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Best Poems Written by Clifford Chapman

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The Long Ago

In the long, the long ago.
A creature crawled from 'neath the mire,
And centuries and centuries hence,
You see him in York Minster's spire.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2014

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Long has it been maintained,
writing sprang from economic drive and need,
seeing as the cuneiform tablets
were soon interpreted with worldly eyes.

But economics is a stylus scratching lies on clay,
a social science to varnish human selfishness away.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem


And now to bed, and try once more for sleep,
but soon the subconscious starts to then weep
the rotten/rotting truth into the deep
of mind and body; those slow seconds seep.

Thus not weeks later doth the cough begin,
and nights loom painful, like ritual sin,
the pores leak and drip the guilt onto skin,
while the soul howls quietly, and death creeps in.

And over the years that pass forth so quick,
that constant cough becomes a tumour, thick,
inside corrupted lungs where it does stick,
cancerous cells into a heart of sick.

The cruelty of time that drives on by,
would it'd never make a person cry,
but anyone who lives each day a lie,
scars their own epitaph before they die.


Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem

You Did It, Now Undid It

The moving finger writes and having writ
moves on. And that's the bitter core of it.

So did you scheme to mold we are so base,
like you're disgusted in the human race?

And was it the mirror that then charged through
as you sought an image to seem you true,

even as your treacherous fangs and claws,
blue eyes turned on me their syphilitic pores,

with your sharp knives into my back plunged deep,
say crux designed to make us always weep?

Because to use another's innocence
while feigning love, is to be out of sense.

But, no, compassion should not feature here,
not in the perfidious midst of fear.

Nor where humanity fast disappears
into graveyards drowned in crocodile tears.

The lipstick and the liner once applied,
the reality's safely locked inside

that mirror's terrible irony oh;
you seem pretty, out to the world you go,

where truths and lies and lies and truths do spin
a tangled web to haply live within.

Free choice for you to make, less you're in chains
when swings and roundabouts are all one gains.

Can an adult be steeped in mental blood
crying nature unleashed a toxic flood?

There white becomes black and black becomes white
and your language use makes all appear right.

Yet that line once crossed, that deed, once it's done,
might quickly return to haunt anyone.

Thus soon mind and body together merged
and suppuration swift malignant surged.

Thoughtless present became a nightmare past,
the future, death, a sort of peace at last.

To think a person is so forsaken
simply from just one small step they'd taken?

For a literal thing's so easy to do,
it's the hell thereafter that defines you.

Gaze into that mirror with all your might,
you'll never wipe what looks back from your sight.

Not ever could your thoughts erase such things
when pain and torment's all the morrow brings.

A person's dignity sprite far away,
one could collapse to heaven and nigh pray.

Your fingers reached out to knock at that door,
an act that one day had you crawl on floor,

wailing and howling in foetal display - 
nothing can magic that picture away.

All for a moment's egotistic feed,
heart, mind, body, wiped out by basest need.

So you destroyed yourself; and nearly me.
Go to that mirror again at what you see.

Now as you stare with both feet in the grave,
what price love that can human beings save?

Another betrayal on history's paged,
thus promptly came cancer, as if outraged.

Subconscious wouldn't let the conscious rest,
as truth in the mind unbearable pressed.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem

What Is Peace

The front door closed behind me.

Along the city's mourning streets,
eyes glanced up,
and quickly looked away.

'Ought implies can'. 

In the Ethics seminar,
I could not help feeling like a fly on the wall.

Words drowned in heavy water,
the Socratic method,
a philosophical whirlpool of linguistic deceit.

Something touched my spine,
maybe the words
'Ought not to implies did not have to'
and I shuddered.

Two mushroom clouds ruptured the sky
and I saw people looking 
at the word game being played in the comfortable room.

Pick out someone or something to help ease the pain.

The brittle crutches collapsing all around me,
the treaties and deterrent theories of the mind,
the future,
on the threat of M.A.D.
while embittered rulers litter history.

And lying in the debris of the gutters,
the headlines in big black letters proclaimed:


I could sense these vultures feeding on the corpse of innocence,
sharp-toothed experts,
tearing and gnawing away at language,
while in their wombs and bunkers,
and their locked minds,
they continue manufacturing humanity's guilt.

I know,
I know,
but my mind won't let me rest and does not spare me.

If not them, then...

What some have left mankind.

I hear you crying in the streets and stores.

But later he'll tell you bedtime stories,
and sing lullabies, nine meals from anarchy.

Let him rest now.

He's been busy at work all day devising, 
(for his political employers)
society's lies about security,
and materials to wipe out
millions of families very much like his own.

I feel each moment of my day and night,
a loaded gun pointed directly at me
with the message:

'This is the price you have to pay for our peace.'

In my all-seeing hatred for those who have done this thing,
in my contempt for their nightmare vision,
who or what is there to cling or turn to?

Every face appears a tortured mirror,
every ism and philosophy an irrelevance. 

I say, I say, I say:

Hitler was called Scrotum
because he was a nutcase.

She was only a nuclear physicist's daughter;
But she sure could give you one hell of a bang.

I have nowhere, nothing, nobody, to turn to.

I am lost,
I am lost,
imprisoned in a city of loneliness,
sensing each day could be my last.

Pictures on the screen and in the papers,
fail to disturb, they come from so far away,
another planet, a fantasy.

I close my mind in the hope that I survive.

Tomorrow is another day,
and I shut my door on this sad world.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

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The Tigris and Euphrates,
they flow like time, 
murmuring and sighing
and running their individual courses,
cradling Mesopotamia,
their land, 
in life, 
and flooding the plain in alluvial soil,
for cities to put down deep roots,
the wonder of humanity.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem


The varnish cracks and peels away,
and little eruptions from below the surface
suppurates before us the underlying truth:

An animal awaits...nine meals from anarchy.

Deadlier than any other living thing,
prepared to kill anyone,
even its own kind.

No other creature sets a lower bar.

Surely the wonder of Nature never foresaw this.

Linguistic casualties:

integrity; heroism; courage; sacrifice and love,
for such things sit uneasily with weaponry.

The words of a leader
reverberate in our minds:

"God is on our side:
the enemy is the lowest form of life,
its armaments and behaviour 
horrendous in the extreme."

Yet he desires more from his own productions lines
and urges his people to a glorious 

Dignity, goodness, sensitivity,
and empathy,
the basic decency of many human beings,
nine meals from anarchy,
and 'Mental Cases'.

Easy prey.

So does even the shame, the regret, 
that searing, the scarred memories;
the tears, the guilt, and the fear,
fall upon the consciences of the good?

To suffer the rest of your life,
an innocent.

Euphemisms, and stirring myths, and lies, 
encircle the globe,
like mental fall-out, 

nine meals from anarchy.

The protective layers of pretence and language,
unfold and peeled back, 

everyone is enemy?

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

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I Am Sorry, to Pat, of Edmonton, N 18 and Tottenham Technical College, N 17, London, circa 1961

To me there is not justice in this world,
and no God awaiting us either.
So who, therefore, could freely harm an innocent soul,
and then each night sleep in peace for ever after?

For though many things that a man has done,
may well lie dormant through the passing years,
as if safe in a long-forgotten silence,
on some calm morning,
say in magic Spring,
with Nature beautiful and moving,
memories of scars on others that he made,
they will suddenly weep and break open,
sending shivers running down the spine
to haunt and torment with knowing.

And oh thus would that I,
from my cradle to my grave,
tried so not to have left on a person,
as in my goodbye to Pat,
the cuts of human pain,
and the hurt of my thoughtless actions,
when in truth I was crying out for the love she offered me,
even in the moment I last saw her.

Because your heart may never, ever, be given a chance again,
to express your regret to them and your deep sorrow.

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2018

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem


The little clay tablets have been unearthed,

Their cuneiform secrets quite deciphered.

I sensed a poem of our century lay revealed,
with men waiting eager in the cradle's wings
for this Sumerian development.

Some five thousand years have passed by now,
yet in a deep sense the moment has never died.

Ancient poet,
juggle words for me.

Write only of a man called Enmerkar,
not that he ruled in Uruk and was born of gods.

For I would wish.........

Nor describe how he ordered Aratta,
( a city-state outside Sumer's domain),
to submit and bring precious stones,
lapis lazuli, silver, gold;

for shrines.

Or that when his demands were met with a bluff,
like a nuclear scientist he threatened,
destruction and dust.

Because having read such things a thousand times....

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017

Details | Clifford Chapman Poem

The Great Pretender

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending not living a lie;
while the truth is such, I pretend too much,
I'm trapped in that need till I die.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending that I'm going well,
my days seem okay as I smile away,
but the nights are a tortured hell.

Too real is this feeling of make-believe,
too real when I feel what I cannot reveal.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending that trust is skin-deep,
all ideals are dust, cosmetics a must,
although why can't I get to sleep
and why does my subconscious weep?

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending I'm able to love,
(the conscious agrees, while my language grieves)
I can't turn to heaven above,
for well it knows my velvet glove.

Too real is this feeling of make believe,
too real when I feel what I daren't reveal.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending that I've not betrayed,
so on angels' wings, hope eternal springs,
though far inside me is not swayed,
and my beating heart's more afraid.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending that I didn't cheat,
yet nails to the quick speak deep mental sick,
see the grave I'm so soon to meet,
with nothing but darkness to greet.

Too real is this feeling of make-believe,
too real when I feel what I'd fear to reveal.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending to him I was true,
called him my soul-mate, in my cancerous state
the lung-tumour grew and spread through,
and my mirror said this is you.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending I've nothing to hide,
but if everyone knew what would I then do,
with my nakedness certified, 
my reality opened wide?

Too real is this feeling of make-believe,
too real when I feel what I'd dread to reveal.

Oh, yes, I'm the great pretender,
pretending that all will be right,
and on such a prayer, my core is laid bare,
for ever, each day and each night,
for ever, each day and each night.

(With thanks and respect to that great group, The Platters)

Copyright © Clifford Chapman | Year Posted 2017