Thursday, 23 April 2015

Le morte d'Arthur


Arthur returned to his kingdom in leaf.
Vibrant grass at his feet, overhead
a bursting beech. He took off his armour,
drank from a stream then lay in the April sun
feeling its warmth on his grey stubbled face.
Saracens, Moors, Dervishes. The dust
of foreign lands. He was done with it all.
The wound in his shoulder was still bleeding
and no flowery poultice had staunched it yet.       

The shallow brook clattered through green cresses
and the impatient grass grew taller.
He slept untroubled while blood pooled round him,
until he resembled Ophelia floating
in her willowy glade, the blades of grass,
red as her hair, waving in the Spring breeze.



Monday, 20 April 2015

Celia revisited


She walked the weed and twig strewn watermark
meandering in outsize clumpy boots,
her eyes cast down, as daylight slid to dark.

At dawn, when the singing of a shorelark
echoed round the empty house of owl hoots,
along the weed and twig strewn watermark

she was there - still scanning bladder wrack, bark
and flotsam: all the sea's discarded fruits,
her eyes cast down as day emerged from dark.

One day I met her carer in the park
and asked about her charge's strange pursuit
along the weed and twig strewn watermark.

She sighed and offered only this remark:
"We all seek - she treads an eccentric route..."
then looked downcast, as daylight slid to dark.

Now under a winter sky, iron and stark,
I search through answers that I can't compute
along the weed and twig strewn watermark
my eyes cast down as grey days slide to dark.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Lancelot in the park


I know you used to come here
because you told me. Perhaps
an unguarded confession?
Anyway, that was back then

and now, this bench, this park
- with its quivering poplars
silly ducks and bread-waving
kids. It's just mine alone so

I sit here in chain-mail with my
thoughts, poems, vanity and I
wonder if I couldn't achieve
more in a different life. This

shield I wear, this suit of
words, this sword of art,
once they swept young damsels
off their small glass slippers,

won princess's hearts. I
would regale travellers in
dog-floored, noisy mead halls,
lie about fire breathing

dragons. Then another's Queen
punctured my bravado
split my shield and left
me enjambed and alone

in this theme park of my making.

Tea with Mingus


 
You made the tea
offered ginger cake
from the Village.
I opened my case
dusted off strings
found my picks
took the tea things
into the dry yard
played standards
in the hi-rise sun
shine over your flat.
When I got home
I found I'd left my
small brimmed hat.



 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sunburn












Looking up you smiled as if willing me
to quickly take a snapshot souvenir.
Behind you in the desert scenery
a disgruntled looking sphinx sat and leered.
You then rose to ease your stiffness away,
sitting down again in a new seat where
thirty foot palm trees fringed the sunny bay
and happy kids threw beach balls in the air.

Egypt was somewhere we'd wanted to go...
They called your number, you stood up again,
disappeared. Instead of reading 'Hello'
studying celeb lifestyles, I remained
fixed on the bright murals. Oncology?
Painted like a damn travel agency..?





Thursday, 9 April 2015

Woodworm



The woodworm in the cross weren't Jewish
and Christianity hadn't yet come to town.
Nor did they belong to pagan cults
and when the spear slit in and blood dripped down,
the woodworm, feeling only sticky rain,
with no sense of bad or good,
just chewed deeper in the wood.

The woodworm weren't Buddhist,
Jainist or even Zoroastrianist
and if they were inhabited by Hindus
on their long journey passing through,
well, the woodworm never knew.

The woodworm now aren't Moslem
and still they follow no religion.
They live the lives bestowed on them.
Non-denominational and secular,
they ate a wooden Buddha,
they ate the holy cross.
Even now they're chomping
in churches, synagogues and mosques.



Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Starfish

Dark blue night sky punctured by stars,
a sea so calm it holds their light
in yellow stains.
And nearer on the cold, damp sand,
two starfish in a lover's kiss,
left by the change.
The new tide will wash clean the beach.
Morning sweeps the stars from the sea.
These worlds and planes
revolve and circle, mirror and repeat;
the stars of heaven grind beneath our feet.



Woodsmoke



        It's an odd thing, fire.
               We're all aware of it
                when it's blazing.
            And after the flames
       there is often still smoke.
               But when the
                smoke has gone,
                     what's left?
            Charred black wood.
               A kick of grey ashes;
               and the scent.
           Like a country bonfire
     unseen from a passing car:
          it's existence
              known only
          by it's fragrance.
                 That smell,
              always there to
            take you back
              to the smoke,
            the flames,
             the lighting:
              kneeling,
             blowing,
                praying.
              Praying
                 to our
               oldest,
                 bloody
              minded
                belli-
               gerant,
                  god.

Raw



I log the fallen alder
This bright, frank morning.
The rasping saw,
My soft hands,
Unaccustomed, raw.

So damn cold...
The grass crunches
and crystals shine all
along the crumbling
red brick garden wall.

My throat hacks twice.
My breath is caught
escaping and suspended,
above my arm, the saw
and the alder trunk, upended.

I want to stop this now
but greater want the pain.
The frozen ground,
the low slung sun,
the saw's coarse sound.

Such physicality
the heat and cold:
life's elemental law.
Beyond our pink rooms
a truth awaits us, raw.


Friday, 27 March 2015

Flood



 


The levee
broke and our
flatlands flooded
up to the farmhouse door.
A cow swam by and all manner
                                                     of stuff floated round.
For 6 months I'd sat in my room.
                     Looked out across constant fields.
                                         Watched cattle come and go,
                                                                              taking their turn.
                                                Wondered at seagulls
                                                                             stamping the turf,
                                                                                         summoning worms.
                                                                Saw last year's rooks grow
                                                        feather trousers, balding beaks.
                                             Slowly, unbeknown to me,
                                                                        the levee was springing leaks,
                                                                                       waiting for a storm to break.
                                                All that time my mind lay numb,
                                                                              empty of words, ideas.
                                                                          I reasoned they might never come,
                                                         and to slake some kind of thirst
                                        I lay down in a deluge of music.
                                                 Stolen blues and songs of desolation.
                          Now the levee's broken
                                                                                          maybe I'll write again.
                                                                           When the water's drained.
                                              Think I was just dry, you know?
                                                                                    In need of irrigation...
 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Couched


So how long have you truly felt this way?
When we converse about your infancy
I have the sense there's more you need to say.
Sadly I think you're withholding on me.
It's always the same. Novels say too much,
they go on and on, I can't shut them up.
But you Poems? Always I'm left guessing.
You just smirk there. Hinting, half confessing.

Yeah, we both know you've done a little time;
you've stolen stuff to keep yourself in 'lines'.
And this thing about being a sonnet
in a past life. Just grow up - be honest!
All poems can change - and that includes you.
Only you must really, truly, want to...



 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Celia













The church bell's tolling over the marshes
and over the frost on the lowlands low.
Philosopher cows are chewing the cud
and pondering down a reason of snow.

A peat fire burns in an old man's hearth
but his heart is weathered as winter gorse.
Once he brought bright yellow flowers on spikes,
down to the marshlands from high on the moors.

Barley haired Celia walked with their baby
where the fishermen's nets lay on the beach.
Mermaid's purses and trinkets of seashells,
shingle shone jewels washed up by rough seas.

Ah, how the dense clouds fold on the skyline
ah, how the stone ocean hammers the shore
and sad how small words, spoken and twisted,
alter the drift of our boats evermore.