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Poems
Dozing Off
(04 October 1943 / Germany)

Dozing Off

I sat, against the root of a dishevelled casuarina,
the storm had been too violent for its tender face
a horde of hungry crabs and shiny Fiji beetles
have made a gala dinner of the saprophytes,
green ferns whose pea-like bulbs hide from the sun.
There is a humming and the hoarseness of old voices
and no defence for me, the one who drank that night.
A strapping boy, no, it's a man on a brown horse,
a blaze of white pursuing nervous Jersey cows,
big udders swaying in the grass, exotic pouches
an aromatic dust of dung and powdered earth
now fills his nose and gives him taste to linger long,
he wonders briefly how it is that cows endure
so many hours of a game made up by man
and when the bats fall off the silo in the dark
he sees a thousand eyes aglow, yet far away.
There is new movement in the sky, near the horizon
a sudden craziness has gripped the patient clouds,
and he is turning now, his world a giant globe
as pupils stare to find the land and all its seas.
Oh, yes my God, I can indeed make out the sounds
of silent bats with devil's faces and his claws,
the giant ship has rocked itself into a rhythm
and soothing music like the beauty of a fog
descends with poise onto his loins to reassure
it is his life that passes, all of it, just now.
His frightened eyes can see the boy with dreaming eyes,
with stubborn spiders and fat worms in crowded pockets
and growing fast into a man with all his sins.
There goes the school with all the teachers in a flash
a dozen ceremonies, hats in black and gowns,
and gaggle after gaggle of those lovely souls
each face a memory, a long forgotten smile,
and now the office with the yellow gap-tooth smile,
who will not sign him off to get the lousy pension.
And then he knows that there is dream and there is truth,
because the music, all its mellow sounds have died.
He feels the urgent hand that reaches for his heart
a breath of morning air to wake him from his sleep
'twas all a cloud of cotton candy and of foam
and as the tongue of Wilhelmina licks his skull
it wakes the mind as only bovine tongues can do,
he takes his walking stick and hurries to the barn,
where all the young folks milk the overflowing bags,
it will be supper soon, best get himself inside
where his old chair stands at the head still, of the table.

User Rating: 3,9 / 5 ( 4 votes ) 7

Comments (7)

Seems sort of dream-like. It moved so easily. I felt as if I was following you each step of the way. Nice very nice :)
Mein F, an excellent descriptive piece of writing. Particularly like the line, 'yellow gap-tooth smile. It reminded me, of me? Heil...
Herbert, 'breast man' or not, this is a fine poem. It is full of detaills and puts the reader right there inside the head of this one in charge of the dairy herd...a mood poem of the finest kind. Raynette
I agree with Mary, Herbert. You're a fine storyteller and your language, rich and memorable.
Thank you both. And Mary, as I wrote in the British Medical Journal, I have always been a breast man. Best H
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