Jeff Gallagher

Climate Change

It was strange weather for the time of year.

There was no chance to store provisions for the winter
Or make good repairs for the short cold days.

There were pallid grey clouds hiding the sun.

A warm wind shook the rhododendron bushes.

Darkness fell and we thought it was time to sleep.
Then the earth seemed to uproot itself 
Vomiting gravel and worms and dead roots
And everything we had carefully planted.
Weeds flew by their coat tails on lifted clods
Landing clumsily, randomly, like overfed magpies.

We patrolled our familiar boundaries, mad sentries
Besieged on all sides by the sky’s artillery.

After the storm came the unfamiliar rumble
Of deep-throated birdsong and the distant glow
Of something erupting on a far horizon.

We hurried to a temporary shelter, and waited.

Later the sun emerged from behind a new mountain.

Then we saw the Virgin in a yellow shroud,
With head bowed, speaking into her heart.

Medusa Lip

It rested like a tear upon the rim
Of your sour frown, a blank grey eye observing
A kingdom of fools: those who sought to win
Your cold hand, but found themselves deserving
Only your spite, your icy gaze, each word
A laser aimed at every so-called friend.

Then something froze in you, and nothing stirred
Except your eyes that willed our lives to end.
Now, in your stroke-bound silent cave, you wait
For demigod or hero to arrive
And break the spell, releasing all the hate
And jealousy that keeps your heart alive.

I see your old mute features full of fear.
But rest in peace. Your Perseus is here.

You’re Never Alone With A Samsung

This is the guy in the next cell
one of your captive audience
speaking from within the walls
where he has recently retired 
to spend some time in solitary

where the south wall pounds
to the generator throbbing
and banshee thrash of guitars
caressed by those giant lovers
towering over the crowds

and the orient streams images
of a photoshopped sunrise
red lava tumbling to the edge
of my outstretched feet
and oceans impossibly blue

to the north I can see
pictures beamed live from
galaxies thirteen billion years old
sitting at my right hand to be
snuffed out by the remote

as big bang and hand of god
are seen in slow motion loops
while the lava becomes an ice rink
for murder victims resurrected
as applicants for equity release

I mute the tattooed inarticulate
footballers and the pop stars 
with their post car crash makeovers
as zombies in suits are misquoted
by comically inaccurate subtitles 

I can blind hare-lipped children
and fill their faces with flies
or with a drone’s precision 
take out a terrorist or land a ball
in the beer of a random sports fan

and soon I will be my own host
on a virtual desert island
or advertise myself for myself
with every tech tonic around me
personalised to fit my environment

I look to the west to a brand new
innovation in home entertainment
beyond these walls to an old world
waiting for me to decide
what I should do with it

Jeff Gallagher is from East Grinstead in Sussex. His poems have featured in publications such as Rialto, Shooter, Dreich, Littoral, The High Window and The Journal. He has had numerous plays for children performed nationwide. He was the winner of the Carr Webber Prize 2021. He has been a teacher of English and Latin. He also appeared in an Oscar-winning movie. He has no handles.

Flights, Issue Six, September 2022