The next ‘Stanza’ session at The Leopard is on Tuesday 20th March at 7.30pm. Admission free. All welcome.
Mark was born in London and educated at Sussex and Nottingham Universities. He lives in Staffordshire and is a qualified children’s social worker and therapist.
Love as told at fifty
can be exciting too,
though nowhere near as nifty,
nowhere near as blue.
You have to get more thrifty,
have to be more true
to Time that ticks too swiftly,
the injuries years accrue.
Nor need you act so shifty,
you can give yourself a clue
to how you feel at fifty-
you can tell your lover too!
ASHES AND LOAM
A man needs to mount his steed at dawn,
ride without a word to horizons new;
a man needs to leave, before too long,
gaze from the porch of a different view.
For a man’s like a shark in a goldfish bowl,
with his restless heart and his rootless soul;
stand him at a window and he’ll mist the glass;
show him something solid and he’ll find a hole.
For a man will ride in circles from a loving point,
and keep coming back ’til he figures he’s home;
for a man will keep riding ’til he learns, at last,
that every goddamn trail leads to ashes and loam.
TO OUR SOLDIERS’ GRAVES
You lie here too young too long, my friends,
you lie here too young too long,
for the springs and the autumns and the springs have come,
and the winters and the summers have gone.
Yet still you lie so still, my friends,
yet still you lie so still;
for you will not be fooled into life again,
will not be fooled by far wilier men,
will not be giving your lives again,
if only, if only you could.
If only, if only you could wake, my friends,
if only, if only you could wake;
for you could tell all the world what it’s like to be hurled
out of warm lives and far into cold,
frozen in youth without wrinkle or fold:
Perhaps, then, we all would awake.
TELL, WILLIAM (HERO)
O let me tell you –
for I must! –
that for every man
who’s ever shot
that distant apple
off the steady head;
for every trusting son
who’s stood tree-strong
and known their dad
would never miss:
there’s a million more
who surprised fell dead.
But with greater rigour
do the muscles strain against
the webbing cords
that Time weaves round.
Mind, taking issue with memory,
strives to recollect its thoughts,
to gather the scattered mercury
of dreams amid the shattered glass.
As for the heart, that wasted muscle
knows neither stop nor go,
but hammers against its bars,
else schemes its escape to light.
And all for a few more beats,
for one more thought to understand,
one more hand to hold,
rush of day, drift of night.
Happily within the meanings of words
I drive my car, obeying their rules,
never straying from the lane of language,
struggling – ever – with the gutturals of grammar.
O, where I’m driving, I don’t really care,
as long as smooth words roll under my wheels,
and whatever words mean – so what, so what! –
as long as they’re spoken, as long as they’re there.