Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Kissing a Toad

KISSING A TOAD  Wendy Webb


In that hour before dawn
when birds rise, chill with certainty and song;
happy people sleep on
dreaming scenes, so warm, of yesterday.

Stepping out to back yard;
creeping down garden path
silently, obscene blot on townscape.
In that hour gardeners shuffle to the potting shed,
brew a cuppa, think of pricking out;
sitting, wrapped in blanket,
damning expired lamp, striking a match for candle-glow:
I settle, brimming airs with early birds.

Slowly turning pages to your words,
poring over flickering poems,
insight’s assured in waxen glow,
as birdsong brews, crescendos to first light.

Padding soft along the fence, a cat
pauses aloft, in finest view,
wish-fulfilling his plan this stalking-day:
the bird table.

A tired owl tu-whits a final call,
as morning rises cool in certain damp.
Stamping final pages of his verse
I close the book, too satisfied to muse.

Returning to a house now warm, alive,
I size a frog – or toad – so huge and still
and contemplate the absence of fat words;
or hopping rhyme; sun’s rising consonance,
or image brash as day.

It’s breakfast-time for routine’s chores,
when nothing more will mew or softly prowl.

Full day bursts on my mind and now
no muse stops at my pen or plays
as every dawn and every night
and every fattened day crescendos in:
my toad – one day my prince –
will stride indoors.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Journeyman 2005

JOURNEYMAN 2005  Wendy Webb


A hard time we had of it, our Annus Horribilis, 2005.
This was no royal condescension into the muddy depths of divorce.
though it was the common touch, the common man.

A bloody time we had of it, aborting early
before we had time to scribble New Year’s Resolutions;
dirges of foreign women and children lost,
dancing mud-sodden plagues of Tsunami.

On the third day we sealed our tomb of hope,
as faces grew like postage stamps on walls,
as ships were dumped like driftwood on mud roads,
as highways bladderwracked to cities lost
in the Kingdom of the Dead.

No tears were left unshed before the Babe of Bethlehem had fled
the massacre of infants, cradled safe in pyramids,
beneath the Sphinx with Mona Lisa smile.
The Nile, the Delta floods could not grieve more
fertility in buckets, filled each day,
in wave on wave of giving to the poor
and more, to the ends of the earth.

Much more, we raised three trees to grieve a pope
who faded, as his eyes grew ripe with pain,
who kissed hard tarmac dust of suffering
and gathered paper planes of live TV.

A hard time we had every day, though we forget
dull torture of new wars, rumours of wars,
and old wars – grieving yet – a sea of pain
that could not flood heaven’s portals with fresh tears.

We grieved for 9/11 and for 7/7
and tourists fled to paradise in hell.
We barely drank, half-naked, Beslan’s youth
before the truth’s Big Easy stormed a tide
of mud-soaked dust to flood the Crystal Sea;
the shores of Xanadu to hurricane lamps of dreams.

But was this death or birth,
the racing earth, in flights of rumoured plague?
Flee to the hills, the hills, where mountains quake
and fail when – pray – the winter falls too soon.

Then, when the cup of suffering – all dregs -
is drained, and earth, a staggering, drunken man,
lies wasted in the hangover of dawn:
this birth, this death, this final dispensation
at a highway’s crossroads in the morning light;
sweeping, sweeping, leaving dust.

Inspired by T S Eliot ‘Journey of the Magi’