Late Summer

I felt the colours brushing off my face

as I drove through Summer’s exuberance.

I was an arrow, dull-rusted by time,

blunted maybe, aimless, but on a course

set by some naked marriage of fury

and desire. All I saw were like airwaves,

trembling wrinkles hiding behind make up’s

smooth public face of a pretending life.

Here was where the bite meets the blood;

where dark dread drives shame’s secrets;

where hope loses hold and the voices set their terms.

Here was where bodies hang in the darkness

and we take shelter in the helplessness

of the ripe barley, the soaring buzzard

and pale smiles of polite recognition

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Harris

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The roads tiptoe across the rock-studded

land, tripping between dark pools and peat-scrapes.

They’re like tourists in an ancient culture –

a surface noise that slips across the truth

of the island where always the wind is king.

Homes hunker down trying not to be seen

by the shrieking rage of regal vengeance

once it has wiped the fixed grin of Summer

from its fury. It yearns to scour the earth,

to scrub it until the old bare sculpted

rock shines new and clean in the Winter cold.

Only the patterns of lichen as friends,

the wind wraps its solitude in wildness

and hurls the rain at shivering heartbeats.

Tuesday 17th February 2004 Bridgnorth

 

Across the brown artery,

the water stirred and swollen to a level

beyond our resistance,

I walked alone up the cobbled street,

Imagination closed,

roller shutters down,

hat a substitute for style, pace for purpose.

 

 

The day was without features,

without rain, wind or sun,

neither hot nor cold.

Drained of colour by the unbroken cloud,

a blank canvas stared at me

like the first page of a second novel,

reflecting only my emptiness.

 

 

But there were the intricacies, ingenuities

of cliff side houses, cave homes,

engineers fashioning safety out of the hillside;

decorative shapes, rich colours;

gardens, yards, porches

Alive with determined humanity –

 

 

Then emptiness became an adolescent

affectation, a way to

interpret common or garden exhaustion

as if it had some meaning

of wider significance than my own

shortage of sleep and shyness of nature.

 

And so I drive home

Into the darkening sky,

with raindrops for company

giving a dazzling blur

to the oncoming traffic.

The Welsh Mourner

The weight of his years bent his head,

no exalted consolation

in this plain land where the chapel,

sinking back into wild tangles

beyond the rescue of heroes

bears no ‘Bethesda’ to its name;

‘Alarms’ it declares.

 

Whatever his dreams, he looks down

to the plot of earth where she lies.

The view, in the pearl light of dawn,

held its breath and cast a stillness,

cool to the touch, silent, rapt,

as he wrestled love’s mystery.

I too am stilled as the day dawns,

with a quest more abstract in form

at my back, in a sheltered room

apart from the world.
And yet, now I look down the graves,

lost in thought with this lone figure

by the sea’s pale immensity,

time’s witness to some private grief,

I notice his unfussy stance,

his coat just snatched from the kitchen

no thought to dress in Sunday best;

just him, his presence; then I see

it is me unadorned, alone

on watch for some hope.

 

Fear and Loss

 

The man walked slowly

His world was grey and damp with shining reflections

Of orange, unseen around him.

He put a few extra layers

Between him and the cold drizzle

Blowing down his collar.

So that his thoughts were padded too.

 

He was therefore almost closed to incidents.

Sirens could cause him to turn

With a momentary curiosity

That subsided as soon as it came;

His feet were kept at a distance

As he held himself inside for warmth,

And I suppose, cleanliness, neatness.

 

Striding towards him

Came another for whom the world was a roadway

His own, direct and always

With an end in view. He cut through

The cold and the wet – it bounced off him.

His red face and broad shoulders

Looked around unflinching.

 

 

Incidents crowded around him.

The sharp profile of a passing Lexus;

The barber’s shop tell tale

Weekend closure; banner headlines about the breakdown

Of a life; the timing of traffic lights;

All became stories to tell or

Carriages for his opinions to be aired.

 

 

Did they meet or pass

In the same universe, exchange anything?

Perhaps you would have caught the echo

Of a terse greeting, or a glimpse

That might have suggested a shrinking

Deeper into cap and scarf.

A smile would have been too much.