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?





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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