The Cost of Success

The Cost of Success

The price of success is measured in dollars.

The cost of success is measured in death.

Trees crash to the ground

As nature reels and gives up its breath.

Short-term plunder is the name of the game

Long-term consequences on the long road of shame.

For making bucks isn’t the main thing that counts

If the damage done just mounts and mounts.

Opher 26.12.2017

Sadly all that people seem to care about is making money and feathering their own nest. Nobody gives a damn about the impact this has on other people or nature.

We are destroying the planet to finance another yacht.

Success is measured in how much money you have made, not in how fulfilling a life you’ve led, not in how much love you’ve generated, not in how much good you’ve done.

Somehow I think this society has got its values wrong.

Poetry – The Same

The Same

Every day is the same –

A familiar comfortable pattern –

Like slipping into a warm glove,

Sitting beside a winter’s fire,

Slipping on an old moppy jumper.

Life has its routine:

We dress and bathe,

Toilet and eat,

Do our chores,

Partake of leisure, work and friends.

We read, write and go about our business

As if the sun will always rise.

Nothing changes –

At least the changes are gradual,

And only glimpsed with disbelieving eyes

As distance gives perspective,

As years slip slowly past.

Then one day it is different

And things will never be the same again.

Opher 5.9.2017

So many events change life forever – death, illness, migration, war, loss of a job, retirement………………..

One minute your world is running along smoothly and the next it is turned upside down and there’s no way back.

These last few years have seen so many of my friends thrown into chaos. All their plans burnt before their eyes. They have to regather and take a deep breath. Then they have to plan how to go forward from where they are now.

We all await the change that will radically alter our lives. It is coming. It lurks in the back of our minds.

Poetry – When Life Teemed

When Life Teemed

Long timber frames and sail

Bravely crossing oceans

In the throat of gale and swell

To bludgeon, slash and cruelly stash

The feather, claw and shell.

Crowned the breeding ground

Strewn with corpses in stacks

By the ton around the downed.

With live fresh meat to roast;

Turned turtles done in the baking sun

Tortured without thought or sound.

The oceans and the forests

Stripped of all wood,

Flesh, feather, and scale,

From moor and dell

Without a dream or care.

Infinite seas of scene and green

Splashed crimson meat to sell.

Now it has come to this –

Plastic and concrete –

All amiss in an abyss;

As profit, breed and greed

Conspire for that last kiss.

Opher 29.10.2016

When Life Teemed

Long ago, when there was a fraction of our present numbers, man sailed the ocean in big wooden sailing boats. The world was infinite, the seas raged and there was danger everywhere. The brave men saw death at every corner.

When they spied land they replenished their stocks of fresh water and meat. For simplicity they raided the breeding grounds and took on board tons of carcasses. They captured the huge leatherback turtles and turned them upside down on deck so they had fresh meat, oblivious to the hot sun and suffering these gentle creatures suffered. They clubbed the baby seals and birds for sport and fun and left the colonies wrecked. For the supply was endless. It mattered little.

They senselessly sailed up rivers, travelled across the great American plains and trekked through jungles and savannahs blasting at everything that lived, collecting trophies and destroying great herds and flocks to leave the carcasses littered the ground to rot.

They used live animals as ballast in their ships, heaped in barrels, because it was easier than collecting rocks or digging sand. The animals died in agony and rotted in the holds to be discarded into the sea when port was reached.

Life was cheap. People were heartless. The bounty was never-ending.

Except the planet is not infinite, the stocks are not endless and within a short while the teeming wildlife has been reduced to a fraction of what once was. There is probably less than 1% of what there was a hundred years ago. Billions have died.

This is part of a long poem I have written about this cruelty and mindlessness we are bringing to bear as we blithely destroy the lifeboat we are living in. We are busy sowing the seeds of our own demise.

Our cruelty and stupidity never cease to amaze me. Human beings gain pleasure out of killing and torturing. We like to see things suffer. We never have a thought for the future. We cannot see that we are busy devouring our own bodies.

We are betraying all we hold dear, including ourselves – that last kiss of betrayal is the signal of the end.

Poetry – Your absence is noted

Your absence is noted

All the colours were the same,

Tinged with disbelief.

Inside it was clinical –

Curtain drawn around a bed,

And all was still and neat.

Outside, the sun shone as usual;

Another bright sunny day

Towards the end

Of a fabulous summer –

The warmth belying the mood.

Nothing was real

Until I touched the cold

Hard white marble of your face

Then the whole universe shifted.

Outside the window

It was now bleary.

A man walked his dog.

A woman entered the phone box.

An old man with a stick,

Bent and stiff,

Walked slowly past,

Carrying a bag of shopping.

How could it possibly

Be so ordinary?

Opher 13.5.2016

Poetry – Why so Glum?

Why so Glum?

Death – why the glum face?

Have we not taunted you

Down all these long years?

Expected you are every turn?

Yet you only showed your face

In pictures, films and stories

From near and afar,

Rarely robbing our own homes.

For isn’t the firework

All the more exciting

For its brief moment

Of glory?

Isn’t the taste

So much

Sweeter

When fleeting

And gone?

For death

You have added piquancy

To an already

Spicy dish –

I thank you.

At the end of every road

We must turn

The final bend.

And weary from travelling

Welcome it

As the conclusion

Of a wondrous

Journey.

So death – be not glum.

You have served me well

And we are well met.

Opher 24.4.2016

Why so glum?

My book – The Death Diaries – simmers on my computer. It is the work of a life-time. I am searching for the ending. Who knows what form that might take?

Looking back through life one realises that it is death that has created the excitement. We dare to invite and taunt, to test out our mortality. Our tales are of daring, where we have cheater the grim reaper of times when we have gambled and survived, pitted our skills against a deadly enemy. We have eaten of the bacon and ice-cream without a thought for the heart as if it could not happen to us. We have learnt the bike into the bend hoping that friction and gravity conspire to bring us back up again.

Every brush with possibility creates another story – and we laugh the harder that it was so close we felt its breath.

What would life be without it? And which would be the more terrifying?

For every journey ends – some far too soon – some before the flames has burned low – and now, when we have a life so well used, we can look back and celebrate. For death you played your part well.

Poetry – We’re all terminal

We’re all terminal

We’re all terminal.

Each day ends with a little death;

Each morning starts with resurrection.

Our span is fleeting.

A mayfly’s dance upon the water;

A bubble’s iridescent moment.

So while we may

Let us fill the moments with joy

And wonder at the stars above.

For all life is but a moment

That we must fill with love.

Opher 13.4.2016

We’re all terminal

I have been writing these pieces about death but hopefully not in a morbid way. Death is something that waits for us all and there are many views on what will occur. Yet death is a taboo; something we avoid.

I think about death a lot.

I wanted to record a diary of my own thoughts on death and record my own death – quite difficult – particularly the very last bit!

We’ll see how it progresses. If it is soon and sudden it may be a very short book!

But as I was writing this I was listening to the radio. There was an interesting discussion with a lady who had a terminal illness and did not have long to live. She was talking very lucidly about what she was wanting to pack in to what time was left, her priorities, her bucket list, and the interviewer asked if she was finding it difficult to talk about her ensuing death. She said that it wasn’t. She had come to terms with it and that we were all terminal.

The irony is that she will undoubtedly life longer than a small number of the healthy listeners who were tuned in. The difference was that they did not know they were destined to suddenly die.

We go through life and waste our opportunities, take for granted the love, awe and wonder around us, and rarely make full use of our time.

For me, talking about death makes me want to pack more in to the time I have; to not dwell on my aches, pains and limitations (ageing is a bastard) but to focus on what I still can do and make the most of each precious moment.

Death fills me with determination to live.

Poetry – Chainsaws and Gun Shots

Chainsaws and Gun Shots

Chainsaws and gunshots

Chainsaws and gunshots

Saw-teeth and bullets

Bangs and buzzes

Bangs and buzzes

Tearing into flesh

Death

Death

Death.

Opher 17.2.2021

I walk up my hill into the green manufacturing industry known as the countryside to the sound of multiple bangs and the chunter of chainsaws.

Every single day I hear the sound of shots.

The green fields have been blanket bombed with pesticide but even so, if anything dares to try to cling on to life it is blasted to hell.

I can hear the chainsaws attacking another tree. There are not too many of those left – little oasis in the green desert.

I’m walking in nature and listening to the relentless sound of death.

Poetry – Death

Death

If you live with me

You’ll never live

Far from death

Liquid torrents in my veins

The skies

The rock

The water

Stalking my dreams

My death will be unique

Fantastic and terrible

Complete

Without hope

That must drive your life

Death that is oblivion

Each second stolen

From the void

Each thought

A universe

Each day

A life

When you live with me

You live with life

That burns.

Opher 10.9.99

Life is measured in seconds. I have no belief is anything after. I opened my eyes into a wondrous universe. My purpose is to make each second as full and purposeful as I possibly can. I want to wrest as much out of it, enjoy, create and experience, to squeeze the sponge of life until each drop is savoured.

Each second is precious for our life after is as our life before. That’s OK.

Poetry – THE END

THE END

 

That’s a body in that coffin

He’s gone

We will never see him again

Never talk to him

But there are a lot of things not in that coffin

His smile

His crazy laugh

A twinkle

His perceptive intelligence

That could penetrate walls

His barbed wit

His craziness

His individuality

Warmth

And madness

He was an irascible old bastard

An awkward old sod

An impetuous madman who knew no boundaries

He hurt people

And we loved him

He loved people

And we hurt him

He was a confused wonderer

A thoughtful targeter

A gleeful commentator

A worried madman

A poet, musician, father and a man

His poems, his music and his thoughts are not in that coffin.

He’s left them back here with us.

He is alive in our memories.

He goes on and on forever through the ripples we all pass along

The bastard touched us

And moved the world.

Miss Him?  It will be hard to live without him. But only part of him has gone.

Opher 12.1.02

I wrote this for a friend

Our lives are much too short. We only just get going and it is over.

Every friend gone leaves a hole.

All we leave are the ripples of our wake. They spread out endlessly to touch everyone, passing from one to another in an endless chain, like snooker balls, our ripples bounce off each other.

We may not touch others directly but we nudge and prod through others.

Friends are gone but they live on in our thoughts, our memories and the effect they had on us. They change us. We change each other.

Together we build a zeitgeist that changes the world.

I wrote this poem for a dear friend who is now a series of ripples that are resounding around this globe. I miss him. But I still feel him talking to me in my head. I take out my memories and dust them off. He still teaches me. He has left so much of himself behind for us.

It is wrong that he is gone, it makes me angry, but his ripples will live on for ever.

Poetry – You Set Me Free

You Set Me Free

You opened up the rainforest

And set me free.

You sent in the loggers

And released me.

Your hunters and merchants

Took me to distant lands

Your wet markets and butchers

Have blood on their hands.

Now I’m in your blood

Breeding rapidly.

I bet you are glad

You set me free.

Opher – 13.9.2020

Covid-19 – another pandemic set loose by our own stupidity.

We continue to open up the inaccessible regions.

We hunt and catch the poor creatures who live there.

We put them in cages and sell them in markets.

We ship them around the world in terrible conditions, all crammed together, starving, thirsty, terrified.

We keep them in insanitary conditions.

We take them to market and slaughter them.

Their blood is on our hands.

The wet markets release virus after virus – HIV, SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, Avian Flu. There has been a stream of them.

Are we going to all this terrible trade to continue?

I think it’s as bad as slavery!

How long is it before a virus is released that will wipe us all out?