The Silver Birch – video

The Silver Birch
a caudate sonnet

My gladness of the silver birch I wish
   To share, that slender goddess of a tree
Her shower of silken hair moves in a swish
   That stirs in me a mystic reverie
As turns this verdant, grassy leaf-fringed glade
   Into her sacred grove, and I, her priest
Mid-frisson in the dancing, dappled shade
   Call druids, bards and ovates to the feast
But let us now the details try to trace
   The little leaves, heart-shaped, serrated trail
      Along each pliant twig to form a spray
That’s bright and airy, made with measured grace
   Cascading sprays together form the veil
      That by the gentle breeze is set to sway
Her stretch of sky she turns to shimmering show
And whispers Summer’s secrets soft and low.

On Odes to Coastal Dawns – spoken word video

What poet now would ever dare
To sing an ode to morning air
The rosy mist that hovers there
O’er sea-girt folds?

What mind could ever fully grasp
The magnitude of such a task:
To frame in verses built to last
Vapours of gold?

Perhaps some master’s careful brush
Could set in oil the heart’s full rush
Paint here and there a windswept bush
With well-mixed hue

But how could we with words sing praise
And capture this ambrosial haze
To place on page for later days
This heavenly view?

Now most assume in ancient time
Some poet placed a fatted chine
Upon Aurora’s hillside shrine
None now could equal

And so the theme of their refrain
Will tend to be one more mundane
For who among them still would deign 
To pen a sequel?

But poets! To her shrine turn back
Tread rhyming steps along that track
And do not worry if you lack
A perfect gift

For when we see the rosy glow
We will be comforted to know
We’re not the first to see the show
As sea mists lift.

Ode to a Car Key – spoken word video


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Ode to a Car Key

O fine, faff-free and labour-saving key
That lets me lock and unlock, with one press,
The car remotely and most easily
For you my heart now fills with thankfulness
Let’s say it’s raining and one stands
With luggage in both hands
It’s been a busy day and one is tired
How glad one feels to then recall
A single button press is all
That is required!

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Hephaestus for the gods with rarest skill
Did many a shining bronze device design
Some tool that leapt to action at their will
Performing tasks befitting lives divine:
Their gold cars pulled by brazen steed
Through air at such a speed
As lighting that precedes the thunder’s rumble
We feel ourselves to be their kin
When gracefully we enter in
Without a fumble

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Helios the Sun in chariot made by Hephaestus, with animated bronze horses

So unimpeded in the car I climb
And like a king upon a throne I sit
And cruise the country lanes in state sublime
Like Bacchus in his magic vine-filled ship
And as my homeward way I wend
I know at journey’s end
There waits for me a happy circumstance:
I’ll loose the safety belt and out
I’ll get and walk away without
A backwards glance.

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Bacchus in vine-filled ship

Songbird Stay (spoken word video)

Songbird Stay

O key ingredient of the harmony
   Of Spring, dear Songbird stay, we beg you, stay!
The dead must feel an equal agony
   To hear you not, nor see the light of day
Should silence fall within the woodland dells
   We’d mourn as if the Sun had left the sky
Or all the flowers lost their honey smells
   As from their petals drained the coloured dye
We love those trills that irrigate the mind
   With water from a laughing, babbling stream
      Your calls explore a secret sylvan space
And by the echoes somehow is defined
   Within our human thought a painted scene
      Of all that’s filled with natural, verdant grace
Sweet Songbird stay and ever, ever sing for once you’re gone it never could be Spring

We’ll take whatever course for you is best
   Ensure the fields from poisons are kept free
Keep dogs instead of cats, to spare your nest
   And anywhere you need it plant a tree
We’ll plant such bowery covert as you need
   We’ll plant so you can shelter, roost and call
We’ll plant the plants that give you food to feed
   We’ll plant them if we value Spring at all
We love each sound you sing, o darling bird
   All notes that issue from your quavering throat
      Each lilting warble, chirrup, cheep and coo
By which the silent sleeping air is stirred
   These sounds now through my open window float
      To broach the Gates of Dawn, and bring the New!
Sweet Songbird stay and ever, ever sing for once you’re gone it never could be Spring

Ode on Returning Home (spoken word video)

Ode on Returning Home

When work is done, thoughts turn to home’s warm glow
Behind me has now closed the office gate
Bright images shine forth that lift me so
Familiar smiles of little ones who wait
   And onward leaps my heart to say
   To them that I’m well on my way
And echo back the joyous, radiant cheer
   Returning is a Treasured Thing
   That makes my Soul and Spirit sing
For they to me are infinitely dear.

This love must be the fire that warms the tale
Of he who journeyed far on leaving Troy
And neither towering wave nor raging gale
The will to reach his loved ones could destroy
   Nor could the lulling lotus flower
   With all its hedonistic power
Obliterate the thoughts of wife and child
   Nor could the cyclops rude and strong
   Nor sirens with their luring song
Prevent him reaching his beloved isle.

Our old savannah tribes would send a band
Of huntsmen, ranging far in search of prey
By reading clues laid down by hoof in sand
To guide them on for days upon their way
   Until, at length, the prize attained,
   They yearn to see those who remained
In camp, awaiting that long hoped for sign:
   When finally the band they spy
   Across the grassland wild and dry
Their hearts explode for joy, and so does mine.

Gloom Breaker – an ode on the tale of the heart-healing power of the songs of the birds of Rhiannon

I

At dim-lit dawn on Platform 1 in sombre throng
we stand forlorn in flat, sense-numb routine 
until from trackside trees bright breaks the redbreast song:  
clear, lucent water in a crystal stream   
We tend to think that we’ll not hear
such music at this time of year
yet chiffchaff, thrush and finch brave Winter’s squall   
Untensing, in my mental eye
I spread my wings; I rise and fly
upon the soothing sound set free, and then recall  

 

II

how Branwen’s hope lay likewise in her feathered friend  
as she in miniature set down her news:   
‘Come soon! I, Queen of Eire am by brute force detained  
Your sister, Bran, they torture and abuse’   
She ring-wise rolls her chosen words
and gently takes the docile bird’s
frail form and round a tiny leg she ties   
the note. A kiss, to wish it well
then through the window of her cell
releases it and skyward, swift the starling flies  

 

III

It lands, it sings, they read, they sail, but sail in vain:  
A fire claims her child – she can’t but grieve   
and though Bran’s fleet a wood had seemed upon the main  
Just queen and seven soldiers live to leave   
And these in shock, with aching hearts
Then board their ship and disembark
Across the sea in saddest state they sail
When finally they reach their home
She dies of grief with one last moan
In sympathy the voices of the songbirds fail.

 

IV

How heavy sat the sorrow of these seven men
While songbird silence held the land in thrall
They travelled on together through the gloom and then
They came to Harlech with its feasting hall
And here a wondrous sound they heard
Of great Rhiannon’s mystic birds
And suddenly sweet bliss displaced their pain
And here for seven happy years
This magic kept away their tears
As I too am uplifted waiting for my train.

An Ode to Herbs (spoken word / video)

I

For aromatic oils in herbs and shrubs
Let thanks rise to the gods, from whence they fell
When one but holds the leaves and gently rubs
There issues forth a mystic, fragrant smell
   The living plants will ornament
      A tended garden plot
The plants will then provide yet further gifts
   For sprigs of these ingredients
   When added to the cooking pot
         The taste uplifts

II

Hellenic folk in golden ages old
These perfumes of the plants sought to explain
With stories down the generations told
Of how such shrubs some pretty nymph contain
   How when Apollo yearned to kiss
      Sweet Daphne, she, forlorn
With all speed did attempt to run away
   Then saving metamorphosis
   The pretty maiden did transform
         To odorous bay

III

O Sage! O Thyme! O Rosemary! I praise
Your power to boost our health, our pain to ease
Our memory to strengthen, moods to raise
Our sense of sight and smell and taste to please
   It must have been  when we first burnt
      Dry incense, or with mint
We first less pleasant tastes and smells disguised
   That we, now that at last we’d learnt
   To add a subtle herbal hint
         Were civilised