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20 January 2015

My Old Knife

- has a new lease of life

Written late December 2014 - (300 lines)

*

My dear old knife
Has a new lease of life
In the woods and hills
And if ever it kills
Though not in my plan
Then remember: the man
With the best of knives
More likely survives...

Recalling with thanks
To my memory banks
If they play no tricks
I bought it when six
Or thereabouts
For I do have doubts
Now, let me see
Seven maybe
No more than eight
For I could not wait

And money saved
Eventually paved
The way to buy
The knife that I
Had set my mind on
And the deal was done

Assisted by Mum
I ordered it from
A mail order store
Where some time before
I saw it advertised
In their giant sized
Catalogue in black
And white, because back
Then technology
Was in its infancy

The price I forget
And that I do regret
But that is the way
When we turn grey...

But am happy to tell
I remember well
The day it arrived
For I felt revived:
A well-armed little knight
Ready for any fight!

*

It is time to confess:

My old knife is less
Than perfectly straight
But rather in the state
Of being slightly bent
For it nearly sent
Me to heaven one day
I was out to play
In the garden when
Aged around ten

Now, I used to throw
My knife not just to show
That I was very good
But that I understood
The persuasive art
Of a powerful dart

And a big apple tree
Was just right for me
I had used it before
So went to practice more

And this little man
Confidently began
At fairly close range
To remove any strange
And unwelcome nerves
For knife-throwing deserves
No, it demands
Very steady hands
So first throw close and light
To get the rhythm right
And when I felt sure
My technique was pure
I moved further back
And threw again: smack!

Returning to retrieve
My knife I did believe
For heroic deeds done
I was now number one

Not one single miss!
Getting brilliant at this!
Like an expert I had seen
In a circus that had been
To our village that year -
A future champion here?

Eager to improve
I decided to move
Still further away
For this was the day!
Entirely self-taught
Soon I would be brought
To wealth and fame
For no-one could tame
Through sheer ability
A knife quite like me

Feeling cool and calm
Knife resting on my palm
I composed myself, so!
Ready, steady, GO!
And determined this would
Be as hard as I could
I raised my arm and swung
My knife sped along
And I could clearly hear
It whistling like a spear
But this time around
Not the familiar sound
By now well understood
Of steel into wood
As with pride I saw
It hit - but my raw
Satisfaction was dashed
When something flashed
Then - instant dread
As whizzing past my head
Very close by
Level with my eye
MUCH faster than thrown -
My knife, yes, my own!

With that my knees went
And how long I spent
There lying on the grass
(Did only seconds pass?)
In a terrified mess
I cannot hope to guess

Which way was the knife?
No idea, to save my life!
In its explosive burst
Was blade or handle first?
Or was it spinning round?
No answer will be found...

An experience to show:
At times best not to know...

But it obviously hit
Just so as to permit
That the steel slightly flexed
Leaving me perplexed
As it sprung back with zest -
Returned with interest!

In a cold and brutal way
I learnt a lot that day
And boy did it convince:
NEVER thrown a knife since...

And did I ever tell
My dear Mother? Well -
In one word: NO...
How would I do so?

All in all
A very close call...

And was it pure luck
That I was not struck?

Did the Creator wield
His power to shield
So chose to come
To save me from
My immaturity
And stupidity?

*

And when I grew up
I never thought to swap
My old knife for a new
No, we would always do
Things together, so
Wherever we did go
Year after year
As a mountaineer
And a sailor it served
Me well, so deserved
The special place earned
Whenever we returned
Successful once more
To camp or shore
From wilderness or sea
My good old knife and me

And when I moved
To Bulgaria it proved
To be the new start
That was always a part
Of what I had planned -
Going Back to the Land:

Chop your own wood
Grow your own food
Raise chickens and keep
Some goats and sheep
Plus a cow or two
For milk, beef and poo
And for the smart
A horse to pull the cart
When the fuel runs out
Or just to trot about
And a donkey as a pet -
You got the picture yet?

All wholesome things to do
Leading, inshallah, to
Independence from all
The nonsense we call
Modern society
Which in reality
Is unstable and frail
And bound soon to fail
Collapse, disintegrate
Leaving YOU in a state
Of panic and despair
So prepare now, PREPARE!

*

Unused for some years
It brought me to tears
When quite recently
Absentmindedly
Looking for shirts and socks
I opened the wrong box
And THERE it was, wrapped
In newspaper - I clapped
My hands and shouted: "YES!"
And as you can guess
A reunion like this
Is absolute bliss
So of course I took
A long and loving look:

The impressive blade
Is carefully made
Of Solingen steel
And you sense and feel
The craftsmanship
From handle to tip
Of top quality
Made in Germany

In short, a proper knife
For saving a life
Or even taking one
If it has to be done...

While sharpening the edge
I made this solemn pledge:
"Until you play the harp
You will stay as sharp
As your dear old knife
For the rest of your life!
All for your own good -
UN-DER-STOOD?"

And my knife felt like a sword
As I muttered: "Yes, my Lord"
To my higher self maybe
In a state near ecstasy...

It cannot be denied
That on one side
Of the handle is
The Fleur de Lys
Or stylised lily
Which I find silly
But whether I care
It is still there
And out of place, too
So what to do?
Just turn it around
Where none is found!

The metal sheath
Had rusted beneath
The paint which was black
Now with many a crack
So I sanded it clean
When a silver sheen
Started to show
And I liked the glow
Of the metal so much
I chose not to touch
Up the black paint
But removed every faint
Trace of it, and how
Good it looks now
For the outcome
Is like platinum

Now ready for anything -
What might tomorrow bring?
A new trick to try
With a sparkle in my eye
Plus my knife's cold gleam -
We are the dream team!

Sixty years, yes, but
It still is a cut
Well above the rest -
Simply the best!

The affection I feel
For this piece of old steel
Is hard to explain
But it does remain
For I do have other knives
Yet my first one thrives
Like a lasting love affair
I continue to care

This knife from the past
Is hopefully my last
I carry it with pride
It is on my side
Both seen and felt
As it hangs on my belt
Patiently
Silently
Ready for use
Whenever I choose...

*

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