Fourteen³ - November 2015

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Sonnet I - On Jaffa Cakes
2nd November 2015

Speak not to me of statutes or of laws,
Identity is not by taxes set.
And, as I know the truth and that my cause
Is righteous, I would ask you not to let

Me hear a single word of what goes stale
Or soft without a barrel or a tin.
And mentions of the name or facts of scale
It must be said are tantamount to sin.

For if with coffee or with morning tea
It would not be extravagant to take
And eat perhaps a couple, maybe three,
Then what you have can scarcely be a cake!

So when God sorts the damnéd from the blessed
I know they’ll stand a biscuit with the rest.


Sonnet II - On Fireworks
9th November 2015

He takes the coloured wrapper off the box,
And wonders how to set it right-side-up.
He sits it down upon the cinder blocks
And thoughtfully sips chocolate from his cup.

“One hundred pounds,” the man who’d sold it said,
“This really is a most impressive show.
Just set it up and simply light this thread -
It’s like the ones the pros use, don’t you know?”

He takes a match and puts it to the fuse,
Then joins his wife and kids to stand and wait
With bated breath and shuffling of shoes.
But soon discovers all it can create

Is puffs of smoke, the smell of old cigars,
And disappointing farts of yellow stars.


Sonnet III - On Shakespeare’s Sonnets
15th November 2015

To read his verse, it’s clear enough that Bill,
Had quite the sense of self-important pride.
Without the knowledge we would read him still
It’s plain to see his sonnets all have lied.

For in them is a promise often made:
His lover would, through them, immortal be,
And looks, which would by nature surely fade,
Would live forever in his poetry.

But Shakespeare can’t have known he was ‘The Bard’,
And that his fame would through the ages run,
And so, although romantic, this canard
In several sonnets is most falsely spun.

But time has proved him right, his stature grew
So is conceit conceited when it’s true?


Sonnet IV - On Learning How To Drive
15th November 2015

Of all infernal things mankind has wrought,
(Except, perhaps, for instruments of war)
One stands apart: a monster which has brought
Such suffering - it murders by the score,

And tears the atmosphere apart with clouds
Of black and toxic fumes. And yet, we still
Like cattle to the slaughter move in crowds
And into earth and sky pollution spill.

This metal cage; this cancer that we choose;
These evil things we cannot but create;
This death; this plague; this Earth’s unhealing bruise:
I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate.

We saw no danger, drove too fast and far,
And now our coffin is the motor car.


Sonnet V - On A Motorcycle Accident
19th November 2015

I saw you waiting and I stopped for you.
I sped towards your deadly, cold embrace
Along the rain-slick road and then I threw
Myself upon the ground. I felt the space

Between us: space I somehow did not close.
I caught my breath, and thought a thankful prayer:
There was no broken heart, no wine, no rose -
No, nothing save that moment that we share.

And when the moment passed, time passed again,
And other people faded into view.
I stood politely to one side, and then
I stopped once more and looked around for you

And then the thing that haunts my memory:
I stopped for you; you did not stop for me.


Sonnet VI - On Job’s Wife
28th November 2015

My God, my God, you have forsaken me:
The devil takes my health, my strength, my all,
To test my husband’s faithfulness to thee,
You let me feel the fury of the squall,

But built round him a castle and a keep,
To see if my distress would make him stray.
To prove that he had worth, you held me cheap;
To prove that he’d hold tight, cast me away.

I cannot in the tongues of star-signs speak,
I cannot tell the secrets of the soul,
I know that I am simple, human, weak,
But all things lie inside of your control.

Could you not save me with your mighty hand?
My God, my God, I do not understand.


Sonnet VII - On Jonah
28th November 2015

My God, my God, I do not understand,
You said that you would let your anger rage,
I told them you would burn their homes, their land,
That death would be their sinful nature’s wage.

But like the snow when winter turns to spring,
Your righteous anger melted all away:
These people who’d done every wicked thing,
And all they had to do was turn and pray.

I turned to you and prayed with every breath,
But when you called, I could not bear the weight:
The work you gave me seemed to mean my death.
In fish and tree you left me to my fate.

Have I not shown more faithfulness to thee?
My God, my God, you have forsaken me.


Sonnet VIII - On Customer Satisfaction Surveys
28th November 2015

You asked me how my recent visit was:
An automatic mail on short delay.
The message seemed a little strange, because
I had not come to see you on that day.

I should have come, but circumstances meant
I had to phone and say I’d not be there.
You must have missed the message when you sent
This corporate expression of your care.

You signed the e-mail from your CEO,
And said you valued me, my time, my views.
You could have shown this, rather better though
If you’d remembered my unhappy news.

If you don’t want your survey sent to ‘Spam’,
It sort of helps to give just half a damn.


Sonnet IX - On Scones
29th November 2015

A strange old cake, it is, the humble scone:
For its pronunciation is unknown,
I would not like to make a bet upon,
If you should say that it is ‘scone’ or ‘scone’.

But that’s not all: it really isn’t done,
To say you think that you should say it ‘scone’,
And what is more, were you to say it ‘scone’,
Well, such a thing would really make me frown.

The Scots, of course, would think you quite the loon,
(And I should say I really must agree)
If you misspoke the name ‘The Stone Of Scone’
What troubled letters, S-C-O-N-E.

It should be known before this poem’s gone
The true pronunciation’s surely ‘Scone’.

- or -

Before this poem’s gone it should be known
The true pronunciation’s surely ‘Scone’.

(Delete as appropriate.)


Sonnet X - On Early Morning Frost
29th November 2015

I woke and found that it was dark outside.
The sound of the alarm punched through my brain.
I pressed the snooze, and turned and vainly tried
To summon up the dream I’d had again.

But all too soon, I had to rise and go
Performing my ablutions through the fog
Of bleary eyes and hazy head and so
Prepared myself for one more day of slog.

And all the while, the sun began to rise,
To coldly shine on early morning frost,
Which twinkled underneath the clear blue skies,
And soon would melt away and so be lost.

Such simple beauty, nature’s tender boast:
I did not notice as I munched my toast.


Sonnet XI - On Contemporary Masculinity
30th November 2015

His wife is out, tonight he has a plan:
To do the things which she’d decline to choose.
To eat the filthy foods she would not eat,
And watch the Netflix shows which she’d refuse.

He’ll eat a take-out of a size to fright,
And drink whole pints of beer down to the foam.
(But best, as fast food’s dear and money tight,
To stick to things he which he can make at home.)

His Netflix queue provides a chance to binge:
In violence or profanity rejoice.
But as he scrolls his mind starts to unhinge,
He’s paralysed by agonies of choice.

He sprinkles ramen noodles o’er with soy,
And settles down to watch About A Boy.


Sonnet XII - On Deadlines
30th November 2015

With all the certainty of death or tax,
A demon wraith is standing in my way:
It robs me of my sanity, my pax,
And reeks of desolation and decay.

Like hunting hounds, it stalks me day and night,
Their baying jaws are slack with spittle fell.
It flanks me, claustrophobic, left and right,
And strides ahead to lead me into hell.

This tightened noose, this white hot brand of shame
This crone about a dread, perverted mass:
In nine short words I give this beast a name:
I need to read the meter for my gas.

The tolling of the bells is what I fear,
They ring my doom, the hour doth draw near.


Sonnet XIII - On Pregnancy
30th November 2015

I know, as male, I really can’t opine
About the miracle of giving birth,
But at the risk of beatings, or a fine
I’d like to offer my two-pennies worth:

I’m certain that if men had to endure
A thing which made you sicken every morn,
Along with all the aches and pangs and more -
The hormones far too rampant to be borne;

And O! The blogs; the blogs and magazines!
To make one fear at every random pain;
And O! The gadgets, clothes and strange machines,
With moral obligations to obtain;

If all this lay within the realm of men,
They might just do it once. But not again.


Sonnet XIV - On Nighttime
30th November 2015

I like to walk the darkened streets alone,
But not in any angsty sort of way,
There is a kind of peacefulness not shown
To those who only walk them in the day.

I like the starry coolness of the night,
The lamps reflected in the dampened street;
I like the shadow cast by dim moonlight,
The sounds which come from nothing but my feet.

A joyful, silent loneliness descends
Illusions of a world not ruled by men
When war and greed and exploitation ends
And earth is ruled by none but Earth again.

And all too soon I come to my front door,
But I pass by to walk a little more.