Category Archives: Life

Alpine River

Even in the allegedly flat valley
The river ran boiling over its rocky bed
Looking out of our cabin window
I could see white electric splashes of water
Gashing along in evening gloom
Boisterously noisy in Alpine stillness
Laughing around boulders
Burbling drunkenly against its banks
Massive ice its head waters
The river was attempting an escape
Scrambling over obstacles
Scudding away from the mountains
To lazy riverine days on plains below

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Dunkery

P1190008.JPGLording over the moors and valleys, visible out to sea
Bold Dunkery, crowned with cairns ancient and modern
Your summit cairn is in summer twilight crowned by larking lads
Come to watch the sunset, yet cheated by horizon hugging cloud
They revel in unexpected solitude at a well trodden spot

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

It was lovely up at Dunkery Beacon in the twilight.

They looked and turned away

They looked and turned away
Londoners afraid to interact
With the girl sitting, weeping
On a stinkingly hot day in the city
Exclaiming that she had gone blind
Oversized suitcase abandoned near her feet
My feet
Someone pushed a cold drink into my hand
A woman’s voice comforted me
A stranger joined me on the step, asked where I was going
Told me that a long hot walk carrying a load
Had affected my sight
Sat until, miraculously, my sight returned
Then left
Pulling myself to my feet
I retrieved the offending suitcase
Slowly made my way to the Tube station
Continued my journey, moving from London to Oxford
Changing university, leaving friends and home city
Aiming for a Doctorate, I should have noted the omen
For I found loneliness and failure

Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

This poem first appeared in September 2016 on Silver Birch Press.  It describes the actions of a unique person in London — a kind stranger. I’m a Londoner and I love my home city, but it can be a brutal place. I was moving a suitcase full of books from London to Oxford, where I hoped to earn a Doctorate in the “Angular momentum of the Earth.”

I didn’t.

Evening in Norwegian mountains

White cold sun slides down
The arc of brief afternoon
Dips behind a shattered peak
And  snow and air turn vivid blue
Colouring all in dimness
Silence becomes more so
It is the time for trolls

My sons laughter fills the sledding slope
As I cajole them to the cabin
A long walk away
Across deep snow
During the time for trolls

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pt Off. John Gillespie Magee, Jr, RCAF, 1941

 

John Magee was a Canadian Spitfire pilot in England in World War 2. He died in 1941. This poem is just wonderful and has been quoted again and again —I remember Ronald Reagan quoting it after the Challenger crash.

I wish I could write like this.

Gecko

Each siesta, my gecko came
Skittering across the mottled ceiling
Dancing over paint flakes
Lengthening his neck to peer down
At me

He would not leave his hiding hole
Until I laid me down to rest
In the Sicilian noonday heat
Then two sparkling gleaming eyes
Held vigil

Halfway between stick and snake
Sandy spiky little friend
Padded feet gripping to defy gravity
My curious Gecko watched over me
Literally

Once his powers failed him
And he plopped down onto my chest
I woke to see him face to face
And  find in those eyes
Understanding

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

gecko

After the Dance

We wade though the bright grass
Tired, footsore, happy
Hearing a bird calling by the reeds
Notes curling amongst themselves,
Spinning through the warm air
Distantly, traffic busies itself,
Here, tranquility reigns,
After a full night dancing,
We walk.

Copyright © 2016  Kim Whysall-Hammond

(written after a Ball at Wolfson College, Oxford, hence the photo)

 

Re-blogged from 2016

Only Exmoor

Only Exmoor stretches out to embrace the whole sky in its immensity
Reflects its moods and colours, its nurture and destruction
Only the moor is as fickle as the sky

Today the moor is swallowed as clouds subsume the uplands
Yesterday it shed water like the clouds themselves
Tomorrow it will shimmer with heat, dry and unforgiving

Trees hide in hollows, afraid to stand in the open
Sheep bones litter the spring hillsides
Peaty silty bogs nestle with gorse , bracken and heather

Only Exmoor reaches out to bleed the very rain from the sky
To lie seeming gentle with its folds and billows, green fields abutting the heather
Then to gladly accept the gifts of deadly snow, killing floods, baking heat

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This poem first appeared in Peacock Journal earlier this year.