Lifeblood: A Book of Poems

by Professor Joel Hayward

Joel Hayward Poems 5





Boy, did folk misunderestimate me

and my destiny and

inherited legacy!


I always knew Dad was right:

Doin’ anythin’s sure better

than doing nothin’.


And, ya see, it doesn’t matter

after all if I don’t know

who the world leaders are.

My generals do.










Twisted Tales


The Brothers Grimm must sleep poorly

knowing the violence Walt Disney and his

doodling disciples have done and keep doing

to wondrous tales

once told for their lessons and morality

to children, though not babes,

back in the age of forest and field

by peasants and artisans.


Why commit such a vicious crime, Walt,

by leaving out all the blood?

Why kill the meaning of the stories

by taking out the deaths?


Why gloss over infanticide?

Shouldn’t children know that the tale of

Hansel and Gretel reflects a bygone reality:

that when families couldn’t keep everyone fed

they couldn’t keep everyone!


Oh, but it’s entertainment.

You think that? Really?

Isn’t the raw stuff of your family films

priceless cultural property

stolen from the Germans, French and others?


We live in more enlightened times.

Really? So taking Maori or Native American

or Aboriginal folk tales, stripping them of all morality

(or putting in your own),

sanitising them and robbing them of all didactic value

would be ok?


Entertainment? Enlightened times? Hah!

Tell that to Maori, Native Americans and others.

Their answers will be swift, deftly delivered and painful,

especially to what you think of most: your profits.












Free Speech

is by no means free.


It comes with a price tag ―  an outrageous designer label.


A person must pay dearly,

maybe a fortune,


if he or she wants to




something different from the majority’s views


or, if a gutsy person is prepared to suffer the utmost loss,


something different from a minority’s views.


Even being intellectually curious

about some taboo topic or other,


benignly, may prove too expensive.





never admitting they are


(they say they’re the opposite),


claim free speech must be guarded

in case someone abuses it


when what they really want is to

lock it away in case someone uses it.











If I were a llama I’d spit at you,

          and watch you futilely try to wash off the icky stink.


If I were an elephant I’d kneel on you, but not too heavily,

          slowly forcing out breath and cracking a few ribs.


If I were a magpie I’d swoop down and peck your head,

          again and again and again as you run.


If I were a tarantula I’d give you the creeps,

          hairy-walking across your bare arm in bed then

disappearing beneath it.


If I were a mosquito I’d itchy-bite the back of your neck,

          then buzz around, just out of swatting distance.


If I were a monkey I’d spring down onto you,

          screeching to deafen your ears that I’d also pull.


If I were a shark I’d tear just one leg off,

          then circle as you struggle to reach the shore.


If I were a komodo dragon I’d nip you,

          and infect you with my dripping septic saliva.


But I’m not.


I’m a man.


And I choose,


well, …








Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow, 1812


We trudge, Great Emperor, in sodden peeling boots,

          while in a sealed carriage you ride


                    We trudge, in ice-ragged uniforms exposed,

                              while warm blanket-wrapped you hide


We trudge, with few thoughts, and frozen feelings,

          while you plan your next grand acts


                    We trudge, knowing we’ve got nothing, and lost,

                              while you scheme deception about the facts


We trudge, countless falling mutely every mile,

          while you complain about our pace


                    We trudge, and helplessly suffer attacks,

                              while you idiotically order: “give chase!”


I trudge, little emperor, to my rigid death approaching,

          while you drink cups of steaming tea


                    I trudge, waiting and wanting to fall,

                              while you dwell on fame’s immortality


I drop, upon this road of frozen mud and slush,

          and see with unclosed eyes my final frosted breath


                    I arise ―  triumph! ―  and walk spiritedly,

                              through an honour guard to mark

                                             my righteous soldier’s death









Anu, Danu, Donau, Danube


Life, I stand on your bank’s edge, frightened of a

slip that might bring a struggle I could not win.

You flow by with no effort. I envy you.

You swirl as if some magic occurs within your darkest green

―  the colour of the elm’s fullness during twilight.

You flow forever, past. I have little to offer but

three silver coins and my hope that you will accept them

with my anguished prayers.

Let them sink through your swiftness to your stillness.

Let them join others’ gifts

to clothe your bed in a radiant coverlet you have earned.










I sit with Sylvia Plath



Thunder tears my ideas

with the rip sound of newspaper.

It rains a cold shower

lit only by Hollywood B-grade lightning flashes.


Old spouting overflows. Waters spill;

a forgotten bath with taps left on.


Winds tug at washing that’s pegged tight. They

tangle soaked sheets around the line with

noisy bluster.


I sit with Sylvia Plath


Listening to her voice?









The Centre of Our Universe



the nature of the godhead

or the size of the universe

                                   challenges most minds,


pondering most minds challenges them even more.


Ah, read it again.


Perhaps an explanation:


It’s impossibly hard for any human,

and especially

the very bright (the egocentric hardest of all),

to imagine with clarity

                                   that is, truly visualise

that all other individuals

                                   all six billion

hear their own voices inside their heads ―  not yours ―  and hear them as vividly as you do inside yours.


Think about it.


Better still, close your eyes and

think of your closest loved one’s inner voice.


Are you not right now hearing that inner voice

within that person’s mind

by imagining it with your own inner voice?


Tough to get your head around, huh?








Your Supplicant


Mistress Sleep,

Dear Goddess!

Hear my prayer:


Last night when you began to

embrace me

                                        I barely felt your touch

I was darkness-drawing a poem

that I planned to write after breakfast.


It contained (if you’ll forgive me for saying so)

a fine idea; maybe even a little originality.


Our Lady, forgive me again.

I don’t want to sound accusatory,

but you seem not to have returned that poem

when you gave me back my thoughts this morning.


I have tidied my mind’s clutter

and searched it several times,


but the poem’s nowhere.


Might I ask, therefore, for your kindness?

Please return to me the poem,

or at least the idea that lay at its heart.


I don’t mind waiting until you come tonight, Mistress.

Return it to me as I reflect in darkness upon my day

or, better yet, place it in one of the vivid dreams

with which you have lately rewarded me.









Young Missy


Eleven climbs from her top bunk

in a gap between dreams


Bunks red during day


Without colour, like everything, at night


Walks sleepy-stepping

to the toilet with hands outstretched


Turns no lights on




Returns to bed


Bangs nothing


Climbs up and in.


What a skilful manoeuvre!


Eleven’s father gave her a torch

he no longer needed


small, red, with two AA-batteries

visible through the plastic tube


Eleven walks sleepy-stepping to the toilet


One hand outstretched

projecting unneeded light





What a waste of natural talent!








Balkan Wanderers, 2.


A local council placed them

far from neighbours,

but, without subtlety, near the bad-breath smile

of a labour-hungry plastics factory.

It gave them land

invisible to all

who don’t search or stray.

No-one does.


Their only road forgets it once wore gravel.

Now it lets a half-flattened line of grass

divide earth tyre-trails

that wind through rust-protrusions

way beyond the railway yards.


The beautiful chaos of a community

shanties, wagons, caravans,

trucks, horses, pigs,

more horses,

and pencil-sharp unschooled children


Romanies belong to all lands

and none.


Blackened by smoke

from endless cigarettes,

their lungs with every breath

inhale a different source of cancer:

their exclusion from the world of “gadzé,”

the outsiders who never taste

the sweetness

of real freedom

but often spit on them bilious ignorance.











God have mercy on this

monotheist who

believes in other gods!

He throws himself

prostrate before You                               and Them!









Daughter of the Rom


Neck                       smooth

Jaw                        strong

Lips                                                                           mmm, soft to kiss?

Nose                       strong and long

Lashes                    long and dark         

Brows                     dark and thick       

Tresses                   thick and wild


Oh, her eyes!          Her eyes!




















Joel Hayward Poetry, Joel Hayward Poet, Joel Hayward Poems