The Poems

An English Ode

That famous field where nodding poppies sway
In sunlit grass, where Souls of all the good
Spend sweet Eternity in dance and play
And with the gods, take Beauty as their food
Upon the isle across the sea
That circles all the mortal world
With misty waters like a castle moat –
How like must that famed meadow be
To these fair fields where late I’ve strolled
These hills and lanes, these woods, this very spot!

Was it vain pomp or blind naïveté
That made the folk of ancient Egypt style
Their image of divine Eternity
Upon their earthly land astride the Nile?
Where they might hunt in starry creeks
Beside the starry waterway
Or find in starry gardens sweet, cool shade?
Or likewise made the clan of Greeks
Use Grecian fields where grasses sway
As models for their paradisal glade?

But no, let neither supposition stand
I say, that it was rather that they paid
The greatest compliment to their dear land
When seeing Beauty there, “Divine!” they said
And so to English Summer Time
Such compliment I wish to pay
As will the praise of those old pagans match
The heaven forming in my mind
The isle to which I’ll cross one day
Has village greens and homes with roofs of thatch.

What’s Freyja’s meadow Folkvang after all 
Where valkyries take half the great and best
If not the field with rushes growing tall
Where Hathor greets arrivals in the West?
And what’s that place where Arthur dwells
Where all of Nature’s fruitful gifts
The generous soil untended freely yields –
That apple isle, which by their spells
Nine sisters shroud in faery mists – 
What’s Avalon if not the Elysian Fields? 

To a Tea Cosy

O Tea Cosy! Tea Cosy! Tea Cosy!
What endeavour could ever be finer
Than, as if it did live
To most gallantly give
A warm coat to your favourite china?

An Ode to Bath Locks

I
The walk is short from bustling Bath’s South Gate
To where the towpath leads to Yesteryear
Although the walk is short, the change is great
The city’s noises fade and disappear
    There by a trickling lock I sat
    And of old verse read this and that
Of Pope and Shelley, Tennyson and Keats
    The skylark with its song sublime
    The Odyssey in coupled rhyme
The tale of what the Lotus Eater eats

II
The town below has treasures of its own
Those houses built in stately Georgian style
With classic forms carved into local stone
From bridge to Holbourne is a golden mile!
    There’s courtyards, cafes, shops and nooks
    And all the World, from cops to crooks
Goes in a great parade before the eye
    And varied music fills the air
    As buskers placed in every square
Compete to stir the hearts of passers by

III
But if I never chose to make the climb
Up here above the noisy urban bowl
There would be in such laziness a crime
Against myself, and Nature, and the Soul 
    This place removed, this place away
    Affords a lunch-time holiday
That leaves the office workday far behind
    There’s nowhere that could better feed
    The hunger of my present need
For quiet time, and calm, and peace of mind.

An Ode to Books

I
In Lewes town we stayed a little while
Beneath the castle by the Paddock green
The house had a relaxed bohemian style
Artistic, full, chaotic yet serene
Here life at slow untroubled pace
Is lived, as in the days of yore
With paintings everywhere but no TV
Upon the shelves were books to read
And up the winding stair were more
On gardening and art and cookery

II
Other homes are tidy, smart and new
Appointed with the best technology
A comfy space to sprawl at ease and view
The latest shows and movies on TV
A fortress built against the fear
That screenless time is drear and gloom
‘There’s bound to be some programme we can find’
But rarely do we see what’s here
And gaze in peace around the room
While too much screen-time enervates the mind.

III
But here were shelves crammed full of curios
Mementos brought from some far distant shore
With patterns to be gazed at half in doze
Within the Persian rug upon the floor
The bo-ho richness of this place
Now makes my heart with gladness fill
To think, with screens turned off, I could survive
This thought of life at slower pace
Now makes my gladness over-spill
To think, with screens turned off, why, I could thrive!

To a Doily

What a marvelous thing is a doily!
What a wonderful thing to possess!
How divine to be able
To fling on the table
The essence of delicateness!

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.

An Ode to Titian’s Worship of Venus

(an ekphrasis of an ekphrasis of an ekphrasis)     

I
Philostratus in his Imagines
Has countless Loves by Aphrodite’s shrine
Place apples, plucked while hov’ring in the trees
In baskets of Hephaestus’s design
   Then Titian used the brush so well
      To paint the apples’ green
And ripen them with cheeks of blushing rose
   You’d swear their fruitful Autumn smell
   Had floated from the painted scene
         To reach your nose.

II
True to the book, with blue he paints the wing
See here he’s shown the little wrestling pair
See there the nymphs beside the sacred spring
See too the tumbling chase to catch the hare
   The scene’s a worthy one to paint
      Upon the canvassed board
And bring to life with skilful master’s art
   The countless loves here represent
   All cherished things that folk adore
         With gladdened heart:

III
The fragrant rose, the flash of the halcyon
The singing harp and wood flute’s trilling coo
The warmth upon the face of Summer Sun
And when it sets, the ruddy-golden hue
   E’en Gratitude itself’s a gift
      It leads to Happiness
And Happiness in turn increases Health
   Let now the mental eye uplift
   Appreciate the gracefulness
         Of Grace itself.

To a Bed

Oh how grand are clean duvets and sheets
On a well-made and comfortable mattress!
Yes it has to be said
What a boon is a bed
And big pillows all plumped up with fatness

The Silver Birch: A 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.

To Chamomile – An Incantation

O soft enchantress of the candle glow,
   With gentle, caring fingertips caress
Our eyelids, with a stroke soothing and slow
  Dissolve our thoughts in sweet forgetfulness
Thou angel of the cup, kind Chamomile,
   Thy golden tisane, warming, wets the lip
We feel the face relax into a smile
   Then raise the cup and take another sip
But how’s the mixture made? First fill the pot
   And heat the water till the bubbles roar
      Then add your spoon of flowers and let steep
Until the liquid’s neither cool nor hot
   Now take your chosen cup and carefully pour
      The potion, and partake before you sleep.
  While drinking, say aloud or read this spell,
  Which calms you and by calming keeps you well.

To Galoshes

What ecstatical things are galoshes!
(The name that we call’em, I mean)
It’s half “gallop” / half “slosh”
Oh my word! Oh my gosh!
The whole concept is just such a dream!

To Wine – An Incantation

O Effortless Discoverer! O Wine!
   Two-Things-at-Once! Dark Sunshine! Old-but-Young!
Bestir to tripping dance the Muse of Rhyme
   Great Uninhibitor, loosen her tongue
Send forth your shelt’ring leaves over my mind
   Embrace with dappled shade the grapes of thought
Protect them from the light of Trying-to-Find
   Lest nude in Reason’s burning glare they’re caught
For season after season we entrust
   This treasure to the cave of rustic stone
      As silently the ruby liquid dreams
Long slumb’ring in the cellar’s dark and dust
   What secret mysteries to you were shown
      By under-dwelling nymphs of chthonic streams?
O gen’rous partner in the poet’s art
Now set the pen in flight, and help me start!

The Rhyme of the Hungry Dawn Raver

PART I: The Ballad of Uplifting Trance part 1

So oft, like-a little, softly floating, feather wingéd seed
 Aloft on-the thrill of-the sound-strobe* has my happy Soul been freed
 And soothed by-the shock of-the shaking, quaking, stutt’ring drone-strobe haze
 Staccato, as a flutt’ring slatted shutter stripes bright rays

 While-the fat of-my fast in-a smokeless fire on-the Dawn’s stone altar plinth
 Sweet-sublimates in sacred flames in-the blaze of-the saw-tooth* synth
 And, spiralling in eddies, fumes of fragrant vapour rise
 A gift of thanks sent upward to the bright’ning morning skies

 Such life as if I’d leapt up in a state of dread alarm
 Yet joyous, free from care nor plagued by nagging thoughts of harm
 With centred mind upon the sound, why, I will even state:
 For neither fight nor flight I’m apt; just now: I meditate!

 And dance and step and dance and step and dance with sprightly ease
 So, does the slatted drone imprison? Heavens no! It frees.
 As-I dance and step and dance and step and dance and step and bound
 To-the pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, side-chain* sound

 As-I dance and step and dance and step and dance and move my feet
 To-the pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding beat
 As-I dance and step and dance and step and dance and step and bound
 [>(dim.)]
 To-the sound
 To-the sound
 To-the sound
 To-the wooshhhhhhhhhhhhh….……

PART II: Ode to an Uplifting Trance Breakdown

      And when, as if a choir of angels sings
      The soft chords sound as drums dissolve away
      My gladness turns to slower types of things
      That drift and float, move fluidly, and sway
           To cloud-wisps moving in the air
           To gentle waves on golden sand
      A placid, tidal purl, by dawn-light glazed
           Such things surround me where I stand
           I see, and fascinated, stare
      Take stock, breathe slow, consider, feel amazed

      Exertion brings satiety; from this
      A slowness calms the step and heaving breast
      This calm, if nurtured, grows in waves of bliss
      A peaceful mood descends affording rest
           And Oh! To-be out in-the morning when
           As yet unspun is-the wordly wheel
      And Nature undefiled to us is shown
           We suddenly recall again
           That paradox: we sometimes feel
      Fine comp’ny on our own; in crowds, alone.

      A mystic chill at this creeps ‘cross my crown
      That causes me to open wide my eyes
      It finds the junction at the nape, then down
      The spine this scintillating frisson flies
           Thus quiet contemplation can
           Bring more than rest – it can inspire
      Emotions. Our resolve is galvanised
           So peaceful thought has power to fan,
           More than before, the passion’s fire
      Excitement grows, the limbs are energised     

 [< ( poco a poco cresc )]
 And the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat will surely come
 And the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat of the drum
 And the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat and the beat
 And the beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, beat, b- b- b- b- b- b- b- b- b- b- b- b- beat…

PART III: The Ballad of Uplifting Trance part 2

And it DROPS! and I step and dance and step and dance and step and bound!
 To the pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding, side-chain sound!
 And I dance and step and dance and step and dance with sprightly ease
 So, does the slatted drone imprison? Heavens no! It frees!

My joy explodes on inner planes through which it flows to meet
 Co-celebrants, those now or then united by the beat
 There’s more to life than gloom and strife – this much we all agree
 So not in this crowd lonely, then, but joined in revelry! 

 Such life as if I’d leapt up in a state of dread alarm
 Yet joyous, free from care nor plagued by nagging thoughts of harm
 With joyous leaping to the beat, why, I will even state:
 For neither fight nor flight I’m apt; just now: I celebrate!

 And a pillar to the left stands tall, and a pillar to the right
 Bridged by a marble portico, we wonder at the sight*
 And carved there in the moon-white stone, the crowd sees writ this rhyme:
 “Enter here, in holy fear, the space of Elysian Time”

 We feel the thrill, the sacred thrill, of holy, joyful dread
 To see the entrance to the dance ground of the Happy Dead*
 Driv’n on by the din, all the crowd pours in, in wonderment sublime
 And we dance and step and dance and step in the space of Elysian Time.

 Here in this garden dancing ground, the dancers go in troupes
 And trains that intertwine around the marble statue groups
 And here you’ll hear no mundane, mortal clockwork timepiece chime
 Within these garden walls this is the space of Elysian Time.

 And as they go they trail and throw their wreaths of rosy flowers
 Which fly and spin amid the din and rain in petal showers
 And the flowers grow abundant in this ever summery clime
 For the Winter never enters in the space of Elysian Time.*


PART IV: Ode to Emotional Trance

I
Sometimes the Gate Elysian swings wide
At lightest touch, and easily we glide
Straight to the centre of the happy throng
No sooner than we hear the happy song
When comes the beat, we leap to dance
Repeat, repeat: we enter trance
And freely flows the kundalini fire
The happy strains sound honey sweet
Their joys not hard to rise and meet
We quickly gain the heights that we desire

II
But sometimes joy is weak till tears release
We cannot smile till we our smiling cease
And cannot reach the Fields of Asphodel
Until we plumb the Styx’s swirling swell
Then in the moment we surrender
Feel the frisson, wild yet tender
In a flash intensity’s regained
Intensity provides the wings
We rise and fly on soaring strings
And now the happy meadow is attained

III
So if Uplifting Trance won’t hit the mark
Another genre may ignite the spark
The type that’s styled Emotional. But then
One sparked, the former style rings true again
When comes the beat, we leap to dance
Repeat, repeat: we enter trance
And freely flows the kundalini fire
The happy strains sound honey sweet
Their joys not hard to rise and meet
We quickly gain the heights that we desire.

PART V: The Mystic Revel Fades

But Farewell sweet Terpsichore
our twilight hour has passed
And I must end my dancing now
and end my fast

For matters of the day now call me
back across the sea
But I will not forget the hour
I danced with thee

For one full day we kept the fast
with fragrant herbal tea
Thin soup of vegetables, fresh verdant
greenery

Well-slept, we woke and rose in bright
anticipating mood
And then the rich, dark roasted bean
in water brewed

And so in pure and foodless joy
we joined the maenads’ dance
From out the eastern heaven came
ecstatic trance

As Rose-Dawn flushed the marbles
of the three-fold goddess Grace
(Giving, Getting, Giving Back 
in one embrace)

We wove our steps around them
on the flow’ry dancing floor
Giving back by sending out 
our mystic awe

So farewell Fields Elysian
how lightly we did tread
In circles round the dance-ground of
the Blessed Dead!

While fed on beauty only 
how we circled hand in hand!
But now I’m called by business in
the mortals’ land.

So farewell sweet Terpsichore
until some other day
For I must pull my hand back now 
and turn away

I’m sad to break the circle but
The Ferry Man is calling
Alas, the time has passed for me
to keep on stalling

The echoes of the Revel fade
to soft and softer strain
‘Though I must sail away I soon
will come again

And Farewell fair Persephone
it won’t be long to wait
Till down Sacred Way I walk
and through the gate

Where opens up the holy view
as mental curtains part
And once again Soul-shocking beauty
floods the heart

The time between is short before
this very week is past
I once again will burn dull sloth
with cleansing fast

And then, well-rested, rise and rave
dream-healed, in Twilight’s space
By thy sweet lyre entranced, O Muse, 
in state of grace.

This dawn dance is a treasure that
I’ll cherish with the rest
But now it’s time to leave these Islands
of the Bless’d.

So farewell to the meadows where
our steps the wild thyme pressed
And farewell to the grasses that 
our shins caressed

And farewell to those shorelines kissed
by Zephyr from the West
For now it’s time to leave these Islands 
of the Bless’d

So farewell sweet Terpsichore
our twilight hour has passed
And I must end my dancing now
and end my fast

For matters of the day now call me
back across the sea
But I will not forget the hour
I danced with thee

PART VI : The Bright, Re-Building Brain

I felt the tug of-the worldly wheel returning
When first I broke the fast and took of food
But as the day goes on there’s something happ’ning:
An intellectual tune inspires my mood

Not now the love of-the dancing beat a-pounding
Nor shivers of emotion down the spine
But yet arpeggios, fast, bright and sparkling
Now stimulate my newly growing mind

Melodic lines like Summer swallows darting
Now dive, now turn, now soar, and dive again
The playful notes call out to me, inviting
The eager muscle of my bright’ning brain

Had I from only meals sought compensation
For sailing from the Islands of the Bless’d
And equally if I’d thought restoration
Could only be achieved through slumb’rous rest

Too short a spell I’d have of satisfaction
Before the temp’r’y fix of food would fade
My brain, made deaf by sleep’s potent distraction
Would miss this wholesome musical upgrade

By all means, plates piled high to me keep bringing
And sure, let me recline on cushioned chairs
But also bring the lute and set to singing
And feed my brain with bright and dexterous airs.

Part VII: A Demigod in the Kitchen

A demigod danced in this kitchen today
A kite among crows he was wheeling about
Cascading his pearls before snuffelling snouts
He banished the grey.

The council in far off, peculiar days
Will come to this building and here they’ll install
A blue plaque upon the exterior wall
Inscribed with this phrase:

“With coffee and gratitude, fasting and Trance
He found his way into Elysian space
So drink it all in now for this is the place
The demigod danced.”

Where now, that dear child of the Earth and the Sky?
Gone down the Road over the River? you ask
But no, though he sunk back behind the old mask
The child did not die.

Enjoying his meals and enjoying his wine
His light in a bushel, his wings he refurls
He plants on soft ground, and he polishes pearls
Just biding his time

To Lemony Wipes

Many thank-yous for lemony wipes
They’re as fresh as the dew on the rose
So go on take a sniff
Of that heavenly whiff
Lean right back with it spread o’er your nose.

The Poet’s Task

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.

The Venus of Brunswick Square

Leave Crete, Surf-Born, for Brunswick’s glade
Where sea-breeze whispers in the tops
Of thick-grown firs that cast their shade
Under the copse

Around the green the terrace lies
Where frontages, curved round in bays,
Make lookout posts for seaward eyes
To cast their gaze

The column curves catch varied light,
With spiral capitals of cream,
And finely frame a bounteous sight
Where wavelets gleam.

Corinthian pilasters hold
Their load upon acanthus leaves
Still spiralled, as their curves unfold
Under the eaves

Aphrodite, come, we pray
And grace this finely crafted cove
And softly smile upon our play
In surf-flecked Hove.

Address to a Feast of Burns

A dreary gloom’s hangs o’er the town
For Christmas tinsel’s taken down
But Spring’s not yet put on her gown
Of finery
Dark Winter still retains his crown
In January.

So at this time what we desire
Is merriment and warming fire
With blazing logs heaped higher and higher
And hearty food
These are the things that we require
To raise our mood.

And so we’d do well to embrace
Cold January’s one saving grace
The meal that Scots folk love to taste
Where all take turns
Hot haggis with strong whisky laced:
The Feast of Burns.

And by this feast that they hold dear
A second burst of festive cheer
Lights up the dark part of the year
To warm the heart
So call the piper here
And let it start!

On Fine Fellows and Expeditions 

– written upon remembering the days we composed the Avonsong Ballads (included)

My thankfulness I now express
For fine co-roving chaps
For crazy missions, expeditions
Routes drawn out on maps

It makes me glad to think we’ve had
High times on Summer days
While sometimes hiking, sometimes biking
Ancient, sacred ways

From Shepton down to Glaston town
We walked then camped the night
Then joined the flow of Beltane’s show
With dragons red and white 

Reliving all with fond recall
I clearly still remember
How well we liked it when we biked
Through Hengeworld last September 

Then there’s that time we made a rhyme
When out in a canoe
I’ll give it here for it makes clear
How fun it was to do:

Avonsong I, co-written with James Wormel 

There were we two rowers free
So keen, a greenly going
We took a skiff to Avoncliff
The sap was greenly flowing

We calmly coaxed with gentle strokes
The waters with our rowing
A sultry grey hung o’er the day
But softly warmth was blowing

I never saw such calm before
As we did see that day
Such silence and such sleepiness
Soft-settled on the way

We check the clock: a sudden shock!
Enough the spell to break
Our boat fast tied against the side
A land route we must take

And then once more upon that shore
Within a leafy dell
Hear wood doves coo of Xanadu
And reinstate the spell!

‘Twas calm, my dear! So calm to hear
The doves those notes expel
Which echoed round: a soothing sound
To lull a leafy dell.

We took a pew adjacent to
A tavern of renown
And in good cheer we supped on beer
And watched the Sun go down

Much we refilled until they spilled
Those cups, gen’rous and deep
We drunk so much, the strength was such
We neared the verge of sleep.

‘Neath dark’ning skies we did surmise
‘Twas time to wend our way:
Two rovers green right glad to’ve seen
The calm-tide of that day.

That was the rhyme we wrote that time
But later that same year
We rowed again and wrote again
I’ll give the sequel here:

Avonsong II, written with input from Andrew Cowper and James Wormell while canoeing on the Kennet and Avon to Avoncliff Aqueduct and beyond and then visiting the chapel of Mary of Tory in Bradford-on-Avon.

When auburn-red and Autumn dread 
O’er Avon’s vale were cast
Then we once more did take up oar
And rowed our humble craft

With colouring of pheasant’s wing
The chasms boughs o’er vaunted
By distant roar of monstrous boar
The awful vale was haunted

No longer two for to the crew
An extra oar did add
It’s power: a man of noble clan
From crown to heel well clad

The mist half cleared and there appeared
Aloft upon the air
A stone constructed aqueduct 
In crumbled disrepair

A curse is cast on all who pass
Across this ghastly span
But some strange song pulled us along: 
We crossed, to Elvenland

The Elven Queen, mist-cloaked, unseen 
Had caught us in her spell
And planned to keep us locked in sleep
Within her dreadful dell

Had we not prayed we would have stayed
Asleep forever more
But pray we did and somehow hid 
Upon the forest floor

The one who slept we dragged, and crept
And Mary’s chapel found
Safe at last, the spell un-cast
 We kissed that holy ground.

An Ode to Herbs

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

Ode to a Car Key

I

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!

II

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

III

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.

An Ode to Bradford-on-Avon Station Garden

A garden by the platform has been made 
not seen by those who wait for trains, frustrated 
I turn and wander through this well-kempt glade 
and quickly find my own mood is placated.  

Some stepping stones a rustic pathway make 
through beds with shrubs and flowers decorated 
What would be waste is tamed by hoe and rake 
now seen by me and much appreciated. 

A secret sidestep from the mundane march 
How long in humble silence has it waited 
For someone to step through the bowered arch? 
How long to be enjoyed, appreciated? 

Who planned ahead and knew the time to toil? 
Our need for cold-month cheer anticipated 
by planting bulbs for colour in the soil? 
Their caring forethought is appreciated. 

Still further in, the glade becomes a copse 
A host of lofty trees is congregated 
And woodland birds sing out from in their tops 
As if to say they too appreciate it 

To those who’ve conjured spaces of respect 
sweet public plots to Calmness consecrated 
in places that had suffered from neglect 
Just so you know: it is appreciated. 

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.