Kindness In Auschwitz

Cold now are the fires that smoked real

Lives to choke sweet forest air.

Still the rancid taste of human

Cruelty fills the buildings there.

Terrified, we turn away our

Thoughts, or blindly stop and stare:

Helpless in the gaze of haunted

Children in tough soldiers’ care,

Sick to tears to think that those who

Stoked the flames had human hearts:

Human hearts and minds and bodies

As they pushed the dead in carts.

Chimneys puncture clouds and scream

Of school kids taught to hate,

Masking acts of humbling kindness

Bravely hid behind that gate.

People gave their only warmth, their

Last crust, or a smile,

Just to help another to

Survive a little while.

Even in the deepest horror,

Love found ways to sing her song,

Urging us to speak with courage

When we feel that things are wrong.

Auschwitz holds a mirror to the

Worst and best of human ways,

Standing tall and calling us to

Kindness: now, and all our days.

Immortality

Why would I share it:

Show it to those

Who might throw it off,

Or take it away,

Make it theirs for some pay?

But such is art:

A frightening price,

A risky game to play.

Yet here I stay.

These lines and rhymes

I’ve thought about a hundred times.

I’ll trust you not to copy and paste,

Take my long hours in your haste,

Violate what I embraced,

Leave me with that bitter taste.

For into verse,

From birth to hearse,

We pour our lives.

And on this raft,

Built from my craft,

My soul survives.

Rush Hour

Scuffed and tightly-filled, keeling

Over, heels propped up to support

Bags on knees, screens, tapping fingers

Nails bitten to white jagged cliffs

Or long and smooth: rendered strange

And cold by time and money.

 

Sandals play glass slippers: cracked,

Betrayed by earthy brown between

Caked, painted gold. And, in thick air, the

Hiss and click of headphones plays a

Nuanced soundtrack like an itch.

Urban heat: dark rounded veins shout

 

Angry calls and foreheads weep.

Holding sticky rails, old friends have

Happy rows and, with sweet noise, earn

Bitter gazes from the tired. Foot

Squeezed rucksacks, grin like thirsty

Dogs and jostle handbags: over-friendly.

 

Rocking to and fro, stumbling,

Graceless in our work-creased day clothes,

We are held together: jumbled

Bits and pieces in old drawers. But,

Like keys and crayons muddled:

Each, when found, will open doors.

Mat Leave

Watering can, little shoes,

April sun, baby blues,

Wet socks, soggy flowers,

Tired eyes, long hours.

 

Chubby cheeks, half-formed words,

Drone of cars, songs of birds,

Deepest love, smothered rage,

Silent protest, mother’s cage,

 

Eager eyes, sticky hugs,

New to nature, eating bugs,

Scraped knees, mummy kiss it,

‘When it’s gone,’ they say, ‘you’ll miss it.’

 

In fresh air, short of breath,

Should he nap? What if: cot death?

Filled nappy, teatime tears,

Guilt, resentment, shameful fears.

 

Fences, hedges, walls divide

So many of us trapped inside,

Feeling we are not enough,

Scared to say we find it tough.

 

I find it hard. How do you find it?

Do you ever wish you could unwind it?

Do you cry on cold baked beans

And plug your babies into screens?

 

Join the club. Come and share.

There’s others like us everywhere.

When we hide our fear and pain,

Depression smugly smiles again.