Brian Young – 5 poems

THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD

  

Four abreast the Harleys swarm,

buzzing into genteel Poole

alias Deadwood, South Dakota.

Latter-day cowboys ride into town

low in the saddle, gunfire crackling

from every exhaust.

They dismount outside J D Wetherspoon

(their Hickok Saloon)

and peel back bandannas to reveal

long, grey locks.

In the Seniors’ StayTrim Center

SupaSlim grannies with china-doll faces

pedal to heaven

on stationary steeds.

They’ll never embroider of an evening,

nor will the bikers build Fort Laramie

from toothpicks.

Old Sitting Bull was right:

you can hold back the cavalry.

They’ve knocked back the liquor of limitless youth,

traded the harmless for the audacious

and shot Old Age stone dead. 

 

🍃

  

HEALTH WARNING

  

A little poetry is a dangerous thing;

certain verses can race your pulse 

and worm into your mind, 

never to be prised out.

They suddenly twitch into consciousness

like the reminder of an old wound

and cause your lips to move,

to the consternation of others.

You can reveal your malady to close companions

knowing they may contract your fever,

but those verses will be part of you to the end,

truer than your epitaph. 

  

🍃

  

CROSSROADS

  

We’re flung forward by the brake.

                                     Another feral dog, heat-drowsed, slow,

missed by a whisker? No –

Snake! Six-foot snake!

Out of deference we let her pass,

powered by lightning, side-winding

over shimmering tarmac, gliding

like mercury over glass.

Earth-mother like Shakti the consort of Shiva, 

on her headlong errand she ignores

us totally; out of reverence we leave her

to reach her distant, ever-secret lair.

Our universe halts right there,

all movement, all progress paused.

We do not even think “We spared 

your life”.  Her fissured features, if aware

of such hubris, would spit back “I gave you yours!”

Four seconds, then men and women bearing burdens

among grinding trucks and cycles glittering in the heat

trudge again along the dust-blown street 

past walls enclosing watered hotel gardens.

We weave between them to the Holiday Inn,

where a motionless lizard, tail curled,

head tilted, curious, uncertain,

forms an intricate impression of another world.

  

🍃

  

SPACE-TIME 

  

The last time I was you

you worked at Primark

not Marks and Sparks

and the time before that 

you married our local copper

not me

so the kids were different.

You did knitting not speedway

but died impaled on your needles.

The last time you were me

you won’t remember but

I was born twice in one week

because of a snag in space-time.

Then we were my mother

you and me.

We’ve been hundreds of dentists 

and a Bengal tiger 

not yet born.

  

🍃

  

SWEET NOTHINGS

  

The Floyd-Marshall algorithm solves the all-pairs path problem

I love the way you say that

And Smith-Waterman’s process finds local sequence alignment

I’ve often thought that myself

Nonblocking minimal spanning switch!

Not many men say that to me

Merge, with elements on the output not repeated

Look… perhaps we should hold our horses

Tarjan’s components are strongly connected

I’ve missed you terribly

Dynamic time warping measures the similarity between two sequences

When you left, the bottom fell out of my world

Heap’s permutation interchanges elements

You mean the world fell out of your bottom?

Bloom filter!

Steady now. Look, you could stay the night…

Fuzziness determines if strings are approximately equal

I’ll put you a camp-bed in the front room

A beam-stack search integrates an initial node

We could talk long into the night, couldn’t we?

A Soundex refinement allows matching of Slavic and Germanic surnames

Or we could cuddle, couldn’t we?

Couldn’t we?

Damn.

Power cut. 

  

🍃

  

Brian Young is a retired languages teacher living in Hertfordshire, England. He has a degree from London University in Spanish and French, and for many years taught languages in secondary schools and at the University of Hertfordshire. He is an active member of Ver Poets in St Albans, helps to run a University of the Third age poetry group, and regularly reads his work at the Poetry Society in London. He has won several prizes in national competitions, including second prize in the Southport Writers’ Circle open competition. He has gained certificates of merit from the Mere Literary Festival, Wiltshire and has had poems published in several anthologies. He enjoys writing slightly quirky poetry where he tries to emphasize the precise and heightened use of language.

  

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