Based On Middle English Lyrics
1. ‘Whanne ic se on Rode . . .’
When I see on screens
images far away
of people degraded
by famine or loss,
I ought to ask
what is to be done
to mend the world,
disprove the despair
that concern is powerless,
2. ‘Pees maketh plente . . .’
Peace nourishes plenty,
plenty develops arms,
arms encourage incidents,
incidents justify war,
war justifies peace.
- ‘Wanne mine eyhnen misten . . .’
When my eyes edge with mist
and my ears hiss,
and my nose sores with cold,
and my tongue folds,
and my face hangs slack,
and my lips mottle black,
and my mouth moons,
and my dribble runs,
and my hair dwindles,
and my heart grumbles,
and my hands palsy,
and my fears tighten –
the hearse will obstruct next-door’s drive.
Then I’ll be carted
from bed to floor,
from floor to stretcher,
from stretcher to box,
from box to earth,
and grass will blow there.
Then the world will rest on my nose,
and others will seek solutions,
it won’t trouble me where or how.
Postcard Sonnets: Scarborough
Pitching our windbreaker on arrival, the boys
at once devised a game to modify
beach into home: towels became bedrooms,
spade casts of sand breakfast, then heaped ice cream
topped with chocolate sea shells, two driftwood
99s phallic as tutti-frutti sarsens –
we got the hint, bought them melting cones.
This issue resolved, they loudly conferred
about moat, castle, available water,
their cautious glances inevitably
led to that endless, heaving broil of spray,
colours ceaselessly merging, lithe patterns
of wave and sound, until yelping decision
seized buckets, launched two mad hares at the sea.
I hope for sense enough to remember
until the day memory stops, the sight
of those two exultant, hand-clasped brothers,
bare soles slapping wet sand, all their free might
lent to reach the tide, their little bucket-
mould of towers, keeps, their hopeful legs
strong and growing, disparity of height
made meaningless by bond, prepared to lug
the whole ocean if need be back to base,
pour it out, fetch more, rushing in blue trunks
decorated with dolphin and shark – yes
sentimental, I don’t want us to think
of preciousness ending, knowledge it must,
our laughter as they streamed away from us.
On the drive home, fat with fish and chips,
the boys sing tired versions of Fireman Sam,
glad today at least, our masterpieces,
the best we’ve won. You put your hand
on my thigh as I steer and all I am
returns your touch. I do not understand
the flame behind our journey, destiny
half-determined by will. But already
night lit with stars covers the hurried land
we travel, urging it’s never too late
to enjoy miracled, chance-given days;
and sun burns a hole in the horizon
for tomorrow, open and unplanned
as love. No one regardful puts that fire out.
The football ground
shares chant and passion
with surrounding streets.
Vibrations touch wall and garden
then grow still.
People drunk on themselves.
Their noise, loyalties,
disperse like destiny,
deflated by failure
and success alike.
I drink wine in the garden.
Silence acknowledges the stars.
Blue darkening, a pause
before a lover’s revelation
too breathless to understand.
Distant traffic connects me
with the city I depend on.
This is the place
for which I was meant,
night above me,
a sea on which I float
face up like algae.
strong within me.
Summer night you seduce.
Is that a promise of wind?
The sky arches from my seat
far over the land
until it brushes waves,