Archive for the ‘poetical sketches’ Category

Photo by Tim Grundtner on Pexels.com

Unplugging all connections,
Unfastening all the snares,
Might we not embrace this cleaner air,
And fall?
See how tight we cling
To things
Of no consequence,
Our fingers jammed in every crack,
Our arms, oh so tired now,
And aching,
Legs, fearful, shaking.
Let it go, let it all go,
And backwards fall, and trust.
No dash of rocks, no rush
Of earth to black.
There is only this endless void, and true,
In which we might begin,
To embrace the world anew,
Then open up our Eye,
And let the clearer light, of day,
Come flooding in.

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Hot day at the beach.
Blue sky and a hard sun,
softens now to haze of golden evening.
Skimpy girls twirl
in summer shimmerings,
and kiss-me colours,
while tanned boys
with sharp beards
point their chins in strutting play.
A medley of tongues,
and skins drift,
arm in arm, dreaming,
towards the pier’s westward end.
How beautiful we still are,
When our hearts transcend
the fear.

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The new Dinkley Bridge, Hurst Green, Lancashire

July swells to a deeper green.
Riot of wildflower,
pointillistic specks
of yellow and blue,
in meadows left unmown.
Lazy smudge of ancient trod
under the steam heat of a
sunless afternoon,
while balsam and nettle,
and long, drooping grasses,
cross their sleepy arms
over seldom walked ways.

A short run out today, Hurst Green, Ribble Valley, a walk down to the new Dinkley foot-bridge on the river and a visit to Marles Wood. This is not a seldom walked way, indeed this attractive stretch of the Ribble is understandably very popular, but for some reason those lines came to me while I was walking it, as if I was the last man on earth.

I park the car at the village hall in Hurst Green – suggested fee £2.00, but I’m 20p short. It’s an honesty box and no one’s counting, so I don’t suppose they’ll know, or mind. It’s a stubbornly overcast day, with a steamy heat that saps the energy from one’s bones. I’m not really in the mood for walking far – just looking for a change of scene, and a run out to somewhere pretty. There’s a good circuit you can do on foot, down the river to Ribchester from here, then back up the Ribble Way, on the other bank, but something about the day has me spurning all ambition.

I find the bridge and cross it, then sit on the riverbank for lunch, while watching herons wading in the shallows, fishing for theirs. Big camera today, but not much to point it at yet, other than the herons. I never saw the original Dinkley bridge, a suspension type, built in 1951. It lasted until the floods in 2015, when it was finally damaged beyond repair. Work on a replacement was completed in 2019. This is a wider structure, firm under foot. The original had a reputation for being a bit wobbly.

The Ribble is a fine river, but very little of it is accessible to the public. I have traced my finger along it on the map from source to sea, always disappointed by how seldom the green pecked ways are able to hug its banks. Indeed, I read only 2% of England’s rivers are accessible to the curious pedestrian. This is irrespective of the so-called right to roam negotiated as part of the countryside and rights of way act. That adds up to over 40,000 miles of river we politely defer for private use. Yet rivers are such relaxing places to walk by, I wonder people are not more angry about being excluded from them.

Anyway, lunch done, we follow the path downstream. It dips in and out of company with the river. Photographic opportunities are few, not helped by the flat light. Just before we enter the gloom of Marles Wood, I chance upon a likely spot, only to find the view is occupied, and I should say significantly improved upon, by a couple of young ladies enjoying a spot of wild swimming. I defer the shot, not wishing to intrude upon their privacy.

After a mile or so, the path parts company with the river, and leads up to the Marles Wood car park. From here the way suggests a narrow stretch of road, by Salesbury Hall, along which the traffic seems to be moving too fast. Alternatively, the OS shows a network of paths that would provide a safer and more pleasant passage to Ribchester, but by now the sweat is dripping from my hat, so I decide to leave that adventure for another day. We turn around and retrace our steps, take in the views we’ve thus far had our back to.

Near Salesbury Hall, the river takes a sudden 90 degree bend, westwards. There is a fine view of it by a clutch of tree shaded rocks. I rest a while, reeling off shots, none of which do justice to the beauty of it. Here, in the mud, I spy a shiny 20p coin. It bodes good fortune.

We’ll take it back, for the car park.

River Ribble, from the Dinkley Bridge

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I want to write poetry,
just like in olden times
with a notebook, and a fountain pen,
and a book of common rhymes.

I want to watch the sunset,
across this folded dale,
with a lantern at my elbow,
as the light begins to fail,
and the sash taps out in whispers,
the ciphers of the muse,
dot-dot dash, dot-dot dash,
at the rising of the moon.

And if I pay attention,
yet resist that grasping urge
the pen might yet decipher
an authentic string of words,
a pattern in the ink strokes
on this smooth vanilla page,
a thing we can hold onto
at the fading of the age,
a string of understanding,
timeless and complete,
indelible and indifferent,
to control, and alt-delete.

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I’ll take the ticking of my father’s watch

And the tales my mother told,

And I shall pack them safe with fragrances,

In the pocket of my soul.

There shall be sandalwood and cinnamon,

For days beneath the sun,

While for the moon I’ll ride on lavender,

Until the dreaming has begun.

And there I shall encamp myself,

In a meadow by the sea

And from the shore I shall take pebbles,

As round as round can be.

And I shall plant them in that dreaming earth,

A dreaming circle wide,

And wait upon the morning,

And the coming of my guide.

I shall know him by his wisdom,

And the feeling I am blessed.

Then we shall wait upon the sunset

And a boat, into the west.

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Below the hill there stood an oak tree.
Beneath the oak there was a stone,
And the stone, it was an anchor
To hold the heavens down.

But then came the generations,
For whom the heavens grew dim.
Then came the man who built a house
And sealed himself within.

The house stood in a garden,
But the garden was too small,
So he burned the tree and broke the stone,
To extend his garden wall.

Then his pastures grew infertile,
As the sun-king lost his mind,
And the moon, she raised the wind and rain
And turned his lands to slime.

The heavens, they waited patiently,
Above the man’s bowed head,
But the stone was gone, the tree was burned
And the heavens? No, they could not return,
Until both man and house were gone,
And from the rested ground there grew,
From sleeping acorns, trees anew.

Then the sun king smiled,
And the moon his queen,
And blessed those men who quietly,
Raised back the stones from memories
Of when in former times we’d heard
The heavens whispering in our dreams.

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I dreamed a golden fish,
Serene, amid a wasted lake.
It rose from silted depths,
To greet a narrow slant of sun.

It was a sterile place, nothing to breathe,
Only a fathomless unknown,
And an infertile shore I’d sooner leave,
Than wander one more day alone.

But then this vision of the golden fish,
In tender glint of amber sun.
It holds my gaze.

One thought, it says,
Amid the tumult of this tumbling year,
Is worth the hanging on.

If only I could tell,
Among the log-jam of these jangling thoughts,

Which one.

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Image1They look a bunch of toughs,
these guys, red-cheeked,
strutting, chests out, like cockerels.
Already drunk, by noon
they laugh in pork pie hats.

Their eyes are bloodshot, noses swollen,
pockmarked with the corrosive booze
of long years. Their jokes are coarse,
take cheap shots at women
and immigrants.

Self importantly they cruise
the public houses,
puffed up,
in search of inanity,
exchanging pithy barbs,
and seeking revelation,
In the bottom of  another glass.
Meanwhile while their bodies turn their beer
To gas and pee.
The landlord smiles his sly welcome,
rolls out his bonhomie,
and cheers them on.

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swiza clock

It was a good clock, sitting there,
On the mantle of my childhood,
Black-cased and glossy
As a piano’s ebony key.

It was the size of my hand,
And a good weight,
With gold fingers, like daggers drawn
On a white dial, peppered with soot.

There it ticked down the years,
Gained ever so slowly,
Was drawn back now and then
To the steadying pips of the BBC.

But in memory it never falters,
Just marks time, those fingers
Imperceptibly moving, scything
A rich harvest of days.

I don’t know where it went, that clock.
I heard it had stopped, was thrown away.
Pity. I would have liked to see
If I could get going again.

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man strolling in a wooded landscape - detail - A A Mills

I lost my friend. He did not die,
He just forgot my name
And now I’m sorry
I let slide so many days.

And then I telephoned, you see?
Brim full of news and guilt,
And thinking to snatch back
Full tilt, those sacks of missing time,
Only then to find old age’s stealth
And the mind’s fragility,
Had of a sudden robbed him
Of both himself, and me.

And falling thus into the void
Was all we’d said and done,
And all we’d seen,
And all the places that we’d been,
And the laughter,… oh the jolliness,
It was gone,
And I was just this stranger,
Cold-calling, on the telephone.


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