Manoeuvres in the Dark

General Downer ordered Captain Pain to wake me up early,

each nail driven flush, head screwed on backwards.

Lieutenant Doubt brought in wedges, Sergeant Fear drilled the holes

in a blancmange of self-esteem curdled by HMV (Her Mother’s Voice).

If Admiral Alcohol could float all our boats,

if Rear-Vice-Sub-Private would only obey,

if Colonel Attitude would finally kick in

to set fire to boot camps, clear the fog

of bullying tactics, stomp on officers’ messes.

 

Meander, sweet nothings, refuse to cower, shouted at,

moved like chess pieces on an invisible board.

Raise your meek bosoms in the rousing language

of nineteenth century phrasing, triumphant with Verdi,

gallant with Radetzky, drunk with Turkish lore.

Military Manoeuvres by Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht, from Artnet.

Mistranslation of French Tax Forms

There is still plenty of unfinished business on the French side of my administrative papers, so I amused myself with some ‘literal’ translations of their menacing letters. Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf and wakes up at night panicking about fines and other punishments? Not me, not me!

 

Apple of the Côte, apples of all orchards unite!

Pursue this chance

limit the number of dates you go out on

keep your bearing regal

and return your ransom

in the envelope joined to the hip of this letter.

You major retard.

Even I can’t keep the imperatives and bad language out.

A man doing his taxes using a calculator and pencil on a white background

Meretricious

I am always late for the event (not even elegantly late, but REALLY late), but do join us over at dVerse Poets Pub for the Open Link Night.  Today it’s all about the poetry of the everyday, the mundane, the meretricious…

 

‘Awkward,’ he said,

dashing out of her bedroom and into her brain.

Forever to measure the yokels who followed,

the husband found wanting,

the wood left entangled,

the burbling of Jabberwocks

that filtered and flitted,

never to be caught again.

 

So they lived and soldiered on,

grim lines they furrowed,

objective: silence.

Not the harmonious calm of unspoken shared thoughts

but the hush for fear of a storm.

So they dealt with the past.

Not brushed aside but lulled,

put to pasture,

With nervous asides for skittish breaks.

 

Non-mention will cicratize the wounds.

Commuter Paradise

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Newspapers and gadgets are props

covering the hollowed glaze of non-looks.

How to avoid searching too deep,

meaning best left formulated by others,

through shopping sprees and TV,

in front of which you fall asleep.

 

With pendulous lids and bags dangling on hips

they shuffle along, spilling on platforms,

thundering the footbridges with their cadences of resignation.

Sleep-flushed faces in the dank reek of stations at dawn,

they come and go,

and in their tread I detect fear

of letting down,

of being let go.

Crime Fiction Fan

On the page she strides boldly

through gore, spattered, flung

arms dramatic, brain sharpishly screwed on.

No suspect is spared, no plotline too raw,

she ventures where others gasp, look away.

And she knows at least sixty ways

to dispose of a lover.

 

Yet the glimpse of a needle

makes her gibber to nurses.

She watches crime on TV through

chinked fingers and wine,

she dithers at shadows, jumps at

rustles in the road. A floorboard

creaking in the night sends her diving.

 

Scurry, scurry, little paws,

the horror of that nib on paper!

 

 

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

The Remains

Like little birds startled by crumbs we scatter

for cover when the big words come,

the ones stripped of any art, the ones that singe,

mostly avoided, successfully dodged those lumps of dry bread.

 

Keep truth abay with a light swathe, a gauzy cloak of

half-heard, half-uttered little drones of

nothingness, conventional riffs of jazz, too polite to improvise.

A necklace of platitudes we spin for each other:

barbs disguised in vanilla puddings

to be uncovered by the archaeologists of

our dead love.

 

Blocked

Word by word they sucked it

void of treasure, dry of sap.

The lotus seed burst not into bloom that year.

Bit by bit they chiselled

away at its proud likeness.

How hurtful, how convenient

when friends hurl friends to oblivion.

 

Clenched, jaw-like,

in a world of its own hating,

we shivered with the knowing,

we struggled with the touch.

The gush has settled down into a mere trickle

and mud is silting oddly the channels of delight.

 

We sigh and add more caustic

as inspiration dies.