Poem ‘Wordspiller’

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...
The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wordspiller (for Christopher Marlowe)

So you are the spiller of words, almost
as far from me as
Beowulf is to you.

Wordspiller, your crosspose outstands me,
but I backthink
the falling choirs where you sadwalked

your summerwaiting mind, to
when your glories were mere
airthought,

like the Greathallow who once
shorestepped there
to see for himself

your forliving Angles (he oncebethought
angels) and their saxon King
Ethelbert redeemed to newspells that

you mindweighed as truthless.
Now I meet your clearstead gaze; for
the muse which stretchfed you

has not alleaten you yet

poem © copyright david f. barker 2012

Poem ‘Bede’

Bede

It wasn’t at Jarrow where I sensed you
but on Bamburgh’s raging shore,
among the seaweed and razor shells
on gull peppered sands,
its castle brooding behind me
like a huge chiseled tomb.

North waves were scrambling,
spilling memories of guttural voices
disguised in flushing sound;
cries of songs, harps and old tales lost,
fragments I could almost hear
when I turned my head into the wind.

And who was the black figure
bent against the breeze,
absorbing sharp light
on that blinding beach?
I struggled through the dunes,
the little islands of sparse grass
and pygmy flowers —
but you were gone,
extant only in memory,
my boundless imagination,
and in your books
which carry me through centuries
on a primal wave,
each time I read your words

Poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Weapon Take’

Weapon Take

No rusty blade
ever turns up here,
no shadow of a ship
or bejewelled belt;

no iconic helm
to add credence
to our wounded identity.
Not even signs

of a mystery hillock
rising in hugging mists
to excite or intrigue
those metal detector men.

Merely one vast industrial
scar, scoured of feature,
almost of life, tamed,
or destroyed,

depending on your view,
turned inside out
by Angevin priors
and inscrutable Dutchmen.

I come from a long
line of diggers
and dark-eyed women,
grown out of this morass,

hardened to sweat
and pitiless Ural winds.
People who made-do,
though never in

any doubt they
were the subjected
men of their Hundred,
the brave new Wapentake,

where the councillors
still speak in a
double-Dutch behind
tall, timbered walls.

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.

** Wapentake was the Danish word for the English Hundred (a small, political unit, originally meaning a hundred homes). This word is still used in the ‘Danelaw’ counties of eastern England.