For a moment everything was still

Religion has been privatised like gas
I know in church we still can hear the Mass
Yet  no Chaplain comes to dying men
I did my best alone without a plan.

Inside the  holy sanctuary  bare
I became the priest and comforter
I sang the sacred songs and  gathered crowds
Outside our little cubicle they bowed

I saw a canopy of golden cloth
Hanging down from heaven, as it does
It came nearer till it touched his soul
I was silent, love can’t take control

For a moment everything was still
A little bird sat on the windowsill
Then the cloth of gold was lifted high
I wept  the precious tears for those who die.

That one eternal moment gave us grace
I see your  deep blue eyes, your smiling face

My husband brushed my hair when it was long

I ate an apple with some  quiche lorraine
Tomorrow I shall eat the same again
Boredom or monotony  is bad
I’m sorry but I’m feeling very sad

I like chocolate,I like double cream
I’ll soon get diabetes, intervene
Get the doctor here and I will weep
My feelings like the underground run deep

I threw away the beef  and ate the cheese
Don’t blame me,I  never aim to please
Of course I am a liar but just when?
That’s the koan, soon we will be Zen

We need skin  or we would fall apart
I don’t want to see Dom Cummings’ heart

I   never liked  his manners and his dress
Thank you,Father,now I can confess

Boundaries are also contact zones
Think like this and you will write a poem
Love like mine is precious do not spill
The  precious blood, the Body on the Hill

Stroking other people is so nice
I pretend that I have seen a thousand lice
Then I hope that they will all stroke me
If only it were summer  they might see 

My husband brushed my hair when it was long
Now he’s dead I cut it off with prongs
I want him to come back  but noone can
Like Catholic sex  it’s sinful  so it’s banned

He used to make the dinner every day
Now he’s left me I shall have to pray
Does God expect me to survive on grass
As a meal  after we go to Mass?

I gave him flasks of tea to  drink in bed
I read the Emile stories,Satan fled
When he smiled and nodded then I wept
Why did noone help me pass the test?

I washed his clothes as often as I could
8 pyjamas, hankies ,was it good?
In the end he wore a dressing gown
It has coloured spots on and it’s brown

 

Carnation, orchid, daffodil and rose

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How softly sweetly,gently flowers pose
Carnation,orchid ,daffodil and rose.
Their complex petals form a  living shield
Yet bees with much striped force shall make them yield

Appearances,both natural and contrived,
Mixed with the wiles of human nature thrive.

As, knowing not, we pluck the apple rare
And bite its flesh,with teeth we have to bare

.We too deceive the innocent who pass
Not seeing watchers hid behind the glass.
The windows break,the deep earth quakes;
Seized is the maiden ,  he her virtue takes.

Beneath the surface, force and fierceness thrive.
What fearsome, burning God enjoys our lives?

Copyright © Katherine

The anniversary

On this June day, he went away,
That was some years ago
Each dawn was like torture,
The  anguish. the slaughter
No connection  with anyone  near
He gave a  last smile,I  did not cry,
My heart took the weight of the blow

The time goes so slowly,
We can’t control it
Stunned by the sorrow,the flow
How will you manage, he whispered,
We’re married.

Will you be able to steer?
I could not think past it,
His death  would be drastic
My aim was to help him let go

Yet time also races,
We must not waste it

We’re here for a short time, who knows?
One day runs to the next day
My heart aches so  violently
 I  hold it here gently
Why oh love why aren’t you here?

I called after three weeks
I can’t go on like this
Won’t you come back,why’d ye go?
I had no answer, the demons entranced me
They tightened me up with their gears
Like the rack and the  flaying
Skin torn and  bleeding
Yet we’re not meant to let feeling show

 

Someone other takes charge of our boat

The kindness of  our neighbours helps us cope
With life, with death,with many shades between
When we despair and  can’t imagine hope

When the sailor takes us in his boat
When he rows us on a  night-blank sea
The kindness of  our neighbours helps us cope

The world  seems  made to hurt, and then frustrate
The mind confuses   dreams , reality
When we despair and  dare not even hope

 Love is built  as we restrain our hate
Sailing well   a new country we see
The kindness of  our friends helps us  to  cope

Persistence in the virtues   gives us scope
Start again, the angel said to me
When I despaired and  lost my  threads of hope

In our mind love’s buried and unseen
Yet we can raise the dead with energy
The kindness of  our  frriends helps us cope
When we are lost and  mapless is our hope.

Virtue rendered void

Envy poison, friend of vicious hate
We know Cain for he still lives within
Society is built on hellish states

If not so, how can we lay love waste
When time is short, why cut it down with sin?
Envy poison, friend of vicious hate

Do not  hid it, saying  this is “fate”
Though brilliant Sylvia,Ted  asked spirits in
Marriage too is built on hellish states

Only with her death, did he relate
One had to go to let the other win
Envy poison, friend of vicious hate

We suffer when we  think  that we need fame
All paper one day ends up in a bin
Society is built on loveless states

Comparison and judgment are  no game
Virtue rendered void, our hearts are lame
Envy poison, friend of vicious hate
Can society is built on other states?

 

The Catherine wheel, the longing, the desire

Oh, my brother, I have said goodbye
Once my little playmate, you must die
Your voice is very weak as there you rest
I wish that life were not a  cruel test

I told you  of the see saw and the swings
I will not argue, this is what life brings
Remembered  fireworks and the  blazing fire
The Catherine wheel, the longing, the desire

How can a boy so strong soon turn to dust?
Where has gone the liveliness, the lust?
Weak but uncomplaining you lie there
On my face I feel a film of tears

You’ll never die, you’ll live on in my mind
I forgive your acts,  for you were  blind

The wrens

My front hedge is so thick, wrens made a nest
I saw a small bird flying low and swift
With my garden I feel human, blessed

The bonsai beech has grown till almost dense
It has no trunk, the leaves are tiny  gifts
My front hedge is so full, wrens made a nest

My clematis has flowered beyond  all sense
When I looked  I felt my soft heart lift
In my garden, know that I am blessed

In a deep green  wood the eye can rest
Open eyed, a look  must not be fast
My front hedge welcomes wrens ,oh,love,a nest!

Deep happiness connects us  to what’s best
The dark blue sky, the sunset flaming,  brief.
With my garden I feel love, I ‘m blessed

 Be alive, don’t dwell on thoughts too sweet
The natural world   brings virtue  and deceit
My front hedge is so thick, wrens made a nest
These tiny  creatures filled with  love and zest

 

 

 

 

Cobblestones and weeds

 

 

DandelionClocks
Image by Mike Flemming.Copyright,

Cracks in pavements,cobbles,gutters,weeds
In the little street  we  children played
While nature fought back, spreading out  wild seeds

Old women reached for grace with rosary beads
When I call.I don’t know what to say
Cracks in pavements,cobbles,gutters,weeds

Neighbours borrowed eggs and helped in need
What was my entire world has shrunk, decayed
Still nature fights back,  flinging out wild seeds

The cobbles have been tarmacked till aggrieved
Here we once enjoyed school holidays
Cracks  for insects,cobbles,gutters,weeds

Girls played  with doll’s prams,boys disagreed
All the world was here, where’s left today?
While nature  blackened, blasting out her seeds

Where are mother,father,oh dismay
I am old and they lie in the clay
Cracks in pavements,cobbles,gutters,weeds
Nature acts still, spreads out flying seeds

 

 

Closing Time

A husband died at half past two
What has that to do with you?
The  past is like a candle  blown
The heart a grave beneath a stone
Grief is very close to fear
Shaking legs  and frozen tears
It’s closing time

The  poppy fields , the linseed blue
The cottage where I loved with you
Noone else will know  it all
The Suffolk Rose, the paint all worn
The rented car, the yellow corn
The cottage windows seemed to yawn

Closing time

But I dream and I see you
Smiling widely as  you do
Ask me where the car keys are
Ask me if I’ll take you where?
Whitby,Staithes. all understood
All gone now,god sweated blood
Closing time

 

Feel the  loving sun  and kiss the bees

I wish that I could be inside a tree
To put my entire body in its form
To feel the sun and wind and hear the bees

I’d like my hands to dance as   flexibly
As birds move  through  the air, as rises dawn
I wish that I could feel myself a tree

I’d love my  garden sweetly, ardently.
I’d love each single  daisy on the lawn
I’d feel the sun and wind and hear the bees

But would a holly want to  be just me?
Oh, poor tree that walks about  forlorn
I wish that I could turn into a tree.

Perhaps a cat that sat upon my knee
Would mioaw inside my  home by   dust deformed
She would love the sun and wind and hear the bees

When I change,I’ll keep you all informed
You may hear me singing in  the Storms
I wish that I could dwell within a tree
Feel the  loving sun  and kiss the bees

 

For love  seeks not to prey

Soft corns,blisters,hard corns and toe nails
Ankle socks and stockings, tights and  boots
Cover up the wounds with dressings white
Put  your feet up, rest  by  doing nought

Skin so thin it frightens me  to think
All I am  finds boundary just here
Yet our heart and soul can  contain  more
Spreading like a shawl on loved ones dear

We cast our love like fishers cast their  rods
Not too sure  of what will take the bait
A   simile  so poor I blush bright pink
For love  seeks not to prey but rather waits

Across the entire world the hate runs wild
 Bleach your brain , don’t poison  with  your smile

They miaow in Hebrew,Mary said loftily

  • Stan awoke feeling very thirsty.
    My, this bed is much  too hard,he thought.
    He put out his hand and felt some wood not far away.It was his desk.Emile was lying on Stan’s stomach purring.
    You fell out of bed,the little cat miaowed.Luckily I clung on with my claws and I am ok sleeping down here….I can see  mice better.
    Well,it’s not ok with me,Stan informed him gently.
    How can I get up from here?
    He picked up the Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath and banged on his desk softly.
    Mary was awake and heard a strange sound.She  found Stan lying on the floor with his head by his desk.
    Emile wanted to sleep by the wall,you see.,he told her.
    Then he rolled over and I fell out.

     

    http://youtu.be/pT9CdnfFET8

    That is logically and scientifically mad,Mary told him.
    Surely Emile is not so big that his weight was enough to knock you out of the bed?
    It is against the law of gravityAnyway,why don’t you get up?
    I like it  down here,the old man lied to her optimistically.
    Rubbish,Mary said,then she picked up the phone and rang 999.
    Hello,she said.My cat is very upset as he feels guilty for pushing my  aged husband out of bed.
    How terrible for you,the man answered.I’ll send an ambulance right away.
    Mary opened the front door and left it unlatched whilst she lit the electric lights with a match.
    How do you feel now  Stan,she enquired tying her  red polyester fleece dressing gown a bit tighter before the paramedics arrival
    I am thirsty,give me some brandy,he ordered her politely as he was  full of kindness
    They said not to let you or Emile drink or eat
    Blooming ridiculous,he told her in a manly fashion.
    Soon the ambulance arrived and the paramedics were running up the stairs to see the poor cat. Mary fainted so they laid her on the bed whilst they comforted Emile and cleaned his paws.Then they picked up Stan and laid him right next to Mary,his wife.
    Why don’t you have a bigger bed,one asked Stan.
    Bigger than what,he responded academically.
    Well,if you were any fatter you’d not be able  to lie next to your wife.
    True,he replied but my wife is too large.I keep hoping she will lose weight.
    I shall make you some tea the female paramedic told them forcefully
    Well,you don’t seem to be hurt,the other one told Stan, but the cat may need therapy or counselling because of the guilt he will feel.
    He’s not  a Catholic ,I hope?
    No, he’s Jewish,Stan shouted  implausibly.
    That’s alright then.How do cats get to be Jewish anyhow?
    It’s their souls,Mary said…they are all waiting up there for a suitable place to be reborn and some choose to be cats.
    But how can you tell? he asked wonderingly.They have no prayer shawls
    They miaow in Hebrew,Mary said loftily.And they like to sing the psalms before bed.
    But how do you  know it’s Hebrew,he replied.Do you speak it?
    No, it’s just he hates bacon and pepperoni and always wears a hat so it seems he must be one of Jesus’s friends,but not Judas of course.I suppose Jesus wore a hat but it’s never been found as yet.Not even being sold as a relic.

    .http://youtu.be/8SCorW9r_Is

    Well,that’s intriguing.Do you think Emile might be the Messiah?
    Oh,dear.We never thought of that.Will he have to go to Galilee and catch fish and walk on water?
    No, he can go to Rome and tell the Pope that the Church is not what God planned.
    I hope they don’t kill him,Mary cried sadly.
    God will not be very happy.
    I didn’t know God had moods,Stan said.
    He has post-creative depressive disorder….no wonder when we look round the world.
    Still they did try,I’ll say that for him or her.
    And so say all of us.
    For he’s a very good yeller,he’s a very good yeller
    A cat’s life is a fuss.Miaow.

An artist’s canvas stretched , a matricide

Saturday was shopping then a walk
Epping,Ongar,Finchingfield by car
Reading book reviews and chewing stalks
Buttercups and meadows,Henry Moore

Driving back from Chelmsford, cornfields flamed
Smoke and fire and earth, the sun dismayed
Farmers working hard,  a harvest, grain
The sky  through mist a cobalt  blue displayed

Standon with its fords and wandering cows
Little rivers,Essex, flowing down
The Stort joins with the Lea,a gurglimg sound
Water for the Thames  and mossy ground

The earth feels like my body sacrificed
An artist’s canvas stretched , a matricide

 

The strange world of Stan

K 
Art by Katherine

While Mary boiled the kettle in the new greenish blue painted kitchen,Stan smacked his thick red lips.
“I thought we said, we’d have no more corporal punishment,” she murmured loudly.”
Why did you smack your lips just now?”
“Well,I can hardly smack yours” he said politely
“But we said no more smacking at all yesterday”
“I just like the noise” he confessed, turning as red as a stalk of ripe rhubarb.
“Sado-masochism may be fun, but after reading,Fifty Glades of Fray,I thought we said we’d abandon it”
“Well,why don’t we abandon ourselves to our bodies or divine providence?” he answered curiously.
“I am unsure if one can do that on purpose or if it just happens whilst doing something else.”
“Elser than what?”
“I dunno” the Oxgrudge educated woman replied sheepishly .
“The Government didn’t give you a three year research grant so you’d say,I dunno” Stan told his slender and silver haired wife and lover.
“Well,that’s their problem.Three years studying Searat’s equation did nothing for my spoken English” the brilliantly brained brown haired and eyed bonny bosomed  beauty told him shrewdly.
“Well,are there rats in the sea?
“I dunno”
“So who wrote the equation?” Stan asked her.Immediately in a peevish tone
the door bell rang.
“Hello,Mary,It’s me” cried Annie their naughty neighbor and man magnet
“No,it’s not”
“What do you mean?”
“You never invented Searat’s equation”
“Pardon me for living,”Annie answered rudely.
”I prefer peeling potatoes to this noisy argument.”
“I never knew potatoes pealed”
“Yes,it’s like little bells ringing” Mary informed her kindly
Oh,for God’s sake,”Stan shouted quietly,”that’s Emile’s bell ringing so the birds can escape from him”
The women went red all over with shame.Annie ran into the kitchen and poured a bucket of cold water over her head.
It’s this hot weather;it’s too much.I need a man now!I am mad with desire.
No,it’s just that mid life madness coming too late,she told herself gently
It’s too hot to make love anyway.
Why you must be getting old,she remarked to herself confidently
Heat never turned you off before.Why you once said you’d lie down in the road and sleep with the next man who passed by.
Unfortunately he passed by on the other side,just like in the Bible.
But in my case no Samaritan came to my aid.
“Am I having a mental breakdown/” she shouted pensively
“No,it’s me” Stan told her,I am trying to stop Mary smacking her lips but it is hard work. and it has create a bad atmosphere.”
“Is it wrong to smack your own lips?Can you morally smack someone else’s?” Annie said wonderingly
“Why do you ask me that?”
“Well,it seems lots of things are wrong if one does them alone but are moral if you do it with someone else or to someone one else”
“I just have no idea what you are talking about,”Mary called valiantly.
“Make me some tea.My lips are parched!”she continued
“No wonder,”said Stan vivaciously
Well,thought Emile,I am glad cats have no lips.That’s one thing less to worry about.
He sat up and drank some tea from his china saucer
Stan and the ladies sat quietly on the patio watching the birds flying about.
“Do birds ever get obese?”Mary asked.But answer came there none.
Night fell and they all went to bed together,Emile says there is safety in numbers and I find thirty is a safe number to share my bed.I write 30 on a postcard and pop it under my pillow.With my dentures and my hanky and four mobile phones
I seem to manage the night.

And so shout all of us

I apologise for loving you too much 

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I miss the cat and the newspaper

I apologise for loving you too much 
We never learned to balance the see-saw
In modern times the lovers should go Dutch

Two lonely   lovers with  a single crutch
Each one having many curious flaws
I apologise for loving you too much

What ever did I do to merit touch?
Then I was too careless with the salt
In modern times the lovers should go Dutch

We should measure what we speak at lunch
Then we weigh the sentences that spilt
I apologise for loving you too much

Maths and stats are useful in the lurch
Equality of signs and numbers,bills
In modern times the lovers should go Dutch

,

Let the mouth be silent, keep quite still
Love is rarely used when writing Wills
I apologise for loving you so much 
In modern times  we lovers cannot touch

 

 

Stan wears a nightdress in the heat

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Alfred my old cat

The weather in Knittingham was rather hot.Mary was away giving a lecture on Dirac’s thoughts  in Oxford and Stan felt lonely.He rang Annie but she was out.
So he said to Emile
I am going to bed early.Have you had enough to eat?
Definitely,cried Emile,who had just licked all the cream off two meringues in the larder.So Stan went upstairs.He took off all his clothes and admired his thin body in the mirror.
Not bad for 97,he muttered.
Now what shall I put on?
He found his pyjamas too hot so on an impulse he opened Mary’s wardrobe and found a cotton nightdress.It was a bit big for him but definitely cooler than  his pyjamas.He cleaned his teeth and washed himself before falling into bed with,The Other Ariel a book about Sylvia Plath’s poetry and how Ted Hughes had altered the order of her poems and even removed some from the book .Ariel,which made her name.The doorbell rang.Each time it played a different tune out of the 90 in its repertoire.
He  ran downstairs and opened the door.There stood two policemen.
They stared a the handsome old man with elegant hands
Hello.Sir.I hope we have not interrupted you?
No,I am just reading in bed. on my own
Do you always wear a nightgown?
This is the first time,he told them humorously.
I felt very hot so I decided to wear my wife’s gown.
And just  where is your wife?
What’s it got to do with you,he enquired  unceremoniously.
Just tell us,the older policeman said brusquely
She’s at a conference in Oxford giving a talk.About Dirac or Riemann or another nitwit.
Can we come in? the policeman said.
May we come in,Stan corrected him;not a good idea on the whole,especially in the USA where the police have guns.Luckily all  our police have  here are rubber gloves in case people ask them to wash up after having a  cup of tea.
What is wrong? said Stan.
We have found a naked woman walking  in the High Street.She says a man stole her clothes.For various reasons we think it might be you.
But  if she was in the High Street she’d  be in proper clothes not a nightdress,surely ,Stan  murmured.
But you like women’s clothes….. we can see.
No,I don’t,  the old man shouted.
I told you I was too hot.And in my own home I can wear anything I like.
Sometimes I wear a  prayer shawl
Are you Jewish? they asked.
Only a little, but I inherited it from a great grandfather who married out.
Out of what? the police asked
He married out of his faith.He was longing  for a bacon sandwich.
Surely marrying  just to eat a bacon sandwich is a bit over the top.
Well,that was his story.Maybe he was tired of obeying the Ten Commandments so he broke most of them.
Which ones?
He committed adultery once when his wife had a nervous breakdown ; he lost his head and went to bed with his neighbour’s wife.
And  where was his neighbour?
At the psychiatric unit visiting my great grandmother.Stan admitted uneasily.
Well,at such times we all do odd things,the  older policeman  advised him.
Thank you for your frankness,Sir.I can see you are not a criminal.
Thank the Lord,said Stan as he went into the kitchen and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea to save ringing 999
I am lucky not to be in a cell and Mary would have had to come home.She would have been cross, he told Emile.Anyway monks wear habits.
But who had stolen the clothes off the woman in town? A mystery  to be studied with Annie when she got home.
At last Stan relaxed and went back to bed with  his books
This is the last time I  ever wear a nightdress he whispered to Emile who was  by his side.
And so hope all of us.

Touching them and keeping them at peace

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The photo is by Mike Flemming 2020
Thank you,Mike

 

We can cast our body like a cloak
Around the loved one when they cannot speak
Hold them like an infant  when at  rest
Sleeping softly on a mother’s breast

Touching them and keeping them at peace
Until they  can accept death and its release
They seem to concentrate  on unknown tasks
Till their minds are happy and they pass

They come first but afterwards   we  fall
Into  an abyss where  we just crawl
Seeing shapes and visions, feeling sore
Aching for the one we  see no more

A paradox , we  give  and nothing  gain
The suffering of the heart, the searing pains

The pain of our own Cross

I see a friend who follows my old path
The downward slope, the tunnel through the dark
Helping partners ease their way through death

The hesitance, the disbelief, the wrath
The sharpness  like a knife that cuts  our heart
I see a friend who follows my old path

So many lovely friends, ny husband said
Just before he lost  the vital spark
Helping  him  to   float  from out his bed

I did not realise that he was dead
Until his pallor faded, blood departs
I see a friend who follows  on this path

We miss them where they used to lie in bed
We miss them  taking photos of the park
We help  them ease their way to  their good death

We need love  to help us with this work
Who will  help the carer when they hurt?
I see a friend who follows my old path
We each bear the pain of our own Cross

 

The gift of sight, fine flowers, blue butterflies

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In my hedge of beech mixed into yew
The wrens have nested,now they learn to fly
I felt my heart grow lighter at this view

When the heart is lifted,that’s a clue
That symbols of new life are coming by
From my hedge of beech mixed into yew

Keeping vision clear,look out and bow
What lives now  must shrink and one day die
I felt my heart ache taking  such a view

With many gifts  we humans are endowed
The gift of sight, fine flowers,  blue butterflies
By my hedge of beech mixed into yew

The gift of tongues, creation of the new
From  sweet Joan Baez to little babies’ cries
I felt my heart swell in my breast anew

Conception, growth,maturity,goodbye
Like the flying star we  shall go far
By my hedge of beech mixed into yew
I felt my heart  beat stronger than I knew

 

 

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