Driving Lessons

A car ahead of me
clipped a pigeon
which spun upwards
in recoiled flight –
it exploded
showing pink flesh
where belly feathers
were plucked
and then blown by
confetti’s law of dispersion

My father instructed me
in his squeezed art
of sporting kindness
after his blasting –
often winging –
grain-gorged vermin
My air rifle’s muzzle
there – softly planted –
then – a lead pellet
for a quick death

There was time to turn
my steering wheel
and put my nearside tyres
correctly in line
with what remained –
what moved –
what was once a bird –
off my racing line
to feel a hard – then a soft
hump of tyres and death

Slower

I choose a minutes slower
route within Google Maps

Such a lottery takes us longer
as we drive through mid-Sussex

Huge delays are common here –
because J.Deere tractors blast

along summer’s uncut lanes –
that narrowing of back roads –

fuming in their camouflage
of brand green and yellow –

ploughing dead straight –
making cars meet hedgerows

We hit dry spittles of sunlight
under jiggered shadows –

Here old wapple ways
are low to fields – almost-gorges

hoofed out by tramped centuries
of stick-herded stock

Where canopies intersect overhead
as prayer-grabbing fingers lock

to make summertime rooflines
under which we drive in instant night –

swooped – whilst our confines
of air-conditioning and auto-beams

make us – modern travellers – immune
to such a cool pleasure as shade

The Last Corner

First an eye-crash –
that was the quick blindness
which I slammed into –
it enveloped me under
a tugged-at gallows hood
as I ferried our slumped
kids through their unsettled fears
of the dark – a risen thing

with the hour’s rainfall
which spat – then gobbed
across the lane’s shifts –
springing like shone frogs –
a slimy tide of refraction
down the switch – on and off –
of the unintended chicane –
set by claws of branches
and lumpen road kill

in that true – truest black –
I drove under the storm
that had redacted all colour
from my high beam view
of the tongue-wet road –
that horror film palette
of some evil and of some good –
in stretched marks to bends –
in white lines which warned
of the too-tightness
of that last slip away camber

This Older Driver

I want our lowering sun to burn
for a much – much – longer last hour –
or more – and brighter than now

I do not want to be driving
on those sunken country roads
into the skulk of dusk’s gloom –
and then turned back through black

I wish to see clearly tonight where
the patch of tarmac starts and ends
on the threaded bends and turns –

without the switch of dipped lights
or the blinding others’ high beams –

they set me to groping
as a blind man gropes

I’ll weave between the unseen deer

The Cull

It bolted into my beam
and was too fast for me
to stop the car in time –

a grey and white rush
of life under my wheels
and I could not avoid

the eye-shined badger
in the space between
ruts and embankments

A thudded weight cursed me
through the steered curves
with the guilt of road-kill –

of something too noble
which was always under
others’ orders to be culled.

The Lanes

The local lanes have been narrowed
by the thickening of nature’s ripeness
The scabbed tarmac routes are reduced
by the slow encroachments of greenery

Each blind corner is an increased fear
but still taken in third gear at over forty
as if TE Lawrence had never died
on such a cluttered route as this

Summer is an alien with her land grab –
her low leaf boughs weighty obstructions
which hide rotted bodies and tossed litter
until the rape of leaves under winter

I drive between my rural commitments
of drop-offs and collections along roads
which were never designed for our speeds
nor any misjudged braking distance

A Man in White

As I dropped over Falmer
I sped past a man in white
who was bent-double
among the weighted hedges

The descent past the stadium
was a collision of thoughts –
it then offered a roundabout
and i doubled back to offer

I rehearsed my approach
reminding myself of the place
and how I would have to slow
with hazards
with a wound window

But there was no man in white
in the place
only the waving of branches
under the charge of turbulence
no one on the untrod grass