What Might Have Been . . . THEN

Did I ever kiss you
in those halcyon days of old?
did I ever hold you
in my arms
to your ear?
or say
I want you so?

It didn’t happen
did it?
It could have
but it didn’t
such a wasted moment
such a forfeited life

What I know now,
but didn’t

you were there
waiting for me
seeking a glimpse
of recognition
or even a nod
 to your very existence

What I feel now
was not an option
It was outside my ken
barely a glance away
no more than a word away
but a whole world away
from mine
or so I thought

I could have taken
that other path
the road not taken
into that parallel world
that alternative reality
the sliding door
into another future
I chose differently
I didn’t know
didn’t even consider

that there might be
that there was
an alternative


But In my ignorance
in my indifference
you left and
I demurred

For you

I know now
there was a pain
a hurt un-mended

So I departed
to a separate future
itself now discarded
this time
for you

So long ago
is everything

Oh if I had spoken
broken that ice
 to find that different future

 grasped at chance
and fused we two together
 on life’s unwavering path
with hope
that all that came to pass
would prove to be
life’s key
its answer to failure

But would that alternative
that re-positioned love
have lasted long
and still been fresh
and sunny
after a lifetime

Or would it
would it have palled
just been repeated
on another plane
and left us
where we are now
and turning to another
for succour

are both lives
being lived right now
co-existing in their own space
along with all those other choices
 I did not make?

amidst uncertainty
there is a certainty

time pleases no one
history wins
and history is the truth
It has to be the truth
for us

when we ourselves
have lived it
however many histories there are

When we have loved
not loved
re-discovered love
we must
have experienced

the truth
a life

which we can take

Into the future

Perhaps this is it
so much better than

what happened

… Then

  #      #      #

I believe
at the time of their making
our choices
were the right ones
only later
in another life
did they become

 the wrong ones

Nothing is pre-ordained
that cannot be
neither is anything
or absolute

So many possibilities
so many doors

to choose from
countless ‘what ifs’

perhaps the order
in which we choose
matters not

Only the life
that is being lived now



The lead-in illustration is by George Boyce  (geebee2007 / flickr.com)  is for Philip Pullman’s book ‘The Golden Compass’, the first of the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, currently being prepared for filming by BBC TV.  The trilogy follows the story of two children, Lyra and Will, as they wander through a series of parallel universes.

Author’s note: I am aware that ‘Alternate Reality’ seems to be used more often than ‘Alternative Reality’, which I nevertheless think is logically the more correct way of describing this concept.



Wisdom in making choices
The difference between success and failure
That or This
I fancy that
On a whim
Going by my hunch
Informed by research
by feeling
by preconceived idea
by suggestion
by prior study
or by experience. 
Always too many choices
Myriads of multiplicities
And all with no return from choices made

How to tell
Truth from falsehood
Heaven from Hell
Real from fake
I know them well
But how distinguish
When needs must
Worm from snake 
Ashes from dust
Success from failure 
Love from lust 
Doubt from certainty
Dependence from trust

But try as I must
My heart to trust
My beclouded eye
Can neither vilify nor verify
And while discernment strives
Doubt to dispel
My true self dithers
While confidence withers
And I am left
Of certainty bereft

I Rest My Case

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

I Rest My Case


Stop the rot
Stem the flow
Stay your hand
And let me go

So many choices
I have to make
And life is short
No time to take

But when I’ve come
To a decision
I’ll face the music
Meet derision

Let my honour
Fade away
Just let me live
Another day

Allow my eyes
To meet the sun
So shades of nightmares
Will not come

I’ll beat my demons
Cull my hopes
Just let me off
These stubborn ropes

Help me at last
To count the cost
I’ll endure all
That I have lost

And come in peace
What ever the cost
To rest my case
Taste what I’ve lost.


The Farrago Choice

Photo by Ikon Republik on Pexels.com

The Farrago Choice

It’s a farrago, a hotpotch,
Call it what you will;
Choosing never did attract me,
I am counting chickens still.

For lately I have lost all faith
In making a prudent choice;
I’ve given up decisions,
Conscious I’ve lost my voice.

It fell apart whilst doodling,
It lost its wobbly way;
I never could abide its cheek,
Its soul was out to play.

For when it comes to choosing
Between two guilty factions,
I’d rather plunge my head in sand,
Yield, then bemoan my inactions. 

Some may think this refers to my given right to vote in all elections . . .  They may be right!



‘Where the river meets the sea’  – photo – WHB


How to tell
Truth from falsehood
Heaven from Hell
Real from fake
We know them well

But how distinguish
When needs must
Worm from snake 
Ashes from dust
Success from failure 
Love from lust 
Doubt from certainty
Dependence from commitment

Try as I must
My heart to trust
My beclouded eye
Will not verify
And while discernment strives
Doubt to dispel
The sounding knell

My last farewell
Looms large

Still all is doubt
In or out
The choice is mine
The bottom line
Do I accept

Do I decline

Discernment gone
In doubt
I live on



Faustian Offers Refuted


From ‘Le Triomphe de la Mort’ by Iean Holbein



He has brought me here 
Recycled my life 
To revive my youth
Its promise given to me again 
To tempt my taste for change

Had it been different 
choices changed 
Those faustian offers not refuted 
Where would wishes 
Then rejected 
Have taken me

But I know 
I am no more fitted now
Than I was then  
To take the right course 
Choose the salient path

So once again I must reject the offer 
Renew my current course 
Leave longing for reason 
For that unknown and unknowing 


‘Life’s Journey’ – OTTAVA RIMA

Today I am tackling a poem using the ‘Ottava rima’ poetic form.

Originally an Italian stanza of eight 11-syllable lines, with a rhyme scheme of ABABABCC.  Sir Thomas Wyatt first introduced the form in English, and Lord Byron adapted it to a 10-syllable line for his mock-epic ‘Don Juan’.   W.B.Yeats notably used it for his poems “Among School Children’ and Sailing to Byzantium.’  

[ Adapted from http://www.poetryfoundation.org ]

Millais-Boyhood Of Raleigh

Sir John Everett Millais … ‘The Boyhood of Raleigh’ (1870)



I long to travel through my life again,

To have the same beginning but to change

The choices that have given me such pain

And turn them into something rich and strange;

Transform those scenes to sunshine from the rain,

The order of their happening rearrange.

My hope would be to bring new meaning to

My life-long search for love and joy with you.


© WHB (aka Roland Keld)… 21/5/17



I wrote these rather pompous verses when I thought I was old;
Old enough to give advice to those younger than me.
I am now twice as old as when I first wrote this;
I am neither wiser nor more capable of giving advice now than I was then;
Believe me or not – it’s YOUR CHOICE!


Pen & Wash … WHB – 2017

CHOICES, or ‘Advice To The Young’


Every second in a life can be a turning point;
Chosen or unconscious it is there,
Make a choice – it’s up to you,
 Why not try out something new?
But never ever say that you don’t care.

You cannot stop your life from moving forward;
Time rolls on despite your efforts to stand still.
You can’t take a backward view,
Nor can you jump the queue.
You have to stay in line and climb life’s hill.

But life’s direction you can set about to change;
Tweek it here, a twist just there, you can try out.
The choice that you then make,
With a little give and take,
May well be something you can’t do without.

For when all is said and done, young man, you’re learning
To find a path in life that holds for you.
Just hold to your endeavour,
Never ever say “for ever”,
And keep your choices open to what’s new.