Dint In The Flint
O ye bins and badges, herons and badgers,
ye throstle throated thistle thorn tub tenders,
ye clapped cloud cymbal tinkle tappers,
hear ye of the knight in the green shadowed wood,
at rest from the quest of the quibbler,
his head on a mound asleep to trickling water sound,
sheltered by his first star of summer shield.
Ye blue sky wind blown wing flyers,
awaken and wash my youth eye in my wise age,
let me follow a leaf through legend’s rural page
to embark on a rowan stage.
And ye that walk but cannot be heard,
talk on a higher pitch than bird,
let me sense you are there in some far off dell,
let me sway secure inside your chrome city bell.
O ye wind jammers on the wet pyjama seas,
O ye pelican bills on the pecked pirate parrot trees,
let me fetch berry baskets back
from the last black berry picking outing
when there was pleasure in the smile,
joy in the shouting.
O ye sparrows and finches
that chirp in the backyard near
take me back to then to be clearly here.
O ye attic bards, basement bards,
O ye walrus whiskered wine merchant
watching Wagon Train on Wednesday
when the weather forecast is due.
Better wrap it up while the vintage
tastes fine as any antique brew.
Ye that are finished with perfection
detect a dint in the flint that no one knew.
The birds have gone from my garden
as if vacuumed from the air.
I pledge my heart will not harden,
still a child bare foot on the stair.
Harper In The Hall
Silence in court. All stand for the judge.
All present are on trial.
Let the judgement begin,
the cleansing of crime,
the balancing of sin.
At first I attended to the words.
Distracted by windows and walls,
though willingly left behind,
I heard the culprit calls.
I was a harper in the hall.
The king bid me play after the feast.
Of his servants I was not that high
nor was I among the least.
The sheep upon the mountainside,
startled by a hyena’s howl.
They never ceased to make me smile,
be the weather fair or foul.
Unless my foe stands on the plain,
points his sword at me alone,
I cannot pull back my catapult,
I cannot aim my stone.
Silence. Silence in court.
The verdict has been passed.
Alert again, I shed my dream.
Allowed to go outside,
I joined the others in the empty dark,
pleased to see the jewel lamps gleam.
We Know Who We Were
We know who we were,
as for now, do we know who we are?
We ask the right questions,
the few answers we find,
we mull over, debate.
Wish I could waken from sleep,
find words to crust a tune.
Sail out in a boat on the ocean
to slay the kraken with my light rod,
my radiant harpoon.
Away from the civilized confusion,
the traffic hoot and hum.
Attend to the silence only passing winds disturb.
Back to wood, stone and water,
to bird song in the green wood I come.
We know how we were,
as for now, do we know how we are?
I move my hand over the uncultivated land,
the unharvested ocean.
Wish I could breathe in deep like a whale,
pipe out high like a dolphin,
swim free of shackle, no fortune to fail.
Excursion Back Through Time
A fossilized meteor shower
I study through my lens.
A rainbow splash from a comet crash
provides data, a case of chance ancient art.
Put my foot down on the pedal
for my excursion back through time to start.
This insect splayed on a stone
is the ancestor of the spider
or could it be a crab?
Such questions prove that geology
is really far from drab.
My heart would harp,
my soul would sing,
if I found the crown
of an Atlantean king.
Miracles and visions,
you cannot rely on them.
If you want to wear the garment,
you must sew the hem.
First forest I glimpse in my glass.
Horned beasts with hard claws
sniff through tree and grass,
all free of the hunter.
Now the prism flickers with colours,
prepares to open its doors.
Wonder what will be revealed,
what time thought better kept sealed?
After the Asteroid Accident
After the asteroid accident,
the dinosaurs were no more.
It happened sixty five million years ago,
the scientists are sure.
Dinosaurs live on in Hollywood,
animated on the screen.
Museums display their skeletons,
picture how their age had been.
Schoolboys play with their dinosaur toys.
They know the names of each kind.
By freak fault and cataclysmic chance
evolved our finite human mind.
That was some accident,
sixty five million years ago,
when an asteroid hit planet Earth,
off the coast of Mexico.
To live on Earth is strange.
It really is quite queer.
Don’t lose your sense of wonder.
Be happy that you’re here.
Armoured Knight stands guard on my sitting room shelf.
His post was once on my bedroom window sill.
He is part of my past.
An ornament I bought in a gift shop in Woolacombe
on the North Devon coast.
Souvenir of a summer.
1970. I was eighteen. Worked in a hotel kitchen,
my brain blown open by ocean,
I pined to find words for what I could hear in sea gull cries,
far and high in the sky,
yearned to see white sailed boats voyage out from coves
Photographs of sunsets never developed well.
My camera could not capture
the hues of heaven I saw on the western horizon.
Armoured Knight I brought home in my haversack.
2017. Sixty five now.
Years ago, I somehow managed to break his lance.
Now his right hand grips only air.
Once I had to glue him back on his black plastic stand.
But why now the mention?
Recently, late one evening, I turned my CD player on,
leaned back in my arm chair.
My body light, forgotten, I attended to song,
became just an eye,
my spirit clasped by the top joint in the stalk of my spine,
aware only of words and notes in the air,
my gaze came to settle on Armoured Knight,
stood guard in his place on my sitting room shelf.
His helmeted head suddenly moulded into a mask.
The mask melted to reveal a bare face,
that of a man, a captain of soldiers.
He stared at the ground. His face pale, bony, stern.
His thought on battlefields behind him,
wars he had witnessed, weapons used by men,
from bow and arrow, sword and spear,
rifle and cannon to machine gun and tank.
He grew more macabre than a ghost,
a foul portent, ill omen,
till he could be given no other name than Death.
There he stood, Death himself.
Cold, battle boned, sword sharp, hard.
The spell broken, the vision vanished.
Armoured Knight restored himself.
An ornament. Nothing more.
Twine With No Twist
A masked ball in Venice.
No, I don’t want to go.
I don’t like bewilderment, deception,
the idea that life’s a carnival show.
A travelling circus.
No, not with lions and elephants
wheeled in cages from rough town to rough town.
It would make me sadder than a droop mouthed clown.
But why name the places I don’t want to be,
the sights I don’t want to see?
If you cannot resist you can make your own list.
I walked by a garden and saw a stout tree.
No storm wind could blow it down.
If I were an owl I’d hoot in its branches,
my feathers black speckled brown.
A natural stone bridge spans a gorge.
Far below it flows a river.
I could be brave and live up there in a cave,
but even in my white wool coat in winter
I fear I’d still shiver.
If I name the places where I want to be,
the sights that I’d like to see,
it would be a long list notched on twine with no twist.
Roy Rogers was a clean cowboy,
he made his silver six shooters shine
before he walked into the saloon
to stand at the bar
to the sound of a honky-tonk piano tune.
Every grubby cow poke
could see he was no joke
but the man who put the robbers in jail.
Behind his white tooth smile,
he had a brain that no one could figure,
but the sheriff was glad when he rode into town
with his guitar and his faithful horse Trigger.
That last verse may have surprised you,
don’t let us pretend.
It was summoned by a memory
I came to tag on the end.