The simple things I long for
Like blue skies over cable cars
Only happen in the movies
Littered with forgotten stars.
Warm fires on winter days
Romances to light the summer sun
Seem so close to touch
Yet remain hidden when the day is done.
The good life in the streets
People smiling, birds in the trees
Are locked outside my door
Maybe waiting there for me.
But the simple things I long for
Come from technicolour stories;
The right lines to the saddest songs
And people chasing down memories.
A lord lived there once. The floors remain;
A high, proud place. It still stands in parts,
On a hill in the midst of a field
Where the grass is cold and dull.
This lonely tower, a wreck that bore
Storm after storm, still holds within the life
Of someone lost to time. Someone who once listened
To the singing birds in the near-by forest –
The same songs that I heard not long ago.
The dusk sky on a harbour front –
Oh, it makes me drunk and happy.
The pubs are full and uproarious,
And the human sound in the air
Is footsteps, and the rhythm of the tide
Matches my breathing.
This is a land of ancient stone,
Unchanged roads, songs of autumn death
And songs of spring reborn.
A summer lay in your heart
And the ocean flowed through your veins
Your breath was the breeze in the shaded courtyard.
You sewed the spring in me
That bloomed into the invincible sun,
And planted my feet on the ground
To cast away the pain and let flow the fun.
Blessed are those
Who stick up their nose
At people who wouldn’t drink a drop;
They party till dawn
Then party some more
And god forbid that they ever stop.
The vines on the walls
The light stirring of the mid-morning crowd
The sun falling over her
The smell of olives, the taste of wine
The rags of history
The warmth of the breeze
The blue of the resting ocean
The music in the town
The final all enfolding gold of the evening
And the fire of the streetlights at night.
I sailed with Odysseus
I out-sang the siren
I lead blind Homer
To the asylum.
I crowned the emperor
I gave Virgil a line
I taught Apollo
How to keep time.
I decked Zeus
Hercules fell to his knees
I broke poor Jason
When I stole the golden-fleece.
Medusa lost her head
When I came to Rome
I used her disappointment
To turn a Minotaur to stone.
I won the war of Troy
In a matter of weeks
I took on Paris
Then I took on the Greeks.
I was around a while
All the legends are mine
Many heroes fell
But I had a pretty good time.
Renaissance painters knew their angels
They had them looking bored like everyone else
Even in Florence, full of royal wine.
Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael:
A trinity of future designers,
Their minds like running rivers.
They captured a beauty and a melancholy
That has transcended time.
The wind whipped the sands.
The sky was grey and as we came to the café
It began to rain. We took tea under the cover.
The rain stopped, we found the footpath
That led to the open greenspace – the golf course,
The sandy paths, the long grass. The sun was starting
To burn through the tough clouds. We approached
Nearer to our destination. I could see the steeple.
One more path led us to the site of the 12th century chapel:
‘St Enodoc Church’. The black headstone of Betjeman
Stood proud and gleaming. We sat on the bench
Next to him and looked out on the perfect blue sky
And white wandering clouds, the long green fields of
Padstow opposite and the wide free sea. I looked, in the heat
And the breeze, for the oldest grave. One weathered and worn
Told of a man born in 1700, died aged 100 in 1800.
Ragged storm! With the voice and demeanour
Of God, do you encircle me for judgement?
Are my sins a veil to lose me between worlds?
I am only one among many servants
That fell to the serpent’s way,
Outcast from the dregs of empire
That, like a plague, covers the world in a more
Vengeful darkness than thee.
Now I stand helpless to your claws
And the lashing rain that cleanses us
And the torn lightning that whips us.
Towards the darkling plume we sail
And I wonder if we deserve to see the day again.