Old Poems

On Watching Three Old Drinkers

 And whose are these eyes

Sunk in thick-brimming liquid oblivion?

And whose are these mouths,

Uncontrollable rubber bands

Chewing on unspoken words

They spit tastelessly back in the glass?

Leaning in putrid puddles

On mahogany counters of gloom,

Their overwound heads tick-tock on

Like the springs of an open clock

Until closing time,

When their lonely souls

Throw silent shadows in the lamplight.

Photographic Memory

 You face the camera,

Your eyes full of hopes and dreams,

Lit up with a smile.

Ration-book physique,

Post-war agoraphobia –

How could you be strong?

All that remains is

A tattered album full of

Your monochrome smile.


Part of Us

When it seems as if the world has lost all hope,

And the sky is crowded with the heaviest clouds,

Weeping tears of sorrow and despair,

Remember there are chinks in every cloud,

Where sunlight pierces through the blackening gloom

To brighten up the sorrow and the doom.

At the heart of every family there is loss,

Tragedy and hope go hand in hand.

It is better to remember times of joy,

Moments that help us understand

That the link that holds us firm and fast,

That ensures our memories will last,

Strengthens the chain and heals the loss –

Always remember they were part of us.

Grandad Davies

I will always remember Great Grandad Davies

And the prickle of his moustache.

He was the smell of sweet tobacco and ale.

He was a waistcoat

And in the pocket was a watch on a brass chain.

He was the tick-tock of a clock.

He was pipes lined up in a rack.


Memories of John Arthur Sayers

Dad taught me

To twist with a towel,

Skip like a boxer with his leather rope

And give my shoes a sapper’s shine.

Dad and I

Rode together on the 118 bus,

Watched Dr No and Goldfinger at Streatham Odeon

And danced to ‘Reach Out’ by the Four Tops.

His voice was boxing on the radio,

Football results on a Saturday afternoon

And the echo of Mitcham swimming baths.

He was cricket on a sunny hill day,

Harry and Pat sauce on egg and chips

And Murray Mints, too good to hurry mints.

He was lots of things to many people:

Son, husband, brother, friend;

And most of all he was our dad.


Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 A Shakespeare sonnet should have fourteen lines

And each line should have ten iambic feet.

Some poets like three quatrains of four lines;

The rhyming couplet makes it all complete.

Sometimes rhetorical questions start it off,

Each quatrain building on the main conceit,

With themes of beauty, nature, time and love,

Often about someone the poet thinks is sweet.

But Shakespeare took the sonnet for his own,

He wrote about true feelings and true love,

He finally refused to ‘false belie’

His mistress with the sun or stars above.

And yet the subjects of the poet’s rhyme

Remain a mystery ‘til the end of time.

Sonnet for my Students

My students’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

It is as if they are not yet awake;

They yawn and shuffle in, but never run,

Until it gets to time for morning break.

I have seen some of them arrive on time,

To smile at me and greet me at the door.

It is delightful when they stand in line

And tell me that my lesson’s not a bore!

I love to hear my Year 10 students speak

In pairs, in groups and often on their own.

I grant, I teach them just three times a week,

But help them sometimes when the rest have gone.

Some teachers think my pupils are too loud:

As long as they can speak they do me proud.


© Kim M. Russell, 2015

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