life’s but a walking shadow

I’ve quit a lot of things in my time, believe me
jobs, school, college – all defeated me
the relationships
I let slip
even this poem I’m writing today
will no doubt end up going the same way

‘You lack sticking power’, mum used to say
when I’d tell her the latest thing I’d thrown away
‘You have to learn to grin and bear it’
(and now here comes the scary bit:)

‘What? You mean – like a SKULL?’
‘How’s THAT an encouraging image at all?’

Ever since then
skulls have been an emblem
of forbearance, or tenacity
or that faintly annoying, saintly kinda capacity
for gritting your teeth and seeing things through
(Yeah? And look where THAT philosophy gets you)

Now mum’s dead
and it has to be said
(although I’m wary of sharing it)
infinitely grinning and bearing it

Because let’s face it (pun intended)
Death is just sticking power super-extended
Absolutely no-one bails on death
‘Out, out brief candle,’ said Macbeth
and that was a guy who knew quite a bit
being up to his neck in it

re. birnam

it’s all been such a damned slog / a curious fury, a fit in a fog / a snigger of witches, a professional whack / smiling, beguiling, drifting off track / curses, reverses / a shimmy in shorts / best intentions, bad reports / some deadbeat motherfucker / with a spectral dagger and an eyebrow plucker / save it, sucker / you’re out of time and out of luck / back of the line with the rest of the losers / beggars can’t be choosers / sit the hell down or I loose the bruisers

face it / it’s untraceable / no-one’s irreplaceable / write it down we’ll pray for it / now please be quiet please / there are men with glasses watching from the trees / it’s a total rip and a wrap / a knowing wave and a slow hand clap / but wait / wait / even though it’s late / we can jump the castle gate / run to the lake / come on in the water’s great / we can dance freely in the deeps / with all the other aqua creeps / in the tangled lines and lunacies / potentially / happily / temporarily at least

I love the way you argue to the finish / while the draggy day slows and the options diminish / among the alarums and sirens / the sudden silences / dodgy contrivances / like a blind boy pointing to the sun / feeling it on his face like everyone / why not stay and play / go on, say it / no way am I going to pay for it / I was the last and the least / I was the strangely limber, lumbering timber beast / the rotten heart of the forest / unholy / slowly rooting it up the hill / I don’t know / shit – shut the window / tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / and so on / fuck you witches you won / come, put mine armour on