Christopher T. George

Christopher T. George was born in Liverpool, England in 1948 and first emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1955. He now lives in Baltimore, Maryland, near Johns Hopkins University with his wife Donna and two cats. His poetry has been published in Poet Lore, Lite, Maryland Poetry Review, Smoke, and Bogg, and online at Crescent Moon Journal, Electric Acorn, Melic Review, Painted Moon Review, Pierian Springs, the poetry (WORM), Triplopia, and Web Del Sol Review. He is the editor of Desert Moon Review and an editor at Writer's Block Poetry Workshop. He also has his own personal poetry site.

The Bombers of Mossley Hill
I had read in a comic the details of the how-to
make a bomb, we’d use ammonium nitrate
fertilizer and petrol (paraffin might do).
Today, you’d just find it on the Internet,
in this new age of microchips and lasers.
Thus, in our Rose Lane School black blazers
with our red rose stitched over our hearts,
we Scouse hardknocks (fear didn’t faze us),
embarked on our sortie into the black arts,
to darken the shop of Mr. MacDougall, chandlers,
but the canny retired fullback did ably handle us.
A vision of blasted limbs raised by our infernal list,
thus with a whiff of sulphur, with little fuss,
we were sent packing past Mr. Hull the chemist,
past Cousin’s the bakers, and the Co-op butchers.

Ahh, Bisto!

Redbridge stands by the dock on a wooden crate
that proclaims, Ahh, Bisto! Use Bisto Gravy.
As a child, he’d dreamed of being a Bisto Kid
who’d convert the world to the wonders of Bisto.
His daughter Molly hands out pamphlets to all
who’ll accept one. He must get the Word out
before the midday sun burns the pedestrians
from the streets. Meanwhile, villagers hustle
to market, tidy away their Saturday chores.
He received the Word from the mouth of Jesus,
he honors the Lord’s Word, swishes it round
his tongue as he regales all who’ll listen,
to assure them how good the Word tastes:
an elixir for the world’s ills. He yells
parables to passersby. The fishermen mend
their nets; he’s a fisher of men. Ahh, Bisto!

Appeared in Electric Acorn 14

For Marie

I stand outside, this October midnight,
observing stars, those gifts from the void
that hurl to earth past Orion--each point of light
that falls from the sea of night, a fiery pearl.
Too well, though, I sense my neighbor's absence:
his star is falling, though in the sun of June
he downed his beer and leaned across the fence,
his worker's hands extolling the life he'd hewn.
Tonight, cancer pulls him down and weights each limb.
Hourly, the deadness spreads, he grows more hollow.
Nothing can persuade the cancer from its whim.
Though doctors hunt the star for us to follow,
no star could make up for the loss
as he suffers the stations of the cross.
Appeared in First, The Dream: Poems by Barbara R. Mandell, James R. McCready, and Christopher T. George (The Chestnut Hills Press, Towson, Maryland, 1981).

Guernica by Picasso
Even after all these years, the women are still screaming,
fingers transmuted into sausages or sardines
that won't stop the babies from falling.
Body parts mix with those of bull and stallion:
eyes flared, hooves, horns, teeth, faces ripped in two.
The bellows of animals become human.
Appeared in (the poetry) WORM 20  

Walking to Hilbre
Grandad, you wake forgetting
that we ever walked to Hilbre,
the sand ridges hard under our bare soles,
the advancing tide filling the valleys.
When we reached the sandstone island, we ate
tongue paste Hovis sandwiches, crusts trimmed
by Nanna, thermos coffee, her dark date loaf, but
all now forgotten by you. Your gold puzzle ring glints
in the morning sun. A sandfly annoys
the diamond panes of the leadlight window.
Oh, but now I am being forgetful: a plain
picture window now, the preference
of new wife, Olive. And I’m that fly
attacking the glass. My complex eye
sees everything and nothing.
I run through the waves
trying to reach you; the tide
of memory keeps us apart.
Appeared in (the poetry) WORM 29

You desired to make me your receptacle
for all you knew. No child of your own,
you meant to pass to me your lifetime’s
knowledge of history, flora, and fauna.
So you introduced to me by its Latin name,
a rare speckled orchid on St. Aldhelm’s Head,
by the side of the hermit’s ruined chapel.
Named the swirling birds, cormorants, auks,
as we hiked along Beeny Cliff, the waters
below us twinkling with a million suns.
You prepared the strains of knowledge
like skeins of wool at a spinning wheel,
sheep’s wool caught in clifftop barbed wire.
We slid down the shale to Kimmeridge Bay
seeking fossil ammonites and trilobites,
the world’s wisdom in a raptosaur’s tooth.

Appeared in (the poetry) WORM 31

In Queer Street
For Sam Walsh, Adrian Henri, and Geoff Andrews

I ransack the pockets of my pants and jackets
for cash, find only muck plus notes for poems:
my life is measured out in pocket lint.

The exigencies of war: a soldier digs a fatigue pit,
finds a ceramic doll’s head and a lead battleship:
Hummel and dreadnaught, sturm und drang, needles and hearts.

I felt a failure with friends and girls, better at
chess and anapestic prosody than twist or tango. I feared
being taken behind the cycle shed and shot.

The battleship steaming past New Brighton Tower,
the brown Mersey beating against the sea wall. I show you
the Echo photo. “I can’t paint that,” you said.

Yet you painted the dinner party, a pre-Raphaelite dream,
all our friends ranged each side of the long table,
tall bottles of wine, fingers pointed, ciggies finely poised.

Adrian and Roger, Sam and Sheena, John and Paul, me and you.
Unpainted, I recall us rolling home from the Cracke,
where did we get the wherewithal for such profligacy?

Your paintings sold but my poems lay in drawers,
or in editors’ drawers. You worked in your Mersey studio
while I worked in a jelly baby factory in the Smoke.

After “The Dinner Party,” you drew but never painted. Did you
run out of ambition, or had you painted all you knew,
invested everything in the canvases you left?

The night we slept in your Mini Cooper in Wapping
before waltzing round Petticoat Lane with my Super 8
recording the hawkers pitching their veggie cutters,

you the artist and me the poet, recorders of life,
two renegades on the lam, Ronnie Biggs and pal,
Great Train Robbers without the purloined quids.

The backed up sink in your cold water flat in Gambier Terrace,
floating pieces of paper swirl across the lino:
pieces of my face, the photos you’d taken for my portrait.
You and I singing “Carrickfergus” in the Everyman Bistro,
harmonizing to your guitar: “My days are numbered,
So come all you young men and lay me down.”

Taken by drink before your time, the large heads
you painted. Etched in Auden’s face, amor and angst,
Hoover like Mount Rushmore, the young pop stars.

In the photo, your head back laughing. Behind you,
a painting of my feet on pink satin sheets,
tagged for the show, oil on canvas, signed and dated.

Appeared in Painted Moon Review, 2002