This Parish

We stick to the leaf-kicked route –
a parting of the dry sea of leaves
cleared by dog-following boots –

We tack down its meandered drop
to the time-softened abyss –
plugged not by God – but drains –

where a watercourse once hollowed
the hillside into this shallow dean –
before the slugs of tarmac upstream –

Here the irregular plots of silver birches
ignore the fallen old lady in lime green –
this is the parish of ineffectual giants –

these natives – a copse within the woods –
are a finger-daubed fearful tribe in white –
chary – waiting – as if standing ready –

listening for the infected invaders
from other places – for intruders
who will bring other such followers

to spread the canker and pestilence –
which was not the way things changed –
not until we changed the weather

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

The Impatient Plant

The Himalayan Balsam’s scent
clogs – a laundry swill of smells –

lingering – invasive – out-of-place –
underlining the call to action –

Since its foolish introduction
it’s no longer welcome here

Almost sticky – swollen with pollen –
it waits with near-primed seeds

until it fires ripe-wide explosions
finding further incursions

Balsam Bashing – its removal –
is now a nationwide fixation –

The bent stem-cutters – the pullers –
are impatient traditionalists

who tug – with gardening gloves –
working hard at their final solution

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

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

Into the Trees

Under the trees we find the path –
that one we missed last time –
and climb above the flood plain
on which – five miles downstream –
fools build fifty-four homes

We are now in nature’s green skin
where branches and hand-propped boughs
form unfinished rough shelters –
these experiments and adventures
decay to an undesigned usefulness

Further on the slunked gully runs –
here kids built mud and stick dams
until a wire fence was erected
and that sucking and silting stream
was blocked from the apprentices

The track is beaten and heat-cracked
which encourages youngsters on bikes
to take the risks we also under took –
but we hadn’t the engineered machines
on which they hurtle as fearless riders

The trees reverberate with monkey calls
and the shrill complaint of a lost child –
it is as if the internet doesn’t exist
as the off stage scramble of children
escalates – not quite Lord of the Flies.

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.