Monday, 27 June 2011

3 poems from May "poem-a-day" project

Red bird days

Because on top of everything else
making you coffee empties the milk jug
it feels today could be the end of an episode.

Or the start of one. Keep the button pressed
to speed up the passage of the hours it says
on the free gift horloge reveil de voyage
the postman brings with your slippers.

On the top of the feeder at seven
the greater spotted woodpecker we first saw yesterday
is back with his head back ready to hammer like the king
of the birds making whatever the call is he makes.
Once he’s gone bless me if for a moment
a big fat bullfinch doesn’t amaze
I think even the goldfinches by appearing.

How’s your history?
I knew Marlbrook s’en va’t en guerre
but until the Versailles programme
last night I was unaware
of the War of the Spanish Succession,
confounding it with the Hundred Years’ War
or maybe - I don’t know -
the Thirty Years’ War.
I knew
tall soldiers with long-legged horses
had paused in twos and threes
by tall trees all over Europe
or at least the Low Countries,
and that a lot of soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me
with your musket fife & drum
had gone on when they found their way home
after all kinds of battles like Blenheim
but the history had eluded me. Now

I’ve got it and furthermore
could I’m sure for a day or two
slot together the Charleses and the Jameses
and William the Third and Anne
in whose reign I know from the fancy lead
down pipes at Forde Abbey
Frances Gwynne was secretary at war
in an early seventeen something.
Poor Queen Anne.

Thinking of the tall men
in long buttoned coats,
buckled shoes with heels and long curls
talking concern over a long table
with a map of Europe
and how to pay the armies
puts in proportion the worries
about us now and what it costs to keep the paras
or whoever it might be this year
in Afghanistan or wherever,
and the state of the banks
and poor old Clegg, poor us. Whatever
became of proportional representation?

A day spent on and off tidying the house,
putting  papers & books away
because my sister was coming to visit.

Then after she had gone
a woodpecker kept coming back
in the garden for more peanuts.

Now we have borage and lemon balm
to plant in the tub by the door. The toys
for my niece’s son have gone.