Saint Belfort’s Wood by Stewart Stafford

Saint Belfort’s Wood by Stewart Stafford

As I rambled through Saint Belfort’s Wood,
The Entrepreneurial Skag Lepus accosted me,
“I can get you hopped-up whether you want it or not,” he boasted,
Gesturing to a commune of defrocked Praying Mantises nearby.

They stood transfixed like Pointer dogs,
As they tried cleaning their antennae,
Failing miserably in the attempt,
Their eyes swirling cascades of hopelessness.

“You talk too much for a rabbit,” I replied,
My eyes moving over his tweed waistcoat,
“I’m a hare, actually,” he said, taking umbrage,
“Then you, sir, are a follicular f-f-falsity!” I shouted.

I turned on my heel and walked away,
“Don’t look a gift hare in the mouth!” he called after me,
“I have and only see two buck teeth!” I responded,
The hare huffed and hopped away to find another hophead.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

When by Stewart Stafford

When by Stewart Stafford

When the question needs no answer,
And the crab vacates Cancer,
Clumsy moves come from a dancer,
Every charlatan, a former chancer.

When an adagio becomes arpeggio,
Lethargic melancholy charged with brio,
The lion abdicates as Ex-King Leo,
Selfish one seeing beyond Me-o.

When accusations refute the accuser,
And the complexion glows of a bruiser,
A beggar now a careful chooser,
And a millionaire, a gutter loser.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Passing Bell by Stewart Stafford

The Passing Bell by Stewart Stafford

The Master returns to a deathwatch,
Apocalyptic trinkets on his person,
Blazing karmic bracelets for us all,
Manacles sealing our ignorance shut.

The air scorched with cries of anguish,
Master’s ear dulled to dawning remorse,
Belated listening is never hearing ever,
Wheels furious in motion from our command.

Our downfall automaton infernally sentient,
Its oil the bloody sweat on our brows,
In the fading pulse of midnight’s chime,
Harvesting all that is human-sown.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Tide of Hope by Stewart Stafford

The Tide of Hope by Stewart Stafford

The tide of hope approaches,
And recedes from us,
As we stand on the mortal shore.

Some of us wait for it to arrive,
Some chase after it,
But we all vanish into the sunset.

Our footprints in the sand fade in time,
The feet of infants replace ours,
And the dance of the tide commences anew.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Ground Zero by Stewart Stafford

Ground Zero by Stewart Stafford

At the rim of the abyss,
Among the malignant smoking rubble,
And the plane and body parts,
The traumatised rediscovered their purpose.

In a moonscape of fallen pride, identity, and ambition,
The anonymous saved something of the unsalvageable,
Searchers with sandwiches and coffee in the toxic dust,
Manna from Good Samaritans with unconditional gratitude.

As the lungs struggled to take in air,
The hearts of each participant enlarged,
And found shelter in non-partisan synergy,
Becoming a family of former strangers.

The lesson of the lost was to stay loving and open-hearted,
Not turn away and isolate from life and others,
Even when the scars became unbearable,
Their stolen affection remained a towering beacon from the ruins.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Queen at Live Aid: The Breakdown

In the week of Freddie Mercury’s 75th birthday, let’s take a look back at Queen’s magnificent set at Live Aid. What is still left to say about the greatest performance of all time? We shall see, dear readers.

Firstly, this performance could never happen the way it did today. Not just because the world has lost the unique Freddie Mercury or that the Covid-19 pandemic ended live performances, but also because of the bugbear of modern live shows: the mobile phone. Yes, look at Live Aid, and you see Freddie has the entire crowd’s attention from start to finish. Now, people would be tuning out of the concert, heads down, texting on their phones, or, even worse, there would be that forest of arms holding up phones, filming and selfishly blocking the view of everyone behind them. It’s a weird form of technological ADHD we all suffer from now.

Live Aid was not a Queen audience, and tickets had sold out before they had agreed to appear on the bill. So, perhaps for the first time since their early days, they had to win over a crowd that was not there to see them exclusively. The promoters asked what time they wanted to go on. Queen said 6 pm, which surprised the organisers, who thought they would want to close the show like 99% of the other acts. Queen reckoned that they would be on around lunchtime in the States and might be the first act seen by most viewers over there.

Freddie and Brian skip onto the stage, and there’s an immediate roar of approval from the crowd. Freddie responds by affectionately giving the audience three air right hooks like a boxer. This is significant as Freddie had done some boxing in his boarding school days in India as a boy.

Freddie (centre) settling for second best for perhaps the only time in his life.

He was good at boxing, despite his protruding teeth giving his opponents an easy target to hit that bled heavily whenever struck. In a precursor to We Are The Champions, Freddie would never throw in the towel, no matter how badly he was injured or how much his friends begged him to concede. Boxers use a footwork technique called ‘cutting off the ring’ in which you essentially use sly footwork to corner your opponent and inflict damage upon them to win. Freddie’s footwork at Live Aid is immaculate. He covers every inch of the stage, does some intricate moves, and never puts a foot wrong (imagine if he had fallen flat on his face in front of the world doing all that prancing and running that he does!)

Freddie also worked with the Royal Ballet, and you can see that influence on his movements too when he glides with a balletic grace to the sides of the stage at different points in the set.

Freddie sits down at the piano (that belonged to Phil Collins, believe it or not!) and plays some scales to get the level. The audience respectfully pipes down as the artiste makes them wait until he is ready. Freddie adjusts the sound level and goes straight into Queen’s biggest hit, Bohemian Rhapsody. There is an adoring cheer from the crowd, who do instant backing vocals with Freddie as he sings of Mama just killing a man.

Freddie was advised not to do the show by doctors because of a persistent throat problem. I believe this was an early symptom of HIV/AIDS making an appearance. Two months before, Freddie was interviewed on the BBC by Simon Bates, his throat problem dogging him then also. He stuck his tongue out at Bates, who described it as the unhealthiest thing he had ever seen. This sounds to me like Freddie was suffering from a Fungal Throat Infection. One book I read said that a Fungal Throat Infection in an otherwise healthy patient nearly always led to a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. So Live Aid was the beginning of the end for Queen, and they were unaware of it. It was their last show outside of their final tour in 1986.

Notice how discoloured Freddie’s tongue is here with Mary Austin.

Before we know it, the opening snippet of Bohemian Rhapsody is over, and Freddie is up from the piano and strutting around to the opening bars of Radio Ga Ga. He then strides confidently to the front of the stage, daring 72,000 people to defy him, and waves to them. What breathtaking self-confidence that man had! The crowd is putty in his hands already.

The 1984 video for Roger Taylor’s Radio Ga Ga came in for criticism for its alleged Fascist imagery (Roger seemed to be trying to make up for it a decade later with his anti-Nazi anthem Nazis 1994.) At Live Aid, the crowd spontaneously chose to mimic the brainwashed crowd handclapping from the pop video of the song. Henry Rollins likened it to one of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies, and the BBC’s Paul Gambaccini described it as “a frightening kind of power.” Now, once Freddie grew his moustache and slicked back his new short haircut, there was a resemblance to the Nazi dictator. Hitler, of course, was a genocidal madman, while Freddie is one of the most loved performers ever and had no interest in politics whatsoever. Their approach to stagecraft does have similarities. Hitler would make his audiences wait to hear him as Freddie had done briefly at the start of his Live Aid performance. A magician taught Hitler how to use big stage poses to communicate with everyone in a large arena and have the maximum impact. Freddie used similar big poses too.

Hitler used shameless self-promotion and alternative facts to cast himself as a national hero.

Then Freddie chose to do his famous Ay-Oh call and response with the whole of Wembley. Again, the crowd sings it straight back at Freddie without an embarrassing silence or him even telling them to. Freddie again takes a big risk, and it pays off incredibly well. It leads to the note heard around the world that Freddie sings even with his throat problems. He then rips into Hammer To Fall, and the song never sounded better.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love is next, and Freddie gets the crowd to sing a few chorus lines to save his voice for the big note near the end. A good trick that singers do now and then (witness Elton John at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert dodging high note bullets during Bohemian Rhapsody by getting the crowd to sing instead.)

Then it’s into a shortened version of We Will Rock You with Freddie directing the crowd to sing it only four times, so they don’t go into the second verse when the song is ending. Brian May is very modest and says Live Aid was Freddie’s day, but the solo in We Will Rock You has real venom to it here. Just like the rest of Queen, he gave admirable and unsung help to his bandmate all day.

We Are The Champions brings the curtain on Queen’s 20-minutes of magic with Freddie’s voice sounding the roughest it did all day. He gets through it and then says: “Thank you, goodbye! We love you!”

Freddie had been born in Zanzibar off the coast of Africa. Queen had gotten into big trouble for playing the Sun City resort in Apartheid-era South Africa, making amends by playing the Live Aid concert for the starving in Africa and later benefits for Nelson Mandela’s charity. And Freddie died of AIDS in 1991, the virus that originated on the African continent. It all came full circle, as most things have a habit of doing in life.

The shy, insecure immigrant Farrokh Bulsara had once banged his head on his piano in frustration at being unable to write great songs like his idols. He would proceed to write what is generally considered the best song of all time – Bohemian Rhapsody. The nervous young Freddie with his untamed, nanny goat vibrato was too petrified to face his first audience and stood with his back to them. He then changed his name to the heroic alter-ego of Mercury, after the messenger of the gods and, on July 13th, 1985, Freddie Mercury would give the greatest live performance ever seen. We witnessed a man at the height of his immense powers before his Icarus-like fall from grace.

Freddie Mercury, Queen, and their Live Aid performance will never be forgotten. Even if the great man never lived to be three-quarters of a century old, his music and iconic images will live on forever. His is the story of a self-made man who recreated himself through sheer willpower and got destroyed by the fearless risk-taking that had made him.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Car Park Kleptomaniac by Stewart Stafford

Car Park Kleptomaniac by Stewart Stafford

Strange old, blonde lady with no teeth,
Acting suspiciously in her bare feet,
At my open car, loitering with intent,
Casting a sneaky eye on what I’d spent.

Tattoos covered her bare-legged limp,
The tree rings of an ageing nymph,
I knew what she was up to, it was no surprise,
Thwarted mischief in her eyes.

Rumbled, she disappeared from view,
Retreating to some flophouse anew,
Never to darken my car door again,
Well, until the next time I bought anything.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Dear Friend by Stewart Stafford

Dear Friend by Stewart Stafford

Dear Friend,
I hope life finds you well,
And that your dreams are more,
Than a drop in the wishing well.

Some say my name still crosses your lips,
But time has moved us so far apart,
To be perfectly honest with you now,
I am not sure where to start.

To forgive you for what you’ve done,
Is to let you wriggle off the hook,
So I will leave well alone,
And quietly close the book.

This is not what I wanted,
Or hoped for us in my heart,
But the path you have chosen is,
A minefield where you and I must part.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Côte d’Azur by Stewart Stafford

(As today is my 7th anniversary on WordPress, you get two poems!)

Côte d’Azur by Stewart Stafford

The sun smiles on the Mediterranean,
Blinding me as I turn away,
And walk up the Hôtel du Cap‘s white stone steps,
A parvenu in this Gallic Parthenon of wealth.

Pleasantries exchanged en français,
With the girl at the front desk,
Her flirtatious glances,
Tell me I am accepted.

I go in to dine,
And am served by clockwork penguins,
The waiters who move with grace and purpose,
In their gastronomical choreography.

I head to the azure water,
And look out over the coast,
In simultaneous disbelief and satisfaction,
At this manifestation of paradise.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Where Have All The Humans Gone? by Stewart Stafford

Where Have All The Humans Gone? by Stewart Stafford

In the chartreuse limelight of a ruined world,
I wafted on acidic breaths,
In the nuclear winter of Man’s hubris,
And wondered, where have all the humans gone?

The Polluterati have fled the scene of the crime,
For a new Eden to ravage,
Determined not to make the mistakes of old,
Destined to make all new ones.

Nauseated by my biological proximity to them,
Yet acknowledging some collective blame,
I forsook the consequences of our actions,
Gladdened, I was no longer one of us.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Hairy Backroom by Stewart Stafford

The Hairy Backroom by Stewart Stafford

In the hairy backroom,
Where you’re filled with doubt,
And the junk nearly reaches the ceiling.
Even the cockroaches check out.

The addict in the alley by the window,
Ranting gibberish when he’s high,
Laughing at his own nonsensical jokes,
Propositioning female passersby.

The heat is murderous outside,
The flies never leave you alone,
Buzzing in your face and earhole,
It makes you want to go home (wherever that is).

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Wonder Brew by Stewart Stafford

Wonder Brew by Stewart Stafford

Llama! Llama!
Bananarama,
Ham of Parma,
Simon Schama.

Whitfield! Whitfield!
Thunderbolt of Titfield,
Stamps of Green Shield,
Wipers of the windshield.

Schnauzer! Schnauzer!
The muzzle of Mauser,
Carousing rabble-rouser,
With tingling trousers.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

In Vulcan’s Cradle by Stewart Stafford

in Vulcan’s Cradle by Stewart Stafford

Long before Christ stopped at Eboli,
Hades and all his underworld hellfire,
Stopped at Pompeii in 79 AD,
Consuming the coastal Roman city.

The waters in the aqueduct were dropping,
A looming drought seemed to be the emerging problem
Up in Vulcan’s cradle stirred the volcano Vesuvius,
The price was fatal for those who ignored it.

On the ankle of the Italian peninsula,
Oblivious Pompeiians sauntered languidly across the plaza,
Or they went haggling in the market,
Or they had relaxing conversations with neighbours.

Pumice began raining down for nearly a day,
All but a thousand or so people fled,
Then piping hot ash clouds flattened structures, altered the coastline,
Instantly killing anyone struck by their extreme heat.

Some died where they stood,
Or where they ran carrying valuables,
Frozen in time in infernal immolation,
A funeral pyre of ash blocked out the sun.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved

Not The Done Thing by Stewart Stafford

Not The Done Thing by Stewart Stafford

Pass the strawberry conserve here,
Layer some cream on top,
This is how one eats scones, my dear,
We’re not pigs feeding in a trough.

Pinky raised when you sip tea,
No slurping sounds escaping your mouth,
Cucumber sandwiches in tiny triangles,
Crusts of bread all cut out.

Drawing room dramas over cordials ensue,
Gossip exchanged with finest manners,
Secrets kept as the cabal breaks up,
The public face flew on their banners.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

An Innocent Man by Stewart Stafford

An Innocent Man by Stewart Stafford

The governor denied clemency,
And the execution would go ahead,
The clock began slowly ticking,
Inside the condemned man’s head.

What would his final meal be?
Who would be there when he died?
No one cared that he was innocent,
They just wanted to see him fry.

He deemed last words unimportant,
Merely prolonging the inevitable,
No halo would ever hang over him,
Just a verdict only he found questionable.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Penultimate Hotel by Stewart Stafford

The Penultimate Hotel by Stewart Stafford

Enter sluggishly into the lobby,
A banquet is in progress in the restaurant,
They’re regurgitating reality from within,
And then eating their young.

An apocalyptic porter has radioactive cubes in the lift,
Housekeeping will have ten thousand years of light,
But the sheets in the rooms,
Will all turn to cream cheese.

The cooks in the kitchen are breaking bones and rules,
Creating a cake that stretches to infinity,
Babel babble with protesting eggs,
All baked in a hellfire oven.

The concierge gives out tips,
And tells guests they are awful and to leave,
While simultaneously tattooing diabolical potion recipes,
Inside a willing bellhop’s eyelids.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

One Good Deed… by Stewart Stafford

One Good Deed… by Stewart Stafford

I had a surprise party for a psychic,
But they knew it was coming,
I set up a pool party for a plumber,
And the whole time, they fixed the plumbing.

I introduced Tiger Woods to a carpenter,
And they sawed him up in pieces,
I had a housewarming for a real estate broker,
And they made everyone sign leases.

I installed drivers for a driving instructor,
But they just drove him mad,
I tried to cheer up a pessimist,
And it didn’t make her more glad.

Kindness to others is a noble thing,
And we should work towards its retention,
While wisely paying heed to this caveat:
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Coast Of Inhumanity by Stewart Stafford

The Coast of Inhumanity by Stewart Stafford

Set our course for the Coast of Inhumanity,
Behold, dorsal-finned lies with pitiless teeth!
Innuendo washes ashore as limp, bodiless weed,
And there is wave after wave of unfounded allegations.

Begrudging starfish cling to every rock in sight,
The shallows are small-minded,
Riptides are treacherous,
And the sand is composed of crushed-down secondhand opinions.

Setting sail to leave,
The wind whispers about us behind our backs,
Its cold fingers stabbing our spines,
No regrets remain in our wake.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

A Pedlar Came Calling by Stewart Stafford

A Pedlar Came Calling by Stewart Stafford

A pedlar neared the village fair,
Playing the lute and singing a lilting air,
To attract buyers for his many wares,
And the comely maidens who dwelled there.

He sold pins, handkerchiefs, and seeds,
Herbs and poultices for every need,
Rattraps, rings, and colourful beads,
And weather predictions for all to heed.

With his roguish smile and tinker’s charm,
He was sure to have a pretty girl on each arm,
Then sneak them away to the comfortable barn,
With the excuse, they were giving his socks a darn.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Poe by Stewart Stafford

Poe by Stewart Stafford

Dark eyes,
Pregnant with pain,
Thunder rolls in their hollows,
And mystery swims in their depths.

In a raven’s caw,
You found echoes of lost love,
And premature death,
In your halls of solitude.

Your fever dreams,
So obsessive and personal.
Yet so relevant to us all,
Rest soundly in the gothic pantheon.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Ballad Of The Tree Nymphs by Stewart Stafford

Ballad of the Tree Nymps by Stewart Stafford

When tree nymphs get their hearts broken,
They transform into fearsome wraiths,
And sit in forests by the castle walls,
For passersby to await.

And if a traveller crosses the drawbridge,
Perhaps a survivor of the noose,
The wraiths descend the branches lustily,
And enact their plan to seduce.

She will appear in all her former beauty,
Curvaceous with blue whirling eyes,
And fix the unfortunate man with a stare,
Only the strong resist getting hypnotised.

If that tactic fails to win male hearts,
Or the victim attempts to flee,
A feral rage erupts in her,
And she drags her prey back to the trees.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

An Itch That Needed Scratching by Stewart Stafford

An Itch That Needed Scratching by Stewart Stafford

A dog with fleas,
Was deaf to their pleas,
For working conditions that smelled better.

So they went on hunger strike,
And refused to bite,
Until their demands got okayed unfettered.

The canine refused to give in,
Or introduce the fleas to his kin,
So they climbed onto a nearby new sweater.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Grey Lady by Stewart Stafford

The Grey Lady by Stewart Stafford

Among the castle battlements,
Manifesting from gloaming mist,
A grey lady appeared gliding,
A palsied manacle upon her wrist.

Her eyes were anxious and questioning,
About what had become her fate,
Her head severed from her body,
At the hands of her evil mate.

The wail of indignant anguish,
Sent chills through everyone far and near,
Her soul searching forever restless,
For those she left behind who were dear.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Truth’s Many Guises by Stewart Stafford

Truth’s Many Guises by Stewart Stafford

They say I’m sometimes too negative,
But the truth isn’t always positive,
Speaking up is my prerogative,
And being silenced, I find pejorative.

On reality’s rollercoaster,
Truth is humble and not a boaster,
Or sometimes the burning toaster,
That helps us sniff out closure.

Please don’t harm the messenger,
They are merely the message’s passenger,
And not entwined on a level molecular,
Just remember Henry Kissinger.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Cuckoos In The Nest by Stewart Stafford

Cuckoos In The Next by Stewart Stafford

If you could find the pathway home, would you take it?
To see the family palace’s new occupants defaced it,
Never again to be what you imagined,
And your memories going from feast to famine.

For what is past is never how we remember,
Maturity is baggage we cannot surrender,
Distant dreams still so familiar,
Yet weirdly surreal and not recognisably similar.

The childhood idyll got sold for profit,
It is gone, and so’s the idea of it,
Yesterday involuntarily amputated,
Pointing the way to destruction fated.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Jamie The Biscuit Man by Stewart Stafford

Jamie The Biscuit Man by Stewart Stafford

Jamie The Biscuit Man,
Driving his big red van,
Taking all those goodies,
Where they need to go.

Chinese man with orange hair,
How long have you been there?
Can you tell me, please?
Because I’d like to know.

Everybody rushing for the ferry,
Going to have a whale of a time,
Seven brains go walking down the road,
Out of their minds.

Jamie the Biscuit Man,
Crashes his big red van,
Sending all his cookies,
All over the road.

Schoolchildren passing by,
Hear Jamie’s frustrated cry,
And slowly gather up for him,
The vast spilled load.

Smiles and a wave of Jamie’s hand,
As he restarts his big red van,
And resets his journey,
In a more casual mode.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Beshrewing Of Tom O’ Bedlam by Stewart Stafford

#poem #poetry #verse #writing

The Beshrewing of Tom O’ Bedlam by Stewart Stafford

Fie and a plague on thee!
Nay, a pox!
May legions of hellions float through thee,
And may thou fall in the dung of an ox.

May the thing below thine eyes,
Take on the appearance of a sprout,
And may the things above thy chin,
Resemble a harlot’s spout.

May Heaven strike thee dumb,
Aye, dumber than thou art now,
May thy words become those of a lunatic,
And thy breathing the grunting of a sow.

Verily, I do not wish thee misfortune,
Lest it rebounds back upon me,
But, as long as it befalls thee first,
I may live quite merrily.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Burning Chorus by Stewart Stafford

The Burning Chorus by Stewart Stafford

As clawed lightning, love strikes without warning to scorch the heart,
And, as it is painful to be born, love, make love, and die,
So we may surmise that life itself is pain in different guises,
Some unwelcome interlopers but all necessary.

More than passing sensations,
We are shocked into living,
And in that shock, the heart plots a different course,
To beat for the first time or quicken with excitement or cease.

Sometimes we stray into pleasure’s realms,
Diverted there unknowing,
And resolve to be passengers no more,
But masters of when and where the burning chorus strikes.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Easter Vigil by Stewart Stafford

The Easter Vigil by Stewart Stafford

Nightfall on Easter Saturday,
A church in darkness,
Flickering fire through stained glass,
Hope so close yet out of reach.

The Paschal candle is lit outside from a small garden bonfire,
And, in reverent procession, brought indoors,
The flaming beacon makes its entrance at the rear of the congregation,
The mother candle bows, bestowing blazing brows on the humbler candles of those assembled.

The welcoming brightness gently spreads among the pews,
Confusing darkness now a sea of light,
United in illumination,
And He is there.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Life Cycles by Stewart Stafford

Life Cycles by Stewart Stafford

From fair youth’s day,
To dark-spotted age,
The blooms of May,
Usher out winter’s sullen maze.

When the bars of the juvenile cage are splayed,
And our stars have run their course,
The debt of carefree times gets repaid,
As we from this earthly plain divorce.

We crawl to walk and stoop alone,
As the dead remain uncured,
Until Time grants us further loans,
Immortality is a bloodline secured.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Different Reflections by Stewart Stafford

Different Reflections by Stewart Stafford

Hatred is a many-horned monstrosity,
Not one of them contains any sense,
No one would mention what colour a horse is,
That’s thrown them through a fence.

With our fellow humans, it’s different,
Race is the first port of call,
When the storm of life is already upon us,
The safe harbour should welcome us all.

So we continue to obsess over surfaces,
When the depth lies just beneath,
If we could only see different reflections as our own,
Victory over intolerance would be complete.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Neptune’s Lost Banana by Stewart Stafford

Neptune’s Lost Banana by Stewart Stafford

O lost banana of Neptune,
Do you wonder why you’ve washed ashore?
Do people see a yellow fruit in the water?
Or a Portuguese Man O’War?

You were so near the fingertips of power,
Did fortune peel away your chances too quick?
Or do you see yourself in an ivory tower?
Of a split-away banana republic?

You could have been top banana,
Now you’re potential poetic justice,
For someone with bad karma to slip on,
And go skidding as you go squish.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Visage From A Mirage by Stewart Stafford

Visage From A Mirage by Stewart Stafford

Although visible to the naked eye,
One look and most would die,
He always haunts the same stretch of ground,
From the dry lake bed to the old ghost town.

From a heat haze, The Prospector appears,
Lamenting loss with shimmering tears,
To walk a desert paved with Fool’s Gold,
And then vanish back into the fold.

They say he cries for his lost wife,
And several children he fathered in life,
He perished beaten down by heat,
His final steps on eternal repeat.

So if your car breaks down in the dust,
And your eyesight’s something you greatly trust,
You may see this lonely, spectral man,
Pray his soul finds rest in Heaven.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

In Search of El Dorado By Stewart Stafford

In Search of El Dorado by Stewart Stafford

A meandering mountain path awaits,
Build a bonfire of remembrance,
With crunching staff on gravel,
Certainty slowly becomes a stranger.

The funereal pace of the brand-new,
Is reborn in accelerating steps,
In concert with liberation’s adrenaline,
And a cooling breeze through the brim.

Startled young fox on a crag,
A hawk circles overhead,
Sage standing stones keep counsel,
Their shadows pointing the way forward.

Sheep stare and chew in nearby wet fields,
Occasionally bleating confused directions,
A pillar of black smoke stretches into the sky,
A beacon on the horizon.

A ridge around a corner,
The crêpe shop comes into view,
Relief exhaled upon reaching El Dorado’s gates,
Golden sustenance and home via the car park.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

In Old Savannah By Stewart Stafford

In Old Savannah by Stewart Stafford

Quaking earth unleashed,
An immigrant stands proud in the mêlée,
Takes up the standard of his adopted country,
And joins the charge.

Blind in the cannon smoke,
Grapeshot ricochets past,
Then the patriot holds his gut,
And falls bleeding.

His wife awakes,
To see his apparition at the foot of their bed,
Morose and fading fast,
Tears hang like ever-present Spanish moss on live oak.

The immigrant stands proudly once more,
Motionless and eternal on the plinth,
A child with his father at the base points up at him,
With future glory in his eyes.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

I Wonder By Stewart Stafford

I Wonder by Stewart Stafford

Is our genetic makeup a wrong turn of nature?
Is reality a trick of the light?
Are we just weevils in the palms of the Gods?
And do they blast us with ocular sunlight?

Are there infinite words beneath our tongues hidden?
Waiting to burst forth one day?
Or will they remain forever bedridden?
And never say what they wish to say?

Do we plot our course in life freely?
Or is it all predestined by fate?
Do we enjoy the fruits of our labour?
Or are they already bad on the plate?

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Awakening Web By Stewart Stafford

The Awakening Web by Stewart Stafford

One defamatory word starts reputations dragging,
And spreads the virulent and incessant tagging,
As the cat cruelly with the mouse has toyed,
By a kangaroo crucible, condemned, and destroyed.

For these spiders of the great stalking portal,
Do bend the ears of mobs of mortals,
And spin others in silken shrouds,
Shaking the web, shameless and proud.

So be cautious of the image you put out,
And with the carefree words that leave your mouth,
For tempests form over waters calm,
When self-righteous arachnids hypocritically cause harm.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Stars of Fire By Stewart Stafford

Stars of Fire by Stewart Stafford

At the Gate of Pleiades,
Lies the playground of the Deities,
At The Golden Gate of the Ecliptic,
The Gods’ plot and remain cryptic.

Between the claws of Scorpio and Cancer,
At the mercy of the great Zodiacal dancer.
The dilemma on the horns of Aries,
Brushes asides all adversaries.

Venus trails stardust from her hair,
As a supernova across the galaxy flares,
A shooting star is the spear of Orion,
More is the mane of Leo the lion.

Man’s Gemini may someday show before us,
As chaste Virgo or the mighty Taurus,
Or be inanimate as the scales of Libra,
Or spread as Cancer or an unchecked fever.

Perhaps these pilgrims have visited us before,
When Sagittarius took the form of the wise Centaur,
Or when Pisces flopped in an Aquarian boat,
Or on a lazy hill to the Capricorn goat.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Enemy Within By Stewart Stafford

The Enemy Within by Stewart Stafford

There is more to a smile than the baring of teeth,
His grin had all the warmth of daggers unsheathed,
The lips did part but the eyes remained staring,
The skin was pocked and trust was badly faring.

The lips quivered at every imagined slight,
The eyes glittered like a serpent’s at twilight,
Arms crossed in constant defence,
The foot tapping, waiting to take offence.

Who knows or cares of his jealousy’s genesis,
He strove beyond measure to become my nemesis,
Seeking to frustrate me at every turn,
And put me prematurely in a cremation urn.

The hero can fend off any attack,
Except for the knife that’s plunged in the back,
They may not even know the weapon’s in far,
Until the assailant’s coup de grâce.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

When The Lights Go Out By Stewart Stafford

When The Lights Go Out by Stewart Stafford


When the lights go out,
From the seeds of doubt,
Phantoms come a-skittering.

Slow at first,
Then, as if a dam burst,
My psyche starts withering.

From a dune of sand,
Grabs a clawing hand,
My heartbeat takes to dithering.

Then an immovable object,
A vast shadow standing erect,
My paralysis is blithering.

But come the dawn of day,
I can finally break away,
My consciousness begins filtering.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Lighthouse by Stewart Stafford

The Lighthouse by Stewart Stafford

Apart and alone,
From where the ships dock,
Stands the white sentinel edifice on a promontory rock.

Like the land’s index finger,
At the extent of the sea,
Warning passing vessels where it’s safe to be.

One luminous eye,
Swivels around its clear head,
To keep lucky sailors off the seabed.

It seeks no credit,
And needs no thanks,
Saluting proudly from above the fog banks.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Sweet Elephant of the Morning By Stewart Stafford

Sweet Elephant of the Morning by Stewart Stafford

O sweet elephant of the morning,
What loud noise you make,
With your leaden feet,
And trumpet voice.

You spray water,
On your thick, dusty skin,
And on anyone in proximity,
To your body.

Your trunk is a grey, reaching arm,
And your tusks resemble curved lances,
Or elongated walrus teeth,
To fight off rivals.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

The Outsider By Stewart Stafford

The Outsider by Stewart Stafford

Pierce the veil of the marital bed,
And find the droning mosquito of infidelity there,
O how the heart and stomach sink,
And the fiery fever of rabid fury rises.

Dispel the interloper,
Turn him out,
Run him through,
But she is no longer wife in name or vision.

The choice of hers already made,
Only possible resentment at the unilateral revocation of it,
No, let them lie,
Leave them be.

Think, do no react, Incandescent Man
Their hand and natures now revealed,
Now shall we salt away their penance,
Karma shall be their judge.

© Stewart Stafford, 2021. All rights reserved.

Writing, life and whatever takes my fancy at any given moment.

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