poem

Autumn equinox

 

Autumn equinox.

The pink-footed geese return:

 

Anser brachyrhynchus

Borne on the Arctic wind,

 

Drawn south for winter

By the pall of the sun.

 

Our Icelandic guests

Yakking to and fro

 

In loose formation,

From roosting site

 

To feeding fields.

Tacking eastwards tonight,

 

Under the tattered canopy

Of pink-hued cloud,

 

In thin, ragged lines

Implying a murmuration,

 

A stippled etching,

Or pixelated soundwave

 

Rippling and reforming

Across a dusk sky

 

Too pure to photograph,

Too beautiful to be real.

A window

 

Now I am not I,

Nor is my house now my house

‘Romance Sonambulo’, Garcia Lorca

 

He was sitting at a window

Watching the day resolve itself

From the night’s black screen

To the muted green of dawn,

 

The morning greeting him

With an unruly garden

Which had not yet yielded

To autumn’s chill air.

 

Night's rain had fallen heavily,

Silvering the unkempt lawn.

Tussocked grass, clawed at

By roiling coils of bramble,

 

Gnawed by clumps of moss,

While apologetic poppies

Shook their sorry bonnets

Amid the raw jags of nettle.

 

He was looking at an apple tree

Planted by some unknown other.

Branches chafing in the wind.

Rueful fronds. Last leaves left.

 

A few sad apples

Clinging on, inelegant baubles

Pecked by crows, springing skywards

As the birds took flight,

 

Carcasses littering the lawn

Like carrion. He was listening

To the house coming back to life,

Soft noises in its deep recesses,

 

Bringing new colour

To the cold light of day,

As he praised his good fortune,

Found gratitude in small mercies.

 

He was sitting at a window

In the house he owned,

No more his than the sun

Prising apart the clouds,

 

Casting the table in white light

In this house he had restored,

Saved from ruin, and made

The view he now beheld

 

Momentarily endure.

Portrait of my grandparents

 

Impeccably dressed in Sunday best,

They’re quite the pair: him tall and goofy,

A string-bean Swede, her short and svelte,

With farm-girl glamour. Back from chapel

Or off somewhere flash, each wear

The dreamy gaze of the young

 

And in love. Sun-soaked drives

Down Cheshire’s blossoming lanes:  

Car blazed to a sun-streaked blur -

Past milking fields, trees shedding

A confetti cascade. A spring

Uncoiling into endless summer.

 

Or perhaps no further than this garden.

The evergreen place this portrait depicts,

As something vague slowly resolved

Into something indelibly real:

Like an old forgotten photograph,

The lives they'd pictured differently.

 

All that a camera cannot disclose:

Sun essaying its lustre from the clouds

While they held their smiling pose,

Footprints left in the deep grass

As they walked toward the house

In cahoots, holding the other close.

At Laugharne

 

At Laugharne summer returned.

Fine weather for a pilgrimage:

This being Dylan Thomas Town,

The place where he lived, worked,

And should have died, not on that trip

To New York, where 'eighteen straight'

And misdiagnosis did for him.

His death a product of his fame,

His fame a product of his death.

 

His family brought him home.

He’s buried here, with Caitlin, under some

Sore-thumb, cruciform tombstone

At St Martin’s cemetery: a brilliant white cross

Among the bible-black rows of dearly-departed.

 

We retraced Thomas’ October steps,

Until heavy weather closed in on us;

Ate a Welsh tea of scones and jam

And cheese. Fed our son, carried him

In a loose sling, as he murmured

And snored, wreathed in gentle night;

 

Saw The Boathouse where Thomas wrote

Looking across the Taf, a broad expanse

Of table-flat water, fringed by hills,

Where palavers of birds gave breath

To his perception, his poetry;

 

The writing shed with cluttered desk,

Shelves bearing a jumble of books,

Portraits and notes, seldom lit stove,

Grey jacked draped over a chair:

A trace of his capacious form.

 

VIEW BUGGER ALL PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES

The Horses

 

Genealogy lesson:

Ticking projector

Flickering light

On a plastic screen

 

Pulsing a prosthetic

Heartbeat inherited

From the faces

Extant in the frame

 

Suburban arcadia:

Limned by long-lost

Aunts and uncles

Cradling cup and saucer

 

Beside the roses

My gran laughs

Under auburn hair

And horn-rims

 

With a rubber band

My grandad flings

A glider skyward

In doomed flight

 

Grandparents

Watch my mother

And infant uncle

Running in circles

 

Throwing bread

To horses – a mare

And foal – at grass

In a nearby paddock

 

My mother

Turns, breeze

Lifting a hair

From her face

 

She asks me

For something:

Her small voice

Lost to the air

The Stone Age

 

Our eldest child brings home

Sticks and stones from the park.

 

 Bits of grit, lumps of gravel,

Marble-sized pebbles, tiny rocks;

 

Indiscriminately selected twigs;

Branches, feathers, lichen, bark.

 

What will grow from this stony rubbish?

He cannot know or say, though each

 

Holds some use, as a curate’s egg,

Growing the small, neglected stack

 

In the corner of our porch

Where leaves and cobwebs collect.

 

A broken nest. A stone age ruin.

A disinterred cairn. Relics

 

 Of his untroubled realm:

Days without rules or doubt,

 

Cruelty or loss, where things,

Like names, do no harm.

Full Term

Hangover from yesteryear’s lesser days:

Rain, like wrapping paper, falls in sheets.

 

This house, shrouded in New Year's grey,

Was a cradle of ebullient Yuletide light;

 

Now the tree is back in its box, the wreath

Resting in peace in the wheelie bin.

 

Our firstborn has almost stopped teething.

We’ve barely dented the Roses tin,

 

A snowball of Christmas cake remains.

The nights are drawing out again. On the table, 

 

Our 2yo scrawls with pens

While we await his late rival.

 

All our clocks are out of synch.

The boiler clicks off and on at once,

 

As if releasing an uncertain breath,

Or remembering something of significance.

The Idiot Flies

Their movement is a kind of pain
circulating about the room.
The idiot flies are back again,

triangulating their doomed campaign
to quit the space they assume.
Their movement is a kind of pain,

one both morbid and mundane,
weaving at an invisible loom. 
The idiot flies are back again.

Trapped by sunlight, held by rain –
above all nature abhors a vacuum –
their movement is a kind of pain

of ceaseless endeavour, one in vain
repeated, reprised and resumed.
The idiot flies are back again,

etching the signals of the brain,
until one smites them with a broom.
Their movement is a kind of pain.
The idiot flies are back again.

Dores Inn Revisited

 

The first time we came here,

Sans enfants, we were the children

Modishly trying to be grown up.

 

A thank you meal for your parents:

Teacherly in mood, quietly composed,

Gentle-voiced, modest-meaned.

 

I barely knew them. Nothing was certain,

Our offspring no more than an inkling,

A light blinking on broken water.

 

Now a taste of freedom, time regained.

Just a couple of anonymous covers

Dining alongside resident and tourist:

 

A long line of Germans chewing steak,

Mute Scots wi’ nary an aye nor a nay,

Flustered waiter fussing over the wine.

 

After we ate, a six-piece folk-band

Struck up their husky tune. We snuck out,

Drink in hand, to watch the bats flicker

 

Over the loch into the watery night.

You said you wanted me to taste

Of cigarettes. To my regret we had none

 

To savour, that other flavour predating us.

So instead to home, where we swiftly fell

Into the arms of sleep: toddlers each.