English Poems From Giraffe Poem by Sheena Blackhall

English Poems From Giraffe

I wish for a good death
I wish I could heal those I have wounded most
I wish for the hurt earth to be nursed to wellness
I wish for all four winds of the world to be purified
I wish for the seas of the earth to be cleansed
I wish that peace will visit me at my going
I wish that after, I'll meet my beloved dead

Fields of beetroot under the sun
Bellies swollen, pregnant, fat
Row on row and each one planned
Each one wearing her green-leaf hat

Millions of sisters in the night
Each plant driven to upwards grow
Millions of sisters, a fecund sight
Millions of sisters in moonlight's glow

Some will be boiled, dried, pickled, canned
Roasted, juiced, or in salad, sliced
Celtic women used it for rouge
Polish chefs use it grated, diced

Raised in dust and steeped in mud
Ends as Borscht where peasants dine
Found in the Talmud, Chakras, too
Crimson heart of fermented wine

Here's the names of its cultivars
Action, Albino, Bull's Blood, Pablo
Crosby Egyptian, Cylindar
Wodan, Rubidus, Forono
Round beets tip from one small pot
Blood pressure lowers, brain health rises
Anti cancer properties, aphrodisiac
The beetroot plant holds such surprises!

Hippocrates used the leaves for dressings
Norse god's plant of inspiration
Greeks and Romans chewed the leaves
Beetroot: a food for each occasion

The Precentor
I never met my grandsire,
Farmer, precentor

In his wedding photograph
He is looking out, unsmiling
Eleven years senior to his pretty wife

I never heard him sing
Striking his tuning fork in the kirk
His voice echoing round the stones of the field
His likeness gathers dust in a stuffed drawer
When I die he'll be bundled off to the skip

I cannot picture him as a suitor.
I know that they were virgins when they wed
That neither enjoyed the initial conjugal relations
But granny said with practise they grew to enjoy them

I can imagine him in his Sabbath clothes
A father who thrashed his son for laughing
As he read out the Scriptures over dinner

I cannot imagine his sung voice
Though it must have been firm, been true

I can imagine the congregation all too well
The farmers' fingers, gnarled and clasped in prayer
Their wives in fox furs smelling of mints and moth balls

I can see him stand, important in his suit
His shoes, buffed to a sheen, his hair slicked down
I can hear him strike the tuning fork
Its vibration, like the thrum of a singing bowl
In a far off Buddhist temple

I can hear the congregation rise to sing
Ye gates lift up your heads on high;
ye doors that last for aye,
be lifted up, that so the King
of glory enter may…
Joining him in their crowded, narrow pews

What is even stranger, is that this singer of psalms
So harsh in discipline, so strict with rules
Would lie in his stable all night long with a mare in foal
Would topsy-turvy his well-ordered life to help an animal
For that alone, he would be worth the knowing

The Giraffe
There once was a baby giraffe
Who trampoline-jumped for a laugh
Bit he flew up so high
That he shot through the sky
And he shattered a rainbow in half

Left Behind
The dead wren left behind a whisper
The dead fridge left behind a freeze
The dead clock left behind a face
The dead wood left behind a breeze

The dead stone left behind a beach
The dead wave left behind an ocean
The dead star left behind a light
The dead lie quiet, beyond emotion

Inside the cow's cud: green blood
Inside the robin's eye: winter sky
Inside the loch's deep: salmon leap
Inside the flames' hiss: death's kiss

Portrait of a Teacher
Madame X bristled her way through lessons
Like a wild boar cornered by barbarians

Under fluorescent light, her choice of poems
Was a wire-flowered- basket stuffed with blousy plants

Trout lipped, her face was hirsute
Long fair hairs cascading down the canyons of her wrinkles

The prow of her meagre breasts cleaved the stale classroom air.
Her waspish words stung all of us to silence

Her smile was as sharp as a steel fish knife
Her cheeks, the colour of powdered sticking plasters
Her perfume, an old maid's nosegay of dried rue

She drifted between the aisles like Banquo's ghost
Quoting La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Very like a woman, vampire sucked
To within an ounce of blood

Her eyes, two jelly balls, lidded with blue mascara
Ever on the look out for insurrection

Later, I heard she travelled to Japan,
Became a Zen nun. Now, who would guessed
She kept that self of her selves close to her chest

Again and again the addict rejects
All admonitions
Which don't even touch the sides of his despair

Who bayoneted his early bird of hope?
Who fire-bombed his future?
Who called time gentleman please
In his stalling life?

Music swam from his mouth
Until the hourglass broke

All of us wear cracks
Most of us keep them hidden

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