Friday, 11 March 2016

Months: Lyrics

In March 2012 I decided to write a sequence of twelve poems about the months - all the poems to be in the same form and each written in the month, each based on a close observation of the natural phenomena around me. That original set of 'Months' was posted on 6 February 2015 and is linked here
   I then decided to write another set, this time of shorter lyrics in various sizes, shapes and metres. I started in March 2014 and finished in February 2015. That's the order the poems are meant to be read in, March - February. I now post the complete set.
   For the record, the individual poems were posted on 14 March, 13 April, 9 May, 15 June, 11 July, 8 August, 11 September, 9 October, 14 November, 12 December 2015, 10 January and 15 February 2016. Some of the postings contained a few notes to explain anything unusual in the poems. 
   Also, one or two of the early poems had references to the Christian year which I planned to continue throughout the sequence; unfortunately this fell by the wayside.

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MARCH

March murk done, the chilly dew
Drips from the shock-head churchyard yew,
   Quicksilvers grass,
   Glistens like glass,
Speckling the dusty graves anew.    

Freshly, the tight-fist orange sun
A cloud-tall morning blush has flung;
Daffodils prattle in the breeze,
Blue-skinned crocuses flop and sneeze;   
   The dip-gathered frost
   Like a glint-toothed ghost
Hugs close its winter miseries.    

Drumming its creaking bone-break thud,
The woodpecker, splashed with Jesu’s blood,
   The year’s agonies
   Shrilly cries:
Lady Day primrose lights the wood. 

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APRIL
 
A winter-absent heron
Returns on the April wind,
Long-legging the lake’s sedges;
Enthralled it spears at a find –           
A tench dies in its passion
Mourned by a mist of midges.        

Shroud-grey and dusty that heron
Corpse-like on parachute wings
Hangs on the lake’s black waters;       
Willow flock froths up and sings,        
The aspen is a white-leaved clarion,
But the heron broods on slaughters.    

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MAY

The trees are leaved; even the ash
Its many-fingered crown has dressed;    
      Noah’s splash
Must bide a year. With tipsy cheer  
The lopside stare at the bank’s crest     
      Whistles a leer.      

Crazyhead oak with fat-leaf veils
Enswathes itself, aglim with sun;    
      In shadows, snails
Aboard the nettles’ spiteful bristles, 
Thrush-grabbed are cracked to death among 
      The throstle jostled thistles.  

The splay-pined larch drops seed from cones
To fruit in the earth’s spicy pall;    
      With tortured bones,
Christ ascended in His blood’s banner,
Hovers; will He in judgement fall      
      Like the wind-fanner?

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JUNE

      On solstice day
      The grass grows high,
      Swaying, swaying;
Uncut these months to crop as hay
   Like women’s hair it swells
      In the dust-hot breeze;          
   Above in the eye-blue sky
      The clouds assaying
Like merchant-men float by, float by,        
         And I,
Wading the rock pool depths of grass
      Treading soft quilts,
      Rattling the seed heads
      Like sea snails’ shells,             
Shrink in the skin-dry blaze of sun            
   Honeying the leaning leaze.             
   Hedgerows scorched as brass
      Tick with the tuts
      Of long-tailed tits
         And
      A cinnabar moth
      Like a blood-splashed leaf
Lilts and jilts, lilts and jilts,                         
Drifting among the petals and shreds
      Of white Anne’s lace
      And knapweed’s bun
      Of shock-blue threads,
Yellow yarrow and violet vetch.          
Waist-high in the grasses’ butts,
      Heavy with grits,
   I run a dust-scent hand
      Through the blond stalks
      Of stiff-eared barley
      And fescue like broth,   
Purplish dog’s tail and tufted bent –              
   All pleated in suede and fawn.                 
   Ah, it’s Barleycorn’s grief                                         
      That he’s scythed from his place                       
   For dark malt or for breads                        
      And in a crock to fetch;                                         
   And thumping Bible truth talks                                   
      Of wheat that must parley                    
      And agree to be pent                          
      In the earth’s black bourn                                      
   While shriving winter passes              
   That there be riot of grasses.        

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JULY

   Erect in the sward
Like Wells’s war-world Tripods,    
Feasting on oil-hot sun,
Settlers on lank legs,
   Ragwort – staggerwort –
   Whiffs like dung.                            

Yellow as plates of yolk             
   Its flowers, its leaves
   Like curly kale;
And all July the wold
It roves – its burnt-gold troves          
   A swagman’s trawl.       

Each flower’s a thirteen petal
Womb coddling swags
   Of yolky sacs;
   But like jakes-dregs             
It shakes scour-gut aches  
   Through uncareful cattle.    

Flowering done, what’s left
Is scranched bran in a cuff       
Of rusty petals; a swart     
   Stink in a puff –
Tart – of mare’s fart
In the noon heat adrift.       

--------------

AUGUST

Luscious as syrup | the lazy sea swelters,
Dusk descends dimly | on the viscid dull waves,
Windless, weak savours | are wearily wafted,
Harrying heat drowses | in humid hot caves. 

Assumed, a full moon | makes metal the heavens,
Bronzing the bowl | of the big-arched and bruised sky,
Highlighted cloud hefts | halo the horizon,  
A gimlet of gold | glows on the sea’s glint eye.

The Plough sinks softly | through a quicksand of stars, 
Vivid Venus | vamps in the height of the vault,
Sleepers suffer their dreams | like sandcrabs scuttling,
Night’s heat enshrouds them, | their sweat heavy as salt.          

--------------

SEPTEMBER

In the grey-fog dawn, dank and greasy,
   A jackdaw cried;
A nut-snacking squirrel, anxiously busy, 
Dashed to the bushes, scorned by a cold-eyed 
   Michaelmas daisy.

Stewed by the mild sun a roadkill fox
   Is torn by a crow; 
A mid-day spider, mending the shocks
To its web, seizes a moth, silly-slow, 
   In the rusting hollyhocks.

Equinox night charcoals the woods,
   Erasing the rooks
In their elm top roosts. Woodfloor foods
Hunt and are hunted in the silent nooks 
   Under bindweed roods. 

--------------

OCTOBER

A lime leaf, wind-whipped from its tree,
Switchbacked in air and plucked my wrist,
Its broad-faced green had blanched like cloth  
And rust had made its edges twist;
   Sick, with no remedy, 
   It fell like a struck moth. 

October’s like the grey-backed sea,
Brutal and languid under mist, 
Extracting life from summer’s growth
And crushing it as winter’s grist:
   That lime leaf guilelessly 
   Has blundered into truth.  

--------------

NOVEMBER

Mid-morning twilight is the brightest hour
And drab is any final rot-bruised flower, 
   The damp-drenched air is thin to breathe,
   Pricking cheek and spotting sleeve; 
      Slugs glisten in the mould,
      Half-stunned by the wet cold.

   The wagtail at the rain-brimmed ruts
   Dashes forlornly, flutters, tuts;
      A florid pheasant lands,
      Running for the stands 
Of filigree and white-bark birch now stripped
Of bile-spot leaves which all night long have dripped.

   The ash trees gape above the waste
   Of straw-blanched roughland grass – a paste
Of mud and water welling through its roots; 
A green-dark hemlock sags beneath its fruits  
      Of sullen rainfall drops –
      November’s bitter slops.

Mid-afternoon, a dusk like devil’s grog
Stuffs the weald’s valleys with creosote fog; 
      In fields and town mist climbs,
      Crisps pools and glass with rimes;
   Cold-thickened night solidifies:
   The wagtails roost with wary eyes. 

--------------

DECEMBER

   The morning air flares on the skin, 
   The sky is high and iceberg cold,
   The crimson sun, a too-close world,
Looms over rooftops that the day begin. 

   An ice-lump frost like frozen milk
   Plasters the grass and rigid oaks, 
A crow cracks the silence with rattling croaks; 
   Sun-touched, the frost glistens like silk.

   A split-pale fence begins to steam,
The sun’s heat creeping on its topmost bar;
   Like incense drifting near and far   
   The frost exhales a breath-thin stream.

Wet-black the fence; and now the grass and oaks
   Fume cloudily in the sun’s light;  
   Winter’s colours emerge from white –
   Ash-greens and dunnage like turned cloaks.

--------------

JANUARY

When Epiphany snows in the sud-white field  
   Icily to the snowdrops yield,
   Fathers and lasses in crumping boots,
   Kicking through drifts with clenching toes,   
   Shriek at the hedgeside snowdrop shoots
Which loll their heads with a frozen nose.

The glittering snow like jewels of Ind
   Glares in the polishing skin-flail wind:
   Sherbet drops ashake on stalks,
   Milk teeth jangling for faeries’ pence;
   Flustered snowdrops like bobbing corks
Are picked by lasses for ornaments.    

Then snow-melt swamps the field to mud,      
   Lasses’ jeans are splashed like blood;
   Loam and rain like wattle paste 
   Clutch the snowdrops’ slapping wands;  
   Petal-mired like girls disgraced
They whitely, sprightly, banter in bonds!

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FEBRUARY

Ah the foggy, foggy dawns
And misty eves which pierce the bones; 
   Such rat-grey gloomings
   And dead-man loomings,
Fox spoor on the dew-black lawns
And wind-wisps making sudden moans:
 
Dusk despite all lingers later,
The ditchman, digging, stretches straighter;
   Candlemas coughings quenched,
   Though freezing rains bedamp,
Cherry buds like fingers clenched  
Swell and fidget to untamp. 

The sun like a sucked mint pales the sky,
Linnets and sparrows shout hue and cry,
   Blackbirds forage straws,
   Bright berries tempt the ’daws,
But should a brown-dense cloud throw cover, 
All stills lest winter be not over.

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© March 2014 - February 2015


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