Photograph: Spalding Town Centre

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The river Welland in Spalding, Lincolnshire, England

Poem ‘Heat’

English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 w...
English: A map of the British Empire in 1921 when it was at its height with British Raj indicated when it too was at its height as well. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heat

When stepping off the ship, heat
hit him,
something heavy and palpable, his duty drawn
out into an exile
stuffing the bank accounts
of far-off millionaires, stuffing
him and the natives from Melbourne
to Manitoba.
Such a relief to be on the train,
officers hankering in rigid
silence for the cool heights of Shimla,
Home Counties in miniature once bleeding
the big world dry, where spinsters
of Little England began to
watch their gingham fade

He favoured his mother’s
side, whose pale skin and eyes were
more fondly remembered
than appreciated, now more than
a world away,
spattered freckles on his face
where the sweat ran
free in that searing carriage;
sights of displaced women
wrapping up in their shawls, children
standing and sitting, staring
and sleeping, heading on to homes they’d
never seen (or ever see), leaving him
to watch the scorched earth slide
by like some weary sentence,
his mind hanging on
to the boney cattle half
hidden in mud, in the channels
of sometime rivers
gaping for monsoon

poem © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Underground’

Underground

By night the town paints clandestine shapes,
broach spires pierce a black arras
and decorated naves of Barnack rag
drape like sepia backcloths for ghosts
and revellers who may pass unaware
on equal terms, merely inches
yet centuries above charcoal rivers
channelled underground,
flushing silently till the night
draws out heat
and chatter of day

Streets swarm with strangers now,
unspeaking shadows in recesses
cupping whispers of gamy tongues,
smoking pipes like brittle bones
with fresh memories of tides
and the deep keeled boats
dragged up onto gravel headlands
by gangs of gruff rovers
and rippling Thracian soldiers
from legions awake to chance,
their unwrested sin

poem and image © copyright dfbarker 2012