the horse shoe nail
furry jack the one-eyed stoat
longtime captain of a sailing boat
sailed the seas in search of trove
then buried it all in a secret cove
he started out as plain old jack
but owned a hammer, some nails, a shack
and built a boat from bits of stuff
bashing wood till he'd bashed enough
when it was done he dragged his boat
from shack to shore where, yes, it did float
so packing some cheese and crackers too
jack pushed off onto the briney blue
no sailor yet the stoat learned fast
as wave on wave his small boat lashed
he headed south where trove he'd heard
was lying in piles by a hopping bird
for days then weeks the stoat made south
boat and builder full in the mouth
of fearsome gales without a lull
which pushed him on till a herring gull
off to port and flying high
signalled land was just nearby
jack tacked and turned and spied the land
and beached the boat on a beach of sand
hopping out he looked around
for all the food that could be found
until by tea industrious jack
had gathered enough to fill a big sack
hopping back in his provisioned boat
intrepid jack the sailing stoat
made full speed for the southern seas
eating porridge in the chilly breeze
skilful now the weeks had past
jack shinnied up the trusty mast
to ask a seagull perched up there
if it knew of trove and where
the seagull pointed saying 'yes
the trove is that way at a guess
it's not far captain, the place is nice
home of birds who live on ice.'
within a day cliffs hove to view
an immense immensity primordial but new
granite of black and ice of white
rose from the ocean to terrific height
birds of all kinds whirled round that rock
as jack and the boat came in to dock
tired without notice he stepped ashore
climbing with care to some birds that he saw
these black and white birds, upright and tall,
quite unlike anything he'd seen at all,
hopped on rocks or shuffled around
in crowds of some thousands making great sound
nearing their edge, he asked the first bird
if it knew of the trove of which he'd heard
reflecting a while the bird then said
'yes friend, i do' and it tilted its head
'it's over that brow and in the next bay
sitting in rockpools all through the day
it's easy to find if you look with due care
but lost to the careless though they may stare.'
jack thanked the bird and turned right about
to get sack and spade before setting out
to climb the granite as he'd been told
to scale the ridge in the southern cold
once at the top he saw down below
a starfield of tidepools to which he did go
clambering nimbly with sack and short spade
the stoat reached a pool that just had been made
down went the sack at the edge of the pool
jack kneeling swiftly to peer at this jewel
and jewel it was, all glistening with light,
where colours remarkable amazed his sight
he looked in for minutes with his sharp eye
but trove wasn't found as the hour went by
so the next nearest pool jack clambered on to
a beautiful thing brimming with hue
a hundred pools were looked in that day
but none yielded trove to be taken away
so with spade under arm and an empty sack
back to his boat went the troveless jack
the stoical stoat who'd sailed all this way
set off for the north at break of next day
the fifties were blowing the boat made good speed
as much as a stoat in a boat might need
alone on the deck except for the spray
jack thought of the south as he worked through the day
he thought of the pools and what he found there
a bagful of nothing though he seemed not to care
he wondered why not then remembered his awe
at the beautiful hues brimming galore
in each of the pools he'd looked in that day
pools of clear memory he'd brought right away
he pencilled a line, writing with care
'i looked in the pools and found something there'
he buried the note in a secret cove
and that is where jack buried his trove.
No more to wait
A Cas' lass my mother's mother
Saw each new death of four score years.
Her face became soft marked in lines,
Which spoke in words but known to eye,
Of times with friends – though long since gone -
Who all surround to share her age.
Altared twice till betrayed by time,
Cold stone was placed where clay had been.
Cracked, her voice ran with phantom friends -
Heard in days as her empty rooms
Where visitors were seldom seen
And walls ever whispered loneliness.
I came to share her words, her thoughts -
And fixed I sat to silent watch.
Her body clothed in folding flesh
Tried hard to hide her flick'ring eyes:
Put out by life with age the hand,
For dark to touch and comp'ny keep.
I reach to touch old woman's face,
Since palled in earth: her body graved.
Though deep and single dark the grave,
Still I see those past filled eyes
Which longed to hold Death's reaching hand -
A closer friend she did not have.
Voice errant proclaims my soul in
Words – though few – cold deep of face
To eyes which cannot see the sound
Of cries so loud in anguish mute.
To ground I look mine eyes a'palled
Themselves now long cold wrapped in self.
Hard earth but creased by plough alone
Shows sure my worth in work as one
Where hard I sweat of fresh cut thought.
In folded land of tilled turned soil
I sight a soul too long unvoiced -
Yet earth remains as now unbroke
Where paining palms have still not sought
To overturn new soil of thought.
After getting home one night
On dull aching leather we sat, as
Plastic orchids do to decorate as room,
And pretended we were daisies – quietly.
Tap room sounds surrounded us in smoke, while
Voices pushed a lonely draft round empty chairs,
To circle feet and whisper unexpected words,
But unlike doms and pints obliviously held,
Our minds were too deliberate and removed.
I folded words around my thoughts, but
Seeing their peeping hope you sipped your drink,
Preferring not to notice the matchbox in my hand.
Enthusiastic conversation only showed
Our fear of offered honesty – too caustic
To repel vague smiles and gazes of conceit.
Formica feeling casually pushed
Intimacy to one side, where it bled – alone.
Now closeness is a weakness and fear of
Confrontation pushes touch into opinion,
While beer which lasted longer, only ever tasted flatter.
I sat and thought about why I sat,
In the cold of these four walls.
I sat and looked at the floor,
For I did not understand my unhappiness.
Into my view, across the cold concrete,
Crawled a beetle – black as my thoughts.
How trustingly he moved, not knowing where -
I thought he was rather like me.
He looked for his happiness under my shoe,
And mine was found in the sharing.
That night I shared my happiness
With the beetle under my shoe.