Monday, 29 September 2014

At the Station

              A restored locomotive of that era

When I was boy not yet in my teens our family moved to a small market town in Hampshire, England. The war was over but not the privation of those dreadful years. The town we moved to could with all honesty be said to be at the end of the line for it was the terminus for the electric trains that ran regularly from London, The trains on reaching the settlement not quite 50 miles away looked around and horrified rushed quickly back to the metropolis again.

I am lying of course which is what storytellers do best!

Being a market town it held a market every week on a Tuesday to market things that were not available in the shops, such as live sheep and cattle and pigs from the farms nearby together with feathered friends too. In school holidays it was a major attraction for boys my age to walk around the pens and view the weighing of the stock on the weighbridge and run and laugh with glee when a when pig or cow or best of all a bull somehow escaped from his handler and chose to go home by himself to avoid being taken to the nearest slaughterhouse. Usually they avoided the street and chose the narrow lanes and walkways to terrify the town’s inhabitants. Us boys thought that was even better than going to the movies.

In those days there was not much of anything in the shops, rationing continued in Britain for a few years. Everything too was still in black and white. There was a cinema in the town, given a name exactly opposite to its character it was of course the Palace!  With no television our great pleasure was to pay a visit twice a week on grey Wednesday and Friday evenings to watch a mostly grey film in that grey town in a very grey country in our grey times.

However all was not bad for boys as the station where the electric trains terminated was also the terminus for two little branch line railways that headed off into the country to find their way to meet other mainlines at Winchester and Havant. These single track systems were of great interest to young boys because the trains were pulled by steam locomotives.

After school each day and at weekends much time was spent at the station or by the side of the track, or on the track, or under a bridge or placing pennies on the track for the train’s wheels to make them bigger while we hid in the bushes so the engine driver couldn't see us. Not that that mattered as he couldn't stop his engine just to chase after us and in those days hardly anybody had phones or portable radios, let alone mobile (cell) phones which wouldn't make their appearance for at least another 30 years.

Not all stations had turntables for engines to turn around before making a return journey so a special provision was made for the engine at it’s country terminus to uncouple from its carriages and on an adjacent siding would go to the other end of the waiting carriages and re-couple with them there to take the train back to its original starting point. However, now the engine was facing the wrong way for the return trip to pull the train home. Some improvement was made to this method by having the rear carriage fitted with a communication device with the engine and the guard would every few seconds indicate to the driver at the back of the train that the track was clear in front as it was pushed backwards. The engine of course was travelling in reverse and without gears could travel forward or back at the same speed.

Sadly those branch lines are now closed to the public and I wonder what adventures boys of today have without them. Oh yes, I remember they have an iPad for a friend.  

Saturday, 27 September 2014

My City

The filth and squalor of the city is my home
Its raucous shouts and sounds
Where hope dies fast
And all struggle to last
Perhaps to see another morn

The taxi driver’s sneer, the smell of beer
The vomit in the gutter
The call girl’s smirk
As bag snatchers lurk
For all this I think I was born

For all the music, the shouts and screams
The hopeless vagrants stagger
The flashing signs are a drug
A street light attracts every bug
A lone stranger looks forlorn

Early morning now the screams have gone
Street sweepers takes their place
I wend my way back to my pad
This hectic life is not so bad
Except the glare of honest dawn

Image from

On wooing a girl

How to express love
When the flames of desire burn
Just what are the rules?

A hard lot to bear
For youth has no discernment
A new game to learn

Fear of failure is
The enemy of success
Joy turns to ashes

Sometimes it’s simple
A posy of bright flowers
and selfless warm words

Identify the goal
Polarize her in your mind
In your spring of life

Image from

The girl with tangerine lips

I stood in the street
Watching the city pass by
Kaleidoscope dreams

The bright lights flashing
The sad song of traffic noise
The scent of decay

I was quite alone
Stranger among the thousands
Until I saw her

She cocked her cute head
The girl with the tangerine lips
Her timeless question
Why did she choose me?
How could I tell her story?
Whose daughter was she?

Image from

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Over the Hill

Hands worn
Legs bowed
Eyes dim
My grandmother sat quite still

I smiled
And she
Did say
“I’m not quite over the hill”

We laughed
And kissed
I knew
She was in me, good and ill

So firm
And true
Each goodbye a bitter pill

Would I
Be strong
Like her
When deaths call came shrill

Image from

The visitor

“I don’t want him in here” she said as she saw him edge along the street heading for our home.

She was talking about old Jim. I say old Jim but he was my age; we went to school together so many years ago. Now he had found out where we lived.

“He’s always on the scrounge,” she continued, “He’s a parasite; I don’t know why you don’t send him packing.”

I could see she was getting explosive about him and I could see her point of view. Jim was a mate from my school years who had turned into a shifty, lying cheating ne'er do well and was not the friend you would want constantly pestering you for a handout.

“Give him a few dollars and tell him I don’t want him back here any more. I don’t want the kids to see him.” Even angry she was beautiful…but dangerous.

So I went out the front door and walked up to Jim as he approached the front gate intending to steer him down the nearby park so she wouldn't let fly at him if they came face to face.
He looked searchingly at the house to see if anyone was inside but luckily Sue was not at the window. The last time he came she had actually screamed at him.

I think he understood as I steered him across the road and sat him on a seat by the swings and the slide.
“She is still cross with me is she?” I nodded and chatted with him for a bit and slipped him a couple of twenty dollar notes.

“Is that adequate?” I asked while he stuffed them in pocket and nodded glumly. He then looked up and asked “Got any smokes?”

I shook my head, “Neither of us smokes any more Jim…because of the kids.” He nodded glumly, “Yeah, I knew that but I still ask don’t I?”

We chatted for a bit then he sadly went on his way. I slowly walked back to the house, let myself in and went back to my study.

I heard the door open and Sue sidled in and said “Well?” She was beautiful even when cross and she continued “How much did you give him this time?”

“Forty bucks.”

“Is that all?” She spoke with a small quiet voice.

“Why don’t you speak to him Sue, he is your brother for heaven’s sake.”

It was then she cried, quietly, sadly. She knew, as I did, that we had only met each other because Jim was my friend at school.

“You’re too soft on him” she whispered, "but I am glad you are", and she placed a loving hand on my cheek.

Monday, 22 September 2014

What is your name?

She looked up at him
He was smiling at her now
She lowered her eyes

He often came there
Into the small coffee shop
And always alone

He read the paper
Slowly worked on the crossword
Then waved as he left

Once when he came in
He asked “and what is your name?”
Shyly she said “Sue”

Her heart beat so fast
Boldly she replied “and yours?”
“My name is David”

“David” she repeated
Etching the name in her heart
Yes, she could love him

This week as an experiment I thought I would just imply both prompt words, nervous and note in the writing

Image found at

Saturday, 20 September 2014

South Australia

                                                        Official State emblem

A potted and unreliable history of South Australia for which the author does not apologise

Let me tell of those days of old                             
Way back in eighteen thirty six                            
When others minds were fixed on gold  
Free settlers came here hand in hand            
Made their homes in a southern land     

They crossed three oceans mighty deep
To live in a land of plenty                          
Yet many had much cause to weep        
But never reached the promised shore              
Their graves six fathoms deep or more                  

Men searched for land to plough and till                   
Local natives were not so pleased                      
Despite expressions of goodwill                          
Their hunting grounds and water holes             
No longer theirs to have and hold                                   

Lucky miners soon copper found                        
To help the struggling colony                               
To the land more migrants bound                        
German immigrants came in lines                         
Set about the task by making wines                   

Famous men are not told of here                         
For a lands heart is its people                              
Sheep and crops just everywhere                                   
Equal, freedom for every belief
Keep this in mind so you don't beef 

Image found at 

Just inside the gate

Just inside the gate
To that sad cemetery
A grave marks the place

Where their love was dashed
And hope forever ruined
For their son lies there

Many plans were made
And so many dreams were dreamed
For their precious child

But as he sleeps on
There’s company around him
Trees whisper, birds sing

Parents cry sad tears
When they visit him there
Flowers nod their heads

Springtime and in fall
He is never alone now 
Forever sleeping

Image found at

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Fairies in my mind

In my garden now
Where hard toil reaps my reward
There’s competition

In the breezy springtime
Be so careful how you go
Strangers are afoot

You will discover
So many hairy monsters
Have their work to do

Moths and Butterflies
Have laid their eggs in love
Eat my vegetables

Should I begrudge them?
They’re so beautiful when grown
Fairies in my mind

Image from

Hildegard Von Bingham

In those dark ages
In winter’s cruel discontent
Words of beauty spoke

“The highest blessing”
She said “in all creation”
all those years ago

“Lies in the form
of a woman” Yet it took
all one thousand years

To recognise her
Many women still unseen
Could have told you that

Monday, 15 September 2014

The morning after

                                Charlie Chaplin in an early role

It was the night before the morning after
Full of booze and uproarious laughter
My mind was clearly not in gear
I didn't know if I was there or here
She took me places where I shouldn’t go
But of that you really must not know

But I'll say I rue last evening
And spending it on foolish drinking
When I awoke I was not at home
And clearly I was also not alone
Deep in the gutter I lay with friends
One stray dog and some chirpy hens

Image found at

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Close to the town centre

Close to the town centre
Where many people go
Is a place I used to know

It is a botanic park
Green with calm serenity
Just the place for picnic tea

There's a gaunt drab building near by
Peering through the swaying trees
It’s a hospital one sees

There anxiety rules the roost
And a visit one should not pay
That would surely spoil your day

Sure there’s fruit, jello and kindly words
But also blood and ouch and tests
And strict rules for family guests

Meals are bad and blood they love
Then they’ll waken you in fright
As they pester you at night

Should you care to walk that park
And calmly feed the little birds
Think of me lying in my turds

“I’m busy now patient X
Leave your bed you must not dare
For others please have some care”

It was not Sue

Sue and I use to meet                    
By the old withered tree                 
I held her hand                                
And kissed her cheek                    
First love                                           
For her                                              
And me                                             

Sadly it did not last                         
Her curls no longer mine               
She came no more                         
Our trysting place                            
I cried                                                

Yes, there were other girls            
But curls they had but few            
I held them tight                              
And snuggled up                            
It was 
Not Sue                                 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Smart as a button

Humphrey Pratt was an awful geek
To whom I chose not to speak
His voice, his hair, his prissy ways
Left all us others in a daze

What’s worse he lived quite close to us
So often we'd both catch the bus
And what horror he would sit by me
I’d imagine him as a jumping flea

Until I found he had a sister Sue
Smart as a button and pretty too
Who smiled as though I was his friend
This nearly drove me round the bend

Oh, slash my wrists and hope to die
Her cute looks and sparkle in her eye
Put some sense in this my carcass
Kissing her proved I'd been a jackass

Image from

Her dark eyes sparkled

Her dark eyes sparkled
Revealing; understanding
But she was not mine

I love raven hair
And hers shone like ebony
I longed to touch it

Yes, she knew that too
Her tact and prudence a curse
She’s too wise by far

And in our farewell
She offered her cheek to me
Delightful embrace

If I could but sing
What ballad of love would prove
Her superb beauty?

But no voice let forth
Still, she’s ever in my mind
My perfect dreamscape

Monday, 8 September 2014

Fuzzy Logic

Men have always found
That fuzzy logic is best
In all walks of life

It’s not black or white
For there are degrees of truth
When coming home late

The last drink with mates
Can translate to a road block
Or that flat front tire

They have simple minds
Matched by their inventive wives
With their girls night in

Where their husband’s faults
Spoken of with much laughter
At needlework group

Lucky is the man
who appears to be perfect
To others chagrin

Image from

Sunday, 7 September 2014

I walked by the canal

                           Ash Lock, Basingstoke Canal, UK

The canals of my childhood
Were dismal places of neglect
Their towpaths meandering

Disused locks were forgotten
Wild horses grazed on the banks
Whose crumbling edges spilled over

Wild flowers and plants bloomed on
Thrusting their flowers at me
And picked for mother at home

I met Jenny at this spot
And love rose for the first time
Signalling adolescence

When I finally lost her 
T'was a bullet to my heart
The first of many to come

The sadness of my childhood
Is recalled seeing it now
With a ball drifting midstream

Image from

Friday, 5 September 2014

In my soul's pasture

When I first saw you
My sad heart thundered applause
Your eyes said it all

I watched your deft hands
As you patiently worked away
Then glanced up at me

You have springtime
For me winter winds blow cold
Sadness I must bear

My long lonely nights
Would surely be satisfied
By your gentle touch

But that’s not for me
I dream of what could have been
In my soul's pasture

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I looked out to sea

                           The beach of Westerland, Sylt in stormy weather by Christian Kroner

I looked out to sea
The quiet calm was now gone
She was in a stir

T’was no time for play
At first a growl of thunder
Autumn’s mood had changed

The gulls rode the wind
The bribery of their dance
Held no ounce of sway

Skeptical bathers
Quickly fled the windswept shore
To find some shelter

I watched from my hut
Laughing at the clobbering
Just loving the scene

Image found at