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Poems - Homes and Delights

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Happy Birthday, ComputerActive!


In February Ninety-Eight

The Twelfth was an important date -

ComputerActive on the stands,

And, even better, in my hands!


For fifteen years from Issue One,

Concise, informative and fun,

This magazine has stretched my mind,

And now I’m never left behind.


At seventy, because of you,

I help my friends and husband too

(Most of whom are even older!)

To get the hang of file and folder,


Choose computers, keep them clean,

(You never know where files have been

That friends love forwarding!) and learn

When disappointed, where to turn.


My darling husband takes to bed

The articles that I have read

So he can learn to deal with spam

And spot the latest nasty scam.


He now has confidence to try

New software; and we often buy

From your reviews the finest kit -

You help us make the most of it.


Our children all live overseas,

But we can keep in touch with these

We love, because you showed us how

With email, Skype and Facebook now.


And how we love the Letters page!

It shows we can be any age

And keep our faculties intact if

We remain ComputerActive!





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 onthe 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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

AGAIN THERE (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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



(Ida Haendel playing Brahms)

A nimble princess is
Sewing music onto 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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


FAIR GAME (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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



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

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *