Here is a selection of my poetry for NOVEMBER
They fell amongst the poppies there,
in Flanders Fields in Passchendaele;
we promised to remember them :
their war to end all wars.
Today, amongst the poppy fields
of Helmand in Afghanistan,
young soldiers still give up their lives –
it seems we never learn.
And, as we lay our poppy wreaths,
a bitter harvest far away
will help destroy our youth today –
a hidden kind of war.
No breath of wind to stir the morning mist,
trouble fallen leaves or grasses’ fragileness.
Red maple flares - reflected in dark pool,
no birds to sing, now all around is still.
Briefly, low sun illuminates the scene :
touching late berries by the water’s lip
where elephant-grey gunnera decays…
Quite motionless, the languid heron sits.
From gilded fish above the Chinese room
and on, passed house and parterre to the Thames;
from orangery, with blaze of pink nerines,
and algae covered statues in the trees.
It is as if the world has held its breath :
this moment set forever by stilled time,
as in amber, or a bubble, beauty rests –
until the spell was broken by a chime…
Somewhere a muntjac barked, a chainsaw buzzed…
and, in the big house, staff prepared for lunch.
Then, like an after-thought, a robin sang
prompting hushed birds, “Come join in joyous song!”
Not making it was really no surprise.
So young at heart - the numbers ran too far
For one who wouldn't countenance old age.
Ironic that the birthday treat we planned
Should now provide the menu for your wake.
I wonder, shall we sense your presence there
When tragedy in life you couldn't take?
I can't stop thinking of you on this day,
With memories of all the times we shared;
It's hard to grasp that you're no longer here -
That life should stop, like turning off a switch.
I think of your beliefs : the Golden Shore,
A journey through a tunnel filled with light :
A chance to be upon another plane
Close by - existing parallel to life.
But could it be there's nowhere else to go? -
Oblivion, blackness, no true happiness....
And at that thought my foot slips on the stair -
As if a hand had nudged me in the ribs.
Imagine this : sky impeccably blue,
With the June heat rising. Tiny darkening clouds
Explode, vanquishing the midday sun,
Forming here and there melancholy grey.
By afternoon a wintry dark descends -
Cold night insinuating summer’s light.
But look about : not all is tenebrous gloom;
Summer still exists — swallows and swifts climb
Above hedgerows and the full leafed trees.
In parks and gardens children play, the air
Is soft perfume : flowers and new mown hay.
Only, beneath each cloud, is winter’s grey.
And every small cloud shields some poor lost soul -
Incurables in ceaseless pain, the halt,
Those crossed in love or overwhelmed by grief,
The pensive, sad, depressed — life’s casualties.
Each one of us will have time in the sun
But be aware — clouds wait for everyone.
I look back through the years gone by
to find the Christmas you and I
discovered love that kept us warm,
providing comfort from the storm.
Despite the snow I felt no cold
as whistling down dark streets I’d go;
a callow youth of nineteen years
for whom dead winter held no fears.
Winter’s stark cold can numb the brain
but soon the snow will turn to rain,
the days will lengthen, fill with sun –
bright spring brings hope to everyone.
My mind has seen the seasons round,
but autumn has me trapped and bound.
The tyranny of winter’s cold
sees in the New Year, ends the old.
In budding springtime life contrives
to start afresh : revitalise.
The earth awakes as gentle showers
with vernal sun conspire for hours
to make the land a verdant scene,
from hills to hedgerow, hues of green.
High upon our native hills
we found that host of daffodils –
like harbingers for my green youth
as I begin life’s quest for truth.
My mind has seen the seasons round
Summer arrives out of the blue :
copper-gold sun and retinue
of tiny clouds, like feather down,
hover above the shimmering town.
The meadowlark spirals unseen
above a landscape caught between
the glimmering sea and burnished hills
where toiling man sun burns and grills.
The city’s heat is hard to bear –
no breeze to stir the thickening air,
the sticky summer brings me down
when trapped within this stifling town.
but autumn has me trapped and bound.
NOT AN ODE TO AUTUMN
Only crab apples on the trees;
A cold wind blows across the lease
Stirring the spent brown leaves that cling
Where just the jaunty robin sings.
Late Autumn mists can quickly hide
All vestige of sun, moon and tide.
In leafless woods and barren fields
The future slowly disappears :
On Autumn days that bring despair
A chill of death hangs in the air.
But Autumn has me trapped and bound.
Written as a response to “Ode to Autumn” by John Keats.
Lease = dialect for open pasture or common land.