One of he weirdest projects I had last year was to write thirty one poems about tea towels. Here are six of them, all inspired by the pictures on my mothers tea towels. Hope you like them.
1. How would you describe the behaviour of cows?
Cows line astern
Grass munchers in a row
Like forensic detectives
At the scene of a crime.
2. Are you familiar with bovine behaviour? Y/N
3. Describe the types of cow that you saw.
Fresians black and white
Flanked by invisible maps.
Half of an hour hyped up.
Are they black cows with white splodges
Or white cows with black splodges?
4. Have you ever been caught under the silvery moon suddenly transfixed by the inate beauty of cows and the way that they seem to reflect the celestial moonglow as if lunar objects themselves?
5. Were you aware of this before the incident?
I had a crush.
6. Explain in a single haiku the beauty of the cows you saw.
There once was a field of cows
Upon which I would browse
By the side of the gate
And other places on the farm
Often in shady areas but sometimes in the full glare of the sun.
7. That’s not a haiku.
8. Eulogise a cow for me.
I know this rhyme is lazy
And people may think me crazy,
But in this rhyme I praise thee.
You are amazy.
9. Tell a cow joke.
In what way is a cow like my parents bungalow?
10. I don’t know.
They’re both fresian.
11. Do you have anything else to add?
I have no beef with you.
12. So I herd.
The quivering chrysanthemums
Which, in their stately manifest,
Seem to shield all harm from life,
Colouring the inevitable with an
Affected glee multiplied by the
Verdant nature of their bloom,
Would justly fill my jaded heart with
Inordinate bliss, but until such a time
That I may bask in their chrysanthemummy goodness, I must
Temporarily satisfy my whims with
Hydrangeas and the occasional
On the fifth night we argued.
Lightning illuminated my lonely garret,
Flickering omens of someone else’s storm,
Grouching and crackling the radio with static
As I tried to find French soap operas,
Lazy drops falling from an overcast night sky,
Stained brown by sodium lights,
Rolling ever so sadly down sash window panes.
I stare out the window at a jumble
Of slate tile rooftops sheening in the rain.
Momentary sheet lightning illuminates
Jagged architecture, chimneys, television aerials,
Your sour face.
There is no such thing as perfection, you said,
In your defense admittedly,
Having skewered my heart with mild
Grumbling a which seemed to match the
Having supplied a list of all
The things in which I fail.
And now you say, there is no such thing
Yet I read your blog, in which, in
Glowing terms, you eulogized and praised
And refused to criticize the herbaceous borders
At Polesden Lacey.
He set up a library in which people borrowed not books
But tea towels.
And they were classified dutifully under the
Dewey decimal system
According to their subject.
People said he was mad.
The two most popular sections
Were Travel, and Cats.
The Travel tea towels arranged on shelves
According to country, region, town, city,
Municipal districts, culture,
The cats tea towels
Were all kind of clumped together
Although some attempt had been made
Discriminating long hair and short hair.
Plain tea towels were measured
As to their viscosity and were
Stored in their sections,
Friction and non friction.
On most days he would appear
From his office in a 1920s showman’s outfit
Complete with top hat, jacket and bandsman’s trousers,
All made out of tea towels,
And he would dance along the aisles
As if caught up with the absolute romance of
So many tea towels.
People said he was weird.
The humour section was off limits to kids.
One of the tea towels was a bit saucy.
Some people don’t wash them properly.
An early morning sun
Sets afire the desert land.
An opal mine shimmers on a heat haze.
Nothing but sand
And the dull empty crack of life,
Existence as grand.
In a tin shack bar sits Jack,
Fresh from the dust, weary from a
Fortnight’s driving, weary, he caresses
A cool early morning beer.
How many sheep will he have to sheer
Until his dreams come true?
Yesterday, he dreamed of rodeos.
This morning, the outback sky was split
By a lone vapor trail, at the head of which,
An aircraft reflected the morning rays
Heading south to cooler climes.
We live in fantastic times.
Seven AM, already thirty degrees.
He ponders on unseen passengers,
Heading to their cool bars, their
Cool night clubs, their cool trendy flats,
With their cool friends, their cool husbands
And their cool wives, watching the latest cool
Films and reading the latest cool novels,
How cool it must be to be so cool,
Oh, right now how he wishes he were cool!
He traces his forefinger on the frosted glass
And ponders on appetites, fashions,
A suburban existence,
And the thought that a landscape so vast
Could easily suffocate a weaker soul.
The tin shack radio blares through static
Seventies rock opera, and in the distance
He can hear the chug chug from the opal mine
And the bleating of sheep.
You said you loved me
And you’d get a tattoo of my face to prove it.
Only when I peeled back your sleeve
Expecting to see my own youthful twenty-something visage
Emblazoned in ink on your upper arm
I saw instead a depiction of
The secret lost garden of Heligan.
I was most indignant.
You said you’d had a sudden change of heart
I pointed out that the
Secret lost garden of Heligan
Was neither secret nor lost
Because they’ve got a website
And a Facebook page
And a Twitter account
And several published coffee table style books.
You said that tattoos are permanent
And the nature of gardens in all their seasonal
Glory are but momentary depending on the whims
Of the climatic variables which make up this
Fine isle, they never look the same
One day from the next
And I said, neither do I.
I began to have my suspicions
That something was amiss
When I saw a little old lady at
The garden centre coffee shop
Who had a tattoo
Which was a very fine outline of my own
And I said to Dean,
Was there a mix up at the tattoo parlour?
Yes, he said, there had been
A hideous mistake
But the old lady thought that her new tattoo
Was of snooker player John Parrot
So she was quite happy.
(His name was Dean,
I should have mentioned that
Earlier in the poem).