Turn Left

I take the dipped fork
of near-identical width
but this left path is falling
and narrowed in breadth

It follows the slope
of the redundant stream
where the hills ran off –
once-washed – bare reached

But now drainage and driveways
have altered old flows
above ancient rights
there is no such urge

I pass standing iron –
a fence absorbed in a tree –
it needs no hard posts
in that adopted place

There’s a weighted trade
in these heavy woods –
between man’s intervention
and her constant response

A Diversion on the Road to the Dead Sea

We drove due east
past the concrete wall –
by the older stones
which marked the fall

of carved-up gods
honed by man’s cold sword –
through the broken centre
of this confusing world –

here restricted Jews
and Muslims had bled
under scythed prayers
of crusading men –

Rose water was scrubbed
to reclaim the rock –
to wash from the slabs
the foul tread of a god –

When the mosque was burnt
in a war on the dome
a madness was found –
Jerusalem Syndrome

Hopes raise and implode
back to rubble and dust –
Forty centuries of walls
have never been lost


E170119

Under Buxted House

The gouged stream ran more loudly
than on our last slogged hike –
that rush was the first signpost
on this Sunday-worn path –

I had chosen the wrong boots
for the rain-slip and clay-stick
of the surface which had changed
after the previous day’s storm

Here the invasion of knotweed
was secure in these conditions
unlike my own slid footings
over roots and low branches

The moss sides of tree trunks
were theatrically intricate –
as if that last heavy downpour
had instructed them to thicken

I was thankful for my dog –
and my walking stick – both found
ways amongst the cake mix mud
to routes left unaffected overnight

I do not have names for all that I saw
Nature does not care for me
and refuses to give up her confusion
for us walkers of man-made breeds

The Bared Craters

Here under the canopy are exploded craters
where fickle nature has fought a short war
pitting her one-sided strengths to uproot
in an onslaught against these ancient woods

She reins victoriously with the long surrender
and now directs those flaking birch to fill the gaps
and for brambles and fern to hide the fallen
with their late summer re-sized leaves

When we walk here in the scowling winter
there will be no hiding her raged brutality
as the tipped roots are again exposed
and her brutal battlefield is uncovered

Meanings

For each life to have significance
it needs to be led by awareness

Do not stand off from others
like those diffident observers

You must embrace loved moments
as you move through slowed days

of small actions and interactions
so your short time is truly valued

There is an art to such attention
which is not taught at any school

Let your magnifying glass pause –
learn from the immodest instances

Tie the loose laces of another’s shoe
into the tight knot that they prefer

Become versed in their fingered turns –
how their interactions are directed

You should not steal their thoughts
as you stumble in their taken steps

Only consider how they measure
from their own eyes looking back

And live without your own thoughts
colliding in this time with inner fictions

Then you can walk at your own pace
with – or without – others

Digging

It was never about being held
until it stopped
and then my redrafted scenes
were all that remained

The unbalanced intimacies
of being in love
were ours to upset –
to greedily grab and pull at

until their weight combined
and collapsed
without a bed or shelter –
under the spire we stood naked

and blushed at foolishness –
or so it appeared –
because the mass of it all
was too much for us to bear

I pass through the graveyard
where our bench was set
and still cannot read
those upright names.

Out of the Woods

The soil is dry and compacted
under the last threadbare fall

The laggard stream clogs
between the dropped branches

The cow parsley – and others –
stand as unpicked summer fossils

The weighty berries tease
among sharpened brambles

August should now stutter
into the slow rot of Autumn

But that immigrant heatwave
has not shifted from us

The seasons are so confused
by our greedy interference.

Autumn Term

They make the slow haul uphill
with their shop-branded bags
of untried school uniforms

The boy bears his boxed Clarks shoes
as the girl lugs her sweatshop shirts –
freshly picked off Primark shelves –

Still with plenty of growing in ’em
was her mother’s observation
as she calculated the cost of it all

These slack summer holidays
will end not soon enough
for the parents – but not the kids

The hour-numbed regiments
will reform and take the school gates
in their battle colours of navy blue.

The Dog Walk

I mistook a dropped box of Durex
and the discarded instructions
as a rarely spotted fag packet

My two dogs poked their snouts
around this additional litter
and moved on without direction

This – our diverted morning walk
of squats and leg lifts en route
with me tugging on their long leads

I was a stalled stunt kite flyer –
crossing and uncrossing the strings
as they knotted ahead of me

The weekend gardeners buzzed
and clipped around my obligation
of giving these two their flight

Your Photos

A phone captured moment
of your recent childhood –
which I am guilty
of having forgotten –

until you put it up
on our shared channel –
our stored histories
were then brightly reignited

But for too short a time –
for the flare of a match –
again another lost curl
of extinguished recall

Laid

It was as if there was no step
or soft seat that did not force
the deep stab and grip of pain
through his frame and thoughts

He had stood well for a time
but then the ill rip-and-burns
filled his limbs with that sear
which fuelled flames in turn

Bad as it was – it was not Death –
He led The Crowd to the pit –
felt his calves lock on the path –
and then sear as if then split

He rocked on his heels to ease it all
whilst he read to them The Truth –
as laid out in the lines for the dead –
but God’s words were still no proof

As the Boxed Man was loose of his ties
and was set down in the earth
his own spine screamed for a seat –
or to lie flat on the peeled back turf

By the time the priest got to his car
all of the Dark Cast were gone –
In the cold groan of the air con
he let out a tear to mourn

That was his last one for The Church –
it had turned its arched back –
to leave him to face an ill grace
and to tear up the old contract

Murmur

On the rushed film set
we were re-hushed
for the recording
of a wide shot on B

and we – the extras –
dressed as coppers –
waited in the
bale-tipped barn –

Turning was bellowed
by the unsmiling AD
forcing a quietened
conference of uniforms –

there holding a debate
on colour and race
in hardly whispers
which were kept low –

a murmured conspiracy –
We acted without scripts
and mimed our interactions –
Nothing good was said.

The Living Will

My living will
must now be written –
whilst I command
my pen’s direction

I’ll instruct you Love
in my last performance –
I’m to design the setting
of my dying conditions

It will lay folded
under toungue-kissed glue
until my mind tips
from knowing you

You’re to take my scheme
from the secret place –
on the day my act
receives a poor review

You will sit with this artist
who has drawn so much –
and hold off rolled tears
for our last act of love

I am yet to hatch
the shape of my death –
But once its read out
I’ll have had a good life.

Above the Weir

The kayak wobbled
on the tamed river
as we paddled –
but out of time –
past bikini-strapped girls
and kids your age
whom we sat above
in our inflated craft

Within ten minutes
we had found
the quiet normality
of an unbroken tension
where water boatmen
skated in spurts –
here dragonflies dipped
to a secret dance
above our bright bow

We kept time for a while
and then you gave up
to let me drag routes
around low branches
and through narrowings –
I briefly quit with pain
so we were set adrift
against the nothing current
below the next weir

You held the ropes
as I tried to lift my weight
from the muddy berth –
but my legs could not do
what legs should do
so I dragged myself
up the herd-worn bank –
gripping grass clumps
to bring me ashore

I hold the memory
of that recent evening
as fondly as those of my youth
when I lived for the Thames
and her sly currents –
when I could cross
the tops of weirs –
but now I am reduced
to the sloth of the Ouse.

Into the Season

We have yet to see
our exhaled breaths
as we avoid the burn
of the cold handrails
on our expectant ascent
of fifty-odd concrete steps
to our fixed tipped seats

We have yet to inhale
that repeated wide view
of our floodlit pitch –
re-lined in the week
into a restart of hope
against eleven men
in an unloved strip

We have yet to sip
the bitter hot drinks
that we will queue for
in the muted half-time
of slight disappointments
as old rivals are set to win –
according to media streams

We will fear the descent
which others will take
before the hard blast
of whistle and biting winds –
to then exit The Amex
for seats on misted-up buses
which will take us home.

Shelters in Israel

I measured the fixed areas
in which a life was doused –
drawn for the new owner –
one way to heal his house

Under shading palms
my foreign family sits –
another showed the plans
of his own home being built

I walked in his construction –
ready by the winter
on a tour of whitewashed rooms
and the bomb-proof shelter

He led me through the building site
taking time to watch my path –
and I then saw his dear family
cowed below the blast

The rubble and busted timber
are props across this lot –
precursors to God’s plan
for when the bomb is dropped.

Attention

Heed half-attention
to these written words
and the breath it takes
to read my thoughts

Here in the present
at which you look
stay aware
of my conjoured tricks –

which we now see
in separate worlds
joined by my verse
and nothing else

No hardened borders
or long-haul flights –
so turn off the clock
to find more time

Then walk with me –
but not too fast
past Thoreau’s woods
to face what has passed

as it now collides
with the present
and our time is filed
as misplaced moments.