There is still time,
while the world teeters
on its cosmic eccentric
as if holding a pose
to let the perihelion pass,
while the days have stopped shortening
but are hardly any longer;
there is still time
to set a course for the year.
To point a pencil of light into the fog,
to sketch out a map,
ink in some outlines.
To grow in stature
while losing some weight.
To get a little more sleep
to spend more time awake.
To laugh more often
but tell fewer jokes,
to start conversations
but write fewer posts.
To read one more great novel
but dispense with old fictions,
to get a poem going every day
and get one finished on occasion.
To listen to music
to enjoy the silence.
To appreciate more art
but be less artful.
To stop watching the news
but keep up with events.
To repay debts
and find things to invest in.
To reduce the footprint
while stepping further out.
To be happy with less
while searching for more.
To stop killing time
while living the moment.
To never be lonely
even when quite alone.
To dispense with faith
and rekindle belief.
For the world is not flat
here be no dragons,
you will find the coastline humdrum
in fifty weeks’ time.
Think of the sunshine
your feet warm upon deck,
those are the moments
that make the journey worthwhile.
The stories we tell ourselves
are the narratives we use
to keep us together
while we find our way home.
©Nick Barth 2018
Her daddy was a wealthy man acquisitions,then some sackings
I came from a lower caste with social graces lacking
Maria was a lovely girl, good manners, middle class
Not a lot in common with the youth who cut the grass
And yet she smoked my woodbines, as we sat in the tool shed
Mam and Dad were often absent, with the busy life they led
I never called her by her name, usually just “Miss”
But one evening in a thunder storm I stole a naughty kiss
During lightning and torrential rain, she was a frightened lass
Never even slapped my face, said “Just stick to cutting grass”
So quickly I was disabused of my silly notions
People with her background have a grip on their emotions
The tempest was the trigger, my behaviour was quite crass
But then she had clung to me, like bad luck to a tinkers ass
Next year we are going to bring the gold star home
for want of sovereignty, and it is alright.
Places we lived, or travelled to freely
must live by themselves, and welcome others freely.
We want the sovereignty for ourselves at home
instead of sharing it, and this is alright.
It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,
but now it’s been decided, nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
which is alright and from what we hear
the sovereignty only caused us trouble.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.
Next year we shall be living in a country
that brought a gold star home for want of money.
The other stars will still be flying on the same
flags on foreign embassies, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it’s a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is a little sovereignty.
(with thanks to Philip Larkin)
in the dust dark drawers of museums
their wings open books
as though in flight
a unique summer each one
pollinators of the earth
the little people
I listen to a conversation
between the river, it’s shingle beach
and the tide lapping round the landing-stage.
It is now a mild day with a blue sky,
a faint air pushing a dark cloud
that would interrupt our dialogue.
I listen to a conversation
as the whispering wind plucks answers
from the riddling reeds bowing their heads
to the rising flow. They communicate
beyond my understanding, commanded by
the jet stream and the invisible moon.
I listen to a conversation,
the after-dinner glow convivial
as we collaborate, trying to find
answers to questions from a crossword quiz.
Perhaps I would be better off alone
seeking answers beyond the heartless stars.
Why do shadows lurk and clump
Wherever there’s a lack of light ?
Why do hearts and footsteps thump
When too much nothing gives us fright ?
So why do throats grow sharp and taut,
And fingers white, and faces pale ?
And why does breath get loud and short
And turn into a vapour trail ?
I know, I know, it’s only night
When only nerves attack…
Yet what is watching out of sight,
And turning shadows black ?
Who’s that walking where I’m walking,
Pacing half a pace behind ?
Who’s that lis’ning when I’m talking,
Twitching back the mental blind ?
What’s this tongue that’s speaking tongues ?
Who’s beating heartbeats next to mine ?
Who is that breathing in my lungs,
And shivering upon my spine ?
I know, I know, I’m overwrought,
From which my phantoms stem…
But who is thinking all my thoughts,
And who is hearing them ?