October Half Term

The paths were soft under me today
although this low sun is still capable
of tricking the insects into revival –
setting off a dragonfly over the bridge
and pulling late flowers from pods –

until the quick slaughter of an early frost
will clear our compound of anxieties
for the seasons – those off-kilter fears
which are felt as warmth on the skin –

At such a late time of year – she says
to her friend over steam-lifting coffees –
I rest my stiff legs under the cafe table –
I feel no quiver of guilt at the dried mud
which is the hardened path to my seat

Envious

My envy device knows me too well
just from the lightest of my touches –

She is engineered to conduct risings
inside my mind from sparked jealousy –

ramping up to shrill shocks of hate –
which will then swill around my unfit gut

and tease those last good microbes
into a lurching frenzy of brain cramps –

then I want to steal their smug smiles
which beam from their side of the world –

and she will be working so very well
at keeping me in her malicious circle –

and I will add fuel to her high pyre
by posting my oh-so-perfect life atop it all

*Inspired by@guardian and Moyra Sarner – thanks for the ‘envy device’

The Butchers

There – baited by the thump
of traffic several times –
it looked more than dead
with its striped pelt ripped open

There between the rush
of commuters and trucks
magpies took greedy pleasure
from the brock’s speedy kill

There the spill of pink inners
across the black tarmac
was a shiny reminder
that this pile was once alive

Here on my return journey
the carcass is less – now bated –
but not by the mischief of birds –
instead by a compaction of cars

Shortcut

Dream holes and desire paths –
those spire views and bared routes –
those modern urban lay lines –
guiding light and human shifts –

letting sound and choice drift
until the unbuilt gets put down
and our tracks are lost to tarmac –
when our reveries are blocked up –

once the empty churches are sold
and the open parks are enclosed
by signs halting walking on grass –
we will lose the ways we made

The Flood

There’s a shifted density in the landscape
following your biblical month of rain –
It has been days and disturbed nights –
a battening of doors and shutting-ins

My chosen path is tread-thickened soup –
the mossy velour on my usual pew
is now an orbicular stump-top sponge –
my meditative place is soaked right through

The dripping leaves of the common hawthorn
are plated to silver and bent in prayer
by the salty weight of God’s squeezed tears –
here funnelled from him by the doctrinaire

Where my path rises with logs as steps
the deluge descends in no need of grip –
making me turn to take another route
to the higher ground where your boat should sit

In your clearing – of the sawn and fallen –
you list in pairs and shout deaf-ear orders
finding many gone – or now missing –
‘I have to postpone my plans for The Flood’

Your holy fable finds a level in puddles
where water pools in the lowest place –
and in the clearing there is no Ark –
Others will say when the seas are raised

 

Late Out

This dessicated path
is an off-white scar
under the moon’s phase
of waxing gibbous

Boots and tamed dogs
have worn this route
into a grass-bare map
which I read by that light

The holding flightpaths
of man-made meteors –
of ephemeral accords –
circle among the clouds

The transmitter mast blinks
with a beast’s red eye
shaming Arcturus and Mars
so even those stars fade

This as the bypass hums
a song of our war won –
our tilt against creation
by over engineering

Ali

This latest named storm
is as magnificently loud
as Seaford’s raw shingle
when overturned by tides –
but now it is tipped across
the highest of these trees
which emit fearful creaks
and then offer a low footfall
of snapped touchwood

These tall variations
take each sucker punch
like hardened pugilists
with their bent bones –
whilst whipped saplings
spill their dried germen
as they cower and crowd
like ingrateful men
sheltered from a fight

I sit to rest my shuffled legs
and shut my blasted eyes
to truly see what I can hear
as the stripped off leaves
fall in layers around my seat –
each arrival noted by the puff
of a soft landing on another –
In the hush of this ripped storm
I find my ancient connections

New Terms

Whist you commuters
weary your lit ways
at ergonomic desks
and begging screens

I will walk out
to that richer idyll
that you can only visit
when allowed

You are locked down
by your WiFi streams –
even the commute
is more small displays

Those sealed views
from that fixed carriage
is the best you can do
on most weekdays

until the sullenness
of September dims
and the daily journeys
are seen as reflections

And the mid-term break
in October’s pointlessness
is the dark reminder
that holidays have been taken.

Sunday in Seaford

There the sunburnt woman
sits alone – her cheeks inflated
and colouring to that near-pink
of shrimp-stained flamingos

whilst two older ladies draw
their lines in snapping charcoal
on bared sketch book pages –
each hoping to record beauty –

two on art-pressured sheets
and one – later – in the mirror –
England’s ruddy south coast
still blushes as if caught out

The tradition of seaside decay
settles alongside the ageing folk –
curling as flotsam – delineating
the ragged edge of our known world

And here we locate ourselves
in a bolted and braced beach hut
to watch the dog walkers and seekers
parade in opposite directions

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