Wollemi

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Kingsbrae 21.3
21 June 2017

Wollemi Nobilis

To see you on this day,
the summer solstice,
when time and the sun
stand still,
is to recall you as relictus,
then to acclaim you
as Lazarus,
risen from the dead.

Your fossil footprints
walked for so long,
two hundred million years,
and you walked with them,
unknown, unrecognized,
lost in the wilderness.

What poverty in language:
we either describe you
in impossible scientific Latin
or else we reduce you
to a chocolate coco pops
breakfast cereal.

Hand-cuffed, chained,
your feet rooted within
this immobile crockery pot,
you will never leave us now.

You are your own solstice,
a stationary seed,
growing to adulthood,
sown in a circle
of never-ending time.

Comment: I have been trying since Sunday, 5 March 2017, to write this poem. But what are four months in the life of a seventy-three year old poet or a pine tree that was thought to have become extinct 200 million years ago. I do not have the words to express how I feel looking at this throwback to the time of the Dinosaurs. And maybe that is how this poem should start for it is, after all, Wordless Wednesday … “I do not have the words …” and thoughts, too, jam in the brain and refuse to cycle, let alone re-cycle. So, I’ll leave this poem for now. That said, I will probably come back to it. Meanwhile, do I ever fel so absolutely, totally, and completely inadequate.

Carpe Diem

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Kingsbrae 21.2
21 June 2017

Carpe Diem

Leos love this longest day.
Their sunshine manes
just swell and ripple
with a lion’s pride.

They lick their lips with joy
at the thought of sun,
and yet more sun;
finger-licking good,
this ice-cream warmth
spilling over from sugar cones
that march past in their memories.

Carpe diem
seize the day, indeed:
for tomorrow brings less sun,
and every day thereafter
sunlight grows less and less
until the frosty stars appear,
Orion thrusts his stormy
sword above the horizon,
and snow men
with their yellow feet
stand stock steady
on the lawn.

Rain

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Kingsbrae 20.4
20 June 2017

Rain

Hand in hand, we walk
beneath black umbrellas.
Grass beneath our feet is wet
and water seeps through
our shoes, soaking our socks.

Cold and numb in spite of the date
(the summer solstice draws near),
my ears strain against the pitter
-patter of falling rain to catch
the nearby robin’s song.

He has mislaid his voice
and I can no longer translate
his liquid notes into soul music
that might lighten mind and day.

Clouds gather and empty themselves
over our umbrella-covered heads.
In spite of damp and dark that rule,
thoughts abound and hop around,
like frogs in a summer pool, while
light bulbs explode in my brain.

Summer Visitors

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Kingsbrae 20.2
20 June 2017

Summer Visitors

Wind-blown birds,
songsters, passerines,
carried up from the south
on the wind’s wings.

Myths become facts:
hummingbirds on
eagles’ backs, warm,
clinging, feather-nested.

The following wind
drives carrier and
passenger onwards
and upwards to our land.

Look to the Mountain Ash
with its Indigo Bunting,
rare passerines flourish,
too, new, sudden and
unexpected visitors, drawn
north by our sun’s magnet
and our short summer
season with its wealth:
swarming northern insects
(never forget
those migrant butterflies)
and pestilential flies.

Lost!

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Kingsbrae 20.1
20 June 2017

Lost!

Mist covers Passamaquoddy Bay.
The stone roads stretch long arms
out into the mist and figures move
along them, losing shape and form,
disappearing, so many gone, lost on
fishing grounds, fallen from boats,
while some, sad and alone, have filled
their pockets with a load of stones
and walked out into the clinging mist,
never to return. What is it like,
that slow immersion into cold waters,
the shallows, the water deepening,
the sudden depths, the rip tide
and the currents that sweep you
off your feet and carry you out, down,
and away to be lost forever in those
swirling mists that cloak the bay?
The mist knits itself in and out,
covering the scene before me
with a theatrical curtain that raises
and lowers itself. I watch the stage
before me. Mist thins and figures grow
stronger. There’ll be no tragedy today,
just a comedy of errors as footsteps
wet and muddy come my way and
a dog shakes salt and water from its coat
covering her owners with mud and spray.

Sandman 2

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Kingsbrae 17.1
17 June 2017

Sandman 2

The sandman brings sand
to put in the sandwiches
we have packed for the beach.
It’s as coarse and fierce as salt
flowing through an hourglass,
or red sand in an egg-timer,
not clockwork and wound,
but the sort you turn upside
down. Sand: it counts each
minute of each day, turns
minutes into hours, hours
into days, sands the stone
block of our lives, like a sculptor,
into smaller, more manageable
shapes and chunks. Sand sticks
to our clothes, makes us wash
our hands and brush ourselves
thoroughly before we sit down
to eat the sand that has sneaked
into the lunch-time sandwiches
we brought to nibble on the sands.

Comment: This is another example of the effects of a rewrite that takes place in a different time and place. The original of this poem appeared in the blog on my father’s birthday, 17 May 2017. Sandman 1 can be see by clicking on the title. A quick comparison shows how the themes have changed an meaning has been deepened in the later version, Sandman 2, published above. I am intrigued by the differences caused by a change of time and place.  There is room for still more development in this poem. It will be un to see Sandman 3, if it evolves further.

Painting

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Kingsbrae 10.4
10 June 2017

Painting
for
Geoff Slater

I took a line for a walk.
It was
as disobedient as
an untrained puppy on a leash,
as crazy as a kite
in a wind-filled sky,
as joyful as
a schoolboy when they cancel school,
as easy as
pie when the R is squared.

The dog walks round in circles,
gets my legs caught in his leash.
The kite, all twisted strings,
comes tumbling down a ladder of sky.
The apple pie is a pulled-up sheet,
folded double, and I am a child again,
trapped in my boarding school bed.

“Color me now,” my painting cries
and I fill the spaces between the lines:
blue for happiness, blue for hope;
yellow for the lion mane of the sun;
red for the redbreast;
brown for the worm;
and green for schoolboy freedom
at the end of term.

Journal: I had the great pleasure of working with Geoff Slater this afternoon. He sat me down at his painting table, alongside all the children, and gave me a palette, brushes, water, cleaning paper, and a rainbow of paint. Then he placed an easel and a canvas before me and put an apron on me to protect me from the paint. “Go for it,” he said. I looked at a field of white … and I remembered … “Drawing is taking a line for a walk” … so I drew a line, first a beak, and then a head and an eye, then I added wings, and legs … it was wonderful. The children were laughing with me and I was slapping the paint around with great delight. “Let me see, let me see,” they cried. And then, when they saw it: “What is it?” It was even more fun when I started to fill the spaces between the lines. This is, or was, the first time I have ever placed paint upon a canvas. In my old age, I have started to paint. “Is it a worm or a fish?” they asked. “Is the bird going to eat it?” “Is the bird spitting it out?” Such curiosity … and even I didn’t know the answers. “What’s the bird’s name?” asked one little girl. “Eagle-eye,” said the other. “And the worm’s called Squirmy,” added a third. “Are they talking?” another chimed in. “Yes,” I said. “I think they’re friends and they’re having a chat.” What fun. We left the painting out in the sun to dry … and now I don’t know where it’s gone. Let me know if you see it, anyone.