A Stranger at the Dinner Table

Several people re sat around a dinner table. I do not know who they are; they seem nice, friendly, unassuming. I do not see their preoccupations with each other.
They pass the salt, they pour the coffee, I like that the sun is shining, at how relaxed I feel with them, at how well the meal was so well organised; a family meal that has been happening every day for years.
Their clothes are clean and well fitted. The table cloth is clean. Items on the table include a pen and paper, a radio, a bracelet.
At one point in the meal they were all passing something to each other, their arms were folding at the elbow, swinging from the shoulder a motion that surrounded the table like a paper chain. Then they put their arms down and began to chat.
The wife spoke and as she spoke the salt cellar exploded like a small volcano and everyone was surprised, she though, not seeing the miracle or the response to her table talk just laughed.
The husband a few minutes later said something. The olive jar cracked open and the olives rolled over the table’s edge. The birds from a nearby tree flew down, do birds eat olives, and ate them.
The dinner resumed. The two twin girls started arguing over the chocolate mousse which stated to bubble and in the bubbles could be seen dark wicked eyes appearing. The mother told them to stop squabbling and be quiet.
The guest began to tell a story of his recent travels abroad. I was in Valencia recently he said and the gravy boat capsized like a ship and spilled over into the lap of their son’s new girlfriend.
This all hinted at the secret life of the family. I asked for captions to appear above their heads to show what they were really thinking.
The husband liked the son’s new girlfriend.
The wife was having an affair with the guest.
The twins were both in love with their tennis coach.
The group dispersed to various rooms in the building and the husband to his garage. The attractive maid came out to clear up the table. Suddenly on a distant hill a house caught fire. A fire engine passed by and all the firemen were singing

Your song of love and insincerity

Your song of love

The manifesto began to burn as you sang. When you had finished you had saved a whole nation from conquest.
The commander who had stopped to listen stripped off his clothes and walked across Libya. His skin became as white as snow.
At the prisoner of war camp your song hovered above the compound like a virgin light. The rules of war themselves bled to death and all the prisoners were released.
Suddenly on the calm of the ocean thousands of U-boats came to the surface attracted by their radar to your song. As you reached the high notes the code books ran into the sea and mermaids came and ate them; a Convoy of merchant ships passed by in peace.
In the equatorial jungle a man ran to freedom. Creatures in red coats with dinosaur claws and overgrown hair took hacksaws from their purses and listened. It was your song again for the 5th time it seemed to come from the mountains far away. The man reached the sea and safety.
Do you know that moment when all around you there is war yet it all comes to a standstill just to listen to your song of love?

Insincerity

Like a child who detects the insincerity in a mother’s voice you’ve known insincerity all day long. You give them their wages in the form of a treacherous smile and move on.
You were sitting on a rooftop when floodwater filled the contours of the land. Just like insincerity you said to yourself.
You know that at certain times of day the phone will ring. This must be insincerity for how can the fish catch the fisherman?
Your wife is self-wrapped in cling film yet she still manages her appointments. Little mice run about her feet as if sensing her insincerity.
A news report the size of a billiard ball crashes out of the TV and sips your tea while words roll about like marbles. Did they really think you would not see through their insincerity?
You know insincerity all day long, you watch it grow, you see its serpents heads popping out of its flowers and spitting blood and fire as the butterflies hover overhead.
You go to sleep and you have a nightmare that you have become insincerity incarnate.

The contestants are gathered in the town.

The contestants are gathered in the town square somewhere on the Midwest plains. The master of ceremonies arrives.

Years before the game began the beginnings of long strips of coloured plastic tape were laid down into the square that stretched for miles out across the land and into the Rocky Mountains. Each tape chose its contestant by a secretive whisper that only they could hear. Sometimes more than one contestant was chosen and sometimes a contestant chose more than one tape. Each tape represented a pathway of life for them o follow, an ideal, a philosophy or a plain command that would appeal to their senses, their needs for something to follow in life. Year after year new tapes representing new ideas were laid down from the town square and off into the wide distance until the thinkers had exhausted every avenue of possibility. And no on this spring morning the game would begin.

The stating whistle blew. Out of necessity quite often, the solo contestants joined together to form teams to follow the tape. in other situations but one individual would choose but one tape. In other instances some tapes got no takers and one tape led the hapless contestant in a loop back to where he began.

What philosophy, belief or practice would win? Perhaps no one would win, perhaps in the end the tape ended on the top of a mountain with nowhere else to go; or into a whirlpool of rapids where it shook nervously in the abyss. Some contestants having reached the end of the tape carried on across the Rocky Mountains into California. Some contestants returned to the town to find an unused tape.

From the sky a traveller would see a huge rainbow coloured trail stretching for miles across the land like a modern Nazca line. At the end of the year the tapes were blown by the wind and wrapped themselves around the mountains.

The master of ceremonies gathered his fees and left town but before he disappeared he gave a speech in the public square which began, “I have something to say to America”, and ended with “farewell”.

Slaves, all of us!

Slaves, all of us!
Pulling the World along the road
Like a giant block of stone

Without the world you would have freedom
Why haven’t you got freedom?
Because you lack love

Once upon a time a man thought he could build a world
With flesh, muscle, bloodletting
But he failed to finish it – he died!

He was a typical man
He believed it weak to understand the heart
He preferred war

Ever since we have laboured to finish what he started
Ever since we have been dying and leaving it unfinished

Blood Made Gold

When human warmth is normal
The full hue
When you walk into
The room of a close family
Their smells
Cover you in
Blood made gold

A blessed family
A home of human warmth
How their lives
Have relaxed into harmony
When every surface is alive
With layers of breath-touch-love
Reapplied daily
Burnished
Like blood made gold

This human tenderness
Fashioned into manifold affections
That paint the room
That watercolour the air
That sing a gentle lullaby
Of activity
Where relationship
Combines a hive, a nest, a den
Into a womb
Of blood made gold

How the beauty of the home
Is overwhelming
When it works
To fill your needs
When it grows quietly
Like a summer meadow
Between their lips
How different life is
For its family
Who lie for an eternity
A life of blood made gold

June 2019

Life surrounds you, hems you in

Life surrounds you and hems you in
People like antibodies congeal on you
Drag you down to the ground
Pin you to the floor so you cannot travel

The place where you grew is far away
Those you grew up with are trapped
By life congealing around them

A force for life or a force for death
Loved ones are separated from you
the power of strangers crowds around them

And each man, woman and child
Is helpless in the sea of humanity
Is sown into the fabric of life
Absorbed into the quicksand of society

Freedom is a level 10 in the heart
So many of us barely reach a level 2
We sit into the tapestry of life around us
Like birds without homes flying forever

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