For John Lennon
Trapped, not in back entries behind terraces
but in posh Mendips with eyefuls of stained glass,
respectability in every spike of creamy porridge pebble-dash.
Everything neat and scrubbed, dishcloth draped over taps.
Trapped, by an upright aunt, whose expectations
weighed heavy as iron slabs of kitchen scales.
High grades for the bright boy, good job with pension,
work hard now for success later on. Homework to be done.
Trapped by fans, wa wa wa and love me do. Where were
the good years, writing songs with Paul? The years fooling
at school, flunking O levels on purpose, trying Mimi’s temper?
Fighting for the right to grow up, wear white suits, love Yoko.
Trapped in the end by a fan’s insanity, proffering an exit
marked by a gun, red blooms on a white life, imagine.
How far he was from home, lost Liverpool boy!
Trapped by our love, locked in legend, sealed on discs.
Atlantic Whale Fishing
Below, at night, I hear the salt airs of the sea,
a poignant mermaids’ tune we sailors fear,
the keening of the pitching ship, as, at the prow
our Jenny breasts the waves, the only girl aboard.
Timbers sigh as we sail farther from our home.
‘To wives and sweethearts - may they never meet’,
the awful joke accompanies our daily rum,
hides our longing like sailcloth covers the sky.
Stars grow unfamiliar as we sail beyond our scope.
I think of my Nancy, at home with our little ones,
waiting for money and these scrimshaw toys I carve.
The sea has made men of us all, and yet
it’s land we long for, till we grow homesick
for black and ice-berged sea, its infinite deeps.
Angela Topping © 2010
In His Eyes
He married a young girl, lissom and lovely,
her eyes were lapis lazuli, with hair of ebony.
She was cotton and lace, wholesome as honey,
his hands spanned her waist, she was dainty.
She was coral and amber, she was silver chains.
She crackled with wit like a greenwood fire.
She was crisp and fresh like an ironed shirt, slim
as a willow; full of life as a dancing flame.
He married a matron, comfortable and round,
her breasts expansive, her belly a mound.
She was silk and wool, warming as curry;
She was soft as cushions, cosy and snug.
She was TV by the fireside, a bottle of wine,
she was routine and clockwork, the daily grind.
She was weekends and laughter; she was warmth,
she was light, his young girl still in the peace of the night.
Angela Topping © 2010