The circle turns
I'm from a village built on blood and sweat so the old ones say
where mother and father played at weekend love
and kids sniffed out the lonely to hold with terrier teeth.
Friends were made by page and word
to talk away the bruise and make
shouts a war cry in distant lands.
Today, that past is embers
ready to burn bright a page or word
so the old ones say.
When winter, remember spring
Berries ripe black to pick in autumn light
with hands, cold from dampness, cardinal
stained, as bruised fruit scents the air.
You taste the summer gone, maternal
moments lost in spring as a deer rustles by.
When home, fragrant water simmers,
for harvest fruits washed clean
to weigh on brass and click scales.
Each bowl thorns when to lean
down brought salted tears not smiles.
Trickling through rough fingers fruit
flops into pan and pops thick. Berries
flavour licking good for pectin test
You release methylated memories:
camping holidays, picnics, cold nights.
Time, as evening moon rises, to add
sugar and trap morning smells
for the breakfast bite of spring.
You measure heat and fear the farewells
if the pop of broken glass tinkles goodbye.
Adding butter to cleanse, the pan is lifted
to pour, into cloth held crystal clear jars,
while jam falls as slow motion waterfall.
You twitch your nose as steam stars
glisten on window panes as her smile.
Wax paper, scentless like the candles lit,
crackles as wrapped around the necks
sealing in flavours for the darkness.
You know your regrets and neglects
but at each spring taste she laughs.
In the boat that I built with my father
I see the boats berthed photo still
as the tender breeze
carries the scream of hungry gulls
and the smell of salted seas.
Now only weekend toys
when once they tacked homeward
with cod that fed us
in holds frozen full
And the streets woken by dawn clatter
and the calls of friends
empty, empty, empty.
Their corpses of boats.
spill with the entrails of ropes
smeared with smashed hope.
But while the tide turns
and the boat hewed
by my father’s hand
still lifts on the waves
I will sail and let him live
lest you forget.
On not saying hello
It was on the 8.30 to London and I was lost in a poem
more to pass the time then for serious effect,
when I looked over and saw a basement squat
and a time when you and I were friends.
More to pass the time then for serious effect
I imagine leaning over and apologetically reminding
you of a time when you knew me and my brother.
I turned back to my poem and remembered why not.
I imagine leaning over and apologetically reminding
you of my brother, now dead but scared of life yet
I turned back to my poem and remembered why not
as the train announcements make you stir.
Of my brother, now dead but scared of life you
won’t recall but it’s when I lost my world
as the train announcements make you stir
I see his face sketched now only in my thoughts.
I won’t recall when I lost my world
as I look over and see a basement squat
so as the train announcements make you stir
I’m lost in a poem on the 8.30 to London.
Do you remember Barrow Hill, with church
of pitted stone, where sleepers rest until
an angel blows dreams away. Once we walked
around flowers of plastic, past stone lies,
and out a wooden gate, to wander down
past fields in flood and ash now winter bare,
to this cottage of turf and broken stone,
with thick yew hedge to beat back wind and rain
You watched as inside, upstairs, Sunday best
was tissue shrouded for its weekly tomb
as rain pit-patted on the window glass.
Finished, she sat on the bed's edge and wept.
with bible cradled in arms long empty.
Silence comforted until sunlight peace
warmed smiles and kisses for the holy book.
Rising, with apron tight and hair commanded,
she shelves truth for love of both goat or sheep.
I waited downstairs by scrubbed pine table,
laden with dishes of yellow margarine,
and jam labelled red with pillow bread
to make a wish:
for white linen, a dish of butter sun,
blackberry jam scenting of summer warmth
and oven bread too warm still for slicing.
We left a kettle's whistle summon down
to feast of tea and sandwich now eaten
in contentment that God rests as crows caw outside.
O banquet when home from the pub
knobbled and dimpled
with skin olive brown -
Chop, chop for chips.
Soft and moist
like love remembered
as you dry to fry.
in a flat black pan.
Golden and mother warm
they are raised
and sprinkled tasty
on chunky white bread
without care for old age.
A dead man when a tree cries ☊
1 The Dead Man when a tree cries
The dead man never wakes to the wail of a ghost frighten
by the spite of a tree.
For pines have no time for ghosts but a dead man can sit in any branch
with or without candles.
As flames are ghosts of trees the candles are never lit.
The moon if big and bright makes trees cry and ghosts like that.
Each tree gathers darkness from the earth and twists it with dead man laughter,
spiced with kisses taken without love.
Ghosts know this cold blackness and scream for what they lost
but the dead man sleeps.
2 More on The Dead Man when a tree cries
Dead man dreams are never of trees shaking away the moon.
Ghosts leave no footprints by the seashore where the dead man waits for a boat of sun
making water molten brass.
The trees shaved and shorn are there as the boat pushing the water into fire.
Pines cry on the shore but the dead man knows only what is seen
and walks on the lines of fire.
When a dead man wakes, the circle of trees is always nearer
but the ghosts stop laughing.
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