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Paul Hansford

My Shopping List

I write my shopping-list in rhyme.
It doesn’t take me too much time,
and always helps me to remember.
(I’ve been doing it since last September.)

Wholemeal bread
low-fat spread
strawberry jam
dry-cured ham
Cheddar cheese
frozen peas
free-range eggs
chicken legs
grape jelly
pork belly
lamb chops
lemon drops
fillet steak
chocolate cake
cookie mix

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Dos besos (a brief love story)

1
The morning sun warmed the dew
from the opening rosebud;
a bee visited the fragrant heart of the rose;
the breeze tumbled a petal to the water,
drifted the pale petal across the surface of the water.
You surprised me gently.

2
I thought – hoped – the emotional baggage
was safely in the locker,
just for once,
just overnight,
but like a Houdini homing pigeon
it came back,
like a smart missile locked in on thought patterns
it found the target,
penetrated the armour,
and suddenly
just after midnight

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Metamorphosis - 3 variations on a theme

1. The Second law of Thermodynamics

Out of winter, spring,
out of spring, summer,
then autumn, winter,
and out of winter, spring,
always the same.
Out of the bud, growth,
out of the flower, seed,
out of death, life.
Entropy always increases.


2.
Once you were within my reach.
Suddenly you became a
g l i t
t e r
i n g
damselfly.

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Seventeen Words

No more the picturebook Eskimo,
the modern Inuit have central heating,
snowmobiles, welfare; they do not need
to fashion harpoons from bone, wait all day
for seal to come to ice hole, drag the body
to a home they have built from snow.

Once they lived with cold
and the creatures of the cold,
fish, seal, and white bear, familiar
if not friends, the snow itself
almost alive in its moods and movements,
falling as flakes, powder, clumps,
floating, flying, dazzling, stinging,
covering, drifting, compacting to ice.
Snow informed their lives;
one word was not enough.

Our life from infancy to grave
is shaped by love, comforting, calming,

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For Mel (villanelle)

The one who should have lived has gone so fast.
The old ones, in their dotage, linger on –
they, with no future, live only in the past.

And we who can but sit, dumb and aghast,
scarcely believe that while the sun still shone
the one who should have lived has gone so fast.

Six decades older, surviving to their last
few days or years, together but alone,
they, with no future, live only in the past.

At least she kept on living to the last,
but should have had a future. She has none.
The one who should have lived has gone so fast,

and they, for whom so many years have passed,
are unaware that one they loved is gone.
They, with no future, live only in the past,

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In-convenience

Very early in the morning we were woken from our sleep,
We were going on safari, being driven in a jeep,
We went out before our breakfast, we went out before sunrise,
We went out before the sleep had fully vanished from our eyes.
We had to dress quite quickly, and we went out in a rush,
And after we'd been driving through miles and miles of bush
For an hour or two (I have to say forgive the way I speak) ,
But - the roads were very bumpy - I was dying for a leak.
The driver stopped the jeep and kindly offered us a drink,
But it might have been more kind if he had only paused to think;
We had seen a herd of elephants, some vultures in the sky,
Several wildebeest and zebra, a hyena passing by,
Giraffes, a pair of ostriches, a buffalo or two,
And we'd taken lots of photographs (well, that's what tourists do) :
We had even seen some lions lazing underneath a tree,
But... we hadn't seen a toilet... and I really had to pee.
Beside a water-hole at last we found a pair of loos,
And I hurried to the gents', 'cause that's the one I have to use.
Yes, I went up to the gentlemen's, and pushed the door ajar,
But I didn't push it hard, and it didn't open far.

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