Lucky me

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Sunday afternoon.
Warm and drowsy
As blackberry wine.
Walking through fields
I’ve known for thirty years.
Doormat stubble, shining grass,
A whiff of windfall crab-apples.

Dog nosing ahead,
My daughter at my side
Chattering like a magpie;
Still too young
To have her tongue
Tied by time and chemistry.

What strange chance
Made me glance
At the ground
Right there
Right then

And from the crowds around it
Light on that

One

Single stem
Of Trifolium repens
Ignoring its own bill matter
And getting its double helix
In a twist

Throwing out
Two extra tokens
Of pure dumb luck.

Plucked it
(Who wouldn’t?)
Wondered
Just what I held then
And what to do next
With my million-to-one shot:

Line up my seven numbers,
Put my shirt on some long-odds nag,
Back the Texans all the way to Arizona,
Book my ticket to The Strip

Or maybe
I already had
All the luck
Any one man needs.

 
 

More free verse. That universal talisman of good fortune, the four-leafed clover, is a genetic mutation that pops up roughly once for every 10,000 of its common-or-garden trifoliate brethren. Five-leafed specimens like the one I found at the weekend are held to be luckier still, since the odds of finding them are, literally, a million to one. Even so, that’s still roughly 14 times more likely than winning the lottery! N.

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Northbound train

A long, slow groundswell
Torn, cut, worked over
And the steel road slicing through.

Raisin rooks
Cookie-dough cows
Low sheds full of secrets
Silos packed with wealth and mystery.

Flat as a skillet.
Only the trees
Muscular pylons shouldering powerlines
And the racing streak of the train
Break the line.

A sudden tunnel
Through a surprise hill
Coming out of nowhere.
The odd comedy of a deadpan country
And a suggestion of what’s ahead.

Farmyard junk, mouldering straw
The carcases of nameless machines;
The tell-tale symmetry of old spoil heaps
Now grassed over; the burial mounds of industries long dead
But still remembered
And never far below the surface.

Turbines and church spires
Jostle for airspace
Each tapping into and transmitting
Their own unseen sources of power.
In this unpeopled place.

The empty heart of England.

 

Random thoughts from the East Coast Main Line, somewhere between King’s Cross and Peterborough, earlier this week. N.

Work song

Got to go to work now
Hammer swinging, sparks flying
Build it from the ground up
All the labour I’m supplying.
Raising steel and pouring concrete
Nail gun and power drill
Sawing timber, laying tile
Always moving. Can’t stand still.
Running in the service lines
Power, gas and water flowing
Diesel engines roar and rumble
Weather’s coming. Keep on going.
All the plans are in my head
All the tools are in my hand.
Don’t what I’m building yet
On this empty piece of land.
Feel the heat. My body’s tired.
Must complete what I’ve begun.
Soon be watertight and wired.
Come and see it when it’s done.