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On Hot Days and The Leopards of Peace by Helen Burke June 15, 2013

Posted by vscorpiozine in Veteran Poets.
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Drawing by Helen Burke

On Hot Days

On hot days , I play Jefferson Airplane
Or a little David Bowie – the day seems to demand it .
When the grass smokes and the pavements burn
And my arms hold themselves out to the sun .
Grace Slick’s voice and Ziggy in the sunshine will make
The day a good one , even hotter.
When the clouds gather – I turn to Fleetwood Mac , have to –
What other choice is there ??
And on rainy days it’s Al Stewart – Year of the Cat.
And soft Irish rainy days – American Pie and Don McLean.
I use them as umbrella’s , as sturdy boots and hat. So the day
Is not a wash-out , and I whistle down the wind.
On windy days – into the room comes Joni Mitchell and she and I
Are blown away down to the Mermaid Café.
And on changeable days , days that can’t make up their mind –
I go for Vashti Bunyan .  Works every time
When there’s thunder in my shoes and lightening strikes –
I dig out Bob Dylan and revisit old Highways.
You put Mott the Hoople on when you come in .
There’s a storm predicted in the East , you say –
And I want to be prepared .  But.
It turns out to be hot , so we have to think again.
The Man who Fell to Earth  ? or White Rabbit , I ask.
And the sun melts the windows, the music , everything .
I am trapped inside black vinyl .
And it’s hot.  Hot.  Hot.

The Leopards of Peace

So, we’re at this Pete Seeger concert ,
Right ??
That’s jan and kevin and lynnie and phil and me –
And what we are all doing , I cannot say –
Except that there are leopards .
Many leopards , big ones , small ones , shy ones ,
Chatty ones – all walking round the market place.
And available.
We are the leopards of peace , they say .
Will no-one take us home with them .
And we try.  Phil and I try – but the bag we have brought
Is kinda loose – and the leopards heads poke out – so
Things are rather tricky .  Phil and I ask the leopards what they
Want to do.
You must be your own leopards they say – and jan and the gang
Scoop up several of the really unusual leopards – and say
Don’t worry – we will take you a leopard back with us.
And a big Irish leopard – singing Danny Boy !! – leaps into
Their suitcase – and several small portable leopards join him.
Phil and I have one small leopard that we can carry between us –
And we do .  And this is how peace breaks out – between people,
Between nations , between dreams and moments you think are life
But are also dreams .  This is how peace is carried home in the heart.
Like a small leopard – until its time is come to walk the earth.
The whole of the earth .
Give the leopards a chance.   I wish you Peace.


UK poet Helen Burke has written poetry for the last 35 years. Her work is widely anthologised and has won many national prizes, including the Manchester, the Suffolk and the Devon and Dorset prize.  You can read more of her work here.



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