Poems of the Month: November 2017

Here are the Poems of the Month for November 2017, as selected by Anthology Editors, Ros Schulz and Karl Cameron-Jackson. Congratulations to David Harris and Elaine Barker.

THE JAGUAR’S PAW by Elaine Barker
(Tikal, Guatemala)

It’s a symbol placed at eye level
and scratched deep into stone
at the base of a high wall
many centuries ago.
You can trace the shape
of the pad and each claw
of the feared and sacred jaguar
although moss like a pelt
and as green as jade
has spread to blur its outline.
You still sense the energy,
the feline grace
and mythic power
and although you have your photo
taken quickly in passing
that image reaches out
to puncture your thoughts,
become etched into your mind.
A noise close at hand
makes you spin around,
almost expecting to see,
like glistening stones,
eyes that gleam momentarily,
only to vanish
into the teeming undergrowth.

THE USE-BY DATE by David Harris

Our Nigel was a kindly man,
and much more shy than forward.
His contacts with the female sex
as rare as they were awkward.
He went on dates, but when he did
his shyness made him boring.
If opportunity came his way
he’d miss it, without scoring.

And then there was the day when he
was flying off to Dublin.
He couldn’t pass security,
the beeper kept on buzzin’,
until they asked him “Sir, we think
some foil is on your person.”
That condom, in its square, foil pack!
and then he started cursin’.

They made him take the package out
and on the tray t’was placed
to roll down the conveyor tube
as Nigel stood, red-faced.
The glances and the sniggers
really made him feel quite sick.
He grabbed it from the X-ray band –
and rushed away, real quick!

On board the flight, our Nigel took
his seat beside the aisle –
beside a pretty woman with,
he found, a pretty smile.
But once the plane was off the ground
and climbing up to height,
her face was buried in a book.
No talking, then, in-flight.

The trolley with the drinks came ‘round.
He opted for a beer.
She smiled, and took a beer herself –
he suddenly felt queer
for as she reached across him
he could see her pink brassiere.

They sipped their beers in silence, and
her closed book he could see.
When food arrived, he took another
beer, and so did she.
So, warm and fed, they settled back,
lulled by the gentle rocking,
their second coffees in their hands,
at last, they started talking.

It seemed she was a singer, and that
Celtic was her forte,
admitting though, that in the pub,
her songs got rather naughty.
When Nigel told her that he was
a proud performing poet,
she asked to see his poetry,
he warned it was inchoate.

The alcohol was working well,
it really sank his fears,
there must have been much more in play –
it only took two beers,
he said he would recite for her
his latest epic poem,
up here, at thirty thousand feet,
so very far from home!

Our story now jumps forward past
the intervening week,
as friendship grew and deepened
with every daily tweet,
until the night that they arranged
a ceili to perform in,
and there she sang, and he performed
‘til early hours of morning.

He walked her home, through Dublin streets.
They sang, and kissed, and cuddled,
until they came to her hotel…
Poor Nigel was befuddled.
He didn’t want to leave her, but
he just said, very sadly,
“I think the last tram’s gone, my dear,
I’ve really timed it badly.”

She said to him, “if I were you,
I wouldn’t really worry.
Tomorrow is another day
when all the trams will run again.
I’m sure we won’t be sorry!”
And so they spent a happy night
till well into next day,
And while this was some time ago,
they still feel the same way.

And one of night-times little plays
which caused them happy smiles,
was when he tore the square, foil pack
he’d carried miles and miles,
the thought that entered in his head,
he could not help but state,
“It’s been with me so long, but now
it’s reached its use-by date!”