Here is a selection of my poetry for AUGUST
“We always had to make our own amusement..”
A stranger staying down our road
(Visiting with his favourite aunt)
Had gained respect from local kids
By telling tales of things he did.
His railway trick was new to me
And, on those boring summer days,
Any excitement seemed like fun.
Up the embankment by the bridge
Where tracks ran straight for several miles,
We kept down low and out of sight
Of the Nine Elms signal man.
Hidden by scrub & buddleia
We inched our way close to the tracks
Where distance shimmered in the heat.
“I’ve only ever tried with two,”
Our new friend said - but we were three -
Each with a penny to squash flat
Beneath a hundred wheels of steel.
But what if three was one too much -
Causing the train to jump the track?
At ten we were too curious
To worry much about that stuff.
So, one by one, we inched our way
From cover to the railway tracks -
Three pennies shining in the sun,
Together on the outside line.
We waited for what seemed an age
Crushed deep into embankment grass
Until we heard the signal clang -
A green light for our down line train.
There was a singing from the track,
Then it came rushing through the haze
A laden coal train from the north
Towing a billow of black smoke.
Too late to change our minds and run,
We pressed our hearts into deep grass
As yards away the train charged passed,
Crashing and screeching near our heads.
The earth shook with each passing truck
As time was torn by flying wheels,
Then, suddenly , the noise was gone :
Fading to a distant click.
Summer returned and insects buzzed.
Somehow the rest all seemed a blur :
Stumbling up across the lines,
Hunting amongst the ballast stones -
The red faced, shouting signal man -
Racing across four sets of tracks
And laughing all the way back home.
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.
Watching the swallows wheeling in the sun
and bluetit’s acrobatics in the oak,
a sudden movement caused us to look down
to see a bee land on an old stone urn.
Basking in the sun it took a rest
as briefly it had laid green burden down,
a piece of leaf, much bigger than itself,
looked like a wing as bee hauled off the ground.
When it returned it landed on a leaf,
cut out a crescent shape to steal away.
Close inspection showed, where it had been,
hypericum had lost nine leaves this way.
We’d seen one of these tiny bees before –
choosing a hole in driftwood for a nest…
cut leaves, pollen and nectar made each cell,
an egg was laid, each cell was sealed and left.
Imagine, if these bees weren’t solitary
and used their cutting skills for more than nests.
A thousand and a thousand, maybe more
could work together to achieve a plan,
they’d fill the empty plinth in London’s square
with foliage shaped into the Green Man.
Clamouring Sunday bells. The shimmering air,
Iridescent mirror of a brassy sun,
Conducts the peals across the dew decked lawn
To drone, petal soft amongst the bees,
Or climb, conspiring with birds in song.
Wandering the dusty greyness of the path
I linger, cool amongst trim green of yew,
And from refreshing shade imagine,
Above the distant jangling bells,
The hollyhocks, brazen, trumpeting the day.
Beyond the yews the dappled shade of pine extends.
The trees, a cool and peaceful nave,
Inviolable against the glaring day,
Command a quieting of mind, composure,
Peace within this sanctuary.
Vaulting pine fronds screen a darkling sun
Spreading the light as gleaming pools of gold :
A gilded fir cone attracts my eye,
Auspicious blood berries lie close by.
Here decaying leaves are speckled red,
The splattered blood has left a natural trail
Too visible to ignore....... I follow,
Scuffing silence. Steps rasp fallen leaves -
My cautious progress amplified.
Beneath a bush I find him lying,
Unnatural, twisted, posturing in death :
Defiance frozen in his reaching limbs,
Anguish smiles crookedly through bared teeth,
Eyes fixed, a final glare of grief.
Hypnotized by death I stand transfixed
Till suddenly the silence roars with bells.
Trembling, white faced, I hurry into church,
Small boy haunted by a fox's death -
I daren't look at the crucifix.
Not Olympian concierge
or Asgardian sentinel.
A gatekeeper you may be,
but there’s not a key in sight.
Not drunk, like Shakespeare’s porter,
who posed as hell’s gatekeeper.
You are no three-headed dog
or a jackal-headed god.
Conversely, you’ve a gentle life –
large eyes peer from rough grasses –
by the stiles and the gateways
you tend flowers but never souls.
ANSWER : Gatekeeper Butterly
First 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.