America That was the title of the book we'd read together, flipping the leaves until we came to your favourite page, a painting full of red and lights, a New England ballroom where dancers swirling skirts came from a century ago. You'd always stop me there and gaze deeply into that strange, impressionistic room. I'd be reading the paper when you'd clamber onto my knee lugging the great book with you. It was almost half your size and a whole continent large enough to stand on to see the vast country stretching away, taut in it's arc and unknown. We'd open it and become lost. Why you chose that page among all the paraphernalia is hard to know. There were pictures of cowboys and battlesmoke, lurid panoramas where Confederate killed Yankee, brother against brother in blood lust. Washington and Lincoln, The Great Lakes, Chicago and California, The Dust Bowl and Niagara. Last night when you spoke to me from where you've learnt to live in the Rockies, to survive the snow and tramp for days in that bright, wild light, I thought of you still carrying the book inside you, opening the country picture by picture as you did in your pre-word, image filled days, when the lights of a ballroom drew you back, time and time again, to that page; as I am drawn back, time and time again to that memory of you on my knee, leafing through America.
The Shield Wall When the enemy attacks we do our best to thwart it's worst intentions, to protect the ones we love from those heinous crimes. Collectively, we can recall the times when mutual love was founded on respect, solidarity being the crucial test. We're now, somehow, in defensive mode, the gains we made are cruelly taken back to feed a monster gleeful in it's pride, hubristic, a skipping, gloating stride as it mounts a frontal, brute attack upon the sense of our social code. We know, these days, this disease will fail to undermine our will to carry on, though now the bugle blows for our retreat. The occupation of each local street is temporary, this blight, it will be gone, we will re-energise, we will derail the fatuous assertions that it makes. We'll be like the warriors of old who linked their shields together in defiance, sought in each other, comradely reliance, disciplined, brave and self controlled, ready when our spirit reawakes.
Mrs Jones and Mrs Drake Mrs Jones and Mrs Drake Would sit beside the wayside lake, Not noticing the passing trucks, Throwing breadcrumbs to the ducks, And pieces of madeira cake. Mrs Drake and Mrs Jones Were nothing but two bags of bones, Yet everyday they came to sit, To feed the ducks, to watch and knit And quietly talk about their homes. One day only Mrs Drake Came to sit beside the lake, To watch with fragile, empty hands, Listening to the ducks demands For breadcrumbs and madeira cake.
Monsters There are monsters awake in the fields changing the way we do farming, increasing, it's said, underyields, which many folk find most alarming. Changing the way we do farming by tinkering with the genetics, which many folk find most alarming, is driving some into frenetics. By tinkering with the genetics of food we regarded as stable, is driving some into frenetics producing hysterical fables. Food we regarded as stable, it's in danger of being transmuted, producing hysterical fables. The science must be refuted! It's in danger of being transmuted, increasing, it's said, underyields. The science must be refuted! There are monsters awake in the fields.
For Ruth, 1925-2016 You lived and loved and held your love intact, undemonstrative, pure, focused on the fact of your determination to succeed in bringing light, in satisfying need. As much your need as you thought it ours; tending seeds, cultivating flowers that blossomed here, ripened overseas, unceasingly returning to the tree you planted once, a solitary copper beech, standing still but now beyond your reach and signifying all those roaming years you were constantly torn between the hemispheres. You're gone from us now and love is what remains with us here. There's no breaking of those chains that bind us heart to heart in unison. Your life was wholly yours but now, our song.
Love The zero in a tennis match, the singer who married Kurt Cobain, a virus that we often catch and people fall in, time again. Of which, poets are devout, the thing that many songs describe, a feeling that can bring such pain; is often dangled as a bribe. Has driven many quite insane yet rescued others, there's no doubt. From the carnal version, monks refrain, the spiritual, they chant about. But that which cannot be reviled, is the mother tending to her child.
In Weather This gravel country lane leads to a sea We walk to on those countless, rainfilled days, With you a stride ahead and leading me Through fields, across the morning's lifting haze. And when you've named the flowers, all the ways They pollinate by insect, bird and bee, You lift your head, speak with a look that says This gravel country lane leads to a sea. Your free flung hair is blowing constantly As on you pace with a vigour that portrays The strength you gather from the liberty We walk to on those countless rainfilled days. When pitching storms fragment the shore with sprays Enfolding cliff and field and fallen tree, We force along the lane where cattle graze With you a stride ahead and leading me. At other times the sun is rising, free To split it's light, refract it's warming rays, Flighting sparrows, a tumbling parody Through fields, across the morning's lifting haze. In time, when memory fades and energy Deserts our weary limbs, will we appraise How weather drew us out, would remedy With rain these fields, occasional byways, This gravel country lane?
12.01115 "...carbon is the key element of living substance: but it's promotion, it's entry into the living world is not easy and must follow an obligatory, intricate path..." (Primo Levy) A thousand million years are not enough to tell how vertical grass becomes a crab and then a bee or honey that it makes before it's grass again. And in between, regular excursions starward, looking home with eyes it one day will become or, water bound, riding plankton waves. Which atom in this hand once lay bound in limestone, hacked by a pick, shovelled to a kiln till the molecules broke down and issued gas blew windward to settle on a leaf and liquefy? Pinned there by a photoflash of sun, became green food, fortified an oak, bark where woodworm drilled, where the moth morphosed and flew on in it's wing until the predator's snap; then again a gas and then an artichoke my mother ate. In carbon, incarnation curls, reminds us this thin crust brims with it's atomic weight, facing, once again unfurled, the black cess, nothingness.
A Dead Dove at Swanwick Station It seemed frozen in flight as if negotiating a soft landing or a tight right hand turn and tried to fling it's wings out wide to interrupt a sudden stall, it's landing gear unworkable, or an abrupt and unseen source of fleeting fear. It was perfect and unmarked, crouching, head between it's knees. A few white feathers charted the spot it lay beneath the trees. It's hooded eyes and ungainly posture pointed to something wrong; it's life forced out, profanely emptied of any sound or song.
Pandemical Polemical Boris Johnson is PM, not representing Us, just Them, the Few that would deny a penny to the poor deserving Many. Let's hope we can undo this schism unmasked by an algorithm, undermined by a disease that mutates like a passing breeze. Yet the monstrous mutant, hale and hearty, to be rid of, is the Tory Party along with all it's City mates, financial backers, initiates in the ways of exploitation, greed and mutual masturbation, wankering each other off with their snouts deep in the trough. There's a plumby job for a girl or boy who's dedicated to destroy any whiff of Socialism. "Let's build another algorithm to wipe out any tiny chance that people become free to dance the dance of vibrant Liberty around the trunk of Freedom's tree." Yes, Boris Johnson as PM has writ these words and posted them, a subtext of his vile wit; surely we're fed up with it. Surely we can build a fight to rid us of this cancerous blight. Let's populate each local street, encouragingly entreat a revolution of we proles to lift our hearts, light up our souls; to urge us proletariat to start a fiery samizdat, a clandestine publication promoting urgent liberation from these feckless, bloated twisters. So what we need are stout resisters organising every place where there is a human face, a mouth to feed, a child to tend, the lonely one who wants a friend, the needy sick, the unemployed, the desperate and the near destroyed. Let's rise together and follow the call, see these exploiters head for a fall from the grace they, in error, think that they merit. Let's do it! There's only a World to Inherit!