Sheena Blackhall

Gold Star - 5,467 Points (18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

Of Pylons, Phone Booths, Ash - Poem by Sheena Blackhall

1. Revolving Bookcase

Literature’s pigeon-holes within this slatted case,
Are quite a novel resting place for books

Everything, from cooking couscous to plumbing
Are juxtaposed like strangers on the subway

You can get lost dipping into a bookcase
Worry about rain forest depletion,
Have lascivious thoughts about Deacon Brodie.

Other men’s flowers send their scents to your brain
Your fingers pluck their theories from thin leaves

Your head is suddenly crowded with conversations
Marion Angus chatting to R.M. Ballantyne
Iain M. Banks, John Barbour, Barrie, Boswell,

Because you would never dream of breaking the ranks
Of impeccable order, in this dervish bookcase
This nest of books, this woody nook of silence


2. Pylon & Phone Booth in Discourse

Their expressions are indecipherable.
Their body language frozen

How does it feel to be high and mighty?
The phone box asks the pylon

Don't speak to me, comes the reply
Your grubby little problems are none of my concern
Did you ever have a single thought
Not poured into your ears by human callers?

At least I speak in words, sounds’ daisy chains,
I do not crackle and hiss like angry lightning
The booth retaliates

Wind Farms and pylons, you all pretend to be trees
Metal skeletons, not warmed by mortal contact.


3. The Thespian: In Memoriam Annie Inglis MBE

Always the spotlight wooed her, and applause…a rising tide
She was the mother of stagecraft, the Gods’ and the Commons’ bride
The slings of outrageous fortune she sloughed off like a skin
And rose, a golden Phoenix no trials could tether in
But the splendid roses wither, wild encores fade away
And the final act is the hardest, for the wise, the witty, the gay
Death in the wings stood waiting. She did not seek his touch
Her sin, if sin you’d call it, was loving life too much.


4. The Fighter

Snow, hail, rain and shine
Father rose early
Scraped the ash from the grate
Twisted the papers, set the fire
Drove off to work before the house woke up
He took the chill from the house
The warmth he left would linger,
Taking the edge off the day

He was a fighter. Never gave up on a marriage
On the ropes. Left his single bed each morning
Went through the motions.
Gave Life the old one/two.

At eighty, washing her soiled tights in the sink
For better for worse, he said,
She'd do the same for me.

After the doctor left, I opened the wallet
He wouldn't be needing again
The pound notes, clean and folded
Like crisp ironed sheets, over the photograph

And there they were, two lovers,
Ma and da, just kids, before the children came

His arms around her as if he was scared
She'd suddenly fly away
Next to his heart for 50 lonely years.

5. Winter Massacre

For weeks, every lamp in the street
Has worn a crow for a hat
Raucous, their Roman beaks
Poke holes in the day

Now, buds burst like bubbles
Through the plastic rags on boughs
The earth unlocks its treasury of crocii
The hill is a porcupine
Bristling spears of green


6. New Ways to See the World

Stuck in the quicksand of celebrity
A cowboy, half buried in sand,
Smiles from a fading movie

In a hareless desert,
A girl is painting a hare in watercolour
Grey cactii look on, parched
Panting for rain

A man, stalked by a snowstorm
Shivers beneath the sun
He lives in perpetual frost
All of his own making

Mary Poppins, umbrella open,
Drifts down to save the day
Like cerebral candyfloss

Tumbleweeds rolls past a car with an empty tank
A coffee mug from Starbuck’s fills with sand


7. Ash Wednesday: The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

On Ash Wednesday, a Viking Mountain
dropped its curse on heads of state
Crossing palms with silver cut no ice
The stench of fire and sulphur filled the Heavens

Airflights went from a feast to a total famine
The skies went into mourning
The fault lines of the earth began to shake
Norse tectonic plates clashed in their sockets
In bitter sub-zero winds,
New fallen snow blew coldly over magma
The North Atlantic jet-stream ferried death


8. Food for Thought

Face like mouldy dough
The sow with the broad back saddle
Has churned her field to a mud bath

Fat as a Sumo
Her eyes, submerged in lard,
peer from her pen
one of life’s wallowers
She stares at the empty field
Not pondering on
The silence of the lambs.

9. Starlings

Starlings fly from their roost
Like a shower of crumbs
Leaving the black wet buds
Of April, trembling


10. Muncaster Castle

Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington lives in pile
Eight hundred years old, in baronial style
There’s a bath with a lid, there’s a dragonfly pond
A Cromwellian clock, from the back of beyond
A fool’s paradise bar and a tapestry wall
And the ghost of a jester, Tom Fool, in the hall
There are owls from the Arctic and Mexico Way
(When they dive to the lure please remove your toupee)
There are acres of woodland, a bluebell bonanza
An occasional joust that’s an extravaganza
Where cannon may fire…you might land in the stocks
Or explore wildflower meadow for lost hollyhocks
There’s a cat on a flag with heraldic appeal
There are herons who dine on an alfresco meal
If you’re partial to rodents, there’s meadow-vale maze
Or Creeping Kate’s kitchen, with tart takeaways
Feed the ducks, where the grassland is reedy and boggy
Near the castle, in history so steeped, that it’s soggy
Not Manchester, Winchester, Lancaster, Devon
It’s Muncaster Ruskin named ‘Gateway to Heaven’
Why not visit the steam traction engine, or stables
The herb/physic garden by ivy-clad gables?
Watch out for the ancestor known as ‘The Drip’
Though he only comes out when the sun starts to slip
And the moon rises high on camellias and Yew
And the ghosts of knights clank from the Muncaster dew!


11. Pepper

Pepper was a terrier, a yapper and a snapper
A Dandy Dinmont of a dog. A growler. A tail flapper.

With one ear north and one ear south, with tan and mustard socks, Sir
Pepper was a terrier who should have been a boxer.


12. Newstead Abbey
By Byron's home where he used to stroll
There's a million tons of high grade coal
Just think, had his Lordship dropped a match
Underground, where the flames could catch
Byron, his pet bear, wolf, and dogs
Would have burned to crisps like Xmas logs!


13. Beatrix Potter and the Japanee

There aint no flies on Peter Rabbit
He sees a profit and he's going to grab it!
Forget about Sumo and Mount Fuji
It's Little Peter Rabbit fires up the Japanee!


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 8, 2010



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