Ode To A Hedgehog

Ode To A Hedgehog

Herbert shall I call you,
for short, Herb or Bert,
hedgehog, led by your snout to sniff
for bugs and grubs in dirt,
under my back garden bush?
But Herbert sounds too human,
a country gent who likes his pipe and beer,
rural life not lived in a rush,
like an attempt to anthropomorphise you
into a whimsical tale or cartoon.
If I could I would, on fiddle and flute,
compose for you a twig thin tune.
Truly, earthy, son of the soil,
you slumber much with little toil.
A mansion’s grounds a paradise for you would be,
with well established, long rooted hedgerows,
and many a shady tree,
bushes, flower beds, finely mown lawn,
secluded, bordered, silent,
to wake there with sunset,
sleep on through day from dawn.
Unobtrusive, small, spiky coated mammal,
a peaceful, quiet life you lead.
Needful to the perfect garden
as root, sod and seed.

 

Advertisements

Wreckage

Wreckage

Nobody’s normal but not everybody’s strange.
Not every peak can be picked out
when you view a mountain range.
We each have our path way
on which it is easy to stall or stray.
Often things we can’t govern
will have the final say.

All is green in my garden,
the green of leaf and grass.
Sunshine makes it look more green.
Sadly, it will pass.
Good to see it for a moment,
a glance at Eden in a glass.

World is old, the breeze tells me,
as it blows low through the trees.
Soon as it comes, it goes.
What once lay beneath my feet,
no historian knows.

We’re drained dry, we can’t cry.
No more tears could fall from our eye.
We had it rough, it was too tough.
A high wave voyage under a thunder sky.
We survived, we’re still alive.
Where do the words come from?
How do they arrive?
Where is the wreckage now?
Will I find it on the sand?
What seas will take my boat
to let me seek my true land?

Aeroplanes

Aeroplanes

Aeroplanes, I never thought I’d fly in one.
Climbed on board and I was gone.

For the first time in my life,
I was lifted off the ground.
Outside, only muffled engine sound.

Nothing but air beneath the floor,
I was taken far higher than the paths
of the eagle and the condor.

Only the pilot and the crew knew
how it was done, how that winged contraption
flew me to you.

I looked at a stretch of clouds below,
my eyes followed the trail of a white vapour rod.
The serenity I was aware of, I could not describe,
sensed I was inside the mind of God.

Midnight long past, we landed in black air.
Lines of lights let me see the runway,
the windows of the airport halls.
At the arrivals gate, I was so relieved to meet you there.

Aeroplanes, we never thought we’d fly in one.
Up the steps and we are gone.

The Publisher and the Poet

The Publisher and the Poet

“Of course, you know what sells?” said the publisher, sat behind his desk, his shirt sleeves rolled up, like some politicians do, to prove he was a success, a worker.
“Not poetry,” said the poor, pale poet.
“Not poetry, of course not,” said the publisher, a bit flustered.
“What then?” asked the poet.
“Hedgehogs,” said the publisher. “Think of it. I read on line that hedgehogs are adorable. People think they are cute. There is even a Great Britain Hedgehog Preservation Society. They are second only to cats in the league of popular animals.”
“Thanks for the idea,” said the poet.
He left the office in a baffled fog, walked home to his basement bedsit. For the next few months, he wrote poem after poem about hedgehogs, even managed to take a few photographs of one that visited his back garden.
The publisher liked his manuscript when it was finished.
True to his title, he promised to have it published.
“An entire book about hedgehogs. Absolutely adorable,” wrote one newspaper critic. “If like me you can’t stand poetry, just ignore the poems and look at the photographs of the hedgehog. Absolutely adorable.”
Similar reviews appeared in magazines, newspapers and on line journals, all positive, all gushing with hedgehog love and admiration.
“You know what you want to do now, don’t you?” said the publisher.
“What’s that?” asked the poet.
“Write about squirrels. People love squirrels. I read it on line. People even try and preserve them. Must like them,” said the publisher.
“Sounds like a good idea,” said the poet.
So he got on the train and spent the day in a squirrel reserve in a pine forest by the seashore, even bought a bag of nuts from a pet shop to feed them with, but though he stood silently, he did not see one. The pine trees and the sea air inspired him, nonetheless.
His squirrel book was just as popular as his hedgehog book.
His publisher was proud of him.
“You must be the only poet ever to make a penny,” he said, leaning back in his chair, smoking a black cigar, like Churchill on a summer’s day in peace time.
“It’s all thanks to you,” said the poet.
“Think nothing of it, old chap,” said the publisher. “Now where do you go from here? May I suggest owls? People like owls. Can’t get enough of them. Must be their big eyes. What do you think?”
“Owls. Yes, a good idea. I think I can write about owls,” said the poet.
That night, to keep awake, he drank mugs of black coffee, while he sat under a tree, his hope to see an owl, even to hear one hoot. Morning found him asleep on a bench with a stiff neck and a cold, empty ache in his belly.
His owl book did okay but was not as popular as his hedgehog book or his squirrel book.
“I was going to suggest a book about whales, but that’s been done,” said the publisher. “Ever heard of Moby Dick?”
“Of course,” said the poet. “Good book.”
“Yes, well, I’m running out of ideas,” said the publisher. “How about dolphins? People like them. Listen to tapes of their calls to calm them down.”
“Need a boat to go out and see them,” said the poet.
“Just watch them on line,” said the publisher.
The poet did so and was pleased that he did, for his dolphin book was made into a film with a famous actor saying his verses as a voice over while dolphins swam, lept and piped about in the ocean. After that, he was content to write about whatever he felt like, as he used to, before he wrote his hedgehog book, and drink tea and be untroubled, relaxed in twenty first century obscurity.
“Penguins,” suggested the publisher one day. “Write about them.”
“Perhaps, I will, sometime, in the future, when I need some more money in the bank, ” said the poet. ” I could go to the South Pole to see them. If I do, I will send you a postcard.”
“Thanks,” said the publisher, thinking that with his adventurous spirit the poet might be a true poet, after all.

Nocturnal Neighbour

Nocturnal Neighbour

Come on, hedgehog, spiky urchin,
sniff your way from the bush shelter,
onto the lawn, fore paw the grass,
try to jerk back a blade,
as you did yesterday.
Watched you through the window,
took me by surprise.
Now sat on my wood seat,
here in my garden,
my hope is to see you again.
With enough patience
to sit on with a torch in the dark,
I know I may not see you.
You may not pay me a visit.
And why should you?
You are a small wild animal, not a pet.
If ever you do, you will show when you want to.
From garden to garden, you like to go.
“Thrice and once the hedge pig whined.”
A witch from Macbeth I quote.
Good that Shakespeare mentioned you
in a line he wrote.
But you belong not in a tragedy,
maybe a history, that scene with the gardener
in Henry V1. Perhaps a comedy,
a mention by a lover in a greenwood.
Here in the twenty first century,
you are free of folk lore,
free of Elizabethan witchery.
Yesterday, I smiled to watch you
crawl over the water hose tangle by the shed wall,
near the drain pipe and grid,
your long, thin snout, I studied,
your almost absent chin,
your tiny, black eyes, good as blind,
for I hear you rely on smell not sight.
I can see all that you did.
Would like to see you again, that is all.
Nocturnal neighbour, quieter than twigs,
grass and leaves you sniff by in the night.

Hedgehog In My Garden

Hedgehog In My Garden

Hedgehog in my garden,
so slow and sleepy,
allowed me to take five photographs of him.
Hibernation still in memory,
evening bringing another day to a close,
a saucer of water I laid down by his nose
did not interest him,
just wanted to curl up in his brown spiky coat,
and nestle into the blank black
of small omnivorous mammal repose.
I managed to scoop him up on a shovel
with the sweep of a brush,
to lay him down and cover him with twigs for safety,
among the roots of a bush.
That is the second time I have seen him.
Happy to have a hedgehog in my garden.
For such a sight to give me pleasure,
as it would a child, I know my heart will never harden.

My Commendation Certificate

Crosby Writers’ Club Poetry Competition
2015-2016
This certificate is awarded to Philip Dodd

having achieved A Commendation
for the poem Matterhorn
The competition was adjudicated by Gladys Mary Coles, national
and international judge of poetry.

Congratulations!

Signed Angela Deegan   Chairperson

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Matterhorn

These chords were never played this way before,
never will be heard like so again.
No moon or star and no sound from the shore,
I finish my song, put down my pen.
This tune now born, I wonder what it will be.
You may listen to the wind in the corn
to try to find your key.
You don’t have to climb the Matterhorn
to feel free.

I go up, ascend in a lift to the topmost floor.
Once there, by itself, opens the door.
I climb stone steps, to stand on the roof,
and all around me, I see the proof
that life is good.
But really, I am only in the kitchen,
waiting for the kettle to boil,
so I can have a mug of tea.
Your loom may be broken, your tapestry torn,
yet you can still weave in the air
more beauty than first you could see.
You don’t have to hear
the pipes of a dolphin to plunge in the sea.
You don’t have to climb the Matterhorn
to feel free.