Diamonds

A lot can change in sixty years - can go
from Bleriot, held high by moustache-wax
and pride, to Armstrong's mighty ladder-stride,
a blue-green planet breathless by his side.

From Nissen-huts and doodlebugs’ low drone
to London taking shelter in a dome.
From Jim Crow picking dusty cotton fields
to dark-skinned hands around the White House keys.

As time swirls down a hole without a plug,
it’s only diamonds can resist the tug.
Stood stubborn in the flood, our one response -
we’re carbon, too; our strength is in our bonds.
          So years may whistle past like fleeting trains
          but in my timeworn palm, your hand remains.

 

*

 

Mixing It

Helping Mum with baking cakes,
I'd mix up flour and sugar, butter pats
and stir in orange streaks of egg
with aching forearms begging
"Finished yet?" No - only when
you cannot tell
one spoonful from the next.

We'd talk of arty things
and who said what to whom;
explore the here-be-dragonned maps
of family feuds.

Outside, I helped my father mix a concrete screed;
a Fuji-San of amber sand, cement-snow-capped,
my delving blending colours to a lifeless brown
volcano crater, brimming bucket full
with crumbling landslides sloshing in
and shoulders shouting
"Finished yet?" No - only when
you cannot tell
one spadeful from the next.

We'd talk of science and what push-rods do;
the cause - effect of things that act
in ways the calculator can predict.

Today, it would untwist my braids of DNA
if I couldn't conjure up a tray of buns
or mortar shut a cracking wall
and speculate
what's in an atom
or what Shakespeare really meant to say.
I'm mixing, mixing, mixing.
Finished yet?

 

*

 

Chronograph

I am the great iamb, I am.
You love me even though you loathe
the way I meter out your life
as Morse tapped out his code in dits
and alternating dahs, as if
the thunder-drums of slaver ships
were keeping time so you must haul
upon your oars with rhythmic dread.
Do not consider stopping, still,
aorta, valve and ventricle.

 

*

 

Norman Hadley's thoughts on writing and life: My Writing Routine

Video of Norman Hadley performing "Chronograph"


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