Napo Corner, 2022: A place to park your poems for Napo 2022.

Started by Gyppo, April 01, 2022, 02:42:03 AM

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April 9, 2022

Heroes Seek Treasures

An ancient map depicts
the original entrance to Lascaux,
now the images make sense
but the message is still uncertain.

The sun sets just so
between the rocks at a certain time
on the appointed day, a ray
indicates The Golden Way
but in the end it leads nowhere.

The sunken city where all is said
to have begun is located
off the shore from where
everyone went mad. 

And the melting ice reveals the bones,
and the Voyager sent home
messages of rocks and gas.
and the last passenger pigeon died
while sixty scientists in attendance cried.

And all our thoughts and prayers go out...


Napo 10 - 2022

Taming the Chair

My chair eluded me the other day.
It's a love/hate relationship
and we've both changed.
We were bound to with time.

As a young writer I was fickle.
I would sit anywhere,
promiscuously unbothered,
as long as my typewriter
was in reach, well supported,
sometimes perched on my knees.

In middle age I settled,
with a 'favourite' desk
and a commandeered chair,
one of a set of four.
It only ever saw the kitchen again
when an extra daughter arrived.

The desk grew with time,
to hold monitor and printer,
and - to the uninitiated - 'writers junk'.
But it's a convenient facade,
a hand built larger addition,
screwed atop the original little desk,
which had been my girls' changing table.

The first swivel chair arrived then,
cheap and cheerful,
an eye-popping Ryman Red
which should have splintered serenity
when the muse was upon me.
But it never did.

Tilt  & Turn was the next luxury,
and I became a connoisseur of chairs.
Functional black with good padding,
needed for those fourteen hour days,
hammering out numerous articles,
a comfortable way to pay the bills.

I thought the die was cast then,
with a gas lift, two levers,
and, well worth it for comfort,
a 'waterfall front'.

Always fabric covered, never leather.
Leather scruffs, grows untidy, and,
worst of all, it's both flash and noisy.
My Muse and I prefer a silent chair.

I mend and repair as need be,
three new gas lifts, different castors,
and foam 'on order' to fix the seat,
with new stretch denim to cover it.
Black, of course.

But it tried to kill me!  Such ingratitude!
I dropped a pencil,
swivelled to one side,
leaned forward...

As I gripped it the chair moved,
scooted away on duplicitous castors,
wasn't there when I sat back,
after nearly braining myself
on the secretly laughing steel shelves.

This treachery, this wilfulness,
after so much devoted care,
cannot continue unchecked.

The castors have gone for good,
replaced with flat nylon 'glides'.
It still moves across the carpet,
when I want it to.
Still swivels to greet visitors,
like a sinuous Sylph.
But no more wanton dance steps
to tumble an unwary partner.



After Death, the Photos


Here you are wearing jodhpurs

and English riding boots,

your hand on the bridle

of a tall, dark horse.


Another, wearing darling bib shorts,

wide-brim straw hat, fancy

gardening gloves, posed

with one knee on the pillowed ground.

The best photos curated in

in the display album from an era

predating my existence

shaped my idea of what it takes

to be the perfect woman.

When I was old enough to ask questions

you replied you'd never ridden that horse,

it belonged to a friend of a friend

you visited once. It became apparent

you'd never gardened


There we are, standing by the Henry J,

on our monthly trip to Faribault

to visit your monstrously

ugly sister in the state hospital.

I'm already looking dumpy at the age of fifteen

in an ill-fitting knit suit, flat footed,

lank hair hanging, scowling face.

You knew how to do it Egyptian style:

hips twisted sideways,

shoulders thrust back--straight on,

wearing your most brilliant smile.

I became your make-up and fashion

consultant: the way to get your attention.

You told me I had good taste,

a compliment I clung to. It's true

that champaign satin blouse was your color;

that deep olive green eyeliner enhanced

your intriguing eyes.


Your second husband never looked

at the camera--only at you. He told me

how he'd loved you since he first saw you

the day he and dad were shipped out

for the South Pacific.

I consoled him over the phone

from two thousand miles away

the day you left him.


Husband three, a body builder

from L.A. the two of you worked out

together. He insisted that you stay in shape.

Ran the sea steps from the beach up four flights,

lifted weights. The two of you

look fabulous together.

Mommy I'm so mad at you, you the goddess,

blonde, green eyed, long legged

charmer of men. At least you could have

ridden out on a golden cloud of glory.

An ascension proving the worthwhileness

of our lives

Bedridden, open sores and stinking

you died having lived for nothing.


Napo 11 - 2022

Even Nomads...

Even born nomads can settle.
Sometimes for longer,
far longer than they ever imagined.
Willingly enslaved by family,
or friends, 
or even a particular place
which wraps around them.

Until it goes wrong,
sometimes deliberately,
sometimes by capricious fate,
sometimes time's inexorable march.

But true nomads have a core,
which waits patiently,
undimmed until needed,
ready to take up the reins
and move on,
despite the pain.

We don't die until we absolutely have to.



Napo 11a


I know a young lady,
young compared to me anyway,
who had a horrendous childhood.
But she made it through.

At dinner I see her, eating slowly,
savouring every bite.
I see her drink, thoughtfully,
never gulping.

Her fingers shred the lime
which adorned her cocktail,
a now ragged pale slice,
every possible drop drained.

She speaks carefully,
even amongst friends,
each word measured,
before being allowed loose.

Amongst those she trusts,
just occasionally,
she lets us glimpse her soul.

And, when words fail her,
she paints.
Vivid splashes and dark swirls,
the patterns she can't speak.

Colours as emotions.



April 11, 2022

Secret Message

I heard it for the first time in years
piped into FedEx this morning, and I remembered
1971--record store employees, circles of friends,
first year students, family members,
banded together, outlined every sentence,
played it backward, categorized
proper nouns, bugged reference librarians,
white boards contained possible combinations,
bulletin boards cross referenced with string,
dissertations were written. The drive to find
the real meaning became a national obsession.

Came home and googled it: the controversy
continues but has been largely overtaken
by seekers of deep state revelations led by a group
who are driven by a similar urge
to recover the original American Pie.

Don McLean - American Pie (Good quality) - YouTube


Napo 12

Cheeky Old Lady

Unexpected visitor today.
Nita from up the road,
eighty five years old
and with a wheeled walker,
knocked on my door.

"What can I do for you?"
Assuming she was in trouble.

Big beaming smile,
"I've brought you something,"
holding up a carrier bag.

I look inside, intrigued.
We're polite to each other
if we meet in the street,
but that's about it.
I've been here four years now,
and she's never knocked before.

It's an Easter egg.

"What have I done to deserve this?"
"A cup of tea would be nice,
if it's convenient."

I'd just finished a project,
tools all over the place,
foam and fabric debris
scattered around.
But a good time for a break.

The last time I made tea
was pre-Covid,
but I found some bags,
warned her they were a bit old.

"A bit like me then."

I let her sit in my chair,
tall enough for easy access.
Cleared up the tools,
chatted whilst the kettle boiled.

First outsider in ages.
Could I still converse?
Like a civilised being?

Apparently I can.
We swapped tales,
not gossip.

I fixed her walker,
one brake wasn't working.
She was fascinated.
Wondered at all my books,
and "How tidy you are,
for a man living alone."

Then it was time to go.
"I won't out-stay my welcome."
That, in my opinion,
is a priceless gift.

Looked into my kitchen
as she passed by.
"You're very organised..."
"For a man living alone?"
She laughed at that.
Then off she went,
with a happy smile.

I told my sister and she laughed.

"The real question, Brother,
is will she tell the other old ladies.
Or will she keep you to herself."

My anonymity has been breached,
my unsocial habit compromised.
But so politely I barely noticed.

Never underestimate an old lady.



Napo 13


Unlucky for some, they say.
My home is numbered 13,
the ill fortune is tempered
by an additional 'A'.

I wonder why this happens.
A dozen years back,
when this was a new build,
who denied me the number 15?

There are some streets
which don't even have a 13.
Erased from the resident's lives
by superstitious bureaucracy.

Amusingly there's a clear break,
a paved alleyway,
between 13 and 13A.
My shared wall is with 15.

'A' for annexe perhaps,
or amnesty, or aside?
Akin to Thirteen,
but not of it.

A sequestered sideshoot,
my own little sanctuary.
A 'poacher's hide'
from which I observe life,
and foster the fond illusion
it's not also observing me.



Napo 14 - 2022.

I was brought up with stories of Changelings, children secretly swapped by the fairies.  I sometimes wondered about my Eldest girl.  Still do at times :-)

Or mysterious watery women who seduced young men on the river bank and unwittingly drowned them when they tried to take them back to their sub-surface world.



A picnic on a quiet grass bank,
alongside the smooth flowing Thames,
a sunny day with my bride-to-be,
soft cries of waterfowl,
tick of cooling motorcycle motor.

My brown-eyed girl lay alongside,
both drowsing in the sunlight,
letting the food settle.

She moved, propped herself above me,
"Where next?"

Unearthly bright blue eyes,
watching me from her familiar face.

Apparently I looked terrified,
sat up, and she was herself again.
The warm brown eyes I knew
showing confusion and concern.

I reassured her, mind racing,
filtered out the impossible,
found a solution,
lit the camping stove,
made a comforting coffee,
and then showed her.

She lay down, I leaned over,
and my own brown eyes,
reflecting the shiny blue 'space blanket',
freaked her out in turn.

We repeated the experiment,
with the silver side up.
Dramatic chromium gaze,
full-on Alien,
but nowhere near as startling.

Then the two changelings rode away,
never saw that place again.
But we saw many changes.



April 14, 2022


The voice rises and falls
in rhythmic, insistent cadence
accompanied by choreographed
gestures, arms thrust out

over and over,

flash cards of Christ-on-the-cross
condemned to unending suffering.
The words, the words repeat

over and over:

they have stolen...they, the elite...
fleecing the people...
hoards at the border...taking what's ours...

A packed auditorium sways in time:

yes, they say, yes.

Shoulder to shoulder camaraderie:
we, the righteous, we, the persecuted,
we, the left-behind must rise.

Yes, they say, yes.

How can we... what must we...
stop the steal. don't let them take...
tell us how... tell us when...
the Bible says... chosen one...

Yes, they say yes, we shall overcome.


Napo 15 - 2022

"Fight On!"

A small scar on my right instep,
which aches in cold weather.
Livid red, when chilled flesh
turns pale in my sandals..

Physical reminder of a spear thrust,
an 'arena accident' in a show,
forty one years ago.

I rarely notice it  normally,
but when I do I recall
the shock in Nigel's eyes
when it all went wrong.
When our timing was 'off'.

I felt the sudden warmth,
flooding my boot,
kicked it free,
looked at the expectant crowd,
and said,
"Fight on!"



April 15, 2022

Keepsakes from My Daughter

Go through my stuff when I'm gone,
she said, take what you want.
I know you always liked my black coat,
you looked good in my blue polka dot dress
the night we went out--be sure to take that.

After the funeral we went back
for her dog. The clothes were
folded and ready. There they are now
in my closet. Gripped by ridiculous
superstition, I will neither wear
nor get rid of them
lest something bad should happen.

But what? If I were to give it all
to Salvation Army and if her dog dies,
what would it matter, what's left to lose?


April 16, 2022


Forty days and forty nights
in the wilderness,
past the last landmark
into a territory known as
Average Life Expectancy.

Here the woodsy brown signs
that indicate well-groomed
hiking trails marked:
Exciting New Romance;
Fulfilling Career Change;
Entrepreneurial Chance;
Where Ships Come In--


There is only one destination.
Prevailing winds blow westerly,
moss grows on the north side
of trees, water runs to salt.
I will follow these signs
to The New World and a venture
impossible until now--
I will learn to fly.


Napo 16 - 2022

Pony Tail

It's not just vanity,
despite a touch of unearned pride.
After all, many of my schoolmates
are bald as a Badger's arse,
have been since they hit thirty.
Different genes.

To some it says 'old biker',
to others, 'ancient hippy,'
or even 'tight old git',
reluctant to pay for a haircut.

In truth the captive intimacy of the chair,
a stranger with sharp tools that close,
stood behind me,
clenches my fists beneath the sheet
and tests my self control.

To a few it has biblical overtones,
invoking sarcastic comments,
"Here comes Jesus."
Some see the eyes.
behind the resigned social smile,
and shut up.

It's all grey now, no more badger stripes,
hanging halfway down my back.
It will never get any longer

It's a part of me, literally and mentally.
Symbol of my life,
a little less than ordinary,
but always essentially private.
I don't expect cheers and adulation,
just freedom to pass unhindered.



Napo 17 - 2022


She was one of my quiet customers.
A large ungainly woman,
a pale-skinned academic
with classic 'nerd' glasses,
dark hair cut in a functional 'bob'.

Her clothes fitted in places
and hung loose in others,
a seemingly random collection
donned each morning
without a thought about colour or style.

Quiet, diffident, uncomfortable
when forced to open the door,
to take in a parcel,
or a large envelope, starkly marked
She received a lot of them.

There was a pond in her garden,
overgrown, lots of water lilies,
and a 'trippy' flagstoned path,
rearing at odd angles,
erupting to escape the roots.

But she flung her door open
when she saw me kneeling,
looking into the shadowed depths.

Her somewhat plain face was beaming,
as the words tumbled out.

"Are you admiring my Efts?
They're absolutely fascinating.
So much more fun than Goldfish.

"They just turned up one day,
after the last of the fish died.

"And now they breed here too."

"I used to keep some in a tin bath
at a caravan just down the road.
If they're breeding they feel safe.
They must like it here, Madam."

"Oh, they do.  They love a wild pond.
Some impertinent man knocked one day,
offered to clear my pond,
restock it with Goldfish.
I told him to 'sod orf'.

"They're like miniature dinosaurs,
a living link to pre-history,
before Man came along.
Before we complicated everything."

Then it suddenly registered,
she was gushing to a near stranger.

"I'd best let you get on,"
suddenly diffident again.
Then, as she closed the door,
"But feel free to look at them,
even when you don't have any mail. "