Chadwick the Courageous Carp

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                             Chadwick the Courageous Carp

Now hear me as I hymn and harp
of Chadwick the courageous carp.
By my newspaper, I was told,
he is two foot long, ten years old.
A chagoi koi carp, his full name,
so from Japan his kind first came.
In an aquatic centre lived he,
in Hampshire, happy as a bee.
Then came the floods, after the rain,
caused by global warming, some explain,
and he was swept from his still lake
with whatever else the floods would take.
His friend, Steve the sturgeon by his side,
he was taken on a tumbling ride,
over roads, industrial estates,
he was hurried with twigs and crates,
till driven in the River Test,
longing for the lake he loved best.
Now seven miles away it lay,
a dog walker saw him at play.
So from the river, he was saved,
his gills and fins he gladly waved.
His keeper came and took him home,
now no more will he need to roam.

Light Ships

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                 Light Ships

On the far sea horizon,
a mirage of light ships,
a trick of my eye,
for only I can see them.
No human mariners can be on board
such luminous craft,
such unearthly vessels.
High on a mast, beams a lamp,
winks, sends a crystal signal.
Five colours I count,
sapphire, red, green, violet, blue.
Advanced aeroplanes,
silent, otherworldly helicopters,
for a few moments,
in a wider expanse,
circle above them,
vanish with seagull cries.
Suddenly, sand
feels hard beneath my feet,
my body numb, empty,
my eyes clean, certain.
Vision of light ships
swept away by natural cloud,
distraction of waves,
seaweed tangle on the shore.

1914-2014

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                 1914-2014

( Written in memory of my grandfather, William Dodd, who fought in and survived the Battle of the Somme in the First World War, published in the Liverpool Echo on Thursday, 27th, February, 2014. )

1914, an English country lane,
a tender shining after early morning rain,
a cartload of village men,
soon to be marching to the thudding of a drum,
digging ditches in the waste land of the Somme,
and they were young.

2014, a bright bronze bugle call,
echoes of clarions disturb the churchyard wall,
in honour of village men,
whose names and dates are carved on the monument stone,
for black thunder cannons made them die alone,
when they were young.

Long ago, it was, but I remember still,
my grandfather, sat back in his chair,
Sunday morning sunlight on the window sill,
the silver chain of his pocket watch,
bright against his dark waistcoat,
his white hair well washed and combed,
quiet, remote, a serene smile still creased his mouth.
I was just a schoolboy, I did not understand
what it meant that he helped to save our land.
I only thought it good
that he looked like a grandfather should.

“He’s been working in the gardens,”
my grandmother would say,
meaning the local park,
where I flew my kite, pretended to ride a horse,
and did all I could to play.

“He was at the Somme,
the great battle in the First World War,”
my father told me.
Only now I understand.
In his uniform, with his rifle,
he fought to defend our shore.
Now I know he listened
for cheerful laughter at the door,
voices of friends lost forever in the war,
when they were young.

Ascent of the Prophet to Heaven

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                                                     Ascent of the Prophet to Heaven

Jade mountain, white crested in winter,
stars, black and red, stabbed the sky,
punctured the void, like diamonds
on a playing card.
Not for his body or his pride,
he wound up the mountainside,
to prove, maybe, he had a spirit,
heard the tick of clockless time.
His feet bled, grew hard.
Looked up, saw the summit waited,
bare, broken, made vague by mist.
Dice game of gamblers, behind him,
left in a wayside inn,
further down, the mutter of shepherd men.
Persian painting path he pursued
from when he was eleven,
glinted gold, silver, red,
on a page of verse,
ascent of the prophet to heaven.
Light, he rode from the summit,
as if on a horse,
then, winged, he flew, like a bird.
Cheerful ones met him,
asked if it was worth the effort.
He smiled, nodded,
said he wanted to turn,
tell those left behind:
it’s all true.
They shook their heads, told him,
there’s nothing you can do.
When we came up here, they said,
we felt the same as you.
He understood, knew,
for a moment, everything,
then, higher up, he followed them.

 

Song For Gabriel

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                            Song for Gabriel

( Poem by Philip Dodd, included in the chapter called, The City of the Scorpion, in my book, Angel War. The above print, The Fall of Babylon by Gustave Dore, can be seen on the back cover of my book. )

This is my song for Gabriel,
the Angel of the Word,
I’ve sung to you so many times,
this time I may be heard.
I sing to you from fellowship,
past times I sang alone,
but now I can extend my love
to wood and air and stone.
Your golden wings have cradled me,
your voice has made me kneel.
Your actions turn the universe,
your wisdom spins the wheel.

This is my song for Abraham,
the shepherd of mankind,
you led your tribe out from Canaan,
and none were left behind.
O, come, fulfil your prophecies,
and say the war is won.
Must I wait in vales of visions,
and leave my song undone?

Windmill and Rainbow

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                           Windmill and Rainbow

 ( Poem by Philip Dodd, inspired by the above painting by Turner. )

Windmill and rainbow,
noon light and shadow,
canal and meadow,
busy stone worker,
mirror on water,
brush stroked by Turner.
Another world lensed,
I cannot enter,
only gaze on from outside,
still stood in my corner,
wishing I could walk in,
step over the border,
explore what lies beyond frames,
where there are colours and shapes
too new to have names.
Somewhere, find an inn,
for bed, beer and bed,
quietly, upstairs, sleep in a loft.
Morning, at the window,
smile on more than windmill and rainbow.
Journey on, further and deeper,
onlooker no longer.

Blodeuedd

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                   Blodeuedd

( Poem by Philip Dodd, inspired by the tale of Math Son of Mathonwy in The Mabinogion. )

Welsh wizards, Math and Gwydyon,
conspired together, met in a wood,
to form a woman out of flowers,
petals of oak, broom, meadowsweet,
so she woke, more fair than spring
song of birds when leaves
drip and shine with showers.

Later, Gwydyon regretted the deed,
for as the wife of Lleu,
she did deeds not fair, but foul,
renamed her Blodeuwedd,
and changed her into an owl.

Now she hoots all through
the black dark night,
among the trees and ruined towers,
and longs to be a woman fair again,
made of woodland flowers.

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