Snowdonia from the Boat Train

On the train from Holyhead
I looked and thought the world
doesn’t need me to describe
sheep in the turned turnip fields,
sheep on a frozen hillside,
doesn’t need to imagine
that snow clouds are like smoke
from a frozen explosion,
has no time or wish to know
when the sun began to dance,
over the far white mountains
it was dancing and licking,
like a small dog full of joy,
at the face of a returning boy.

Photo by the author: Two Lambs at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley

Country Sayings

  • Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.
  • Winter don woollies lest freeze thy goolies.
  • Spring deceives with shivering leaves.
  • Wear double socks for March is the pox.
  • April defreeze believe when thou sees.
  • Summer’s blink and summer’s gone.
  • Autumn be my friend, autumn never end.

Outpatient

August in Hammersmith/You don’t know who you’re with.
— Robyn Hitchcock

Ecru muslin cleaves to the bum,
Or ever shorter shorts for some.
Three aquiline ectomorphs all smile.
Sister, brother, other? Meanwhile
It’s always time to be young, no
Even with brave scooter kids in tow
Who know the green cross code. Oh
They must know! Okay, they know.

Outside A and E, a nurse in scrubs
Says “I’ll take you back into hospital.”
Bent double on a half wall, blood
On his forehead, nodding, frail,
An ill-shod man, won’t hear or agree.
Half a mile on, another bent double,
Frail, on a low bench, tapping his knee.
Some of us are in trouble.

Summer is distracted, letting itself go,
Can’t be bothered to put on a show.

Thunder from the buildout of King Street
Is not Jehovah’s p.a. The news sheet
Today is on capitalism and class war.
Apparently the pandemic is…blah blah blah.
Outside the Lyric Theatre, ineffectual
Leafletters pine for the intellectual.
While dad-bellied, a shirtless old get
Hugs himself like he’s only just met.

If You Stop Thinking

If you stop thinking,
Everything is primal shapes,
Circle, triangle, a blur,
Even colours evaporate.

You’ll have beginners’ luck
In every game you play,
Type at light speed, outrun
Sonic boom and radio waves,

Fly to Tasmania and back
On a bird that’s a factory,
An altar bell, a blackboard,
All in the flash of a blind eye.

Grieving for a Bee I Tried to Rescue

Grieving for a bee I tried to rescue.
I wish I’d never felt love for any human being
But it’s animals I love more, more than people.
Forever regret the mouse that pleaded from a trap.
Oh bee I made a bed for with leaves, forgive me
But they can’t and I am in Hell now.

*

The bee is still
In his dry leaf bower.
The drops of water I left him
He never drank.
He no longer tries to fly.
He has gone to the flowers.

*

I’m sorry if I hurt you by trying to set you free.
Rest, your work is done now, still bee.

Rearranging Curios in the Museum of Religion: The Rooms (RC Wing)

– Magical Bread
– Mortification of the Flesh
– Custody of the Eyes
– Sackcloth and Ashes
– Apparitions and Miracles
– Was Lazarus a Zombie?
– On Your Knees
– Banned Books
– Conclaves & White Smoke
– Statues, Icons and Candles

– Surplices and Cassocks
– Incense, Oil and Holy Water
– Fasting and Altar Wine
– Organs, Hymns and Bells
– Papal Bulls and Celibacy
– Carpenters and Virgins
– Mother and Baby Stables
– Wise Men and Donkeys
– Gold, Frankenstein and Mirth

– Hermits, Stylites and Prophets
– Processions, Relics and Exposition
– Retreats, Novenas and Sodalities
– Statues, Silverware and Stained Glass
– Illuminated Manuscripts and Leaflets
– Missionaries and Black Babies
– Monks, Brothers, Priests and Nuns
– Bamboo Canes and Leathers

– Catechisms and Rosary Beads
– Chasubles and Stoles
– Soutanes and Habits
– Dog Collars and Hairshirts
– Censers and Sanctuary Lights
– Missals and Mass Cards
– Parish Registers and Weekly Dues
– Poor Boxes and Collection Plates
– Presbytery, Sacristy and Choir
– Headstones

– Dominus Vobiscum et Cum Spiritu Tuo
– Scrolls, Gospels & Apocrypha
– Recordings Detectible in Rocks? Not Yet.
– Who’s Coming and When?
– Revelations, Ergot & Mushrooms
– Handwritten Diary of Jesus & Yeah You Wish
– Faith, Hope & Love
– Salvation and Damnation
– Ghost or Spirit?

– Married Priests and Mini-Skirted Nuns
– Jesuits, Liberation Theology and Blind Faith
– Bishops, Arch and Suffragan
– Beatification, Canonisation and Devils Advocates
– Cathars and the Consolamentum
– Kill Them All and God Will Know His Own
– Misogyny and “Witches” Burned Alive

– Original Sin, Baptism and Limbo
– Joseph and the Immaculate Conception
– Fit Kilkenny and the Remoulds
– Gethsemene, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb
– Veronica and the Turin Shroud
– Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje and Knock
– Daniel O’Donnell, Margo and Big Tom
– The Singing Nun and the Singing Priest

– Domenica-nica-nica and Kumbaya
– Faithful Brethren and Dearly Departed
– Spare Not the Rod and Despoil the Child
– Dormitories, Refectories and Confessionals
– Pulpits, Pews and Stations of the Cross
– Fonts, Aisles, Chapels and Tabernacles
– Altar Boys, Handbells and Patens
– Mortal Sins

– Holy Days of Obligation & Acts of Contrition
– Blood Washing Snow White & the Seven Deadly Sins
– Who Killed Liberty Bodice, Scapulars & Miraculous Medals?
– Kyrie Eleison and Why Did Latin Get the Works?
– Sojourn in Hell, Transfiguration and Ascension
– Aramaic, Abba & Here We Go Again

– Fish Supper and Chip Butties for Five Thousand
– Save the Best Wine for Last and Friends on the Coast
– Hairy Magdalene and Tax Collectors
– Herod, Pilate, Caiphas and Peter the Fink
– Romani Ite Domum and the Life of Brian
– Lilies of the Field, Sheep and the Fatted Calf
– Gadarene Swine

– Get Behind Me Satan and St Patrick Before Me
– Holly Threesome and the Divine Mysteries
– Mother Mary Aikenhead and the White Fathers
– Jesus Wept and the Litany of Loreto
– Saecula Saeculorum and Amen

If that piqued your interest, you might like to read “Oh One-by-Three”, “Oh Flaking Gilt Money Box” and “Saint Paul said it all” in Day of the Flying Leaves. (Stephen)

High-flying Birds Know

High-flying birds know it’s about to rain.
Seagulls circle in the lowering plane,
A few one way, then round the other.
When one catches up, it nips its brother
And they squawk. Where can we land?
Pigeons and strangers hurry by and
The dark and darkening cloud overhead
Threatens tree and house and flowerbed.
The sun is foiled, indifferent, no thunder.
But like Swift’s London, the streets are under
Water now. I wish I were in Berwick Street,
Spoiled fruit and cabbage leaves at my feet.
Read the Dean, not me, for all that glory,
My world is suburban and that’s my story.
Here’s rain, miles from home but an anorak
Serves well, and I’ll be soon enough back.