Master of the Universe by Michael Keeble

A Christmas story poem from Michael

Master of the Universe

Mark’s seven figure bonus burned the pockets of his jeans
Another Aston Martin now came well within his means.
His penthouse flat deposit came from last year’s bonus pack
His options and his pension fund kept future plans on track.
“Life is good this Christmas”, thought the banker looking down
From off his lofty balcony upon the dirty town.
“Tonight I’ll worship Mammon and give thanks for all my gains
And toast the banking system in plentiful champagnes”

The night was cold and wet and grey, but Mark just didn’t care
He’d spent a fortune getting drunk and barely had the fare
To catch a taxi home to bed to sleep the night away
And dream of all the stuff to buy with his inflated pay.
The bar had closed, his friends had gone, and now he stood again
Weaving gently on the kerb of this deserted lane.
As if to make his night complete he saw with bleary sight
A taxi cab approaching him, “For Hire” sign alight.
He slumped himself into the seat and gently closed his eyes,
Opened up his eyes again and there to his surprise
Sat Jacob, friend from student days, who’d made a pile in Law
But had succumbed to early death, but now sat there before
The puzzled and bewildered Mark who couldn’t quite recall
If he had asked this ghost along, he wasn’t sure at all.
What actually was going on until the spectre spoke
And reassured his banker chum that this was not a joke
“I died” he said “before I could enjoy the fruits of wealth
“My sole concern was money; I cared not for my health
“And so it was one day as I was thinking what to buy
“The reaper came with sharpened scythe and told me I would die
“And now I am condemned to ride in this my ghostly cab
“Until I can convince one more, that life is more than grab
“Up all the money and the things that it can get.
“I sit here ev’ry Christmas but I haven’t done it yet.”
“Don’t think I’m the one to change” said Mark “what’s mine stays mine,
“And anyway I’ve set my sights upon a DB9.”

The cab came to a stop beside a place Mark didn’t know
A wasteland by the riverside where desp’rate people go.
Figures shuffled aimlessly or simply stood around
Their clothes were ragged, pride had gone; they stared upon the ground
Having seen more than enough Mark slowly turned his head
To speak to Jacob opposite but, shockingly, instead
An image of himself stared back, unwashed and dressed in rags
A bottle clutched in dirty hands, his stuff in plastic bags.
“Hi Mark” this vision said at last and took another drink
“You don’t know me yet” he said “but just in case you think
“That bankers only give it out and are themselves immune
“I’ll draw you a scenario that hums a diff’rent tune.
“Your bank collapsed from dodgy deals and you were thus deposed.
“You couldn’t pay your debts and so your creditors foreclosed
“And here you are a year ahead, you’re homeless and bereft
“You’ve taken to the bottle ‘cos there’s simply nothing left.”
He paused and stared at Mark awhile then spoke again at last
“You know they say when going up take care of those you pass
“‘cause when you’re going down you may be grateful for their aid,
“Well here I am already down and you’re already made.
“You never gave a single thought beyond your greedy self”
He winked and then ironic’lly he drank the banker’s health.
In guilt Mark closed his eyes to shut his other self away
And when he opened them again the night had turned to day
“Just a nasty dream” he thought. He was lying in his bed
But he couldn’t lose the awful feeling running through his head.
Hungover from the night before, he turned the TV on
To idly watch the news unfold but knowing all along
That Masters of the Universe like him could not be caught
By pestilence or poverty, that all things could be bought;
But then upon the screen appeared a face he’d seen before
Looking from a taxi parked before his own front door.
“I’ve come to take you back” he said “there’s very little time
“For you to make amends for greed before the church bells chime
“The blessings of the Christmastide, and peace, goodwill to all.
“Or wallow in your cosy bed and see what will befall
“You when you’re on your way to gutter land and begging in the streets
“And cardboard packing keeps you warm instead of silken sheets.”
The screen then switched to show the place the scene so desolate
That Mark had seen the night before depicting what his fate
Would be if he should not give up his greedy selfish ways;
The likelihood was that this could be how he ends his days.
What thoughts went through Mark’s mind just then will never now be known
But soon he turned the TV off and reached out for his ‘phone,
Speed-dialled the Aston Martin sales and when they came on line
“Enquiring for my order for my bright red DB9
“I’ve come to a decision and I thought I’d let you know
“That I’m cancelling the order and instead will now bestow
“My yearly bonus from the bank upon those most in need
“Christmas is a time to give and not for selfish greed.”

OBSESSION By Barrie Purnell

By Barrie Purnell

We met on a chill day in November
I was hungry, forlorn and frightened.
She offered me shelter and comfort
The bitterness of my life was sweetened.
She said come I can offer you refuge
I have an antidote here for your pain.
I will turn the light off on your nightmares,
I won’t ask you to confess or explain.

I was happy to take up her offer,
She possessed the flawless beauty of youth,
If I could have seen past that pretty face,
I may have cracked the code to her truth.
She offered me some liquid refreshment,
She told me to just drink it all up,
I didn’t know that the drink she offered
Was infatuation in a cracked plastic cup.

I drank deeply and felt myself falling,
The cup slipped from my hand to the floor,
As the smile evaporated from her lips
She said we won’t need that cup anymore.
You’ll be my partner descending to darkness,
For all my transgressions you’ll pick up the bill.
I said that I couldn’t, I said I wouldn’t,
She said sorry, but you must and you will.

I should have run, I should have departed,
For some reason I could not make that choice,
An invisible web seemed to hold me,
Spun round me by all the lies in her voice.
I had drunk from her cup of obsession,
From that moment my freewill was hers,
I became the foodstuff for her hunger,
Satisfying all her needs and desires.

She said now you must sign your surrender,
Put all of your inhibitions aside,
You abandoned yourself freely to me,
And you did it with your eyes open wide.
But she had mistaken need for desire,
My eyes too blinded by tears to see,
It wasn’t love she wanted but possession,
She wasn’t my saviour but my enemy.

She had invaded my whole being,
My mind now had a mind of its own,
Her mind was a mystery kept well hidden.
Behind the disguises that you were shown.
She let no one inside her defenses,
Never forgiving, always up for the fight,
Her guard always up never lowered,
No one really knew her but the night.

Her ears they were deaf to my protests,
Her eyes those from which tears never shed,
Her heart was like ice, only colder,
I love you were words her lips never said.
Having no moral compass to guide her,
Never driven to repay any debt,
Giving no one her heart’s secret password,
She never experienced pain or regret.

Why wouldn’t she give me my freedom?
Why did she write everything down?
Why was she always so close beside me?
Why were my arms always so tightly bound?

She was a terrorist in a black lace dress,
A switchblade hidden in her velvet glove,
Holding me to ransom for a million tears,
Stealing my heart but killing off love.
I was trapped by her burning obsession
I was desperate to leave and be free,
Whether you’re in a refuge or a prison
I’d found was only a matter of degree.

I asked my friends if they would help me,
But they said they couldn’t afford the time.
I asked for help from the arm of the law,
They said obsessive love was not yet a crime.
I asked my doctor could he prescribe a cure
For the sickness that I was speaking of,
He looked in every one of his healing books
But he could find not one cure for love.

Then I turned to my god for an answer,
I asked the Priest to take my confession,
I asked for a way out of my prison,
He said there’s no way out of obsession.
To love is one of God’s prime commandments,
Obsession’s just love by some other name,
You know love is God’s gift to all lovers
If you leave her God will know who to blame.

I was trapped and I could see no way out,
I walked to the bridge over the river,
She had consumed all of me that mattered,
There was now nothing else I could give her.
Despairing I climbed onto the parapet,
Looked down at the cold dark waters below,
When a hand tapped me on my shoulder,
It was a friend from a long time ago.

I asked her for help to find the answer
To where the antidote was hidden,
That would end my tormentor’s obsession
I’d already tried drugs, booze and religion.

She said the answer lies within yourself
It was my self-worth I had to address,
Only then could I break the chains holding me,
To one who didn’t love but sought to possess.

You told me if I broke free you’d be there,
You promised I’d never again be alone,
If I offered my heart you’d not take my soul,
I was reassured by your words and your tone.
You opened the door to my deliverance,
The vision to see through all of her lies,
I told her I would be leaving forever,
I saw the world anew through your eyes.

I told my tormentor not to follow,
If she found me there would be no reward,
Her passion had exceeded my allowance,
Her obsessive love I could no longer afford.
I could not afford all the suffering,
I couldn’t afford to live in her shrine,
I couldn’t afford all of her maintenance,
I just couldn’t afford to give her my time.

I left quickly without looking backwards,
Into your enfolding, forgiving arms,
You didn’t question me or pass judgement,
You didn’t moralise or quote me from psalms.
You saved me from obsession’s dark waters,
You gave me hope when I thought all was lost,
I was saved by your tap on my shoulder
You were my own personal Pentecost.

Maybe you don’t have all of her passion,
Or have the perfect beauty of youth,
But you have the honesty of experience,
And the matchless beauty of truth.