Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Stephen Kingsnorth


It is as when the children leave,
the focus of safe spaces shifts
from little ones on mothers’ milk
to youths who know escaped abuse,
now cannon fodder, range of guns,
used weapons in power playing gangs.
Momentum swings from playground place
where chains hang limp and seating slack,
the leather strap now laid to rest.
as swinging calves give way to bulls.

Sickle Strike

It’s captured in the compost crop,
teems of micro, streaming, stealth,
cleansing tilth, best dirt of earth,
ready, spreading, years’ soiled ground.
Gathered seed from jewelled land,
’copters, wing spans, parachutes,
down-wind drones through silent space,
achenes rotting, last term’s fruit;
birds that dropped by, leaving mark,
and all that anchored beside grass –
a metred plot of feet and rhyme.
For that’s from colour and the shape,
haphazard order, hinterland,
before the self-sown weeded out,
and furtive for the planned gives way –
as promised later, garner, glean,
and stubble stalks begin again,
cyclic, poised for sickle strike.


Mud Larks

When periods take aeon forms –
before the ark in flooding lore –
if birds were fish, creation dawns,
and waterborne remains as such,
to die, detritus in the quag.
Scales untipped to feathered quills,
no sodden vane weighed down in flight,
and way before the mud larks sing –
their fins not yet as flapping wings,
or gills as yet not beak of gulls,
flop bog swamp puddles, paddle feet –
until mudskippers take the leap.

But yet, low tide, down by the pier,
around pile starlings, neap there tucked,
dusk murmuration clouds above,
slime in the mire, morass about,
I see the ooze of life break out,
a bucket, spade, shout worms about,
those mudlarks mucking with their pails,
in search of treasure, fish hook bait.
The grown-ups sneer, make fuss about,
behaviour well beyond the pale,
the filthy urchins, scamps in brine –
in rendezvous with self, no doubt.



As a cold lover, she rolled in snow,
the mother with her polar horde,
white dirty cream, receding snow,
as ice retreating, thaw in flow.
Those banking clouds from dark cloaked sills,
the looming outburst rolled as wool;
will water pour, glacier through,
a cataract fill crevasse space?
No beauty, perfume, blooming art,
like flowers to a robot shown,
this frozen waste is ending soon
as we keep plunder, earth’s resource.



The gradient is now neatly laid,
safety first, with polished path,
straight and purposeful, limit stray,
even handed-rail guards
from deviant wanderlust.
Signage clear and hillocks flat,
briars gone and shrews dispersed,
calm drowsiness, valerian,
all cleared by trailer to town dump.

Would the cirrus could
be captured and controlled,
turned cumulus, then cloud-pruned.
Karikomi clipped shrubs remind
of nearby pre-Red feet held bound,
where I in youth ran and
climbed and jumped and leapt,
shrub-camped and safari shot,
even pretended jungle watch.

Here I cowboyed, rodeod my horse,
victored brigands, wrestled bear,
zig-zag tracked, site defended,
even rocked a boat and saved a life,
tore shirt and trousers –
they worn and old and
for that destiny designed.

Day long, when hungry
I went back to the house,
cross narrow wood-lined lane,
like homing pigeons, above with rush,
their coop beneath our own.

But on those slopes,
uneven hide and seek I found
my own feng shui,
and with sisters in familial
geomancy joined.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts