Three Tears


Patience is draining away
While we struggle, to take care of others.
Restrictions grow tighter each day,
For throwing our arms
Around sisters and brothers,
Keeping those rendezvous’
With secret lovers,
Discreet lunch appointments
With fathers and mothers,
Breaking our hearts to turn
Anyone away.

Tolerance is tested and frayed.
Yet tears still flow
For those who have fallen,
More tears left, for those
Cringing and crawling,
One more tear shed, for those
Without anywhere, to stay.

The political game is not over yet,
There are more hollow words to say.
Meanwhile, we dream of sons and daughters,
Seeing their eyes fill up with water
And reach for that human warmth,
We all crave.

Steve Bishop

Missing Helen

A thousand ships may have launched,
But none of them were mine.
Sitting in the harbour,
No wind to fill the sails,
No amount of exhortation
Could substitute for cosmic breath.
Your beauty was beyond dispute,
Your kidnap a heinous crime
Paid for in blood and vengeance
In epic, poetic style.
Great men, great names and great adventures,
Recounted for all time,
Brave deeds and stunning victories,
But none of them were mine.

Steve Bishop

Romeo Is Banished

Romeo is banished

the door to love is closed,

Capulets around the world

are celebrating, to justify

locking up their daughters.

 

But those girls are on the march

now, choosing their own clothes,

no longer dressed in garments

of contrition.

 

These Juliets are just not buying

the deceit, or the lying,

and they are certainly not dying

for love unrequited, unreturned.

 

It’s an age thing, it’s a rage thing,

it’s a tearing up the script thing,

to change the story,

change the ending,

#julietlives is trending

as they tweet,

“Hey, there are gonna be some changes

around here.”

Steve Bishop

Unlocked

Unlocked, unleashed
And heading for the lash,
What pandemic?
The economy might crash!
So, drink and dance and lie
On the beach,
Who needs school,
What’s left to teach?
We don’t need experts,
Don’t need good advice,
No need to keep our distance
Just roll those dice.
Goodbye to daily briefings,
Let’s end the shielded few,
Air corridors are coming,
Off to somewhere new!
Care homes are closing
As they run out of cash,
But the Treasury is creaking
So we all have to dash
To the shops once again
And just spend, spend, spend,
Like our lottery is winning
But where will it end?
We are still doing well
Up there with the USA,
It’s a special relationship
At the end of the day.
In this brand new strategy
We ain’t misbehavin’
We are bouncing right back
As we start second waving.

Steve Bishop

My Father’s Boots

If I could try my father’s boots,
or maybe wear his shirt,
perhaps I could get inside
his head, to see what made him.

I might find out why land became
such an open prison, why
there was so much freedom
in dreaming of the sea.

I could revisit teenage years
of war torn education, learning
lessons of survival and desire;
living life, on your terms, in your time.

How many places, spaces,
women, bars and jazz clubs
made up shore leave, as you sweated
in engine rooms around the world?

Too much to hope in retrospect that
we could see eye to eye, too many
dreams undone by childish caterwauling;
it was a bad start.

Almost fifty years now since your dying
I contemplate a young man staring
from a faded frame, in a bar
beer in hand, almost smiling.

I inherit a certain look beneath the brow,
your vanity, atheism and persistence.
Even jazz begins to call, a kind of blue note,
lingering in the air for your approval.

Steve Bishop

Impulse

This anti-social distancing
is a sensual waste.
I cannot touch your hair
smell your smell
or taste your taste.
Shielded by screens
I see your moving image,
hear your voice,
try to read your expression
beneath a masked face,
gauging mood and feeling
by your eyes alone.
My impulse to reach out
meets only glass and air.
Invisible indifferent danger
determines our days.
For the moment
human warmth is memory,
till boundaries dissolve.

Steve Bishop

Dream of Paris (because we cannot fly in lockdown)

Meet me back in Belleville
For a morning rendezvous.
Bid au revoir to Pere Lachaise,
Eye books we cannot buy
Or dresses, not made for every day,
Meandering by canal St. Martin.

Croissants on the Left Bank,
Stroll up Boulevard St. Michel,
Marvel at the Pantheon,
Embrace the warm reverie
Of Luxembourg Gardens, then an hour
Reading Vargas in the sun.

Let us stay a while in the Marais.
Wander slowly with falafel,
Hava Nagila in the park,
Absorb the drama of Picasso,
Till worldly wise accordions
Serenade our way across the Seine.

In the evening dine in St. Sulpice,
Window shopping as we go,
Planning second home apartments
Plotting, for a permanent return,
Then saunter back to Grands Hommes,
The hotel that, for now, is home.

Breakfast, can only be Danton,
Surly waiters shrug off English
As we order in garbled French,
“Coffee, eggs and toast, merci.”
At our window St. Germain rushes by,
Another day in Paris underway.

Steve Bishop

Fishing Policy

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men – Matthew 4:19

We have no need for churches,
synagogues or mosques,
we do not need God to save the Queen.
Our symbol is the people’s flag,
blood red from resistance,
beacon of hope for the oppressed.

So, give us no excuses
for babies on the beaches
of poor stricken Greeks,
or underpaid Italians, saving
women from their shores,
as boats fish bodies from the sea.

Remember the migrant crisis,
squeezed from news feeds
by the coronavirus?
A human traffic riding waves
of hope and desperation,
fuelled by dreams of better lives.

No one is fighting for these quotas,
no words, the problem disappears.
No diplomats in Brussels
have agreed communications
to smooth disagreements,
on how to handle this haul.

So, shine up the guns for NATO,
salute the EU super state,
where peace is revered
when bodies fall overseas,
unmoved by worn fingernails,
tearing the perimeter gates.

Nowadays, no one likes didactic,
weighing up every point of view.
Sadly, Bertolt Brecht’s still missing
just when we need his vision.
There is no social distance
in a refugee camp.

Steve Bishop

Driving

My car stands on the driveway,
Hardly driven for weeks,
The music in the glove box,
Virtually unplayed.
The satnav screen is blank,
Where is there to go?

Dust and bird shit thicken,
Dulling bright tornado red,
The shiny green tomorrow
Since denounced as dirty diesel.
Mis-sold, misled, mistaken,
Now profits have been made.

In a carbon neutral future,
We will still desire the speed,
Turning sounds up louder,
As the motorway reveals
Mysterious destinations,
Mixing memories and dreams.

Steve Bishop

Helicopter

Living on an airport take off route,
Each summer roars with climbing underbellies,
Emirates, KLM and Easyjet
But this year, the sky returns to nature.

We walk the parched fields,
Through the struggling rape seed.
Hard ground resists the dog’s futile foraging,
Till momentarily, the sniffing stops.

Overhead whirring disturbs the balance,
This is no tweet of the day birdsound,
Engines thrum like angry cops,
Blades beat in picket line rhythm,

Destination and purpose unknown.
Seconds later an uneasy calm descends,
The dog resumes her hopeful search,
We welcome the rippling breeze.

Steve Bishop