Tom Vaughan

Tom Vaughan is a teacher and writer, who has been successful in several major national literary awards, also a winner in the Lyrics Section of past SCALA awards. His stage plays have been both published and publicly performed, as have dramatised broadcasts of his radio plays. His poetry has also been widely published.

The Garden of Edam

One day we will grow tomatoes on the moon
Russian cosmonaut , 1997

And gaze down upon
the Great Rift Valley, where
our journey began, thirty-six million
full and ripe moons ago. From Olduvai
towards Peking, Neander and Cro-Magnon,
Ur and Memphis, Athens and Rome, London
and Washington D.C.

(And sometimes too smart by half!)

Pioneer growers of tempting
love apples, in a forgotten god’s
green garden of Edam, on the Eve
of a new beginning.

And on pagan Dianna’s
dark side, other nightshades
will thrust with Horus’s power
to find the hidden sun.

Homme de terre, pomme de terre
sewing seeds and ploughing furrows
towards distant stars and
terra incognita.

From Friendly Street No. 22

Parlour Games

A third party
ostracized to burn
deadly dried leaves
beneath the stars and
verandah vines

curiously attracted to
the whirling dervish waiter
busily choreographing his
al fresco dining table

dinner arrives
without ceremony
for the waiting diner
in this fast food chain

catch of the day
delivered still alive
and kicking so to speak
lightly spiced with
drifting spring pollen

both oblivious to
the third’s critical eye
magnified owlishly through
tipsily tilted Chardonnay

primevally drinking
in each other with only the
whine of a curious mosquito
washing over them

the critic tosses back his drink
and drawing hard upon his leaf
creates a glowing orange goad
to mimic a spiteful god

summarily dismissing
the waiter from his table
sending him sizzling frantically
for a nearby crevice whilst
discarding several legs

arrested arachnid
indisposed drosophila
disturbed dipsomaniac

the latter sucking harder still
to sear the writhing roast before
re-joining the broken laughter
drifting from within

From Friendly Street No. 24

Midnight Drunkard

A toast to the midnight drunk of yore,
last ordered and time gentlemen pleased
at the end of a twelve pint Friday night,
peerless in his magnanimity of good nighting,
back slapping, and nudging and winking
not to do anything he wouldn’t do,
to a brewer’s droop of more or less legless.

Finding himself alone, wall leaning and groaning,
hissing and sighing a jet of steaming pee
against a darkened alley’s convenient wall,
with the world closing down around him.

Shaking off a doze, and bouncing off the corner
into lonely gaslight, blinking and damply undone;
panning half circle for a bearing, jabbing a finger,
and lurching notionally homeward astride the gutter,
one leg locked to match the stolen inches of the other,
adding pocket slapping to his peg-legged progress,
and finding a lighter to kindle a mangled cigarette,
against the will of wind gusts and a spitting sky.

Passing barren parlour shops along the “top road”,
allowing himself to be sucked into a side street
along with the wind and rain, gateway to a warren
of terraces, and a world emptied of all sentient life,
save for a tumbleweed newspaper, skidding and
skittering fretfully away from something dreadful.

Befuddled imagination conjuring demons,
setting him babbling denials to the looming
apparition of a mother-in-law moon; she,
scolding and drawing a dismissive dark veil
across her pockmarked countenance; he
shaking a fist, and disputing the fading echo
that her Elsie could have done much better.

“Oopsadaisie”, and hanging on to his steadfast friend
the corner shop lamppost to stop himself falling off the earth;
becoming maudlin sentimental and serenading his old fluted pal,
with a “Show me the way to go home”, then a robust snatch
of “Maggie May” and her world-renowned unmentionables.

Tottering on towards his own two-up-and-two-down castle,
nose thumbing and ear wiggling a mirthful pantomime
at the listening window of the street’s long widowed know-it-all;
chortling and shushing himself for twenty tiptoed paces, then,
like a deviant street urchin out of cuffing distance, turning,
hands cupped about his mouth, and announcing to all that
’twas a working man’s god-given right to drown his sorrows
of a Friday night, and temperance was for spinsters and sissies.

At the last, boxing shadows, like a bare knuckleman,
with a cock-a-doodle-doo, and a “Come on out and fight”,
in all the languages and dialects of the world.

From Friendly Street No. 26