Kingsbrae 20.3
20 June 2017

Some Times

something happens:
lightning strikes the tree,
the upraised golf club,
the umbrella,
the baby’s stroller.

an earthquake rocks the house,
hailstones as big as golf balls
shatter the greenhouse glass.

More often
it is as silent as frost on geraniums,
or clothes on the line quick-frozen in the wind.

Slow crumbling:
a breaking down by freeze and thaw,
free fall on the cliff face and the subsequent scree.

A cloud passes overhead:
our sunshine vanishes.



Kingsbrae 16.4
16 June 2017

Weirs are where the were-wolves
bay at midnight as they dance on
cedar weir-poles, stars above them,
the herring trapped, swimming
silent circles beneath the waves
while the white horses, prancing,
dancing, avoid bridle and bit and
the saddle’s leather shame placed
over wild, bucking backs, no blind
-folds here, just dumb fish, circling,
their DNA hard-wired for what
Vikings called their weird, or fate.

Stand Off


Kingsbrae 16.3
16 June 2017

Stand off

a raven and an eagle,
faced off on the ice.

They stared at each other,
necks tucked into
hunched shoulders,
feathers fluffed,
otherwise unmoved,

Each dared the other
to make himself vulnerable,
to stretch out his neck
for the dead fish lying
beside the ice hole
they both guarded.

It seemed as if
they were waiting
for the opening whistle
that would send them
head to head
in mortal combat.

Immobile combatants.
Slow dance of moving ice,
cracked and crackling.
Sudden swift sparring:
a dance of death.

Aurora Borealis


Kingsbrae 13.2
13 June 2017

Aurora Borealis

Some nights,
when you close your eyes
and open your ears and mind,
the miracle happens.

The sky breaks apart,
explodes in color,
and all the hard slabs
in your little child’s
paint box
become liquid assets,
covering the sky
from top to bottom
in a curtain of chroma
that saturates the mind
with its trickle
-down luminosity.

Pity the poor stars
on nights like these,
their beauty, like
love’s labors,
lost, as we drift,
our senses set free
in this amniotic,
shapeless sea:
bound by music,
song and light.



Kingsbrae 12.4
12 June 2017


Seagull on the wind
wing tip tilted
for maximum lift

Wheeling up and away
the gull-wing sway of him
climbing his celestial staircase
in a rush of blue air

Light his flight steps
danced to wind music
played over beach and wave

Watch him wave good-bye
with a waggle of his wings
and a well-judged flick
his sea gull tail painting
neat brush strokes

Comment: Looking through my notebook, I saw the original of this poem, scribbled while I sat in the car, waiting for my friend. I re-read it and admired its simplicity. So I copied it here. The earlier poem I wrote, with the same title, Seagull, is more worked and much more elaborate. You can find it here. I would be interested to know which of the two versions you prefer. A second question: can they both stand as separate poems, even though they overlap in their inspiration and imagery? Let me know what you think.

Sea Gull


Kingsbrae 11.3
11 June 2017


… slipping sideways on the wind,
wing tip tilted for maximum lift,
wheeling up and away, magnificent
his movement, the gull-wing sway
as he climbs his celestial staircase,
that blue vault, high in the sky,
upwards, in a rush of indigo air
brushing his black back, fine
his feathers and broad and firm,
cousin to the distant dinosaurs,
those hollow bird bones, built
to bear their enormous bulk,
yet light his flight steps, this cloud
ballerina, treading on tipped wings,
dancing to sky music, white
bones herded by the wind, crisp
their notes, across cerulean pastures,
the wind whistle sharp over bay
and beach, oh watch the gull go
with a waggle of his wings,
a butt of his red-ringed beak
and his bird-tail tagging …

Fête / Fate


Fête / Fate

Clowns are clowning,
playing up to the crowds.
The stilt walker in his top hat
climbs up to the clouds.
The man on the unicycle
tips his hat, winks his eye
at all the little girls
as they pass him by,
one on a white horse,
one with a teddy bear,
and one who’s invisible
and is no longer there.

 The tight-tope walker
walks his plank
trying not to fall
on wondering,
upturned faces
and open eyes
that watch it all.

The seals do their sea-side thing,
balls balanced on their noses,
tossing beach balls upwards
to the little girl who poses,
then juggles them so cleverly
while the clowns start to sing.

The magician conjures rabbits
and covers them with flowers.
Everyone is happy, though they’ve
been sitting still for hours.

On the trapeze, a little slip:
the artiste falls through the air.
She doesn’t have a safety net.
The silent crowds just stare
at her body twitching there:
yellow sawdust, golden hair.

Comment: This poem was written in Kingsbrae, but I don’t think it will be part of the Kingsbrae Sequence. I wrote it this morning after reading in the online Guardian about the developments circling around Brexit in the wake of the recent UK election and Naomi Klein’s article, also in the Guardian, on The Shock Doctrine. Life is indeed like a circus, as the old song says, but we’re in grave danger of falling off the trapeze.