Hour 4: One Hundred Years Beyond (Haibun)

To be the caretaker of this old farm is a precious thing. To be present for soft summer dusks, silent winter nights of glittering snow, the vibrant  light of maeshine, and a small country road silvered by the harvest moon – all these mark our time and place, when the heart, called to each new moment, gives voice and sings, ‘Do you see? Do you see?’ That I seek and find someone will come to know and care for this precious space as I have loved it and thrived within it is my future wish.

Step into this space.

Feel the heartbeat of the soil.

Know that you belong.

Hour 23: Cheese

Hour 23: Cheese

though often grated. Cheese.
Want no frills?
Then simply grill. Cheese.
Got a lot?
Make some aligot! Cheese.
Bake it with honey
keep it nice and runny. Cheese.
Want some for your tea?
Why not try some gnocchi? Cheese.
Shred it or grate it
just don’t debate it! Cheese.
Bake it in a pie.
Like it crisp? Then fry. Cheese.
Melt it over chips
or bury it in grits. Cheese.
Bake it in a muffin.
Use in calzone that needs stuffin.’ Cheese.
Serve it with a roast.
Melt it over toast. Cheese.
Take it, grate it. Melt it, smelt it.
Make cheesy garlic bread.
Use cheese as flour instead.
With a creamy mac’n’cheese,
you’re guaranteed to please.
So, Mr Chesterton, take note.
We’re aware of what you wrote.
There’s just one place, we say,
where cheese should stay away.
Or, rather, if you really want to please,
make sure jokes stay away from cheese.

As I like to say:
Fon-du as you would be done by (heh heh)

Sevenling (Stone): Hour 8

There’s much that’s made of stone:
bridges, tunnels and statues too.
They’re harsh, unfeeling, strong.

We humans are flesh and blood:
passions, emotions and heart.
I see why we don’t last long.

So what is the point of my art?

Iowa Evening: Hour 7

An Iowa dusk finds me
falling, helpless, into an endless sky.
On a road far before me
a farm truck spins a cloud of dust
that blossoms gold in the evening light
as the vehicle disappears.
Farm houses lay silent, close and flat
to a faraway horizon
while a setting sun
flames its way into the corn.

I feel the small scale of my heart
blossom and bloom in this endless place.
And everything I breathe
is earth and light and sky.

Silver: Hour 4

These roads were horse tracks once, I hear;
curving slowly into the rising hill
easing the passage of harvest-heavy carts
hauled by teams of horses to each farm –
their sweating heads low, necks taut,
as their hooves spat sound – ice-sharp –
into a darkening sky.

I’m told that highwaymen roamed here too;
their cache remaining in the fields above the farm.
So when I walk these shadowed roads in winter
and the moon is all I have,
my thoughts are now of silver:
the cool wash of moonlight across a sour and empty hedge,
eyes gleaming, wet with fear, at this dark interruption;
the glint of silver at a horse’s foaming mouth.

Totem: Hour 2

It was my task to call the cows at milking time.
I’d amble down the summer road,
tipping at grasses with an unnecessary stick.
On reaching the gate, I’d take a breath
and let my voice ring out like morning across the day.
I’d see their heads first –
stone stalwart rising above the curve of the tiny field –
then their mighty shoulders, bony haunches,
udders tight and full,
knees striking each other like flint,
their dark eyes large on mine.

We’d walk the road together to the farm;
one small girl
striding before a cluster of elderly hungry cows;
the knowledge of warm, spiced meal in their nostrils
driving them up and on.
Flighty girls – regardless of their age –
swinging their heavy heads, duncing one another,
like schoolgirls aiming to be first.
Later I’d walk them back;
they’d be skittish now – well fed and less awkward in their step –
their long heads raised to the scent of grass,
pushing to get past me through the gate and graze.

One quiet night in October when the years had fallen away,
the farm became mine alone.
Arriving home that night, and sad,
I stood a moment in the falling dusk,
and turned to see a heifer, richly red,
walk silently towards me from the mist,
her dark eyes large on mine.
She was not skittish as a lost or wandering animal would often be
but stood patiently beyond my car, observant and at ease.
We stood there in a silence that was quieter than the mist allowed
acknowledging this for what it was.
I turned my head a moment
and when I looked up, she was gone.

Stone: Hour 1


With death, after snaps at the heels
of what went before;
a line of demarcation
drives me forward;
and what I am now is both old and new in one.

These days, I am scattered as soil;
broken as weathered stone.
I am searching in nature,
for something that fits
the new shape of my heart.

I was once a winter fire;
a soft, slow rain in spring.
The flat heat of a generous summer sun;
a silvered autumn web.

Now I am as stone.

I am the broken walls of the old byres
Shadowed in memories of task and toil.
I am dark windows lit by a faint moon.
I am the gathered stories of this family home.
I am a boulder, heavy and still
On the river bed;
No tide will move me on.

I am the pulse of my own seasons now.
Owned by these fields, this untilled soil;
a caretaker, caught on the cusp of memory.

I am our days and my own in one.

Poem no.24 Triplicate

Very little (if any) poetic merit in this, my final poem for the 2017 Poetry Marathon. But an awful lot of love.

When I look at the old farm around me
Three things I never fail to see:
I accept how it is, I remember how it was,
and I still dream of how it will be.

This is where I’ll end my days.
This is where I made my start.
This is where I have found my peace.
This is where I’ll rest my heart.

Poem no. 23 Six Weeks

Six weeks, they tell me,
is just long enough to build a habit;
I listen and I act impressed.
The inference here, of course,
is that I will soon forget the old
while at the same time I create the new.

But what if these six weeks I am gifted now as a beneficence
remain instead filled with hungry glances to
your corner, to my seat, to your grotty rug
as I wait to see you there? Or packed with
awkward pauses at an open door
held ajar a single beat – a moment longer – than it ought to be
allowing you to walk through before I do?
Or the unweighted silence of my empty lap that does not
have you curled, determined, purring, ammonite-like upon my knee?

Because I loved you, I will still look for you;
and miss you in the places where you used to be.
Six weeks may build a habit, yes;
but will not teach me to forget you and what you meant to me.

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