Mummy

She tells me she’s pregnant

Her mother is dead

I wish she could be here

The little girl said

And suddenly flood gates

Explode in my head

Me giving birth

On a hospital bed

Me with my daughter

And my mother dead

Oh look at her, Mummy

She’s lovely

I said

*

© Gail Foster 7th September 2017

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Kittens

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*

I’ve never even touched a man, she said

And now I’m old most likely never will

I’ve never really understood the thrill

Or felt the need to take a man to bed

Perhaps it was the way that I was bred

But just the thought of kissing makes me ill

I may have missed a trick, perhaps, but still

I’ve read, and had my animals instead

A man had loved her once, he came to call

With chocolates, and roses, pink and red

She didn’t like the smell of him at all

And hit him with an axe till he was dead

And put him with the kittens, by the wall

Beside the baby birds, behind the shed

*

© Gail Foster 28th February 2017

The Souls of Spring’s Children

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*

softly, whispering

featherfalls on silent stone

winter, gravity

lost in the fog, birds

grieving morning voicelessly

remembering love

dead diamonds, ditches

glittering cold promises

fossil furrow froze

darkness, deepening

the womb and the grave hiding

secrets and shadows

in the ground, waiting

the souls of springs children sing

muffled lullabies

 *

© Gail Foster 2016

Crying for Light

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*

Be still, can you hear the drum, the drum

Hear it beat like a heart in the heavy night

Hold on to your soul, for the dead are come

To look to the living for light

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

 …

Out of the mist, they come, they come

Through the slip of a stitch in the hazy veil

With their feet all bare, and their faces pale

The dead come, crying for light

 …

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

 …

Out of the past they come, they come

From the shadowy halls of history

From the battlefield, and the hungry sea

The dead come, crying for light

 …

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

 …

Out of the earth they come, they come

From the cold of the grave at midnight’s bell

From the harrowing heat of the fires of hell

The dead come, crying for light

 …

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

 …

Out of the dark they come, they come

With their winding sheets and their cobweb hair

With their violent curses and innocent prayer

The dead come, crying for light

 …

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

 …

Out of their minds they come, they come

Who are lost in the maze of space and time

Who are seeking the grace of a love sublime

The dead come, crying for light

 …

Lavender, lilies, and roses blown

Ashes and sulphur, blood on stone

 …

Be not a-feared when they come, they come

Be as still as you can, and touch them not

Show them the way to the light forgot

Love them, and let them be

 …

Be gone

In to the light they go, they go

To the glow at the end of the tunnel’s gloom

To the source of the scent of the rose’s bloom

In to the light they go

 *

© Gail Foster 30th October 2016

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Marah and The Well

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*

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well

To fill her pail with waters bitter sweet

The sky, flushed pink with daybreak’s blooming swell

Made rosy dewdrops glimmer ‘neath her feet

The well was hard to find, and deeply hid

Within the sacred forest’s leafy fold

With ivy dressed, and writ upon its lid

In graven letters, words of wisdom old

Here water calls to water, here a stream

May conjured be by sorrow to a flood

Should tears like fishes fall and catch the gleam

Of sunlight, then shall water rise like blood

The air was still, unbroken by the lark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

As Marah dropped her pail in to the dark

She held her breath, and watched it disappear

Stood firm, and stopped her heartbeat, lest a spark

Of morning’s glory light a single tear

But pain is force, that seeks to find a form

As hard to stem as ocean’s endless roll

And ‘spite her will, within her broke a storm

That rose unwanted from her ancient soul

Her tears burst forth, and waterfalls of streams

Flowed down and struck the surface of the deep

And as they fell were lit by glittered beams

Of sunlight, and the dead were woke from sleep

The waters rose, grew violent in their swell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so did Marah ope the gate of hell

Thus so unlock the door of death and birth

Unleash a tide too powerful to quell

Unloose the grief of all the souls of earth

Made waters rise, to breach the old well’s rim

Pour up, and drown the flowers in the grass

Caused birds to cease in flight, the sky grow dim

And clouds to form as shadows upon glass

She stood aghast, as heavy as a stone

As whorls of water swirled around her dress

Stood drowning in the forest there, alone

Too late to pray, to hope, or to confess

The waters closed above her sorry head

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

As Marah joined the legions of the dead

Her eyes began to fill with blood and light

With all the tears that man had ever shed

With all the dark and horror of the night

And floating past her, man and woman, child

All weeping, weeping, screaming in their pain

Possessed by loss and loneliness, gone wild

With disappointment, or the guilt of Cain

Here unborn souls, who died within the womb

Here mothers mourning infants took to death

Here those imprisoned, tortured to the tomb

Who cried for life with one last feeble breath

With those whose love was thwarted or dismayed

In one unending terrible parade

In one unending terrible parade

The labourers, the weary hungry poor

Those men who lost each pitch and toss they played

Who only spake the raven’s ‘nevermore’

With those stood on the shoreline when the Ark

Set sail for freedom and new hope of day

And those who, as they listened to the lark

Were by some wave or bullet took away

The blood of martyrs mingled with the tears

So sadly shed by all humanity

By souls lost to the night, who met their fears

On mountain tops, on roadsides, or the sea

So this is pain, thought Marah, here is shown

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More sorrow here than I have ever known

More pain than I could ever comprehend

And yet this pain in some sense is mine own

To rise above, to conquer, and transcend

And with this revelation, Marah rose

Up through the deeps, towards the hazy light

Unwove her being from the tangled flows

Flew through the waters like a climbing kite

Up, up she went, past all the weeping dead

And blessed them as she passed, for bless she could

Then broke the waters with her joyful head

And breathed the air that blew so fresh and good

Across the grass where once a flood had been

As if had been a mirage she had seen

As if had been a mirage she had seen

Seemed all the world just light, on rock and tree

All colourful, all shades of blue and green

And all that pain become but memory

She heard a whisper, soft within her ear

Go forth, and hold this lesson in your heart

You sought for answers, and you found them here

Now take them to the world and play your part

She picked her silver pail up, and she ran

The well sat silent, watched her fade away

Sat waiting, for another questing man

To learn its wisdom on another day

This is my legend, for ‘tis mine to tell

‘Twas dawn when Marah went down to the well…

*

© Gail Foster September 21st 2016

Desist; a ghazal

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*

Shatter glass, spit out your bay, desist

Lustful dogs who bark and bay, desist

Cold as silver shadows list on stone

Sun’s last ray and heat of day desist

Oracles insist, and dead men know

Luck and fickle lovers may desist

Words upon the wind; I told you this

Take your magic, walk away, desist

Time to reap the harvest you have sown

Silence, let your mournful lay desist

Scry no more, lest death thy mirror kiss

Havoc, all the angels say, desist

Madness, this, to love by will alone

Yield the ghost, Felicia; pray desist!

*

© Gail Foster 2016

 

On the death of Mohammed Ali; three clerihews

The man was a legend.  Respect.

I hope he would have enjoyed my use of the clerihew in this context.

If not then it’s not like he can hit me, now, is it?

*

So farewell, Cassius Clay, Ali

You knocked out a bit of poetry

That butterfly one sure packed a sting

And well done on the boxing thing

*

Mohammed, man, you’re counted out

You gave the boxing thing a shout

Wrote rhyme to make a grown man cry

And dodged the draft like a butterfly

*

Ali, you’ve packed your final punch

Man, you took boxing out to lunch

Men say that you are God today

Who made Mohammed out of Clay

*

© Gail Foster