The Panel-Beater

featured in the poetry forum October 19, 2020  :: 0 comments

At first, there was only the receptionist –
rather overweight, dyed blonde, with a smile
that said, ‘Aren’t I glamorous?’ Then she shouted
into the back room and he appeared – small,
far from young, crippled by what looked like
the damage of childhood polio. He led me
at a surprising clip to where my car was parked.

He talked. He said he was an ‘old dude;’
he had no truck with these modern ways.
Now they just look at a damaged tailgate and say
you have to replace it – eighteen hundred quid
a pop. He was right – I’d just been through that
elsewhere. What you need is a real panel-beater,
one who’s seen everything. And then he winked.

He said he could do the job for seven hundred.
It would need clamping, filling, repainting
of course. Good as new. I liked his company;
he had a big, toothy, world-weary grin. I went
back through the office; the blonde wasn’t there,
maybe she never had been. He had disappeared
into a dingy mechanics’ shop, vanished from sight.

The workshop backed onto scrubland, traversed
by motorway slip roads; as I walked away to find a bus
I reflected that, of course, I have no idea whether
he will do a good job. Nevertheless, if you ever
want your panels beaten, and you suspect it could
be done without replacing the whole bloody car,
he comes with my heartfelt recommendation.

editors note:

How often do we hand our hardware and our hopes to the (in)competence of others? (We welcome David to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

A Grimoire

featured in the poetry forum May 24, 2020  :: 0 comments

In the night’s dark half-glitter
regard the stones, jewelled
with drops of mercury.

Watch the drip of memory
as it cascades through retort,
alembic, crucible.

Outside the light, forms
amass upon the scales
and unlovely creatures

formed of no living union
caper and prey, immune
from the cloying call

of natural ways, always instead
seeking transmutation, the next
shape they will take

according to a different ordering
far from the tidy arrangement
of the so-called elements.

Rare metals, noble gasses
have their own sphere.
It is our task, my dear familiar,

to harness all to our own
purposes, and to exile
those foul usurpers

accused of witchcraft
for we are scientists, ahead
of our generation

and steeped in the medium,
arrayed in silk and silver,
accustomed to the comings and goings

of nitrates, carbides, all manner
of oddities and anomalies.
See what I have here,

outside the firelight, in my flasks
of burnished lead. Here no glimmer
of reason can penetrate.

editors note:

Yes, Professor. It’s magic to us, who don’t know witch is which. – mh clay

About the Size of Wales

featured in the poetry forum March 5, 2020  :: 0 comments

Statistics pour out about an epidemic
and what will happen when the medicine fails –
we’ll have a large pool of contamination.
It could be about the size of Wales.

And then there’s America’s prison population
spilling from penitentiaries and jails.
Don’t tell us – the newsreaders can mime it for us –
the remains would be about the size of Wales.

The hurricanes that devastate each seaboard
will take years of replanting, but all that pales
beside the inland wastage, the deserted landscapes
which just might be about the size of Wales.

We set about the oceans for vacation,
with diesel engines in the place of sails
and what do we discover – a sea of plastic
which is, mysteriously, about the size of Wales.

Out there among the planets, there is Venus
(just visible beneath its ghostly veils)
with unexplored asteroidal craters
which are (surprise surprise) the size of Wales.

For a small country, it might seem weirdly mobile
as it sits uncounted on the scales;
but the question appears to remain unanswered:
What actually is the size of Wales?

editors note:

Maybe, in this case, size doesn’t matter? – mh clay