Friday, 30 January 2015

Setting a benchmark

A work-in-progress... I'm mostly happy with it, but not sure about the last line. Should it end at 'replace' I wonder?


Exclusion principle

Stranger,
who, so the small plaque says,
loved this spot,
you could not have sat here,
for the seat was placed in your memory,
greatly missed by some friend or relative.
Did they share your view
over scrubby downs
and patchy woodland where coppicemen,
smelters and charcoal-burners
once fed those
hungry for iron.

I choose not to sit,
but stay to watch a hornet
scrape pulp for her nest,
taking papier-mâché mouthfuls
of you
from oak slat and upright.

If I return in a ten-year,
will weather, fungus, woodworm,
or vandals at play,
have done their work,
leaving just a level patch of grass
where council employees
tossed your remains into a flatbed,
for it is policy to neither repair
nor replace
deaths marked by furniture.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The positivity of migration

UKIP and others who whine about migrants are tiresome - here's the first draft of a piece about my own, more positive, observations about Polish people ('Polacy') in Southampton

Polacy w Southampton

I

Big man, crew-cut blonde,
baby in a biceps cradle,
gentle gorilla-father;
a second child plants conkers
in a newly tilled municipal flower-bed.

II

Zesty girl on the school bus,
alpha of her Year 8 peers,
climbing rails like they are monkey-bars,
open-mouthed surprise when I ask
‘excuse me please’ –
proszę, przepraszam
in English-accent Polish.

III

One of so many languages
spoken here and mingling in mid-air –
by workmen crowded onto lunchtime public benches,
discussing football, cars, sandwich fillings,
by gaggles of much-preened teens
gossiping between texts,
by students, shop-assistants,
phone-box users sharing news,
by friends and poets,
by people of the city –
multicultural and working,
the opportunity for something new.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

That which remains to be seen


A short observational piece to start 2015, based on a word seen from the bus, so it's found poetry in a way - more works-in-progress coming soon...

Phantom


A threadbare wine-red curtain,
rail hung inexplicably low
crosses the window,
leaves a square of glass where
a fingertip has written
‘STRADIVARIUS’ backwards
in condensation,
skin-greasepainted letters persist.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Of feathers beneath the moon

When I'm not a poet, I'm an ecologist, and can be found surveying and/or writing about wildlife - usually insects, but sometimes larger creatures. This poem is about working on the Arne Penninsula in Dorset.

Mapping nightjars

Daytime apes
out of time and place,
we walk the dark heather
beyond terse ‘No public access’ signs
on every gate and fifty feet of fence,
skirting regimented blocks of pines,
shuffling through sand and lichen
to listen for the chirr of males,
triangulating with ears and eyes and GPS.
Between calls, we pencil
rough boundaries by torchlight,
scrambling colonialists
interpreting territorial extent
from snapshots and soundbites
of reproductive intent.
A few make flapping silhouettes
against the last glimmer
or perch to survey us in turn
while silent females drop to the ground,
invisible, rising strident when we pass
too near a hidden nest,
wing-flashes circling low overhead
drawing us away from precious eggs.
Our allocated square kilometre complete,
we depart and night reclaims the space.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Post Black Friday feelings

When the sad sight of people fighting over cheap TVs brings on thoughts of shallow incompleteness...


The half-people

They hang dead-still,
split along their length
like pickled sheep and sharks,
each a Jekyll and Formaldehyde character
baring its innermost parts
for a sip of elixir,
a secret draught,
only half have hearts.