National Poetry Day : Drury Lane

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My walk to work yesterday (captured for National Poetry Day)

From high above the city
(woke before dawn in darkness
Listening to the fading quiet –
A thin sliver of the night
heralded by wandering revellers
wending their way home
in dwindling numbers.

Rounded by the returning rumble
early traffic
bins and the yawning of the crane
Sweeping smooth like a Hopkins skate
across a gaping hole-

Hidden from pedestrian eyes,
We see it though,
who live as the crow flies.)

Descent and into the flow,
downstream,
down towards the stream
down Drury Lane past
the temple of the Great Architect –
not left to where William and Mary
tended the rose,
issued coins to aid the progress of the Rake.

No – to the Arc of the Aldwych,
with its chunky red necklace of buses,
sleek and new, sci-fi smooth,
going nowhere faster than you.

Thoughts trickle in here
What would it be like to do this every day?
Stop for coffee and watch the fray, the freyed and fraid.
Black beetle cabs scuttle and shine,
unburden themselves of their oblivious load –

Kerb to foyer past doorman and shining brass plaques.
Eyes high, coat over arm, briefcase, phone.
Places to go, people to see,

Except him. The man on the pavement
to the left of the $door.
The one they ignore
In their haste and importance.

The one who has seen
who has been
so much more
than they, than they know
but suffers now so
Gets no buttons and bows
no help this hero.

Left from the strand and on to the
wide open bridge.
Wide and wild, the wind over water
hair whipping the breeze
watching the churn and the eddies below
brown river of stories.
If I jumped here I see the strong arms
that would pull me down
my lungs would silt,
fill with mud, cool my blood
and still my restless dreams.

Where would we settle, come to land?
Be picked clean by cockney seagulls
or carried off past the barriers to sea.
Whitstable oysters come feed on me.

And now I meet my waterloo and hold.
Back into the belly of the beast.
A day begun, my captor resumes his feast.

Walking home, Pecket to Old Town, Twilight

sunset from pecket well
She dropped the Blood orange moon
and stained the evening sky,
a gluttonous autumn feast, raspberrie and plums
smeared from her sticky thumbs.
Mouth wiped clean on dusty clouds
and grey beard contrails that divide
the heavens – new realms of
mackrel scale, tabby fur, owl feather, speckled hen.
Waiting for the fire to go out.
I lost my breath, and then
a bat swoops low above
rose tinted thistledown.
The farmhouse’ sightless eyes
reflect the gaudy show –
delights for turks or shepherds or
weary walkers on their way to home and sleep –
a cut across the tops – a quiet treat.
Calves butt and play in twilight fields.
Heptonstall silhouette against the lurid sky.
Turning my back, not left to the black chapel
where we said our scarlet vows,
but down in the dark past
cricket pitch-black and silent
in the shadow of the mill,
Windchimes twinkle and blend with echoes
-clogs on cobbles, chattering and clattering,
Someone has left a coin in the washing machine.
Before me the moon in full display again,
Washed clean, damned spots got out.
Glory against an ink blue sky –
liquorice mountains in the early night.

Moirai

Spider web dripping with dew

Nature’s jewellers have been out early,
stringing bright necklaces of morning tears
in the soft, quiet, mist.
New ploughed fields picked over by the glossy pheasant
and his hens, a bridal party of tiny twites in tow.

Cows watch proceedings and chew, ponderously
deliberating on deeper things
that never enter into the minds that race,
the scuttling creatures, who are too busy and blind
to see beauty in the rise and fall.

Chill in the air, smoke on the breeze.
Long shadows lay carpet for the frost
to skip across the hillside, dance beneath the trees.
So delicate a touch, yet deadly –
Not long and those diamond webs will freeze,
and shatter, scatter with the ashes of our broken hearts and dreams.

The weavers never weep. Simply pull the thread again,
start a new stitch and breathe deep.

Last chance.

The Calder cauldron boils again
Hardcastle hags conjouring the change
The slip from green to golden glow
The burnished throne.

As though the bubbling mists were steam
The heat rises
Summer grasping on with her last gasps
To the leaves
Before they crispen, and fall
Crumble to rust
Wash the river red and sleep
Under their snowy bed.

Stoodley peaks above the foam
Through mellow mists
O’er rose kissed meadows
Where contemplative cows
Chew cud and watch the swallows fly.

Beneath the peace
Shaded from the sun
The grey dawn daily race is begun.
Enduring faces waiting for release
Play out their roles
Earn their tickets to the feast.

Soon she will peel back
The steamy skin
For one last glimpse of her
Radiant and high,
Before the fall,
When she is distant, cold,
or barely seen at all.

Children play and cats roll,
Bathe in that leaving light
Twilight is coming,
Get ready to be tucked in
For the long cold night.

The Queen’s Meat

Today i want to tear myself open
so you can see the mess inside.
Today I feel like somebody has.
I am the swan
floating elegant and desolately by
– you cannot see beneath the oil slick surface,
the turmoil beneath that keeps me moving,
keeps me breathing.

The swan is hollowed out –
gutted by a hunter.
Taxidermised and filled with clockwork
to imitate life.
Its eyes are black and shiny all the same.
Remote control,
living life according to another’s rules.

But isn’t she elegant.
Isn’t she pretty.

(At this point I laugh.
Maybe I am not the swan after all)

But then, I could happily be
the ugly duckling.
As long as my insides were still there.
As long as everything was in order.
As long as i could happily be.
You could take your pristine white feathers then.
For all the difference they would make.

Pebble.

From a distance, she is so beautiful.
So serene, so calm.
Wrapped round with wisps of white
Glistening In the sun
The great blue green goddess
Our mother, our home.
Who brings us life, or
Takes it,
With her indifferent emotions.
Her catastrophic ways.

And yet we make a paradise a hell.
Come close and hear the weeping
And the screams.
The crash and blast and whistle of
Our wars. Large and small.
The solitary struggles and the global strife.
Hear the sobbing of the hungry,
The cold, the afraid.
Hear the laughter of the blind,
The clink of coin and gush of oil and blood.
Close the door, the blinds. Draw the curtains and
Do not, whatever you do, read the news.

But still the chaos reaches in.
Our hearts and broken
Our bodies strained.
For sixty years the grind
We pay the piper for our way
And when he is done with us
Time takes its toll.
What is life for?
For work? For money? For fear?

We have not cracked the code.
We do not understand.
Life is for love, for living,
Not for power, wealth, or land.

Watershed

The land knows so much.
We should listen.
Day after day, night after night,
the shifting skies
unburden themselves.
Wring out the clouds
and this great green sponge –
she takes it in.
And in, and in.
Only glimpses,
gaps in the rock
to burbling streams
beneath –
revealing how close
to saturation point she is.
She can only absorb so much.
Only swallow so much
before the sweet water
starts to choke, to drown.
Sudden overspill,
and torrent,
rushing wild and cold
the ages of black
wet rock –
Water – life and death.
Picks us up like pebbles
throws us about.
Strips us bare –
down to the bed rock.
Our sharpened edges on show,
all topsoil gone
and the water level rising
– still rising in the neath.