Tales from the Woods

My children had an uncle.
He took them all out hunting,
they never did say what they sought,
out in the woods, for hours and hours
playing amongst the tall trees.
I stayed home tendling the fire,
baking the bread
and stirring the soup
in the endlessly bubbling pot
I had set to warm with the dawn.
They came back at dusk,
happy and tired
with mud on their shoes
and big sparkling eyes
and when i bathed them at night
and combed out their tangled hair,
sparkling dust fell to the floor,
twinkled and disappeared.
We saw him less and less,
but strange gifts
still arrived at the door
when a wind blew in from the west
(the time i always like best).
As they grew up, he faded,
or maybe he just went away.
The world was never the same after that,
their focus had shifted and torn,
until they had their own children
and told the old stories again.

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Nostalgia

I remember the smell of bran mash and horses,
steam rising in winter sun
the creaking of leather out in the yard,
saddles and straps, the welcoming whinny,
the course hair of manes caught in the brush
the sharp hollow ring of shod hooves on stone
echoing round the stables
the first time a horse stood on my foot
leaning shoulder to shoulder and pushing
feeling the strength of sinew
and above all the stable doors
the names of old horses, long gone

I remember the bluebells
blueness in scented shadows
fallen branches and fungi
the huge tree, blown down in the winter,
still full of life,
and the rooks crying above
to the echoing shouts of young children
we play hide and seek amongst the trees
until someone falls over
and it’s time to get them to bed
the days are still shorter than summer

I remember in summer, sweet jasmin,
the buzz of the bees in the hedgerows,
the heat of the day, a sizzler
the smell of sun warmed railway tracks
where the weeds grew up through the sleepers
the shimmer ahead where the sun met illusion
my sandal strap broken, mended with string,
when we sat on the banks
while the dogs raced away
to the river

I remember lovers
Autumn is gold with nostalgia
summer is over
it’s time for fires
fires on the beach
fires in the house
the chill air makes us snuggle
there is no need to go out in the evening
time to find last years old jerseys
and let them embrace us again

Never Mind the Kardashians

Have you ever noticed that tulip leaves squeak?
Have you wondered what it is that excites them?
Could it be the touch of your hand?

Could it be the touch of your hand
in the earth that may sometimes heal you?
Does energy rise up through your sickening veins?

Have you ever wondered what it is that excites them –
the way a moth, expecting rapture, leaps in a flame?
Young children love repetitions – that’s a puzzle to me!

Have you ever noticed how tulip petals squeak?
I prefer to ponder these ridiculous questions
Than wonder what the Kardashians think.

Kardashians think?

Dreaming Bob Dylan

I fell asleep and dreamed a dream.
I was with my old lover, we lay in bed.
The things in our room were re-arranged.
I said, ‘The bed side table should be here,
there is nowhere now i can rest my book
and the shelf is gone, and your memory jar.’

To get to this place we had travelled far.
I went outside and i saw where we were.
We were in a hotel by the Taj Mahal,
the shining white palace of love,
and a river flowed right past our door.
‘I have been for a walk’ i said to you
you answered me with a warning smile
‘You cant be too careful with children here,
you must hold their hands wherever you go.”
I said ‘yes, it’s true, but our children are grown,
they have their own lives, and their own homes,
they are taller than me, the nest is flown”

You told me you’d been out the night before
and met a man who got you drunk.
You showed me a head that was covered in gold
it was huge and heavy but the face was kind.
You tipped it up and the liquor flowed
out of its neck and onto the ground.
There were shallow waters all around.

I heard a guitar and I turned about.
I saw Bob Dylan was standing there.
His face in the free-wheelin’ time of life,
a time when he shone like a new born star.
I listened to his songs as the river flowed by.
I sat by the river and talked with him.
He didn’t say much. He looked resigned.

My lover said ‘There’s a wish fulfilled,
You can tick that one off the bucket list.’
I said ‘Wishes are useless in times like this.
I think Bob Dylan’s time has come.
There’s no place left for us to run.’
It makes me feel lost, he’s a friend,
a friend I maybe never had
but i played music so long with him
blending his guitar with my violin
and now it’s the end of Bob Dylan’s dream,
a beautiful dream. It’s makes me sad.’

So Simple

How simple it was to be in love then,
when we were only a boy and a girl.
Imagination had magical powers,
a cloth of bright colours,
shot through with silk
reflecting the light.

This was a love
that belonged to the fields,
hidden hedgerows,
sweet scented bowers
furnished with branches,
bean can cups, ivy,
pebbles and leaves,
a paradise, of glorious hours,
where summers haze
wrapped us in dreams.

Now that I’m older,
after long, tiring years,
all that i saw,
all that i felt,
showed me less about love
than I knew then.
Let’s be children,
so simple again.

Too Wise

What do you say
to the one who’s a true hearted friend?
the one you met last, close to the end.
Forget about passion,
forget about pain.
We’ll talk about other things.

Music and books,
Mad Hatter and Alice.
Will Arthur return again?
If we shout loud enough
do you think we can wake him ?

Too old for illusions,
too wise for that now,
no love poems here
never-never, they’re banned.
Keeping your feet on the ground
is the hardest part,
romance is easy,
i feel myself floating,
the challenge is avoiding a  fall.

We can be children and play.
It’s an adventure, that’s all.
I don’t need to say anything,
you know all i mean.
You know, as i do,
things are not as they seem.
There are monsters out there.
They wait in the dark.
Hold tight,
they wont catch us my darling
we’ll live in the light.

Birthdays

when a person has a birthday
how ever old they are
you think about a child
and all the gifts they crave
with all the world spread out ahead
wishing on a star

but later on in life,
you start to realise
it’s not about the birthday gifts
you only wish for greetings
from loved ones flung afar
all the distant family
and all the friends you made
just to see them smile again
though they are in the grave

it’s hard to have a party
when the guests are gone away
and you are the last of them
to linger here and stay

you watch the children gather
you offer them some cake
you smile and laugh and bless them
and linger for their sake

Late Fairytale

a loom stands in the corner
the work left incomplete
slippers beside the fire, grown cold
missing the warmth of her feet

this place is full of cobwebs and dust
a broom leans by the wall, forgotten
an emerald bowl holds trinkets, jumbled
does anyone live here at all?

the garden is wild and overgrown
the birds, left unfed, have all flown away
the pool by the fountain is empty and dry
where children used to play

the faeries who hid away in the rain
will return with the nightingale

Under Batmans Cape

The children are playing in the street.
I hear their joyful screams,
dancing rings in summer heat,
cowboys of the back streets,
soldiers forming battle teams,
highwaymen who rob the sun
of all its golden light

Batman twirls his cape,
inventing secret monsters
hidden in the night.
They summon Superman
in mock terror as they run
to the freedom of escape

As the evening shadows lengthen,
falling into softer dreams,
they gather in a circle
with sparkling eyes
heads bent close together
arms and legs a tangle
they tell fantastic stories
from their rich imaginations
suited to their size

All those tales are distant now.
The world became less wise.
The streets are full of cars.
The childrens’ voices all are gone,
silenced by closed doors,
as monsters step onto the screens
displaying ugly scars
on the evening new.

The children play in cyberspace
eating substitutes for food
in a world full of shadows
where no one has a face.

Lock your children up
the bogeyman’s about

La Marseillaise

 

My dead fathered wandered from his bed

complaining of the cold.

His bed, too empty,

needed my mother for warmth.

I told him, then, return to your bed,

warm it ready for her.

 

My mother had fallen down.

I lifted her, naked, onto the marriage bed

and ran through the dark night house

seeking her fresh cotton gown.

 

Children ran through the corridors,

laughing, hiding and seeking,

when they should have been sleeping,

but I let them play

 

When the blackbird sang in the morning

we went out to feed the horses,

the beautiful, lovely horses,

their warm breath steamed in the air

as the night watchman strolled away.

 

The courtyards smelled of new-mown hay

in this city of ancient archways.

The theatre people were waking up

and lighting breakfast fires.

In the hall, behind closed doors,

the band tuned up to play.

They played La Marseillaise.

 

I walked through the city that morning.

I smiled to myself, at the gift of imagination,

and the comfort it always brings,

as the starlings deafened my ears.