Awakening
The sky’s lid slowly opened
And revealed a watery blue eye
With thin veins of red
It looked pale and tired
Against the lark that rose up to fly

All in good time
The acorn gives rise to
Boughs mighty and tall
So all creatures great
Begin beautifully small

After much tender care
Full grapes fill the vine
Picked plump and matured
For a velvety wine

Like the new born kitten
Longs for its first sight
Owl in its wisdom
Sits tight for the dark night

Fruit forms the flower
On the apple tree
Ice melts on the hill
Before reaching the sea

Just as the sun rises
Summer follows spring
Chrysalis conceals
Splendid swallowtail wings

The ewe expects to love
Her new lamb within
Enjoy the freedom
Of the moments you’re in

Cherish shiny mornings
Make the present last
One day you’ll call time
When change happens too fast

Keep on with your journey
Keep up your sweet smile
One inch at a time
As you walk the long mile

Brothers in arms
A dusty yard, a summer breeze
A soothing rustle from the trees
Two brothers play with wooden hoops
Delighted yelps and joyous whoops
There are no finer days than these

And then the sound that both boys dread
Mother scolding, “You’ll wake the dead!”
Heavy hearts they know their duty
She takes in this scene of beauty
Cold wash, warm hugs, it’s time for bed

Dad calls out as they climb the stairs
“And don’t forget to say your prayers!”.
“What’ll you be when you’re older?”
“I want to be a brave soldier”
“Me too”, then night dissolves their cares

Years roll by and brotherhood binds
Limbs lengthened, strengthened, paths entwined
Boyhood, manhood, graduation
The cusp of life’s expectation
A world awaits, its wonders to find

Then one day they awake once more
Rat-a-tat-tat a knock at the door
Mother, father rush to see
Three tall men from the military
“We’ve come to take your sons to war”

Archibald and Bernard get dressed
Their shirts are ironed, their trousers pressed
“Don’t fret” they say “We need to sign”
Ink like blood on a dotted line
Brave faced parents: “May you be blessed”

For King and country they’ve now signed
Unwritten chapters left behind
In unison they cry out loud
“Mother, father we’ll make you proud!”
Cheery smiles conceal worried minds

One joins the Rifles for the war
The other’s in the Machine Gun Corps
Shipped away on a packet boat
Shiny boots and a khaki coat
To live or die on foreign shores

Brothers now are Belgian and French
Home a funk-hole, bivvy or trench
Shared experience but miles apart
No end no middle and no start
Incessant roar and rotten stench

Under a blue benevolent sky
Coal boxes, crumps and stick bombs fly
Comrades rise and sink like the sun
Both bricks and mortars fall as one
Ypres, Thiepval, Arras, Cambrai

Father paces while mother sews
“Home sweet home” as the saying goes
Carelessly she pricks her thumb
A drop of blood, her mind goes numb
Just as two shots are fired by foes

From hot dark confines of the gun
For fractions fizzing in the sun
Just as the maker had designed
Soft fleshy targets both do find
Brothers in arms now brothers one

Bernard thwarts his enemy ace
Thanks be for his spectacles case
Archibald though has no such luck
Host to death’s wish the bullet struck
Fate’s crossroad of wrong time wrong place

Bereft, Bernard drifts home alone
Archibald: “Whereabouts unknown”
Peace returns served with joy with grief
Life’s line cut by a faceless thief
Brother, son in some muddy tomb

For all it’s been a long hard road
For Bernard the shells still explode
For mum the baking tray’s too wide
For dad he slides one glass aside
For one life’s hopes like blood have flowed

Like taking rest after travail
To strive for dreams, succeed or fail
Sharing laughter round the table
Fact or farce or family fable
Life’s daily detail to regale

Soft summer cotton drenched in rain
The deepest cuts of love and pain
Keep a secret nobody knows
Cool sea and sand between the toes
Harvest aroma, ripened grain

Lie heavenwards, watch clouds float by
Springtime blossoming, lover’s sigh
Swelling fruits from the orchard’s trees
Taste sweet honey from busy bees
Hear a baby’s primal cry

Sadly I knew just one brother
Fate chose one and not the other
But for deadly hands dealt by chance
His line too could have stopped in France
Great War soldier, not great grandfather

And who should I thank for it all?
The one that lived? The one to fall?
The maker of the glasses case?
The enemy’s forgotten face?
Just thank God I can thank at all

Two drops
A perfect drop
That fell from heaven
Made the moisture
In the viper’s venom
The next it fell upon the bough
That grew the leaf
That fed the cow
That made the milk for my morning drink
And as I sipped
It made me think
About the infinite plan of the Maker
Life giver and life taker

Trial
Every day is like a trial
Every inch seems like a mile
But I’m not hungry, I’m not cold
Will I be content before I’m old?
Oh, Lord please instil in me
The grace and wisdom just to be

Tombstone
There’s a vast grey sky
That’s monumentally drab
Covering me up
Like a cold granite slab

For day after day
The wind is set from the east
The iron grip of gloom
Does not want me released

A lifeless landscape
A chill right down to the bone
Black boughs of the trees
Petrified monotone

Oh for the presence
To think of time without pain
To see the sun rise
Infusing life again

True dawn
Born in the dark hour
When the scar was not healed
As electrical storms
And green gargoyle forms
They screamed overhead
Where I buckled and kneeled

He longed to belong
To certainty past
Without the disorder
On twilight’s border
No courage to summon
A solid iron cross cast

Present’s the pinch point
Where the hourglass grains flow
A world crystalises
New dawn arises
What’s to come has come
What’s gone has yet to go

You stepped from within
A landscape of relief
With iridescent wings
An angel that sings
Fogs of confusion
Became rays of belief

Your silky hair brown
Like an artist’s new brush
Eyes at once dark and bright
Make everything right
Seconds become hours
And peace displaces rush

So warm and so wide
Is your soft south sea smile
With lips rose petal pink
Perfect pearls that wink
Radiant beauty
Hope you’ll stay here a while

As time ebbs and flows
Her constancy becalms
His wild ocean dreams
And fierce foaming schemes
Light over darkness
Cast by magical charms


A walk in the Normandy woods
As I walk through the ancient fern
With a racing future mind
Hoping to slow up just enough
Mother Earth’s secret to find

Where I can see the dragonfly dart
Across the leafy forest floor
Just as over yonder clearing
Two falcons stretch and soar

I look forward from my memory
To a place in space and time
Where nature’s numbers all add up
And all her words will rhyme

The season’s beat in the farmer’s vein
Flows in rhythmic harmony
And from the chaos of the winds
Comes total certainty


Tuscan senses
The clatter of the tractor
On the sun-baked Tuscan hills
A golden blanket folded
Round the earth the farmer tills

Overhead an eagle slides
Majestic, silent drama
Ruthless function as he views
A perfect panorama

Bells ring out upon the air
From the distant, creamy fleece
Doves coo on the pan tiled roof
High above the hissing geese

I walk on through the pastures
With the dirt beneath my feet
So soft and warm and sensual
Bedding to the aurous wheat

The grapes grow in the vineyard
Inky, plump and gorged with juice
Freed then corked then free again
Rich, deep flavours bursting loose

And the dusty track is lined
By saluting cypress trees
Which at dusk give up their scent
To the gentle evening breeze

Universal laws
Sat in a chair that’s flying through the air
Temporarily disconnected
Untethered and unprotected
By the land of my loved one
Whose lure is as strong as
Mother earth who is pulling me home

Going round a globe that’s going round a sun
A lone star among trillions sublime
Waltzing their way through space and time
Suspended swirling spirals
Gigantic great whirlpools
Ev’ry atom obeying the rules

How can this be from the small to the large?
Men with telescopes and teaspoon thoughts
Trying to explain with ones and noughts
From the point it all began
To the end of time itself
Asking themselves “What is the matter”?

A universal chain, no links broken
Gravity apple and rainbow prism
United in purpose, no schism
From here to infinity
In the heavens above
But do they know the formula for love?

Tell me wise sir, have you yet cracked the code?
Can you measure it and then weigh it?
Can you dissect or display it?
Can you bottle it for me?
Ferment it by degrees?
With one of your marvellous machines

You and I are on the same long journey
But perhaps both searches are in vain
Neither may we fully explain
The more we find out about
The more we can’t fathom
The more we grasp, the more we let go

So I return from this heavenly muse
Flighty bird of possibility
Meets hard ground of reality
Darkness looms, cast by the sun
Draped over the earth’s folds
The object comes to meet its shadow

Perhaps the light will come not from the dark
But from a place that’s buried inside
Closed to all those who vainly tried
Which reason extinguishes
But which hope can alight
Be content that to feel is to know

You, Aphrodite and Venus in one
With your myrtle oil and turtle dove
Well you knew where there lives true love
Laugh at me the busy fool
Come now to realise
Full circle like the stars, found at last


Twenty thousand tides
Footloose and fancy free
Just seventeen you and me
When the cards were dealt
And we became a matching pair
You're my earth
And I'm your moon
Not leaving your orbit sometime soon
Morning noon and night you're always there

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

Market stall coconut shy
Lazy eye would pass it by
But prise it open
And taste the sweetness of the milk
Oyster shell
Mother of pearl
I can't believe that you're my girl
Mulberry bush provider for the silk

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

What was I looking for?
Cast iron love and molten core
Magnetic mistress
Always there to stop me going south
See no flame
Feel the embers
Point the needle through December
Furnace heat draws a smile on my mouth

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

Something's shiny fool's gold
Something darker might behold
Rubies emeralds
Sapphires diamonds fit for Kings and Queens
Walnut burr
Bird's eye maple
Beneath the bark’s a banquet table
I've been blessed to behold the unseen

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

I'm your storm you're my calm
Got my future in your palm
To my ebb and flow
You provide a rock solid ground
Unyielding
Unrelenting
One tough love that you're presenting
Like Themis the fairest of them all

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

Hand in hand many a mile
Since we floated down that aisle
Joined through thick and thin
Spliced twenty thousand tides ago
Bound by love
And laws of God
Side by side we’re peas in a pod
You’re for real girl nothing is for show

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

Politician’s lies and wars
Nest of love behind closed doors
Battles rage outside
You’re not changed by affairs of states
Heart’s at home
Heaven’s above
Straight as an arrow Cupid’s love
I’ll be there when we walk through those gates

Lover wife
Mother of life
Bearer of our children true and strong
Softly spoken gentle charms
Sweet smile and open arms
Together forever we belong

After the windfall
It doesn’t seem so long
Since I heard the sweet song
Of the lark as it sang in the sun
High on the air
That swelled the sweet pear
The cherry, strawberry and plum

For the fruit that was mine
I am no longer inclined
I can leave on the bough and forsake
Touched by dismay
As I watch the decay
And wonder what course it will take


Hour glass
Everyone’s got their own hour glass
Quietly emptying in a darkened room
No-one knows how much time is in it
Until lit by a soft silvery moon
Then at the moment of enlightenment
Whether a second a month or a year
Each grain now as precious as a diamond
Every moment immeasurably dear
Do we need to see it to believe it?
Knowing all long it will empty some day
Why can’t we love each breath as if it was finite?
Live like the silence of the void was near
Do we worry that we would make merry?
Become shallow and forget who we are
Fret not! You’ll fill up with kindness and wisdom
Finding time for making peace and not war

Titanic
Innocent with milky muzzle
Mother's offspring ended its nuzzle
Sweet warm breath of this new born fawn
Warmed the air of the frosty morn
Some condensed on its mother's nose
The rest dispersed and lightly rose
Drawn by the sun to the sky beyond
Vapour found vapour and formed a bond
Blown by the wind as gossamer shroud
And miles away into darker clouds
Then northward bound for days on end
Like silent ships their way did wend
Ever onwards the fleet drove harder
All advancing airborne armada
Then from the west and joining forces
A thousand black sky riding horses
Every last drop conscripted there
Had left its donor unaware
Some cast aside when it lightly rained
The rest locked in their fate preordained
Over stormy seas and hostile land
Each cloud's cloak concealed a sleight of hand
For many days it took to make
The perfect form of each snowflake
Each drop transformed, not one with flaws
All obeying universal laws
Facets and fronds exquisitely formed
(And yes the drops the fawn had warmed)
Pregnant nimbus now fit to burst
Crack of lightning, the wizard cursed
Without warning in the dead of night
Millions were born dressed in virgin white
Slowly swirling towards the ground
Settling softly without a sound
In a moment, no-one to wonder
Were covered up and laid asunder
Layer on layer, no favour no fault
Fates sealed in a frozen vault
Hardening by millennia once, twice, thrice
Transformed into a sea of ice
That creaked and groaned so plaintively
Hour by long hour to destiny
And finally ice met the ocean
An unknown hour, untold commotion
Only timed by nature's clock
There calved a vast unwieldy block
Cast adrift like a rudderless boat
Chilling the seas, barely able to float
But move it did leaving no clues
Of a destiny it did not choose
Meanwhile into warmer waters slipped
A black behemoth, mother of ships
Epitome of man's endeavour
Mix of muscle and brains so clever
Every last rivet so perfectly planned
She sailed with cheers for a far off land
Now there were two hulks, sailing in rhyme
Destined to share the same space and time
One sent with engines, charts and compass
One chillingly slid to the impasse
One alive with orchestra playing
One lifeless, ready for the slaying
Both though part of an elaborate plan
Nature collides with the wit of man
And in the relative blink of an eye
One would live and one would die
But for all man's earthly command
He cannot beat fate's winning hand
Fifteen hundred sent to their death
By nothing more than a new-born's breath

Days gone by
Night’s black cloak
Fell from the sky
And draped all form beneath
The thick soft cloth
Snuffed out still life
From heaven to the heath
And all the cast have disappeared
From this most tragic play
No tears are shed
And no-one mourns
The languid death of day
It’s gone! It’s gone!
It won’t come back
Why’s there no deep sorrow?
It’s laid to rest
Did I do my best?
There’s one less chance tomorrow

Perfect state
When my bones are once more dust
And my blood has returned to the sea
Pure, immutable, preserved in trust
I will forever be

Words

Thoughts from the void

A walk through life. There are many paths: some we choose and some we do not. To be completed but here is the work in progress.
  1. Awakening
  1. All in good time
  1. Brothers in arms
  1. Two drops
  1. Trial
  1. Tombstone
  1. True dawn
  1. A walk in the Normandy woods
  1. Tuscan senses
  1. Universal laws
  1. Twenty thousand tides
  1. After the windfall
  1. Hour glass
  1. Titanic
  1. Day’s gone by
  1. Perfect state

All copyright John Deed

Or for a lighter look at the world, you can try these limericks

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