Category Archives: Moments

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

 


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.


Recipe for happiness

go away
far away
alone

don’t phone

embrace
the longing


Walking on Thin Air

You will never be standing
on that impossibly thin line
four hundred metres
above the ground
between the two towers –

oh but you will:

all of us will, or were,
or are (even now),
only we did not realise then,
or have forgotten,
or choose to close our eyes

to the immensity of the drop.

 

(On 8/7/1974, Philippe Petit walked  the tightrope betweeen the twin towers of the World Trade Center.)


Party

You wake up in a leafy street at dusk – it might
be Cambridge, Massachusetts: wide sidewalks,

separated from the street by strips of lawn;
white porches, pastel clapboard mansions

with wooden pillars propping up solid suburbia.
A yellow house pours honey-coloured light

from every window. On a gentle tide of voices,
music, laughter, clinking glasses you wash up

against the Doric columns of the open entrance
and are swept inside. Past the grand staircase

with its sweeping banisters you drift through
rooms with crimson sofas, Tiffany lamps, tight

crowds of people lost in conversation, out
on a balcony where girls in flapper dresses

smoke black Sobranies, and in the library
men drinking rye talk baseball scores.

Notes floating from a grand piano draw you
to a ballroom where a boy in white tuxedo

and a girl in red glide dreamily across the floor,
oblivious to your silent passing. Lured by

a hallway’s chequer board of black and white
you sink into the dark recesses of the house.

The happy din of voices dies away; the grand
piano tinkles to a stop; the muffled sound

of car doors slamming, then the hectic play
of headlights on the walls; and you remain,

a shadow drifting noiselessly from room
to room, turning the lights out one by one.


Salisbury Cathedral

459288

Some people say an ancient race landed
a spaceship here a thousand years ago.

They sent out scouts; explored the land;
settled, and tilled the soil. Then famine came,

and war. All memory ends here.
The travellers are gone; their ship, forgotten.

Until tonight. Tonight I walk the length
of the great hull. Anchored by buttresses,

pinned down by rusty scaffolding, it lies
a prisoner under an alien sky, the spire

straining to make contact with the stars.
A late car passes in the rain. Lights flicker

on the walls. I hear the swish of tyres
on wet tarmac; the hum of mighty engines

waking up. The ship is stirring. Timber
creaks; a finial falls, a flying buttress

scatters Purbeck stone, the sheer sides
soar up, vanish into space –

I shut my eyes – and it is nothing –
just a tale – as insubstantial as the wind

that shakes the chestnut trees and chases
leaves across the black, deserted Close.