Two Poems

Wild Thing

It was here: I didn’t imagine it.
Look at the marks on the ground,
the paw-prints where it paced around.
It’s an inscrutable beast but I don’t think
even it knows what it’s looking for
until it finds it. When it does
the significance of things is made
manifest and everything seems to make sense
just for a moment. It was here.
It isn’t anymore and so
the trees/the sky/the earth/etc.
once more conceal the secret.

 

Fragment, 6am

Right now you’re sleeping and
I’m writing this by torchlight.
Soon it will be morning and
elsewhere in the building
people are already moving –
I can hear the dull sound
of their footsteps as they hurry out.
Then silence almost. There’s just
the sound of breathing
and the birds outside.

 

(c) Sackerson, 2019

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Pennine Chain

IMG_20190130_155137I’ve been putting this poem together for some time. A couple of sections have been posted here already. Another section appeared in the Breathless Anthology as far back as 1994, although most of the poetry is more recent. I read the whole thing for the first time this evening at the regular Le Mondo Bongo poetry evening at Sip Coffee and Eat in Richmond.

 

 

Pennine Chain

1.

The labels are confusing:
this is no longer the corner
of the street where I live
although the signs are still there,
the mental Post-It notes,
and the feeling that if
I want a pint of milk
I must walk that way,
turn left, turn right –
two minutes at the most.

The whole is overlaid
with lines of thought
that reassert themselves unbidden.
The park across the road
where the children used to play
while I kept half an eye
‘s still there as is the man
(much older now) who walks
a different dog.

I never knew his name
and it strikes me now that
things on the periphery
are easier to reinstate:
the man, the park,
the corner of the street,
these things remain in place
whereas it is impossible
to visualise a version of oneself
shaped by so many small decisions
that never came to pass although
perhaps I catch a glimpse (back view)
of a man about my age
(his hair’s beginning to turn grey)
dressed in an overcoat,
who walks away.
He could be anyone I never knew.

 

2. Tubular Bells

Time was, when you had
to lower down the needle
slowly, wait until the point,
with a crack, engaged the groove
and set out on its spiral journey
to the centre.

I remember how (it seems
so real) we sat around,
drinking cans of beer,
all couples, and how we felt so old.
We were in love, perhaps,
but underneath it all
lay desperation, fear.
The piano starts to play.
I watch her look into his eyes
and (cliché or not)
this is the memory from that time
I feel most intensely
as he slips a ring onto her finger
(so conventional, yet so sincere).
That was before the Fall,
rebellious jukebox,
o’erwhelmed us all
with floods and whirlwinds of
tempestuous sound.
Sometimes even now
I wonder what became of them,
although I’m not sure I ever
even knew their names.

Years later, driving North along
the B6265,
the hills are invisible
in the darkness.
I’m peering down
the headlamp beams
to see the bends.
Bebop plays on the cassette
(Thelonius Monk
stabs at the keys)
and in the back
two small children
strapped in kiddie-seats
are sleeping. There is
so much for me to do,
so little time to think;
certainly no time
to press the rewind button
and reflect.

Today, same place
but driving South,
there’s none of that.
The audio system’s set
to shuffle-play.
The choice of track’s
determined by an algorithm:
it’s just a case
of wait and see.
And so it happens that
the piano starts to play
just as in 1973
and I find myself wondering
yet again
what lay in store
for the girl and boy I hardly knew
back then.

 

3. The Barns

Joseph’s Barn

His cow and calf
overwintered there
and often Joseph, too,
spent the night
after a skinfull,
dreaming in the straw
that his wife
might lay him down
a son, there,
in the manger.

William’s Barn

He liked the feel
of the stones
in his hands.
He built the windowless walls
higher and higher
shutting out the world
and creating a darkness
for himself.

Susan’s Barn

She still inhabits the cage
of her lover’s bones.

She still treads the paths
around the place
his heart used to be.

She still works
what they had:

the barn, the cow, the field.

Sarah’s Barn

In summer,
when the rising sun
shines through the empty door,
you’ll still hear Sarah singing.

In autumn,
when the wind blows leaves
against the outer wall,
although the barn’s now filled with straw,
you’ll still hear Sarah singing.

In winter,
when the snow falls through
the blue-sky roof between the beams
and one more stone falls from the wall,
you’ll still hear Sarah singing.

In spring,
when water runs between
the stones and weeds find root
and sheep find shelter by the wall,
you’ll still hear Sarah singing,

although there is no pail to fill
and the mouths to be fed
are now closed.

Peter’s Barn

is now the home
of a television producer,
who sits before the fire where once
a lamb fell to earth
between the legs of its mother.

Michael’s Barn

Three gold coins
he found in the earth floor.

He gave them to his son,
who left to find work
in the town.

Barn

I remember my making –
a growing shadow in a ring of stones.

Since then, a stone
here and there, a rotting beam, the slate
that slips by inches every year:
the light creeps in. It seems to be
a universal principle.

Stone is my mantra.
Solid ground my only reassurance
that I’m part of something bigger.

One day I’ll be full of light:
a field of stones
for people to pick over
in search of artefacts.

 

4.

My favourite hole in the ground
is on top of Harkerside Fell.
It’s not very big but
you can lie down in it, just,
so you’re out of the wind.
If you look over the edge
you can see for miles
only don’t get too comfortable
or one of the straggly nettles
that live there
(vicious bastards that they are)
will bite you on the arse,
even through your trousers –

so take care.

 

5.

My imaginary flying machine
lifts me just high enough
to clear the garden fence
and carries me silently
through the darkness.
I control by telepathy
the invisible engine:
I tell it to follow
the line of the streetlights
along the empty streets
that lead out of town.
Once over the fields
I steer by the stars
until I hear but can’t see
the water flowing over the stones
of a stream-bed.

This I follow,
plunging with the waterfall,
leveling out
as the stream joins the river,
startling an owl
from its tree on the river-bank.

Sweeping under the arch
of a bridge, where all is invisible
and where the water
echoes for a moment, I emerge:
and here the river widens, merges
into the dark mass
of the sea and I turn
up into the sky,
banking to follow
the curve of Draco’s tail
as it weaves between the Bears.

(c) Sackerson, 2019

Draco_and_Ursa_Minor

Invisible Journey

A flock of pigeons spends its days
sitting on the roof of the hotel.
Most of the time I can’t see them
from where I sit but I know they’re
almost certainly there,
sitting and thinking about
whatever it is pigeons think about,
because every now and then
they take flight en masse,
swooping down the alley,
round the square and back
and when they do
they fill my window
just for a moment
as with precision
they reach their apogee,
pulling out of a steep dive
towards the cobblestones
and heading up again
to disappear from view.

 

 

Copyright (c) Sackerson, 2019

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Rantin’ Richie

We went to a poetry gig this afternoon at the Sip Coffee bar in Richmond.  Top of the bill was a local poet (and Sip regular) Rantin’ Richie. Home-grown culture with a bit of an edge to it is not an everyday occurrence round here. This afternoon was quite treat (and, as usual, the coffee was good, too!).

Local musician Tim Crawshaw came along as a support act, singing several songs he wrote a few years ago,  revived in an act of ” musical archaeology”, although they sounded new,  fresh and relevant.  Three of us stepped up from the floor – I  read three of my poems,  Barbara Hughes sang a poignant feminist song she’s written (sadly, although it was a real highlight, it doesn’t seem to have found it’s way onto the internet, so no link!) and Psy Harrison (singer with the Ceiling Demons)  borrowed Tim’s guitar and sang the first song, The Roses,  from the band’s album,  Nil.

The rest of the afternoon was given over to Richie’s poetry,  most of it taken from his new book,  From Wandsworth to Wordsworth. The foreword to the book was written by Attila the Stockbroker, which gives readers unfamiliar with Rantin’ Richie some idea of what to expect but Richie’s voice is his own and his range is greater than the recommendation might suggest. He name-checks Bob Cobbing and Gabby Tyrrell. While he was reading one poem (I think it might have been The Child of the Forest) I was reminded of Lawrence Ferlinghetti – and an interview I  heard on the radio with him a few years ago in which he said how the world still needed Beat poets. It was good to see they’re still around.

 

 

 

Rantin’ Richie on Facebook

Awakening

Awakening 

I scratch my head
watching it all
gradually coalesce
around me, a roomful
of silence.

Further away,
beyond the edge,
birds are singing
the same songs
as yesterday.

Like them,
I have no plan,
other than
to let Summer
take its course.

 

Copyright (c) Sackerson, 2018

Poldy’s Dog

I am looking for that. Yes, that. Try all pockets. Handker. Freeman. Where did I? Ah, yes. Trousers. Potato. Purse. Where?
Hurry. Walk quietly. Moment more. My heart.
His hand looking for the where did I put found in his hip pocket soap lotion have to call tepid paper stuck. Ah soap there I yes.

Leopold Bloom, in Ulysses by James Joyce

Imagine if Leopold
and Molly Bloom
as well as a cat
had a dog
that had once bit Blazes Boylan
on the arse
(in other words,
a dog with taste)
so that on June the sixteenth
Poldy had had to take it with him
on his travels.

Okay, it’s an anachronism
but you can just see him
stooping with a certain
methodical poise
to scoop its faeces
up off the pavement
discreetly enclosing them
in one of those bags
(just like the man
on the deli counter
wrapping up a lump
of faux exotic cheese)
feeling the warmth
and softness of it
while his inner encyclopedia
riffs on the body temperature
of dogs and on the toxicity
of dog shit
as he slips it
into his pocket
to rub against
the bar of soap
or perhaps the potato
as he walks.

 

Copyright (c) Sackerson, 2018