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Poems by Bruce Harris



Aliens coming to earth: Advice on timing


If you land in the fourteenth century, they’ll probably think you’re God
and, since you’re all green and really quite small, they will tend to think it odd
that you haven’t got beards or angel wings or arrive with a harp on a cloud;
you’ll die of the Black Death anyway; they were quite an unhealthy crowd.


Fetching up in the sixteenth century, you’d be a religious plot;
they’d tie you and your ships to big wooden steaks and set fire to the whole damn lot;
anything made out of nice shiny cloth would be liable to requisition
and, if you do actually have little green balls, they’d be subject to Inquisition.


Coming down in the eighteenth century, you’ll think them a bunch of prigs,
wafting white powder everywhere and poncing around in wigs.
You’ll wonder about houses for coffee and bottles of gin everywhere;
mind, after one or two glasses of that you won’t really bloody care.


Arriving in 1953, you’ll need to be good at sports;
you’ll need to play up and play the game and generally be good sorts.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself bent right over your spaceship bonnet
with your little green bottom up in the air and a thin cane descending upon it.


Opting for 1967 could well be a comfortable spot
though your little green kids will mumble about love and be going slowly to pot.
You’ll wear ghastly kaftans and sit cross legged, with others of similar mind
and it won’t be the wind between your ears which will slowly be blowing your mind.


Your landing in 1979 will be with a bump and a jerk;
they’ll be jumping and bouncing around your ship and spitting on your paintwork.
Don’t bother too much about dressing up and keep well away from the mobs;
they’ll be desperate enough, in a very short time, to be pestering you for jobs.


Parking up in 1990, you’ll need to watch how you go;
all the white powder lined up everywhere is not necessarily snow.
You’ll be just in time to see La Thatcher succumb to the last attack
and, if you know which planet the woman is from, for pity’s sake take her back.


And if you should choose to opt for now, our time has a lot to give
though you’ll need to arrive with many green notes if you want to buy somewhere to live;
if no-one should turn up to meet your landing, don’t worry, everything’s fine,
it’s just that no-one’s interested much; we’re all far too busy online.


a line, (a blue one)


A Yacht in the Bay


To watch, through your special binoculars, the hoy palloy walk the Croisette;
to be absolutely accepted as a member of Cannes’ social set;
to sit in mahogany board rooms and have an abundant say
and to wear your own little captain’s hat on a big white yacht in the bay.


A trophy wife, who can smile and flirt without letting it get out of hand;
an efficient P.A. who will seek to ensure that your office is suitably grand;
a party manager with a gift for creating the do of resplendent gaiety
which is carefully structured but never quite loses a soupcon of wild spontaneity.


A new car that does five gallons a mile and resembles a huge private part;
a fluttering woman to wave you goodbye who doesn’t look like a tart;
memberships of the finest clubs where messieurs drink cognac with messieurs
to build self-esteem to an apex point where moi-meme promotes to mon dieu.


In the modern west, these are ideals that define punters’ aspirations;
to consume without undue concern for the shares due to poorer nations;
to float round on boats, drinking like fish and generally having a ball;
to persuade yourself that your money makes you the idle idol for all.


a line, (a blue one)


The Forrest Boy


1986 - Round the bend from the Close to the Avenue
sitting up in suitable blue boy pram
the new Forrest pride, John like his Grampy.
Mrs Spicer emerges for clucking and gooing
and carefully mentally notes resemblances
to snake out later in Mr. Spicer’s ears.
Jennifer Pearson stops in mid-toddle
to grieve for her own imperial pram days
in this diminished present of infant upstarts.


1996 - Round the bend from the Close to the Avenue
running like boys who have demons pursuing,
Johnny noise machine, shouting and clattering.
Mrs. Spicer raises tired eyes to the ceiling,
thinking back to seen and not heard
and later nostalgic mutual Spicer whinge.
Jennifer jerks away from her mirrors
to tut a disgust at the amok boy species,
messing her periphery like mongrels let loose.


2001 - Round the bend from the Close to the Avenue
hooded John Forrest and three hooded friends,
languid rebels at the sadness of school.
Mrs. Spicer pulls curtains half way across
and vows Mr. Spicer a serial of griefs
until all the locks and alarms are upgraded.
Jen turns and nods, like nightmare confirmed;
her lips purse to straight; she thinks of her Darren,
the good lads, the bad lads, the ones in between.


2006 - Round the bend from the Close to the Avenue,
practice running in vest and short shorts,
Forrest, the Club’s new athletic sensation.
Mrs Spicer flicks eyes and flicks eyes again,
then has a good look behind camouflage curtain,
sighing for shoulders, wide-eyed for crotch.
Jennifer’s mouth falls open and stays there,
like the local pest monkey just turned mega-hunky,
so many lush lads and so little time.


2011 - Round the bend from the Close to the Avenue
the brand new shiny car has to pause
as young champion Forrest is estate-acclaimed.
Mrs. Spicer says she always had known it,
Mr. Spicer maintains diplomatic silence,
looking, sideways, at her shouting and waving.
From the passenger seat, Jennifer smiles
as gurgling John Junior does an unmentionable
and Daddy decides it’s time to push on.



a line, (a blue one)


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