Monday, 25 August 2014

The Nearly Man

I nearly caught a fish, Mum,
I nearly won the race,
I nearly beat the bully
'till he hit me in the face.
I nearly passed exams
and almost got the job
but they gave the work to Sam
- that overachieving knob!
I nearly paid the loan off
but then the car broke down
so I nearly got a second job
but I couldn't get to town.
We nearly went to Cornwall
for a week beside the beach
but the cost of renting caravans
is far beyond our reach.
I nearly gave up smoking
but with all the stress at work
I needed it to calm me down
from dealing with those jerks...
I nearly had it licked
but I went along this week
for another routine check up
and the scan looked pretty bleak.
It's ok though, I'm reconciled:
I've been finalising plans.
I'm going to have my headstone say 
"Here lies the Nearly Man!
He lived an 'almost' kind of life
- he never had his day, 
he spent his time just fishing
for the one that got away."

First published at Strands Lit. Sphere  15 Nov 2016

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Time Gentlemen Please (4th August 2014)

They're lighting candles in grand
cathedrals and respectful homes
for those who fought in that "Great"
war one hundred years ago.

But are burning candles what young
Tommy Atkins would have craved?
If he'd not found a place in some
poppy covered Flanders grave
but instead returned from war
to his country village, market town?
Would he not have rather limped
the darkly nettled lane on down
to the Red Lion, the Kings Head,
Horses - Black and White,
and drunk his share of ale and cider
on this warm August night?

He might have looked out at the fields,
thought about the harvest due,
cursed the pigeons for their fill,
and planned his snares for rabbit stew.

But as young Tommy can't be here
to drink that beer and hear the talk
I'll forsake a candle in my home
and down the winding lane I'll walk.
Our voices hushed and lights dimmed,
we'll drink for Tommy Atkins
and all lost soldiers such as him
- who would but can't - a pint of ale
(and one of cider just in case),
and drain the glass at 11.01
when the landlord quietly says:
"In foreign fields their work was done,
our country lads are sleeping well,
all honours high, their battles won,
their memory forever held -
may they rest at ease.
                                   For them and us:
it's Time, Gentlemen, please."

Published in OWF Press 'Half Moon' Pub related poetry anthology 6/10/16