The Camel Jockey
I met him wandering on the dunes, a tiny man
who’d been replaced by an automaton.
“ Remember those rows of gantry cranes, high
stacked decks, lines of waiting wheels? No more!”
He’d seen containers with their cargoes spilled,
flowers for ‘cities’, umbilicals cut, withering;
noted rebellion afoot amongst the worker tribes
crawling from their barracks to mix wrong ratios
of sand/cement before their deportation.
Soon the mighty towers crumbled, icons fell like
ninepins, while on the three glass pyramids left,
the Sheikh’s smiling face, appeared, disappeared,
proclaiming his benevolence, his eternity,
his concern for customer care.
Portrait On the Humber*
Lips gently parting to reveal a simple smile,
she has an untroubled but enigmatic look,
her apparel conforming to divine diktat
- a deep white collar on a full black dress,
Wife of a merchant? One perhaps reliant
on confident Dutch traders working sea-marks
set by pilots - sandbanks, mudflats, saltmarsh,
inundation, reclamation, changes over time.
A boat laden with goods on a favoured tide
via a dog-leg estuary and across the sea
inching its way to a land reclaimed with God’s
blessing for nation building in a ‘golden age’.
How much did she know of slaves in the east,
the props to an ‘embarrassment of riches’?
A mastery of nature and colonies infected
both our worlds of empire generated trade.
Today oil-power spews pollution on the south bank.
Fumes disguised as clouds linger above the slipway.
Windmill relics remind us of her destination.
Enough power once to help her kin drain land.
Now, at deep anchorage the tankers rest, handy-sized
for river travel, cargoes stowed with double hull
security and cofferdams, chartered with convenience flags
of threatened islands, fortunes tied to markets.
*Portrait of a Young Woman by Franz Hals, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
John Quicke is originally from West London, where he was born 16.10.41, John Quicke has spent most of his professional career in Sheffield. He is a retired professor who has published widely in the field of education. In his book, Inclusion and Psychological Intervention in Schools (Springer, 2009), he draws upon his experiences as a local authority educational psychologist. It consists of a number of ‘factional’ stories which demonstrate how a self reflexive narrative can generate productive insights into educational processes. Other books include A Curriculum for Life (OUP, 1999) and Disability in Modern Children’s Fiction (Croom Helm, 1985). The role of poetry in teaching has been an emerging interest. His own poetry explores a number of cultural and political themes in a contemporary context. His recent collection, Political Ties (2014), has been self-published by Matador/Troubador.
Outside the outer edge of wilderness,
firing arguments from mountain tops of sand…
I see your denial of a sense of burn out.
Perhaps, a change of view? Cherish the rosy glow
that’s solitude, a quiet space for a slow take off,
for consolidation of a found again dream?
I’ll help you perform a version of your ‘true’ self,
as the perfect antidote to clubman economics,
newly minted but slightly ragged and unpolished.
So let your handlers deal with the baggage,
put yourself on a well resourced plane, and re-enter
not as an aging comeback kid, but as ‘real’,
all your hyperboles tied down, all your conceit
lurking in the eyes airbrushed, all your friends
and family now on message. It’s OK
to rely on me to put your best foot forward.
thistles stretch their prickly arms afar