When I was a small child and first glimpsed carved ivory on the television I thought these wonderful tiny white objects had been sculpted from frozen milk, like the ice lolly's I used to like around that age. 'Milk Trinkets.' (Well, it was black and white and a grainy miniature screen. State of the art 1950s style)
When I later found out they had been ripped out of animals heads it changed my appreciation of them from mysterious wonder to painful reality. The memory and disappointment of that discovery must have stayed with me; that feeling of 'what a con' as this inspired one of my first poems.
Parents always want the best for their children and usually tell them the world is out there for the taking. Most children get spun fairy tales of how anything is possible if you put the effort in. 'Everyone is born equal.' The great mantra.
The reality is, as we all know, depending on your circumstances, that level playing field might be tilted at an acute angle where it's almost impossible to score a goal at one end and relatively easy at the other. Still, we keep trying as that is what we are preordained to do. Our role in society. You cant have the apex of the pyramid without a broad thick base supporting it.
This was one of my first poems written around sixteen. I'd just left school and the job prospects were not as rosy as I'd been led to believe. I spent the next five years crawling under floorboards in houses as it seemed better than working in a slaughterhouse or a car factory. Some of the other jobs I was sent to apply for at that time. It was mining without the coal. Luckily I discovered I actually liked the dark places of the world. Peaceful and serene when compared to the noise in a factory or a slaughterhouse..
Stars in their passion
burn up from cradles;
love in its fullest
contrives to be free.
From the edge of an armchair
sail stories to meet us;
on the waves of a pillow
dance the lies in their cream.
We swallow politely
with pale haunted eyelids;
the occasional moonbeam
to peep through the blinds.
Soft hands warm and welcome
arrange folds in pyjamas;
wrap up the small limbs
of a princess or a king.
On bare hungry pages
the future is typecast;
to be played out as Shakespeare
Wood wolves and goblins, hedgehogs with headaches.
Three toed gorillas that catch fruit flies with string.
We dine out on milk trinkets, sugar ducks and pink halos,
that mark like mosquitoes, so you scare feel the sting.
But on fair frosted mornings, with two hands to guide us
our hopes rise from the prams like birds to the trees.
Like doves in a ships garden, fragile pearls on an ocean,
whose hearts ever open see only the sky.
No glimpse of the crystal, clear walls all surrounding,
or the planks where the worms
gnaw in from the sea.
But dissolve it does,
as dissolve it must.
And souls ringed in their childhood
are never truly at ease.
They quest for an ideal,
never there to begin with;
just figments and fragments,
gifts from those who dared care.
So no rest for the searchers
who were brought up on moonbeams
that dance discontent echoes
on their pale pristine hearts.
Like fevered survivors
from that sad empty ocean,
brought up to believe
there ought to be more.
As the waves wash the memories
of yesterdays daydreams,
down through the sand grains;
innocence crushed on the shore.
But those stars that were kindled
way back in blue cradles
are hard to extinguish;
shine bright through the tears.
We continue believing
thinking past dismal failures
to those tiny white trinkets;
rich rewards to be won.
When we slept safe with pink halos
that turned to mist the next morning
and woke up with grey puddles;
the magic all gone.
So how cruel that enchantment
to chain us to fables
which we soaked up so freely
yet still cant deny.
Maybe just round the corner
there's a shop dealing in daydreams
with a notice proudly declaring
'we have snowflakes for sale'.