Lifeblood: A Book of Poems

by Professor Joel Hayward

Joel Hayward Poems 3

 

 Strasbourg Cathedral

Watched by seven hundred

towering red-brick years

and a father or brother

unseen by tourist eyes,

she sits on a camp stool and plays.

Dignity rides on the fragrant notes

that her accordion releases

like the aroma from a happy oven.

Polished too-big boots,

perfect pleats

and radiant complexion

also tell a tale.

 

Alone,

among strangers who camera chatter

at the intricate portals

and shadow-making spires,

she plays Lorelei’s seductions in a gypsy scarf.

This siren aged seven wants to unite

no boats and rocks; but coins and a box.

What is sitting on the mat with hand reaching

for a teacher’s attention when the

greatest classroom has been hers from birth?

What is borrowing from a library

when all books lie open before her?

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of the Battlefield

 

Bullets speak differently

when they meet someone new.

They scream “thwack!”

               when they strike bone.

They shout “pthumpff!”

               when they slap into thick muscle.

They squeal “pffit!”

               when they pass through emptier flesh.

Best of all, they hiss “pzinnggg!” to themselves

when they find

no-one to talk with.

 

What do they say

 

when they introduce

 

a new friend

 

to

 

death?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scars

 

You create unseen walls

believing that absolutely no-one

will be able to break in,

cause you hurt

or thieve some of your treasure:

your self-important independence

 

Maybe you really created walls

to confine yourself

and prevent unplanned

contact with the realities

and risks of rejection or heartache

 

Yet you added to your defences

coils of barbed wire

short fuse,

                         vicious tongue

and sarcasm

which stab and hurt

all who seek intimacy,

even that of simple friendship

 

If you ever regret seeing

the bleeding fingertips

of those who reached

to touch and reassure you

will it be too late to dab them

gently, soothingly

with the cotton-wool of true affection?

 

Will they instead pull back

with an “ouch!”

and lament that they failed to see

your personality’s rusting barbs

and swear never to make that mistake twice,

and leave you, strongly fortified, safe but alone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welsh Maiden

 

I know you, Jenny.

Your beauty betrays you.

What other woman has hair of

fine-spun gold thread

and long-lashed eyes of sapphire perfection?

 

Visible through white silk, your breasts and hips

lure me towards golden-freckled alabaster arms.

 

I’ve known your name all my life.

Now I meet you, smiling shyly as you bathe.

 

You’ll not get me, water spirit.

 

They say you wait

in wind-wild streams and lonely pools

for weaker souls than I

to surrender to your enchantment.

You beckon lovers in

to greet your body; to love you.

 

They say you

coil weeds around hopeful lovers’ ankles and pull them

down, white cold, into black depths.

You show their drowning eyes

the hideous crone you really are: Jenny Green Teeth.

 

But I see no crone, only youthful perfection

radiant in high sun’s glory.

 

Oh Jenny, your beauty and smile draw me.

Will you take me? Love me? Drown me?

Let us speak in whispers. Touch our fingers. Lips?

 

I cannot believe what they say. I cannot. I do not.

 

The water … so cold.

 

 

 

 

 

Hands

 

Albrecht Dürer’s

brush and ink

on tinted blue

 

Gently touching

long-fingered

“Praying Hands”

 

Stirring religious

veneration and piety

since he drew them in 1508

 

My pale

imitation

performed each night

 

Freckled hands

stubby fingers

chewed fingernails

 

Stirring divine

forgiveness and love

each time I bow my head.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

A Cunning Idea

 

He crafted a clever voodoo doll

to hurt someone he really loathed.

He gained hair from his intended victim, three strands,

and wove them into his doll’s head

in a small braided circle

which he stitched down with a curse.

 

He gained some nail clippings

and slid them into his doll’s hands

beneath the fabric

so they wouldn’t fall loose,

and he uttered another curse.

 

He even got specks of blood,

not an easy task but one of great potency,

and smeared it, black, across the rag-doll’s chest

as he looked heavenward and muttered.

 

He placed that deadly model in a sacred place

until, well … the time was exactly right.

 

Then, strange thing,

his loathing began to disappear.

He looked again at his devilish handiwork

 

and pondered

 

what pain he would have felt within his own chest

when he stuck that first pin into the doll’s cloth body.

Would he have died,

or merely crumpled in a passing agony?

 

and wondered

 

what pain he would have felt within his tired brain

when he pierced his creation’s brow with another sharp pin.

Would it be a migraine, a seizure, a tumour?

 

and worried

 

where his wounded soul would have journeyed

when he cast the doll into a bright clear petrol flame.

Would the gods receive him,

or banish him into outer darkness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balkan Wanderers, 1.

 

Gorgeous muscled horses,

their great eyes down and necks stretched out,

haul a quiet convoy of multi-hued Romany wagons,

many of them paint-flaking,

some chimney-smoking.

 

All creak with relaxed movement,

along dirty not dusty car-few roads

winding softly

between

dark pine-forested hills

which permit the lurking dangers

of wolves, spirits and other frights.

 

Further back great mountain peaks rise,

darker,

half escaping the cloaking powers

of wet clinging mists,

containing mysteries

of which road-bound wanderers

seldom think and never dare to explore.

 

 

Joel Hayward Poetry, Joel Hayward Poet, Joel Hayward Poems