Children use to chime,
As birds of all sorts used to rhyme,
While the weightless water danced,
Across the rough rocks,
As animals of all sorts scurried through the white water,
Swimming swiftly away from yapping dogs,
And joyful cheers echoed across the river,
From the busy golf course aside,
But now all is still,
No children in site,
Birds whining eerily,
As murky water drifts across,
Plastics of all sorts,
The only sound,
Is the busy road aside,
As few lonely animals,
Swim rapidly away from litter,
Which was left by children,
who use to chime
The Environment is a beautiful place,
Things grow and die at a steady pace,
But we don’t treat it with respect and grace,
And now floods and fires have begun to give chase.
Just imagine all of the cute little cottontails
The tweet tweet of the common quail
The loud call of the humpback whale,
All of them, becoming weak and frail
Young teens cannot take the blame
For hurricanes or acid rain
We all caused this, which is plain
And lush green forests we can regain
The Environment was a beautiful place
Now thing don’t grow, but die at too fast a pace
We began to treat it with respect and grace
But floods and fires are winning their game of chase
We can fix this mess if we do it right,
Walk to school, turn off a light,
Climate action is taking flight,
Let’s save the planet and put up a fight
Beautiful trees and buzzing bees
Flourishing in the garden
Wild bears and fluffy hares
Running in the woods
Polar bears in icy lairs
Dancing in the snow
Fish in the sea, swimming happily
Water crystal clear
All the trees are gone
Mean hunting, hunters grunting
Animals run and run
Global warming is a warning
Will the humans wake up?
Flowers dying, bees are crying
Fishes full of plastic
We must change
Clean up the land
Clean up the sea
Yes, you and me
We must change
Clean up the land
Clean up the sea
Did you hear me?
The remains of leaves coat bare earth,
and with it
tree-dwellers nest in trunks of bare trees,
their branches glazed with a frost
coaxing all into a wary slumber
while the forest holds its breath
impatient for the solaced arrival of spring.
Spring has sprung
and with it,
come times of consolation,
as life revives itself
from the deep doze that had enveloped it.
With plentiful warmth,
seeping through trees and into the ground
enveloping like a soothing blanket.
And with it,
comes new life.
and with it
unwelcome, stifling heat
soaking all in an uncomfortable warmth,
while waves of stifling heat
batter the land.
and with it
the beginning of the frost.
Preparation has begun
and tree-dwellers work at their stores
and with them works the whole forest
as unfathomable cold sweeps through it,
enveloping the land in a
Whirls like shrunken tornadoes
stir the earth,
blanketed by leaves
in shades of orange and brown hue.
While hibernators shuffle in their dens
preparing for their winter sleep
which takes them away
until warmth swathes the land,
while the leaves turn to
My Swift COVID
4 days in bed, 4 floors up.
Their arcs, their soaring,
my only flight.
COVID-positive, I’m re-positioned.
In their world.
It’s an airy, exhilarating
From his bench he can’t see the hills but smells them even from here: myrrh? Sweet acrid. Stepped slopes paths once trodden by millhands smoking like chimneys in the valleys below. Coughed out years ago – last time he was there they were weaving the peat bogs back together. Bog myrtle, sphagnum moss the weft the warp. Smell of burnt meat from the Christmas markets as he feeds the vixen from his kebab. She loves a bit of spice, works the back of Thomas Street’s Indian café’s yesterday’s curries and naans. She tells him of burrows burnt ground nests flamed in seconds. Shadows wandering ruined trails ghosts of the song of themselves. Fox licks the wounds
on his hands the stink of the lost
They appeared mid-morning, mid-mere
Broad daylight, bold as brass.
The limpid surface shattered,
Moorhens, teal and wigeon scattered.
First an adult, hump-backed water-weasel,
Wide-whiskered, plunging and diving,
Eating an eel.
Then came the cubs, mob-handed,
Heads, tails, bottoms up, sharp teeth,
Writhing, wrestling, rehearsing for life.
On a post sat the liver bird, fellow-fisher,
Wings hung out to dry;
Above the reeds floated the harrier.
In the bird hide jaws and sandwiches dropped,
Shutters clicked, ‘scopes were scrambled.
Beardies and bitterns forgotten.
Then, line astern, Nessie like, they were gone.
Until you came into my life,
I’d forgotten the night had a voice.
Barking fox and hunting owl shout,
while snail and moth whisper.
Trees hush me a lullaby like a creeping tide
shifting pebbles on the shore.
You held me while it spoke,
hiding harvestmen in your folds.
Wrapped in you I slip into wild dreams
waking to the tidings of crows,
while lazy dawn shadows dance
on your canvas cloak.
After her bedtime book
she asks me,
‘Mummy, what’s that?’
A bat, silent as the dark
sounding of nothing
cuts through the room
dragging the night sky
and all the bad shadows
from our stories in its wake.
I imagine I hear its ancient screech,
a taunt directed at me.
‘Let her watch you,’ it cries
‘She wants you to make this all stop.’
We didn’t notice they had gone
leaving the door wide
on a hot night
across the grass
and the glass
in our uncurtained windows
made a blazing trap
of the June bugs
in from the dark
and furred moth wings
and Daddy Long-legs
and creeping beetles
in an old web or
a dusting of carapace
and lace wing
on the loft sill
and the swallows’ pouch
of mud and feathers
in the porch,
that might have been a swift
cutting an arc
dark against dark
above our heads
we could not know
since we had seen them last.
writing a poem about sharks
especially writing about shark attacks
without getting bloody and disgusting
without mentioning the word infested
or putting people off going into the water
or turning them off their fish suppers
and I don’t want to get lost in numbers either
not everyone thinks sharks are cute
they’re not furry or funny
they don’t work as emotional support animals
I’m not sure how loyal they would be
or how good at learning tricks
I don’t know if you’d be able to get them to wear
a onesie and pose for the family Christmas photo
I do know that more people are attacked by dogs
every year than sharks
and that if I said 100 million puppies are slaughtered
each year that would probably shock you
and you’d think it was bloody disgusting
Temper rising, she becomes a blur of business,
works at glass and frame, vents a blast of angry wings
in search of phantom gaps or phased matter.
Close outside, snapdragons sway encouragingly,
zinnias gesture from plastic boxes beyond the window,
rays of light refract, reflect and raise the stakes.
Frustration takes her; she begins to butt the pane,
anguish as real as the vibrations bounced
off this double-glazed sound board.
But rail as she might against the unseen,
against the barrier between her and home,
she cannot cross this hidden veil to the other side.
And me, I see beyond a peevish bee
my mother leathering the window,
complaining of muck and dust and dry weather.
Once children walked on this country lane
Free from fear, safe from traffic,
Watching ducks on the river, lambs in the fields,
Gathering wildflowers from the hedgerows.
Now the narrow lane is heavy with petrol fumes,
Cars roar around blind bends,
Tractors trundle along, dragging heavy trailers.
Children no longer walk here.
Local people were determined to fight
For the right to walk in safety.
So they made the Millennium Way.
To the outsider it’s just a footpath
Raised on a flood bank beside the Wyre.
Lovely views, wildlife a-plenty
Ducks, geese, the occasional heron,
Swallows and swifts in season, seagulls too.
Primroses blossom, then cowslips
Then daffodils in golden hosts.
The perfect place for a quiet walk
At a pace I want to go.
Seats where I can rest and dream,
And contemplate cows in one field,
Lambs gambolling in the other.
The bow of Bowland hills in the background
The River Wyre, brown and sinuous, flowing to the sea,
More to me than a footpath, a link to life.
Friends wave as they pass my window;
Acquaintances exercise their dogs,
Strangers with walking boots and poles
Set off for a day’s hiking.
The Millennium Way – my pathway to Paradise
Not jellyfish he said,
more crabby than he’d meant
because he turned again
And what a fleet.
Sunday plate blue
with sails stuck up like Tom’s legs
when he and John took the last hill from Barnstaple with no gears –
long before the ashes blew back
and the beach cricket years.
He turns again
from shoeing something reluctant into a bucket
for a pale shrimp of a relative.
And all left-handers, see.
Heading port side of the wind
whether they like it or not – poor beggars.
Well we can’t help it either, I thought.
Putting a dog whelk in my pocket,
and remembering the walk
when I still thought
You never had much time for lavender,
but savour the ghost of honey in my last soap,
lingering on hands and nerves in wrists,
the wooden slats of a bed I will never own.
I burrowed into the roots of the library,
where a kid teased rivers from the piano.
I picked out old cookbooks full of berries.
You stroke their pictures, feet in the air.
We drift in and out of our pink shorts –
I have endless pairs from my Spain days.
I treasure my rare snapshots of ladybirds,
mourn the end of the tiger caterpillars.
No butterflies get trapped here anymore,
only flies and mosquitoes, and the moths
I try to decode like yellow flaking bibles.
We allow them to stay, keep our lights low.
The radio says, all buses have vanished
from Manchester, and all trams have turned
from yellow to deep pink. Love, it is so hot,
like a baby rabbit, curled in its first tiny hole.
Listen to his call, its a warning,
a cry of despair for this world.
Unless we accept responsibility
for our feckless ways.
Constrain our want for more,
always bigger, always faster.
Like the willow tit, we’ll be
brought to the edge of extinction.
Will we listen to the scientists
while we can, before time runs out?
Will farmers grow trees,
save habitat for our wildlife?
Will we limit our population?
And while we still can, listen to his call.
Heaven is not a place on earth
But It is here;
here in these clouds,
Sailing and soaring at the whim of the wind
Amongst the dust and droplets of water.
Some days I dream and
I look toward the deep blue above;
Toward space and I see
Those human built birds,
Lines of cotton trailing in their wakes
A vapour drawn track I wish to fly
I dream of travelling to where they travel
To distant shores and ancient monuments
To hear the Arias sung and poems said,
To expand the horizon
Of my scavenged cuisine
And my repertoire of dissonant song.
I dream of visiting a star or a planet,
a satellite or a moon, Icarus to the galaxy
Looking down onto this broken earth
or into the past when we birds ruled the roost
The ornitho-empire of the sky
The winged fingers of pre history
Still and all……
dreaming’s for the birds
I must set my course
I must do my life’s work
I am the chippy kleptomaniac
I am the raucous disturber of your seaside sleep
I must stripe your cars with guano
And call out my own soliloquy of love.
Parakeets sing their songs of praise,
Rain droplets drip down from yesterday’s rain fall,
Making the leaves of exotic plants droop from the weight.
Thousands of Brazil nut trees and kapok trees loom high above, each tree with an inhabitant in,
From poison-dart frogs, to capybaras,
The rainforest is full of thriving life.
Flowers bloom open,
Wasps and bees fly around in search for pollen,
Capybaras and black howler monkeys drink from the small pools of water left from the rainfall.
Dirt covers the floor,
Poo droplets in trails leading to nowhere.
Rivers flowing with water that the animals of this forest drink from.
Piranhas swim in the rivers,
Eating anything that comes near them.
This is the forest that everything feels welcome,
This is their place they call home.
Hard by the Bay,
Braced against the rain,
Fixed into the wind,
Birds of the coastal plain.
I first saw them off Fegla Fawr,
Big red beaks like I’d never seen before.
I sat and watched them from afar.
And now they’re here on Morecambe Bay,
Unmistakeable, standing that way,
A panoply of piebald,
All facing Ireland
Through the sea spray.
For flying in a straight line
There’s got to be no match,
There’s no time to deviate
When there’s oysters to catch.
I can see them from Marine Road,
It’s the place where oystercatchers go
For cockles and mussels by the tractor load.
I’ve never seen one catch an oyster though!
But there they go,
Legs with backward knees,
Shooting the breeze,
Whistling like referees.
On serious deeds.
You can keep your peregrines!
You can keep your golden eagles!
Here’s majesty enough for me
Standing proud amongst the seagulls!
And as one,
Gone home to Iceland
Until the Autumn comes.
Badger fox hedgehog muntjac
moth mosquito blackfly midge
a headless barn its sides exploded
some eyeless houses their shingles shot.
Downed owl kestrel hawk and rook
a footless car laid out on bricks while
ribboned along the broken hard shoulder
entrails of tyres their black guts busted.
My road bludgeons our way through the land
past colonies of new-builds perched on hills
slices its way through cowering fields and
a knotweed of glowing gantries and lamps.
Cat’s eyes are pecked by gang of crows
dispirited the earth recoils as I pass and
staring as I am through straw-stained glass
my eyes go unmet by a cortege of trees.
As the wind rolls in from the west
And the waves are at their best
The sea comes alive with life
Dolphins jump and swirl
As they twirl
The waves suddenly burst from the deep
As the whales suddenly leap
The fish scatter
The big monster comes down with a clatter.
As the grasslands warm with the sun
The winter is done
The wildebeests graze
In the haze
Next you hear the wildebeest’s hooves
The lion strikes with a leap
She finds an antelope asleep
The lion full
She sees a bull
As the rain falls
The rainforest calls
A monkey jumps
Over the tree stumps
A panther traces a scent
Catches her prey
Now she is content
End of a big day.
Deserts getting hotter
Seas are full of water
Trees we are clearing
We need to be willing
To stop what we are doing
Polluting our world
Otherwise, there is no way back.
Some people don’t know what it is like to sleep without the rumble
of traffic through the night
Other folk might be restless without a river rushing past
Some people only know air that tastes of diesel
Other folk don’t know the comfort of stepping outside on a moonless night, unable to see your hand before your face
They have no inkling, that the stars are more luminous and prolific in the country, or that the full moon casts shadows where there are no streetlamps
Some folk might never have heard a sheep cough or looked a deer in the eyes, picked sloes or know how to tell a yellow stainer from an edible
Other folk forage from supermarket skips
Some people chuck out more food than other people can afford in a week
I have never seen a fox in this small city
I don’t bump into badgers on dark nights
I rejoice at the rustle of beech leaves in suburbia
Find a moment of darkness after the street goes to bed, glimpse Jupiter from the yard