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Loose Leaves











Loose Leaves










Elaine Peake
















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© 2016 Elaine Peake




Table of Contents:






















Late Joys


Dark Skies


















Homo Sapiens




draw near all you who shiver in the dark

come witness how a miracle begins

from seemingly dead wood I’ll raise a spark

to frighten each of you out of your skins

the panting breath, the glance behind

hope for forgiveness of your sins

fear bristling angry through the mind

as you work feverishly to make

nature’s own secrets fast unwind

a flame leaps out to make its mark

the darkness seems to shift and shake

leaves smoke and smoulder in its wake

warmth floods your very soul but hark!

behind you wolves begin to bark








first faltering steps

as nervous hands


then withdraw


don’t look down


you’re on your own

enjoy the view


find perfect balance

now head up and smile

there is no down


in your mind’s eye

the safety net

virtual or real

your thoughts create what is


don’t look down


a wobble on the wire

fear floods from heart to feet

soon enough

the sawdust moment


don’t look down




For the time being




Let me go gentle

Don’t block me out

Jettisoning everything

Just to assuage your grief


I am not round the corner

Waiting to leap out at you for a joke

Frightening you half to death.


Maybe I am in another room

Gone on ahead to do a recce

If it helps you to think so, do.

Perhaps, somehow, it helps me too

And, sooner than either of us think,

We’ll go exploring.


But, for the moment

Hold fast those memories you’ve stored away

From childhood angst to bus-pass blues

And all the glorious gain and loss between

That’s where I’m living now

pro tem

Waiting for you.




Lunchtime at the Library




they’ve cleaned the city library up

and outside too

the curving slabs of smooth warm stone

the sentry of a cenotaph

stand as they were when new


city workers on the clock

each circumscribe a personal space

gaze past poppies, stone and names

inhabit individual worlds

register no other face


what if those names took flesh once more

surfaced into air and sun

with packs and puttees came to sit

between the lunchers’ vacant looks

the tupperware beside the gun


asked for a Lucifer to light a fag

wondering at this modern set

what’s the use of worrying

and was it all worthwhile

we gave you this the freedom to forget








he lives behind closed doors

but that’s how it must be

after the war to end all wars

still able-bodied – surely he is glad?

this hero who has seen and done such things

and not come home stark mad quite mad

he has a name a number too

rolled round a medal’s bevelled edge

with ribbons always bright as new

another war, another sacrifice

the peace of mind of two fine sons

but their war never made him old

his patriotic time already lost invisible

and in the ground quite cold long cold




You leave like a Lover




you leave like a lover

laughing as you fend off

those startling early sunbeams


two hours sleep

the bed still waits unused

we talked and talked

and drank and sang and laughed

until the neighbours mutinied


so out you creep

a sihouette against the day

shoes in hand

not quite sure where you are


you leave like a lover



you may arrive like one




I’ve said




I’ve said I love you and it means

I’ll be there when you need me most

won’t check your phone or read your post

I’ll eat meals made with aubergines

save you the Christmas tangerines

won’t nag you when you get engrossed

I’ve said I love you and it means

I’ll be there when you need me most

if you’re late in I won’t make scenes

I’ll always be your perfect host

the final piece of unburnt toast

the extra spoonful of baked beans

I’ve said I love you and it means

I’ll be there when you need me most








when she said it I couldn’t believe it

my whole being drew back

my mouth said it couldn’t be true

though my heart oozed doubt


when they said it in twos and threes

I began to look over my shoulder

the world spoke, I shattered

into a million syllables


have you said the final word?

you are walking away now

from what we never said








Back to the five-barred gate

Bo-peep crook inked and primed

Brow furrowed

I survey an open field

Sun up sky blue scene set

But where’s the crew?

The first comes bleating

Begging to be heard

Before I can consider

Through one small gap

Romp the whole flock

Heads legs and tails

The black sheep as usual

Loudest of all

Then I see him

Shaggy apart alone

The hippy of the bunch

And I know

With his help

I can knit a masterpiece




Late Joys




bright frocks broad smiles

old friends in fine display

new-forged connections

witness the measured step

from one world to another


moving in grace and light

in lace and light

forwards into a dream made real

love comes full circle

mysteriously resolves

in ends and in beginnings


full-throated song and heartfelt hopes breathe out

wildflowers and warm stone

reviving centuries of reverence

and passion

petals take flight and dazzle

where loved and loving gather

and with this shower of wishes

Spring blooms in Autumn




Dark Skies




bold Orion on his back

winks at Venus

below the Southern Cross

all the world through time

should be in love with this

swimming in the Milky Way

in spangled suits like cosmic clowns

claiming our kinship


Odysseus on a hostile sea

Odin on the sacred tree

a lifetime’s lookings

spinning in his sightless head

Galileo Galilei

while we wheel and blur

with the world’s turning

our eyes wide as forever




Surprised by Snow




lightly they go

you’d hardly know they’d gone

falling like snow

no flake the same as any other one

unique mosaics


fretwork icing

frames familiar sights

a branch

a stone

sugar-coating on chrysanthemums

outlilying the lilies


ice-leaves now

thick sheaves now

drifting one giant feather duvet

where all must sleep

a world once seen and felt and peopled

lives only in my head


dead winter roses rise

robed all in white


the earth still turns

though all is green and grown again


stilled life



on the heart




From my Window




the daffodils are out around the tree

this surly sunless morning

taking their turn at spreading

yellow light

in small but perfect arcs


the tree itself


how autumn flayed

winter froze

false springs see-sawed


catching the rising melody of flowers

it lifts up, joins the song

its tiny buds a chorus

to the trumpeting sopranos




I remember





gaudy daisies greedy for the sun

snapdragons purple, red and fizzy lemon

their tribal warpaint bright in every corner

the dainty dancing of the London Pride

now near, now far


dizzy with choice

hover besotted

in the opiate air

high over all

the whispering of a thousand diamond leaves

a secret poplar symphony

while down below

step by sun-gorged step

soft yielding grass

beneath my toes

crushes into perfume

I remember

the drowsy after-dinner

satisfaction of summer




The Turn




she swings her gossamer green skirts

a little dusty now

pirouettes along the promenade

past late intrepid walkers and the last ice-cream van

she stands bewildered

as leaves change colour, flutter to a harder earth


but look, her gentle sister calls her

glowing in a sturdy russet dress

hair the colour of September fields

braided with brown and gold

she brushes dew-hung cobwebs from her face

with a slow smile


the green girl is almost danced out

birds wheel and flutter their fond goodbyes

a fingertip touch

she sighs walks slowly over the hill

trailing daisies, buttercups and speedwell

in her bedraggled sun-bleached hair


her sister turns, strides on

dancing bonfires in her eyes

dark crushed berries at her mouth

sweet chestnuts in her hand




The Artist and the Angel




on the erection of a glass barrier at Oscar Wilde’s tomb

30 November 2011


forty years you lay



by Epstein’s feisty angel

lovers came and lovers went



left notes and flowers


another forty years

your guardian’s power neutered

the luscious slick

of pilgrims’ loving lips

‘a rash of red graffiti’

grinds him down

grain by stony grain


a cry goes up

to save the art

that guards the artist’s bones


reflecting truth

and lies

behind the glass

the broken angel flies


down below

the demon sleeps and smiles




The Wrong Kind of Apple: Interview with Snow White




to tell the truth I had got rather bored

don’t get me wrong

the dwarfs could not have been kinder

and of course they were only trying to protect me

but day after day indoors

let me tell you

cleaning up after seven extremely tidy dwarfs does not take very long

and the washing? – just a few smalls


I have to hand it to my stepmother

those disguises were good

but I would have opened the door to anyone

I was desperate for a chat, a change of scene

I wish I’d have woken up in that glass coffin on the hill

the view must have been wonderful

then when I did wake up – this dishy prince proposes

so no I’m not sure I would say it was the wrong kind of apple








trembling leaves a soothing sea

as I drift into life, fresh from the dark

now I can reach the shiny bark

strip leaves, smell drying sap

white flesh shocked bare

inhale the greenness in my lap

gales of dancing frenzy

toss yellow diamonds on the grass

snap jumping-jacks mid-air on bonfire stacks

crunch into nothing on the garden path

you’re cursed some say

Christ’s cross hewn from your slender girth

but I could wish your thrilling song

my last sound on this trembling earth













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Loose Leaves

'Loose Leaves' is a new collection of poetry by Elaine Peake. Enjoy!

  • Author: Percival Guildhouse Poets
  • Published: 2016-02-16 15:50:14
  • Words: 1789
Loose Leaves Loose Leaves