Hard to see

what any of this is about
When doubt and uncertainty
Are all we’re given
To live on.

Look on the bright side
They cried. So I tried
But damned if I could find it:
The dark behind it drops so deep.

Wish I could sleep
And wake up somewhere someone new
Breathing sharp, clean air
With a different view.

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The pen

is a match.
But no matter how much
I scratch
And scrape
At the paper
It will not catch.

I spend
My days
Putting out fires:
Just one blaze
After another
To smother.

And alll the time
I’m fighting them

I’m wishing I was
Lighting them.

Going far?

Maybe. Just have to see
How legs and heart
Feel when I start. Could be
They’ll baulk, rebel;
And though I beg and scold, just tell me:
You can go to hell
And we’re not coming.

Then again, could be they’re humming
Like a Swiss-made sewing machine
And strong, serene,
I’ll spin through town, into the great
Wide open; hill and mountain will prostrate
Themselves before me. One way to know:
Get on. And go.

Kite

Easier to count
The days I don’t see your lesser kin;
Familiar, worthy of a look, a nod
Like neighbours passed in the street.

But you. What wild wind
Blew you out here;
A foreign shadow falling on the field,
The crows in uproar, the air alive;

All things made smaller
By your breadth and heft;
The flash of copper on your wings
The glint of a drawn sword.

A wanderer from beyond our bounds,
Rarely seen and half forgotten.
But you are surely welcome, stranger.
The great world turns. Not all is lost.

 
 

Buzzards are common as sparrows rouhnd here these days, but their larger cousins, red kites, are still pretty rare. I saw one today, though, for the first time in ages, set against a bright spring sky. Of such true and noble things is happiness made in times like these. N.

…and an old heaven

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And yet, I know there is another way:

A tangled net of narrow country lanes
And backroads I know better than myself
And could ride blindfold; every hill
And hedge, each field and farmhouse, every curve
And corner as familiar as my face;
A constant heaven I can call my own
Where seasons roll yet decades leave no mark
My past and present blurring as I pass.

This road is in my head and heart and legs;
Its every inch is graven in my skin.
I’ve sweated through its summers, felt its chill
Chew through my clothing, biting at my bones.

And as all other things are lost, this place
Might be all that remains to me; a road
That I can always take on trust, forget
That hellish other beaten out for me.

Where I may live and wander as I choose.
A paradise that I can never lose.

A new hell…

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A long road and a hard road lies ahead:

A Paris-Roubaix of the mind, a Ronde
Van Vlaanderen of the soul; all cobbles, mud,
Flat tyres and fractured frames; an Arenberg
To test the strongest limbs and stoutest heart.
A new Enfer du Nord that we must ride
For mile on bruising mile through choking dust
And bitter headwinds, with no victory lap
Or trophies waiting for us at its end.

I fear I do not have the legs for this;
Long miles and years have left me unprepared
In mind and body for this coming hell;
The broom-wagon is waiting on my wheel.

But tell me, then, what else I could have done:
I’ve ridden hard and clean and held my line
According to the code. I could not know
The commissaires themselves would shred the rules.

And so we wait now for the flag to drop;
Not knowing where to go, or when we’ll stop.

Busy doing nothing

There are no tools or instruments,
No workbench, no materials.
No ringing hammers, rasping saws,
No hard blue flame, no rain of sparks;
No brick or plank, stone or cement,
No rivet, bolt or sheet of steel,
No whirling lathe, no shrieking drill,
No oil or smoke, no soil or dust.
But still, tonight we will depart
Contented with the work we’ve done;
No sign of how we spent the day
Or what it was we went to build.