Poems

FINE WORDS (2008)
You bought a book of poems
What were you trying to say
To me through all those years.
Should I read them to myself and
Consider their lessons fair
Or might I let you know the contents
Contained in there.

Will you listen carefully whilst I read
How others loved their loves;
Of how their passion lingers
‘cross all these years. Some young,
some old, some innocent some not
Yet all with pen able to write their all

My love for you has blinded me
As oft as I have seen
The glory of new suns rise
above an empty sea. The distance we are parted
At night is nothing;
I see the stars
My spirit flies
Home faster than any cloud
Memories of your look, your touch,
Your smell, your kiss, your love
All break the lonely watch.

No storm will wrest that love away,
With loving bite and sqeeze or words borne
across a different wave;
I am me but will be yours.
 

Sunset

Rise and Set

So many never see the glory of a new
Daybreak  across a pure horizon.
Inevitable, measured, glorious,
Is the sunrise unless obscured by obfuscating  clouds.
Somnolent indigo precedes navy, navy steps out ahead of
Sapphire and this line we call horizon comes alive,
Defines for us the boundary of sea and sky.
Reflected on scores of waves or dazzling calm,
The morning sun
So powerful in ascension it blinds the unwary, hides attacks
But daily will warm and nourish the  planet.
Pity those lubbers ashore, or those lying abed
Unless they face Eastward to the open sea
This daily glory of the firmament they may never see.

The day is almost done, workers already home or in the pub
Outside Lyte’s eventide fades fast as memories of the day wash over,
Spun aside by night’s falling
Welcoming some in its anonymity, rejected by others
Unwilling to switch on that light and acknowledge another day’s end.
As if to stop night creeping up the stealthy footpad.
That glorious sun is now seen falling. Now observed that constant approach
Before invisible toward an opposite horizon.
Pinks and crimsons, spectacular clouds and soon the glow alone a memory of what has been.
©Tom Frederick 2011

and the next day the sun rises…

I wrote the following at the turn of the century and they have remained hidden on ‘old’ floppy disk technology until now. Lone Star and Stripes was prompted by the Texas state flag flying proudly in San Antonio. The Greatest Debt is about my relationship with my parents while Two describes concerns the cycle of children attending and returning from boarding school. Nellie was our White Elephant car for ten years.

Lone Star and Stripes

Old Glory, new glory, illuminated, proud.
Waving giants above truck dealerships
draped outside porches patriotic
never hidden in mall or yard
Y’all hear, from around other parts,

Alongside those 50 the Lone Star flies.
Exemplar of statehood
dependence ceded freely.
No protection sought, yet the warmth
from the womb of many is welcome, invited in.
Stand to see it. One pole apart
a single stripe of red and white
foreground to many.

‘Tis true 50 could have been 49.
That Lone Star which flew alone
free of all motherhood save it’s own.
Heroism a pheonix from the Alamo
could still be free; yet might be free
should disunity ‘twixt other, less brilliant stars provoke

Compete not you land of bluebonnet and mockingbird
Second only by statistic.
First in spirit, first to soar
first to welcome Braun, Svensen, Perez.
Spanish, English met as equals
empires cast aside

Home of Autry, Murphy, Holly
Your Lone Star never overshadowed
flies level.
Made magnicent by Texas breeze
merges in equality.
Unique against other glory
in red, white and blue.

The Greatest Debt
What greater debt before God is owed
Than that to those whose honour he demands
From me?
Such unasked for, unwitting guardianship
without hesitation complete and dually given
A multitude of sacrifices made from
Cradle to graves, grudged rarely and
Then with reasons oft explained yet seldom heard.

Though with age and parenthood I sometimes learn to heed
Unsought, yet no less valuable, advice for that.
What of those who proffer it?
They whom so often I have failed to honour.
Now both have reached three score and ten,
Their loyalty undaunted, prompts, suggests,
Questions the actions of offspring
Seen as perfect yet
Reality acknowledges, requires still further moulding.

Rich talents from both in slow decline:
Generous love freely given in bond of blood
Unbridled pride in small achievement
Total, boundless, wonderful bias
And now, more often than in the past
That wisdom which only age can bring
Prompted by experience made bitter
Ambitions discovered too late to realise
I must welcome, not ignore.

One uncensoring unremitting, teases
The other with arm’s length reserve
cares so deeply.
I contrast the watcher and the reader
Metabolisms, activity levels poles apart
One passive, slow fuse burning toward
Krakatoan eruption. One frequent, bubbling Etna
Frustrated by temptations now beyond reach.

Their companionship distinguished by love,
Dependence bounded.
Their sacrifice endures
Another generation
Feeling the blessing of their love
With humility I stand in awe grateful for the
Honour I am done when they call me ‘son’.

Two
How still the day, how calm the mood 3 times a year
When Metallica, Sugar Ray with many others
are silenced here.
They find other rooms and will pollute elsewhere.

How empty life with only two yet still so full.
With you two here noise jarring is everywhere,
enveloping dulled middle aged senses.
Life abounds come after noon, often well after.
Each day awakening with newly reopened adolescent beaks
demanding food with menaces.

How forlorn a home with you gone
With empty rooms, two especially vacant.
One neat, vacuumed the other still ablitz with debris
Abed, ‘cross carpet strewn with no order, pattern, thought.

How different you two
yet just the same when places in hearts here to find.

Competition, hubris in results, throat cutting sharpness of wit
The joy of your laughter, uncontrollable.
food dribbling uncontainable mirth.
All missed by two still here.

Worries, pressures, fears, (two Es, no fear!)
Prospects of loneliness
All combine in those last hours
creeping inevitably toward your flight.
Carrying your noise your vim
your vigour your youthful fizz
from us two in our figurative nest.

How much money is enough?
How much love?

How much courage to send you there
where only telephone and e-mail bind you
on request
to two still here.

White Elephant
Ordered leisurely in diplomatic surrounds
With no fear of uncertainty
No hint of future expulsion
Or Financial pressures
Created by presidential ink
And ministerial disloyalty.

Sunroof and electric window free
To delay future KGB intrusion
But only me to blame for futures
Sweltering without conditioned air

No sunroof at leisure, diplomatically novel
Bought in haste, KGB snapping at our heels
Secure inside, ten years down the road
Nellie  Scratched by Spanish proud to be British (in Gibraltar)

Soldier’s Last Love © Tom Frederick 2012

Skulls through the flowers
Bullets in the gloom
Death on the horizon
Shadows start to loom
Chorus: Why’d you leave me?
Why’d you go?
When you said you loved me so

Another day of weeping
Souls scythed down unheard
Battle scars not healing
Love for you unfeeling
Chorus

Felt my arm go flying
Watched my lifeblood leaving
Cannot stop the bleeding
Nor my love for you
Chorus

Now I am a dying
See the legs advancing
Tasting dirt beneath me
Still that thought won’t leave me…
Why’d you leave me? Why’d you go?
When you said you lov…

 

Shifting Sands

 

Wave Pressure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hear of meaningless trillions yet here see zillions

Impossible to count, recognizing the beach not the individual

Grains of sand.  Redistributed bones.

Through aeons and epochs waves ground out patterns not for our insensitive millennia.

Dinosaurs and beyond are dust. Forgotten particles in the air we breath

Not mere quartz brushing quartz shifted by the winds of time,

But nature recycling ended lives’ remains.

Loves lost, memories forgotten, relationships inconsequent.

Vessels foundered on innocent yet vengeful coral.

Sands from time blown to new heights, new environs

Support new life, wild grass binds where last year nothing grew.

More grains blow, clean, scrub, catching Tarifa-like below the knees.

Grains smother  time itself, hide  both nature’s mistakes and man’s abominations.

©Tom Frederick 2012

Sleep

I close my eyes
I think
I sleep
But not before
I think some more

I think of big things
Not quite world peace
I think of little things
Like will I snore

I sleep
I snore
I wake myself
I wake the wife
Because I snore

To sleep or not to sleep
That is the
I dream
Of youth
Of lust
Of dreams long lost
Of BFC

I sleep
I toss and turn
To sleep again
To wake

Release a bladder
Full of piss and
Wind my way to
Bed to sleep

In the dark
I sweat and fear
Aurora’s coming
Electrical demand
From which
No early shade of grey
Will rescue me awake

Around the curtain edge
No light yet creeps
I sleep again
To live
To dream

©Tom Frederick 2012

Guilty as Charged

White
Middle Class, whatever that is
Male, when I last looked
Guilty as charged

Arrogant, like you
Frustrated, by you,
Sworn at, by you
Guilty as charged

Green, you are
Caring, when it suits
Hurtful and hurting
Guilty as charged

Peas in a pod, we are
Not so say you
Sneering in dislike
You are
Guilty as Charged

How love turns
Lear’s creator knew
The hate, the spittle
In spite of love
Guilty as charged

Why now, why not?
It’s not new
Just wish I’d known
Then I’d have changed
Guilty as charged

But would you have
Liked my changes
If I’d done it another way
No way José
Guilty as charged

Where to now?
When love has failed
Has sailed too close
Has cared so much
Guilty as charged

What is left for us
A life sentence
Of malice with luck diluted
Aye, a fool I’ve been
See, I was Guilty as charged

©Tom Frederick 2012

Sitting in a bar

Humans transit by
In both directions
Up and down the street.
Though flat we still think
Up and down
Not left and right
No imagination

We cannot see
Behind those masks
We all wear
Public faces
Street disguises
Conceal life’s secrets
Hide imaginings

But some veneers
Elaborate
The cracks in life appear.
Faces paint stories
To be read
Lines on a page
Imagination not required

Two women
Mother and daughter
I see worn down
Made grim made sad
Made arm in arm
Mouths downturned
Thoughts imagined

Of toil
Of grief
Of men
Of circumstance
Beyond a moment’s
Ability to repair
Harder to imagine

What drives them
Step after step
To head their way
Obviously unpleasant
Eyes blank despair.
Another? Yes but please
Not what they drank.

©Tom Frederick 2013

365 Poems

010214  Arthur

The war to end all wars a hundred years ago
A focus of memories for souls lost, some unknown
Will move some to shame others to tears
Grief and familial loss reawakened by a centenary

Arthur was too young for the war that failed to end war
Arriving midway through that next dreadful contest
Yet daily visit grief and mourning loss and yearning. Theirs
A threat not confined to those who wear the soldier’s kit

Yesterday hundreds stood and said their own farewells to one
Who donned not khaki but claret and blue. Never deadly
seldom crippling his battles meant so much to those
Who knew of war, of sacrifice on different fields.

Only green fields for Arthur. When ending brown his mud was
Not the sort to die in, his air never mixed with gas. His fields,
on occasion Italian or German never French. His tribe full of
Those sick of war and those who will never know their sacrifice

Before moolah and bling. A working man’s ‘hero’ in a different world.
Chimneys still stood tall looms clattered weft to weave clogs cast aside
For boots waxed with dubbin. A world when thousands rushed
From pit to turf to terrace forming seas of hope with waves of support

Yesterday old and young were stilled, ‘their’ Arthur halted by the hallowed Turf.
Alongside, veterans weighed in respectful recognition a life when service
Of a different kind cheered them on Saturdays and for a while at least
This bastion after Jimmy Mac helped banish thoughts of loss and grief.

020214 Malcolm

“One Hundred and eighty!”
Friday night The Tempest
Darts in an old pub
Modernised extended
Restaurant hotel pub
No darts no sleeping dogs
No village men
Meeting for a yarn
Escaping wives
Supping ale exchanging tales
Of a working week passed by
Is that progress?
Growing old slowly but
Still a ready smile
For a life lived well
In faith and now old
Widows mourn those men
That lost their darts and
Passed peaceful
Decades without
Again hearing
“One hundred and eighty!”

030214 GRUB
Jumbo breakfast
English breakfast
Fry up. Eggs
Good grub
Bacon beans
Pudding black
Strong English Breakfast
Mug of.

Monday
Italian shut
Pasta absentia
Chippy open
Bizzie Lizzies
Good grub
Fish. Chips
With everything
Yorkshire pud
Steak and kidney
Gravy of course
With chips

English grub
Very calorific
Arteries horrific
Waistlines prolific
Greatly soporific
Good grub

040214 No Beeching Vision
Steam-like billows glimpsed
Through trees excitement springs
First thoughts from youth
Of power on rails dampened
By a cement work’s chimney.

Winter’s night at the end of the line
Beeching’s folly a lack of vision
His congestion every day a torment
On roads where freight on eighteen wheels
And more was never meant to run.

The end of a now single track line
Only ghosts of bygone trains will ever pass
Cross border from red to white West to East
Wrapped up in dreams of whistles, signals,
Crossings, the romance of steam

The end of a line where once proud stone
Lay alongside tracks, turntable and sidings
Feeding freight to meet an empire’s cotton needs
Now the fitness facility’s machines spin
Casting wasted joules for rare discernible results

Oh Lord B you had your chance to build up rail
To free our roads to save on fuel with local terminals
To link sea and air by rail to shop and factory
Now euro lorries run fat profits in foreign pockets and
Only a bare dank dimlit platform reminds me of you.

050214 The Wedding Day:
A moment in Time by Emira Demiri
And that day came,
The day when all of our desire merges into alliance.
When our souls are tangled into fabric,
The day when we unified stride into life.

I give you the universe on my palm,
To study it till the end of time.
All the meteors my love
We shall turn into dust together

All of my thoughts I give to you,
I give you the flower of my youth.
To water it and cherish.
To love it and need.

I put bonds on your hands,
Bonds made of freedom,
In which I cover myself,
Bonds made of love.

Today eternity becomes a moment
And the moment lasts eternally

060214 Sweet Sorrow
How many times my sweet has circumstance
Intervened to prise apart our physical being?
And now witnessing such joy such love such harmony
Between our flesh and new blood, among friends old and new
Again parted into the night leaving rains behind
We apart cross continents, cast fates and yet while
This time will be short before our souls rejoice we leave
Children grown tall behind to new experiences and old friends
No joy in that for a mother’s breast but modern choices
Modern lives spring pressures unadvertised
When love’s first grip mixed breath, grew passion, ‘twined lives
Our hope of course will be that we shall all soon meet together and
Perhaps mix the celebration of an ancient birth with joy of one of our own.

080214 About Time
What’s it all about?
It’s always there ever present
It’s always been there
Always will be there
We cannot touch it cannot see it
Say we feel it speed up feel it slow down
Digital or analogue we think we tame it
Waste of time we have no control .
The referee’s whistle marks a time
Still gone instantly, never regained
Never physically replayed recaptured
Electronic memories we can never touch
Say ‘where we were’ for an instant
When time unites us 11 11 11, Kennedy 911
Ashes to Ashes it’s all the same to time.
‘Time please’, time flying, on time, time late
Time after time in the nick of once upon a
Saving time healing wounds galloping by
Time off wasting, killing whale of a
Out of time, jet lagged by time.

140214 Valentine ‘s Not My Day
Thirty years I’ve had to smell your farts
Listen to you snore watch you sleep walk
With not a word about walking with me.
Thirty years thrown away, discarded
After being constant in your bed never
Asking for your bread not once complaining
Never spilling secrets betraying desires
Just helping dispel your fears, years spent
Turning my blind eye to those women
Who in turn you cast aside
I should have known how fickle love can be.

Tossed among blankets and sheets forgotten
That once before and you knew
I saw your guilt when you returned to me.
And now you think that a lover’s retreat in Mexico
Is simply too good for me to share
To lie beside the pool and soak up rays
Was my only desire. You knew I would
Lie mute and not a squeak would you hear
From me. I’ve seen it all before
But No! Here I lie on this empty bed
Your Valentine. So tell me this when
Written on my chest for all to see
I declared my love for you why on this
My day am I adrift, alone, abandoned?

©Tom Frederick 2014

The Raspberry
So little now they call you Raspberry.
So much hope contained in one so small
So much future envisaged. Perennial
Like a Raspberry, perhaps one day Rose-like.
Your genus perhaps destined to grow genius.
For if breeding runs true there will be brains
Not just beauty running through those crimson
Veins and maybe a prickly stem reflected there.
No doubt you will grow to see great change
In world events , to hear the clamour, the claims of
Fellow citizens but first you must grow in your pod
Kicking happy somersaults protected from all pollutions
By a vessel strong and one experiencing the wonderful
Joyous normality of your daily revolutions while long
Suffering sickly physical evolution.
They call you Raspberry not yet Eleanor but such a zesty
Start will see you noisily blowing your own on arrival.
Not many will follow from your source but many will follow you
As you blossom, a child cherished, a joy to hold and behold
And dad you’ll need to learn to change her nappies!
©Tom Frederick 2015

BB 35
Born through tempered steel
Blasted, shaped pieces
Gathered, welded, to form at first
A spine-like keel along a well-used slip.
The cradle of creation for
Many fair ladies in coats of grey to
Serve their nation in peace and bloody war.
No baby’s wail for a first new breath but the urgent
Reaching of that resplendent casing toward
Its natural serous environment.

On that glorious first day
She moved with tugs for midwives.
Held by umbilical cords protecting her side, giving
Hundreds of ant-like parents the power to complete her,
To feed her need for coal
The needs of those she will carry to the fury of battle
For water, victuals, shells and cartridges.

For the first time she feels Old Glory being raised,
Pride swelling for her, champagne exploding
The heady expectation of future victories assured.
She feels the air move the water ‘round her form,
Those harbour ripples, swelling into waves that
Nudge her closer in her berth
Gently rock her doughty spirit
A hint of what lies when finally she casts off
To dominate first Mexicans
Then the oceans of the world.

Sixty years later a dock floods
An elderly lady floats once more.
She’ll not sink again caisson now removed.
New ant-like fussing to protect against
Old foes of salt and weather. Remembered
Again by her namesake nation and
The broader Union which brought her forth.

She’ll patrol the seas no more but
Memories remain of yesterday’s fame
Of first to launch flight,
First ready to fight flight,
First for direction of her fourteen inch
Don’t tread on me guns.
First with Radar, First Division of Marines
Carrying Cronkite before the doldrums of time
Peace and obsolescence at her
Tugged for a new and final role.

By history nationally recognised and as living
Memories fade of fearless service in
Atlantic and Pacific Wars she will remain forever
The Flagship of the Texas Navy.
©Tom Frederick 2015 

MAY
In May the promises of spring gloriously meet.
Standing tall a perfect bloom arrives, finds new
Heralds, kissed by a new sun, caressed by
The whispers of gentle warming breath, a fresh
Breeze unexpected, unfettered all invisible
But capable of stirring beauty
Tenderly exploring, opening petals sprung up from
A long winter and what once seemed barren ground.

With May life seems possible again, love’s long labours
Cast aside by fertile dreams. An elder flourish would seek
Wistfully to be entwined with a goddess as she reaches
Skyward, entranced to the daily caffeine of the solar path.
While drenched he lies forgotten among her roots
Feeling damp drops fall. When she trembles she shakes off
Gentle drops of rain and dew. They form
His personal shower, perfumed rejection.

In youthful April his glory swelled extracting oohs and aahs,
Delighted maidens passing by. His stem held up like steel
Never a thought that one day soon his youth would turn
Seemingly overnight to rust
And lust to dust
Pollen scattered long before, blown for the next generation
To spring up like him but too soon to impress today’s
Perfect blooming May.

By night stars buck along a Milky Way
Far below May’s buds have closed again
Protecting such beauty until dawn’s first rays
Tickle fine hairs and her fancies open up
To be admired. In the dark he had
Shivered and prayed for one more
Frost free night
To allow him at least one more day
To dream again
And admire the beauty that is May.
©Tom Frederick 2015

End of Lines

Leave First Class behind
Northern Rail socialists
Absent brass or long pockets
From complimentary Virgin
To not so sweet FA
This is the Skipton train
The next stop is Shipley

Cross the platform
Optimism, sunbeams
Crushed in that
Deep dark valley
Called misery
The next stop is Shipley

Underway making way
Gutwrenching jarring
Mental decline
Measurable mile by railway mile
The next stop is Saltaire

World Heritage in
Your face. Titus
Titan-like spread a
Recognised vision
Raising spirits.
Yorkshire. Where there’s money
There’s muck.
Here was compassion
Bath houses and UNESCO
The next stop is Bingley

Once twinned financially
With Mr Bradford but nowt
Outside suggests prosperity
Viewed through windows of
Northern grime, still the best kind
Next stop is Crossflatts

Impeding progress where
No stop existed. A busy
Brain with dizzy drizzling
Scoring thoughts halted
Like the train
By mundanity. Flatts so dull
Anger, fury even Cross
Seem unimagineable here
The next stop is Keighley

Home of the Worth Valley
Railway otherwise worthless
Like Blackburn thinks
Misery who loves company
But there is no one
To share the dross of
Nonstop random drip, drip
Bear of little brainwaves
The next stop is Steeton and Silsden

Schizoid like Elephant and
Castle, another recent impediment
On the line to gloom. Enough.
Can there be more?
Oh yes
The next stop is Cononley

Starts with a Con. Nothing.
Its just there. No one gets off
No one gets on.
The 21st century
The world stopped by
And at Cononley.
The next stop is Skipton

The end of the line.
Life terminates here
Real estate coffee charity
Bloody tourists
Unless, unless you
Cross the platform to
Carlisle and Morecombe.
No. Step outside love
Where the cares of the day will
Be carried away by
The ‘Asian’ taxi monopoly.
This is Skipton. My lines end here.
©Tom Frederick 2015

SMS
Could it be there is a chance?
I have been close before and
So I type on a screen bright
Against the night dark in my room
“You drive me crazy I cannot sleep”
And then the chime for me to read:
“U r a very good friend
You are not sleepy maybe because you took a nap before”
Dear God I wish I had stayed awake but now she
Thinks like me that
I am old
“Just drink some wine, u will be able to sleep.
Good night.” She punctuates. Between the lines I read “Alcoholic”
My last shot in the dark
Brings no satisfaction.
“I do not drink to forget
That would mark the beginning of my end
I want what I cannot have but
I can still dream and my dreams
Will be writ sweet with memories of you”
©Tom Frederick 2016

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