Pocket Forecourts

Garden Design Hull by David Beasley

Pocket Forecourts

Sometimes terrace housing opens-out onto the street outside,
But sometimes there’s a handkerchief of garden as a buffer zone.
It always serves as shorthand, a barometer of homestead pride
Where neighbours draw-up judgements by how much it’s overgrown –
Some are full of crazy-paving, some are full of wilted heads,
Some are full of pots and planters, scraps of lawn, or gnomes in white,
Some contain abandoned sofas, others dandelion beds,
And some attempt to grow a forest, blocking ev’ry shred of light.

Ghost Town

Coventry architecture before and after images taken from Coventry Now & Then

Ghost Town

You sneer at Dresden’s quaint rebuilding
As oldè-world and fake –
Covering up the brutal past,
Denying us our wake.
But would you rather the concrete of Coventry,
Cancer choking its former bliss ?
For sure, we’ll never forget the War
In ugliness as ugly as this.
The Luftwaffe came and finished the job
That the Council already began,
And one of the prettiest towns in England
Was levelled in line with the Plan.
I hear that Dresden has too many tourists,
So why is there only one ?
It seems we have a ration of beauty,
But blandness will run and run.
The perfect place to film your dystopian nightmares
Or kitchen-sink soaps –
Was ever a town more grey and rain-stained ?,
As the concrete bullies and gropes.
It’s called ‘brutalist’ for a reason –
Cos it’s raw like a wound across the eyes.
And meanwhile Dresden is putting on her ballgown –
Enough masochism – let’s rise !

Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021.

Spring Pruning

Prunus laurocerasus by G Reid

Spring Pruning

My neighbour wanted rid of her cherry laurel
And asked to borrow my saw.
She offered me all the wood for my fire
In exchange for my muscle and jaw.
And so we chopped and chatted all morning
On what we joked was her ‘ranch’.
She called it an invasive species
As we tackled its largest branch –
She certainly didn’t remember planting the thing,
So out it went
(Though she waited till all its blossom had dropped
Which had lasted all through lent.)
I’ve heard when burned it smells of cherries,
But we scented almonds that day –
She said, well that’s the cyanide,
Remember, this laurel’s no bay.
We made fair work of its lily-white wood
Till we left its stump for bare,
But we still got a slight furriness in our mouths,
Despite our gloves and care.
I offered her a seat by my fireside
Watching her tree disappear,
But she said I needed to season it first,
So call her up in a year.

Portals

Some example wares of the London Door Company.

Portals

I’ve seen too many doors,
And they’re nothing much, just doors –
Just as expected.
I open them, I close them,
Or I pass them by unnoticed,
Disconnected.
I’ve turned too many knobs
And I’ve knocked too many knockers
In the gloom,
Yet never thought about them
Till I find I need a way
To leave the room.

I’ve seen too many doors,
Be they oaken, deal, or plywood,
Or cold steel.
I push them and I pull them,
Or I sometimes have to slide them
With a squeal.
I’ve crossed so many thresholds
And I’ve stepped on many stoops,
Both front and aft,
Yet never thought about them
Till I find I need a way
To stop the draught.

Cecily Census

pigeons
Pigeons by Tim Dennell

Cecily Census

“Let’s count the pigeons !”  That’s just what she said,
As she pointed out a trio pecking pavement up ahead.
One was grey and one was blue and one was sandy brown –
“I bet we get to fifty by the other side of town !”
So hand-in-hand, we kept the tally,
Up the street and down the alley.

“Let’s count dandelions !” another time she said,
As she pointed out a golden host within a council bed.
Some were buds and some were clocks and some were full of roar –
“I bet we find a hundred round behind the superstore !”
So side-by-side, we kept on counting,
Till we reached the rusty fountain.

“Look at all the wrigglers !” on a rainy day she said,
As she pointed out the molluscs that had made us watch our tread.
Some were black and some were brown and some were rusty nails –
“I’ll count all the sluggies up, and you can count the snails !”
So one-by-one, we kept the score,
But I forget who had the more.

“Look at all the people !” on a sunny day she said,
As she pointed to the crowds that loitered while the man was red.
Some were old and some were young and some were inbetween –
“I bet we see a dozen more before the beeps and green !”
So back-to-back, against the crush,
We totted up the lunchtime rush.

“Look at all the pigeons !”  just the other day I said,
As I pointed out a posse crowding round a crust of bread.
Some were fat and some were thin…but none were worth her gaze –
“Oh dad, you always say that when we meet on access days.”
So that was that, no longer fun –
Our number-taking days were done.

Nil-Nil

Photo by Denniz Futalan on Pexels.com

Nil-Nil

Defenders – nobody likes you –
Nothing but bouncers, bunch of blockheads
Stamping on the fuse of the strikers’ rockets
Petty bullies, the whole ground spites you –
Cheering for the brave centre forwards in attack,
They’re hoping they can sparkle as they net one on the back.

Defenders – champions of ‘nope’,
Flat-footed jobsworths, the crowd has made you deaf
As they jeer and curse and hate you, more than any ref.
Sneering killjoys, crushing our hope
To keep the boring status quo –
This is business, it ain’t a show.

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.