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Poetry

Jeff Gallagher – 3 poems

Byzantium

            

To a distant friend killed in a car crash

            

At an unpredictable point in time

the brain

bowing under the weight of facts, 

pulsed in protest

and spat the blood through your busy head

like the yoke of a badly boiled egg

            

The great jawline of that vaulted dome

slammed shut

– a vain attempt to prevent a meltdown –

broke in an instant

and lay like shards in a glass case,

the scant fragments of a mind too full

            

No longer you in that skidding car

stopped short,

crumpled by the random truck –

identity swept away –

and the empty shell of your curious skull

cracked and shattered by some cosmic trowel

            

They no longer mummify or pickle in jars

or stuff

what is worthy of preservation:

carved quaint prose

is what remains, recalled in the smoke

glimpsed by your Aeneas on the road to Rome.

🍃

            

Fan Club

            

back then

just a look or a word 

or a touch

from those guys

could make us immortal

            

but the founder of Genesis 

was busy on his phone

and Anderson (the guy with the flute)

danced behind a counter 

selling fish

yeah man but I was in the same room

            

saw them both back then

and I seem to recall

Phillips (simply years ahead)

smiling shyly and someone from Tull

shouting peace man yeah

I’m sure he was talking to me

            

I was this close to Stacia in 72 

Hawkwind far out yeah and Curved Air

that Sonja’s 72 today 

and still gorgeous

still got the T shirts they signed

and did you know Lemmy yeah 

he was born in Burslem

yeah man in the same effing street

            

Glastonbury yeah that was me too

yeah third row back 

sitting on some guy’s shoulders

totally pissed

a-gain

yeah mate I mean Fripp and Eno

I mean they’re like gods

            

retired now 

or gone

the old familiar faces

just like the seventies

all in our seventies

posting ripping yarns

from our new conservatories

the Peter Pans of YouTube

            

never such innocence,

never such innocence again

            

still

bloke in the pub quiz team

he was in a band 

once you know

got to number 85

in the Billboard 100

with a song about gnomes.

🍃

            

Jane Hill’s Wife

            

As I search online for another glimpse of the immortals,

my way is barred by curious diversions, such as

“Breakfast Show guest swears live and walks off set” and

“Weather presenter reveals amazing new beard” and

“Take a close up look at Jane Hill’s Wife – so weird!”

            

Recalling that newsreader with the faint maternal smile,

I click the link idly and resist the fierce challenge of

“Important message for all you baby boomers” and

“Savvy pensioners cannot afford to miss this plan”; or 

“Invest now. Protect your family while you can.”

            

I am not distracted: Jane’s Wife is my holy grail

as I bravely withstand straplines with their siren songs, such as 

“Whatever became of the other Herman’s Hermit…?” and

“You won’t believe how much Snow White has grown old…” or

“This horror-child is now a gorgeous centrefold.”

            

But I am wise to these distractions that would entice us

And I resist the lure of more sinister temptations:

“Can COVID really increase your memory skills?” and

“The ten greatest movies of Johnny Depp revealed” and 

“Name all the teams who have won the Charity Shield.”

            

And now she is there again, this unseen Eurydice

awaiting my gaze as the flight of an arrow leads to

“Ten TV celebrities in same-sex relationships” and

“Ten stars called Jane who made it big, it’s said” and

“Ten famous people called Hill who are now all dead.”

            

And always the advertising fed intravenously,

half-truths and oxymoron turning brain to stone:

“These baked beans buff you up better than Botox” and

“Love Island cutie reveals beauty secrets of tar” and

“New tanned body for less than the price of a car.”

            

I reach Olympus. And here at last to greet me

Is Jane, the face that launched a thousand headlines:

“Boris Johnson says Brexit is a done deal” and

“Scientists say climate change is caused by cows” and 

“Jane Hill caught on camera adjusting her blouse.”

            

Blinded by her fame, I cannot avert my gaze:

I am one step from my objective. I click again:

“A personal message to you from Jane Hill’s Wife”. Yes?

“The Internet gods are cruel. They take no prisoners.

“So respect my privacy. And mind your own bloody business.”

            

And, armed with clutch purse and tiara, Jane’s hologram stands

Next to a cut out silhouette: the wife. And Jane says:

“Behold. A false trail leads only to a dead end” and

“Go home. Turn off your computer. Get a life.”

And thus ends my epic quest for Jane Hill’s Wife.

            

Yet now, in old age, I still desire to dwell with the gods 

by Googling the divine along well trodden paths, such as

“The quick and easy way to write your will” and 

“The new dementia craze that is sweeping the nation”,

“Blind faith”, “assisted death” and “cut price cremation.”

🍃

            

Jeff Gallagher is a poet and playwright living in West Sussex. He has had numerous plays for young people published and performed nationwide. His poetry has appeared in The Journal, One Hand Clapping, Makarelle, Spellbinder and Runcible Spoon. 

By Heavenly Flower Publishing

Bindweed Magazine publishes two anthologies each year: Midsummer Madness and Winter Wonderland. Bindweed is run as a not for profit, labour of love endeavour by an author/poet couple: Leilanie Stewart and Joseph Robert. Bindweed can be found at https://bindweedmagazine.wordpress.com

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