Tuesday 26 April 2022

Five Poems by Stephen Kingsnorth


 

Hive

 

The ukulele, not best for Danny Boy,

means unaccompanied, we gravel to begin;

our chariot choir sings high and low,

though jointly note the middle range.

 

Despite harmonious melody,

the Dublin-born disputes the tune

is Londonderry Air, an Ulster name.

But with Guinness I have heard

plantation words alongside craic,

and Prot bars resound republican.

We warble words with the chorus girls,

a hurting leg, Jack's grunt refrain.

 

Out the door, politics; here we laugh

at wheelchair three point-turn or six

in this space, confined, it’s like

our repartee, the discourse of humanity,

Areopagus of fun.

 

Kim, the crochet girl has brought a bag

of kitchenalia to identify.

This largely plastic crowded tray

whets few appetites today.

 

With glove stretchers, I had never need

of tongs to empty sauce sachets,

or the mango stone remover,

the sandwich cutter which prevents

squashed jam seeping from bread edges.

Yesterday sachets and mangoes

were not in the scullery,

or indeed between my teeth,

while butter or jam were choice,

and crustiness, grandpa's trait,

an ingredient of life.

 

Because the baby has been born

half-knit blue cardigan

has sleeves now turning pink;

desultory chair exercise

brings the needles overhead.

 

This group, hive christened,

and we its bees;

some come from ever-silent rooms

and travel here without sound,

broken-winged, as if the sting

already taken from our tale.

 

Once my thought-question

slipped from lips;

it might have searched opinions,

we could have shared spoken debate,

we might have made a meal of it.

But when the leader googles phone,

the answer served on a plate,

then beehive becomes an igloo still,

snake-charmer's basket on its head,

and honey comb cannot mature.

 

The yellow high-viz jacket wears

a button hole, woollen daffodil,

but insists it to be a crocus flower.

In stitches

he offers me its curling bloom to smell;

we are back to buzzing

and that perfume claims the room.

 

First published online by Eunoia Review 6th September 2019

 

 

The House that Moved

 

Told moving house a major stress,

but where the emphasis?

My relocation, focal site,

transferring home from house.

The change was of my fixed mind-set,

with salt drips reaching tongue,

half-empty cup now overflows,

I feel it in my bowels.

 

Never chessboard gambit, clever,

nor shift, a change of gear,

timely initiating - but

fresh rhyme, new paradigm.

Stone lintel long-divorced from wall,

each hang had its own song,

put-up-with hatch that I moaned, now

anointed without oil.

 

The tin bath is my jacuzzi,

gas ring my Aga range,

my outhouse mangle, laundromat,

sea shanties I sing there.

Before door shaped the bell lost flex - 

but like the clapper swing;

beneath, the scraper where I tread,

soiled boots swop for my soul.

 

Still sat, I stare through the pained glass,

cracked, garden, easy whin,

built on dolerite foundation,

now this my box on sill.

Kites pennant, hawks stoop, thermals swoop,

vigilante cloud patrol,

while even storm petrel coastguards

serve lookout for my byer.

 

First published online by Allegro Poetry 1st December 2019

 

 

Jude

 

My title, Jude, you understand?

If but a hardy soul, you should.

Perhaps my verse is not your space

but yours the access - trace my mind.

Why can you not hear what I voice

and, taken plunge, still get it wrong?

I’ll write, gazing in crystal ball -

if yet unseen, your wiring’s poor.

I’ll use the info learned at school -

for poetry found learnèd brains.

Perhaps I’ll translate, common state,

and then you’ll celebrate as found?

Now what I share is something known

or else the poem’s not owned, mine,

but common knowledge, commonwealth,

and recognition not my deal -

the common touch still calls for breadth -

but as I’ve finished, up to you.                                       .

 

“But, friend, we seek a commonplace,

that least you write, available,

not easy grace for trampling swine

but observation, chiming bells.

So, application to the task,

my answer only if both work,

and then the page that typist typed

has archetypal emphasis.

So, come together, pilgrim road,

discover what’s new in our world,

inherent posers, if we ask -

an entry point, art comprehend.

If bounded, wedded, stewardship

it might be both, best understand.”

 

First published online by Zero Readers 13th December 2021

 

 

Dream Catcher

 

Feathers for the eagle height 

but also pickings, platform stilts,

the elder laid for vulture beak,

to raise both prey and prayer light  

into thermal vista scape.

 

The catcher, circle, cycle life,  

clear space to blow the riff chaff through,

but geometric lacing too

that meaning scenes of dreams, peace, strife,  

flit skein, the skin, cat’s cradle skim.

 

As old men dreams turn visions, young, 

and maintain hope for tested, tried,

it may be campfire lore will tell

of who we were, when sighs were sung,  

which then burn brightly, wind inspired.

 

First published online by Poetry Potion 2nd April 2022

 

 

What the Greenman Sees

 

Bed time story, fairy tales,

pillow talk aswirl as drift;

woodland folk amongst the spruce,

pines where Ariel released,

birch, mesh mycorrhizal routes,

fly agaric, polka stool,

lacewing whisper on the seat,

dangle legs, passed crane fly mist.

 

Pheasant chicks, gamekeeper’s gun,

poaching, scrambling in the gloom;

spider eggs in silken sacs,

elven breakfast, steam pot tips

coddling toxicity,

snuffle, sips, arachnid cup,

dryads, Green Man watch from branch,

truffle boars scent riches deep.

 

Wych hazel rods, divine in bend,

cider apples, tempting tree;

bite and die, the mystery,

pesky, pixie, goblin folk

tenant glades, though few will see -

will-o’-the-wisp, marshy light,

foe-conjured hours, dread of night -

friends we become, sheets, dawn, wights?




Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies.

His blog is at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/     

 

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