Friday Poem: Puck’s Song

See you the ferny ride that steals
Into the oak-woods far?
Oh that was whence they hewed the keels
That rolled to Trafalgar.

And mark you where the ivy clings
To Bayharn’s mouldering walls?
Oh there we cast the stout railings
That stand around St. Paul’s.

See you the dimpled track that runs
All hollow through the wheat?
Oh that was where they hauled the guns
That smote King Philip’s fleet.

(Out of the Weald, the secret Weald,
Men sent in ancient years,
The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field,
The arrows at Poitiers!)

See you our little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook?
She has ground her corn and paid her tax
Ever since Domesday Book.

See you our stilly woods of oak,
And the dread ditch beside?
Oh that was where the Saxons broke
On the day that Harold died.

See you the windy levels spread
About the gates of Rye?
Oh that was where the Northmen fled,
When Alfred’s ships came by.

See you our pastures wide and lone,
Where the red oxen browse?
Oh there was a City thronged and known,
Ere London boasted a house.

And see you, after rain, the trace
Of mound and ditch and wall?
Oh that was a Legion’s camping-place,
When Caesar sailed from Gaul.

And see you marks that show and fade,
Like shadows on the Downs?
Oh they are the lines the Flint Men made,
To guard their wondrous towns.

Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn-
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born.

She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
Where you and I will fare.

By Rudyard Kipling

Standing on Dunkery

Any hill will do
They all are sacred, but
Dunkery at twilight
As mist seeps up from
Purple heather
Horizons broaden out
And valleys settle into shadow

Sheep bleat, asking for their land back
But we walk the broad path
To a scattered mound of stone
Skirting nervous wild ponies
As the sun paints them golden

Ponies never ask, it is always theirs
As it belonged to the mound builders
Five thousand years ago
As it belongs
And doesn’t belong
To us all
But especially tonight
To me and mine

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Written in response to this weeks EarthWeal challenge “Sacred Landscapes“. Exmoor is very special and it’s highest point, Dunkery Beacon, even more so.

Friends

Friend who is more than family
who is vital to you, one you cannot lose
Friend who is more like family
meaning you hardly speak to each other
Friend who is also your lover/husband/wife
Friend who is no longer a friend because
she decided to be someone else’s friend
Facebook friend who is not really a friend
Friend you have lost somewhere on the way
Friend you forgot

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Friday Poem: The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

By Billy Collins

Lights : A Speculative poem

Moonlight feathers treetops
reveals hill slopes, shadows gullies
sketches out my beautiful Exmoor.
Lone headlights angle skywards on the west horizon
twisting along the high road.
I watch at the window on this cold night
as the car winds along towards us
praying
(to however may
or may not be listening)
that traitor Moon
will not glint on my rifle barrel.

Gripping the gun with amateurs nerves,
I reach for Eva’s hand
and we hold our breath while
a child cries fitfully in the house.
We all have broken sleep in these remaining days.
We eke out, stand watch, wait.
For what? For a quiet death perhaps.
But in the day we want very much to live
so we tend straggling sheep, shoot rabbit,
go on.

Fear clutches my gut as the car turns past empty houses
and down along our valley road,
and a form of relief washes us as it continues on
following the river to richer pickings in the southern towns.
I move my baby  to feed at my other breast
and mourn the futures stolen from her,
the violence awaiting.

Copyright © 2019 Kim Whysall-Hammond

‘Lights’ was first published in The Future Fire: http://press.futurefire.net/2019/05/new-issue-201949.html

 

Friday Poem: Crow Blacker Than Ever              

When God, disgusted with man,
Turned towards heaven,
And man, disgusted with God,
Turned towards Eve,
Things looked like falling apart.

But Crow Crow
Crow nailed them together,
Nailing heaven and earth together-

So man cried, but with God’s voice.
And God bled, but with man’s blood.

Then heaven and earth creaked at the joint
Which became gangrenous and stank-
A horror beyond redemption.

The agony did not diminish.

Man could not be man nor God God.

The agony

Grew.

Crow

Grinned

Crying: “This is my Creation,” Flying the black flag of himself.

 

By Ted Hughes

Telescope

Lurking in a distant corner
That darkly reflective black tube
Of outsize length
Adorned with intricate knobs
And several precise gauges
Alien amongst our bright furnishings

Held tight by many adjustable clamps
It perches on a tall chromed tripod
Close to the door, angled , straining to escape
To collect starlight in its hidden mirrors once again
But now capped and dusty
Ornamental more than used

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

I really need to use my Telescope more often!

 

Poetry Manifesto: As the Whale sings so do I

I send you my poetry
as the Sperm Whale sends her song

Out into the wide ocean
to listen for echoes, to hope for response

Her staccato clicks can be hunting for sustenance
but they also encode messages and love songs

I write as she sings, with the flow
poems gather, are born, cleaned and sung

Poems may sustain you or tell you a truth

 

Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Posted in response to a challenge by Rebecca Cunningham at fakeflamenco.com

https://fakeflamenco.com/2020/07/07/july-poetry-challenge-reto-poetico-de-julio/