evening into hell

  For those with post-traumatic stress,

  And trembling pets. The friendliness

  Of toffee-apples round the fire,

  Sooty potatoes, rockets higher

  Than stars, and flowers of coloured light

  Are joys enough on Fireworks Night.

  And those who wind their windows down

  To blast their ‘music’ through the town

  And all who leave their engines running

  For ages at the kerb, I’m gunning

  For you! You shake the old, the ill,

  The tired - I’ll force you to keep still.

  Many end up on a ward,

  Sick or broken, stressed and bored.

  On my watch, to help us heal

  We shall feast at every meal.

  Morale will soar - and if we get a

  Smile as well, we’ll soon be better!

  Prevention always trumps a cure;

  In Whitehall thrift has great allure:

  I’ll save the NHS a packet,

  Ruining Big Pharma’s racket.

  Garlic scrips at fifty pee,

  Will keep the country virus-free.

  (You take it raw, with lots of food.

  It does your blood and body good.)

  And when you go to see the Doc

  He won’t be looking at the clock

  And neither will your daily carer -

  Pay and practice must be fairer.

  Nobody should lie all day

  Unloved until they waste away.

  Roll up! Roll up and vote for me!

  I’ll do my best as your MP

  To purge pollution, waste and lies;

  Let’s save the world before it dies.

  Forward to Index

  1PARTY GAMES

  Fondly I remember party games,

  Tests of character with simple names.

  Any joiner-in could take a punt

  At statues, spin the bottle, treasure hunt,

  Bingo, pass the parcel, blind man’s buff,

  Fielding twenty questions off the cuff;

  Murder in the dark, musical chairs,

  And playing sardines underneath the stairs.

  Oh, how times have changed! Our parties now

  Hunt down the blind and frail who find out how

  To play the system so that they can eat.

  They spin the news, they pass the buck, they cheat,

  And twenty questions is a bland parade

  Of policy, an insincere charade.

  In the House they fight for every chair;

  Murdered ideals are buried everywhere.

  Forward to Index

  HEROES

  We are the Heroes

  All we need to do

  Is fly straight perish in fire

  Paradise waiting

  Islands and cities

  Full of mistaken people

  Chosen for Heaven

  One man with a gun

  And a beautiful bomb smiles at

  His own Jihad

  Glorious weather

  To start a war by shedding

  The blood of children

  Souls of the broken

  Stare at the tears and courage

  Uncomprehending

  No happier day

  To pack a rucksack and break

  The heart of London

  Deep in shattered dreams

  New shoes kick the enemy

  Old men are weeping

  A perfect weekend

  For boys in the hood to run

  Looting and burning

  Not the rescuers

  Dying to save a stranger

  Nor the blind climber

  Not the lovely boy

  He and the bomb dismantled

  Nor burning daughters

  Not the Red Arrow

  Who wrenched his plummeting plane

  Away from houses

  Not aching nurses

  Mothers of empty children

  Nor weeping Jesus

  God in our pocket

  We are the right men always

  We are the Heroes

  Forward to Index

  PARADISE LOST

  (a Villanelle)

  Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand,

  Girls in bikinis, tiny children running bare,

  You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.

  Our simple heaven shattered in a foreign land,

  The debris of your holy visit everywhere.

  Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand.

  In the only Paradise you understand

  Naked houris waited for your beck and call -

  You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand -

  But your black leaders lovely lies have slain you, and

  There will be no Garden, no reward at all.

  Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand;

  In that moment nothing happened as you planned.

  The hand of God reached down for us and left you there,

  You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.

  In that love which makes our butchered children whole

  Is there forgiveness for your naked, broken soul?

  Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand

  You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.

  Forward to Index

  PARADES

  I love parades. I love the noise

  The dancing girls the laughing boys

  The frocks as white as snowy May

  To celebrate Our Lady’s Day

  I hate parades. I hate the noise

  The new regime’s expensive toys

  The endless rhythmic martial tread

  Annual insult to the dead

  I love parades. I love the crowd

  The shouts the whistling out and proud

  The rainbow flags the sexy gear

  We’ve made it through another year

  I hate parades. I hate the crowd

  The pipes are shrill the drums too loud

  And symbols clash in every street

  As old intolerances meet

  I love parades. I love the smells

  Of food and animals the bells

  On circus horses scary clowns

  When wonder comes to sleepy towns

  I hate parades. I hate the smells

  Of men emerging from their cells

  Waste of body and waste of mind

  Bury the lives we left behind

  I love parades. I love the weather

  We freeze and fry and drown together

  To watch a smiling Queen go by

  And try to catch a guardsman’s eye

  I hate parades. I hate the weather

  Shivering sweating in serge and leather

  One day we’ll be the men in braid

  Now it’s a passing-out parade

  I love parades I hate parades

  Stories written in cavalcades

  The year has turned and here we come

  Who will march to a different drum?

  Forward to Index

  GAIA’S LAMENT

  When am I to be free of men?

  Feel the breath of the stars again?

  Welcome again a crystal sea

  To pulse and rhyme with the heart of me?

  Men are piercing me for my oil,

  Scarring me with their pits and spoil,

  Torching the trees that make the air,

  Spreading their poison everywhere.

  The fading life in my ocean feeds

  On deadly invisible plastic beads.

  These will return to choke the men

  Who foul the air and the waves - but when?

  I whip and I whip their selfish hide,

  I spin the winds, I churn the tide,

  I crack the cities with men inside

  For all the loveliness that died.

  When will the polar snows return?

  When will the jungles cease to burn?

  When at last will the only roads

  Be the secret tracks of elk and toads?

  I long for the day Cheyenne and Sioux

  Can do again what they love to do,

  Buffalo graze on a bracing plain,

  Waters flashing with fish again.

  When will the billions learn to be

  Grateful, careful and kind to me?

  When will they honour the Earth, their mother?

  I die - they die. They have no other.

  Every battle between my sons

  Has wounded me with the bombs and guns.

  Oh friendly meteors, aim for me

  And put me out of my misery!

  The slums and towers will all be dust,

  Ambition will end in bone and rust;

  Shocked souls will cry for pardon - then

  I shall indeed be free ... oh, when?

  Forward to Index

  LABOUR

  He voted Labour all his life,

  your Dad.

  I was a loving, loyal wife

  And glad

  To put my cross by the same candidate

  Then wait

  Watching TV in the crowded bar

  By the pithead, sinking jar after jar

  Till the results were in

  And we knew

  Which side would win

  And who

  Have to

  Take defeat on the chin.

  This time it was Thatcher.

  Among the posh Tory men

  None could match her

  Smart, pearled

  Vehement

  Acumen.

  She took us on.

  In her blue eyes our blackened world

  Of slag and seam,

  Of red flags unfurled,

  Was alien,

  Spent;

  Our time had gone,

  Dismissed like a bad dream;

  The mines had had their day,

  They would no longer pay.

  And we of the tin baths and the tin hats

  Who toiled in blackness on the brightest day,

  Whose men clocked up miles in cages not cars,

  With scars

  From rockfall, pick-axe, truck and buried friends,

  We were like rats

  To be rid of by brute means for Tory ends.

  Oh,

  The mines would go.

  Not clean,

  Not green,

  Old King Coal was dead.

  The wheels would stop at every pithead,

  And soon there would be nothing to be seen

  Of where we had been,

  Nothing to show

  For centuries of hard labour below.

  Then came

  King Arthur.

  Labour to the core

  And one of us, a husband and a father -

  And more,

  He courted fame:

  He rallied our communities for war.

  How could we know

  Scargill would let us starve?

  That slow

  And bitter year

  The government would halve

  Our meagre benefits;

  There would be no

  Help from the Miners’ Union for the poor

  Surviving on our wits,

  On fags and beer.

  And how could we know

  The misery in store at striking pits?

  Hectored men would go

  Desperate for a little Union pay

  Onto the picket lines

  Day after day

  Believing this would somehow save the mines;

  There they would stay

  Despite the broken hand, the bloody nose,

  Taunting the Right,

  Keeping the scabs at bay.

  Braving fight after fight,

  Arrests and fines,

  Under the scrawled signs

  Life-long friends coming to blows

  Over the side they chose.

  And how could we know

  After the charging horses,

  Black police

  And bloodied batons, and the riot shields

  In ugly deployment of national resources

  To keep the peace;

  After our lives became a TV show,

  Our banners headlines,

  How could we know the mines

  Would soon revert to ruins in the fields,

  The wild take back our spoil

  And at terrible cost

  Our loved labour lost

  To gas, to oil?

  Three decades on,

  Son,

  Your Dad has gone.

  And there’s no coal

  And there’s no soul

  In this damned coalition.

  Thousands went in and then came out of prison;

  All that pain

  Was utterly in vain.

  The Tories won.

  The pithead wheels are rusting in the rain,

  The talk is all

  Of tide and wind and sun

  And Labour has broken with the Union.

  You’ll try again

  To roll back time - but this is a strange

  World caught up in climate change.

  Each warring party goes by its old name

 
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