THE OLD FOOL is a collection of my poems that I am going to release poem by poem on this website. One poem a week, released on Saturday morning. Follow the old fool through his meanderings, over a period of about thirty years or so...
THE OLD FOOL
An old fool stands in a field
in the shape of a young horse.
Where is the wit in that?
Hooves, mobile ears, big flat teeth?
This rolling around on the ground
isn’t amusing anyone.
The ewes chew over the joke,
but already the jackdaws
are turning back to their work.
An old fool stands on a table
in the shape of a mug of tea.
Where is the wit in that?
Steaming – standing there –
at the hip holding out a handle,
deepening an O to the ceiling
as the tea sinks, sip by sip then
gulp by gulp and then
the empty-mug punchline!
You old fool, what are you doing
hanging around in the shapes of things?
BEING EVERYONE ELSE.
Just about now I must be sitting
In a glass room above glass rooms
On a firm cushion of opinions,
Gulping strong coffee I can't stand,
Hitlering into a device
Trapped in the hollow of my hand,
I must be standing by the lanes
With my thumb out, I must be snoozing
Over the moaning blur of pistons,
I must be walking on the moon,
Collecting dust, I must be humming
Into my goldfish bowl, theme tunes
From earth Friday afternoons,
I must be setting out, bow crushing
The paparazzi of the ocean,
I must be falling fast, head down
For the last time, the postcards on
The mantelpiece no longer holding,
I must be tense like a bird listening
To its own listening, in my coffin,
I must be gradually collapsing
Like Bouncy Castles at the day's end,
I must be mad, I must be shouting
Into a statue's ear, unhinged
Suddenly in the Luxembourg gardens,
I must be dreaming in a train,
Travelling home in both directions.
As I was walking to the sea,
Through the tall bracken, still bright green,
And filling me above the eyes
With memories of glens, I blinked,
As from the corner of my eye
A moth got up, or so it seemed,
And flew away in front of me,
Like a child ducking through a cloud,
Or a cork bobbing on the sea,
Wings like two white hands powdering
The face of air in a great hurry.
But when I looked more carefully
And felt my face, I saw for certain
That it was not a moth but my
Right eyelids fluttering away.
And then – it was astonishing -
The other pair unclipped, disengaged,
Peeled off and took flight (I felt no pain)
To join the first ones flickering
In freedom to the sun. I saw them
Black in the bright disk. Now the sea
Was sniffing at my feet, far down,
And I was standing at the end,
Where no plank, no path, no rope, no pier
Crosses the air. And then my skin
Slipped off and floated to the sand,
And the waves washed it out and in,
And it turned over in the foam
And spread out, white, to the horizon.
Breathe – I breathed out, and in the air
My lungs stood tendrilled like a cloud.
And then a v of geese, my bones,
And they crashed straight into the sea,
And my eyes followed – no more need
To dream what happens in the sea.
Lastly my heart sank down the sky
And slid, bright red, into the sea.