Fourteen³ - July 2016

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Sonnet CXIII - On Synanthropes
23rd July 2016

The pigeon: this diseased and filthy dove,
Is possibly impossible to love.

It fills our towns, our city squares and streets,
For they are filled with rubbish, which it eats,

And everywhere it finds to build its nest,
It’s treated as the most unwelcome guest.

The dandelion, too, and nettle both,
We hinder every place we find their growth,

And rats and mice and crows and foxes all,
Have thrived in our relentless urban sprawl.

We built our homes on theirs and found them fit
To live close by and reap the benefit.

As their reward we hate them and suppress
These victims of both our, and their, success.


Sonnet CXIV - On Swans
23rd July 2016

“I’m like a swan,” he said, “I seem to be
The very model of serenity.

But underneath, in contrast to what shows,
I madly kick my feet to keep the pose.”

“The man’s a fool,” I thought, “He really should
Have watched an actual swan, and understood

That swans EVOLVED TO FLOAT ON WATER, so
They are serene above and yet below.”

So I shall claim no kinship with the swan.
I’m just an unfit swimmer who has gone

Too far beyond the waters of his skill.
I kick in desperation; cannot still

The anger, fear and doubt which pull me down:
I slip beneath the surface and I drown.


Sonnet CXV - On Tiredness
26th July 2016

I’m always tired, now, but was before
I had a son: would often not restore

My restful equilibrium with sleep.
Too often I would let the evening creep

To fill the deepest hours of the night,
Then wake up bright and early (but not bright).

The only difference now is of degree,
It still exacts the selfsame toll on me:

The constant, nagging calling of my bed;
The fear that even sleep won’t clear my head.

I stand in helplessness as baby cries,
But cogs won’t turn behind my tired eyes.

And I can only wonder what my best
Could be if I just had my fill of rest.


Sonnet CXVI - On Hayfever
28th July 2016

I know that once the shining summer sun
Could herald pleasant days of joy and fun,

And did not mark the time of pain and care:
Of fears which float unseen upon the air.

I bar the windows, barricade the doors,
And pray that soon precipitation pours.

With one forgotten pill, I start to sneeze
As poison pollen floats upon the breeze.

My itching bloodshot eyes are molten lead
And make me want to scratch them from my head.

I know that though the pollen does no harm,
My system’s not immune to false alarm:

If not for that, this pain would not have been.
It makes me rather anti-histamine.


Sonnet CXVII - On The Mother Of My Son (Who Is Better At This Than Me)
29th April 2016

When both of us are tired, fraught and stressed,
When it’s too long both to and from our rest,

When baby’s cries could wake both quick and dead,
When he won’t sleep or eat but screams instead

When I‘ve exhausted all my will to cope,
And fall into a dark, ill-humoured mope,

You somehow hold the three of us as one
The firm foundation family’s built upon.

I don’t know where you find the strength and grace,
To keep the loving smile upon your face -

The smile which he reflects back up to you -
I see it’s something you were born to do:

You yearned for this for years, now all can see
You walk in mother’s love so naturally.


Sonnet CXVIII - On Minor Hardships
29th July 2016

I have a ulcer on my bottom lip.
It started out as just a little nip,

A misjudged bite, an overzealous chew,
But soon it took its vengeance and it grew

Until my mouth was twisted out of shape -
By weeping wound from which there’s no escape.

The smallest movement sends a shock of pain,
Which echoes like gunshot through my brain:

It makes me mindful - makes me stop to think
I might not need to breathe or eat or drink.

The sore breeds stress - more ulceration comes
To cluster round my lips, my cheeks, my gums.

I know there’s greater causes for despair,
It’s just a little cross I have to bear.


Sonnet CXIX - On Fatherhood: A Review
30th July 2016

I knew it would be hard, and so it is,
Now life is less of mine and more of his.

But after all the tiredness and tears,
The out-of-depthness, struggles, strains and fears,

When all these hardships have been said and done,
I find they all diminish down to none

When set against the glory of his smile,
Or times when I have stopped my work to while

Away the time to try to make him laugh,
Or watch him sleep, or take a photograph,

Or see the things which he had learned to do.
As my conclusion to this brief review

I’ll give nine dirty nappies out of ten:
Not always easy, but would do again.


Sonnet CXX - On A Voluntary Inspection
30th July 2016

You send your memos out, you set your plan,
And pull in all the favours that you can,

You flap and fret and run about the place,
And check best use is made of every space,

You look to see that each can play their role,
And that we’re shooting for a common goal,

And when you see that all your plans must change,
You say, “It’s been a nightmare to arrange.”

We do our best to help and sympathise
We know that it’s your job, the problem lies

In that this task is really yours alone,
And helping you with yours takes from our own.

We understand it’s hard but let’s be clear:
Inviting all this stress was your idea.


Sonnet CXXI - On A Fly
30th July 2016

I lay me down to rest, flick off the light,
And hear the buzzing sound of fly in flight.

The fluffy, floating clouds of sleep all flee,
And in a flash I know: it’s him or me.

I watch unflustered as he fleetly flits,
‘Til on the floor - on floral rug - he sits

And flintily I flop my slipper - SPLAT!
Unflinchingly, I squash the flellow flat.

I am the flightmare end of everyfling
The terriflying song the flinstrels sing

To make the flittle maggot flildren wail.
If there’s a flafterlife beyond the veil

Perchance we’ll meet as fliends and fleminisce.
But in this flife, he is my flemesis.


Sonnet CXXII - On Pride
30th July 2016

They handed him to me, my little boy,
A tiny wrinkled bundle made of joy,

Who ate and slept and weed and pooed and cried
But only this, and not much else beside.

But three months on, and he has come so far:
He turns his head to find out where we are;

And smiling reaches out to take his ball;
Enjoys bright patterns painted on a wall;

Has character to build a self upon;
I could go on and on and on and on,

For I cannot believe how proud I am.
So I’ll submit this rhyming epigram:

Though you might think that I’m a dreadful bore,
Both pride and love are what a father’s for.


Sonnet CXXIII - On A Strange Meeting: A Science Fiction Story
31st July 2016

Last week I had a coffee with my clone.
His features were the mirror of my own:

His eyes were mine, his hands and hair and grin,
(Although he was clean shaven round the chin).

His voice mine, too, though I could hear a trace
Of accent which I found it hard to place.

We spoke of love, of politics and art,
But every word set him and me apart -

I barely understood the things he said
So different was the life that he had led.

When we were done, he gladly let me pay.
He said “Let’s keep in touch,” then drove away.

I guess that neither one of us will call:
We’d nothing much in common after all.


Sonnet CXXIV - On Grass Seed
31st July 2016

I scatter seed upon the barren earth,
I cannot now divine which ones have worth,

I simply sow enough that some might grow,
And send some unseen root to depths below,

That some brave shoot might stretch toward the sun,
And at its head an ear of grain be spun,

So when it is by random winds withdrawn
It might take root in someone else’s lawn.

Each month I write myself in fourteen forms,
Distil my idle, sunny days, and storms,

And send them out for random winds to find,
In hope they’ll land in someone else’s mind.

I wonder if some fragment of my art,
Will chance to root in someone else’s heart.


Sonnet CXXV - On Deviating From The Mean
31st July 2016

When we were boys, we bickered as boys do,
Let adolescent rivalries accrue,

And when we put our childish things away,
The things which must be said, we didn’t say.

Now, sonnet and a letter both have cast
A light on all the shadows of the past,

Which shone into the corners of the room,
And proved them just illusions in the gloom.

So now, know this: in countless different ways
You have my admiration and my praise.

And though it may take time, let us agree,
To share fraternal generosity;

To speak of love; seek kinship; make amends;
Continue on as brothers and as friends.


Sonnet CXXVI - On The Wisdom Of The Sages
31st July 2016

When someone has a baby it is nice,
To pass along some wisdom and advice:

“You have to teach them schedules for the day”;
“You have to let your baby lead the way”;

“I never fussed my babies when they cried”;
“I never let my babies leave my side”;

“Ours both, at five weeks old, could sleep right through”;
“Ours shared our bed ‘til they were twenty-two”;

“All mums and doctors that I know agreed
This really is the only book you’ll need”;

“Do not pay any mind to them, just me”.
And in it all, there only seems to be

One tip on which the sages reach accord:
That most advice can safely be ignored.