Monday, 9 June 2014


I couldn't get a photo of the curlew as I didn't have my camera with me, so I 'borrowed' this one.

The curlew.

Carefree the curlew, to my thinking
looking upwards from beneath
into a cloudwashed sky
replete with rain not falling.

And the circling and the diving
with curving beak
wings spread gliding
or beating up against the windless air,
eyes scanning needle-sharp
to pin-point whatever food is there
inland from the richness,
of the salt-marsh estuary bed,
if only for an earthy feast
of worms
from rain-washed ground released. 

And the strident crying
with unique, persistent,
triple-calling notes fast-dying,
addressed to nothing,
or perhaps a distant mate far-flying,
above the silver sweetness
of the blackbird’s jealous vying
and the mocking cuckoo newly fledged
and the cheeseless** yellowhammer,
silly on the hedge. 

Carefree the curlew, to my unthinking
not driven by instinct’s insistence
unknown to my own fey existence,
not realising that this morning’s early breaking
of the night-starved fast
to daily feed the famished wide-mouthed gaping
is a task not lightly asked.

*An 'eagre' is a tidal river bore found especially on the Humber.

** Refers to the yellowhammer's call of "just-a-little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese".

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


The Oaks’ Graveyard.

The oaks are dead.
Straying from the road,
I stumbled on their secret graveyard,
enclosed within a stand of living trees
where their remains now rest –
eighteen in all and once of mighty size,
but now just severed and uprooted stumps,
hidden from the common sight within a roadside copse.
This stand of trees was once a greater wood,
where, no doubt, oaks grew strong and tall.
(Not far away, the last of these still lives –
its massive, hollow shell
now standing like a spectre
beside the old lane’s edge.)
I’ve passed here many times before
but never guessed that in this shady place
these precious relics,
each like a wooden Ozymandias, lay:
cut down, uprooted, left to rot,
and overshadowed by tall-growing ash and birch.
Some upright, others on their sides,
each forms its own memorial
but all without a name or date recording their demise.
And overhead, the reverend rooks
in well-worn Sunday black
preach from sky-roofed pulpits,
chanting never-ending funeral rites
or delivering grim sermons
on death’s inevitable grip,
while a woodpecker
is hammering in coffin nails.

Across the sky, a red kite haunts the fields,
uttering its strident, plaintive cries,
not mithering for the oaks  
but in mocking tones bemoaning
the death inflicted
by its own beak and claws.