The Cold War
The flippant practitioner said to me
‘Bipolar disorder is terribly trendy.’
‘That’s wonderful news old chum,
I’m having a whale of a time!’
Depression is the must have disease
More mood stabilisers doctor, please.
Destroyer of marriages and families
Tainting every single day’s activities.
Inappropriate behaviour and language
Suicidal thoughts; the clock was my gauge.
Seconds seem like hours, days like years
Unable to shift up the mental gears.
Walking ten miles in an evening storm
Writing a book in weeks is the norm.
Burning out while you feel so high
You know this can’t last, the fall is nigh.
Lacking the energy to pull myself together
Moods change daily with the weather.
Head over heels in love at first sight
Before the Wall is erected pre-flight.
Growing more distant day by day
Hiding aching body and soul away.
To prevent the Cold War’s rejection
Safety is in the loneliest isolation.
But manic depression does have virtue
Without it, I wouldn’t have written to you.
Fields of the Moon
Hurrying along the field edge path
Well-trodden by laughing lovers,
Feet hardly touching the driest dirt.
Hand in hand they run to the bridge,
Of a Roman road now fallen wild
For over one thousand years.
Silhouettes against the climaxing corn
Rush from the wrath of a coming storm.
Waves lick the stagnant pond’s summer sorrow
Tucked away, a secret in the corner of Foxburrow,
Where the furious dust storm upwards grows
As the gathering gale furiously fumes and blows.
Returning alone, is a meandering male figure
Guided by the dulled light of the silver ear.
Waving goodnight in the gentlest of breezes
Water drips from tussocks of the rankest grasses.
From the enclosed lane comes the evocative call
Familiar to country types, the ‘hooo’ of a tawny owl.
Enhanced night vision allows greater depth of insight
For the boy cannot avoid a spider’s carefully constructed web,
Or squashing snails brought to earth by the recent rain
He’s distracted by the Pleiades and the hunter, Orion.
Observers to the mortals’ saddest step fall by the river
Hundreds of light years away from the tiny ants’ affair.
The boy stood face pressed against glass decorated by signs
Admiring the bric-a-brac and garbled menagerie of things.
Rows of cheap tacky plates gleam in dulled light
‘I love Yarmouth, it’s Great,’ is their hollow epithet.
Beneath them painted ships lay bow to stern on a sloping shelf
Beside a stack of feathered hats and miniature cricket bats.
Toy rifles betray a youthful zeal and false aggression
Soldiers in shorts march from the door in joyous procession.
Affairs overseen by duty-bound adults due to circumstance
Sepia photos with curling edges the only remembrance.
A year later he spies a lonely scene, closed 45 Regent Road
A Kodak film lies on the fetid carpet, no camera to load.
Cobwebs stretch over obscure corners and a grey, raised ceiling
Behind the cash-strapped till, pastel paint is partially peeling.
A cold easterly wind whips the boy’s knocking knees
Reddening leaves fall in uneven arcs from autumn trees.
The emptiest shop is brim full of seemingly endless sorrow
For Death called and snatched away tomorrow.
The unmerciful sea against a twinkling pier rages
Witness to the distant loss which never ages.
One day removed from an unwise date
Naïve lovers took youth’s bittersweet bait.
Celandines wreathed the lime’s way
Horse and carriage gave beauty away.
Sun percolates through stained glass
On Christ’s humble requiem mass.
The parochial clock struck 11 a.m.
As a gentle breeze swept you in.
Hand in hand at the false altar
Before metamorphosis, lives alter.
Now look at the sorrowful scene
A blanket of white covers green.
Buds yet to burst once more
Outside the locked church door.
The dead still asleep in their tombs
Love and loathing lost in earth’s womb.
A bird sings a lonely hymn from a rose
Who will come today, nobody knows?
Cricket by the Castle
A snatched peak at the castle
between waving willow and alder,
shows the imposing backdrop
for duelling batsman and bowler.
Bowling the gentlest off spin
on a sun-soaked summer strip,
rewinds the reel eighty years
to those halcyon pre-war days.
When students and Sir
made hay on pitch and field,
today privileged college lads
hare around a lush outfield.
In the searing afternoon sun
so many shades of green,
the twenty-two yard canvas
for a fading pastoral scene.
After tea, a stroll beside the mere
where mint and yellow iris glisten,
and lazy cattle soon disappear
in the shimmering sedge fen.
Ascending clover-clad slopes,
a restricted view of the game
gained beneath tall turrets,
trees masking a bowler’s hopes.
Loafing lovers carelessly laugh
at the foot of the angular towers,
overlooking faraway Gothic spires
and the first eleven’s funnelling fires.
Distant cheers signal a crucial wicket,
a miniature matchstick batsman
trudges slowly back to the pavilion
bearing the ashes of village cricket.
Resting on your rotting spine
A timber skeleton in the mud,
Seaweed wraps your fragile bones
Like a dripping funeral shroud.
Hostage to the eternal tide
No sanctuary in this backwater,
Under the brightest harvest moon
A decaying wreck cannot hide.
Hope flows into your gut twice a day
Lifeblood soon cruelly ebbs away.
Teeming with elvers for a moment
Strangers to your silent torment.
For this ship will never again sail
Or hear purposeful feet on deck,
A ghost of the depressed slipway
Enduring decades of lonely neglect.
Lying in the marsh’s graveyard
Over which barn owls hunt at dusk,
Slowly your remains are swallowed
By succulent samphire and purslane
Until just a few sad splinters remain.
Pin Mill Pirates
Peace at last near Pin Mill
The clock ceased ticking,
We observe our future
From the summit of the hill.
For you take the sadness
Out of this idyllic place,
Hope radiates so clear
From your beaming face.
The only froth and spit
From froghoppers comes
Lacing unkempt horehound
And exotic laburnums.
Leaping over rustic stiles
Nothing impedes our progress,
Putting up eyed peacocks
On rough paths for miles.
The biggest burdock leaves
Grow by browning foxtails,
And exquisite equisetums
To country folk, horsetails.
A boy, probably a deck hand
Hoisted to the mast’s pinnacle,
'Here I can see all of England'
He exclaims with spirit invincible.
Sitting on the slippery dock
Long known to smugglers,
Knees first stung by nettles
Are carefully rubbed with dock.
Cooling down shingle cut feet
In the quick strolling stream,
Swinging on the oak’s tyre
By a cottage garden dream.
Blue, red and white boats
Leaning on a tired fence,
Hit by the errant football
A great shot, no defence.
Winding a tired way up the lane
To where I parked the car,
In the shade of the canopy
Didn’t realise it was this far!
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