Poem ‘Doing the Work’

Doing the Work

I thought of someone
scrunching up pink paper tissues
and sticking them randomly
to scanty trees. I paused outside,
beguiled by fresh horse chestnut leaves
like little green squids,
poised in the crossing sun

When finally I sat down inside—
sustained sounds in A
all around the unravelling dark
—I knew how much sweat
went into this, his sweetest symphony.
Oh, there would be tears, applause,
cries of ‘bravo!’ and the house
might well be brought down— eventually.
None of them saw the bitter tears
or heard the harsh cussing.
And they never had to sit
through the long silences
or watch him toss batons aside
and wipe that heavy brow.
More than once he must’ve wished
to be somewhere else—
in the grip of a glacier, perhaps?

At the break
I stumbled out into an evening
among smokers, a kerfuffle of gulls.
We watched a lone magpie emerge,
sneaking off with leftovers,
the keener eye winning
with the merest effort

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Mare Incognito’ (for J)

Mare Incognito (for J)

Somewhere between
Southwold and Saltfleet,
that’s all I’m prepared to say.

Where eastern seaboards
lose out each year,
glacial moraines fall away

with no answer to tides
that even kings couldn’t resist.
England crumbling in eye and mind.

Cliffs.
Now that could be a clue
but they’re not too high,

though high enough to sit on
and savour the grey seas,
the view, such as it is.

Does it matter?
Fine days won’t do, not to this mind.
Sea mists, fogs, or battleship skies

which leave enough to be imagined,
whose easterlies cut me into me
whatever I wear—they’re best—

when the only way to keep warm
is to keep moving, jogging
below the sleek aerobatics of herring-

and black-backed gulls,
super-marine harbingers of storm
doing their best to bring life to

Mitchell’s drawings of seaplanes—
and the spitfire.
Such an elegance in death.

But I’m here to forget about war,
about politics which can only
divide and kill.

Grey days mean I’m alone
in a moody make-believe.
I turn my back on all that was,

think about what might be,
where nightmares a few miles away,
that lost world within my right hand,

might just be gone when I return
or answer the bleep which says
I’m connected, branded for life.

Leave me now.
For a little while longer
let me say I’m free

image and poem © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Crabbing’

Crabbing

You’d think the crabs would learn,
like the canny herring gull does,
buzzing anyone suspected
of bearing food

Generations have stood, sat,
squatted on this spot
overlooking the wide harbour,
an untamed marsh,
engaged by the melding
of land, sea and air,
dangling bait tied to sodden strings.
It’s easy meat for crab and kid alike,
a great treat to see
their briny sojourns in buckets,
arrayed like lines of medals on concrete.

Soon we’ll let them go,
watch each one plop into the murk.
We’ll be back to coax another day,
warmed by the thought of them
in cold dark depths,
waiting for next time

© copyright dfbarker 2012