Bedern. Midnight geese

A place of alleyways
and turnings back,
each blocked
with drifts of shadow
black as soot.

Moonlight streams between
tall cliffs of brick,
paints windows slick
with silver.

Caught in the city’s underglow
a dozen greylags flicker overhead,
no higher than the housetops.
They call into the night –
a husky, booming note
like a blown reed.

The Lake – late October

 

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The geese are back ! I couldn’t believe it. Look at the way their numbers shot up, and then declined:

10/10/14 20
14/10/14 73
16/10/14 78
17/10/14 200
18/10/14 227
19/10/14 23

Of course, it’s all to do with the weather. We had a week of very late summer – warm days, no wind and no rain. That brought the geese up from town. I’ve never see the lake so crowded.

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Our geese are not migratory- unless you call a journey of three miles migratory. They are a local population who spend their summers at the lake, feeding off the surrounding fields, and the winters on the banks of the river which runs through the middle of the city. There they have a river, and the warmth of surrounding buildings as well. Food is readily accessible- all they have to do is go round the back of the local supermarket and take what they want. They are first rate scavengers.

It’s strange, but they have no fear of people. They step out into the road and the traffic stops for them (often for minutes at a time) until they get safely to the other side. They go into shops, they blag food from passersby. You don’t believe me ? Look here.

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The Lake- October

 

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It’s quiet on the lake. There’s a touch of mist on the water, and up at the far end there are thirty seven Canada geese who have stopped off for a rest before heading down to the river in town. It’s warmer there.
But for now, they’re happy enough to huddle together, chattering in their jazz-saxophone voices.

Then I spot the ducklings. There are seven of them. They’re a late brood. I saw them for the 1st time on the 10th of September so they’re just about five weeks old. I didn’t think that they would survive for long- the heron is a regular visitor- but somehow they’ve only lost one. They’re quite big, almost fully grown, and te they are still swimming around in a gang, with the mother ploughing along behind. As soon as I take the bag of breadcrumbs out of my pocket, they reverse course and come charging up the bank.

 

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And as soon as they’ve scrambled and bickered and eaten all the crumbs, then they scurry back to the water and head off for the middle of the lake, where it’s safer.

There’s something ridiculous about ducklings. They look like wind-up bathroom toys- and yet, they live dangerously. There’s always the heron waiting to pounce, and people say there are a couple of pike in the lake, and they’re looking for a few good meals before they sink down into the depths before winter comes.

Mist changes everything. It hides and discloses at the same time. I can’t see the end of the lake properly, and yet, suddenly, I’m surrounded by spider webs, hanging like exotic, delicate  jewellry from the bushes.  What I’m looking at here is an IDEA brought to fruition, it’s a killing machine, it’s a necklace.

 

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That cinquaine feeling

Writing is a tough row to hoe, and don’t let anyone tell you different. Perhaps the worst thing is when you’ve started a poem and somehow can’t finish it. You try all the usual tricks…leave it in your desk drawer for a couple of days, switch it round so that the first stanza becomes the last…and it still hasn’t come out right. It doesn’t taste right in your mouth when you read it aloud.

You’re probably writing it too soon. The poem hasn’t quite taken shape in your sub-conscious. The best thing to do is leave it in the desk drawer, or park it in the “ Bits and Pieces” folder on your computer. Never throw anything out. You’ll be able to cannibalise what you’ve got and use it in something you’re going to write in a couple of months time.

There is a way of avoiding that situation, though – warm-ups. You need to get your writing muscles into shape with a few practice runs. I used to write a couple of haiku to get the my brain in gear- they were dreadful haiku- but they did the job.

Now I think I’ve found something even better- cinquaines. Forgive me if you’ve been writing cinquaines for years and know all about them- but for the novices who don’t- try this link:

http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/davidc/6c_files/Poem%20pics/cinquaindescrip.htm

You can see they come in various flavours, but the 2,4,6,8,2 structure remains roughly the same.

You’re writing a small, concentrated poem which has to follow a set of rules- and yet have some impact when you’ve finished it. It’s a challenge- but a limited one. You have to play meaning off syllable or word numbers and squeeze out a good last line. Write a couple of cinquaines before you start your next big project and they’ll make the road a whole lot easier.

Here are some of mine. Not great poetry – more like circuit training for the mind. They might amuse you. Try them yourself- let me know any interesting results.

Fans

Bald heads
bull necks swelling guts tatts
like inflated babies they bawl
for beer

Lake

Still,flat
as a mirror.
The air softens, blurs. Mist
shadows its edge, clouds its surface
like breath.

Wild Geese

Wing beats
measure my dreams;
ink black eyes meet mine.
The water shivers as they pass.
Silence.

Getting on

My bones
ache each morning.
Fuddled,slow, I stumble
grunting, farting, still drunk with sleep.
Older.