Poetry

A selection of poems written over the past few years – with a few notes, here and there, about how they came to be written, what I was struggling to convey …

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Signs of spring
 
pigeon
     like a sailor
see-sawing
     over grass

old grey fox
     cocking his leg
scratching
     sodden leaves

dogwood
     orange against
dark earth

dull grey mantle
     of cloud
hardly moving

even now     on this
     cold morning
buds on the old English
     rose     fat
          as yeomen
stretch and poke
     first green fingers
          of Spring
on its way



Summer afternoon

sweat-shadows
     under oaks
damp grass lolling

baked clay pans
     where cattle
          stamped and flicked
- flies worrying eyes
     and ears

buttercups shiver
- a pauper’s breath
     tipping yellow to
          silver cold

at river’s skin
     a heron prods
as if to nudge
     a fish to life

There is a rhythm to walking that gives muscle to the words as they come to mind and images just emerge like beads threaded on to the line of the walk. The small white church of San Rocco stands high on a rocky bluff beside the sea – it is a popular place, magical, even with lots of people coming and going


Pembroke walk

gorse-ribs
     black-spiked
          on burnt scrub
leaning          leaning
scuffed by heel
     on pocked trail

stonechat calls 
     from granite nob
          as if lowering sky
pulls it out of him

crusted gate
     scabbed latch
finger-lift to open

twist of boot
     on glistening
          boulder

look back at dark hill

wonder at such wonders

song of stone
     elegy of burning
drift of eyes
     to silver cloud



Pilgrims at Camogli

even now they ascend
     hundreds of steps
          like sparrows chirping
until at San Rocco
     they stand outside
by a stone wall
     gazing out to sea
where infinity holds them
silent     for just
     a moment

Two poems, two of many, written while travelling by train:

businessman with shiny
     slow-polished shoes
reaches up to take down
     his jacket
unfolds it with care
strokes the soft lapels
smiles as if he is
     the richest man
     alive

          
               *

flat river     sun flashing
silver-grey corrugated roof
bungalows pirouetting
     from side-to-side
birches high on a bank
golden willows tracing waterways
     through fresh-green meadows
five geese heading east
us on a train
heading the same way

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Just so

everything is just so:

room, bed, scarf draped
over a cupboard door,
breeze pushing curtain
with poppies in rows,
cars and a football crowd, 
sliver of dark night, 
cup of water
on the table

each thing has its
penumbra of uncertainty
quivering signature of
what it
is
___________________________

Around February time, our small pond is filled, overnight, with a horde of frogs. It is mating time and for just a few days they are busy …..

Frog bacchanal

chirruping in dark pond
carnival of legs, pale throats
oodles of spawn     water churned
paddling of sinuous oars

a week ago 
     they were breathing skins
          deep under ice
now they cavort
     like sumo nymphs
          stirring water to 
     a gruel of silt and 
murky waltzes

Owain, son of Urien, appears in an old Welsh tale, The Mabinogion. Having heard a story told by his friend, Cynon, in which Cynon follows a mysterious black-haired man to a magical well, Owain heads off for 'the remote regions of the world' in search of the well. After many fantastic adventures he finds not only the well but the Lady of the Well - needless to say he falls in love with her. The image of Owain setting off for 'remote regions' stayed with me .... 

Owain’s exile

a long road
palms, sunflowers,
gardens of tombs,
carnations and violets

a night of longing

tomorrow I will walk and
walk until I meet the sea
and I will quench this thirst
on the flat horizon where
sun meets water and
another day drowns