Saturday, 7 November 2009

YES! NATURE. [poems]

i) Death of a Trespasser
ii) The Moor's Plague of Foreign Flies
iv) The First Walk

vii) Sell the Strid
viii) Pylon Dream
viiii) To the Bronte Falls, In Summer
xi) One Valley

i) Death of a Trespasser

The farmer’s days were long and they were hard.
He wouldn’t have been the man he was had he lived the life of leisure.
The little leisure that did come his way made him anxious for work.
Made him ill at ease.
His work was his being.

He shot the intruder right between the eyes.
Shot more for the row and the potato-death than for the sin of the trespass.
Only a little perturbed by his killing, he asked himself: Now; what to do?His problem soon vanished from his practical mind.
At one with soil, at home in the field,
He buried the body without much fuss.
It would rot into the earth he’d just ploughed.

With a taste for killing and vengeance,
He went home to kill the wife.
When home, he killed her, just as I said.
He then cut her up into bite-sized pieces for the deep freeze.
That’ll do the trick, he said to himself.
As methodical with limbs and organs as with tractor and plough.

He thought of the peace and the quiet he’d now enjoy -
Sat there, smoking in deep comfort at the evening’s fire.
All with a cut-up corpse in the fridge; a young man’s body in the field;
And turnips, just harvested, waiting tastily in the pantry.

ii) The Moor's Plague of Foreign Flies

A bona fide Plague.
Little black helicopters: arse down, head up.
Their vertical flights were aimed straight at my face.
Others hovered, loose and loitering,
Feet above heather and bog-reed.
Yet more yo-yoed on the springs of the thick breeze.
As one, they thickened all the directions of the sweaty air.
A totality; a dense, black moor-mist enclosing me - strange at that part of deep summer.

The flies landed on bare arms and sucked out blood – speck by speck.
My inner sanctums of ear and mouth - profusely raided.
I swallowed one, then I swallowed one, then one, another… so I turned my shirt protecting veil.

Soon I was choking on their thick mass; drowning in an insect-flesh sea.
The moor, the flies’ haven, stretched out in front; though I couldn’t see its shores
I ran a sucking peat that kept me slow.
My boy’s fear, far in front.
Despite their mass, their number, no sound of that low, portentous buzz,
That pylon-drone of wood wasps, could be heard.
I hadn’t expected that silence;
Though, in a Biblical-kind-of-way, their quiet, combined purpose,
Still seemed evil to a spineless mind.
Yes. It had to be Biblical! Didn’t it.
Yet this event, of a thousand thousand flies, was as Biblical as anything I’d known!
What had the Dale’s folk done to be victims of a Black Plague?
A plague as black as that plague of crickets was green.

What type of fly was before and around me? An illegal immigrant?
Not, surely, of English stock. I’d never seen such flies!
And I’d never heard a Keats spin a nature ode for such little bastards.

iv) The First Walk

He took a walk in the wood.
His first walk for too long.
The light shone through the trees and hit him hard.
Nature’s charms had been wiped out by his city fixations
and that ceaseless desire to get somewhere; to achieve something.
And all the while his little wood, with its hundred gifts, didn’t search for anything.
Didn’t need anything.
It just is what it is.
He, in violent opposition, was now outside its endless present - its indefinite nows.
His dog knew what to look for.
He no longer knew.
Now the wood gave him nothing concrete enough.
He feels anxious in the wood’s atomic moments, in its present tense and natural sense.
In its haecceities that escape his categorising mind.

The light found its way through branches and weeds.
It caught him like a searchlight. And asked him these questions:
Why is this not enough? Why must there be more than this?
Look at that lead-grey beech standing there - tall and strong without a degree.
Look at that mottled birch, smaller and gentler in its silvery way.
And the wild weeds colonising the ground as well as any army.
And birds calling birds.
Passing on genetic -messages of warning and ritual.
Each of which is at one with itself.
Be at one with us – with all this and the wider world…

But now all was alien to one now familiar with the ego’s ravenous thirst.
He is no longer at home in this wood.
And only a year or so since he’d visit nature every day.
Not then an alien amid its strange ways and complex systems.
Once upon a time on a moor or in a wood, by a river or up a hill,
each and every would leave its fingerprint upon his brain.
He knew all the ways. Peculiarities.
The thisness of all things.
The manner in which things dealt with seasons’ change and man’s sculpting hands.
Now these things were fleshless.
Like the photos that litter each home with their untruth and sentiment.
He wanted the other worlds, the other days, back.
Bring the moors back! Bring my little mountains back!
To be in your grasp again.
For me to be in your grasp.
Not to be at this secure distance.
To be within the smelling, seeing, touching, the hearing, of it all.

But now the wood was like a photo of a family in static happiness.
He doesn’t want this wood for his spectating.
He doesn’t want this fissure between observed and observer.
He wants the partnership between his complex, natural mind
and the complex, natural world.
To his past self all this and his mind formed a continuum:
From the beetle on the ground to the brain in his head.
The brain that now scrutinises the beetle on the ground.
Now all he can do is mentally turn it over.
From its being face-forward in the leafy ground.
To its being arse-up, head-down on a dissecting table.



vii) Sell the Strid

At distance, a low electrodrone.
Closer, an outloud powerhouse.
We approached slowly, with care and sincere respect -
As if to an alter or a corpse.
We bowed with our minds.
Sweet moss, pasted on the rocks, gave much-needed anchorage
To our leaden but slippery steps.

The banks were granite-still: as still as a million years.
Rocks, shaped by wind, water, offered a cool symmetry
Of fleshy curves and lines
Beyond the sculptor's dream.
They desired the furtive touch that we give gallery nudes.
Small bell-pits, full of dead water, litter, poxed the rocky banks.

There the river slimmed itself.
Pulled in its wide girth to ferment and foam!
A river-riot of kept rage amid well-swept woods.
Our little taste of wild - raw and uncooked.

The sign said, It kills.
The 'brown god' kills! Well fancy that!
It had drank bodies and spat out bones
Down by the calm brown.

We said: Give us this day our mad half hour, you mad piece of river.
We want to drink your beer.

Then, inside, Death arose to tempt the jump
To a not-quite-certain death.
Come on! You know you want to!
One slip and in you'd go.
Down, down, gulped deep down the greedy water-gullet.

Dip your toe in the water!

viii) Pylon Dream

Tall, stiff, unyielding,
The metal form stood like a beast of function.
Watching the horizon for the thing that threatened.
Its four legs, proudly apart (and sunk deep in earth)
Held it strong enough for the coming climax.
It waited, and it waited, for that coming something.

Other pylons, alone, superior,
Stood hard and strong in the far distance -
Like lookouts for the Apocalypse
Or Defenders of the Realm.
Nothing could have stirred them.
Too tall and solid for that.
They saw above the trees
And far into a future which only they could know.

As we stood beneath, we listened to the eerie hum
Of the electric in its veins
And the sad wind in the buzzing wire.
Power was the game these things play.
We looked up, knecks twisted, and swooned into the sky.
Clouds touched its head as crows flew by -
Indifferent to the power, the strength, of the Metallic Thing.

How small we were.
Stood, like spiders to me - ready to be stamped upon...
But then... with a flick of wire and a metalic crash,
It came alive.
The wires hummed harder and its electric blood
Swirled and pumped to all extremities...
To fortify the frame.
To give the gift of electric life.

vix) To the Brontë Falls, in Summer
It’s a well-trodden route.
Ramblers love it.
We do too.
It’s open and fresh – the footpath to the Falls.
We take the air in.
You can venture out in any direction, if you wish,
And no wall, building or road will stop you too soon.
Is this the Freedom the Germans once talked about?
(In the moors one feels free.)
That desire to run, like a child, deep into the heather.
No scrutinising eyes.
A sacrilege against assigned roles.
The only eyes are those of the sheep, fixed on the munching grass.

Every inch of the body comes alive, invigorated by theair.
Skylarks, whose tunes outdo simplicity,
Stand static in the sky-air,
But cannot be seen.
They are watching us, just like the little finches, on the walls,
Which follow the hikers.

The ground is hard and white.
Particles of milestone, with an ever-so-slight sparkle,
Are kicked into the air
As we do the Bronte route.


xi) One Valley

Walled with great, curved fells,
The valley below stretched out for miles.
Fields and oases of ash woods
Knitted together by milestone walls.
Above, the dusklight sky -
Silver light against turquoise blue.
Dark clouds stared back from the South.
Strong yet smooth mountains
Stood proud in the northern distance -
Rounded precious stones, curtained by clouds.

The dale became a huge darkening room.
Vaulted by the night sky.

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