You can walk with me

You can walk with me
along this overgrown path
It’s not too far
but be aware of fallen trees

Watch for twisted boughs –
turned like a lover’s thighs
crossed – coyly – enough
to keep to wedding vows

An overnight layering of leaves
masks raised roots
A wild rose curls – armed
with thorns bared like teeth

Without broken clouds
there is less to see –
no backlit leaves
to play out a sideshow
It is this gate now

Just south of Nash Street

Just south of Nash Street
lies an eye-straight road –
not laid by bent-to Romans
or rutted under lost pilgrims’ carts

but a later by-way pegged
between tool-twisted turns
of fleece-carding pricking wires
nailed to long-paced posts

Untouched oaks claim sunlight
in their overhead boundary
Their bare roots act as hazards
for my blind spot boots

which then slip on acorn grit –
that loosely rolled resurfacing
of brittle spawned shells
under emptied boughs

All found-hushes are lost
to door slams of a far off shotgun
At a saturated junction
unknown mushrooms stand

as if randomly placed bollards –
circles of tipped fragile caps
standing more connected
to this land than ourselves

We take a hard turn
to find – again – our east
to leave that subsoil route –
to tread on returning home tarmac

Birch Polypore

Scores of lady’s gloves reach
out on this chain sawn patch
whilst less urgent saplings
have slower ambitions

There a sometimes-killing –
but also useful – fungi
sprouts from a rot-set
silver bough

You see it too –
but as a foreign shell
washed up far from tides
without a limpet’s blind tenacity

I tell you – it is also known as
razor strop fungus – 
due to its rough edges –
many lost uses – like fire carrying

We crush this season’s litter
stopping at bright busting
sweet chestnuts –
buffed peel-able virgins

to be split by my heeled
crush – to an extraction
Along our crackling path
of bitter acorns – those

discarded ancient fruits
of last week’s storm –
we see where swung blades of gusts
broke a woodsman’s coppice

A Fly

Their work is a helix
of holding patterns

A vexed blackhead on
a narrowing radar

Making no sense
to us

Look across its eyes
at your broken reflection

Pass over its light speed
of thinking centrifuges

Be left behind
on our side of thought

We are not quick enough
to read their flight plans

We are fixed lives –
we are their filth givers

Again – Another Fall

Again
it is that time of year
of carcasses picked apart
by visits of daggered beaks

of leavings
of black stains
of crushed-to berry juice
of later felt stomach aches
spread like buckshot pellets

A stag is stretched –
set upturned –
laid out of the way –
dead parallel to passing traffic
with its legs rigid
in its last-struck gallop

Road kill –
it is that time of year
of car strikes
between Uckfield
and Halland
in Sussex
Again – another Fall

Fraxinus Excelsior

Here – I have been orange-dotted
as if another fungal-blighted tree
Spotted on for obvious lesions

My fate sprayed – eyed – to-be-cut
and then left to rot – an alienation
for the good of these woods

My body bears an odd contagion
as does our less common ash –
as does our elm – both under threat

as am I – stuck – until my balding crown
is tipped to unstable and then falls
to leave me without my honest Cordelia

Below Snatts Lane

Our spun dogs leapt
into a hidden swank*
only reappearing – only –
when cooled
by that glum – that cold –
woodland pond

Their wet coats stunk
Quick on spindle legs
they fast-darted in
and faster beneath
another clump of
undergrowth

Not late enough – not then –
for mist-above-dusk
over heat-sucked ditches
and almost rivers
Not late enough to rise
from dew weighted grass

We followed those routes –
those laid before
by others and left those
laid behind by us
We were those last two
travellers on earth

*swank – Sussex term for wetlands

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

A Common Spotted Orchid

For JC

It is a highly successful
coloniser of wasteland
and not at all in danger

Both my Google Lens
and a quickie Wikipedia
yielded to your knowledge

Just an assurance of such –
there was no doubt in my mind
that you were right – none at all!

Seeing such beauty has an effect –
How can a thing so vivacious
be left – without being taken?

An uncommon allure
among easy rough grass –
there is more to this orchid

Such observations ran quick
as my eyes and mind
took you – assiduously –
from behind

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


Measured Life

Under a stiff corrugated sheet
was a lizard king – an envy green –
coloured in by me of your wild place

hidden by your bungalow frontage –
Bungalow is a foreign word
replanted a century ago in this country

Your garden is an eyed up tunnel –
what the Scottish call a howk
dug out by regard to your gate to Sussex

Your offered photography competition
places me in my last century Surrey
of huge distances lain in eyed safaris

when we met insects in squared up inches –
propped on our grass-moulded forearms
Such measurements were lost – until now

And then a sumptuous dragonfly stages
her circumnavigation of your soupy pond
to bring me back from my I-Spy enquiries


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

Mother and Child

Slunked – almost cursed
being its low artfulness
among suburban yards
and spade-ruled beds –

brushing its rusted pelt
and curling as if a stole
fixed around that fat neck
of some awful woman

There was a dead cub –
clubbed and bloodied
by a car – or a truck –
on that stretch of road

from Lewes to Glynde –
Still intact – but still dead
as rushed traffic passed
without crushing it – yet

Our Nation’s Favourite

Under vintage leafless beeches
you gauged your variations of steps –
it was too easy to tread unevenly
on a path of cross-hatchings

and line workings against sunlight –
there you dipped into a greyed intensity
of illustrative shadowing – losing our dog –
briefly – in a denser pencilled place

Then sweet eyewashes of flowerings
lifted your head – a sugared inhalation –
a thickened spoor of air-blue scents
poured from that ancient under-storey

You stood above ten thousand bright dabs
bent to old arts across a green daub
of workings among greys and silvers –
your count of a whole year gone

was marked by a favoured calendar shot –
another easy colour-by-numbers to fill
once you made your way back to our car
to tell of your walked losses and findings

That’s All Folks

We are suckled
on distortions
of God-given truths
before widescreen tales

Anthropomorphism Rules

Recall childhood absurdities
e.g. Tom and Jerry
showing ink-stained human ways
drawn on pets and pests

We squeeze other species
into a blender of credibility
Perhaps our normalised violence
was induced by cartoon irons

those height-dropped anvils
cast by Dastardly’s Muttley
alongside Disney’s kingdoms
of deviations from the norm

We have taken all naming rights
and re-arranged such old orders

No wonder
that we no longer see
any natural way in this world