1) Lancelot in the Park
I know you used to come here
because you told me. Perhaps
in an unguarded confession?
Anyway, that was back then
and now, this bench, this park
– with its quivering poplars
silly ducks and bread-waving
kids. It’s just mine alone so
I sit here in chain-mail with my
thoughts, poems, vanity and I
wonder if I couldn’t achieve
more in a different life. This
shield I wear, this suit of
words, this sword of art,
once they swept young damsels
off their small glass slippers,
won princess’s hearts. I
would regale travellers in
dog-floored, noisy mead halls,
lie about fire breathing
dragons. Then another’s Queen
punctured my bravado
split my shield and left
me enjambed and alone
in this theme park of my making.
2) Le morte d’Arthur
Arthur returned to his kingdom in leaf.
Vibrant grass at his feet, overhead
a bursting beech. He took off his armour,
drank from a stream then lay in the April sun
feeling its warmth on his grey stubbled face.
Saracens, Moors, Dervishes. The dust
of foreign lands. He was done with it all.
The wound in his shoulder was still bleeding
and no flowery poultice had staunched it yet.
The shallow brook clattered through green cresses
and the impatient grass grew taller.
He slept untroubled while blood pooled round him,
until he resembled Ophelia floating
in her willowy glade, the blades of grass,
red as her hair, waving in the Spring breeze.
Guinevere walked through the morning gardens
where primroses partied in slanting light.
A liquidity of songbirds pardoned
the slinkingly slow departure of night
This walking around in meadows at dawn,
this dripping about in ethereal dreams,
was wearing thin on her, losing its charm
she’d give it all up for Starbucks and jeans.
She’d buried Arthur at Avalon Tor,
that squalid town with its hill of hippies:
already they’d opened souvenir stores,
tarot talkers, spell sellers and chippies.
In a parallel world through a wormhole in time
she’d drink gin and tonic. With Lancelot and lime.
Marc Woodward is a poet and musician resident in the West Country. He has been published in anthologies from Ravenshead Press, Forward Press, OWF, and in various magazines and web sites including Ink Sweat & Tears and The Guardian web pages.