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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Dust to Dust


Into the arms of her neighbours
The great mother oak fell in Newcastle Wood,
Six weeks they waked the stricken one,
She clung to her roots as long as she could.
The red squirrel squinted and sipped from the brook,
Higher destinies; his to overlook.
 
Her red ripened body of fungus and sweat
Dismissed civilization not even skin deep,
Her dowry a mixture of hope and regret
Dark dirt and bark stile; only willows may weep,
The haggard bony bosom her stolid remains
Her cousins filling gaps in country lanes.
 
Circumstance took me aside to view the fatal fall
And marvel at the mystery of her revolving face,
The scent was as old turf across Roscommon wall,
Nature has no mercy; neither honour nor disgrace.
Surrounding sounds were curious, muted as the strain
Of a curates galloping whisper of his Office in the rain.
 
Her secrets are all vanished now, never to return,
The wills and wonts of what will be called by a dying moon
Never meant for sawmill but in suns bright grate to burn,
And become again that acorn, dancing to seasons’ tune.
Life often changes her dress but her body is still the same
Better to topple in splendour than shrivel up in shame.
 
 
 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Passing Through



I slithered into this blind world in March,
They gave me a name on Paddy’s Day,
My mother always liked me dearly,
My old man; I couldn’t say.
 
Like a Dalmatian, all spots and bounce
Or a vulture with an old man’s neck
They displayed me to the visitors,
At the christening he gave the priest a cheque.
 
The priest was replaced by another collar
After I started National School,
He needed the sins of altar boys
To cause the grind and grin and drool.
 
I finished school as I started,
Promise was my middle name,
We were lower middle, no class at all,
Get work! Find a job! That was the game.
 
The Civil Service was my lot,
All you had to do was lick-arse and mime,
‘A permanent, pensionable, respectable job’
Mother said; what a waste of time.
 
Got the car, bought a house, a clatter of bairns,
Drank porter, told lies, survived at a push,
Mixed up the cousins; fact and fiction,
Slowed down in a fearful rush.
 
A Grandad now, maybe not so grand,
Pillar of society; never the ambition,
Or role-model to another generation,
Go my own way, my path to perdition.
 
To play out my role in peace or in pieces,
Is there ever an option, a choice?
I was never inclined to join in the chorus
Tone-deaf, but still my own voice.
 
Now is simply a bagful of memories,
Distorted by pale moon and gullible sun,
This world is long on shortcomings,
I have been and remain merely one.



 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Hardy Man


 
I chanced upon him on the high bank of Frome
Not far from home, he seemed more than a little sad.
I said “what ails thee Tom, what makes thee frown?”
“I’m pining for what all men miss, what I never had”,
He continued, “too often we try to hold on
To what is already lost, follow path of illusion,
The cost of new sensations from old experience
When friendly overture is cast as intrusion.
 
We stumbled together in fairer weather
In a rectory in March on Cornwall’s north coast,
The last and greatest grief, that of anticipation,
Ere I won the heart of Emma, all else was lost.
Fancy and reason are uneasy bedfellows
Logic can be chopped as freely as logs,
When the sun settles down we believe it will rise
In Budmouth and Hintock or Egdon Heath bogs.
 
A shorter than bid-for time-frame of joy
Despair and regret in constant disguise
Rambles and rumblings, pleasure and hope
She loved with deaf ears, I loved with blind eyes.
Rose coloured cows seldom deliver the richest
Of cream that floats, the lightest of freight,
She whispered in Paris she floated with spirits,
I built her asylum, Max Gate.
 
I invented my own world to live in and dwell
Through Tess and Jude Fawley and Henchard I spoke,
Springrove, Eustacia and ‘Reddleman’ Venn,
Winterborne, Sue Bridehead and Gabriel Oak.
I brought back the Kingdom of Cedric of Wessex
And gave it new villages, cities and towns,
Christminster, Casterbridge, still Sleeping Green,
Oxwell, Port Bredy and Longpuddle Downs. 

Soon I will follow my Emma to Stinsford’s
St. Michaels where she waits at peace now at last,
We were wrong for each other from outset,
Decisions ban choices, in present and past.
Now you know young man why I’m so despondent
Why I might seem so aloof and apart,
I ask myself ‘what if we never tarried’.
I might not have carried a stone for my heart”.


Dedicated to Thomas Hardy,
a time-torn man.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Random Remedies.



 

The complex nature of simplicity underlines
The failure of illusion or real,
The words spoken before the story
Are as spokes in any spinning wheel.
Threads which draw spirits together
Can be tough or tensile as spider silk
Love, unrequited, spurns every offer,
Sour cream disowns cousin; sour milk.
 
Soul repining after lost illusion
A futile farce still sought widely after
Worldly debts, yet ghosts of intention,
Outstanding despite hollow laughter.
The sulky sun still rests on his chin
On horizons, waiting sister moon,
At that stagnant hour, betwixt and between
When harmony wobbles out of tune.
 
The weather-stained clock on the old town hall
Shows little interest in time,
Or the antics of sin in his secondary view,
No arrest, no conviction, no crime.
And the man who owned all the purses
Walked by, never tripping on stalk or stone,
Pupil of Shylock, controller of strings,
What’s theirs is mine, mine alone.

No view of landscape by lantern,
No measure of soul by the eyes,
Welcome not gauged by the smiling,
Sorrow; no friend of goodbyes.
During the telling of secrets
Canthus stretching from bridge to cheek-bone
Taking thought for a leisurely ramble,
Thought prefers to travel alone.

Slow water builds crystals on branches and steel,
Death sometimes forecasts his fatal intent,
Still truth and lies will quarrel forever
And lawyers will ever invent.
Rainbows are heralds of fortune today,
Forthcoming; but melt at the tenderest touch,
And fate never measures her winnings,
Happiness withered by such and by such.
 
 
 

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Angling on the Inny

( from Wordsworth's 'poems on the naming of places')

William Wordsworth

Close to the spot where with my rod and line
angling beside the margin of the lake,
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance
a bed of water in the woods did wake.

The spot was made by nature for herself,
this glade of water and this one green field,
And if a man should plant his cottage near
a cloistered place, of refuge, shade and shield.

In that perennial shade of unencumbered floor
a single beech tree grew and on the fork
a thrush's nest conspicuously built,
Sentry on a tranquil spot, a solitary stork.

From the remotest outskirts of the grove
a few sheep, stragglers from some mountain flock
sought protection from the nipping blast
in playgrounds of their youth, on footloose rock.

Full many an hour here did I lose,
Well worn the track, unwearied and alone,
Muttering the verses which I muttered first
on blooming heath, my couch and mine alone.