Last Two Poems of 2017

escaping into the night garden

I thought – Cassiopeia!
hello stars! I said
as on so many occasions
in other night gardens far away
in time & space

and then it burst upon me:
God stops right here –
inside this bag of skin
& ancient bone
at the surface of my eyes
at my finger tips

going back inside the house
I knew absolutely & finally
that outside there’s nothing:
everything is an invention;
the reality of Cassiopeia
has nothing whatever to do
with that god who ceases to function
beyond my sight
beyond my tingling flesh
beyond my lips
at this glass of whiskey

you can put yourself now in
any great cathedral you’ve ever explored
(Ely Canterbury Salisbury Wells…)
and know that it is the House of Me
not the House of a Fiction
similar in construction to your Self

26th November 2017

the old grey-bearded Indian

across the way nods as though somehow
he knew more about me than I did;
he puts on a white cap and stands tuning in
to some far sacred land best known to himself
lying beyond his heart-flickering computer screen
and through at least one hospital wall
which contrives to obstruct the passage of prayer;

several times with his back to me he bows
and bends low to scrape the polished floor
in some worthless obeisance
demeaning his humanity & scarcely doing much
for whatever deity he directs attention to

during the night I lost count of the number of times
he spent talking loudly with his full-blooded cough
into his mobile phone with its foghorn ring-tone

what does it profit a man
who dumbly worships a far-off mirage
but thinks nothing of disturbing the fevered sleep
of comrades in sickness and in unholy mess?

what on earth does it profit a man who imagines
some special relationship with a miles-away holiness
but does not consider the risk of transmitting microbes
willy-nilly from an unguarded mouth to those close at hand?

I suddenly realise once again that I have no respect at all
for all the crass orthodox artifices of religion;
nothing but undivided scorn for all those grown-up people
who choose to be duped by ideas such as ‘the love of god’
and dutifully throw themselves about in a wasted effort
to adopt a variety of diligent postures

what empty reaches of the brain
can have truck with such absurd dire piffle?

(meanwhile he talks into his mobile magic-box
and coughs loudly to his interlocutor
and all over Hinchingbrooke AAU Bay 6
which is soon filled with slit-eyed over-dressed women
and what I assume to be the religious man’s crazy flock)

values are values – their assessment depends entirely
on consistent replicability as defined simply
by self-reliant non-denominational humanity
otherwise I assert that people can choose to believe
just whatever they like so long as it doesn’t impinge…

my scorn and disrespect is tempered somewhat
by the memory of the loud tenor man
in St Mary’s Worcester Park just after Hitler’s War
who behind me always contrived to accompany
any Sunday morning service hymn
with a melodiously deviant descant
and by 90 year-old Miss Eliot who dished out
illustrated postage-stamp size snappy texts
at Sunday School when I was learning
to be a thoroughly dedicated rejecting spirit
(one cannot say ‘non-believer’
which would suggest there is something to believe in
when there is absolutely nothing there)
– I still have a certain abiding respect
for both of them… God knows why…

30th December 2017

After a night in hospital…

9 thoughts on “Last Two Poems of 2017

  1. Both poems such vivid representations of your experiences, Colin – both internal and external. A strong poetic conclusion to a dreadful year. Hoping for better times (while bracing for worse) in 2018.



  2. Mr B… loving your themes for your poetical exit from 2017… and wishing you more gardens and whiskey glasses than nights in hospitial in 2018.
    See you soon … one way or another 😉 xxx


  3. The first stanza of the first poem takes flight to the goddess of vanity, it’s as if eternity is spread out like a comet, from ancient times, even back to the original garden, just as quickly the second stanza falls, returns to a sort of soft Dylan Thomas. The poet is struck by the notion of God’s cosmic joke, nothing can exist beyond “I” the rest is a light show, a cruel joke but one that must be fished out from the shadows. The rest of the poem reads like an absolute, non-absolute, we are left holding the whisky and dreaming of Cathedrals, while Cassiopeia darkens the starry sky.

    Hospitals contain a certain smell and the second poem conveys this smell with stunning accuracy. They are madhouses, a metaphor for heaven where nothing happens but we conspire to make something happen: old men and women die, babies are born, young people arrive overdosed and alone. The end of this poem shatters the grief of 2017 despite the poet’s acute knowledge and experience, what else can a poet do?

    Liked by 2 people

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