Land of Hope

The traffic groaned, we did not hear,

We wandered gravely furrow-browed,

Oblivious, our minds unclear,

Our senses numbed, our shoulders bowed.

 

No blackbird song can pierce our world,

Our thoughts were fixed on stranger shores,

Where truth was dreamt midst currents, hurled

By home events and distant wars.

 

 

We stumbled on; we stumble on

As if we had a noble aim

In view, whilst nature’s treasures shone

In sunlight’s golden evening flame.

 

 

The track leads up towards the woods

Whose shade and dappled sunlight kiss

The lids of tired eyes, cool the blood

That haunts us with its silent hiss.

 
This dusty path is marked by those

Who comfort with their lolling tongue

And pleading eyes; in the hedgerows

Lurks the nettle’s sting, cobweb hung.

 

At last we come to where the view

Unfolds, and draws us out to scan

The distant hills, no longer blue

But vague, where our ambition ran.

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Dawn chorus

What we do not see stirs the woods to life

The hidden spark of dawn fires a babble

From survivors of the darkness.

Music it is not; just a cold rhythm

Crying out in fear and hope for the light

For safety in enmity.

 
What if the light came to hushed disregard,

If the first cry was met with indifference

And no bird sang in reply?

So, safe in the crooked branch of the tree,

No one to challenge his supremacy

He must surely die voiceless

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

St Ives

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Where is the tang of salt,

the reek of the sea’s harvest?

No more the seafarer’s roll

caresses my pier side stones;

no more the women’s red hands

bear fish stained air to cellars,

to chapel, to marriage beds.

I am left to the idle,

the fanciful escapees

that smother my golden sands,

and the sea only knows rage

or seduction – picturesque

to the exclusion of life.

 
Pilchards were my life – “pilchards”!

Even the word lacks beauty –

‘a devious shining worm

of a man’ this oily fish

has become in a packaged age.

Eyes have turned to the shining

light, springing into the air,

to the translucent turquoise,

to shapes of leisured gesture,

and the abstraction of form.

 

But beneath, I lie silent,

founded in oil and offal,

grieving for the days of fish,

the certainty of produce,

of sea, land and working hands –

plain, factual, functional.

Suburbia

 
Clean the drive, shine the windows, 
Scour the kitchen, beat the carpets; 
Polish the paintwork, wash the sorrows, 
Cover the blemishes, clear the weeds. 
But the spider creeps from its corner, 
Rains stain our shine with Sahara’s sand, 
The wastes of living feed the future 
And for us to flower, the tears must fall.

The Kestrel

The Summer hangs heavily, hunkered down 
Now the promise of Spring has faded 
Into anxiety and fatigue. 
All that excitement about new starts 
Predated by ravenous facts; 
The chicks of charm turned out to be 
Insatiable gapes crying for more; 
The green of the rising sap darkens 
To a green of endurance, 
The petals of Spring long turned 
To skeletons, devoid of colour. 
Now we need the soft rounded melody 
To float across the landscape, 
To lift our eyelids to freedom, 
Air, where life hovers in the thermals