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 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

The Stick

There are re-tightened circles
within my bind – my condition
of well-rounded concentric ripples
Feel them grip – feel with me

He laughs at my stick and walk
because he’s so very drunk
before an unequal fill of booze
ferments inside my empty gut

thickly – as if a dreadful influenza
but none of those highbrow fevers
Like when your own infected body
had been rammed flat by it

Now you expect me
to lift myself up from this floor –
out of spilt beer – for inspections
and more qualified interventions

all the while our state and yourself
still owe me back payments
for every too-long worked day –
which weigh on me as tired eye tolls

For those – and your destructive love –
put down a deposit to secure my loss
Pay out against my final demand
for a resilient stick to abet my steps

Lined

The parallel profiles
of the fifty to sixty linden trees
are bitten-thin by the wind
at this time of year

but their ever-tall alignment
of bared trunks
is still my local fixture

There – spaced by landed
strides off an owner’s count –
along this now hemmed-in route –

once a sublime wide avenue
to a grand house –
ridden up forty-ish years earlier
by a princess –
Sporting Life by her side

Now it is the route to a
sprawled estate
of modern servants
who push their buggies
and pull their dogs
along the uneven surface –

a shaded path
for the good half of the year –
for the other bared months
it is fifty to sixty sundial
shadows – if there is sun –

I haven’t counted the trees –
each a timer set by a lime
in the low winter light

Inside My Lover

I am entertained inside her lento lungs –
travelling alone and partly dusk-blind –
within her low suck of cooling breath –

I inhale her exhale of purest oxygen
and with it comes an unwinding –
an expansion of my otiose senses –

an awareness of this as existing –
of living things set around – but
obscured by the falling of the hour –

Now the manic chp-chp-chp-chp-chp
of panicked blackbirds to one side –
joined by the rude crows overhead –

that tuneless duet of birdsong is overlaid
on itself by others’ alarms and queries
which set off – concentric – around me –

As I tread – as I compact the leafy mucus –
which she absorbs into her membrane –
the fallen are re-sown by the plough
of my steps on this weaved footpath –

Her cold stew of re-use – of rotting down –
is nature’s re-design – it is not random –
be it the branched capillary urge
of saplings – or the fork of tipped boughs –

or the patterning of her cast off leaves –
already thick enough to hide the paths –
Now on cinders I miss the give of the mulch –
the weighted compress and its last sound

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

Contrails

The words
‘under contrails’
rounded on me,
those raised scars,
high gatherings
of man-made clouds
over this county,

the icy remnants
of others’ flights
to warmer climes,
and I was grounded
by the weight of my foot
after foot:

I no longer dream
of taking off,
arms wide,
a kick and up,
but I leave a trail
of sorts.

Seven point five

A boot-sucked drop
down through Views Wood,
across a mud-scuffed bridge,
and the ditch in half-flood,
I clamber, not climb,
up the leaf-pressed path,
the rooted friction
is the step and staff,
then led straight on
by the hawthorn hedge,
the sun a million miles
off to my left,
and on to the centre
of a man’s dictate,
under an oak
into the ‘Private Estate’
of neat-lopped birches,
a graze-readied patch,
across the tarmac
past Buxted House,
a hotel for a night,
I wait to wake one time,
where the haa-haa dips,
where the grazed declined:
Up to the church,
with no village encroach,
but now a lone landmark,
of curious ghosts,
of gravestones’ tilt,
and a gate held fast,
where gothic still creeps
on buttress and nave,
but under Christ’s yew tree
the past still prays,
whilst far cross the valley,
the village now lays,
and down past the pillbox,
no old battle ground,
here the tilted cry
of the dead – never found.
Across to the gate
where the grounds expire,
this is the time
I so long desire.

No Rain

That kicked-up
wild garlic hit
was the mist
through which
the walk took them

on that route,
slow
upstream,
and then sloped
above the low cut
of rain-denied river.

Each step was
another distance
which closed
the gap
between them.

On his solitary return,
under the dapple
of sodium,
over hard tarmac,
the true nature
of things
returned.