Collective Anticipations: An Anthology

An Anthology

by Alun Robert

Breakfast In Battersea

by Alun Robert

Starlings chorus at first shards of sunlight
while Routemasters growl, Southern networks groan.

Stretch my dead legs to scratch my empty stomach
blinking my sleepy eyes then shake my head

as velvets fly open in des res apartments,
dealers start to broke through i-phones and tablets.

Greasy spoons serve up cholesterol inducing saturates
with ozone wafting pungence across a grey haze.

We brothers start barking for we are all hungry
though warm and dry yet feel lonely and sullen

despite secure confines within the Capital
with its glitz and glamour but without bon ami

but who will visit us on this fine morning?
Will they choose me? Shall I depart?

Will I remain here like the statute of Buster?
Can never tell from one day to another.

So more brisk walks around the compound
doing ablutions (where I shouldn’t they say),

another tepid bath, a rather stiff brushing
to appear über-friendly by wagging my tail

for this routine, my ritual, keeps me going
throughout the day then through the dark

until shards of sunlight with another dawn chorus
when neighbours start growling, life begins again.

inspired by canine residents of
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, London UK

Views Over Montmartre

By Alun Robert

Mama would sit me on the pouffe
next tall windows in her boudoir when
brushing my long auburn hair
while singing a lament.

There she would read me the fable
of a princess and the fairies that
Gran’mama read to her
when she was my age.

Would dress me in a sombre frock
covered by a pristine white smock
matching her white unfurled umbrella.
She was in black.

We would slip out to her balcony
with Sacre-Coeur sparkling in splendour.
The golden dome shimmering
most afternoons.

She would weep endlessly about Papa
for it was only last March.
We will be stronger together, Mama
would say time and again.

Yet my view through metal railings
was like a caged circus bear
with a desire to be free from
captivity at home.

For I have no siblings (older or younger)
to run round in circles, to frolic.

Nobody to play games on the balcony.
Am just Mama’s sole focus.

Though when clinging to railings, tight
I would watch Montmartre pass

dreaming of the day
when I will be like other boys.

Paris, France


Private Dancing

By Alun Robert

Practice tapping in the ante-room,
she twists and twirls, twice
stretching her limbs just
as far as she can. No further.

Auburn hair in a bun with
aspirations of Ginger Rogers. Hollywood
beckons, from midnight through morn.

Howard Miller strikes 7pm
(it is her time) as
studio doors spring like a cuckoo clock
casting her across the parquet floor,
two pirouettes, maybe three.

Instructions from Madame of
light blue rinse, pink frock
reverberate in decibels approaching
a Marshall giant stack.

Her paradigm shuffle
cracks to the beat. Faster! Faster!
Feet speed up in synch
with translucent globules of sweat
prancing over the parquet.

With vigour de rigueur
like a platoon of Welsh Guards,
she fights the hoofer’s battle of
step-heel, heel-step through
syncopation and bright brushes.

Single buffalo, paradiddle
blend into one. To
three riffles then ripples
send her base over apex
just a whisker before eight.
Her lesson is over.

In the dark corner of the studio
credit cards, no cash. She
taps digits with great vigour
as she had done on the floor.

New York, USA


Learning by Rote

By Alun Robert

Out at the front
me and twenty odd others
each Thursday I think
just after morning prayers

standing round in a circle
faced inwards towards her
towering above us
like a lion about to pounce

so anxious for us to start
so anxious for our turn
reciting by rote
the times table of the week.

Now decades later
sort of recall my times tables
all the way to twelve or ten
but never venturing to thirteen.

Did the same another morning
with spelling rather than numbers
apart from i before e except after c
cannot recall any more.

Then academic years later
learned trigonometric theorems
for angles in a triangle and higher
but now angles of nothing.

In school knowledge was soup
supped morning until night
with meanings memorised
and spelling bee treasured

with words locked in the cranium
in random catacombs
once easy to reach
but now impossible to touch.

Will I recover my youth
if I practice elementary education
arithmetic, trig, English
the most precious of subjects?

Then if I commence a daily ritual
of re-learning from schooldays
will I counter a creeping onslaught
from vascular dementia?


The Long Wait

By Alun Robert

Woken before dagbreek
angry cries from the wild
crackles of the radio
trucks growling on the N2.

Sparking from the vuur
scent of rooibostee
breakfast in the oond
water boiling for ablutions.

Heavy rain again
La Niña knocking our deur
as it always does
this time of year.

Moeder holding court
(ignore her if I dare)
chattering about weather
about tasks of the day.

No different from yesterday
or last week or last month
will just be the same
until Vader returns.

South Africa