Sowing discord

27 September 2011 § 8 Comments

Seeds of change

One for the rook
One for the crow
One to wither
One to grow.

One for the deluge
One for the drought
One each for the pigeon
And mouse to dig out.

One for the subsidy
One for the crash.
One for the Government
Desperate for cash.

One for the trader
In futures, who bets
On prices, then pockets
The millions he gets.

One for the banks.
Make that two – make that ten.
No, make it a billion.
And then start again.

One for the climate,
Now warming, it seems.
One for our hopes.
One for our dreams.

One for our gluttony
One for our greed
None for the millions
We choose not to feed.

One for the rook,.
One for the crow.
One to wither.
One to grow.

The farmers are already busy drilling next year’s cereal crops, and I’ve had the old rhyme about seeds that bookends this poem going round in my head all day. Blame the Party Conference season for the rather downbeat tone of the stuff in between!

A thorny subject

25 September 2011 § 12 Comments

By any other name?

Call me
Barbed-flower
Flesh-ripper
Swell-tendon
Blood-dripper.

My scent is dulled
My colour bled
My suckers rampant
Leaders dead.

Call me
Shirt-snagger
Finger-finder
Hand-harrow
Eye-blinder.

Hack me down
Cut me deep
Burn my remains
Leave me to sleep.

Call me
Fly-ridden
Rust-spotted
Mildew-powdered
Canker-rotted.

Then tell me how
Sweet I smell now.

Pruned a rose bush this morning. Didn’t enjoy it much!

Hurricane Katia

12 September 2011 § 9 Comments

Someone else’s storm

The oak is full of surf-sounds.
The poplars hiss and twist
Branches bent like umbrellas
Blown inside-out.
Twigs, leaves, small branches litter
The verge and gutter,
Pigeons hurtle over the wood
Like artillery shells:
Even the drowsy river
Is stippled and disturbed,
Raked by cat’s-paws.
Clouds big as counties
Shutter the sun, sending shadows
Running like hounds over the plough
And under it all
A deep-drone fugue
For Aeolian harp
Played on gates and power lines.
The land shakes, waits,
Wondering what will break upon it
As force and fury tear across
Three thousand miles of ocean.
And here we are
Caught up again
In someone else’s storm.

Forecast

5 September 2011 § 11 Comments

Spells of rain

The Met Office –
With all their talk
Of satellites
Doppler radar
And models crunched on mainframes –
Don’t fool me:
 
In her den
Beneath the building
The weather-witch
Is in control.
 
Firing up her cauldron
She conjures clouds
From the rising steam.
More cackled incantations
Fill them, chill them
Then spill them over southern England.
 
And on the screen
Her familiar
In the form of a smiling, suntanned man
Foretells her next week’s wicked work:
 
To put us under
Spells of rain
And turn fair Summer
Into a crabbed and wrinkled Autumn.

Daylight robbery

1 September 2011 § 15 Comments

Blackberry picking
(with apologies to Seamus Heaney)

Summer sits
In fat, black clots,
Sun-warm in tubs
That once held ice-cream.

Thorns tear at hands, clothes,
Punishing our thievery,
Staining light fingers
Dark with juice.

And, neatly packed in glossy flesh,
The sun comes home with us
To rise again in steam and sweetness
When the cold days fall.

Feathered fiend

30 August 2011 § 5 Comments

One for sorrow

A fan of piebald primaries
Crow-picked, sun-stiffened
Woven through the rough grass of the headland.

Another woodpigeon
Downed by the hawk
Then butchered by Reynard

Or so I thought.
Until I caught
A single feather’s blue-green sheen

Shining like oil on water,
The glint in the keeper’s eye.
One for sorrow. Hello, Magpie.

From Brittany #2

23 August 2011 § 13 Comments

Word hunting

The words I seek
Don’t live in my town

But out here,
Wild,

Shining, sea-wet, in the sand
Flying in skeins

Resting on rocks
Or perched in trees

Half-seen out at sea
Or round sudden bends in the narrow cliff-path.

With the poacher’s patience
And fisherman’s finesse

I can catch them
Hold them for a moment

Before they wriggle free
Leaving only their warmth behind.

And a single juicy one in the bag
Is all it takes to feed me.

 

From Brittany #1

21 August 2011 § 9 Comments

Il fait du brouillard

The blinded lighthouse
Calls out in the gloom
Its foghorn telling the misty minutes
Like a doleful speaking clock.

There’s a Hebridean sting of salt
In the sea-smoke wrapped around the headland
Like a scarf; and the summer beaches
Are veiled and secret, empty, Arctic white.

The gulls and waders could tell me
Where I am; beneath the sky-cloak
They chatter heedless, brash and jeering,
Safe in their local knowledge.

Not that I’m asking. A dog, the dunes
And the distant booming of the surf
On the reefs far out are all the signs I need:
I am here. Now. And all is well.

Summery sonnet

22 July 2011 § 13 Comments

The weary gardener sets aside the spade
Now heavy as the August day is long
And seeks a quiet corner in the shade
To breathe the flowers’ fragrance, hear the song
Of busy birds among the shrubs and trees.
The wren trills in the hedge; the thrush replies
With liquid notes, and carried on the breeze
The shriek of black swifts harvesting the skies.
Then all at once a midnight silence falls
Upon the garden. Nature holds its breath.
No pigeon pipes, no finch or blackbird calls,
And summer shivers at the chill of death
As in the whispering ash beyond the gate
The sparrowhawk alights to watch and wait.

Time to go

30 June 2011 § 10 Comments

Close of business

No wandering
For my mind today:
It’s been a strict
Eight-hour forced march
On hard roads
Of others’ choosing,
The telephone bawling orders
And the Inbox driving me
With frequent lashes
Of its electronic whip.
Now the rest of me
Weary with inaction
Rises up; a quiet insurrection
Fomented by the sun
Shining in my window
And the swifts
Like black new moons
Racing over heaven.
The world has made a market of my hours:
Those that remain
Till sleep claims me
Are not for sale.
For now
I am free.

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