The Hatter isn’t Mad (a poem for Mad Hatters Day, October 6th or June 10th)

The Hatter isn’t mad!
He is misunderstood
By errant fools and noisome knaves.
They’re the ones who rave.
It’s true he likes to break the rules
When tea time will allow.
But where? and why? and how?
And what’s the point of getting up
When the pot is full of tea
And his friends are always there.

He’d welcome you and me.
(that should be ”I”? – says Alice,
examining the grammar,
studying the dictionary).

The Hatter doesn’t care.
He lets the March Hare worry,
In a hurry and a scurry.
He lets the Dormouse sleep
In a snoring heap.
The secrets of the Hatter
Are the dreams inside his hat
(he won’t speak of that,
nor should you and I).

He smiles at pretty Alice
As the days drift by.
The truth about the Hatter
Is the twinkle in his eye

”Have another cup of tea”
he says.
”My cake won’t make you fat”
And wonders if you’ll shrink.
”Let’s not think!” he shouts
As the table turns about.

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Contemplating the end

Alice sits still

Contemplating her knees

Fiddling about with her toes

While the birds in the trees

Sing what they please

To the words that only she knows.

 

Buttercups, daisies, all stand in line

And circle around her grass seat

From her head to her feet

She is very complete

In her sparkle of youth

And delight.

 

As she grows old she blooms like a rose

But only the Hatter knows

How lovely she is

And he’s mad.

She wouldn’t believe him

Whatever he said .

 

She thought the road lead

To the vale of the dead

Where all the daffodils die.

”Look at the bulbs”, he said.

”There’s a wink in the cuckoos eye.

The secret is – never ask why.”

The Caterpillar Speaks (updated version)

The Hatter is a lunatic
He never knows which card to pick.
The March Hare is always running late.
He hasn’t even got a date.
The clock’s not as it seems.

The Hatter has bad dreams,
He’s always in distress
And Alice has a problem too,
She’s not sure what to do
When she doesn’t fit her dress.

They’re lost inside a fairy tale
And none of it is true.

There’s a thought inside the Hatter’s head
That Alice is his match
But he hears laughter all the time.
The cards are hard to catch.
He can’t make reason out of rhyme,
And every time he thinks of love
He’s haunted by a bat.

Twinkle twinkle little dove,
His stars may help with that,
They’re shining bright enough above
And all will be complete
When he sees roses
Scattered at his feet.

 

 

 

The Caterpillar Speaks

The Hatter is a lunatic
He never knows which card to pick.
The March Hare is always running late.
He hasn’t even got a date.
The clock’s not as it seems.

The Hatter has bad dreams,
He’s always in distress
And Alice has a problem too,
She’s not sure what to do
When she doesn’t fit her dress.

They’re lost inside a fairy tale
And none of it is true.

There’s a thought inside the Hatter’s head
That Alice is his match
But he hears laughter all the time.
The cards are hard to catch.
He can’t make reason out of rhyme,
And every time he thinks of love
He’s haunted by a bat.

Twinkle twinkle little dove,
His stars may help with that,
They’re shining bright enough above
And all will be complete
When he sees roses
Scattered at his feet.

Don’t Paint the Roses

 

she remembered she was falling
reaching for a cake  crumb
swallowing a draught
that completely turned her head

she was running round the roses
painting red and white
challenging the chess board
to manoeuvres in the dark

she had a distant memory
of a love that struck a spark
but the tables all kept turning
when he tried to take her hand

in the horrors and delusions
that stalked this troubled land
he loved her all the time
but he had lost his mind

lovers often lose their way
whether they are sane of mad
all is topsy-turvy
when the news is  always  bad

they race around in shadows
tying to find a light
their dreams become a nightmare
ruining their night

but up above the stars shine out
constellations point the path
if only they could both sit down
gazing up at last

the roses never needed paint
he knew that all along
check mate only brings an end
to more that can be done

lovers only need to sit
and think what love’s about
and forget the silly games
that pull them inside out

 

 

The Opinion of the Dormouse

This interminable tea party is terribly boring.

We’ve moved round this table for years.

I’m not asleep, I’m listening and snoring.

I have excellent ears.

 

The Hatter was always so gloomy before.

Since Alice came here he isn’t the same

He seems to like chatting very much more

I’ve heard him whisper her name.

 

He still goes on drinking

Cups of cold tea

But I know what he’s thinking.

It’s not about me.

 

He’s never asked me which cake I prefer.

We have all her favourites each day.

He even taught her how to quadrille.

He summoned musicians to play.

 

Banana cake’s banned.

Alice dislikes it.

The birds eat cake from her hand.

She passed me a nice bit today.

 

They all love sweet Alice,

Even silly March Hare.

There are threats everyday from the palace

But Hatter and Hare, being mad, never care.

 

I know Hatter’s thinking she’s young and naïve,

But I think he’ll have a surprise.

All will be well if she doesn’t leave.

Alice is curiously wise.

All the Roses

the red rose and the white
standing sentinel
on each side of the path

the red rose of passion
the white for purity
so it was told to me

with time the bud unfolds
they litter history
more stories must be told

how Alice met the mad ones
walking nervously alone
in there amongst the flowers
i pondered that for hours
the red queen and the white
would haunt my childhood nights

and then we went to York
and thought of Lancaster
and roses making war
i never saw such violence
shaking petals, thrusting thorns,
tattering the tender growing rose

and then the Tudors came
the doubled rose of white and red
its petals widely spread
holding all in thrall
with gold and iron rule
while it blossomed

a treasure, was The Rose
where actors took the stage
Shakespeare came of age
its name was at the heart
emblem of poets art
that blooms as nectar overflows

now, in the garden,
i plant my roses
i plant them for their scent
i plant them for all they mean to me
they guard my families ashes
i strip away the stories
watching as their gentle petals fall

full of passing glories
but every year repeating
shining out with soft simplicity

a sign of lasting love
given from above
that’s all a rose was ever meant to be