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This undated poem is one of my favourite poems that Jack wrote – so much so that I submitted it posthumously to “Countryside Tales” magazine.  This magazine is one of several produced by Park Publications and comes out four times a year. They can be found at www.parkpublications.co.uk.  The poem was published in the Winter 2008 issue.

 

A Picture
The lamp is turned down low inside the room,
The spreading gloom asks questions of the eye,
A near spent log slumped torpid in the grate
Slips lower down then flickers back to life,
Hot ash and sparks cascade through the firebars,
Age ochred walls reflect the fading flames,
While a slightly singed grieved-eyed tabby cat
Glares sulkily at the felonious flames.

A heavy booted step, a creaking gate,
A welcome silhouette framed in the door,
Expectancy a fickle friend at best
Has been replaced by solid and assured.
The lamp’s turned up and shadows disappear,
A kettle sings amid the crackling blaze
While puss well fed and purringly at ease
Lies gently musing in the vibrant bliss.

The world shut out, beholden things all done,
An easy chair is pulled up to the fire,
While the tea gathers courage on the hob
His brier is primed then pampered into life.
Pale blue smoke curls towards the open fire,
Then seasoned with a mellow mist of thought
It’s whisked away above the chimney pots
To add an extra whisper on the wind.

Swirling misty thoughts and drifting daydreams,
Shadowy firelight frescoes on the walls,
Brightly burning logs and glowing embers,
Deep pleasure in the warmness of it all.
Memories, reflections, wistful yearning,
Awareness fading to a blissful haze,
The eyes close, the room is wreathed in silence,
The picture drawn, the pen is cast away.

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This is the second of the two poems published in the “Poetry Kingdom” anthology in 1972. There was no copy of this poem found among Jack’s papers, nor did he seem to have a copy of the anthology on his bookshelf. Jack moved home several times and it is sadly possible that many of his poems were thrown out or lost during the moves. Fortunately I still have a copy of the book which Jack gave me when it was published and it is from there that I have copied the poem.

The Race
He sat amongst the ruins,
Alone and in despair.
People thronged around him,
But no-one saw him there.

Everyone was busy,
Living every day,
No-one saw the straggler
Fall down by the way.
Striving every minute,
Fighting for a place,
Push the weaker under,
Trying to head the race.
Must get his promotion,
Buy a brand new car,
Perhaps a country cottage,
Smoke a fat cigar.
Keep on looking forward,
Never look behind.
The race is for the swiftest,
The weak get left behind.

Must keep orders rolling,
Keep production dates,
Throw a fancy party
To impress his mates.
But now the pace is telling,
He is prematurely old.
Younger men behind him,
Trying for the gold.
His brood’s grown up and left him,
They did not give a damn.
He never was a father,
Just a business man.
The girl he loved and married
Has found another mate.
The seed of love he planted
He had failed to propagate.

He sat amongst the ruins,
Alone and in despair.
People thronged around him
But no-one saw him there.

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The following poem is one of two that were published in an Anthology called “Poetry Kingdom” in 1972. This is the earliest date I have for any of Jack’s poems. The version of this poem that was found amongst Jack’s papers after his death was incomplete. What follows is the version that appeared in the Anthology.

 

The Spider
As I was doing my daily chores
I saw a spider on the floor.
I made to crush it under foot
For I don’t like spiders very much,
And as I moved to end its day
These words I thought I heard it say:

“Just have a care for what you do,
For I have my part to play, like you.
I am part of Nature’s plan
Just as much as any man.
Both have got our job to do,
So leave me be to see it through.
Your kind are upsetting Nature’s balance
With your so called brain and talent.
Of many creatures there is a dearth,
While you are crowding out the earth.
Why don’t you live by Nature’s code.
The strong must live, the weak must go.
No-one gets a helpful hand.
Everyone alone must stand.
All sentiment must stand aside,
Only the fittest shall survive,
This is Mother Nature’s plan,
You had better heed it while you can.”

And as that spider turned to go
I smashed it flat with a single blow.
But what that spider said is true,
I can’t stand alone, can you?
We started off by Nature’s code
But altered it along the road,
And now there is no turning back
Although the road ahead is black.
Oh. whatever shall we do?
I don’t know and nor do you.

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