The Wounded

There was nothing but the hunt,
the pain, the struggle, the dark.
She had to keep running. Run!
She could barely recall a time
before the breaking of branches.
She could barely recall her time
of being human, of skin
touching skin and naked picnics
when she gazed boldly at the sun.
In her upright days moss and wild
flowers sprang from her every
footstep, birds sang her every word.

Now she ran on all fours. Run, run!
Her cloven hooves were raw, spiked
by thorns. She was pierced by nine
arrows, fur rank with pus. Venomous.
Calculating. The forest was silent,
a lifeless zodiac of roots and branches.
She could no longer recall her name
or why she had to run. Her lungs failed
and she fell in the shadow of a crippled
tree. As she waited for her joyful exit,
forked lightning unravelled silver
threads of hope across the night sky.

 

Note:- this is an ekphrastic poem based on Frida Kahlo’s painting shown below.

 

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The Wounded Deer painting by Frida Kahlo

The Other Side

Somewhere in the Hambleton Hills
I took a right turn down a track not
on any map and edgy with yesterday.

Like Alice I plunged down a tunnel
of yellow gorse, silver birch and rocks
that had danced in the Book of Genesis.

A large pink dog, the sort that calls
a spade a spade was waiting by a stream
where the track vanished in a tangle

of weeping willows and a warning sign
Check depth before entering. Deep water
and shadows beckoned. The dog wagged

his tail in approval and I saw beyond
the ford; a fertile valley and sheep
like ballerinas in tutus and a rainbow

house on a hill in a dazzle of sublime
clouds. I saw a smiling face and a hand
waving, an orchard and a rose garden.

I smelled strawberries, fresh bread
and wood smoke. The whispers of leaves
and birdsong drifted on the breeze.

The dog waited, his eyes wary as hope
while I considered the darkness
of the crossing and judged it too deep.

 

 

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Remember

we gather at the edge
white feathers falling
in the dark
staring into the void
we are alone
the children wave purple lightsabers
kitted out in knitted hats
adorned with pom-poms
there’s a sense of urgency
mother and child move quickly
the wrong direction
teenagers pace and stiffen into poses
words fade with the wind
the burning of wood
the Ivory Tower
the crackling of flames
taking hold the awe
exploding the shock
we gasp smoke
sparks rise shimmering bat-wings
it is beautiful
the stars weep green roses
silver snakes carved
in the perfect dark
a father thin and tired
carries his daughter
to the edge
holds tiny pink hands
in huge gloved fists
nuclear dots burn
in the emptiness
we hold the fire
and only the wind

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020 to all my friends and supporters!

 

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Photo by the author

 

 

 

 

Table for One

Together but alone they come in from the rain,
wait at the counter of The Wicker Man Café.
She admires his shark grey boots and denim thighs.
He looks back, meets her eyes. She smiles.
She orders chocolate cake and tea.
He orders a bacon roll and coffee.

They take separate tables, numbers two and five.

She sits facing the street, looks at the harbor.
She admires umbrellas, orange boats, blue water.
She thinks – is this the start of a long lasting love affair?
With sparkle and poise she spreads a hard knob of butter.
She thinks – find extra pleasure in the small.
She thinks – the possibilities are endless.

He sits with his back to the window, scans the jobs page.
He clocks the breasts on the young waitress.
He thinks – should never have quit the rig.
He tries his phone, searching for a signal.
He thinks – I’ve no more fight.
He thinks – it’s all too late.

She tries not to stare when he stumbles out the door.
On her way home she buys roses scented with moon-dust.

 

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Photograph by the author

Broken Strands

Solitary mortals blaze so bright
dancing through the bitter night.
Beacons blue with pain,
broken strands of DNA
or jewels in the wilderness
trying to connect the dots
into a merry necklace?

The Year is old,
seeping away alone and cold,
face down, skirts up on a park bench.
Poor bag-lady, she’s undone,
waiting for the dawn of a waning sun.

The sky is falling, turning greens to gray
as the child climbs up the hill to pray.

 

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Original photograph by the author

Tales from the Bog

The house Fred built for her
sprang scarlet from mud
like a poppy on the battlefield unfurling
hope among dismembered men.
The bog land wavered between mountains
and a cold sea and the sky hung
white flags of surrender.
In the year seven, her house fell.

The house Gerry made for her
curled pearl from mud.
Like a salamander it grew,
tail renewed, warmed by winter sun.
The bog land quavered between mountains
and a cold sea and the sky hung
grey shrouds of decay.
In the year ten, her house fell.

The house Jack saved for her
sang hallelujahs from mud.
Like Jesus it rose
again, hope alive.
The bog land shimmered between mountains
and a cold sea and the sky hung
pink streamers of bliss.
In the year two zero one five, her house… thrived.

 

P1020844
Original artwork by author, acrylic and household paint, collage on canvas.