Corvid

It craked.  Hoarse and raw.
Footloose, on the wing, it looked down at us.
Perched in the roof-line gutter, craking on… 

The bird of fortune, named by accident,
rescued by goodwill, nurtured in our den,
drawing down our blackened greed, shimmering… 

“You gaaave me what I asked for;
I can see how much is there –
now I want more! More!! Mohre!!! Mohhre!!!!” 

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The zealots came – as always –
draped in purity, to press their claims

~ which would erase our nuances,
reduce our subtleties to slates;
as if a blank could live

~ in which the glories of creation
would shrink to conceptual art,
like angelic voices ringing
locked in a crazy head

~ on roads too thin to travel far
as life was redefined, abjured
to strip it clear of heresies

like cockroaches.

Anti-Atlas

There is a grandeur in the landscape, lifted up and uplifting
and dry, or dried in brightening air.

It is matched by an earnestness amongst the people
who have been hardened in the ways of nature and cooperatives
but can now hold higher hopes out for their children, who are
open-faced with dark and shy and curious, serious eyes
burning through the open groves and scattered plots
and stooping limestone crags, towering
over the poverty of older lives, sheltered with their animals;

Living together in resilience in adversity, for however many
years and days of grace and gratitude god sends…

Clear blue

Branches etched out movement on a bright November sky
tracing their patterns of regret and birching silver stripes
of clarity above the shadowed lowering wood,
sharpened by a northwind blown across the course
to shiver those still trailing leaves of painted-on decay
in dissipated beauty drawn from distant, coppered splendour…

Cold and heedless of disorder under heaven
but (stumbling) striking sparks on harder ground,
we wandered through this landscape:
silent figures with our dogs, casting crablike
in their underworld of withered bush and musk,
stepping lightly through its sere, discoloured fall.

Brush

Dust had appeared, a fallout from the air
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
A brush is handled, organises and attacks
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
The dust falls back, conforming
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
Some dust conceals itself in corners
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
Other dust escapes down cracks
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
Clouds of unintended consequence are raised
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
Satisfied, eventually the brush moves on
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
The dust settles.  It has time…

the plain

Under a low sky, scraping the bounds of the earth
a stillness mists around us that makes the world opaque
and shuttered to the light,
in a landscape framed through glass I had neglected,
blaming eyes I’d bruised by facing the absurdities of life…
eyes blinking, shocked at what a scan now shows
of our society, of smallholders from a broken hilly country
who’d decanted on a corner of the plain, who’d encamped
and learned to specialise in arcane fields
in order to survive.

We were unencumbered – so we thought – by overweening majesty
but circumscribed within our island habits and sunk in careless sleep:
locked inside our skulls, choking down our lack of words,
we kept quiet to eschew the curse or taint of heresy,
like lambs among the emptiness of cynics standing by / detached;

We were still small people absent leadership, or faith or hope or vision,
who gave precedence to scoundrels and took nonsense for an answer,
cowed by jackals, led by donkeys, following false prophets –
their tenets brightly burnished against sense –
who pretended to console us at the funeral of logic.

Now many have decided to make the best of it they can
and seek to save themselves,
as we shake our fragments into line, of sorts,
to stumble (sheep to slaughter) off a cliff,
so ending our experience by freely choosing chains
of private personal catastrophes;
craving purpose, as we go blind into the night –
beyond our daily bread –
but not unhappy, in our imbalanced way:
lost if not mistaken.

river

We settled our agreement,
to release the ties of energy that had bound us in the crowd
and looked around our littoral for purpose;

We were castaways – at home along the riverside, watching for the tide to rise
and ease a passage through the shallow channels of our lives –
who’d reached a low landscape, north-lit by clear light,
a spare light, with beauty in its bleakness,
swept by squalls which brought a thin corrosive rain in from the sea…

So we filtered grains of meaning from the water as we drank
where sediment settled slowly, fouling our drinking water,
thickening against the bank which formerly defined the flow,
its silt erasing every corner ounce by ounce and ton by ton;
rebuilding our eroded land…

While we whiled away our hours considering the exotic:
the intriguing possibilities of amber buried in the flats
that brought to mind and polished memories of memories,
of sunlight trapped in resin, with an insect
or small fragments and some bubbles that had-not-quite-escaped…

Until we found, although the waters rose
and filled inertia’s drowned embrace around us,
that we had made a pilgrimage of sorts, in mud.

HM

I once knew her quite well: she was lively, bright and smart
and a kindred spirit, when we were new and keen and learning every day –
in good times, ten years past – then we were friends
But in time our paths diverged, then somehow reconverged
before a pirouette or three, in the rolling tumbling motion of the waves under our feet
slid them apart again;
Now she is 32 or three, living with a husband and her infant son
and cares that edged around her open face
when I saw her earlier today, by chance.
I’d seen her grow up, she once had said;
yet I was surprised and found I could not speak –
old fractures jarred my mind and stole my words away.

to notice

On a close and cloudy morning, the bees still come:
The stems of lavender fall one way, cascading to the left.
The yellow fir spreads otherwise around, low-set but prominent;
That small red rosebush still survives, reaching for the light…
The flagstone slabs are wet from rain and water overflows the butt;
Those terracotta pots are healthy – your strawberries bear a second crop.
To be aware is little yet it touches everything; this is a good morning.