Sheena Blackhall

Gold Star - 6,740 Points (18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

Of Poker Game Et Al (16 Poems) - Poem by Sheena Blackhall

1. Another Flitting
Gap year. The New Grand Tour,
Backpacking. Rats in the hotels
And walls so thin
Not even the fleas have secrets

Daddy's little Princess
Has had her credit stopped
Now her mascara's running

She wouldn't last five minutes
By the Ganges. Who'd dropp a rupee
Into her silver spoon?

Maybe she'll pawn great-grannie's
Diamond ring, or the ruby she had
Studded through her navel.

On trains she's heard men sneer
White trash…. old couples stare at her
A girl, alone in Asia, and un-chaperoned
It isn't an adventure anymore
Not after the malaria and squirts
Not after the bites, the rip offs
The mangy dogs baring their rabid teeth

No-one's impressed by this young gad-about
They think her mad, or else she's easy pickings.
Her mask of confidence is starting to leak paint
Suburbia has never seemed so fine.

2. The Poker Game
When hosting a poker game,
Allow no kids, no wives, and no distractions
Dim the lights. Have snacks for easy grazing
Put on low background music
Set out ashtrays. Chill some cans of beer
Sit round a decent table with stable legs
Produce a set of casino chips
And two or three decks of cards
Unwrapped and ready to shuffle
Select an honest banker
Set house rules and stick to them
Stop before you've lost your shirt and car

3. Final Journey
Balulah's final journey was a plane trip
A failure of cabin instruments and metal
Like meccano toppled by a rusty screw

Rowland joined the trip from a grim back alley
Stuck by a mugger's knife above the spleen

Bailey choked on a nut at an office party
So small a morsel, such a fatal outcome

And so the queue grows longer, the journey
Final. No given destination, no familiar companions
A nut, a screw, a knife, the price of the ticket

4. Lecht Pines
Sweeping and fluid
Spontaneous, highly treasured
The curvature of pines

The Japanese calligraphy of lines
Follows the law of nature
Like Shinto shrines

The Zen of Wisdom
Touching on the Void
Nothing in Everything
Bow and rebound
Is the Pine Tree Dance
Seed-Syllable Mandala
Eternal transcience

5. Ratzinger: Stimme Gottes
Ratzinger, an air force child soldier,
Trained in the German infantry.
Deserter and POW, entered the seminary
When the war was over.
These are matters of public fact

His cousin, with Down's Syndrome
Was eliminated, life unworthy of life
The propaganda stated, Not a beneficial gene.

When he was ordained
‘a little bird - perhaps a lark -
flew up from the altar in the high cathedral
and trilled a little joyful song.'
He later recalled

Now he's become God's Voice
A broken swastika
Luminous eyes in a corroded face
Where war and time have scratched their bitter mark

6. Edge
Border tartan, Shepherds' Plaid
The Anglo-Scottish Border is Northumberland made
Un-dyed white sheep with black sheep's wool
Found on the edges of the Roman lands
By the Antonine Wall, they disobeyed the Caesar's rule
Where the fierce Celts rioted in tribal bands

It's been found in a peat bog in Northern Germany
Sir Walter Scott wore trousers of it…praising tartanry
For you've got to have an edge, of that there is no doubt
Keeping some folks in and the other folks out

When the world was flat, when you came to the edge
If you crossed it you dropped over, off the doom-time ledge

Don't muddy up the waters…keep things black and white
Clear cut, boxed off, sharp and tight
Three cheers for the edges of the world I say
Keep things in compartments, have a boundary

7. Olympics: London 2012: the Olympic Games will feature 26 Sports
Sailing and shooting and sprinting and hurdling
Running and boxing and cycling and rowing
Diving, canoeing pentathlon, taekwondo
Tennis, weightlifting, triathlon and judo
Football and fencing equestrian jumping
Gymnasts artistic and rhythmically pumping
Trampoline experts and archery too
Badminton, basketball…what a to-do
Handball and hockey and swimming in rows
Volleyball, polo the wrestling shows
Mascots and torch relays, webcams and tours
Pay for a ticket…all this could be yours!

8. We Don't Serve Corpses Here
There once was a jolly Jack Tar
Who ordered a drink in a bar
This wasn't unusual
What caused the refusal
He was run down and killed by a car.

9. Crossing Surrey
Surrey: a watery sun. Buds and hawthorn blossom
Gorse explodes in yellow under the fountaining birches

The wicker-cradle nest rests
In an apple tree, above a lonely ladder leaning idle.

Two crows with sooty wings are flying Easter crosses
Over a field like sifted cinnamon
Sprouting corn as softly green as elfin maidenhair

Brambles spill down the hill
Evening washes its ink across the landscape
The TV forecasts snow on distant peaks
A plane like a swooping hawk
Drops over Hampton court palace
Disturbing ancient ghosts, dreaming of stately deer

A mizzle thrush like a merry Mr. Macawber
Throstles away. Setting the world to rights
Over three plastic bags like laundry pegged in a tree

A stand of cypress, upturned witches' brooms
Sweep the passing sky in the jostling breeze
Clouds stand on rays of sun like angels' stalks

10. Bussing from London
Along the Thames sea serpents writhe round pillars
King Neptune glowers, dripping, stony face

Police barges drag a trail of churning waves
Brown water furrows in the ancient river

Victoria station's where lost tourists throng
Scanning departure boards with anxious eyes
Clogging things up for sweaty, hot, commuters
Where shrieking toddlers run their mothers ragged

Aboard the bus, shrill mobiles bleep and cheep
Their ring tones a cacophony of jangles
A couple lie entwined across a seat
His hand plays incy-wincy on her back

Here pigeons perch upon arrival screens
A human scavenger ransacks a bin
Somebody's half-drunk tea kick-starts his day

11. Qing goes Ping
Two vases both priceless and plush
A visitor saw. In a rush
He tripped over his lace
Knocked them both into space
Now they're 400 pieces of mush

12. The Peplos Kore
The Peplos Kore is over a metre tall
She's an Athenian from the Acropolis
Persians wrecked her city, ravaged her shrine
Broke her arm. Flung her onto the ground
Ripped her brooch and earrings from her body

Hundreds of years she lay in a hidden pit
Now she's a small exhibit
Observed, not worshipped

Poor little Peplos Kore
In her red robe, her blue chiton
Her small *meniskos
Protects her from no birdshit
And no weather
Poor little Peplos Kore
Staring out at an alien time and culture

13. International Carrot Day
The ancestor of every British carrot
Is an Afghan. A veg that's coloured
Yellow, red or white
To honour the House of Orange
In Holland, they changed its hue

In Ancient Greece it was an aphrodisiac
Pilots in ww2 chewed them
To boost their eyesight (true!)
Before the great Titanic upped and sank
Creamed carrots featured on the final menu
Nobody ever said that they were lucky

14.Vision After the Sermon by Paul Gaugin
This is a poem based on the artist's own words concerning the fate of his picture

I have just painted a religious picture
It interested me and I like it
I wanted to give it
To the church of Pont-Aven
But they don't want it

A group of Breton women are praying
Their costumes, intense black
Their bonnets, yellowy-white
Like monstrous helmets

An apple tree cuts the canvas
Dark purple, its foliage green
The ground is pure vermilion
The church, it darkens
Becoming a brownish red
The angel wrestling Jacob
Is ultramarine

The whole things is severe
The figures, rustic, simple, superstitious
The cow beneath the tree is very small
Just as I wrestle with art
Jacob wrestles with doubt

The whole things is severe
The figures, rustic, simple, superstitious
Art is plagiarism or revolution.

14. Pylons
They power the World,
Stride through cornfields like giants
Headless with powerful shoulders
More brutal than beautiful
They hiss their contempt
Over the steaming cattle

Cunning and strong, straddling
Wilderness and mountain
Holding the destiny of nations
Pylons tether themselves to the earth
Sheathed lightning.
The beach is their Valhalla
Scrap yard for graceless scaffolds
Shorn of crackle.

16.Waiting to be Collected
A giant, mud soaked wave
Scooped up parents, homes,
Streets, teddies and toys
All that was their anchor,
Their known, protected world
Gone in a blink in the mindless, murderous sea

30 silent children waiting to be collected
By those who'll never come
No amount of wishes can make it better

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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