First Class

As my path-running dog bolts – yet again –
at the vertical thinning of grey squirrels –
I hear – and then see – those almostvermin kids
gather across the far side of the school fields –

where they struggle with bunched keys
to unlock the rattled and knocked store –
where the bright balls and corner flags
are piled behind the fist-drummed tin walls –

There the brazen – almost-male – chorus
of laughs and throat- bubbled testosterone –
of catching-ups – is loud before the blast
of Sir’s voice from afar – which pulls them

to five-a-side battles in their dark uniforms –
until the rattled shed is locked hard again –
I return from those few seconds of my school days
to see the dog waiting – I call to her on my way

Autumn Term

They make the slow haul uphill
with their shop-branded bags
of untried school uniforms

The boy bears his boxed Clarks shoes
as the girl lugs her sweatshop shirts –
freshly picked off Primark shelves –

Still with plenty of growing in ’em
was her mother’s observation
as she calculated the cost of it all

These slack summer holidays
will end not soon enough
for the parents – but not the kids

The hour-numbed regiments
will reform and take the school gates
in their battle colours of navy blue.

Returns

That first day back
of rush-and-forgottens
as this holiday home
is squeezed of teens
and returns to its role
of roof and routine
for another term,
and outside The Unruly
form pairs and packs
on the narrow paths,
back to scattering
their breakfast crumbs
up the hill to school.
And then just the dog.

Humid

You could see the unexpected humidity
in the weep of the trees

almost a rainforest drip in the woods of Sussex

and being tall I had to dip to avoid
the damp stroke of lime leaf on my neck

that of a sweated relative
or grease-ball teacher.

Underfoot the cinder path was an equal impact
on memory as I lugged my groceries

back

back to

that playground in Surrey which grazed kids
and scuffed the sandals
a home to sparkled
stones and shiny ants

and games of ball
chase
kisses
and secret skipping songs of girls.

Return

For CM

You are waking 10,000 feet above me,
a fact I haven’t Googled,
more an ill-educated guess,

that precursor of the internet
when my intelligence was never doubted
by you, or me.

The sky will be different over Alpendorf
when you wake in a rented bed
before your coach-trip return,

when you shall try to slumber, bundled
on two thin seats, plugged into BBC
downloads,

as low Austrian, and dull German
suburban views
lull your plunge, infected to sleep.

Then your swallow-dive off the highs
of steep black runs, into the deep-end
of the dream pool.