Silent Witnesses

Silent Witnesses

Halfway between the Tube and the office,
I pass them each morning, sat on a front-garden wall.
I pass them on neither a side street or high street –
They watch us commuters, but we barely see them at all.

On always the same wall (perhaps it’s their own wall) –
With placards and Bibles, but no blood and brimstone, they sit.
I guess they’re a couple, I guess they’re retired,
But what do I know ?- we haven’t yet talked, I admit.

For I have no int’rest in what they are selling,
Though they’re barely selling, and no-one is buying it seems.
But better by far their quiet shop-window
Than Loud-Hailer Preacher, who stands by the station and screams.

Auto-Desire

Auto-Desire

I remember watching the cars go by
From the back seat of my Dad’s Cavalier –
A rep-mobile, that would sometimes change
Into a Sierra, or something near.

I could name them all, down the motorway,
From the back seat of my Dad’s works’ Rover
By make and model, and sometimes trim,
And dreamt of driving them all twice over.

But when I left home with a job,
It didn’t come with its own Passat –
And I was living in digs in London,
Without a garage, and that was that.

Besides, there’s never any parking,
And what there is will costs me loads –
And if the Tube is crowded, well,
Then you should see the roads !

But still I eye the kerbside cars
Beyond the pay of my nine-to-five –
And fantasise which one I’d have,
If I’d only learned to drive.

Until my sensible shoes recall
The fossil fuels and rusting hulks –
And the boy inside with the brum-brum dreams
Just sits in the back seat and sulks.

Suburban Spruces

de-spruced

Suburban Spruces

At the meeting of the streets
And the corners of the road,
So grows an unexpected copse
No seed has ever sowed.
It sprouts up overnight
Like a fungus on the make –
This squatter on the pavement,
Brings the Winter in its wake.
Its trees have all blown over,
And its needles all have shed
To the gutters and the breezes,
Until even these have fled.
Then suddenly one morning
We shall find the corner bare,
Save the grey of frost and concrete
And the chill upon the air.

Mongers

Playing Marbles and Rag & Bone Man by Steven Scholes

Mongers

We used to be just simple merchants –
Iron, fish, and cheese,
And jack-of-produce costermen –
The traders in the bare necessities.
But now we’re only spoken off
As rumour, scare, and war –
We’re jack-the-lads of shadowmen,
Now hawking abstract concepts door-to-door.

Pollarding

pollard

Pollarding

Last Autumn, all your leaves came down –
Just like they must each year.
But seeing them when dead and brown,
And unlike all the rest in town,
Is just too late, I fear.
I should have seen them all when green !
But now I wondered – what tree had we here ?

Big, they were, the largest, broadest leaves
In all this urban wood
And finger-lobed, for holding-up the eaves,
And poking now from gutter-sleeves
About the neighbourhood.
My thought was fig, with leaves that big,
Yet far too gropey to do Eve much good.

But I, alas, might never even know,
For once your leaves were shed –
The shears came out and brought you low,
As all your branches had to go
And left your trunk for dead.
No tree could sleep with cuts so deep –
You surely won’t be rising out of bed…

April was well underway before
Your twigs began to sprout.
And then, such tiny hands they bore,
As ev’ry day a couple more
To prove you yet were stout.
At this rate Fall would claim them all
Ere half the sun-grab hands were even out !

But then I looked a little lower,
Where some suckers crowd the roots –
While your wounds may heal the slower,
Round your foot you’re still a grower
Shooting out a dozen shoots.
Succour feeders, weed succeeders,
Sucking sunshine into fruits.

May saw plenty spindly upper twigs –
A hedgehog on each bough,
To carry leaves, so close, so big,
As if they’d snap right off the rig,
But seemed to cling on anyhow.
As June grew late, they put on weight
As fleshy forearms now.

By summer, something stirred in me,
A memory about the bumps
That swell no larger than a pea –
They’re really next’s year’s fruits-to-be.
But here, of course, there were no lumps –
For what life stirred was secateured
Down to your barest stumps.

So will I have to wait another year
To see your fruits in Fall ?
I wonder if I’ll still be here…
You will, of course, that much is clear –
You’re bursting branches big and small.
Unless your twigs are lacking figs
Because you never were a fig at all…

Suburban Antares

opposite of mars
Image crested in Stellarium

Suburban Antares

Right at the bottom of the Zodiac, he lies –
At the bottom of the garden, at the bottom of the sky –
Barely rising high enough above the privet hedges,
As he’s hugging the horizon – just a hello and goodbye.
Battling through the light-infested night (plus those long evenings),
Peeking out from skies that are perpetually grey –
From the top floor of a tower block, I bet he looks a treat,
But for us, he’s always hidden by the roofs across the way.

Cucumber Time

pile of cucumbers
Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

 

Cucumber Time

Summer days, ah Summer days,
When the world is out-of-town.
The Commons and Courts are resting,
And the news is old and brown.
When gherkins are smooth and longer,
And the sunbeams are making them glow,
Then just ask Ernest and Algernon
How quick the sandwiches go !

 

 

Blown on the Windrush

tilbury here we come

Blown on the Windrush

Oh London, my London !  Forever so fond,
Yet I heard of the rumours of places beyond –
For further than ring roads and suburban stations
Apparently lies there a wealth of far nations.
How greatly I dreamed of the boat and the train
And the tropical sun, now washed out by your rain.
For my riches are poorly, my cupboards are bare,
My travelling stalled upon your thoroughfare.

Oh London, my London !  You felt my distress.
And pitied my yearnings to quit your address.
For penned by your broadways, I longed to escape –
So you widened my cage from the Steppes to the Cape,
From Hong Kong to Lisbon, from Cairo to Cork,
From L.A. to Delhi, from Auckland to York.
With bright lights and glamours, and chiming Bow Bell,
You brought me the world, and their families as well !

Growing up in the boring countryside, I’ve always liked the idea of immigration – not for myself, far too lazy, but for the rest of the world to do the hard work of coming to me.  Though I guess I am a kind-of immigrant into London, and this was written soon after my arrival as I was still marvelling.  Looking back, it’s a bit dum-de-dum, but that pretty much summed-up my provincial output at the time.  What my poems needed was a splash of colour, and London was just the place for that.

Barrow Bird

what a star
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by hape662

 

Barrow Bird

I saw a bird in town today,
Pecking round the outdoor cafe tables –
Plucking up the crumbs astray,
Then flitting off to perch atop the gables.
I only saw a smidgeon,
Of a flash of green upon the fowl –
So not the usual pigeon,
Nor a bully blackbird on the prowl.
I thought I saw some speckles,
But it surely couldn’t be a thrush ?
I’d wager seven shekels
That they’d never brave this market crush.

So, it’s not a mavis, then –
Too small and bright for crow or rook, I’d say,
Too big for sparrow or a wren,
And far too dark for chaffinch or a jay.
A parakeet ?  Baloney !
And even I know magpies from a robin !
That leaves the starling only –
But then, just where were all the others mobbing ?
I sacrificed a sandwich prawn
To tempt it down, my enigmatic bird –
And yes, it took my proffered pawn
And yes !, a starling straggled from the herd.

Don’t you have meadows to pirouette over ?
Don’t you have siblings all missing their rover ?
Are you an orphan, or outcast, or rebel
They taught to caw bass, but who wants to sing treble ?
Or are you a mute who can
not hold a ditty,
Now seeking your fortune within the big city ?
I’m much the same, really, I came for the glory –
So here, have a peanut, and tell me your story.

 

 

The Travelcard Shuffle

photo of train
Photo by Lucas Prado on Pexels.com

 

The Travelcard Shuffle

Every morning, all Summer long,
We shirtsleeve masses struggle aboard
The dawdling trains in the hungry platforms,
Like some suburban zombie horde.
Then staring out at rusty sidings,
Ragged lots, and the empty sweltering sky,
As the weaving rails must dance and join,
And the shapeless buddleia bushes go by.