True Poetry

There are odd moments as he blunders
through the dark corridors of erudition,
fearing the Minotaur’s savage hunger,
and wrapped in scholarship’s revered fictions,
when he steps into air, sun on his brow.

Blackbird’s bel canto, the smell of mown grass,
the flow of water brown peat turned to gold;
these bedrocks of beauty need no classic
allusions, no dictionary trawling.
What he sees in all his simplicity
is partial, his own creation, soft edged
and commonplace. Here in the light he clings
to the hope for an escape from nature
into a personal vision, and stamps
the full force of his mind on sunlit hills.
He wears his learning like mating plumage,
ermine robed claiming a place next to Kings
before he falls back into darkness,
to where no Latinate exactitudes
or exquisitely refined perceptions can
lift him back to the sun. He must reach out
to companionships of confusion
held by simple memories as the sea
rolls its mundane course in the grey moonlight.

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The Ramble

The grey shadow

Cuts through the grass, green

With the surge of new life.

It makes its unsteady way

Sure of its goal,

But the sloping land leans,

The wind buffets

And the walkers’ minds drift,

Letting their feet

Meander in the sun.

 
The grass, silver,

Steeled against the sun’s

Interrogation,

Formed a guard of honour,

Blades swaying

In a Mexican wave, led

By the fresh breeze.

Now the downward slope

Pulled the walkers

Each to their own retreat.

 
The sun dimming

Turns from the grass, dulled

By the muddy remains

Of Winter floods that swamp

Life in stagnant

Pools, and drown the pathway;

Forcing the walkers

To shared study of their steps

With smiles and laughter

That defy the gath’ring clouds.

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.

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

Family

As I watch the sound of voices

Sucking the air from the room,

The roar of my silence swells.

Its skin bursts and the smiles

Are punctured by the dry prick of wit.

 

Best ignored – and I am left

Wondering if the sparkle of goldfinches,

The rattle of rain on the windows,

The drunken sway of the wind in the trees,

Are the ‘still small voice’

Or the last refuge for my absence

Transfiguration

He stood on the mountain top. At his feet

the world of the everyday was muted,

transformed into a pathos of colour.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Skylarks singing the songs of the heavens;

Nature raw, eternal, a living past

unmarked by the trivial and worldly.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Black-winged crows, ascetic, puritan, soar

around his head, lit by the evening sun,

animal piety cleansed in the wind.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Convenient delusion. Here above

the cares of the day, he can imagine

an exaltation of a pure spirit.

He can box off the transfigured, safely

located in a mystical escape.

The past is transformed into dreams, blood free,

pure and mind locked. A life of engagement

with the poor and neglected can’t be seen

in dazzling lights of holy ecstasy.

 
Much better had he stepped into the slums

where the putrid waste of wealth sours the air,

and given transfiguration a place

in the midst of Want, Hunger and Despair

 

Something odd happened when I posted this so have put it on again!