I. An Old Home
Have we outlived this house of ours?
It smells of fresh paint and old damp.
Each room is loud with arguments,
Except at night, as children sleep.
2. Birds at Sundown
Walking across Newlands Valley
Into Littletown, we tarry,
Underneath the hill, where echoes
Tell us of how calmly time goes.
Tread politely in the graveyard,
Among parents, children, soldiers,
To the church, where grand old quiet
Lingers, with its age-old rumours.
Through the Northbound lullaby of
Manor House, Southgate, Cockfosters,
Idle ghosts sip mugs of coffee.
Somewhere kids are playing football.
3. A Curious Strength
To the seaside for the weekend,
For a paddle, for a wander
On the cliffs to watch the ocean
Open, then to look like children.
Thin white ships beyond the coastline,
Where the Spanish were defeated,
Where Napoleon was shoved off,
Where old Hitler was embarrassed.
In such peaceful English orchards
Spring minds have imagined novels,
Proofs, wars, poems and polemics.
Apples ripened or turned rotten.
4. The Seventh Stage
Can I not have a cup of tea?
Laugh over incidental jokes?
The world is as it is, again,
But it is here, on the TV.
To each old man attach a word
That all might trample on his grave.
To each old word attach a sneer
That it might seem ridiculous.
Are you there, Professor Cowling?
It is late and I have eaten,
Fucked and had a bright idea.
(Not, perhaps, in quite that order.)
5. Centuries and Seconds
On the mountain, storm-clouds strike us
With their open palms. We huddle
On the rocks, still edging higher,
Feeling blood in the trachea.
Walk across the Autumn fields,
Where the fragile bird is singing,
Where the earth is packed together,
Where the roots are deep as language.
If a family wanders out
Through forests, cities or the stars
Let mums and dads offer their kids
A bold word or a gentle smile.