Underlings

In Portugal… by Paul Fenwick

Underlings

We work in warrens, underground,
We’re basement-bound, beneath fluorescents.
Not much there that changes round –
The carpet-tiles are omnipresent.

There we shelter from the rat race,
Keep out of the sun’s harsh glare –
Jobs for life, because in that place
Ev’ryone forgets we’re here.

All the year is blurred together
In our air-conditioned limbo –
All the year is shirt-sleeve weather
Spent without a single window.

Coats and brollies shield us, though,
Between the entrance and the train –
Up there it could be fog or snow,
Down here, it’s overcast again.

It’s only once the clocks have changed
That we emerge before the dusk
To find the world has rearranged,
And we discard our woollen husks.

And then we notice how the Winter’s gone
And how the Spring has come.
How long have daffodils been on ?
Looks like we’ve missed cherry plum…

The Lull in the Air

Na Storm Eunice by Cirkel der Natuur

The Lull in the Air

After the storm, in the fury’s wake,
When the wind is an innocent breeze,
It barely can muster a half-hearted shake
Through what remains of the trees,
But knows its debris demonstrates
Where a mighty chaos strode –
In toppled fences, shattered slates,
And a litter of twigs in the road.

After the storm, in the cyclone’s calm,
When the wind is feeble and spent,
It sheepishly strokes us, meaning no harm,
As it whispers its way through the vent.
But the proof of its debauched revelry
Is strewn from the park to the square –
And it’s secretly proud of its devilry
As it gently ruffles our hair.

Roofs

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

Roofs

Flat roofs belong to the Mediterranean,
Roofs for sun-decks, cheap to build,
For drying the laundry and gazing at stars,
Where the gutters have never spilled.
But Northern nations need their pitches,
Steep and tall and highly skilled.

Forget the tar, that won’t keep rain out,
That takes slate and tile and lead –
And don’t let snow accumulate,
It must be sheer enough to shed.
Maybe some dormers, maybe a Mansard,
Maybe even thatch instead.

But these days, and since the Georgians,
Fashions favour flat and low,
Yet walls get wet when eaves are dropped,
And the drainpipes overflow.
So ev’ry Winter spring the leaks
From rain with nowhere to go.

First Chill of Autumn

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First Chill of Autumn

It isn’t a frost – don’t fret,
But it is a cold morning –
Notice is given, we’d better take care,
It’s merely the first of the nips in the air.
It isn’t a frost – not yet,
But it is a fair warning –
It won’t come tomorrow or next week, it’s stating,
But Autumn is old, and the Winter is waiting.

Warm-Water Waves

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Warm-Water Waves

Too far North, and barely notice,
North, yet swimming in the seas –
Where beaches should be icy-cold,
There’s ice creams, tans, and mushy peas.
There’s little snowfall on the coast
As far as even Sixty-North,
And days of t-shirt weather stretch
For far beyond the Firth of Forth

It’s crazy how the ocean brings
The Caribbean to the Clyde,
While closer to the Pole than even
Fuego is on the other side,
And Trondheim firmly basks within
Antarctic latitudes,
Yet broadleafs line the verdant fjords
To show their gratitude.

And not just warmth arrives all year, but rain –
And rain it is, not snow –
So Western Europe only works because
Its crops and people grow.
Too far North, and that’s the beauty,
Norther than we’ve any right,
When Winter Moons are long above
And Summer Suns last half the night.

I’ve commented before on how much further North Europe is than North America, at least in terms of their respective population centres. For instance, the Southern point of Hudson Bay lies at the same latitude as London – but whereas the former has polar bears, the latter doesn’t even have them in London Zoo.

Wet Rain & Dry Rain

The First Unbrella by an unknown artist

Wet Rain & Dry Rain

A month of Sun, and then a month of rain
All in a day
Of monochrome,
A month of Sun, then get the horrid rain
Out of the way,
While we stay home.

Alas, a month of heat will bake the ground
As hard as clay,
It can’t be tilled –
So when the rain comes down, so fleet,
It floods the river, floods the street,
But cannot penetrate two feet,
And washes off, away.
The aquifer, I fear, is not refilled
By what the clouds have milled.

The thing is, if you want tall trees,
Then what you need is drizzle.
A garden full of bumblebees
Needs flowers, which need drizzle.
For wheat that’s taller than your knees,
For greener grass and fatter peas,
For tamping down your allergies,
You need a May of drizzle.

Three Songs for May

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Three Songs for May

        1.
May comes bounding down the year
As eager as a springer spaniel.
Ev’rybody knows she’s here,
A bursting, blooming, early annual.
May comes blowing from the south
As teasing as a cuckoo’s call
She’s closing up old Winter’s mouth
By throwing off her woollen shawl.

        2.
A little rain in May
Is sweeter than an April shower –
Though the high Spring skies may glower,
We know they will not last the day.
The clouds are silvery, not grey,
Less thunderheads than fairy towers,
Washing lambs and spritzing flowers,
Dropping by, then on their way.

        3.
May – the name says it all.
The month when it might,
When it should –
Ah, but will it ?
The month that may have a squall
Or a heatwave,
Or a dozen other weathers
Come to fill it.
Could be a late gasp of snow up on the hills
While the valleys open windows,
And the breezes spin the mills.
Such is the fortune
In the month of maybe May.
When all of this could happen
In a week,
Or in a day.

Cruci-Fiction

don't be cross

Cruci-Fiction

“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
                                                                                        -Mark 15:33

An eclipse, right ?  It sounds so fine,
Especially when we learn of one,
A total seen in ’29.

Alas, we now can calculate
Down to the nearest minute
And the nearest mile its fate –

And this one was November,
And only nine-tenths partial there –
The dark was still a glowing ember.

The near-miss of ’29 –
The sky was dim, the air was chill,
But the Sun could still outshine.

An hour or two round noon –
All build-up with no climax, though,
Then over far too soon.

And anyway, it just won’t do –
For Passover was always held
When the Moon was full, not new.

But what about a Lunar one ?
There’s one in April ’33,
At sunset too – job done !

Except…it’s partial, still quite bright,
And it didn’t last an hour in all,
And the only darkness comes with night.

Some suggest volcanic ash instead –
Though that would last for weeks, and stretch
Throughout the Eastern Med.

Maybe just a heavy storm ?
The legend doesn’t mention rain,
But thunderheads might fit the form.

And yet…is that the best that God
Can rustle up ?  A gloomy afternoon ?
His climax barely gets a nod.

We’re better off with desert dust –
When heavy in the atmosphere
It tints the Moon with rust.

But as the moon sails higher,
So the dust is less through which we peer –
So this one’s not a flyer.

And anyway, how come
There was no-one else wrote down the fact
Of what should strike them dumb ?

Three full hours of dark,
Before the sun had even set ?
Now that should leave its mark !

In our hearts, we know the score –
The sky did not go dark that day.
The world still turned, just as before.

Furtive Fog

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Furtive Fog

It always starts a ways away,
Funny how it’s never close by –
Up ahead and off behind,
But over there, a little shy.
It seems I’m in a bubble,
In a force-field of my own –
And not a wisp may enter in
My fog-exclusion zone.
It’s not like wrapped in cotton-wool,
And more like in a ping-pong ball –
I’m in the hollow centre here,
And staring at the distant wall.
So only at a certain distance,
In it sweeps, like an afterthought –
Like chasing the end of a rainbow,
So the start of the fog can never be caught.
I’m all alone, like a solipsist,
In a world without a sun –
But where I walk I clear the air,
I drive it out, I make it run.
I’m boiling off the sunken clouds,
I’m pushing back the grey –
So this is no pea-souper,
But a crystal consommé.

Snow Angels

Shepherd Wedding by Jennie Hill

Snow Angels

Strange, how this day of love
Is a day of sneezes and fingers numb.
Why does it fall with a deathly chill
As the hothouse roses succumb ?
Maybe it serves to underscore
How love is often bittersweet –
Whereas, in the height of Summer,
This day would be lost in the endless heat.

Strange, how this day of red
Is a day of snowdrops and Winter mould.
Why does it fall when the days are short
And the nights are bitterly cold ?
Maybe it serves to warm the frost,
And give our torpid hearts a shove –
Whereas, in the height of Summer,
Who needs a reminder to fall in love ?