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Tag Archives England

DOWN THE LINE

For Kira Somach

 

I have regular readers – some I have known

for years, others I will never meet –

on every continent except

Antarctica: a wonder not a boast!

One, an actual friend from long ago,

tells me, via email, that she often reads

some of my poems over the phone

to her father – she in Missouri,

he in Florida: to remind them

of his years working in England,

and her years here becoming a woman.

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A GOOSE IN THE BAMBOO

Catching a charter flight from Manchester,

the family eases through security

but I am detained – there are traces

of explosive in my backpack: poems

on the hard drive? The scanner is at fault.

 

At Nikos Kazantzakis Heraklion –

the only airport named for a writer –

one of our cases arrives broken

on the single baggage carousel

and one of the gent’s toilets has backed up

but ‘Zorba’s Dance’ is playing somewhere,

the sea beyond the runways could be almost

‘wine-dark’

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ONLY TO BE OPENED…

If her mother were to live to be Centenarian of the Year,

your mother would be seventy six and you,

surprising angel, nearly thirty three.

(You will note, I am assuming that I shall not be

Grandpa of the Decade – false modesty, of course!)

 

Thinking for so long there would be none,

I am surprised how the likely continuity –

of blood, flesh and memory – reconciles me

to that dim eternity. The phone rings.

‘Hehwo, Gwanpa.’ As always,

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PIPER LAIDLAW OF LOOS

The Allies were waiting to go over the top

to attack a weak enemy position.

The British used gas for the first time.

Unfortunately, after a half an hour,

the wind changed and it all blew back

over the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

Unsurprisingly, the men were distressed.

Lieutenant Young called out, “Pipe them together,

Laidlaw, for God’s sake, pipe them together.”

And the forty year old veteran climbed

the ladder, tuned his pipes and marched back and fore

along the parapet,

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THE BARNSTON MONUMENT

‘On the road to Chester, on the outskirts of Farndon, stands a monument to the late Major Barnston, raised in 1858 by his tenantry and friends. It consists of a grand obelisk, having at its base, four handsomely carved stone figures of recumbent lions.’

 History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, George Ormerod, 2nd Edition 1882.

 

The lions, positioned north, south, east and west –

encompassing the, now reduced, estates–

are lying, on their tomb chests, heads on paws

as if asleep.

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RITES

That rite of passage of the middle class –

chauffeuring offspring to the varsity –

took us the breadth of England, from Hoole to Hull.

Extending her childhood, our parenthood

or both, we travelled the edge of hope

and longing, by acres of burning stubble

and slagheaps greening. In the rearview mirror,

she leant forward to gossip about

the future…When she was eight, we’d planted

her cherry tree, knowing she would one day

climb up it and out of sight.

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AT GAYTON SANDS

Dee Estuary, Gayton ©SCES 2009



The sands now are out in the estuary

beyond a multitude of reeds and a

labyrinth of runnels, nearer Wales than

England. We walk along the old sandstone

seawall, side by side, looking up as we talk

towards that startling, empty horizon

– midway between Point of Air and Hilbre.

What confidence in the future to build

a sea defence as far as the next parish!

We make way for joggers and dog walkers:

at Cottage Lane,

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‘A WINDY DAY’ & ‘A CALM MORNING’

 

A WINDY DAY, J.M.W.TURNER Tabley, the seat of Sir J.F. Leicester

They bought up land, made marriages, dispossessed

tenants and built their fortune on rents.

These commissions mark their zenith. Since then,

the estate has been sold off acre by

acre, piece by piece – one Turner remains,

the other hangs in another museum.

Some things are unchanged: in the distance,

the house’s palladian exterior

in local sandstone, the round turreted

folly on the small island in the lake –

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A BOOK OF HOURS

 

'Fevrier' from Les Tres Riche Heures du Duc De Berry

'Février' from Les Tres Riche Heures du Duc De Berry

 

July

We are rather formally attired

for country pursuits in the ducal woods;

August

me with a tie and you, I uncover,

with white suspenders and matching knickers.

September

Intimate stranger, forever touching

for your least kindness, forever surprising;

October

unpredictable as light,

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