DID YOU EVER GO CONKERING DAD?| Steve Savage
Just over the road from where Nan lives
Through a couple of rough talking alleys
Out onto the common fields and swings
Into the forests beyond
That’s where we’d go conkering
There were lots more then
Up to your knees in them we were
No need to throw a stick up
They all fell off on the same day
Every year without fail
Bring ’em home to show your Nan
She’d bake a few and pickle a few
Give us a head start in the playground
Until Jonesy got his dad to drill a hole
In a small pebble he’d painted brown
PIET MONDRIAN | Bo Crowder
Absolute of white and black
Infinite of edge and whole
Nihil nulled and nothing left
Taken to abstraction
Ocean hues and sun and heat
Dada doubled folded back
Evolution by a name
Rouge et noire ou bleu et blanc
New York City action
Some topical material next from Peter Branson.
THE HILLSBOROUGH TRAGEDY | Peter Branson
At the F A Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15th April 1989, overcrowding resulted in the deaths of 96 people with 766 others injured. All were supporters of Liverpool F. C.
(Main melody: ‘The Sharpsville Massacre’, by Ewan McColl.
Chorus: ‘The Rising of the Moon’, J C Carey, arr. Luke Kelly)
It’s Saturday, so what’s the rush,
And why that soppy grin?
I’m on my way to Hillsborough,
The FA Cup to win.
Though road works cause a bottleneck,
We’re here for three o’clock.
There’s crushing on the terraces;
Two pens are overstocked.
Chorus: You’ll never walk alone my friends,
You’ll never walk alone.
St James Park to White Hart Lane,
You’ll never walk alone.
I ask where all the bobbies are,
Why safety doors are locked.
Some folk round here are dying,
Yet still the match kicks off.
We can’t believe what’s happening,
Shocked people stand and stare:
The pitch is like a battlefield
with bodies everywhere.
It’s funeral after funeral,
Seems far too much to bear;
Whole city is united
as anger trumps despair.
Police evidence gets doctored,
It’s always been the same;
The great and good colluding,
To their eternal shame.
The Sun crawls out one morning
The wrong side of the bed:
Swears fans were drunk and violent
And looted their own dead.
The inquest rules by three-fifteen
All ninety-four had died.
We now know there were forty-one
Who might have been revived.
The final toll is ninety-six,
The youngest aged just ten;
One man’s four years on life support
But never speaks again.
In twenty-twelve we’re told the truth,
What football’s always known.
St James’ Park to White Hart Lane,
You’ll never walk alone.
ENDGAMES | Peter Branson
“Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”
From ‘Sing a song of sixpence’ (traditional rhyme)
Parliament of Rooks
Conceive a ring of black birds in a field;
an act of faith, like UFOs or ghosts.
Inside this henge, three prisoners face trial,
mid winter, dusk – his story, sold to buy
your proxy vote – fear in their gaze, doom in
their stance; gothic, apocryphal, remote.
When he returns the circle’s broken up.
Seduced to take a closer look, he finds
feather haloes; corpses, blinded, half plucked.
Brings back Big Brother love, the guillotine,
stoning to death, neighbourhood bullying
in public view, a signal to the rest,
the righteous punishment for breaking some
unspeakable sectarian taboo.
Strange now the birds have gone. They came to look
as usual, a day or two, first time
in memory moved on. Last season’s nests,
threadbare, holes you can peer straight through, break up
beneath grey skies, abandoned, unredeemed.
The trees are not at risk, from rot, disease,
old age; sound for another century
at least. Place hasn’t changed at all and yet …
These church bells have no competition now.
Just one fresh grave, that murder first house down
the lane; in all the newspapers for days.
South aisle, tall tales are broadcast via stained glass
of superheroes, like in comic books.
Some swear rooks sense a place is tainted, pass.
(First pub: Envoi, 2012)
THE BUTTERFLY | Maurice Leyland
Who are you?
You pause, you rest.
You settle with tightly closed wings.
Are you not willing to show your true colours?
You hide your false eyes coquettishly;
Your underside flaunting its lack of identity.
Meadow Brown? Speckled wood?
You launch swiftly and discretely,
Soaring and swinging jerkily,
No apparent route-
Then a sudden flash of brown
Giving little chance of recognition.
You exit the scene;
THE GEOMETRY OF STRIPES | Jenny Hammond
Horizontals crossing verticals
at exact right-angles —
a template for a chequerboard,
the geometry of stripes.
Would the worked-to-death Jews in Dachau
have viewed their uniforms geometrically?
Blue — the only colour in their lives;
and white — the faces in the shower queue,
as the chimney exhaled its Final Solution.
Would the dissident in his nakedness,
who listens for footsteps before the next beating,
compare the caterpillar stripes of the cinnabar moth
with the weals across his back?
Too late for a theorem exterminating genocide,
to disallow the siege of Sarajevo.
Impossible to erase wickedness with a snap of the fingers;
but time for minds to understand,
for eyes to catch the light,
each ray of sunshine a stripe of hope.