He is his own #Halloween

Tis the day to grow a moustache

and remember how the Empires were built and lost.

Tis the day to look in the mirror and see the iron Man

He is not shaken

Not by poverty

or the war on his borders

He drinks his beer

touches his cheese board

and lusts after women on TV

those women whose breast are not really as big as they appear

Tis the time for Halloween 2022

No costumes are required

The most frightening is the man in his mundane clothes

The man who doesn’t feel

Not the poverty

Nor the war on his borders

but most certainly not the Earth caving in underneath his feet.

Image Pixabay: Patol Lenin

Wine down the river

Yesterday’s wine

today’s tears

plonk down the river

if you please

with its winding reeds

and soaked up fields

marshes in the distance that can not breath

it wasn’t the wine you needed after all

yellow-greenish tint with the head sore

today’s cheap bottle of sadness that no one sees

getting stuck on the bend with mud and fleas

there’s your private river or wine

winding down, winding down.

Warblers at war

This poem is dedicated to Euroasian leaf warblers commonly found in Ukraine and Russia.

The Great Steppe stretches wide in her sleep.

Spreading their wings

Warblers are reading to war.

Until now, most ordinary birds,

they were called into action.

Beating hearts in ruffled feathers

from Quaker grey to military green

they no longer hide amongst the leaves.

Under the heavy steel of gathering clouds

they want to fly as high as eagles

without a stop or hesitation.

The Great Steppe stretches wide in her sleep,

counting the grains of dust it had shifted for centuries

and all the warblers – wood, dusky, willow and common chiffchaffs.

The Great Steppe dreams deep in her sleep,

from left to right on the map that someone reads from the right to left

with all its rivers, mountains, borders and creases.

The Great Steppe becomes deaf in her sleep,

and warblers’ chafferings, however urgent and annoying, melt into the bombings.

Taste of metal in their little beaks and the whooshing sound, like tinnitus in their ears.

Confused by the dust, their world is no longer borderless.

Do they look left or right? Right or left?

Europe or Asia?

No one likes St Nicholas more than Eastern Europeans living abroad!

Not a migrant

On 5 December in 1984, late at night, I was polishing my snow boots, placing them on the widow sill, considering whether I should draw the curtain or not, in case St Nicholas should peep into our living room. The air outside was crisp though it was not snowing yet. “Any time soon”, I hoped.

My sister’s boots were tiny compared to mine, she was 7 years my junior and that made me smirk because I knew that Mikuláš (as we called him in Slovak) could potentially fit more. More clementines, monkey nuts, chocolate coins or even an odd banana (if the good old trade infrastructure allowed for such exotic pleasures!)

There were other perks of the Mikuláš season too. My parents’ employers organised annual discos for children. But we were not allowed to dance until Mikuláš, accompanied by the Angel and Devil, gave out identical presents of sweets and fruit…

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HAPPY Diwali – Festival of Lights – 1-7th November at Caldmore Community Garden

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 1-7th NOVEMBER FREE ENTRY A week of creativity, music, poetry and performing arts in Caldmore to light up all the community. MONDAY 1st November 6PM LET THERE BE LIGHT – SWITCHING ON CALDMORE COMMUNITY GARDEN ILLUMINATIONS Time to turn on the lights! Infamous Arts have been working tirelessly to light up the […]

Festival of Lights – 1-7th November at Caldmore Community Garden

The Man who held the Sun

In memory of my father-in-law, a farmer and winemaker who was kissed by the Sun.

The Man with the Hat who greets the dawn

and the valley spreads its wings before him

will not be coming out today.

Blackbirds invaded the weepy willow again.

They’re bigger than black,

their voices go unnoticed.

The Man with the Hat left a widow.

But she does not feel a widow yet.

That will come come with each drop of rain

muddying the yard

in search of his footsteps.

He won’t roll up his sleeves

to hold the Sun in his palms and kiss it.

In truth of the truths, it was the Sun that kissed him.

One day in the vineyard, just like that – a kiss of death shot from the sky,

a deadly cupid with a cancer arrow.

How could you do that, to burn my love? To scorch his skin?

They say his soul is still wondering the Earth.

For 40 days, he still visits his home.

That is why his widow hangs his favourite shirt on the front door.

His bed is made, there’s bread and water to quench his thirst

and a towel in the window.

Today, the Sun keeps touching the window

brazen, as if it didn’t cause enough grief,

it wants to see the Man with the Hat one last time.

The breeze sneaks him in on the dust from the road.

The towel trembles,

The room shines up for a moment and suddenly it’s overcast.

The fridge is humming, the curtains are stale.

Her head is down, remains of the flour on the table he writes: ‘I should have held your hand a bit longer.

Good bye my love’.

Doing February like Tom Eliot

February two years ago…

Not a migrant

South Kensington is white washed against February sky. We step outside as if we had done it before – this is our street for three days.

Sun kisses our hats.

The mews stretch into cosy distance where window plants dance in morning shadows.   ‘I could see myself live here’, you say and I say ‘ the bin men are more frequent than in Birmingham.

Our sons walk shoulder to shoulder.

St Stephen’s Church appears in the corner like a turtle with a medieval shield. There’s the backdoor Tom Eliot used to escape from his wife and there’s the key hole through which she spied on him.

Sun touches railings of the basement flats.

Tom Eliot was a church warden. Keys in his pocket, he visited Virgin Mary when no one was watching: ‘Please forgive me that I had left Vivien in mental asylum. Please forgive me I hadn’t been to see her for ten years. Now that she is dead, give…

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Let me count my tears

When the task is done,

let me count my tears –

the wet ones for my children

the dry ones for my parents

the ones for my youth that turned to crystals

kicked to the pavement like the times long gone.

Let me feel my tears –

the salty waterfalls that build in my bones

for the lovers that would have made good fathers

for my brother miscarried by my mother the year we saw Chernobyl.

And today’s tears,

for the mothers of teenagers who lost their path

headaches and heartaches that evaporate on the dawn

but stuck to window shutters they linger ever more.

I beg you –

when we’re done, just let me count my tears.

Image by Unicadmo79 on Pixabay (one of my favourite ever found on this site)

Souls at dawn

When all the faithful seemingly departed in November, some long lost lovers meet again…

Not a migrant

You must have been a beautiful woman entered his mind.

Families were gathering on the hill that mounted tender bodies of their relatives. She always loved elevated graveyards, their stones silencing the world that moved – children, cars and occasional tourists.  The barman handed two cups of Turkish coffee the way they drink it in Slovakia. They both watched the ‘mud’ gather at the top but he slurped it without stirring, catching the grains on his moustache.

Anya never cared for men with blue eyes, yet there he was, studying her profile in the poorly lit saloon. ‘What brings you here?’, she asked.

‘All Souls’.

The door curtain moved, bringing a whiff of rotten leaves inside for a moment but no one came in apart from a cat they didn’t see. ‘It’s been closed for years’, a woman was overheard outside. ‘Have you more burners?’, another one shouted. Several feet shuffled under the…

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Taken inn by a waiter

The stag above the door.

I’ve never noticed him before, today, I keep looking at him to stop looking at you.

We could be in Switzerland or Carpathians but no, this is Sutton Park.

I peer into my book and glasses chink in your hands, but you serve no one.

I have been your only customer in 100 days.

In my book, the plague started during apple season.

What used to be a cheery harvest, turned to rot.

You, it seems, have harvested your apples – chalked on the board’s  ‘pick your cider’.

Sun is still high at the edge of the lake but my window is dark,

the curtains haven’t been drawn in months.

Owls stir in their deepest sleep, their wings fleeing in the sunshine.

I blink. Do you ever think of owls, I wonder.

I sense things these days, the forest smells of aftershave,

all the city people taking showers before their walks.

I see things, like your veiny hands hanging wine glasses upside down.

One of the drops has trickled down your temple, you let it slide.

I hear things – birds cawing as if they were inside with us.

A flock of ravens is an unkindness we don’t need reminding off.

We need good omens – you and I. Perhaps, I could blow you a kiss into safe distance.

Across the pond, fat fish are exposed now that water has cleared,

You look across and say: “storms never last long in this country”.

Image by fkabay on pixabay.com