Poetry

 

 

 

I have been writing poetry all my life. This one was inspired by an old man standing on the beach in New Brighton, gazing out to sea. I can still remember the faraway look in his faded blue eyes.

 

 

EBB-TIDE

 

 

What have you left to come home to, old man?

Have you felt the turn of the tide in your lungs

And the dawn’s thin blood draining your day?

 

Old man, what have you left to come home?

There, you had the tide at the height of its leap

Pulling down the white sail of the moon,

While here, the chimneypots keel over

In a wind raging with your salt weather

And a sky snowing with seagulls.

 

Wife by the hearth, would you wake from your sleep

For an old man no stronger than a gull’s feather,

Bringing only a blessing you’ve never heard sung?

Would you rise from your embers to a violent noon

Screaming for you to come out and play

And watch him sit up with his eyes full of pearls?

 

Yet both of you once had the sea for a lover

With nothing left now but a thin line of foam

To mark where your intricate voyage began.

 

 

*

 

 

I love Nature. This poem was inspired by a crow that seemed to be flapping too slowly to reach the rooftop it was aiming for.

 

 

THE ECONOMICAL CROW

 

 

Gravity seems to push it down, to stall it.

Lethargic, languid, those slow-beating wings

will never raise that crow to the rooftop peak!

Slick as an oiled rag, it smoothes its way

up to the window sill; tensely, I watch,

Sure it will graze the gutter with its beak.

 

In lazy glide it rises, shouldering

air aside, hoisting its dense black shape

further aloft into the sunset sky.

I cup my hands, a safety net in case…

then yes! The carbon crow has reached the ridge

and lands as softly as a butterfly.

 

How calm, the crow; unlike the skittish pigeon,

whose feathers fuss the wind in panicked flurry;

not like the kestrel, wingtips strumming air

like frantic fingers; nor the switchback finch,

or bustling sparrow, ever in a hurry,

cork popping out of hedge, a fluffy blur.

 

I marvel at the economical crow.

It sits in silhouette, a cameo

embossed on Wedgewood blue of looming night.

no movement wasted, simple algorithm

of energy and air – and now I know

we each must learn the rhythm of our flight.

 

 

*

 

Swain’s Lane is a steep, hilly road which bisects Highgate Cemetery and has a a spooky feel to it. Here, the present collides with the past.

 

 

SWAIN’S LANE

 

I plunge into the gothic gloom of Swain’s Lane

then change my mind, steer left towards the sun

at the side of the tennis courts, drawn to the light.

I am not a creature of mysterious moonlight.

Nightshade is not my flower;

I was born in the sign of the daffodil.

 

Along the dappled path,

shadow on shadow, a blackbird tip-taps wormwards.

Already, fallen leaves, slivers of amber,

jewel the grass. Time-hungry,

I raise my face to the sun.

A strand of hair spins rainbows through my lashes.

 

White throats of bindweed choke the cemetery gates.

A swirl of purple floats around my shoulders

and moss-green velvet clings and weights my thighs

like deep-sea waves, restraining, sensual.

A waterfall of russet silk, my hair

flows to my hips, braided with poppies. Thus

I paint myself while walking; no-one sees.

 

A gaudy skein of cars, metallic flowers,

daisy-chains the roadside. Tell me, who

has newly-rubied rose and pillar-box

and buffed that grass to emerald so vivid

it wires my retinas like fine cocaine?

What palette have you handed me? Since knowing you

I see the world through stained-glass eyes.

 

 

*

 

I love writing humorous verse, too. Here is an example.

 

 

OLD-AGE DELINQUENT

 

I’m just an old-age delinquent.

Some people might think me quite sad,

for I wake up each day

shouting “Hip, hip, Hooray!”

as I think up new ways to be bad.

 

I block up the aisles in buses

with my trolley and zimmer and stick.

To make space in a crowd,

I cough ever so loud

and sound like I’m going to be sick.

 

I’m a pest at pedestrian crossings.

I like to show who is the boss.

Once I’ve made the cars stop,

I go wandering off

and don’t even bother to cross.

 

My diet is healthy and simple.

There’s ten tins of beans on my shelf.

See, you don’t have to race

for a seat or a space

if you fart and you talk to yourself.

 

People tell me I’ve reached second childhood

as I lurk in my fusty old den.

But with six-day-old undies

and socks changed on Sundays,

I’m a perfect teenager again.