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Poems by Pam Crane



Published by Shoestring at Shakespir

Copyright 2017 Pam Crane



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In the crust of a thousand islands,

In the rocks and the dust of Mars,

In the core of a whirling planet,

In the breath of a billion stars


The metal of Man was waiting

For a brain and a thumb and fire.

An age of history-making

Began with naked desire;


Firing, hammering, honing,

Ready for food and foe,

Blade and spear in the forest

To swing, to thrust, to throw.


Mankind has harvested iron,

Harnessed its weight for war,

Hard in the mouths of horses,

Strong on the fortress door;


Melting, moulding and casting

Cauldron, helmet and chain,

Armour against the weapon,

Shield to carry the slain.


Hoops for the cooper’s barrel,

Rim for the carter’s wheel -

And then the gun. And the girder.

Man has discovered steel.


With steel he plunders the planet.

With steel he murders the trees.

With steel he conquers his neighbour …

But loses to Heart disease.


The crust of the whirling planet

Is left with the rust of war,

Waiting for souls to ripen

Just as it was before.



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Roll up! Roll up! And vote for me,

This rare day of democracy!

Your Independent candidate

Is up for vigorous debate

On any issue – you may pick it;

I shall add it to my ticket.

Join me! Wear my fine rosette!

I found these on the internet,

The symbolism quite apparent -

Frills and ribbons all transparent.

My platform? I am anti-greed.

‘To each according to his need.’


So – nurses’ wages? They must rise;

That should come as no surprise.

I am also on the ball

With soccer – salaries must fall

To where they were back in the day

When games were televised in grey;

The pricey foreigners must go

So local lads can run the show.

Then we can all afford to cheer

Our teams three dozen times a year!


The beating heart of my campaign

Is second homes. Let me explain,

That only for a licence fee

In this corrupt economy

Should anyone at all be given

More than a single house to live in.

After somewhere nice to stay

With kids or friends on holiday?

You’ll have to rough it like the rest

Of us, and be a hotel guest.

Open the villages again

To local folk and working men!

My logo is a garden gnome:

“Make every house a proper home.”


Still on the theme of rural life,

One phrase that cuts me like a knife

Is “National Park.” A park’s for play.

We’re throwing peace and space away,

Granting the ignorant permission

To tramp the wild into submission.


I’ll curb the greedy National Trust,

Stop all the farms from going bust,

Punish the waste of food, and pull

Strings to revive the trade in wool.

(… Remember the verses on the bus

And tube that once delighted us?

When Brummel Beau, the swell of swells

Electrified the Brighton Belles,

The Prince would hover in the offing,

Killing romance with fits of coughing.

‘Another cold, Sire? Listen do!

To be well-dressed be wool-dressed too!

In elegance it is the rule,

There is no substitute for Wool!’)


We must control our lust for oil,

Return the plough-horse to the soil.

Spread the forests, marsh and heath,

Meadow and moor, till we can breathe.

I can see progress here and there,

But people need another scare -

We’re seeing fewer plastic-trees

Yet micro-beads are in the seas

And particles lodged in the brain

May drive us secretly insane.

Is our poisoned air why we

Deny the world’s divinity?…


I’ll fight the rising tide of noise

From shrieking girls and fighting boys;

The clubs and bars will close at ten,

And we can get some sleep again…

Under a blazing Milky Way

Once light is limited to day.

No fireworks may be lit before

November 5th; I’m waging war

On every huge exploding shell

That turns an evening into hell

For those with post-traumatic stress,

And trembling pets. The friendliness

Of toffee-apples round the fire,

Sooty potatoes, rockets higher

Than stars, and flowers of coloured light

Are joys enough on Fireworks Night.


And those who wind their windows down

To blast their ‘music’ through the town

And all who leave their engines running

For ages at the kerb, I’m gunning

For you! You shake the old, the ill,

The tired – I’ll force you to keep still.


Many end up on a ward,

Sick or broken, stressed and bored.

On my watch, to help us heal

We shall feast at every meal.

Morale will soar – and if we get a

Smile as well, we’ll soon be better!

Prevention always trumps a cure;

In Whitehall thrift has great allure:

I’ll save the NHS a packet,

Ruining Big Pharma’s racket.

Garlic scrips at fifty pee,

Will keep the country virus-free.

(You take it raw, with lots of food.

It does your blood and body good.)

And when you go to see the Doc

He won’t be looking at the clock

And neither will your daily carer -

Pay and practice must be fairer.

Nobody should lie all day

Unloved until they waste away.


Roll up! Roll up and vote for me!

I’ll do my best as your MP

To purge pollution, waste and lies;

Let’s save the world before it dies.



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Fondly I remember party games,

Tests of character with simple names.

Any joiner-in could take a punt

At statues, spin the bottle, treasure hunt,

Bingo, pass the parcel, blind man’s buff,

Fielding twenty questions off the cuff;

Murder in the dark, musical chairs,

And playing sardines underneath the stairs.


Oh, how times have changed! Our parties now

Hunt down the blind and frail who find out how

To play the system so that they can eat.

They spin the news, they pass the buck, they cheat,

And twenty questions is a bland parade

Of policy, an insincere charade.

In the House they fight for every chair;

Murdered ideals are buried everywhere.



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We are the Heroes


All we need to do

Is fly straight perish in fire

Paradise waiting


Islands and cities

Full of mistaken people

Chosen for Heaven


One man with a gun

And a beautiful bomb smiles at

His own Jihad


Glorious weather

To start a war by shedding

The blood of children


Souls of the broken

Stare at the tears and courage



No happier day

To pack a rucksack and break

The heart of London


Deep in shattered dreams

New shoes kick the enemy

Old men are weeping


A perfect weekend

For boys in the hood to run

Looting and burning


Not the rescuers

Dying to save a stranger

Nor the blind climber


Not the lovely boy

He and the bomb dismantled

Nor burning daughters


Not the Red Arrow

Who wrenched his plummeting plane

Away from houses


Not aching nurses

Mothers of empty children

Nor weeping Jesus


God in our pocket

We are the right men always

We are the Heroes



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(a Villanelle)


Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand,

Girls in bikinis, tiny children running bare,

You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.


Our simple heaven shattered in a foreign land,

The debris of your holy visit everywhere.

Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand.


In the only Paradise you understand

Naked houris waited for your beck and call -

You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand -


But your black leaders lovely lies have slain you, and

There will be no Garden, no reward at all.

Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand;


In that moment nothing happened as you planned.

The hand of God reached down for us and left you there,

You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.


In that love which makes our butchered children whole

Is there forgiveness for your naked, broken soul?

Yesterday you joined us on the summer sand

You in a bomb-belt, Kalashnikov in hand.



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I love parades. I love the noise

The dancing girls the laughing boys

The frocks as white as snowy May

To celebrate Our Lady’s Day


I hate parades. I hate the noise

The new regime’s expensive toys

The endless rhythmic martial tread

Annual insult to the dead


I love parades. I love the crowd

The shouts the whistling out and proud

The rainbow flags the sexy gear

We’ve made it through another year


I hate parades. I hate the crowd

The pipes are shrill the drums too loud

And symbols clash in every street

As old intolerances meet


I love parades. I love the smells

Of food and animals the bells

On circus horses scary clowns

When wonder comes to sleepy towns


I hate parades. I hate the smells

Of men emerging from their cells

Waste of body and waste of mind

Bury the lives we left behind


I love parades. I love the weather

We freeze and fry and drown together

To watch a smiling Queen go by

And try to catch a guardsman’s eye


I hate parades. I hate the weather

Shivering sweating in serge and leather

One day we’ll be the men in braid

Now it’s a passing-out parade


I love parades I hate parades

Stories written in cavalcades

The year has turned and here we come

Who will march to a different drum?



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When am I to be free of men?

Feel the breath of the stars again?

Welcome again a crystal sea

To pulse and rhyme with the heart of me?


Men are piercing me for my oil,

Scarring me with their pits and spoil,

Torching the trees that make the air,

Spreading their poison everywhere.


The fading life in my ocean feeds

On deadly invisible plastic beads.

These will return to choke the men

Who foul the air and the waves – but when?


I whip and I whip their selfish hide,

I spin the winds, I churn the tide,

I crack the cities with men inside

For all the loveliness that died.


When will the polar snows return?

When will the jungles cease to burn?

When at last will the only roads

Be the secret tracks of elk and toads?


I long for the day Cheyenne and Sioux

Can do again what they love to do,

Buffalo graze on a bracing plain,

Waters flashing with fish again.


When will the billions learn to be

Grateful, careful and kind to me?

When will they honour the Earth, their mother?

I die – they die. They have no other.


Every battle between my sons

Has wounded me with the bombs and guns.

Oh friendly meteors, aim for me

And put me out of my misery!


The slums and towers will all be dust,

Ambition will end in bone and rust;

Shocked souls will cry for pardon – then

I shall indeed be free … oh, when?



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He voted Labour all his life,

your Dad.

I was a loving, loyal wife

And glad

To put my cross by the same candidate

Then wait

Watching TV in the crowded bar

By the pithead, sinking jar after jar

Till the results were in

And we knew

Which side would win

And who

Have to

Take defeat on the chin.


This time it was Thatcher.

Among the posh Tory men

None could match her

Smart, pearled



She took us on.


In her blue eyes our blackened world

Of slag and seam,

Of red flags unfurled,

Was alien,


Our time had gone,

Dismissed like a bad dream;

The mines had had their day,

They would no longer pay.

And we of the tin baths and the tin hats

Who toiled in blackness on the brightest day,

Whose men clocked up miles in cages not cars,

With scars

From rockfall, pick-axe, truck and buried friends,

We were like rats

To be rid of by brute means for Tory ends.


The mines would go.

Not clean,

Not green,

Old King Coal was dead.

The wheels would stop at every pithead,

And soon there would be nothing to be seen

Of where we had been,

Nothing to show

For centuries of hard labour below.


Then came

King Arthur.

Labour to the core

And one of us, a husband and a father -

And more,

He courted fame:

He rallied our communities for war.


How could we know

Scargill would let us starve?

That slow

And bitter year

The government would halve

Our meagre benefits;

There would be no

Help from the Miners’ Union for the poor

Surviving on our wits,

On fags and beer.


And how could we know

The misery in store at striking pits?

Hectored men would go

Desperate for a little Union pay

Onto the picket lines

Day after day

Believing this would somehow save the mines;

There they would stay

Despite the broken hand, the bloody nose,

Taunting the Right,

Keeping the scabs at bay.

Braving fight after fight,

Arrests and fines,

Under the scrawled signs

Life-long friends coming to blows

Over the side they chose.


And how could we know

After the charging horses,

Black police

And bloodied batons, and the riot shields

In ugly deployment of national resources

To keep the peace;

After our lives became a TV show,

Our banners headlines,

How could we know the mines

Would soon revert to ruins in the fields,

The wild take back our spoil

And at terrible cost

Our loved labour lost

To gas, to oil?


Three decades on,


Your Dad has gone.

And there’s no coal

And there’s no soul

In this damned coalition.

Thousands went in and then came out of prison;

All that pain

Was utterly in vain.

The Tories won.

The pithead wheels are rusting in the rain,

The talk is all

Of tide and wind and sun

And Labour has broken with the Union.


You’ll try again

To roll back time – but this is a strange

World caught up in climate change.

Each warring party goes by its old name

But red, blue, yellow, purple, green,

What do they really mean?

Each faces the same

Enemy, utters the same

Platitudes, and this year’s men

To our generation

Are alien.


How could I know your Dad and his Union brothers

Toiling for coal and gas and oil and bread,

Raising their standards for the wives and mothers

Till they and the men exploiting them were dead,

Laboured to waste the earth for all the others

To come? Oh yes. The maps are turning red.



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This isn’t about my lounge no longer in the saloon bar.

This isn’t about the lack of panelling

and having to live with the Collinsons’ twelve-year-old wallpaper.

This isn’t about the 1970s rockface

over the grate instead of a tall mantel;

This isn’t about the stink of exhaust

and incense when I settle each evening,

Wondering if it came with me …


Nor is it about Woodfest again,

nor about the sun shining on fresh-carved creatures;

nor the crowds milling round the coffee-stalls,

nor the colourful crush in the second-hand tents;

Nor is it about the little ones wide-eyed in tow,

and on tip-toe with dripping ice-creams,

Too much for their little eyes to take in …


And this is certainly not about

Eating chicken and chips, my fingers suffering.

Not about my tongue and nose in love

But my finger-skin wrecked,

my thumbs shredded;

This is certainly not about the question of eating in gloves …


This is not about my Best Buddy

with the loved voice -

on the phone, in the next room,

Not about his voice calling upstairs,

or popping his Santa Claus head round the bedroom door;

This is not about that voice I hear every day,

not about the voice I sing with over and over again …


This isn’t about the way the past is confused with the present

Nor perfection with imperfection, nor yet my

giddying encounters with




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Pretty voices

Witty voices

Something in the City voices


Silly voices

Chilly voices

Night on Piccadilly voices


Tiny voices

Whiny voices

Magical and shiny voices


Army voices

Smarmy voices

Diners Club Umami voices


Grumpy voices

Jumpy voices

Old and fat and frumpy voices


Cheeky voices

Squeaky voices

On the spectrum geeky voices


Picky voices

Tricky voices

Just time for a quickie voices


Jokey voices

Blokey voices

Anyone for croquet voices


Haughty voices

Sporty voices

Still a catch at forty voices


Sleazy voices

Wheezy voices

Always bright and breezy voices


Pally voices

Scally voices

Evening at the ballet voices


Hoary voices

Tory voices

Read on Jackanory voices


Crazy voices

Lazy voices

Forties Gert and Daisy voices


Phoney voices

Groany voices

Can I have a pony voices


Soppy voices

Foppy voices

Won’t you buy a poppy voices


Catty voices

Batty voices

Getting very ratty voices


Dopey voices

Mopey voices

Feeling rather ropey voices


Sleepy voices

Weepy voices

Definitely creepy voices


Snobby voices

Yobby voices

On about a hobby voices


Risky voices

Frisky voices

Confidential whisky voices


Plucky voices

Clucky voices

Absolutely mucky voices


Kooky voices

Rookie voices

Looking for some nookie voices


Happy voices

Snappy voices

Life is really crappy voices


Scary voices

Wary voices

Hippie, beardy, hairy voices


Cheery voices

Weary voices

Indistinct and beery voices


Funny voices

Sunny voices

Never short of money voices


Dirty voices

Flirty voices

Reading Krishnamurti voices


Arty voices

Hearty voices

Going to a party voices


Holy voices

Lowly voices

Yelling at the goalie voices


Many voices

Any voices

Even two-a-penny voices


Singing, chatting, making choices

Laughing, warring over toys, is

A cacophony of noises -

Deafened Heaven still rejoices

(Wishing we would lose our voices?)



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Secure your hard hat.

Danger lurks in the flat

Field and fresh air!



Don’t go near the water.

A man and his daughter

Are drowning there!



Everything you eat

Can kill you. Horsemeat



Beware -

Only the thin look great.

Say you are size eight

Whatever you wear.



Losing your self-esteem

When Following your Dream.

Worst nightmare.



Kids must cope alone

While you are on your phone

With stuff to share.



Trends that are so last year.

Insist on the latest gear -

It’s only fair.


Beware -

For anything really nice

Don’t pay the asking price




Those beggars on your street;

They drink. They never eat

Or wash their hair.



That man with the ready smile

May be a paedophile.

Get out of there.



A touch is an assault.

Nothing is your fault -

You were In Care.


Beware of cuddling. Beware of love.

Beware of the velvet hand in the iron glove.


Beware of black and posh and daft and queer -

Beware of everything you ought to fear.


Estranged from mercy, trust, reflection, prayer,

People, beware.



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We are the men who bring the trains …

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the blokes who clear the drains

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the docs who mend your brains …

Tunnelling, tunnelling, tunnelling.


Blasting a way through ancient rock

Blitzing a stinking garbage block

Boring through bone against the clock …

Tunnelling, tunnelling.


We are the guys who drill for oil …

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the brains who search the soil …

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the chaps who heap the spoil

Tunnelling, tunnelling, tunnelling.


Drilling the earth until she screams

Probing the past for secret dreams

Ripping the heart from golden seams …

Tunnelling, tunnelling.


We are the creatures put to flight …

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the ghosts that haunt your night …

Tunnelling, tunnelling …

We are the bugs you fail to fight …

Tunnelling, tunnelling, tunnelling.


Riddled with graves a world will die

Riddled with guilt, the mind awry

Riddled with death, we all know why …

Tunnelling, tunnelling.



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[]1ConfessionS of a Media Hack


God Almighty, I confess

To romancing in excess!

Calculated to deceive,

My whole career is make-believe.


Anything to get in print,

Raise my profile, make a mint;

I will kill a reputation,

Trash a life to please the nation.


I will steal a joke, a plot,

Fake the talent I have not;

Plagiarising doesn’t faze

In pursuit of readers’ praise.


In my fabricated lives

I fornicate with others’ wives

Adulterating lazy text

With the louche and highly-sexed.


Thus my neighbour’s trophy wife

Has a secret second life

Where her curves will never age,

Stripping for me on the page.


His the mansion, his the cars,

His the parties with the stars;

His the cash, the looks, the glory …

All are mine though in my story.


I have been deprived. I had

Disrespect from Mum and Dad.

Now it’s payback time; my rage

Unedited fills every page.


Worst of all was Sunday school.

I looked and felt a bloody fool.

Each wasted day because of you …

The dead God I am talking to …


God! What must I do or say

To make this feeling go away

That you are real; that you have spoken -

All the rules you made are broken?



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I wandered, lonely, as a cloud

Of loose balloons above the fair

Carried the colours of the crowd

Into the blue and steamy air;

The crush, the smells, the shrieking rides

Swamping the town between the tides.


The folks out foraging for fun

Saw no-one watching by the queue,

Merely a shadow in the sun

Only a breath away from you;

Your onions flavouring my nose,

Your ice-cream dripping on my toes.


The chilly girls, the loud parade

Dispersed to hot dogs on the pier,

Counting the money they had made -

The same routine as every year.

The rattled bucket caught a pound

I picked up on the rugby ground.


That’s all I had. I hope it went

To folks in institutions, or

To help some other indigent

Hungry as me, whose feet were sore,

No dog for comfort, no guitar,

Curled up where all the dustbins are.


I wander, lonely. As a cloud

Of pungent steam rolls up the town

Enveloping me like a shroud

Your lights wink on, my sun goes down.

May-Day, May-Day by the sea;

Tears at bedtime – none for me.



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I had a lovely hedge – so full of bloom

In winter, strangers wandered by to stare.

I’d pause and chat while leaning on my broom,

Happy explaining, happier still to share

The shelter that it gave above the wall

To runners from rainstorms, children’s hide and seek

Amid the long leaves tumbling. This all

Gave pleasure, until late last week

When men and shrieking saws without consent

Devastated my Clematis, and left

Nothing but shorn twigs. They haven’t sent

A bill – the work was free. But I’m bereft.

Where will the blackbird make his home this spring?

Where will the wren hide? And our robin sing?



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It’s March the First; the weathermen

And women cry, “It’s Spring again!”

Despite the blizzards in the hills

And hardly any daffodils.


The frogs are humping in the pond,

One fern has made a tiny frond,

But not a leaf is on the trees

And walkers hunch against the breeze.


The Sun is barely in the Fish,

Whatever our presenters wish;

The Equinox is weeks away,

Whatever weather pundits say.


The astronomic start of Spring,

Bright catalyst for everything,

Is when our star burns the Equator

In the Ram, the life-creator.


Dishonouring St. David’s Day,

Our sense of time has gone astray.

Disdaining sleep, we raid the night

For hours extravagant with light.


We chill the heat, we heat the cold,

Stay adolescent till we’re old;

Dress up our children to attract

And then get stars and teachers sacked.


Refuse to rest, refuse to die,

Insist we have the right to fly,

To play God with the biosphere

Since we are all that matters here.


Come back, St. David! Help us back

To sanity! We’ve lost the knack

Of simple living, sold our souls

To self-esteem, commercial goals.


I long for unpolluted air,

For bees and beasties everywhere,

I’d like a night alive with stars,

Not nasty neon clubs and bars.


I long for peace, untainted bread,

The pulse of Heaven in my head.

I’d like a weather-girl to say

“It really will be Spring today”



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I’d like some pretty with my cold.

This winter is already old,

And not a frost, and not a flake

Has twinkled on our town to break

The nithering monotony

Of January by the sea.


The days are grey, the mood is low;

We haven’t had our share of snow.

No-one wants to walk the Orme,

Dull without a winter storm.

I wish that I could find a way

To brighten everybody’s day!


I’d love to have the magic gun

That makes a blizzard in the sun,

That showers ice on everyone!

I’d love to point the cannon high

And fill the January sky

With dancing flakes that float and fly!


My gun would freeze the salty air

And frost would sparkle everywhere,

Flashing diamonds through the waves,

Dazzling crystal in the caves;

Our beach an arc of shining snow

In winds that make our faces glow.


We’d walk beneath the frosted trees

Tinkling like piano keys

Under the fingers of the breeze,

And everyone would smile and say

As happy people crowd the bay,

‘What a glorious Winter’s day!


We need some pretty with our cold

To charm the young and cheer the old;

Gardens white as wedding cake,

Skaters out on every lake,

A frost-fair on the glassy sea -

So bring my magic gun to me!



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Old Kos is gone

Shadow of Bernie Rish

Long-time companion

Ate from the same dish

Drank from the same tap

Plodded the same stairs

The old black Lab

Now beyond prayers


Before he died

He would meet my eye

Press his glossy side

Against my thigh

Patient he would stand

Unable to tell

My listening hand

Where to make him well


So Kos has gone

And Suky quietly killed

By a vet’s injection

When I was unskilled

- at ten – in taking care

Of my Terrier and Dad

Let her run everywhere

Like dogs he once had


Pained I look back -

Dad’s birthday surprise

The rescue dog whose lack

Of training and wild eyes

He couldn’t handle. Years

Of boasting and bluff

Ended in shock and tears

When he had enough


No dog for me

Only the neighbour’s pet -

Tiny tearaway Sally,

Little Blossom who met

A rose-bush at a run

that blinded her, calm black

Chelsea the famous one

Who guides our Nicky back


Bobbie (a Pisces)

Our Kent Guide-dog friend

Shared her Callie’s crises

Their happy end

The smell of soft puppies

A mother’s melting eyes

Amid warm apple trees

And holy skies


And once in a while

A visitor – like the stray

Called Lady a real trial

The Lurcher had run away

Lived with us for a week

Tail tucked in eyes white

Unable to sleep or speak

For sheer fright


An aged Retriever

Came on holiday -

Christine would leave her

When she went to stay

In France, Goa, Japan,

On fashionable flights

To boost her tan

And see the sights


I loved old Amber

Didn’t mind the hair

On the carpet – fed her

Walked her everywhere

Polished her gold coat

Coaxed vital medicine

Down her throat

We couldn’t win


Old Amber’s gone

She who was nearly mine

Left me with one

Beautiful photograph a line

Or two in an old diary

Her Leo birth chart and

The moment she bit me -

Angry – on the hand.


No dog for me

No dawn exercise

Haven’t the energy

Wouldn’t be very wise

But now just a glance

At Poppy, Wallis, Betsan,

And up they dance -

I give what I can


Walking the beach

Poodles, Staffies, Springers

Strain at the lead to reach

My burning fingers

Burdened with love for them

When did it start?

Did Kent or Bethlehem

Break into my heart?


I am a healer’s wife

Touching a Dog’s Life



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This arrow is not a tattoo -

It’s something that hospitals do

To prevent any harm

To the undamaged arm

And indicate one bone or two.


Now, piercings were never my thing,

A bar or a stud or a ring …

You can guess how I feel

With a wrist full of steel,

The latest in hospital bling!


When first I was put in a plaster

I hoped my poor arm would heal faster.

But this fibreglass shell

Is hurting like hell,

A challenge I yet have to master!


When told that I had a green thumb

I’d no idea what was to come!

Now the joint is viridian,

My elbow obsidian,

My garden in need of a chum.


I’m practising being left-handed;

Its digits must do as commanded,

Move on from the mouse

To the whole of the house

Or else I’ll be utterly stranded!


I don’t recall saying when stressed,

‘I’d give my right arm for a rest!’

I rarely maintain

there’s no gain without pain;

so, zip it! I’m doing my best.


(broken arm, summer 2014)



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Mirror, mirror on the wall

This is a disaster!

Look at me. I’m getting old

Dicky knee in plaster,

Belly-button going south,

Down on chin and down in mouth.


Mirror, mirror on the wall

Once I was a beauty.

Suddenly I feel the cold,

Dances are a duty.

Tired of tramping up the town;

Longing for my dressing-gown.


Mirror, mirrror on the wall

Borrowed time is flying;

Robbing me of memory,

All my friends are dying.

I forgot one funeral;

Names will not remain at all!


Mirror, mirror on the wall

All my bones are crumbling.

Every nerve is going mad

And I’ve started mumbling.

Lightning flashes in my eyes

Itchy back and jelly thighs.


Mirror, mirror on the wall

Make me stand up straighter!

I am in no rush at all

To meet with my Creator!

I’m fighting back against decline

I’m backing up my life on-line.


Mirror, mirror on the wall,

Don’t you go near Facebook!

Here I choose a digital

Lavender and lace look.

Here, I’m who I want to be

In quasi-immortality.



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One wild horse,

One tame.

One with plaited hair,

One with free mane.


Born of the one Sire,

Foaled of the one Dam,

She is the wild one,

The tame I am.


One dark horse,

One pale,

One trim in ribbon,

One with flying tail.


Caught of the same rope,

Locked in the one stall,

Her ear flattens -

Mine pricks to the Call.


One high horse,

One low,

One for gentle duty,

One for rodeo.


Fired with the same Blood,

Breathing the one Breath,

Twinned in the old shafts,

Love against Death.


One dark curve,

One bright,

One with a dark eye,

One with white.


Poles of the One Love,

Halves of the One Whole.

Locked in a single Light,

Our double Soul.



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A cat – asleep? Or dead? – in a bank of grass.

And a bicycle. Dead?

To me who think I live these things are dead.

I pass them,

The huge present; the infinitesimal past.

What do they do there?


Beyond the ploughland lies the blue light.


I will dig coins for myself as I cross the earth.


As my clothes fall off me and die like leaves in autumn

And new grass grows out of the approaching land to clothe me.

Sometimes I am naked.


And I can only watch where the blue horizon hangs

And wait for the wind to finish mating me,

Then bend with my nickel spoon again to turn the earth.


For glimpses of what? Hope?

Splinters of somebody’s past, my future?

The years turn in their sleep and mutter their dreams

Out of the sleeping corn,

And another gold grain sticks in my hand.


The wind sings

You are alone and I run around you

Playing at journeys while you stand and think

And stoop, and yawn, and think, and frown in the furrows.

You never look up at me when you rise;

Your eyes light through me as if – am I there,

dancing before you toward the horizon? -


Where the blue light drips.


The sun curries favour with the wind

And I work alone

Planting love, pricking myself,

And my blood drops somebody’s impulse into the soil.


One day

I shall be riding the dark back of the sea

At the edge of the end of it all -

The inachievable future the great present.

And the blue light will smoke over these lifting waves

To take me into its dream with All the forgotten

Whose thoughts lie unburied, on the ploughland

Where the wind stands




Why we left them there



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When you last let in the morning frost

To scatter crumbs upon your window-sill,

Shook the bread-board clear over the garden

And watched the wild wings beating down for breakfast,

did you think then? – birds have died for you

So you can have red feathers on your hat.

A cock bled all his gallantry for you -

His love flown to your head.

Put out more bread.



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Today I knitted myself a hat

In red and green, for the holly season -

And pulled it on, and dreaming sat

In the firelight – when for God’s own reason

A shiver of ice along the bone,

The shock of snow below the skin,

Confused my soul with a soul alone

In her fear. The air, and her shawl, were thin;

She strove barefoot on the mountain

With child and cart and dying man.

No songs, no feasts, no star, no inn

As winter comes to Kurdestan.



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Weird life.

All that time, that rolls

Before and around me like an irregular sea.

A pulse of the world s breath beats like a hill;

Miles of time

To move in the mind of the tortoise,

Spacious years

For living and dying

The day-dance of may-flies over the water.


I have borrowed the slow heart-beat

That shortens the day

And swallowed time in a step too vast

To heed the scurry of rabbit-paths in the thickets.

I have ticked an hour into more aeons of time

Than can be counted or conceived by men

Stripped of empathy and

Armed with stones.


The ant burns away a long life,

And the tree, In the onward rush of seasons.


Trees grow no taller than I;

They watch my life as I would watch an ant.

My day is a second in time

Their day is eternity

To a may-fly.


So what of my strange metabolism

Flung between the particle and the cosmos?

To what end my journeys, lonely as love,

To the last forts of reason?

Which way,

Through lands of a million clocks that tell no more

Than a dandelion puffed away in the wind?



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One rose

harbours a world

shelters a heart

touches a light




One hand

cupping a dream

warming a life

frames love

With utmost



One glance

nearly a word

slowly a touch

dissolve time

In falling




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This music is the colour of your eyes

I look out upon the world from under

Your soft lashes

In deep wonder


And slowly smile your smile

Without surprise



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the space between



and your

Lovely nose








My chin


Dear delight in


Your nose



my chin






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When you are come,

My heart flies out like a green

Bird to meet you.

By night she wanders in rooms

Where you might be.

By day she sits in my head;

In the mere

Stir of her feathers

She hears you coming,

In a leaf-fall,

In a green murmur blowing

Over the fields…

Only my ears dreaming

Of when you were last here.



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God walks in your eyes, across your smile,

Leaves his footprint in your waiting palm,

Perfects dominion of your gentleness

And reaches out along the loving arm.

You, my redeemer, grace the holiest aisle.

You enclose me with simplicity,

Kindle rose fire as you undress

My soul, naked as pain, maker of me.

We shall in silver time move sound together;

Aeons locked in rosary and white heather.



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In still wonder

I am in slow burn

I’ll get there one day

Tired light

Is all left behind

I and you are


In the dark


We are

Starkly brilliant


Among stars



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In that turbulent peace I laid

My lips in your hair.

No sound nor move you made.

I left them there.


So we remained.

And so your hand I kept,

All that had pained

Me, gone. I held you close. You slept.


If, in that rose-encircled sleep

You know me there,

It is because I weep

Into your hair;


Because this night

Of candled mist has given

More sad delight

Than I can bear so far from heaven.



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When my eyes close, I am your face.

I am in every place

In which you move.

I feel the bone adjust, and the soul stir,

The entire shape alter.

And this is love.


I am empty of me by day till your return,

I suffer the ice-burn

Of open time

And of a loosed life flowing away

With no tourniquet

But a crude rhyme.


When your forested hand should dam my brain,

Never to cry again,

Were you to love

Me as I want you, some way to reconcile

God with the animal -

That were enough.



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She has the child now,

Suckling blindly at her love,

Calf-quenching himself

With now a look of limpid acknowledgement;

His fist full of the only gold she has to give

Twisted in sunlit hair.

- Oh, love is a terrible sad thing, Sam.


Oh Sam, love, they hoist you out, and she has you.

With much anguish but more ceremony they cut you free

Than he is ripped from her heart, her life, her chi,

Piecemeal, so even the soul bleeds,



She wonders if this after-blood will ever dry,

This other milk, common to star and stone,

Ever ebb from the image of his thirst.


Even lost in the light-sound-cave

Where she diminished amid echoes

There was no refuge, Sam, for very long;

Even where she went down, kindling, and became sizeless

To help unlock your prison.


He the shadow moves ever amid the gulf of sound,

Ghost of a shade

Slipping between the pulses of her forgiveness

Without touching,

Yet unable to lodge guilt safe

Behind any sonorous membrane of her light.

Oh, Sam, he thinks it a hell-sun,

the glory wherein no shred of man nor woman may hide!


And they abort him from her;

She cannot fight so many grappling hands.

Only lie and howl in her silent places

Like a bewildered beast, and lick each torn part

Of her ravaged immortality.


You, whole, lie and perhaps listen

Out of your own haven;

You are the child she thinks may understand

In manhood and learn to forgive the man

Who ravished so her soul -

Love can be such a terrible harsh pain,




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O love, oh dear love, alone in the gaslight,

Lonely and longing I sing of you softly;

Smiling a little I sing of your beauty.


Sad white flower,

weary of infancy,

Curled in shadow away from the sun,

In the moon’s hour

You will open unto me,

Sweetly so touching, oh sweetly done.


O love, oh dear love, alone in the gaslight,

Lonely and longing I sing of you softly;

Looking on dreams I sing of your eyes.


Shy-coming light,

Wells of dark in the fells at sunrise

Fringed with light,

Blue-misted morning.

But how they unveil to the welcome night

With dew in the dusk

Thither me beckoning!


O love, oh dear love, alone in the gaslight,

Lonely and longing I sing of you softly;

With love in my fingers I sing of your hair.


Soft as a sparrow and wavy as wind

On the bird-brown moorland,

Wild in the air,

Come, shelter by me, and

In warm double darkness

I’ll stroke all your fears away under my hand.


O love, oh dear love, alone in the gaslight,

Lonely and longing I sing of you softly.



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And I can do nothing for you

But weep your tears,

Darken your fears,

And kiss your dry cheek


For all the terrible years

Of which you speak.

I am so weak,

And you so calm, in grief.


I cannot reassure you

Or give relief.

Our lives are brief

Enough, and may well end


Here, at the death of love.

You may depend

On your dearest friend

To bear the weight of your pain;


Do as you intend.

Empty your brain

Of music, drain

Your body of hope and sorrow;


The memories that remain

Will cloud tomorrow,

And I shall go

Uneasy to bed again.



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There is no getting through this wall of diamond ice,

There is no getting through.

There is no way to the centre of your world;

There is no way by the bright pole turned towards me.


A quick sun shakes out spring;

Unease and the wind close over the snows again.


Each crevice I want to explore is deep.

But I am the coward, now, and keep

My foot on the firm frost; I fear to be lost.


If my voice had power against the wind

(That blows me toward the sea) I would sow words

In the pitiless ice, watch them snap

Or sink under the snow.

And in that warmer place I could rest and think

In the bleak glitter of stars.


But that is no way.

The wind blows me seaward

Away from the seismic crust of musical ice

(Abandon its siren song)

Where my compass skips like an idiot

In the bright sleet from my eyes.

There is no getting through.


Hand over hand, into the throat of night

I would go down,

But who knows what stricture of rock would crack my veins

(And a slow weep of blood complete its journey)

What dank breath exhale me,

Or tonguing jealous flame leap from below,

Grappling with my fire?


It might thaw

The white rock and splinter the stars;

While these eyes run resinous into your past

And stick blind.


If it were glass

Between me and the mouth of darkness, a swift blow

Would end all circumspection.

I could look through, and touch,

Without tempting the malice of thin chasms.


My grief stares back from mirrors a mile deep,

My lips freeze against the ungiving ground,

The wind, the wind …


Flying forever seaward calls me away

From the place where tears gel

And hair is a crisp horizon beyond the face;

There is no way through.


I must turn back to the yielding sea,

Or stay, and stiffen into a sad flag

Saluting failure, for others to find with sorrow.



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Out there a bell rings, over the car park … Please,

Where are you going?

No answer.

Ring … ring …

The huts listen, deserted.

What will you do there?

Ring … ring …

Ringing, ringing,

no answer.


The boy with the face of a nun

sits at the table.

His eyes sloping. The white alp of his back.

His even limbs kept never to run.

He goes with a down-gaze,

a cool martyrdom.


Somewhere, a bell rings.

Time, child, for communion.

Come out of the walled garden,


there is bread, and wine, and soup, and laughter, and love!

in the world outside the garden;

Out there the sun shines -

- and I!


The sun and the moon in the afternoon,

and the danger of dusk in a stumble field,

and a body like ice-cream.

And a wind loose in the hair;

and the creeping together of flame in the straw in prayer,

In prayer …


A star falls,

the sky falls;

Time floats far and wide …


Softly the bells begin to ring; my hands are untied …

I speak to you.

Softly the bells start ringing out of my soul.

Softly the bells start ringing out of my soul!

- Too late. I hear a door close in the cloister.

No answer. Again. Mad God! There is no answer!

Only the tired sound of the fire dying,

and the dark peewit’s dream crying.

My words and my despair

spilt among cold ashes of his hair.

With the night flapping battily about my head

I’ll dig my half-memories a death-bed.


The stars float up in my soup …

O, years later!

… Out there a bell rings …

In here is a tumble of joy on the floor, in the air,

in your skyey hair, oh beautiful boy!

Over the tables!

… up and down in my soup …

Over and over, scatter of roses, flutter

of hands, of wings, of songs,

of laughter, and silence; the heart bubbles on -

the ringing, the silence … the silence …

… Again, the silence.


Out there a bell rings. No answer. A troop

of stars drift in my soup.



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1(a young actor deserts his childhood sweetheart)


Dear God! Not this raw cry of No!

The door shuts out her ugly misery.

Janet must have her Joe.


It’s like denying Christ. He walked out,

Her tears in his hair,

Utterly cold,

Undoing her sobbing hands from him,

While we and the walls listened to screams of Please,

Joe! Please! Please! out in the hall.

… By the fire her wine-cup left, half-drained

Once tasting of honey.


We heard the shutting door.


She fell into the room, a terrible, crazed thing

Dragging its hurt heart like a dead child,

Gasping, fighting the sweet party guitars,

Swaying amid a wilderness of faces;

Then sank in a corner to mourn among her hair.


In the kitchen now my eyes spring tears,

All my blood in prayer;

Raging, grappling with the ungenerous light,

Pulling the power down,

Pleading and swearing -

Out of the kitchen light

Into my tears,

Into my wet hands,

Into the wine-mess;

Till it had to come, the crisis, the last cry

To Him to know

Janet must have her Joe -

Janet, silent, dying among her friends,

Not with us, staring away from the fire, out of her hair

As whisper by whisper what once was a party



What happened, Joe?

Here’s something of yours…

You look so pale now; looking grey, Joe.

Does the stench of a dead rose revolt you?

Her heart was a rose.

Her heart was this dead rose, Joe.

You robbed her of her tiny share of sun

In case she cast a shadow on your high summer;

But the heat’s on, Joe. And when in regret you turn,

All you will find is dust and shrivelled petals.



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I am your champion! In the lists of love

It will be your favour that I wear!

With fire and pride I will throw down the glove

For your honour! Dearest, I will dare

To wrestle with the angels for the key

Of Heaven if they will not let you in,

Throw them down to Hell, and I shall be

Your guardian seraph, O my sovereign.

I would have you throned where the lark sings

In the blue room of the sky for love of you.

I’ll milk the breast of the moon to bathe your limbs

Before you sleep the quiet darkness through,

And with the impulsive sun, O grant me this! -

To wake you from your slumber with a kiss.



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Give me a rough ring, with flowers round,

Let the sweetness grow on hard ground.

Fill the ring with gentle secret songs,

And draw those to whom my heart belongs.


He with slow forget-me-nots for eyes

In which his loose hair like a sunbeam lies.

Let him come.


He whose laughter bursts with glorious light

Upon the sun, and makes holy the night.

Let him come.


And he whose lonely daemon is the dark

Pride and brutal melody of the lark.

Let him come.


Ringing them round with gentle secret songs

I greet those to whom my heart belongs.


One will bring soft, living things to me

And fill my eyes with sky and the far sea.


One will stroke my limbs to trembling gold,

And give me the hand of God to hold.


One offers witch-wines to drink deep,

And act at last the fantasies of sleep.


Ringed round with gentle secret songs

I join those to whom my heart belongs.


To the first I give my golden limbs,

But he cannot learn my sun-hymns.


To the second one I speak the charm

Of darkness – but his light will come to harm.


And to the third I offer gentle things;

But he will bruise paws and tender wings.


So, in the wisdom of my secret songs

I share with those to whom my heart belongs

Three-thirds my kingdom.


One shall have my lands of wind and tree,

Of thoughts ranging free in the flight of stars.


One I bless with the sun and the moon in me,

The tread of angels lightly in golden grass.


And one must take this struggling rhapsody -

The night-wings beating behind bars.


Into my ring drawn and gently bound

With secret songs, the three healers are found.



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The ship sailing above the town affects me

In a strange way; balanced upon roofs

It glides, too large, a curiosity

On the broad flank of a blue hill of sea

Opposite my hill, and me.


On the edge of England all perspectives suffer

This sea-change. The mapped line dissolves

Under the moon’s wash; England’s lover

Must swear allegiance to many drowned miles

Or forfeit a whole isle’s


Sea-fingered wealth back to the covetous sea

And the undiscovered graves. But chiefly time

Can twist its meaning amid the uncertainty

Of a half-land where nothing is still, yet seems

A thunderous reef of dreams


Mounted in air – visible on the wind

To visitors trapped there and becoming time

As all dawns of the earth and dark-finned

Lives of things rise from cell to cell

With the ancient sea-smell.


People have come, and left part of themselves

To the mist and breeze, retracing the buried prints

Unthinking of their old sea-selves

In a pilgrimage whose human purpose none

Can fathom. And I am one,


Standing between the country and the sea,

Seeking to grasp in my need and love of the place

Above all things a sense of history,

And why, with the waters calling, I now stand

On these last inches of land.



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(Remembering Blenheim)


O yes a cup of trees

a bowl of grass

outdistancing my running

wide arms

yes please o again

With dew in my toes

and a silver spoon overhead



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Like my fish I like to run in a bright shoal,

Need to feel the frost of salt on my skin

From time to time;

Behind the sky I want a cradle of wet weed

And great spaces. Only me and the moon

Is what I like.


And in my life, all that I touch and like is mine;

And so my house it is, the open wind,

And many hands,

Rocks, and fields of bright hair, and one bird

Are mine. Even the sun, and certain parts

Of the sea are mine.


What I desire and all I have are my dominion:

These with lovers unknown of windy moon

And sand I share

And fish that run in a shoal to know the sea – the far

Away things that I love and want are still

Mine, and await me.



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Dear house.

“Home is here” you said, “if you will wait.”

And here we are, a year gone; our own gate,

Some flowers,


Nine windows,

The right number of walls, half a roof

To keep our treasure safe whenever the rough

Weather blows.



Beyond our bottom fence the wheat moves

Like quicksand; a mile away the hooves

Of the tide



From sky to shore; out on the marsh, under

A wheeling ceiling of birds, rain and thunder



The flowing

Dykes, home of the eels and leaping pike.

And here on the land all the things we like

Are growing.


So may

We, so happy to find this kingdom meant

For us to people with our love, consent

To stay.



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Slim spars, shingle,


Morning mist, seagulls. A sun-ribbon.


And a ship glides like a thought in the air

Towards that glittering angel,

Golden peace.

Dream, gliding away.


A dog call;

Crows in the mist, seaward sliding.


One mast pricks the sea’s heavy silk,

Slack weight

Unrolling into the morning.


Boats light up with the sun -

Scarlet and yellow hulls, blue and emerald

Dream of sisters

Slipping in and out of the sun’s net beyond the world

Like phantom mackerel,


Silver scales sent dancing up to the feet

Of the sleeping town,

My town,

My circling arm,

My sea-reflecting eye -


Boats, sky,

No passer-by.

My morning.



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Her mouth is dry.

Every faint sound in the night she hears,

Every distant whisper of wheels, one man walking

Miles away on a road without a name.

Her fingers scramble among the matches

To find solace in smoke.

Her throat is dry.



Out by the gate

She stood, bones slowly chilling, for five

Minutes, or ten, maybe more after the train

The last train to run, had rumbled away

Rattling crockery in the kitchen

And all the lights in the station

Yard went out.



The house is clean,

All the tiny, careful things that pleased him

Done, and ready for welcome; small son

Put to bed with a promise, Dad will come

And see you later on and kiss you

Goodnight, wearing his funny

Policeman’s hat.



The friendly flickering

Chatter of television clicks to silence.

The cats have fled noiseless into the moonlight

Among the hedgehogs and the milk-bottles.

Fires are out, the chicken-house door

Is jammed hard down

Against the fox.



Her eyes are dry.

To deaden the ache of fear he taught her reason,

Hard for a woman, a slow pill to swallow

When all is done for a tired man to sleep -

Milk boiled, bed warm -

This night empty of him.

Her heart is dry.



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(Ida Haendel playing Brahms)


A nimble princess is

Sewing music on the expectant air

precisely drawing a thread

of harmony through holes in the audience …

Every ear will leave embroidered

in the end,

A good mantle of unfamiliar flowers

unfold a coherent


over translated London



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(to Cat)


Absorbing into my body a thing off a tree

I am as much a predator as you who leave

On the threshold of my advanced and intricate nest

Another half-chewed bloody creature,

Proof of your equality with me.


In fact, superior -

I cannot consume raw blood, bone, fur, feather;

My meat is twice-killed with knife and fire,

I share with your flying prey a taste and need

For safety; the free gift; the sweet wet death-wish

Bribing thieves to pass without violation

And carry life for the tree.

The vulnerable use me.


You have the advantage, little beast, my solace.

I am allowed to share your residence; I cannot choose

To warm my lap with you, only accept

Your own usage of me as a bed as I eat pears

And remember, as we in fear have learned to remember,

That your sire would have killed mine in the forest.



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The indolent boy

dances into a battle of string

because he cannot help

being graceful


with his wrist and nice knee-strength

he tames the wild length

and make tortuous knots tight

with fingers of flying light


The solid conflict

defines his mortality.

The dance? -

It is a bewitching thing



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Forgive me my long absence.

I have come back now in search of my past.

I came through the wide sweep of timeless fields

(Too late for the mid-honey small of barley ripening,

The swathes are raped, and marched in stooks up the fields)

To my love-town, working from the perimeter

Into its heart. That beat more fitful now.


The coffee is good, rich with the germ of memory;

Giovanni swings his hips at a younger breed,

However; the feverish songs are not the same,

And they have all gone – impossible loves of mine.

Gone to their private universe that runs

Parallel with my own; but where? The past wove

And forked in strands, leaving my own thread

To mingle with fresh loops of itinerant colour.


Alone I return, occasional pilgrim.

Back to the loved meeting and parting place

To test its memory of me.


The plain,

The sheep-fields, river and houses still

Swim under the belly of the sky;

Still blows the mad Midland wind.


I hear the sea rise among the cabbages,

The wheat seething with sand (that image still),

The dull turmoil of wind around my ears.


If it could blow time from the rain-red earth

And bring back the ice-cream harvest, I

Would forfeit a dozen later loves. But this

Grey gale has no pity for dreams;


It drives me from my sad and empty Mecca,

No song scaling the active walls of wind

That never kept me, once, from what I loved.



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On some long gone but so real Saxon’s account, I’m here.

You’re here, Mother; a mad Irishman

Wanting his oats one day did it, and set the precedent

Like the dry little active Jew that started Dad …

Dust of so many bricks in a new building!


Sweet Life – the grass smelt of worms, the long air

Was amove with sun, and our birds’ begetters sang

When the thoughtless stroke fell (in so bland a season!)

With the sun in the right place;

The generations

That rushed then to the stairs of immortal life!

Oh, what a wonder.


And so the increscent fugue followed and followed

From the first love-music ever made,

The first chord struck on that cello-creature

That sent vibrations down the centuries

Into the gay duet that we have played!

- My little dear:

On some long gone but so real Saxon’s account, you’re here.



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Kitten grew; flowered slow like a hot cinder

In smoke and flame. Summer and she were born together.

Perfect now, she teaches me to read behind her

Pure eyes the mysteries of her race. Weather

Excites her! Steeple-chasing the wind, she and I

Risk body and soul to delight the appraising sky.



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In the tangled churchyard

At the dead of night

Creeping through the shadows

Flattened out of sight

Prowling like a lioness

Mistress of the wilderness

Slinks a scrap of furriness

Muscles tense and tight


Glowing through the darkness

Emerald eyes alight

Doggedly the kitten

Keeps her prey in sight

On small silken stealthy paws

Noiseless nearer still she draws

Pounces swift with needle claws

But her moth takes flight


Bounding through the grasses

Arcing over roots

Valiantly the kitten

Dashes in pursuit

Tiny grey thing in the night

Silent shred of ghost in flight

Teasing lilts from left to right

Nimble as a flute


Through the darkling shadows

Under star-pricked skies

Homeward pads the huntress

Triumph in her eyes

Moth has fluttered far away

Into hiding for the day

She has found another prey

Mouse! A peerless prize



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Though Hearts-ease lasts until the autumn only,

When the leaves fall,

Heart’s ease stays with us throughout the year

So that sweet memories we may recall

Of the little wild pansy

Beloved of all.


(Lowfell, 1950, age 7. My very first poem.)



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All is prepared.

The slow white wedding-march of clouds,

Sweeping the late leaves with skirts of rain,

Have spread you a bright carpet in celebration.


See, as you come,

Golden slippers of sun run in the woodland,

Lighting candles amidst the vaulting shade

To make you a church of many aisles and altars.


Listen together;

The wind’s fine fingers fly on the organ.

There are bells in the birds’ full throats for you,

The leaves fall to their own gentle music.


Their light kiss

Upon your hair is of life and death; they speak

With the ancient forest voice whose wisdom flows

In root and seed, fed by the grey rain.


Listen, and learn;

How the brown earth, laced with a veil of leaves,

Makes many weddings; death is a season’s sleep,

Life a recurring dream from that rich bed.


You are consumed

Like leaves, gold in your every changing season,

Dancing through lives and deaths, an immortal vein

Of past selves ripening in the dark

To nurture spring.



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Girls with golden hair were

Meant to stand in the flowing corn

Slender as the wheatstalks

They stand among


Between earth and cloud

Pale in the lissom wind their long

Hair showered with finely

Flying seed


To walk in the ripened year

Bearing golden before them a swelling

Legacy of secret

Eyes that saw them



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Having done Spring to death – forever, I thought,

Amen – it poked a mauve nose out of the grass at me,

Winked a gold eye, and Became.

With little eddies of lust awhirl in the March wind

Around the knees, frisking fresh girls out walking

Tip-toe, tongues out they and the sky still

For a taste, for a thrill of snow; cool,

Baby, can’t kick the habit!


Will stick my nose soon into a bud of wet lilac

(We’ll gather lilacs in the Spring again

When your incessant runabout breaks down

Or one of your old, old ladies, waltzing gaily

Out of a doorful of roses,

Trips you with a giggle and sprouting stick)

Oh soon we’ll roll in faggots of crushed lavender,

And go without umbrellas in the rain,




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Spring wind. Fever wind. Wowy round the roof-tops.


Blood coming up for the new year, for next year’s prelude of memories.

As flames shake out fresh with a sound of handkerchiefs

And trees bud birds to race the arriving sky.


Weep over the leavings of last year,

We’re done with pigeon-pie.

This year cry sea-gull, and keep a nipped finger till next March.


The sun starts now, practising for summer.

Surprised by the end of winter, detergent comes with free daffodils,

Opulent ladies begin playing at charities

As February waltzes out in the girls’ Excuse-me

And March comes in late, looking sheepish,

With hocus-crocus of mad March babies and royal hair

As Woolworth plies the primrose path to Mother’s day.


Out in the blue air of Sundays, people whistle and wash-leather their cars

With radios out on the pavement and soapy streams in the gutter

Until …


Lo! More snow (everyone back inside:

Shilling for the gas, homework over hot crumpets and butter)

In March shivers, blowing like sand over the sea-slates

Or winter shook the last crumbs out of his cold cloth

For the visiting sun to peck at


Come on, spring!

Buck up, it’s nearly the silly season!

The trees are all bark, the wind all sarcastic bite

But the almond has pinkened ever since Valentine’s Day

And it won’t be long before sun, wind and trees

Make friends in a jolly rape of petals

On weekend anniversaries

Of so many,

So enjoyably

Lost virginities!


But meantime it’s spring wind, chilly wind,

Draught up the trouserlegs, scarves on rag-day


As the twigs chirrup with perhaps a little frost

Teasing the sap under the tickle of lambing-time,

And it’s a toss-up between

Cold fingers, or resisting the pleasure

Of smoking the kissing-season’s first fresh-air cigarette.



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Amid the noise

In millions, clangour of men

Sweating for self-praise;

In the misapprehension of iron, time-lapse, toil,

Germ in the pantry and

Universal hand;

By greenless villa, lock and staring cell

Earth’s plumage plucked,


Treated and trussed,

Fit flesh for biting;

Amid new bulls without horn,

Plant without sap or seed,

Amid the un-flighted cranes

Go they,

The gardeners go

Forth secretly to the beloved gardens.


Among dog-daisies

And wild rose,

Treading over the long fought-for silence

Of grass imperishable

They give their good-days,

They go forgotten ways,

They bend, and disappear.


They open the long-locked ear

Of Time within;

And all the ages gone when the sun shone

Straight from eye to eye

Subtly take possession of their mind.

Bramble and woodbine,

Spurge, owled oak, and willow

Welcome homeward the slow dreamer, the old fellow.


His one friend sits by him and sings.

Mole, hole and hedgerow watch with a noonday eye

For the unwanted things.

Few come here to learn economy.

He, root-bent, researching the earth,

Tends to the only immortality.

It will receive him;

And shall give rebirth


To dog-daisies,

Bramble and woodbine,

Spurge, owled oak, willow

And wild rose,

To moth, fireweed, nettle and nightingale

Amid the noise.



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Rose-breasted, bobbing bird on the pathway,

Slate-blue back in the sun flashing steel,

Picking and hopping,

And stopping;

White rump-splash bobbing,

And robbing

Small, hidden, crevice-grown weeds

Of seeds -

Where have you been?

Why before have I never seen

Handfuls of sky-blown rose-flame,

Twig-bending plumply

In the sun-flecked mazes -

A steel-winged,



Like you?



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Here are the people waiting

Against the flowing sea

Down the banks of shingle

The sun is circled with fog

We swim in the idle tide

The children fidget and argue

They balance along the ropes

The ropes that loosed the lifeboat

Washed away in the mist

To the lonely mooing at sea


The people read their papers

They sleep in the Sunday sun

A ship is lost in limbo

The fog is heavy with souls

Here are the people waiting

On the blond and shimmering shingle

A little too cold to swim

In the blue and tinsel sea

The women are thinking of lunch

And the boat has not come back



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I shall, calm-eyed,

Shake out my blankets in the sun

And sheets out like flags

Until bearing.


The many flowers

Race to grow faster than my melon-

Belly, round and ripe as a

Pink cantaloupe.


I shall

Lily and Amaranth

Plant among my hair and

Golden feet.


The thrush’s song

Shall await my shout before

Giving tongue to war

Over the world’s edge.


I shall give

A new priest to the sea:

Our kind is growing, who never

Blaspheme her beauty.


Our race,

Gentle as wave or wind,

Will help poor God to soothe

The hot world.



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Maiden Kent in her first blush of blossom

Led in the Maytime to an orchard bridal

Uphill and downland black gorse put to the torch

Takes the coin of the sun and scatters it

In the path of wayfarers amid weddings

Who weave among reed-beds bittern and weed

To water-sheets


In the deep woodland waits

A reflected heaven

All the trees breathing a blue gas

Drift in a lake of altered consciousness

And all the bells are birds



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[]OCTOBER 16th 1987


The wind whines in the gratings. It is a mean cur

Leaping and baying at the last of the trees.

This night it pulls on a leash, still

By some harsh hand held between towering seas


And we pray again, as we prayed under a Scorpio Moon

(Piteously, in vain) the tyrant fist

Of air not follow its hound to scythe and flail

In seven howling hours seven counties’ forest.


Felled trees flake into humus; rooftops wrenched

Break into powder and shard, a thin seam

Laid down, pointing the future’s history.

Will fear come up on the spade? Will their seers dream?


Blood was not the storm’s quarry but only our sleep,

Only our sleep, Lord; an amazing Hand

Held our houses safe from cedar and oak.

Only a few died, leaving a shattered land


To greet us in the morning under the grinning sun,

A lone light, and all our power gone.

Powerless, we who had tamed the lightning.

Stripped of all we had built our silly lives upon.



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My Campaign

Party games


Paradise Lost


Gaia’s Lament






Confessions of a Media Hack


The Clematis Hedge

Spring? …

The Snow Gun

A Dog’s Life

Scratchings from the Bedpost

Mirror, Mirror …


Beyond the Ploughland

Red Feathers


Which Way, and For How Long?

A Single Rose

Fitting 1

Fitting 2

In Love



Night Music

When My Eyes Close …


I Sing of You

It is Utterly Finished

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

The Silence

Janet & Joe



A Walk to the Sea

Again There

Certain Parts of the Sea

Here We Are

Shore, Morning

Waiting for Him to Come Home

Concerto in D

Fair Game


A Pilgrimage


For Kipper

The Night Huntress


For an Autumn Wedding

Girls with Golden Hair

Spring Again

Spring Clean

The Beloved Gardens

The First Bullfinch




October 16th 1987



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Pam has been a poet since she was seven years old; it was only when she joined her local Writers’ Club that she found she could also write short stories.

She has been a Christian astrologer for most of her life, is well known in that community, and is the author of two books plus many articles in the Astrological Association Journal (for which she compiles the regular Cryptic Crossword.)

You can find her website at http://revpamcrane.weebly.com.


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'Lifescapes' is a collection of Pam Crane's versatile poetry, written over six decades, observing 'life's rich tapestry' from her own doorstep to the troubles of the wider world. Her poems, written in many forms from rhythmic free verse to beautifully structured rhyme, deal with love, childbirth, nature, climate, politics, evolution and human pain. Her very first poem, written when she was seven years old, is here; also the many fine poems of her maturity in which she casts a critical and philosophical eye on modern culture.

  • ISBN: 9781370352524
  • Author: Pam Crane
  • Published: 2017-05-22 14:20:11
  • Words: 11952
Lifescapes Lifescapes