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.

Stormy weather

28 June 2011 § 8 Comments

Donner und Blitzen

All day
It’s been building up to this.
Now impatient Lightning,
Weary of waiting,
Runs on ahead
A million miles
While the lumbering laggard Thunder
Is still lacing up his boots.

You can try
To drown out the old tales
With talk of vapour, latent heat
Charged particles and ions;
Facts and equations all laid out
In quick, brilliant strokes
Across a blackboard sky.

But when the stuffed and swollen night
Bursts and splits
Zeus still rages round his realm;
Jupiter hurls the blazing bolts
That Vulcan forged for him;
Red-bearded Thor takes another ride
Swinging Mjöllnir in one mighty fist
Smiting the Jotun at Asgard’s gates and
Warming the earth
With sparks struck from the mountain-tops.
And God decides the sofa
Would look better over there.

Too much of a good thing

23 June 2011 § 15 Comments

Losing myself

I have found myself
So filled with others’ clamour
My own word-hoard is spent and plundered.
I have measured each hour’s value
While leaving its true worth unweighed;
Made walking in the woods and fields
Another tick on the to-do list,
Gloried in the dawn departures
And burning quarts of midnight oil,
Talked of plans and strategies,
Of doing, being, wanting more.

So I must lose myself
Again; become forgetful,
Run my hands along the bark
Of growing trees, watch the wind
Turn ash-leaves silver,
Smell the grass the cows have trodden,
Find my old ways through the woods.
And if I wander far enough
I know that I will meet myself
Coming back again.

Where Am I?

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