Living

The morning hurries on.

A sound track of wind

machined from the tarmac

bears the weight of speed.

Pace after pace.

Creaking joints

need the morning oils

of strain and stretch

so I can join the traffic

rushing through the awkwardness

of what is to come.

The path shrinks beneath

brambles and crowding nettles.

I hold myself in,

eyes fixed on the next step,

fearing the snag of thorn

and the poison sting.

Only in the tired dust

of a late afternoon trudge

can I see the dark jewels

shining in their ripeness,

still and waiting.

Borrowdale

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A kind of darkness; leaf mould, mist

Dank and rich, water sluicing mud

Into pathways, staining walkers’ pants,

Capillary action dampening

The spirits of all who pass. The dark

Seeps into the hotels; the heavy

Mansions weighed down with the sweet comfort

Of the middle people – middle aged,

Middle class, Werther’s originals.

Yes, it was weight more than a darkness,

Not ominous, more heavy, dense,

Over rich, sugar saturated.

It required the openness, wind blown

Heights, rock faces of adventure, seen

Between the thick foliage below,

As if the drama of the mountains

Sprang out of the valley’s rich brocade.

For me, freedom comes on the bare rock ridge,

The barren fields of summit boulders,

Looking down on the coach bound trippers

Who cling to the deep hued luxury,

The chocolate filled lounges, the heart strewn

Gift shops and carefully staged viewpoints,

Who bask in the closeness of people

Whilst we nod, shy in our solitude.

The heavy stone and lush gardens may

Be to me like Christmas Day after

The turkey dinner with a blazing fire,

Paralysed in a fug of family,

But the summit ridge needs the valley,

Its colour, its promise of comfort.

The Woods

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No history has carved a memory

In these woods. No folk melodies breathe here

In the mists of morning. The old pines lean

Helpless and dying where the storms have blown.

The gnarled hands of working men have bypassed

These crippled oaks. Stones lie where God placed them,

Nursing the disorder of creation.

The wooded hill bookends urban stories

Of the glow of blown glass, of the clamour

Of forged tools, of the chatter of tradesmen.

Trees lean back staring vacantly where winds

Sweep the far hills with melancholic verse.

They look to the skies for the songs they know,

From times beyond the reach of history,

And they sing them in the shiver of bones.

Avenue

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I don’t want to argue

But ‘avenue’ is ‘avenir’ –

About arrivals not endings

Is this a T S Eliot moment?

 

The guard of honour

Lines the arrival of bride and groom

Setting out, one hopes, on a life

Of what? Of love, adventure or escape?

 

Have we seen a courtship?

Certainly a shared sense

Of magic and discovery,

A mutual sympathy of vision.

 

But as we look along

The shaded avenue, we see

An argument of colour and texture –

And an argument means a real meeting.

 

We look down the path

And wonder if we will reach

A different destination

In the light or deeper in the forests?

 

Where have we arrived?

It is difference that is fruitful;

It is the argument that makes us

Look closer and see the world more clearly.

 

This is the last of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website (www.juliedumbarton.com). They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GalleryAtLaurieston/) or on his website (https://philmcmenemy.smugmug.com/). Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. 

Fallen Tree

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How do we move towards our end?

We have rubbed up against immensity

And from the optimistic certainties

Of youth, have learned that we are as ants

In the Amazon, surrounded by the unreachable.

The fresh smoothness of our infant skin

Leathers, bears scars, hangs loose and wrinkles.

Our upright reaching for the light

Is bent by cold winds and weakening sinews.

No more do we cradle new life

In the crook of our arms. Our fellows

Fell away to leave us alone on the grey waters.

The shoots of renewal dwindle

And set no fruits to feed the future.

We are bowed down and fractured.

Are we then destroyed in the general

Immolation, raging with fire

And clearing the slates for the future?

Or do we proclaim the dignity of existence,

Our bowed head and broken joints held

To sculpt a monument for wise eyes?

 

This is another of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website (www.juliedumbarton.com). They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GalleryAtLaurieston/) or on his website (https://philmcmenemy.smugmug.com/). Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. They will be posted here over the next few weeks.

Tree and Bluebells

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The woodland floor shimmers, like the shiver

Of bows across the violin fingerboard,

Busy, soft, scurrying with life.

 

The new day is full of expectation,

The promise of honey in the perfumed

Coolness; the start of some epic drama.

 

Above the whispered harmonies, the birds

Declare their presence, wrapt in the moment,

Flitting out of sight in the dappled light.

 

In the distance, a warm echo chamber

Of rich brass chords draws our eyes to the sunlit

Clearings growing closer through the morning.

 

The scene is completed by assertive

Forms, the characters for the day’s dramas –

Beech trunks, fern triplets, and the old tree stump.

 

The day warms, the volume grows, harmonies

Darken until all the detail explodes

In a fanfare, a blizzard of colour.

 

This is another of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website (www.juliedumbarton.com). They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GalleryAtLaurieston/) or on his website (https://philmcmenemy.smugmug.com/). Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. They will be posted here over the next few weeks.

Chocolate River – Even Flow

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Back to the torpid stream

And the evening draws in.

We can rest, the mature

Green beneath our feet

And the fire of the day

Receding towards the night

As the colours fade

Absorbed by still waters’

Fathomless brown depths.

We turn to the monochrome;

The need for texture

And touch, the wish to let

Ourselves go into the white

Sensuous flow below

The weir, where we may be swept

To who knows what Paradise?

 

This is another of a series of poems that were inspired by a book, “Scenes Through Different Eyes”. This was a collaboration between Phil McMenemy, a photographer whose images he has allowed me to post here and Julie Dumbarton, an artist whose work can be seen on her website (www.juliedumbarton.com). They each brought their own skills and vision to the same landscape to create a beautiful book. Phil’s work can be explored on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GalleryAtLaurieston/) or on his website (https://philmcmenemy.smugmug.com/). Having bought the book, I didn’t want it to sit ignored on a coffee table and so I wrote a sequence of poems that forced me to look and think about the photographs and paintings. They will be posted here over the next few weeks.