Old Devices

We’d race to get the telephone –
stating our number as rote taught –
our mother in her poshest voice
but rough for sister talk

Relative news transmissions –
but not intended to be heard –
I knew nothing of kindred facts
’til I stole truth from her words

We were ignorant between acts –
maybe flattening an irksome book –
we’d stare through the yellowed nets
whilst half-tuned to loosened talk

We tugged at the reluctant drawers
where our history was lost and found –
there tucked between old table mats –
sepia smiles were loosely bound

News bulletins marked the hours
or were shoved through the letterbox –
that narrow window on the world –
ink fears of the Eastern bloc

Ignorance was a short-lived bliss
in those disconnected times –
no algorithms on our wrists
to redress the truths and lies

Tractor Histories

They were parked in two lines
but not quite furrow straight

We walked through the
static display of old tractors

I read out the name plates of
those dearly beloved brands
now green and red patinas
over mottled paint and flaking rust

Rested greased beasts – loved or kicked
– depending on the maintenance

But my youngest wanted shade
and showed no interest in such things

Of Time

Our histories sit with us –
those unwelcome ghosts
We should not regret
their passing – that loss
If we foolishy embrace
unto any such crowd
then their knife – their gang
will bring us down

We should extinguish the flame
with wet finger tips
and promise the present
that the past has no grip
I am alone in these moments
taking each as my last –
secure that my future
is now planned by chance

The Liars

She was an ugly capture ,
and was smelling quite ‘off’ –
‘landed in nets near Batavia,
and worth five thousand dollars’
– traded for the last time
in the city of London.
But that wasn’t her real story,
rather the laughed result
of a fishmonger’s joke
down in Billingsgate:
Charlie stitched half a salmon
to the rotting monkey
which had been found
on Lower Thames Street,
George Cruickshank etched,
and embellished, the lie
committing the mermaid
to a much longer life.

the liars

A Letter from Maria’s Seat

Quem te deus esse jussit*

1.
Lady Maria-Josepha Holyrod,
a quill-scratcher of enquiries,
sailed badly from Brighthelm:
‘L’Unique Miss Madam’
Mother re-anointed Maria
in ink and long-hand love
in her last address to her child,
her travelling sweet witness
to sword-thrust royal-shifts
across bloodied France,
posted from the girl’s carriage
on visits to grande houses.

2.
Maria looked from the mound,
Sheffield Park, settled in nature,
‘I live almost in the Garden’
she wrote, March 9, 1794:
Her planned wood view, back
on all that her family owned,
the land, the trees, the life,
but no more such a sure future:
She wrote in fear of local orders:
‘Drive the Cattle from the Coast’.
She signed her many letters:
Adieu! Ever yours, MJH.

*Learn the person God has commanded you to be


SOURCES:
Google Books: Girlhood of Maria Josepha Holroyd [Lady Stanley of Alderley] – Link HERE
Royal Collection: – Link HERE