Poem for a Stroke

by Michael Keeling

In a railway carriage without tracks
travelling through
meadow grass and birdsong
faces unknown and yet known
a laboratory with long corridors
and many people
noticed and yet not noticed
I am peaceful but oblivious

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Patterns in the Park

by Michael Keeling

There’s a tiny blind creature
making patterns in the park.
It’s sort of golden coated
and perpetually dark
but its remaining senses
tell it all it needs to know
as it tunnels after insects
and tells rivals where to go.

Don’t trample on its runways
or spear it with a fork
(saw one on the football field
being gobbled by a stork).
Don’t poison it or skin it
to make yourself a coat.
Don’t throw it in the swimming pool
to see if it will float.

No, this tiny blind creature
is
is part of you and me
and all the things around us
that are ecology.
Amblysomus hottentotus
you can call it if you must;
if it strains your epiglottis
call it something you can trust.

For as it aerates the soil
it’s a tiller of the land
and resulting from this toil
are its benefits to man.
Crops grow stronger, grass grows longer,
more and more are fed,
so it’s up to you, give encouragement
to this industrious quadruped.

 

Joyous Awakening

by Michael Keeling

It’s six o’clock
in the morning
Egyptian Geese are in full throttle
It is early summer
sleep is a doze.

Across the globe
in Tasmania
it’s cold, a two-sweater day.
The cockatoos are shivering
waiting for the sun to shine.

Reaching for
the television controls
a scene unfolds
of a shattered
Australian cricket team.

Forget the earthquake
across the water.
Forget the missing Proteas.
Praise those who were there
determined to succeed.

Not just once
but twice
and maybe thrice.
Far away from home
against all odds.

There in Hobart
it’s still a two-sweater day
but there’s a glow
on South African faces
as the result sinks in.

Here the Egyptian Geese are full steam ahead.
Gone are the Tasmanian Devils.
Smiling faces proclaim
another extraordinary victory over Oz.
Let’s turn over and get some more sleep.

Remembering

by Michael Keeling

I wish I could remember
where we lay,
‘neath a veil of trees,
hair ruffled
by the breeze.

I wish I could remember
the vapour trail moving
arrow straight in the sky,
musing us
to days gone by.

I wish I could remember
distant bells,
the clamour of rooks,
and you buried under
a mountain of books.

I wish I could remember
walks on the beach,
talks in the park;
how we sat huddled
till long after dark.

I wish I could remember
music we played,
the lingering night
and falling asleep
in dawn’s shrouded light.

But the sorrows I’ve caused,
the expressions of pain
and the blood that I’ve let.
These are the things
I wish I could forget.

Recuerdos de l’Alhambra

by Michael Keeling

Outside the burning sun
withered the scalp
and tortured the exposed.
Here in the coolness of time
we stood still
listening
to the bubbling rills.

Arched spray
fell from fountains.
Sculptured lions
held the font
in supplication
to water:
symbol of riches.

Echoes of Los Moros
reflected the truth
in the painted azulejos.
Arabic script
traced the Quran.

It was the stuff
of meditation,
the admission of sins;
the holding of hands
and believing
in constant love.

On the road back
we broke our journey,
and heard
a thousand nightingales.

Shakespeare by Moonlight

   by Michael Keeling

It’s a midsummer’s night.
A chill breeze demands a blanket,
cushioned seats a bonus.
In a corner, stage right,
contemplates the Bard
like Patience on a Monument.

Overhead, stars
above a backdrop of trees.
It’s make-believe
in a theatre of dreams:
our world a world of players,
our dreams the dreams of fantasy

where exotic isle of eccentricity
confuses gender and love
fooling the flattered to don
yellow stockings with crossed garters,
where music be the food of love
and we have excess of it…..

Prophylaxis

by Michael Keeling

To maximize our mortal days
we need, we are told,
to exercise in many ways
so, if I may make so bold,
just turn the television on
to a frantic football match,
find an arduous marathon,
watch anglers land their catch.

Switch channels to the boxing,
bob and weave and fend,
seek an eight that you are coxing
coming round the Surrey bend.

You’re in the deep at Newlands,
the ball is hit sky high
the fielder’s bloody dropped it,
you can hear the bowler’s cry.

Let a home run from a Yankee
make you break out in a sweat
dab your forehead with your hankie
the game’s not over yet..

Let wrestlers, when they lose their cool,
put a smile upon your lips,
a length or two of the swimming pool
does wonders for your hips.

You can cycle up a mountain side
do all the time trials too
take up white-water rafting,
paddle your own canoe.

What really shows the adrenaline flows
is the diving from great heights,
just close your eyes and hold your nose,
it may give you sleepless nights.

Pool and snooker, games of darts
even the sport of Kings,
gymnasts bending body parts
and dangling from rings

There’s hockey to fall back on,
both on and off the ice,
you can even bet a stack on
a game of poker dice.

There are running tracks and field sports
(beware the flying hammer)
you can sail right out of many ports
on a really windy jammer.

Basket ball and tennis,
you can take part in them all,
pretend you’re men or women
chasing after every ball.

End off your day
with a corps de ballet,
entrechat to bed,
pas de deux with your loving spouse
and you’ll never end up dead!

Kalk Bay Sauntering

by Michael Keeling

A quiet swell encourages the waves
breaking on shallow rocks.
Sun lifts the morning mist
defining the mountain top.

Fishermen change bait
cursing the unseen catch
while boats splutter noisily
to their moorings.

Black, white, red, green,
multicoloured fishing fleet,
chunky sturdiness,
vessels of purpose.

Rods settled in holding sleeves
idling fisherfolk await
the tell-tale jerk of action
and the tightening line.

Persuasive sun sheds top-coats
from T-shirts mid-banter bragging
last night’s exaggerated conquest
and the eager anticipation of coming events.

Steering clear of a dozing seal
claiming its rightful territory
we head for lunch along the crowded jetty
and consume the catch of the day.

Maynardville Mayhem

by Michael Keeling

Something called Community Chest
upset our evening perambulation.
You know, the quiet walk in the park
collecting thoughts and the odd empty beer can.
Not only us but dogs, lovers, vagrants, squirrels
and sundry birds were miffed.
The ordinance corps arrived
a good two weeks before proceedings
fencing everything off like a crime scene.
This included half our regular exercise lap.
A new route was planned of equal calorific value
which could have taken in the pub but that
wasn’t really the object of the exercise.
However common sense conquered sobriety.

Sitting at the bar with a double scotch,
(my lady with her usual brandy and water),
thoughts turned to the Bard.
It was, indeed, the Shakespeare Festival.
Maynardville Park was witnessing Othello doing his nut
while slaying his old girl with Iago’s hypno-suggestive hankie.
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinable gum.
It was a double whammy, the Bard and the Chest together.

When revels ended and silent was the air
a lot more than a rack was left behind.
Clean-up time took another three days.
The tearing down of the wall
and restoration of the hallowed ground
precipitated a ceremonial lap of honour.
Birds, squirrels, dogs, lovers, vagrants and kids
reclaimed their territory.
But, when all’s said and done, why complain?
Homer was right,
The charity that is a trifle to us
can be precious to others.