Countryside Scylla

She wore clothes in the country way,
Waxy coat with stoat-skin underlay,
Cottonopolis cloth in Wellington boots
Appearing behind the hawthorn roots.
This landed lady lost two of her dogs
Somewhere beyond the dream-line fogs,
My task to pursue both near and far,
I could not see her Isabella fur-hidden scar.
Traversing hills and greenfinch lanes
I searched through snow and seven rains,
Crossing torrents, the Fells in spate,
All memories she would eradicate,
Until I crossed a last long moor
And found the exhausted Labrador
Alongside a shadowing Sheltie.
I returned to my love bareback on a Kelpie,
Imagined rewards, her embrace and her kiss,
But I had wandered far from such bliss,
For her head had since turned a form of darker:
A country lady’s body bound to an Ovcharka.

Green Box

In this Age of Self
A season is sold as Forever,
And newness is on the Eternal Shelf
If we afford the commercial endeavour.
There are no sporting journalists
Sadly in a pandemic,
Soon to be joined by financiers
Leaving morticians and the medics.
The ad stats are not too clever:
Seventy-five and a third respondents
Said the shampoo made a difference;
Whoever saw a third of a woman
Other than magicians?
There are body bags in ice rinks,
Palacio de Helio is straining
Yet my neighbour is complaining
Of garden waste collections paused.
In Antofagasta it is raining,
Air pollution dissipating,
Crime levels are abating,
All my footprints once had caused.

Lycoctonum

All the fuel I’ll ever need,
Is stored within your one misdeed;

A weakened heart can sometimes leak,
Silenced tongues amongst the meek.

Counsellors then knew me so well
And locked me in a stony spell;

I did not have a crust to earn,
Paralysis tick in bracken fern.

All the fuel fends apathy,
Forms scherzos in a symphony;

I have this table where I’ll sit
And that is all for me to fit;

Every wrong that went before
Becomes a song or newfound lore;

To live as long as coelacanth,
Aconite blue and amaranth.

River Road

The effortless ego now observed
Pulled from sand as a nematode
That’s bait for jaw of carp and perch.
I cannot stand on the bridge of myself
For exploring the falling is not without
The water disturbed and a cry for help,
At the green-reed ford the flow’s interrupted
By hikers, a sheepdog, a car is corrupted.
Weighted down with wants and verbs,
Further down with opposable thoughts,
Further down with what is deserved;
Iridescent skin, unblinking eye,
His thoughts the distinction between you and I,
Singular purpose the turbid survived,
As anglers on a leafier side
Stretched, and yawned, and rested awhile.

Orbits

There is less pressure to exert
Determined course of Moon and Earth
Than tour the chambers of my heart.

Untranslatable runes are deeply painted,
Where those who desecrate the sainted
Read aloud: ‘to strive without arrival’

And ‘here he sought and here he yearned’.
I closed my mouth, the world did turn;
One did fade, for the other’s survival.

Six Across

A crossword life, words unfilled,
The sound of bagpipes is a skirl,
Primrose curves and daffodil.

The clew between my fingers fell,
Dead-ends deathly, I knew well,
These limits of a four-lined shell.

I stood at junctions, 6 Across,
Wished for stars but kindling loss,
Lichen-hair and eyes of moss.

Everyone has a daily circuit,
Cryptic, Quick, Acrostic surfeit;
A Bannock Fluke is Scot for turbot.

The queen bought with a rationing token
Her wedding dress, all silks bespoken;
Twelve down ends with my heart broken.

An Incident

Seven imposters stormed a plane,
Copilot diverting, I was captain in name,
So we headed instead for south-west Maine.

A life too fragile recognises,
Flashed several uneventful enterprises,
Designless thoughts, and magnetises;

“Why would young people now watch news
When it’s one more license to abuse,
A taxi-ride through a worldwide sluice.

Not from profitable schooling would we learn,
Taught of fires we could not burn,
Sometimes my whole body would discern

In every muscle sensations hurt,
Skin repealed and nerves subvert
Beneath a Pink Floyd t-shirt.

My favourite film I found, all comatose,
I turned to you, and said Time slows
Down, but if filmed today, who knows.

When comes my turn, I would impress
The difference for failure, and for success,
Is simply two degrees or less”.

The imposters fled the fuselage,
My frame was hoisted on a barge;
With nothing left, the doctors discharged.