Into Leaf

Into Leaf
begin afresh, afresh, afresh

How easy nature makes art look! Last week
driving past bracken, scratched and black,
broomstick bundles matched the tarmac,
dirt-wet and grey, devoured under wheel.

Today a haze of green hangs on hedges,
pervading all peripheries of sight
with faintest shade and sheerest hint of leaf
that tints the view and tilts the temper
upwards from the road, into the air
beyond.

Take your pencils; adorn
that faded sketch you’ve worn all winter.
Larkin was right, something is being said.

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Cheap Sausages

Cheap Sausages

Frying cheap sausages I should be grilling
filling the cold-lit kitchen with warm stink
while outside the day sputters and fails

I think of birthday candles refusing to light
indoor fireworks, oxymoronic, climaxless
dull, damp – a world run out of effort

I fantasise about lightning, thunder
chasing its wonderful scrawl across sky
shaking us out of our ruminating sit-in

I ask some god, where did you hide the snow?
Momentary magic, leprechaun gold, yes,
but joy kicks in with every tongue-tipped crystal!

Today the weather is a cheap sausage
no fear no thrill, forgettable, cannot be arsed.
Grease spots, like rain, thicken each surface.

 

 

 

Disarmed

Disarmed
“The remains of 15 British soldiers who died in World War One have been reinterred in northern France, 100 years after they were killed in battle” – BBC News, 21st October 2014

I walk the heath along a blade of weather
bred elsewhere, just an edge of hurricane
brought to this land, serrating through my ears.

Spongy at foot, like walking over a bed
in childhood;  my prints soon vanish, pushed up
from beneath by moss medieval velvet green,

whiskery greybeard weeds. Trenches of heather
lie low, dark against a pouched treeline;
inky Chesterfield leather, studded hard and fast.

The gorse impales its own sad, acid flowers
and black-wet brambles tangle in the wind;
broken birches mock the storm, reach far

beyond damage, splintered across earth.
Great toadstools mark their spots in dirty white
as sueded monuments in nature’s junkyard.

Pressed up on the path roots rise through mud,
thicker than any this mess of low life needs,
and hint at fallen woods of years ago

razed by man for fattening sheep to graze;
a foretaste of the battles not yet come.
The limbs of ancient massacres thrown up

by shifting soils; elbow of oak, rib of yew,
exposing what was done and what was covered;
where life and decay rot and revive dead lumps,

and this emetic world still marches on.

 

from The Fenland Reed, Issue 2

The Dip

The Dip

When my feet come to the edge of solid world
it isn’t dramatic.

Worn by water; unfurled by shingle –
that earthbound caste of startling snowflake –
in feldspar tawny tones
the end of land fritters away.

Living is ebbing;
a gradual wear to nowhere.

Hear restless gravel caught in low-key chaos;
never quite its final exhalation.

from Awakening

War Games

War Games

Released into the forest, the boys.
Each tiptoe tread fast learns the wild terrain
of chips and stumps and hidden roots
of trees long felled and conquered.
Naturally they fall to business;
someone’s den, ripe for destruction.
Logically deduce which log to lug
to effect the most efficient levelling:
a grand scale, anti-Kerplunk –
and celebrate razing with apish whoops,
of joy and something darker.

The forest releases the lid on an id of
pungent instinct neat in this primal setting.
Each branch and stick a weapon now,
they gather together an organic arsenal
from the lopped limbs around them.
The smallest gathers pinecones and,
poised with an archer’s grace, cries:
‘Trebuchet!’ These missiles miss –
no target marked out yet.

 

Weekend

Weekend

We arrive, the working week a smear
of rush, a comet’s dust,
streaking out behind us.
Like too-stretched bubble-gum it sags,
separates and falls away;
dead skin in the space of yesterday.

We can consider the plump teapot;
the teacup,
the tea.
Today the milk can trickle, gentle,
not gush or plop solid.
We can sip,
not gulp.

We can pad through the house barefoot;
acquaint ourselves with our own carpet,
feel its softness on our soles
and hear each footstep’s triplet beat –
heel ball toe
prints just faint
and gone –
barely ripples in air.

We can climb back into a daylight bed;
live backwards to lie still.
Moments inflate to vast marshmallows of time,
slowing the mouth, sweet on the tongue,
staying the heart’s gallop.

from Slow Things

Ingot

Ingot
for Edna

I remember overhead discussions about the acquisition,
serious, furtive; as if they were drunk on fairy dust.

My father would make the purchase on his Saudi trip;
my grandfather shook his hand, puffed out his small chest,
a sparrow pretending to be a goldfinch.

They could afford ten grams; the weight was paramount,
its purity guaranteed. It would hang from her neck,

an emblem of status, of hard graft, of a little Del Boy swank.
Everyone was rather pleased with themselves back then.
So I knew the strange word ‘ingot’ at a young age.

A smooth oblong bar with the face of Fortuna;
like a dazzling sea maiden, serene in profile,

with grain and coin spilling from her headdress –
the crest of their retirement, their harvest.
On the reverse the provenance and assay:

four nines fine, and Suisse; solid, bullion-true.
My grandmother wore it often, drenched in Youth Dew;

exotic at parties like an old Cleopatra dripping gold.
Her hair never greyed; the ingot never tarnished,
just seemed a shade too bright against her ashening skin.

My mother got her cameos, those strange translucent ladies;
I don’t know who got the opals; too much milk, too little fire.

I got the ingot, small heavy slab of satisfaction,
like a plundered chunk of cheese or slathered butter,
as she was before she thinned to whey and water.

Commended, Ware Poets 2016