Have You Any Carrots?

I miss cheese sandwiches and the sharp-sweet crunch of cold grapes at eleven thirty in the dusty alley of the horse barn on the estate where I worked for six summers, and thought on the doldrum days that I hated the heat and eight hours was hell-o monotony.

 

 

I don’t know why I  miss these things.
The only explanation for this wistfulness is uncertainty.
University is grand but the future and its strangers
are nothing like hot horse breath in your ear:
have you any carrots is safe and simple.

 

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Satellites

Driving in the summer dark,
I hear the music of the spheres.
It is the radio and the rush
of moving lights
and passing cars at night.

 

We are the little bits of a swirling cosmos:
every one of us a satellite
tracing and retracing orbits,
connecting the dots of constellations.

 

Something of that
is captured in the glowing gauges of every dashboard,
and I wonder how it affects the private thoughts
of other part-time astronauts.

 

In Medias Res

Sidewalk:

Pangolin leviathan,
made of many plates,
sometimes conscious of a certain stiffness at the joints

a thing sprawled over ground and under sky,
not side,
not peripheral but central, centric,
privileged with a centrism of its own.

(The ground cool, seedriddled and solid,
not as concrete but as a sat-on cushion,
a suitable staying place;

 

the skyside a mechanical mixture,
a lightness,
a thinness,

through which thicker things 
move back and forth.)

The Ferryman

After England’s sunset blossoms orange and smoulders low,
walk softly through the forests where the lamp posts never grow.
Explore the quiet niches where the night flows thick and slow –

far from where the charcoal sky is all too brightly marked,
far from where the glaring moon is sadly white and scarred.

In the deepest pooled, cool dark,
skip a stone and watch it show
the depths of the unknown.
Join me on the dock and dip your bravest toe –
we’ll soak our tired feet before we go.

After England’s sunset blossoms orange and smoulders low,
when last days wilt away and dying, softly glow,
when it’s time to cross the Styx,
then sleep, and I will row.

Sir Turquin and The Missing Princess

Excerpt from a story that my sister and I started writing together. 

 

Nigel Crumpworthy, master of the detective arts and wizard for hire, strode into King Karsheesh’s throne room with a cigar clamped between his teeth. He stopped, turned at an angle of thirty-six degrees, removed his hat and flung it on to the royal coat rack with perfect accuracy. Ah, a real professional, everyone thought.  He took his cigar from his mouth with two dexterous fingers, blew out a languid smoke ring and said,

“Crown. Gold. 24 karat. Aristocratic posture. Attendants arranged in classic Malaking-malaki formation. Distinct lack of antique vases. You must be King Karsheesh. By the way, did you know that one of your maids is stealing preserves from the kitchen at this very moment?” He put the cigar back in his mouth.

King Karsheesh blinked, but he was not a man to be talked down to or intimidated. In classic kingly fashion, he ignored everything that the wizard had said and shouted, “Ah, Nigel! You look just the chap for the job. You know the details, I trust?”

“Certainly. Princess. Grey eyes. Raven black hair. Delicate features. Missing. Likely a cooking accident.”

King Karsheesh had been nodding up until the last phrase.

“Mm, Princess, …eyes …hair…features …yes… cooking accident?!

The wizard simply smirked. The King stroked his chin.

“Well, yes. I suppose we might have thought of that.”

The wizard said, “Naturally, you just assumed that she was stolen. A pretext for expanding the empire, yes?”

“A pretext for expanding the empire, no,” returned Karsheesh coolly. “You overstep yourself, Mr. Crumpworthy.”

Nigel shrugged. “As you say, sire.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Get going.”

The wizard got going. On his way out, he stopped, and tapped his cigar on the shield of one of the guards. The ash trickled down onto the royal carpet. The guard glared at him. “Hat,” said Nigel Crumpworthy, and it sailed off the coatrack and into his hand. He tipped it at the guard insolently and left.