Posted by: John Looker | 25 May, 2016

And To A Winter’s Day Also

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
      (William Shakespeare, sonnet 18)

 

And To A Winter’s Day Also …

… for isn’t there beauty in a winter’s day?
Not just the frail sunlight sparkling on ice,
the clear skies, the dark holly with those dear
berries; nor even the breathtaking lace
of trees in the cold air. Give these their due
but there is more – for all is stillness; peace.
     Walking, you take my arm, and I am yours.

 

© John Looker 2016

(For Frances)

This is the second in a short series of poems commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. His 18th sonnet reads as follows:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Posted by: John Looker | 15 May, 2016

Malvolio Looks Back

 

Wikipedia_-R_Staines_Malvolio_Shakespeare_Twelfth_Night

 

How did it go so wrong? I started well,
securing employment in a great house.
I worked diligently, learning to quell
my spirits, my own views, finding the nous
to flatter without detection, to be
discreet, dependable, in every task.
I rose. How I rose! until it was me
(or do I mean I?) who bore the steward’s staff.
Then how I failed myself: that yellow hose
(cross-gartered!); the fancy that my lady
loved me; the smiles; the conceit to suppose
that she would thrust some greatness upon me!

The hours would pass so sluggishly these days,
but for the new tobacco … sonnets … plays …

.
© John Looker 2016

© John Stevens 2011

I’m planning to post 2 or 3 poems as my own contribution to the  commemoration of Shakespeare’s death 400 years ago last month. This one first appeared here in 2011.

The illustration is taken from Wikipedia at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvolio

 

Added on 24 May 2016:

I’ve learnt that some readers do not know who Malvolio is, although Wikipedia has helped. So:

Malvolio was the pompous steward in a great house in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. He was tricked into thinking that the Lady was in love with him and especially fancied him in yellow stockings with cross garters. He fell for it and made a complete ass of himself in front of her. And that was only the start of his troubles.

Posted by: John Looker | 22 March, 2016

Unholy Fools

:
still
they hope to build the walls of heaven
with skulls;
they think by filling the halls of paradise
with screaming
they will be pleasing the ears of God;
in slaughtering others
they grant themselves the title ‘martyr’.

And if they hear the laughter
they would not know
how it ascends
from far,
far be-
low
.

© John Looker 2016

I have published this before under the title ‘Again’ but, with the murderous attacks at the airport and metro in Brussels today, I’ve chosen a less dispassionate title.

Posted by: John Looker | 4 March, 2016

Strange Creatures

Moments before, the sea was breathlessly calm.
Suddenly the surface ruptured and a head arose,
dripping, dark. Then onto our beach it came,
lumbering heavily, tossing its head with a roar.

Somewhere in the depths of the mind a memory stirred,
something primeval: wasn’t this how we emerged?
Sea lion. We.       Why you? Why me?

 

© John Looker 2016

Posted by: John Looker | 7 February, 2016

Committee Room Seven, Heaven

 

Present were: Copernicus, Curie, Darwin, Einstein …
… the Archangel Gabriel in the chair. 

Reporting on progress on Item Nine
(A New Revolution In Human Understanding)
the Chair said there had been none.

He acknowledged evidence of major regression
to primitive theologies in recent times (which broke 
his heart) but this, he remarked, had been foreseen
in the original scheme of creation.

He invited the meeting to consider the annex
bearing the title Hope.

.
© John Looker 2016

 

Posted by: John Looker | 27 November, 2015

Peace And Tranquillity

.
A host of daffodils dancing beside a lake –
but this is a calendar, curling on the office wall.
Festivals, yes, but no matter how closely you look

it will tell you nothing about this miniature world.
No mention of the morning Miss Jones appeared
improbably late, resigned and left in a whirl

of cigarette smoke. Nor the day young Murphy applied
grinning for a sizeable advance to order a suit.
“Oh, the style – Mr J was appalled!”

And that may be true, but this much is certain:
that the Head of Accounts didn’t mind in the least
and that Daphne soon shortened her skirt.

These were events unmarked in a lengthening list
of significant days,
although at the time their significance mostly was lost.

In stationery, old Mr T continued to doze
in the afternoons; the cleaner left mops in the hall;
and pens scratched, or were still, behind closed doors.

 

© John Looker 2015

Here it is: the last in a suite of eight complementary poems. Together they present the lives of a group of people at work. The first was published at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

My book, The Human Hive, found seven other takes on work as a way of looking at humanity. You can find samples of the book’s poems on this site under the category “Looking At Life Through Work” or you can see how my publisher, Bennison Books, introduced the book at:

http://bennisonbooks.com/category/john-looker/

It seems to me that there is a no end to the ways in which poetry can use work as a way of looking at humanity. I don’t know whether others would agree.

Posted by: John Looker | 26 November, 2015

Éminence Grise

.
“Not this door, unless you’re feeling brave.
That’s the cave of the yeti, the Head of Accounts.
No-one goes in there unless they are summoned
and no-one knows when they’ll get out.
Even the big chief
comes when he’s called for –
he comes down the corridor
almost out of breath.
The person to charm him is poor Miss Jones.
She seems to come out unharmed,
and Deidre-by-the-window swears
that he took her to lunch on her birthday.”



© John Looker 2015

This is number seven in a suite of eight poems that tell us about a group of people who work together. I have been posting one a day. What will the last one bring, tomorrow? The first was posted at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

Posted by: John Looker | 25 November, 2015

Mr Julian’s Secret

.
Confident voice; confident suit;
his father’s watch on his grandfather’s chain;
and a tiny key he would sometimes insert
in a little drawer you might discern
in his great grandfather’s desk.
Mornings were best. He still looked forward
to reading the post and would like to discuss
dreams with the few whom he favoured.
Luncheons had gone, but he’d learnt to prize
the afternoons as a quiet oasis
for his letters (laboriously copied) to the Press;
that and mentoring a fresh young face.

© John Looker 2015

This is the sixth in a suite of eight daily poems that tell us about a group of people who work together. All is not as it seems. The first poem, which set the scene, was posted at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

Posted by: John Looker | 24 November, 2015

Poor Miss Jones

.

Perhaps it was the spectacles,
the flat shoes;
or maybe the way her 2B pencil
flew down the spiral bound pad
with never a suggestion,
never a word of contention.
Nobody asked, so nobody knew.
For the second year running
she had a pastel showing
at the RA’s Summer Exhibition:
Female Nude Smoking A Pipe.
Already sold, too. Ten guineas.


© John Looker 2015

This is the fifth in a suite of eight poems that tell us about a group of people who work together. I am posting one a day for 8 days. The first was posted at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

For an insight into the Royal Academy’s famous Summer Exhibitions, see:

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/summer-exhibition

Posted by: John Looker | 23 November, 2015

Young Murphy Takes Tea At The Ritz

.
They chose of course to laugh in disbelief,
sending him out of the room
with pages of figures to check and a flick of the wrist.
Who did he think he was, a peer of the realm?
He was lucky to have a job at all
with his funny speech and different ways.
But he had those figures done by ten –
although he thought it wise
to hide the fact – and having nothing else to do
doodled for half an hour.
Mr Julian’s blue-eyed boy? Yesterday
had shown him a future, and it wasn’t here.

 


© John Looker 2015

This is the fourth in a suite of eight poems that tell us about a group of people who work together. I am posting one a day for 8 days. The first was posted at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/making-the-world-go-round/

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