A Conversation with Death

It was an idle Tuesday, if I correctly recall

That we struck up our first conversation

When I saw you from afar, in that indistinguishable bar

Before approaching you with some trepidation

 

It wasn’t your appearance that caused unease in me

Nor was your disposition of any note

You stood casually cool, amidst an overflowing pool

Of mediocre men guzzling beer down their throats

 

Though a stranger detached, in my presence you knew

That I’d been waiting for this my entire life

To look into the eyes that could reveal my demise

And in the final crescendo, release me of strife

 

But death, like skilled men, knows how to tempt

To tease his prey before relenting

To her whimsical needs, and her heart that bleeds

For a dance with the devil that churns deep within

 

“Why does a beauty like you choose me amongst men?”

Are the first words that death utters to me

“Because you’re the only solution, to the mental pollution

Clouding the impetus that wills me to be”

 

“From this deluge of men, the only insight I’ve gained

Is that I am unequivocally alone

Each stale interaction masks a vacant distraction

And so I ride a breath that’s already flown

 

“Death, prey tell, how does a man of your stature see me?

Where do I teeter between suffering and success?

I need your clarity of vision, and your ultimate decision

That will guide me away from all this distress

 

“My adorable girl, how you do make me laugh

For I am not your martyr, nor your salvation

That you have sought me out, proves beyond reasonable doubt

That I must avoid the lure of temptation

 

“You see, my imperative’s to remain incognito

So that the dying should never fear my advance

When with a nonchalant step, I draw them closer to death

While affording them an affable glance

 

“Petal, this conversation is not of that world

And there are still many bars you must frequent

Before coming home with me, so much awaits you, you’ll see

Because your life, my dear is perfectly decent”

 

Then death retreated beyond the beer-soaked haze

Where I was left to converse with me

Awake to each breath, I felt vindicated by death

Now at ease with a future that I could not foresee

If I were a fool

If I were a fool

I’d call upon my four year old self

In moments of catastrophic despair

Because I’d know that the indecipherable ramblings of a child

Hold far more wisdom than those of an articulate adult

 

If I were a fool

I’d give heed to these arbitrary words

Unencumbered

Uninhibited

Unpretentious

And unyielding in their honourable truth

 

If I were a fool

I’d ask more questions than there were answers to

Of more people than were willing to listen

Cognoscente that whilst society equates knowledge with power

The most profound power comes in knowing that we know nothing at all

 

If I were a fool

I’d act repeatedly on impulse

Well versed in the song of regret, I’d sing it with pride

Trusting that one day one of my ill conceived decisions

Will prove to be the most intelligently conceived of all

 

If I were a fool

I’d strive for diversity

Knowing that to dabble in a plethora of people, places, pastimes and professions

Doesn’t make me fickle or lazy

But instead cloaks me in a tapestry of texture and colour

 

If I were a fool

I’d recoil in shame at the hurt I’d caused others

But endeavour to calm the pangs of guilt

Because no suffering I’ve ever engendered

Has belonged to anyone other than me

 

If I were a fool

I’d see pink elephants dancing in the sky

Believing them to be as real as the taxes I pay

I’d solemnly swear that I was Juliet incarnate

And that Romeo stood but a Cupid’s arrow away

 

If I were a fool

I’d allow myself to indulge in the imaginary

Because selective naivety is not stupidity

It’s the keyhole through which we see the unseeable

And the vision that arms us with the courage to open life’s door

 

If I were a fool

I’d be afraid

Of failure

Of heartbreak

Of boredom

Of loneliness

Of longing

Of grief

 

If I were a fool

I’d be alive

To success

To love

To stimulation

To connection

To satisfaction

To gratitude

 

I’d be a fool to be anything other than foolish.

All is well in the sky tonight

The sky quivers tonight

Stars dart across an infinite canvas

Hesitant to mark their spot on the black

 

Something’s amiss in the stratosphere tonight

Why else does the moon wear its knowing face?

That neither welcomes bedlam, nor turns it away

 

The planets tango in frantic haste

Defiant that the music will stop

But it will. Stop.

 

The sky is so fragile tonight

She may just shatter into a million pieces

And lay scattered across perpetuity’s floor

 

The sun casts her rays in apology

For what her light may reveal

Scenes of menace burst from her beams

She longs for the dark tonight

 

And then. Stillness envelopes the uneasy sky

The stars align in perfect constellation

The moon nestles into a tranquil smile

As the planets lovingly skip to a halt

The sky exhales a cosmic breath

That pacifies the sun’s raucous rays

 

All is well again in the sky tonight.

Ten Thousand Years At Sea

It’s been ten thousand years since our eyes last met

On the day you submerged me in blindness

Your eyes so determined that I should forget

That they’d once been a vessel of kindness

 

A ship that steered me through treacherous seas

Your lashes fluttered like sails in the wind

Though all I could feel was a delicate breeze

That playfully tickled my back while I grinned

 

As the rigger, cabin boy and quarter master

You excelled in each post with tenacity

Never once grumbling that you had relented

To me – so unworthy in my captaincy

 

As I darted each day from starboard to port

Veering off course at the behest of the tides

I ignored your cautions to ‘abort, abort’

Pre-empting my peril, you still stepped aside

 

So from the plank I dived with whimsical glee

And near drowned in pursuit of a mermaid

Risking all to be a creature of the sea

Knowing very well you’d plunge to my aid

 

Though we shared the same deck, our hopes never wed

As we tried to make sense of our passage

Your eyes, they were fixed on the waters ahead

While mine were lost in a sky so lavish

 

And in this vein, we circumvented the earth

An unruly captain and her one-man crew

Refusing to moor at the pleasing berths

When this was all you’d ever wanted to do

 

Ten thousand sightless years have come to pass

Though more vivid my vision has never been

Your ship was my compass, my beacon and mast

This, I see now, what I should have then seen

 

And so on that day when you released your tears

Delivering to me what was rightfully mine

An ocean that’s wept for ten thousand years

Over a love adrift with the swells of time

Grasshopper in a Tree

My big sister grew remarkably tall

Before I was even able to crawl

Her limbs, they towered over mine

And from way up there, beyond the skyline

I often wondered, what could she see?

Plenty, I was sure, when she’s as tall as a tree

 

But most days she tended to climb right down

To where the falling leaves hit the soft grassy ground

Showing patient love as she played with her Gás

For years on end totally engrossed

In a grasshopper’s world, so much smaller than she

Yet always happy sitting by the trunk with me

 

That’s what I see looking up to the blue

Her eyes like clouds watching over you

B is the branch that blows out of the way

So that others can soak up the sun for a day

Needing but a droplet of water to quench her thirst

Because a big sister always puts her little sister first

 

I gaze at her branches as they sway in the breeze

From down here they seem to sway with such ease

But I know B can often camouflage her pain

So that others won’t feel the drench of her rains

This is a marvel for grasshoppers like me

Who grow in the shade of their big sister’s canopy

 

As I see how her roots have made her so tall

Drought upon floods, B’s defeated them all

With a quietly cultivated and formidable strength

She’s twisted her way to considerable lengths

To revel in a life she now proudly leads

With her head spiralling well above the other trees

 

And that’s what a grasshopper sees in the height

Of a sister she’s copied with inexorable might

Oh, to be as tall as the sky soaring B

So I can finally lay eyes on what she can see

Yet, as the grasshopper rummages by the tree’s foot

B urges me to relax! And just stay put

 

Because otherwise she wouldn’t be able to play

In the garden below that takes her breath away

So I see what a combo we are tall and short

Though different in stature, we’re still the same sort

Two sisters who adoringly love one another

For there’s no other sister that either would rather

 

In the end, it’s no matter where I sit in the tree

So long as I’m sitting next to my B

The Offer

If I were to offer you the secret of time

And reveal how its passing could be confined –

 

Would you accept?

 

Oh but of course!

Day on day I grapple to capture each breath

That exhales my life and edges me closer to death

 

What fool would decline

Infinity’s tonic

That abolishes time

And its nagging wife

 

Who’s a ruthless reminder that it’s all apt to dissolve

Along with dust-gathering moments of stories untold

 

Eradicate time and regret is gone

So too is the saddle of guilt

That’s laden with mistakes and the promises we break

As all our dreams are destined to wilt

 

Yes, it’s true that distress ticks with time’s callous clock

But you see, the paradox of it all is this –

 

That time’s fleeting nature is also the source

Of a bordered life that’s bursting with bliss

 

Without time, you would not try

To be who you are or to ask yourself why

 

Why am I here and what is this for?

How can I improve on who I was before?

 

Who do I love and why do I care

That I’m so overcome with feelings of despair?

 

At the thought that I’ve not been true

To what it is that I set out to do

 

In a blaze it will be categorically gone

So honour time obediently

Make it yours with this breath…

For nothing drives us more than immediacy

A Wedding Rhyme

Standing within these garden walls

There’s a distinctly buoyant glow

That emanates from Sars and Tobes

Two of the happiest people I’m privileged to know

 

Today, like all days, they’re dressed

In matching sunlit smiles

Beaming at the vista ahead

As they skip excitedly down the aisle

 

Though very alike, each has also composed

A deeply personal tune

One revelling in the other’s sound

As they dance together under the same moon

 

Sars brings to Tobes’ world a vitality

From which vigour and courage abound

Such that he sprints towards life with a giggle

Whenever his beloved Sars is around

 

And with Sars, Tobes shares his humanity

Marked by a man who’s boundlessly kind

Which fills Sars’ heart with gratitude

For having snagged such a precious find

 

Drawing from one other’s wisdom

These are two masterful artists of being

Painting life’s canvas with their vibrant colours

Knowing that what’s simplest is also most freeing

 

Their shared disposition is so very rare

In that no matter what toils they’ve bled

Each is unyielding in the faith they serve

To never choose fear, but always joy instead

 

And in this glee together

They have travelled far and near

Cycling the road of adventure

In tandem, towards each new frontier

 

From speaking Spanish in America’s South

To carving the Canadian peaks

They’ve inhabited India’s chaos

Before unwinding on the beaches of Greece

 

These the two boldest explorers I’ve met

Can attest to the true meaning of wealth

That comes in the form of lifetime travel

The elixir for their sparkling health

 

Yet what makes Sars and Tobes special above all

Is the love they so generously share

In abundance they give without question

Showering all their adored with tender care

 

It so follows that it was surely ordained

By the stars that lit their spirited souls

That these our two most treasured creatures

Would make one another perfectly whole

Goddess of Untruth

She may appear dainty

In her wispy botanic dress

But a day with her you’ll no doubt end

A blubbering sorry mess

 

She’ll ravage you with her oozy lips

That could lead good men to war

A mirror for those bolshy femmes

Who see only wretched whores

 

Her words they charm with reason

An alleged pristine truth

Though she’ll talk at you in a manner

That’s both offensive and uncouth

 

And you’ll listen.

With baited breath you’ll wait

For every word she spits at you

You’ll bundle and inflate

 

She’ll distract you with her ethos

That was never yours to bear

And fracture every pillar

That you’ve built with ardent care

 

She’s devilishly resilient

To break her you know you must

Swipe at her Achilles heel

With a single mighty thrust

 

And then resounding quiet

Cascades into the space

That’s yours to flood with streams

Of gentle loving grace

The Little Prince

Atop the moon and beside the stars

The Little Prince sits perched on his throne

Inspecting the planets as they orbit the sun

Dumfounded at how time has flown

 

Just one year’s passed since he came to be Prince

Of this tres magnifique cosmos

Yet he crinkles his brow, astonished at how

It is he who is deemed to be boss

 

“But, Hugo!” The indelible markings of a Prince

Are all those that you do bear

That’s the reason why, you’re the Prince, not I

Said the purple elephant Mayor

 

“I wonder,” mused Hugo as he twiddled his toes

“Maybe the elephant’s right

Maybe it’s me, who was meant to be

The wee Prince of affection and light”

 

“Oh but of course, young Prince

Look how you stormed, gallantly into life

In a thunderous bolt, you brought the world to a halt

Instantly banishing all strife

 

“And I need not tell you the unspoken law

That a Prince must be handsome like none

So to be of dark luscious hair, from here to there

Is not a gift just bestowed on anyone”

 

“Yes I suppose there’s sense to your words”

Hugo quipped to his elephant friend

“My eyes do after all, melt every soul

With a blue twinkle one can only commend”

 

Scratching his scone, Hugo then considered

How a Prince must rule with bravado

To be hungry for peace, and fight without cease

For that slice of bread and avocado

 

A Prince also knows that he doesn’t know

All that is yet to be known

So with a curiosity he grabs, he shakes, twists and jabs

Any item that is yet his to own

 

“My Prince, you’re a prodigy of this I don’t doubt

Your brilliance echoes the moon’s

Even I, an astute elephant, see you as so eloquent

You realise you’re ‘The’ cognitive tycoon”

 

“And yet all this aside, my dear confident

What makes you the marvel you are

Is the love that you’ve brought and the heart that you’ve wrought

Such that yours is the shiniest star

 

“So then I am a Little Prince,” Hugo finally grasped

“Of this brimming expanse that I see

All the dreams and potential, and hope exponential

Are mine to embrace with glee!”

Terminal 1

Wandering feet follow the crowds

Across the tarmac and towards

Terminal 1: purgatory

 

Neither here nor there

Countless feet shuffle up and back

Along the zombie trails

 

Is it night or day?

No-one really knows

The humidity suggests it’s day

But the lightless windows say otherwise

 

It’s hard to tell if they’re coming or going

Arrivals usually escape

As departures return home

To where they’re meant to be

 

The in-between gate

Is a curious place

It sweats nostalgia

And sells memories in the duty free shop

 

Exotic bliss and postcard trips go for cheap

It’s the hope of something more

That really stings you at the checkout

 

Flights are often delayed in Terminal 1

Anxiety then takes off

And time checks in

Knowing of the turbulence ahead

 

And then you wait

You breath. You blink. You wait

Questions dart across the board

What flight are you on?

Should you board that plane?

 

Who can know?

And there’s no-one to ask

After all, they’re mostly in-betweeners

And the half-here care little

Of your flight plan

 

It’s a desolate place, this Terminal 1

White noise muffles conversation

With its satellite chatter

 

Boarding calls and final calls

No calls directing you to your gate

Urgently hurrying you

So you don’t miss your flight

 

It’s just you and the zombies in Terminal 1