Becoming (Part 2 Hallam)


Then to a modern world,

Stepping from the romance of steam

To the electrifying journeys

Crashing through Nature

Into the city. The music here

Is firm, work a day, functional.

This suburban land was the future –

Community life was a fine thing,

Something to do at the weekend,

An optional extra outside the garden gate.

Boredom no longer populated

Chapel anniversaries and faith teas;

We learned to mind our own business,

To wrap myth in old text books

left in dusty attic shelves.

To subject the exuberance of curves

To the invisible ink of tidiness.

All was structure, order

Carefully timetabled,

Always under surveillance.


The woods were wilderness

With their pointless paths

Meandering bramble clad to imagination’s edge.

Modernity could not tolerate

Meandering; to be pointless

Was to be dispensable.

The woods now house the comfortable,

Happy, all in order in their

Tree shaded compartments.


To extract the poetry from here

Is to wrestle with suet pudding,

To burrow into eiderdowns

To cry out in the curtained shades.

But the wildness clung to this life’s

Edges – the quarry in the wood;

The crumbling bomb shelters

In the wasteland beyond the gate;

The exposed moors swept by fires,

By Winter, by unforgiving winds.

We had words for none of these places.


Becoming (part 1 Elmet)

The land sings with strange echoes,

The prophet bent against the wind

Stiffened and dumb, pointless fingers

Crooked beyond pain; the whispers

Of forgotten graves, the echoes

Scattered across nameless fields.


My own echoes –

That speck of rust in the eye

Blinding me to summer’s absences;

The discovery of otherness

And of my own presence, cradled

Fuzzy headed in a teacher’s arms;

The texture of mud in the rain

And the tang of sherbet.

Something undiscovered – Shirley –

Important only in a retained name

And a sense of something missed;

A world wrapped around my father,

Everywhere leading the way,

Gowned like a raven.

History sprang free from books,

Tasted in cod liver oil and orange juice,

Serenaded by war sirens,

Painted on the terraced stone walls

Echoes muffled with no home key.


Soft focussed myths hid

The brutalities – the killing

Asbestos mills, our dog

Put down by an angry farmer,

The grave plot waiting across the dale

For dying congregations.


But there were clues to the elemental –

The water crashing down from the moor,

The snow drifts against bedroom

Windows, the shiver of cold winds

Through the bones.


Some years ago, interested in the connection between my childhood and place, I wrote a three part musing of which this is the first.

November Tuesdays

This misty world, washed in grey,
Hangs behind the day.
It weighs our minds down to earth
Indifferent to grandeur,
Wrapped in the routine, unremarked,
Immediate, blanked by duty.
In this world, no horizons
Draw us out to dream.
Our shoulders bend, hunching on,
The chill of the Winter
Treading on our heels, relentless
In the darkening skies, rain spitting

To Autumn

Now the shadows gather round the day’s end.

The evening sun may flare defiantly

through the restless passion of the clouds

but only to radiate their black hearts.

The greenness of growth seeps away to hide

in the worm cast ochre beneath our feet,

and the storms rejoice, shrieking their pleasure.

Now the half life of pointless survival

through the heat of the year is discarded;

the vacancies of leisured hours are filled

with a vital desperation, a fight

that surfs the gales with fearful ecstasy.

Dying fruits are ripped from their sanctuary

to rot in darkness in the howling night,

and life takes the vivid colour of blood

energised by Nature’s bitter quarrels.

Geese across the City Night

A blank page                       a single line appears.

Cool and grey                      apart from the melee

A single bird                         flying against the cloud

In winter                                framed by the skeletons

Wind beaten                         shrouding the evening light.

These afar                              a distant call crying

A solo                                      but soon a strange chorus

Conversation?                        Perhaps though too random

Overtaken                               by sound more felt than heard

Ear beating                              muscle and sinew bent

Overhead                                  to propel the arrow

Grey to grey                              across the world’s troubles

Here unseen                              as the passion of flight

Holds the eye                            and the wind beats the ear.

And then gone                           like a train in the night

Echoing more                            in some inward room

In the soul,                                  leaving a darker grey,

Sodium pin                                 pricked; traffic rumbling;

Urgency                                       left at a safe distance.

To My Children

The places where you are, are unformed;
Not knocked out of shape
By logic or intention.
They are where the instincts stir
Amidst the hot soups of creation.
There are no words here
Just a skein of melody
Drawn out by the winds of life
Enriched by the world’s harmonies.
It sings inside me –
It flows through your children’s beauty,
Through your passion for justice,
Through the warmth of your friendships.
I hear it in moments of solitude,
And when the sea beats on the land
And in the cold clarity of the mountain top.


We live together in separate worlds
Caught between a dream of family
And the fact of death approaching just beyond the range of sight, Alone and ready to scatter
Our remains across forgotten prairies.
The best we can hope for is the brushed kiss
Of memory across a dampened cheek,
The sound of pipes across a sunlit bay
In the solitary pebble clad stillness,
The green shoots of new life
Rising as the light shines through our absence.