AMBITION

…autumn from the train…empty parks washed

in melancholy greens…slow smoke of leaves…

a Wendy House toppled…motorists,

on an underpass, stopped for the blue flash

of a passing emergency…doctor

and priest jostling beside the newly born

mess of humanity, head ballooning

with water, back cleaved, a tangle of entrails

and heart booming like presses: the measure

of our compassion…hospitals, chapels,

mills aspiring to grey horizons…

from the train, things in themselves – fallen

leaves, a tumbled playhouse…

 

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ANGEL OF THE NORTH

At my back is Durham’s Romanesque

Te Deum. I turn my face to the sky

and this wonder – forged in a commonwealth

of system, iron and grace by private

genius out of public patronage,

on the grassed remains of a pithead baths.

 

Wherever you are in its vicinity,

in its line of sight, you can look nowhere else –

at its span, its height, it wings; at the

uncompromising power, unambiguous

vitality. When you look directly,

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ON BECOMING TWO

The party guests arrange themselves for a group

photo with the birthday girl at the centre.

She watches us position ourselves – some

on the sofa, some on the floor in front,

some standing behind – then runs to the tripod

and presses the remote… After the guests have gone,

she draws her first spiral – clockwise, perfect,

a spira mirabilis – then carries

her Pooh balloon around the room, requesting

Postman Pat… She hides under her special

blanket.

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AN ABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE WORLD

‘Holt Bridge On The River Dee’ By Richard Wilson RA

 

Near where the Romans made pottery and tiles

from the rich boulder clay the Ice Age brought,

a fourteenth century eight arch sandstone bridge

spans the River Dee, Afon Dyfrdwy,

linking Welsh Holt and English Farndon.

The bridge’s stones are from the same quarry

as Holt Castle’s, the first the invaders built.

Three centuries later the Roundheads took it.

 

Occasional salmon from the Atlantic

navigate the industrial detritus –

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ALL THAT REMAINS

Among the plane trees, where cicadas screech,

a tumbled column has split. From the fracture,

fossils protrude. Did priests guess the stone

had been seabed? One tiny limpet shell,

its fluting immortalised before gods,

is proud to fingers caressing that other,

elusive, silent country. Slower

than acid rain, more rapacious than locusts,

on a sacred hill, a tinkling flock

of goats is making deserts. Last words

for poems are worm casts at ebb tide:

distinguished far off, close up are crudely

made,

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