A selection of my poems for August
Sunrise from GREENBANKS, Falmouth, Cornwall.
Out of the field, trotting with silent tread,
through nettles, under birch and hazel boughs,
we’d seen the signs : he’d visited before,
in winter’s frost and January’s snow…
but not mid-afternoon in hot July.
Nonchalantly jogging, taking his time,
passed dozing family cat across parched lawn,
he paused to look about, close by the house,
ignoring us although we’d caught his eye.
He held us all transfixed. No thought fox this –
but real – unlike Hughes’ dream. We watched him go
on down the drive, beyond the patio
where we all rubbed our eyes at what we’d seen.
MORE HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD.
Outside the airport, waiting for the bus.
Sauna heat, such air, so damp and thick
I must grow gills to breathe.
Driving into dusk and sudden dark :
thunderheads mass as neon flares,
forked lightning strobes the sky.
Sleepless, I ride air conditioned drone
just like my ten hour flight :
my body says it's breakfast time —
here it's still the middle of the night.
As light begins to fill this motel room,
I watch dawn break across an alien land :
strange trees; buildings, unrecognizable
from shadows I first knew, disclose
themselves in startling shapes and hues.
And, through a veil of tiredness it's plain
that I have travelled all those miles
to find a truth already known :
what I love and really care for
I have left in England's home.
A grandson and a hurricane.
Landfall first witnessed
by those at Frimley Park.
Finding his voice,
a Hanworth roof was raised.
Taking a month,
he gathered force at sea.
Touched down in Louisiana,
lashed New Orleans,
made TV and the morning news.
He was no Katrina,
but certainly all male.
Happy eighth Birthday, ISAAC !!
AFTER THE FALL
Corpocracy’s graffitied world
(where everyone is ruled by screens) —
built from our cheerless yesterdays
when troglodytes raged at machines.
Trying to change our point of view
we had to turn the ‘scope around,
abandon dogma, party line
and look across to higher ground.
But will the coming dawn reveal
incumbents who will ride roughshod
across the afterwards we’d planned,
grinding to dust our household gods?
How dark would be our future then? —
Books to the fire or left unread,
computers would produce all art —
a place where angels fear to tread.
A flasher's in the undergrowth!
From cowl-like spathe, a spandix looms:
poker-shaped, purple and erect.
This plant's strange notoriety
relates to how it looks in Spring —
its bearing's spawned some bawdy names
like Adam and Eve, Cows and Bulls
Jack in the Pulpit, Naked Boys.
Its common name of Cuckoo Pint
sounds innocent but it's not right
as “Pint” should really rhyme with “mint”…
Priest's Pintle tells a different tale.
This plant has got a hundred names
and folklore's built up down the years:
some gullible young country girls
believed that just to touch a leaf
would make them pregnant overnight.
Well known for its toxicity,
in Tudor times the plant was used
by washer-women starching ruffs,
their burnt and blistered hands confirmed
the harmful nature of Starch Root.
By Autumn how the Arum's changed:
died back, green cowl and arrow leaves,
now plant appears as Naked Girls —
brazen and pale, ringed with bright beads...
These berries send to A & E
more casualties than other plants...
Most dangerous, the Cuckoo Pint.
TRISTRAM and ISEULT
How will you know me when I’m far away?
In the voice of the blackbird, in the first light of day.
My hands wave unseen in the shimmering leaves
But I’ll whisper, “I love you,” on the breath of a breeze.
Remember my essence in the scent of a rose
As you feel my touch where the cool waters close.
Picture my smile in the warm ember’s glow
And soon I will greet you with the kiss of the snow.
Fat blackberries had caught the starlings’ eyes
And soon the walls and cars bore purple stains;
Dark elderberries, hung beneath clear skies,
Will swell with night-time’s gentle showers of rain.
The combines are out harvesting the fields –
A golden stubble greets the setting sun;
The farmer is delighted with his yield,
Returning geese are pleased when job is done.
First windfalls in the grass beneath mossed trees
As hazelnuts are plumping on the bough;
While on the quiet air the drone of bees
And, in the distance, gently lowing cows.
These are the sights and sounds that end this day –
With season’s fullness, August slips away.
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