Here is a selection of my poetry for AUGUST
A helicopter lands out in the grounds
and soon a limo churns the drive to dust
with guests who feel their stature is enough
to make this discrete drive along the limes.
The house pays for itself as an hotel –
fine dining in the splendour of the past –
where kings and courtesans, the famous stayed,
but would these ones who pay be Nancy’s types?
Would Nancy have approved a giant slide
for entertaining masses at her home?
The Water Garden’s like some city park
near café and a playground for the young.
And what of weekend hordes out in the grounds,
with buggies, picnic baskets, screaming kids?
But luckily they seem to stay away
From quiet parts of Cliveden I like best :
The Secret Garden, views from Canning’s Oak.
How Nancy’s face looks down on soldier’s rest;
sad cemetery for pets at Illex Grove
and grassy seats used at Britannia’s test.
On autumn days, when mums and kids have gone,
green woodpeckers inspect The Balustrade
and, in the woodland, muntjacs ghost between
the fruiting chestnuts, rhododendron’s shade.
In quiet times the sense of how things were
seems captured in the changing of the light –
a shadow on the terrace over there,
a sudden gust of wind puts birds to flight.
Self-sown, on waste ground, in old masonry,
it’s found a toehold on old factory sites,
populates the ruins of stately homes.
Once a cultivar, it slipped away
to set up home beside the railway tracks,
on abandoned buildings, sprouts from broken paths.
Buddleia can outgrow some native plants,
seeds germinate on dry and hostile ground;
its panicles of tiny lilac flowers
are where the bees and butterflies are found.
And, at a time with species in decline,
when campaigns urge Save Butterflies and Bees
our government has found time to decide
that buddleia is no more than a weed…
DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Has declared buddleia to be an “invasive alien species.”
When first green bramble berries start to show
And many hedgerow flowers start to fade,
Up roadside grasses twining bindweed grows –
Widdershins – towards bright sunlight’s haze.
Soon hedges down the lane wear heart-shaped leaves –
Every where’s a smother of white flowers –
Bell-like, large, they congregate like thieves
To steal the light, ambitious to climb higher.
Unlike favoured cousin, Morning Glory
Bindweed in your garden is a pain –
A tiny bit of root repeats the story,
Enveloping your beds with weed again.
Whoosh! Like a force of nature they arrive…
Starlings. This boisterous, squawking, noisy mob,
strutting, uncouth gang, intimidate all
cautious birds : dunnocks, chaffinch, secret wrens.
Spreading across the feeding site, they clear
spilt grain, steal perches from the smaller birds.
Clumsily they ride the feeder’s wild swing –
scattering seed on hooligans below,
stabbing at brave sparrows, bluetits, finches
whose presence threatens to disrupt the show.
Leaving as quickly as they came, this flock-
of-one-mind swarms a laden apple tree
to ruin near-ripe fruit with casual pecks.
Then off again, a ragged hurtling mass,
to pounce on fields, string power lines like beads.
At day’s close they rise as one : this wheeling,
darkling flock shape-shifts in a setting sun.
Across the land a ritual soon repeats :
sharing a common pulse they turn, turn again,
flocks swoop fields, skirt factories, circle streets
as they follow weird tracks through empty air –
invisible to all but these strange birds.
At old Bisham two golfers have to wait
as starlings drive the fairway of the eighth;
like swarming bees they funnel single file,
descend upon an ivy-covered trunk
to disappear completely – swallowed up…
Creating, from a tree and avian clan,
a trembling, cackling sight of the Green Man.
They came, skimming our chimney pots,
one summer day when we were out –
just reaching to the field beyond.
Our startled neighbour told us how
she’d watched transfixed, holding her breath,
as wickerwork just cleared the roof.
This morning they were back again
on driest, calmest day for weeks :
when sun burnt off the valley’s mist
and set damp cobwebs glittering.
I opened doors for cool fresh air
but caught a growing, roaring sound –
a giant’s panting laboured breath.
A fiery red face glowered down
to billow over field–edged oak.
For seconds it stood quite erect,
towering over house and tree
then nylon rippled and collapsed
to stubble field, descends from skies :
colossus, creeping down to rest.
Ants seemed to pull a giant low
and roll away the canopy –
packing the basket with his face.
Now, they must wait for transport home :
their day over, mine just begun.
Foxes can't be bothered searching this land,
passers-by would never praise the view;
in all the years, nothing here has happened,
those visiting this field are very few.
There's no clear stream hiding rare brook lampreys
or muddy pond where crested newts may grow;
no protected flora ever grew here —
even common bluebells never show.
No ancient oaks — rubbing posts for cattle —
a place to safely harbour local bats;
listed birds like nightjars never nest here,
you'll never see a rabbit or a rat.
Men in suits with plans arrived this morning,
they scheme to join my village to your town
and take away this last green space between us —
our countryside gone...blown like thistledown.
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