Grandpa? Not Yet

Look! Waking white etens are tailwind-struck by onshore gusts. That tall flock of unfixed turbines. Into Kemptown they will march by France’s orders beyond La Manche ..

A readied Grandpa story – not yet –

not now – not pinned – not aligned
above high tides by unseen wordy fixings –
by birthdays – yet again – by cakes with candles

blown out – Once more – and finally out
Those one-legged giants were plummeted
into cedings – by borings into seabeds

through lost layers of petrified trees
into our once-forests washed off-shore
Let me tell giant stories to your children –

about hundreds of acres before this began
Our grandchildren do need to learn
that history is scribed beyond this land

Eremocene

It is impossible to maintain
a rooted perspective –
Heraclitus observed
as he openly wept

It is not the same river
but we are also
not the same people –
that will be my shooting stick

to lift me from stiffnesses
of age and old iniquities
Those rivers now rise
under too-warming urges

My car’s curved high glass
requires less screenwash
through summer-flown months
There are no insects to smash

All through it my kids sit blind
behind their bright-eyed phones –
we do not know how much less
they see on their screens now

Birthday Presents

For WM, on yr 15th

It is now that time
we scan around
and make honest
our current account
of fouled landscapes
and our – ever – endless
opaque cloud makings

by cheaply-oiled flights
over raised high banners –
bearing boasts of growth
and much-much-wealth –
as if such heavy hauls
leave no poisons – no trace –
no residues – no spillages –
no inhaled lead in blood

And tell them how
it will be
in ten years time
or twenty more –
or whichever
we can hope to bear
And look with me
into their eyes
and say –
Kids this will soon be yours
to fix – Good luck

London Sweats

A fan-cooled idle chauffeur
slumps
in his employer’s slick black
double-parked Mercedes

with its engine left running
for working comfort
as it stokes London’s
smoke-free zone

Kensington High Street
puddles
with our fat drops of sweat

See my old man’s back of death-damp –
patches of sweated whisky and beer?

They push me to seek
short-lived shelter
alongside a hundred others
of every nation
in air-conditioned shops
with wide open doors

We all become refugees
with changes in weather

Serpentine Paths

Today wary Canadian geese
avoid paddling screams
from lido-blue rowing boats

finding cooler shade ashore
and rich landed pickings
among flat pressed patches

of lawns below London planes
where an hour’s respite
was snatched
by shade-hungry office bodies

A flaked Royal Parks bench
holds a mother and her boys –
silent with ice cream smiles

Here we share recovery positions
as both boys bum-shuffle
to their right – making an old man’s
space

I see what I will again see later –
strangers’ glances at unknowns
Now at her clothes – her veil

I built this park – in my working days
I planted most of her trees
and laid clean sand for her gallops

I should be able to name
more than London planes
as my known path takes me
to David in Fitzrovia

Like Greta

Find utter calm before fear
and be too brutally honest
with your known-self – first

Listen to bigoted bar-props
seething with Sussex-hate
about France – French – prices

Only lie to save another’s life
and carry all truth before you –
as a banner of fixed colours

Old men sip their local beer –
despising lives of foreigners –
none will summon them here

Innocence breeds wisdom
whilst that contrary state
feeds on greater ignorance

And then detailed discussions
of travelling – retired – through Europe
They always hate their neighbour

If Greta Thunberg stepped off her bus
and walked through this village of idiots
she would still carry her banner high

These old men of East Sussex mutter –
behind beer head white moustaches –
about another bloody foreigner here

Dairy Parlours

Sweet stinking cattle
of Brough Hill

our machinations
are latched on to you by
German engineering
sucking you near to dry

With such heat –
you should wear white –
this is now a foreign field
of burnt harvests

A limited release
of back catalogue
memories land me
among kids with Uzis

in Tel Aviv – then south –
to be met by my family
and dairy farming
without pastures

Words for Mud

We trampled under re-tugged hoods
across even wetter exposed ground
like low-eyed parlour-set cattle

both of us making that slab slurp
as we pulled our sucked heels
from immeasurable puddles

Stoach – was it uttered as mud
and air and boots glued? – stoach
and slab – discarded once-words

now rarely spoken – only by smeery
glazes – by worn pathways
There Wealden clay will complain

as hill-walked hours wear it away
Time will eventually reverse to tell
what truly lies beneath our feet

Then all our losses will be obvious –
no flights – no travel – no sinking islands
on TV – we are making errors here

Temperature At Thirty Three

Our shaded half
hides me from heat
Year in and out
we seek a shelter

My solution
is to meet curtains
right before
sunrise and shut

out each degree
increment of hate
and stupor
in this house

whilst others fling
and swing – by hinges –
openings to
let warm winds in

which is one more
difference – one more
theft made
by a cruel thief of time

Furze

They grew low gorse
alongside their homes to
thorn-tie bright laundry
under drying high winds

Clym cut back high furze
and disappointed his wife

It is a rough plant for sure
but promises – or removes –
depending on your view –
kisses by force of fashion

It was an uncrossable border
in my common land youth

There was a story of a man
recovered from a thorny whin
by a coastguard helicopter –
help waved down by his hand

Furze flowers were yellow pebbles
for insects to skip between

It was my first time on Ashdown
in a too long time – and bared
gorse was my quiet surprise –
We have lost natural assurances

We once knew a season’s place
by month-ends and blossoming

 

Also here: Places of Poetry

 

Breakages Will Be Paid For

If we retune our focal point
to close-up local degrees –

before losses mount and tip –
we will shore our existence

Beauty is frail underfoot and
to be stepped lightly upon –

not a fixed distance of
uncrushable listed hillsides

Those huge labelled targets
are easily miss-able

Our urgent responsibility
is in within our short reach

of to-touch and other such
breakable display items


An Untitled Insect

It once had a name –
by dint of those
orange-tipped wings –
and on my tongue’s tip too –

a too-rare flitted hurdler
of garden hedges and fences
No one else cared

Such is our loss of simplicity
that even a vibrating bee’s hum
seems misplaced – mechanical

Our young dog was spell-bound
by a fat black house fly –
I no longer swat them

One Word

Over six thousand
languages
may not adapt
in our short time –
under these
fleet-to-melt days –
to define
our recent misprize

We may never find
a finite word
to headline this
imminent collapse –
of my land –
of your land –
this land’s made
for you and me

Our recourse
won’t be in songcraft
or in bleeding
apologies
to those who look
at this – from then –
and those who left us
clean legacies

On either side
of our personal abyss
we will still tilt
and lever that width
in which we will fit
our half-life guilt
of consumerism
and thrilling greed

We old men of grey
and women in beige
have broken
everything –
without a word
to our kids
without an apology –
we don’t do sorry

Pound Store

My authorised version
of the holy book
declares that avarice
will kill us all off
which we declaim aloud
being self-anointed
by those inner whispers
of our godhead voices
Our gor-bellied lives
of fulfilment are fed
by our sating purchases
drawn down from less
Our bounties are mounted
under rented roofs
which we brace with debts
bought from richer fools
A momentary fear
meets a mirrored mall face
a lost reflection
in our buying game
We have nowhere to store
next year’s seeds
Our homes are stockpiled
to meet instant needs
Our righteousness is always
hard at work
filling our lives
with meaningless worth

Warming

Each bared upper branch
is sunset-torched
oxidised
reddened
by that last touch of low light
off this third month’s fooling dusk
A slumped red hour

ending a widely-held disbelief
of an unexpectedly warm day
in March
once marked by late snow
but not by my fifth decade’s
birth date

now re-set by
summer’s early incremates

but we are equally annoyed
by a chill off this cooled evening
after sunburn at midday
in spring

Bee

Their massed die-offs
are merely statistics
fixed by white-suited
pollinators
in huge trucks of profit

who are forever re-filling
their hired-out hives
between pollen buyers
and ramping-up bee prices

Colonies will collapse
under modern diseases –
by man-spread illnesses
and by slicings of trade

Neonicotinoids may kill
the striped-arse armies –
but other – larger forces –
shade their sun-dance ways