A Blackbird fell
Have you ever wondered
what happens to the birds?
sparrows entertain us town folk
rewarding us for gardens treats
the seeds and nuts we deem delicious
dangling from pretend trees
a thrush will mine a snail
from its private caravan
but no bird seems to eat a slug
or prehistoric chuggy pig
daring robins flits beside us
hoping we’ll expose a worm or two
as we dig weeds and turn our soil
they love to splash en masse
in a plant pot saucer spa
but what happens at the end of the day?
perhaps our trees are secret cemeteries
with little niches full of tiny corpses in decay
have you ever wondered what happens to the birds
a blackbird fell at my feet today.
Back for this week or maybe more.
Eye shining like flame
bright through countless soft feathers
focussing on you
small human you’re being watched
by this skilful predator
My first poem of the year was inspired by this painting by my mum Pat, thank you!.
A sense of woodland
Trudging through mud and leaf litter,
with his faithful companion Ned
a man surveys the landscape,
testing his path with a stick
from the same birch wood.
At the gate the dog pauses,
paw suspended, alert, ears wide,
and the pungent stench of vixen,
barely perceptible to human senses,
overwhelms its olfactory nerve.
A gleam of solstice light falls
on a startle of rabbit, a clear acre distant.
The man fumbles for his pipe and baccy,
scrapes squelchy leaves from his soles.
Ned flops with a disappointed grunt,
a screech of jays laugh from naked branches.
Then once more the silence is palpable.
What’s inspiring you right now?
and the image that inspired it.
Take shelter in the arms
of our Lady of the Woods
she will lift all sorrow to the heavens
where the healing of the universe
will ease away the pain
mother earth will care for the spirit
while the body will rest well
lying dormant through the winter
and when springtime comes
it comes with hope
change fresh growth
a new awareness of birth
life pain death and rebirth
and a fragmented heart will heal
take shelter in the arms
of our lady of the woods
Kay Neilsen East of the sun west of the moon
Beneath planks of layityourselfdecking.com
lies a foot of sticky stamped-on red clay
above a layer of rich fertile soil
where a keen first-time gardener
planted carrots for one season only
and a cat skeleton, with a slack flea collar
sleeps forever in wicker remains
a splintered rocking-chair with legs splayed
the oilcloth seat stuffed with horsehair
and pierced by crumbling coiled springs
deeper a wrought iron gate crushing a 70’s suitcase
with rust circles and lines and a concrete post
compacting it into the ground
a naked Barbie with painted lashes
blue eyes dimmed by the trash
no longer a little child’s treasure
a grandchild has i phone Barbie games
but that’s okay just throw it away
what’s this straight jaw full of teeth
the smoothness of piano keys
quick grab the ivory sell it to China
or send it to a Gaberone museum
for when there are no elephants left
majestically walking the savannah
and no savanna for an elephant to walk
The one not to be
I watch the crush of hands
as I hear my own lips
saying I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat
hold on hold on and hold tighter
then this won’t be true
I’ll blink and someone will say you’re dreaming
and I won’t be in my crisp uniform
with a plastic pinny and eyes full of empathy
for something I’ve never experienced
I won’t lean over her belly
pressing a doppler to my ear
with my eyes turning filmy with fear
for the woman whose day I should be making
whose heart I shouldn’t be breaking
but I’ll do it anyway my tears uncontained
and I’ll swallow the pebble in my throat
instead of retching
then I’ll leave them alone
to try to make their love enough
to carry them through
On Saturday I went to a poetry workshop organised by Moor Poets. The tutor was Tamar Yoselof, an inspiring tutor who gave valuable feedback to all.
The title of the workshop was Ekphrasis and we looked closely at several Ekphrastic poems including one of Tamar’s. I never knew that there was a name for the way I use art or photography to write poems.
We had a pile of art postcards to choose from as a writing prompt.
I left with rough notes for the poem below.
no shade allowed
I must be content with an outside view
of twice baked cubes and oblongs
black wood and the palest bone-like earth
a hush fit to burst
wake the dead
or call the prayer
a woman glides by
swathed in indigo
followed by her child
a warthog mama follows
followed by her squealing wartlets
I walk to where people huddle
smiling with the hope of a chat
but with foot flicks of sand they’re gone
leaving one elder man who looks as if he’s always been
a sentinel guarding what?
he fixes black eyes on mine
then hisses like a possible snake
if I dare to stay I see
the slow deliberate bend of an elbow
slide of hand to a pocket
to pull out
Mid-June knee high yellowed grass
Screaming for a cut, I sensed its thirst,
the struggle and failure to remain upright,
on a crisp hollow shell.
Mallow stands proud pink petals
boldly streaked with magenta, waiting
for a wise woman to brew a remedy
or make a cheese-weed cheese
Dandelion aggressive interlopers,
heads bowed to the soil, already shrivelled,
the seeds dispersed in the whispered breeze.
one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock
I paused, listened to the chirrup
of grass hopper, cricket,
whatever’s the difference.
threatened by my stillness, they fell silent.
Dogs raced down from the top of a hill.
George jumped, leapt like a deer through the grass,
up down, up down, he dipped and dived
Revelling in the stench of bitch fox
Flora, fast as a bullet chased swallows
backwards, sideways covering three times
his distance in her futile efforts
to bring home her own lunch.
Find the photo, it’s the one with all three, above the two wood person.
Nature’s sculpture curves, sways and strives
to sling un-human’s detritus from the margins
to protect the vast ocean from more of the rot
nothing on this planet that hasn’t always been
then what vile reversed alchemy allows iron,
converts copper, and bends bronze until
it becomes a web of death for seal, dolphin, albatross?
to disintegrate into toxic crumbs in the cold blooded
sea fish that fetch up formed into fingers
crumbed and plated with so much sea salt
disguising neutralizing the residue of iron
fingers of rust turn to dust in the gut
oil carbon chemical process turns into sacks
and plastic bags, bottles to contain oil
to massage into aging flesh
while hastening our planet’s death
An Autumn Lament
my sulky boots trample the leaves at my feet
earthy notes playing a dissonant tune
pale fungi emerge through clovery grass
tempting souls to dark hallucinations
more potent than winter’s strangling chill
horse chestnut’s late beauty twirls in my vision
with origami-like folds in ochre, and gold,
their song a crisp tinkle in the breeze.
over and over I must bring myself back so
I raise my head to the beauty of autumn,
up under a bright cloudless sky
where wings dip and dive as if free to play
at once preferable to a descending gloom
and so I resist the maybe mushrooms