Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

WREN

I was surprised to read that the wren is Britain's most common bird. It's certainly one of the most elusive and sightings of it are rare, probably because of its size and pattern of constant movement. 
The poem below was written when given the challenge to write a uni-vocalic poem, that is, one that employs no more than one specific vowel throughout.

An additional requirement was that it should be in the following format: 
Line 1, 1 syllable, Line 2, 2 syllables, Line 3, 3 syllables, Line 4, 4 syllables, Line 5, 10 syllables (the total of the first four lines) and that this format should then be repeated in reverse to conclude the poem. Total syllables 40. 

You'll find the result below.




WREN

See
the wren,
resplendent:
her clever eye,
her sweet essence. Deep, let her sleep be deep;
there, let the green hedge be her perfect bed;
the rye, the reed,
be her screen;
shelter
her.


Wednesday, 15 January 2020

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Our recent visit to Florence led to my writing this short poem. The image is of the corner cafe and the street in the Oltrarno, the Bohemian Quarter, where we walked Ginger, the friendly Beagle that we looked after during our stay.











OLTRARNO: NIGHT

Rain gives the moon-lit, cobbled street a sheen,
diverts the eye from flaking, spray-tagged walls
and even tumbled rubbish bags appear
more silk than shabby plastic where they lie 
like corpses in the aftermath of war. 
The shuttered shops, the late-night restaurants
whose lights emit a kindly lighthouse glow,
and, in nocturnal doorways, crouching cats,
are images I carry home tonight,
half-noticed, hardly noticed, so it seems,
to weave into my narrative of dreams.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

ROGUE MAIL

The complacent progress of one's life can so easily be jolted out of kilter by a disturbing medical diagnosis, the sudden loss of a loved one or, sometimes, nothing more seemingly innocuous than an unexpected letter.



















THE LETTER

The day seemed unremarkable:
another day like every day.
I fed the birds. 
The postman came.
I set aside the envelope,
a plain white thing, perhaps a bill,
no matter, it could surely wait.
The boy who brings the newspaper
delivered it as usual.
I read it carelessly. The news
is never worth more than a glance:
an earthquake there, somewhere a war,
more knife-crime in the capital.

I stroked the cat, drank one last cup
and then I picked the letter up. 

Some words can overturn one’s world,
destroy what plans one might have made.
The message read, I let it fall
then rose, stepped out 
into the rain.
The beech trees stood, 
immovable,
their branches, formerly so bare,
unfurling leaves of gentle green
like tiny sail-boats casting off
to voyage from the shores of spring
and all around me, restlessly,
the flowers were reawakening.         

Rain-drenched and cold, I stood and wept,
regretting promises not kept.   


Saturday, 4 January 2020

SLIMMED DOWN VERSION

As we enter the New Year still groaning from the excesses of the past couple of weeks, it's perhaps a suitable moment to introduce a slender poem that has been pared down from a weighty and somewhat overwrought original. 
May my waistline follow its example.



 
















MORNING AFTER

They lie entwined on an unmade bed,
whisper promises that won’t be kept,
leave not a thing unsaid
but say too much, afraid
love may have vanished while they slept.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

TIME AND TIDE

I read this one on BBC radio a while back and it seemed to strike a chord with a number of listeners. I suppose that many of us fall short of our earliest hopes and dreams and discover, often too late, that time takes no prisoners. 






















SHIP IN A BOTTLE

He dreamed of oceans as a child;
would run away to sea when grown;
might sail the chill Atlantic, wild,
or broad Pacific, tempest blown,

but grown to adulthood, he failed
in everything. There was no prow
or spreading wake: he never sailed.
He seeks his ships in bottles now.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING

My favourite Italian city, Venice, is once again struggling to cope with yet another aqua alta, one of several in the last couple of months. 
If sea levels continue to rise it bodes ill for the future of La Serenissima.




















THE DROWNED CITY

A tide is rising in the flooded streets:
while residents stare dully, others weep.
A chill sea-fog enfolds, like winding sheets,
the drowned canals whose banks lie fathoms deep.
Abandoned kiosks float like ghostly ships.
The sky scowls down apocalyptically          
as, steadily, the ancient city slips,
into an endlessly encroaching sea.     
Upon the moving water, like a shroud,
fog spreads across the great drowned city’s face. 
The stately palaces, serene and proud,
sink helplessly into the sea’s embrace.
Now all are dispossessed, both foe and friend,
that called this city home, that sipped its wine 
and swore their tenancy would never end.
Those glasses, raised, now bear the taint of brine.
The sea, demanding, cannot be defied.
Departing birds rise over the lagoon.
Below extends the ever-marching tide.
The world expected this but not so soon.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

TALKING TURKEY

This is a bad time of the year to be a turkey, although it’s probably fair to say that being a turkey at any other time is not particularly pleasing either.

Of all the birds one might choose to be, the turkey is probably pretty far down the list. 

Turkeys don’t sing, they don’t soar and, additionally, they’re really rather ugly. 

Jane and I will not be adding to the massive slaughter of these unfortunate creatures this year. 
We have alternative culinary plans.











SONG OF THE CHRISTMAS TURKEY

We have grown fat, my friends and I,

and although some birdbrains say
these gifts of food Men bring us

must be treated with suspicion, 
this I doubt. 

I feed on corn aplenty and rejoice,

grow plumply satisfied and portly stout.
My fellows fast become inflated too:

such fine birds with no work at all to do.   


I call the doubters paranoid and mock

their pessimistic attitudes and gloom.

Another feast arrives, I gulp it down

then gobble thankful sounds 
and strut about.

We grow each day more pillowy and sleek.

Our future is assured, our species blessed.

This is the life, I think, no need to fear:

December is the season of Good Cheer.