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,
and radiant complexion
also tell a tale.
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
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 ―
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
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?
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.
brush and ink
on tinted blue
veneration and piety
since he drew them in 1508
performed each night
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
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?
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?
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,
All creak with relaxed movement,
along dirty not dusty car-few roads
dark pine-forested hills
which permit the lurking dangers
of wolves, spirits and other frights.
Further back great mountain peaks rise,
half escaping the cloaking powers
of wet clinging mists,
of which road-bound wanderers
seldom think and never dare to explore.
Joel Hayward Poetry, Joel Hayward Poet, Joel Hayward Poems