Dunstable Downs

The wind was stronger than expected, at 22 and gusting –
it ran along the ridge, watering my eyes, finding each crevice
in my jacket, as I walked a mile or two along a distance trail.

Expecting to stoop, a hawk rode almost still above the scarp;
sliding, scanning, seeking prey that shrank in the shivering grass.
Then a red kite – larger, bolder, more assured – was equally unlucky
while I watched and slowed my pace, backed against the wind…

They were heedless of the gliders overhead: white thin-winged ideas
shaped in plastics, making tamer circles, grasping silently for height,
sidling past each other with an awkward grace, but lacking purpose –
except to fly;  or brush the wind-combed clouds, occasionally…

Observed, while also watching:  other people loitered behind glass,
sheltered for the moment to immerse themselves and share
in little social rituals of a complacent England;
to seek some precious comforts in their trust of yesterday…

But more than glass fragments us, for they reverse without a mirror
in a landscape carved by ice, reshaped again by climate changes.
Meanwhile, outside, the wind blows harder.

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Duo

 

My heart sped!  Beats quickened,
intensified by sound,
rising and inspiring:

a duo sharing songs –
by reeded living breath,
by hammered vibrant strings –

in forms which forswore words
to throw off sentiment
and strip their meaning bare;

mere sequence graced by notes,
patterns based in number,
yet speaking to our souls.

Delivering

The rivers run higher in the hour before dawn:
rushing pulses shaped into alternating streams
as the red-white long-haul contra-flows of business
are driven hot and oiled in hurtling packs of steel,
vacuum-wrapped and insulated, but still roaring
with the purpose of a generation’s power;
consuming all the world to keep our selves alive.
Delivering – whatever it may cost our young…

faded paint

Once we were new and immediacy could guide us! 

Now that quisling young intensity has passed
since consciousness began to tire;  of holding on
like paint the sun has faded until it flaked away,
cover wrinkling into splits and decayed character;
of some older habits that have lingered past their time,
reminders that the past was smaller than the now –
although a film of settlement resists the change,
obscuring shallow detail, forgetting losses in translation 

Except: at least, this has not disappeared –
it’s time to hand over / for others to renew… 

 

 

national poetry day 2018 – calling for change

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!!!!” 

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…