Geoff Page: ‘Last Bar’, ‘Ah, how justice’ and ‘In Praise of Crows and Ravens’

Last Bar

Hardly bellbirds in a forest,
these bleepers on the ward,
to be ignored or listened for,

a panoply of signs,
a layer from the Tower of Babel.
You’d planned for Miles’s Kind of Blue

or Coltrane’s Love Supreme,
some valkyries from Wagner maybe
or Mahler’s Tenth again.

Despite the wiles of Spotify
statistics say it’s probable
the last thing you will hear on earth

will be a tutti of the bleepers
as all the saintly analgesics
lift you free of pain.

Geoff Page


Ah, how justice

inches forward,
those nostrils in Jane Austen’s gardens
declining to inhale the sweat;

the ears that never quite would hear
the sound of leather cutting flesh.
Their manners were impeccable;

their marriages well-planned.
So too the twenty million pounds
the government paid out

to all who’d owned a human.
Had not two handy millionaires
rustled up the loan

the Act of 1833
might still be in committee.
The best part of two hundred years

went by till its acquittal
and all the drawing rooms of England
sailed like cruise ships down the years

with justice in their wake.

Geoff Page


In Praise of Crows and Ravens

Let’s not fuss about the difference;
the crow with its insistent
aarhk, aarhk, aarhk, aarhk,

the raven with its aaarhk, aaarhk, aaaaaarhk,
that final fall in pitch.
A crow eats almost anything

except the cane toad’s sac.
Although they’re not too flash at courting
they mainly mate for life …

and have a lengthy recall for
both blessings and resentment, a feel
for reciprocity as well;

small trinkets may repay a kindness.
They have a special touch with tools
and drop crustaceans on to rocks.

Tribes across the continent
observed their trickery and guile.
The Pitjantjantjara, for example,

call them wati kaanka,
a dodgy type who hangs about,
but certain moieties, it seems,

are proud to wear the name.
Our curving streets and tasty trash
might seem designed for them.

They’re up there near the top
of least endangered species.
Starting from Gondwanaland

thirty million years ago,
they’ll still be here to see us off,
perhaps a little sadly, with

a valedictory aarhk.

Geoff Page

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