Stranded

This is the first poem I wrote specifically to submit for publication in a poetry journal. It was refused, so you all get to enjoy it instead, as well as the good people at superversiveSF.

Stranded

Stranded on a pinnacle, surrounded by a throng
Of the vilest creatures known from story, myth or song.
He led them on a merry dance when things got out of hand,
Out here to this lonely peak, amidst this barren land.

His radio is long-since smashed, his ammo’s running low,
His jetpack is all out of charge, discarded in the snow.
He’s improvised and struggled hard to keep the hordes at bay;
With no rocks left, it looks as if he won’t survive the day.

Hiding has proved futile, they smell his sweat and fear,
Their bony claws pierced through his armour, slashing his right ear.
His arms are getting heavy, his eyelids won’t stay up,
He sees bug reinforcements and his head begins to drop.

They cover the horizon, the ground squirms as they swarm,
The only thing that held them back was a great ice storm.
But now the winds are calming, they start their new ascent,
The screech of claws upon bare slate is homing on his scent.

He shivers as he stands again to face the warrior drones,
Debilitating cold and dread both pierce his weary bones.
He pictures all those he bought time to reach a safer place,
From where they could at last find peace and meet a friendly face.

He smiles to think of Sylvia enjoying motherhood,
Raising four kids and a dog beside a sleepy wood.
Jason, Mick and Frank will all be standing in salute,
As his beloved plays a mournful song on her old flute.

They’ll join their voices with the choir that sings a solemn hymn
Beside the lasting monument with which they’ll honour him.
They’ll talk about the good old times, the laughs, the games, the pranks,
Then raise their glasses in a toast to show their debt of thanks.

Then go on to enjoy the lives that he has won for them,
Each moment of sweet liberty more precious than a gem.
Just metres now and one clip left, he adds to the great heap
Of insectoid carcasses that fill the chasm deep.

With no regard for brotherhood, they trample on their own,
Fearlessly and ravenously scale that pile of bone.
His rifle clicks dead one last time, they do not pause or slow,
He catches one last glimpse of sunset’s amber afterglow,

Then all around him falls a flood of piercing metal rain,
Roaring jets and blinding searchlights drive them back again.
Pistons hiss and cargo bay doors open to his right;
Half-thinking this is all a dream, he steps into the light.

They wrap him in a blanket, and soar into the sky,
For the first time in a month his hands and head are dry.
“They’ll nuke the site from orbit as soon as we are clear,
And turn that vicious army to a sterile glassy smear.”

“How did you find me way out here? My radio was gone.”
“This was the seventh mountain range that we’ve explored since dawn.
We’ve scoured half the planetoid, all looking for your heat;
We couldn’t just leave you behind, there’s someone you should meet.”

The lovely face of Sylvia appears on a small screen,
She looks to him as if she’s just been crowned a beauty queen.
“Thank God you’re out, I couldn’t bear the thought that you were lost,
After all you did for us, and what your courage cost.

“I found the letter that you left, I really didn’t know
How much our friendship meant to you, you let so little show.”
“You weren’t supposed to read that, it was only if I didn’t—“
She puts a finger to her lips, he meekly takes the hint.

“You said you hoped I’d find a man that’s faithful, honest, good;
With whom to raise a family, who’d treat me as he should.
I know of one,” She beams a smile so full of joy and life,
Then says the words he’s longed to hear: “I’d love to be your wife!”

Not Forgotten

Not long ago, Sir Nicholas George Winton passed away. Since the heroics for which he is most famous took place less than 20km from where I live, I thought it appropriate that I write a poem about him:

 

Not Forgotten

The accolade of hero is oftentimes bestowed
Quite carelessly and flippantly, and not where it is owed;
The above cannot be said of those who chose to praise
A certain late Sir Nicholas, who did in bygone days
Observe the signs of his own times, the shadows that unfurled
Of an evil threatening to swallow up the world.

Primarily he saw a throng of innocents no doubt
Marked for extermination, and all with no way out.
All they could do was send their treasured children far away,
In the hope that they might live to see a better day.
But who would take them in, and would the Nazis let them go?
They’d need official invitations to present and show.

For unsuspecting thousands, time was growing short,
With no-one there to help them flee, for fear of getting caught.
That quiet English stockbroker then went where others quailed,
To save so many lives that would have ended had he failed.
Mountainous bureaucracy had to be waded through,
In London and in Prague he built himself a loyal crew.

Together they worked day and night to free all those they could.
Funds were raised, papers obtained, they were doing good;
But war loomed ever closer, and papers came too slow.
Some documents they had to forge and hope it wouldn’t show.
Train after train departed, and many lives were spared
In all six hundred and sixty nine with families were paired

And yet two hundred and fifty more sat waiting on a train,
But war broke out, the borders closed, their hopes were all in vain.
Mr. Winton travelled home and did not tell a soul
Of all he’d done to rescue many from a deadly hole.
Not even his beloved wife; he clearly sought no praise
For all of his heroics back in those disastrous days.

It was by chance that in their attic his wife found a book
In which were written all he’d done and all the work it took.
She shared his secret with the world, and honours poured on in
Admiration well deserved, not just from next of kin
For the six hundred and sixty nine he’d saved at great expense
Had grown to fifteen thousand in the generations hence.

Great accolades and titles, and medals he received;
When heaven’s final call came for him, many millions grieved.
Six years past a whole century he had graced this earth,
Now we remember his great heart and life so full of worth.
Let his example inspire crowds to choose the higher way
To heal and help and rescue from the evils of today.

 

This and other poems on heroism, beauty, wisdom and folly can be found in Selected Verse, Heroes and Wonders, available on kindle and in paperback.

Selected Verse - Heroes and Wonders

Click on this image to preview the book at amazon

For Science! Part Two

Continued from part one:

A pack of pitchfork-wielding men soon gathers in the yard.
They make sure every door and window is securely barred,
Then off into the murkiness they move in groups of five.
“Keep within shouting distance, that foul thing must not survive!”

Each group sees a short distance by their burning torches’ light.
Fog and smoke combine to blur this dark unholy night.
Tension rises, deer are spooked, the trail seems to be cold,
Then a mangled carcass leaves its story to be told.

“The creature clearly went this way, advance and call the others!
We must not let it get away, forward, band of brothers!”
They form a line and move between the gnarled and ancient trees
After an hour they hear ahead a faint inhuman wheeze.

It’s gruesome silhouette emerges from the murky gloom
Foreboding fills each mortal man, it exudes certain doom.
“Be strong and force that monster back into the old tar pit!”
It gives a piercing wail that makes them feel their heads will split.

Faced with an angry line of spikes, it slowly backs away
They follow, full of fearful rage, driving back their prey.
A farmer that breaks from the line is cut down by its claws
Its cruel strike and his chilling scream give all the others pause.

“Don’t give up now, together we are stronger than this beast,
If we flee now then our beloved will be its next feast!”
With fresh determination they resume their slow pursuit
And doggedly begin to corner this most gruesome brute

It senses it has no retreat and starts just lashing out
Men fall back gravely injured and the outcome is in doubt.
Then the mist reverberates with an unholy roar
The aberration charges in and battle is in store.

They both sustain such wounds that would destroy a human life,
They’re forced by pitchforks to the edge, distracted by their strife.
The aberration stumbles and pulls his creator down
They fall into the thick black ooze and there begin to drown.

The farmers take no chances and they set the tar ablaze,
ending both monstrosities in a pungent haze.
They trace the trails of havoc back and storm the castle yard
Destroy its great laboratory, leave its library charred.

When he reports back to the girl, she weeps for all that’s lost
For all the pain her father caused, for all his science cost.
Her family is now all gone, her home wrecked and reviled;
pain and guilt and shame and sorrow on each other piled.

Moved by more than all her woe, he offers his embrace.
Deep within his warm, strong arms, she knows she’s found her place.
Now that there is no way back, she starts a whole new life
As her favourite farm boy’s friend and treasured, loving wife.

For Science! Part One

This fun little celebration of B-movie sci-fi horror is nearly finished and has grown to be quite long, so I have decided to split it into a couple of posts. Enjoy!

For Science!

In goggles, gloves and coat of white, a balding moustached man
By dim and dreary lantern light unfolds his cunning plan:
A gleaming living man of bronze, a rocket to the moon,
That unprecedented breakthrough that is coming oh so soon.

“I can transform this rancid skin and vats of squirming goo
To twelve-eyed toads to flood the roads from here to Timbuktu!
But that can wait, here on this slab old life will be reborn
Old corpses iced then sliced and spliced into a whole new form!”

With triumph shining in his eyes he cackles like a witch.
He cries with glee “For Science!” and then throws the power switch.
Torrents of pure lightning flow from one globe to the next;
Reanimated limbs are stirred, their muscles stretched and flexed.

An unholy aberration wakes up with an angry roar,
And foul green birthing liquid spills onto the stony floor.
It bursts through doors and fragile walls, repelled by fire and light
Devouring dogs and squealing hogs, it limps into the night.

“It lives!” He cries, and raises to his lips a tepid flask
Of a strange concoction meant for quite another task.
On realizing his mistake, he gasps and grabs his throat,
Collapses to the ground as his whole face begins to bloat.

His arms extend, his teeth grow sharp, black fur sprouts everywhere,
His eyes take on a beastly and most terrifying glare.
Extra limbs and tentacles erupt from his hunched back
His helpless lab assistants are now but a tasty snack.

His stunning nubile daughter watches, truly horrified,
At what her dear dad has become, at how many have died
To satisfy his fevered mind, enact his twisted plans,
How in his wake he leaves a trail of poisoned, battered land.

She jumps from her high balcony down to an grassy slope
And flees pursuing foulness to her last faint ray of hope.
A sturdy square-jawed farm boy stands and maims the creature’s face,
As it retreats the girl faints into his surprised embrace.

Her fragile beauty stirs his heart, his duty to protect
All that is worthy in this world of honour and respect.
He lays her gently down and brings her water from a stream.
When she awakes and sees his face, she asks, “Is this a dream?”

“That creature here was real enough, you see the havoc wrought,
The fences smashed, cattle gouged, the marks of battle fought.
Others will arrive soon to destroy its threat for good;
Together we will hunt it down in that accursed wood.”

Continues in Part Two

Anthem

Could chance alone have led me here to witness this magnificence
Or else the instigation of some great eternal plan?
I’ll respond with all the fullness of my youth’s profound exuberance
To answer nature’s call and thus attempt to be a man!

What fortitude arises when your path is strewn with obstacles,
As if they were all placed there by a teacher from on high;
It will not do to merely gaze at them with tinted spectacles,
For duty bids us not just rise but reach up to the sky! Continue reading