Sunday, 3 December 2017

THE WINTER OF '63

The winter of '63 was the first winter I really remember as a toddler, growing up in the Dearne Valley, Yorkshire in the north of England.

I thought they would all be like this - the coldest winter of the 20th century. 

I remember the snow banked up the side of our house as high as the top of the downstairs windows; the snow falling in through the back door when my dad came home from work at the station, the frozen rails and the steam from the trains in the icy air; the adventures of making snowmen, snow dogs, snow lambs, snow horses, snow igloos, snow angels; the icicles hanging from the back of the coal-house, the outside loo freezing up and the chill of the tin bath we had hanging from a nail in the back yard; the ice inside the bedroom windowpanes, with no central heating but a smelly paraffin heater upstairs; the cloak of silence over the valley as it muffled the pit hooters, the crunch of feet through the village, the bleak singing of the birds in the frozen hedgerows. 

The excitement and anticipation and sheer wonder at this world of whiteness was overwhelming, untainted by dread and disappointment, with slush and slippy rinks of treacherous thaw an unknown thing for the future. 



Saturday, 11 November 2017

ARMISTICE HUSSAR


Gin-clear mirror of the stippled stars,
Trench-traced terrain in pirouetting braids,
Hair-throat poppies windward weave and feint.

Armistice evening finds the lost hussar
Stiff with rainbow silk and medal moons,
Hearing the bladed wire's frayed echoing

Boom, thrash and crump, spritzing sludge
Across shocked hedges, mutilated fields,
Salt-cheeked salute for comrades gone,

His horse unridden, healed from harrowing flight,
Back in the paddock of home, a foal again,
Whickering with joy, nuzzling his hand for sugar.



(Written in remembrance of all humans and animals who have died in warfare, including my great great grandmother's nephew who had three horses killed under him while fighting with the 18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars in the Great War in 1915. He died of wounds from a piece of shell while trying to dig out comrades buried alive under a "great fall of earth" during fierce fighting at the 2nd Battle of Ypres aged just 23.)

Sunday, 5 November 2017

RADICAL SUNSHINE


Radical sunshine meets holly's raised razors
Minting scintillas, flinders of blaze
From leaves that lack all urgency for autumn.

Behind blinds, staggered by circumzenith rays,
Welling eyes mirror slow shift of day
From promise to demise.