The Lake In Winter

I always end up writing about the lake – I don’t know why. It’s only a minute from my front door – so perhaps it’s the easy access which makes me choose that dog-walking route rather than any other. And I always have something to write about.

The lake is constantly changing – for the last ten days it has had a crust of ice on it – sometimes three or four inches thick, sometimes transparent as cellophane

This is a diary poem – a marker for something I saw, which I don’t want to forget.

Lake – January 2018

Light leaks into the air;
clouds take their substance
from the the morning twilight.

The stripped trees hold
magpies  sneering,
clattering their wings.

The grass is blanched with frost,
puddles splintered glass
and the lake alive
with shifting rafts of ice

where a swan struggles

snake neck stretched,
webs strive for grip
as white wings thrash the water,
till it lifts, makes the air
sing with every wingbeat.

 

“Quantum Theory for Cats” available here

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Shortest day of the year

The shortest day of the year – grey, damp and forgettable. Digby the dog and I are standing, looking out across the lake. It’s shaped like a kidney bean, half a mile or so round, and fringed with trees and bushes, with a stretch of rough woodland along one side. And it is entirely artificial, created as an open space when all the surrounding houses were built in the seventies and eighties. Except today the lake has gone. Usually you can look out and see the geese and the magpies and the line of trees across the far end. But this morning there is nothing – just a blanket of soft mist covering the water. We set off on our usual circuit, the world on our left and the gently shifting emptiness on our right. The mist is moving, coiling, reaching out towards the bank, then curling away, like water starting to boil. For a moment it draws back and I see a fleet of Canada geese, silent, still, like a fleet of Nelsonian men o’war at anchor.

The mist is gathering together – a muffled drumbeat getting louder and faster as I listen. A swan bursts. out of the mist, white wings wiffling through the air, webs plashing the water, lifting into the swirling mist and out of sight.

Thanks. and Christmas wishes  to all those who have followed me over the last year.

If you’re looking for a New Year Present for someone…or even yourself…look no further…”Quantum Theory for cats is available ” here:

http://valleypressuk.com

 

Quantum Theory for Cats1; Launch

” Quantum Theory for Cats” was launched at York Waterstones on Friday. I was a bit apprehensive, not having been launched before, but it was great fun. I did a turn ( an intro  and then half a dozen poems,) then Jamie and I did a general chat, followed by questions. The audience. were lovely, we had a great time – and there were BISCUITS too. My son Alasdair kindly provided us with promotional biscuits – see below

If you want to buy the book – sorry, we can’t include the bickies- all eaten

You can do so here http://www.valleypressuk.com

If you really really want the bickies- you can do do here by clicking here:

http://@MotherfudgerUK

Thanks to Alasdair and Marguerite, Mutherfudger, Waterstones staff, and Valley Press

Bus Pass

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A passport to purgatory
with no request stops
and one final destination.

Blank eyed, killer cold,
I look just like some shifty cove
of interest to the police-
a drug baron or someone who
does dreadful things to cats.

I place my effigy face down,
wait for the electronic ping
which says I am still me,
then find a seat.

The bus, packed full
as a milkman’s crate
with silver tops,
is loud with chat.

“These car wash people are all Russian”
“They’ll soon get finished then.”
“Isn’t it funny – you often find
something you haven’t lost.”

Museum Street. The conversation’s stilled.
We shuffle off, take up our own affairs –
optician, dentist, hospital for tests-
all necessary measures for survival.
That way we can eke out a few more years
but still

the journey matters more than the arrival.

Man and Dog

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Man

The dog plays football every day
with me, along the passageway.
We pass the ball from dog to man
and then from man to dog again.
I’m bored as hell. It pleases him
for dogs are slow and somewhat dim.

Dog

The man plays football every day
with me, along the passageway.
He tries so hard, it’s rather sweet
for one who’s blessed with two left feet.
It keeps him happy; I don’t mind.
I’ve grown quite fond of human kind.

Man and Dog

We both hate football.

How much happier we would be
watching cricket on tv.

Moments from a parallel universe

1.
Isac ! Your lunch is ready.
Stop moping in that orchard !
Go and wash your hands !
Unheard unseen
the apple falls.

2.
It’s a message, Will,
from the Queen.
She likes the play
but could you make Hamlet
a bit more cheerful……
and alive at the end..

3.
I shall call her Luisa.
If it had been a boy, my husband
would have called him Adolf.
4.
Honey, I got to stay late at the Oval Office tonight –
can’t make the theatre.
Okay Abe

The Schrodinger poems

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Schrodinger’s Cat

Well, here we are then
or possibly not.
It’s a bit cramped in here
what with the radio active sample
and the bottle of poisoned gas
and me.

I come and go as I please
I visit my friend McAvity
or pass time with my cousin Smiler
who lives in Cheshire.
I’m in and out all the time.

Notice he chose me for the experiment
and not Schrodinger’s Dog.
That would have put
Particle Physics back
a hundred years.

IMG_0051
Schrodinger’s Dog

You wouldn’t get me into that box.
I’ve just had a dump on your lawn.
Got any biscuits ?

 

Walnuts

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Plump as plums, clustered among leaves,
they hang in a green shade.
Pick one. Peel back the husk and find
a shell there, pocked and wrinkled
like some distant world.

You’ll need a knife. Just press
your blade against the lateral line
then prise the halves apart
and there, in a nutshell
is a brain.

Packed tight into an inch wide skull
two waxy hemispheres
each ridged and swollen
into lobes and clefts
and each the image of the other.

Remove the nut and place it on your tongue.
Crisp at first bite, then soft.
It tastes of sap,
and garnered sunlight
and green thoughts.

 

The woman who invented the selfie

Hunters

 

Spiders find it easy
stretch their strings of pearls from A to B,
create a warp and weave so wonderful
it dazzles passing flies, seducing them
to a sticky end.

Sharks find it easy
Sleek as burnished steel, they strip
the flesh from seals and dolphins,
pirouette away through water
smokey with their victims’ blood.

Why can’t I
head packed with words, pen poised
pick out a plump and juicy metaphor,
feed it fantasies until it bursts
into a poem ?

Ann Shakespeare

 

I hold his hand.
Broad palm. Strong fingers.
Underneath the fingernails
a crescent of black ink,
and on the second finger
a pad of fat has grown to rest his pen.

All those quill pens. And the paper.
So much writing…..
He bought this house with words –
and hence had few enough to spare for me.

Virgins when we met, and married
six months later. Our first girl
came three months after that.
You can add it up.

It was not words which bound us both
but deeds and shame.

That’s why he left for London.
No word for weeks, and then a hurried note,
a bag of coins, an empty promise.
That was the way of it for years.

Then our boy died. My grief was real enough
though his was make-believe and came too late.

Now he’s back here to die –
a kind of compliment, perhaps
or simply a return to his beginning.
I do not know.

The sweats that left his flesh corpse-cold,
the dry, hoarse cough
all that is done now.

His slow breath whispers wordlessly.

Beyond the candle light a blackbird spills

bright pearls of sound

across the velvet dark.