POVERTY, POVERTY KNOCK

Up a steep lane banked with a flint wall

are the remains of a workhouse. A heritage

lottery grant has preserved the section

for men in its pristine austerity.

 

In return for a wash, clothes boiled, a bowl

of gruel, a night’s sleep, the following day

from first light they would grind stones – working

a cast iron, giant-size egg slicer, like

a destructive loom. After midday,

and no food, they would tramp, like their Poor Law

forebears,

share

THE LAST CLOCK

As a wave breaking then breaking then breaking

and, finally, falling, dispersing on the sands,

the red azalea bloomed then the crimson

camellia, the purple magnolia

and the white weeping cherry – its blossoms,

the silk folds of its petals, April’s winds

and showers were scattering like snowflakes.

 

After, the unfolding flesh of the leaves,

contoured like malachite, sturdy as stone

seemingly, seduces. How can this surprise

more and more each year, as if unknown,

share

SUCH PEOPLE TO LOVE

As I leaf through the three albums you have made –

mostly of your photographs plus some

of my poems – one book for each of her years –

I realise we are ready for the fourth

and how every day of every

year has been as full as a lifetime.

 

You have only caught her best side – quite right

too – as she grows up into her self: none

of those heartbreaking, fearful tantrums where

her world becomes chaotic,

share

DARK SOUL OF THE NIGHT

‘Oh the mind, mind has mountains.’ Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

Death ends but not every day dies with sleep.

Engines grind down at the darkened cross roads –

passengers tilt forward, cargoes shift –

then – headlights sweeping the room’s bare walls,

slashing the night – accelerate out of reach:

goods secured, people insouciant.

 

In the silence, in the empty stillness

that follows, I am awake, restless, waiting

then nightmared. I cannot control, resist –

whatever they are – ordinary thoughts,

share

THE FALL OF SPARROWS

Commensal with humans for 10,000 years,

since the first cultivation of barley

and wheat, the house sparrow, that communal

eater of insects and seeds, is ubiquitous –

from Kolkata to Coventry, Haifa

to Hawaii – sometimes a pest, a pet

or on a plate; a symbol of lechery

or vulgarity – but in decline here

because of pesticides perhaps

or mobile phones, car parks, unleaded petrol.

 

Certainly, we miss the small flocks in the shrubs

and their rapid,

share