Author Archives: hjs

Triumphs of Design

A few millennia hence
(fresh from inventing
the shovel and the spade)
those who came after us
will be chancing upon
an ancient sign bearing
an opaque message from
a more illuminated time:

a smiling Death’s-head
on fluorescent yellow,
radiating magic rays.

Desperate, curious,
ever hopeful
they will start digging.


Monteraponi

Where will the tide of ancient oaks spend itself?
Swell upon swell it runs towards the horizon,
the rasp of a thousand cicadas a second tide
in the almost night air. Three stars are out.

In the middle distance, the lights of a village
hover between waking and sleep;
beyond, in that glow between earth and sky
faint inklings of Siena or Florence.


Infinity Pool

the rimless pool
last vessel of spirituality
mildly chlorinated transcendence

as if you could simply
swim out there


To an old dog

Tide of birdsong washing over the pillow,
morning light zebrastriping the wall.

I surface to bubbles of drowsy excitement
drifting from under the bed.

The old dog is dreamhunting again.
Fug of ancient canine wafts up

like a comfortable, friendly embrace.
The world is at peace.


Thaw

A company of rooks have commandeered
my tree tops, cawing their raucous orders
to the foul-mouthed platoon of carrion crows
billeted lower down.

Their croaking sorties darken my window –
but shush: from his high lookout a blackbird
raises his voice, rehearsing spring rebellion.
I clear my throat.

rooks

 


Operating instructions

Assemble all the implements.
Then lock the door and set to work
when night falls.

It takes the darkness
for the thing inside to stir, and hours
of tender teasing out before it shows its shape.

Then deftly, cautiously, you set it in a vice:
compress, condense, and purify;
decide what must be smooth and what left rough.

At last you chase its silver surface; polish round
and round until it gleams with hope
and sparkles with despair.

Now get up from the table
with its paperful of fragile words.
Unlock the door. Admit the day.


Chickentime

I sit quite still
on the weathered wooden bench

as the caramel coloured chicks
stalk closer.

The sharp tugging of beaks
at tender shoots of grass,

the homely hencoop smell –
and I’m adrift

in summer, giddy, cut loose
from my moorings,

lost but wrapped safe
in solicitous clucking –

The chicks nestle near
in the last rays of the low sun;

the hen, wary, patrols –
and I hold Grandpa’s hand

as we go and lift warm eggs
from beds of straw.