Pyre

Everything is burning.
I could sweep up
All the oceans of the world
In a bucket big as the moon
And still not douse the flames;

What will be left
But blistered brick, charred timbers
Glass puckered like a fairground mirror,
Ash and soot, reeking skies,
Survivors wandering the ruins like lost dogs.

And what will rise:
Golden cities, verdant acres – or dead grey wastes
Where blank-faced blocks like sarsen stones
Throw their sharp shadows
And chill all those who pass.

 
 

Not very cheerful for a sunny Friday, I’m afraid. But with everything that’s going on here in the UK, it’s pretty much all I’ve got today. I’m sorry. Take care of yourselves and those you love. N.

God’s acre

IMG_0186

As a man
Schooled in science
Raised on reason
And living in such times
I have my doubts.

So tell me
What impulse drives me
To seek solace here,
In God’s own acre,
Among his departed faithful;

What comfort can I hope to find
In ancient stones, knapped, dressed and chiselled
To the glory of one
Whose face seems turned away
And mighty arm withheld.

Habit, inculcation,
One last, frayed strand that will not break;
Something draws me to this place
And I find peace, out here, under heaven
If still not yet inside.

 
 

Plein air, St Peter’s Church, Firle, East Sussex

Cold sweat

IMG_0196 (2)

The fear follows me
Everywhere:

Even out here
To the edge of the stubble

Where bales are scattered like erratic boulders
Left behind by a vanished ice-sheet.

It wraps itself around me
Like a dark, heavy cloak

And even in this hot July
It chills me to the heart.

 

Plein air, near Ripe, East Sussex

A charm against wanton destruction

IMG_0171 (2)

I cannot stop you tearing up the land;
Turn back the clock or stay your heedless hand;
No word of mine can still your crushing wheels;
My flesh and bone no match for your cold steel.

But what I can, I’ll do. And so I lay
This charm upon you and your deeds this day.

From sullied soil, let briar and bramble spring –
Let thistle burn, thorn scratch and nettle sting;
And when the summer sun warms earth and sky,
Come, adders, sharp of fang and cold of eye.

In every vehicle that you blithely ride
Let spiders big as saucers now reside;
And in the cabin where you take your rest
Bid hordes of wicked hornets build their nest.

Then let it rain and churn the clay to mire
To grab and grip and clog each helpless tyre;
And when the cries of rook-bands fill the air
May you hear mocking laughter everywhere.

Now let this doom hang heavy round your necks;
A right reward for him who rips and wrecks
Without regard or care. My rhyme is done.
But not the charm. Its work has just begun.