Tag Archives: England

Fireworks over England (Penny for the Guy)

Flying across England on Fawkes night,
peering down onto fiery blooms
sending light into the night,
bright chrysanthemums burnt to celebrate failed terrorism.
Fireworks and neighbourhood bonfires spark and glow each November
in long and splendid tradition, now organised and commercial.

But where is my Guy Fawkes?
Built each childhood year from old clothes stuffed with straw,
wheeled around the street, “Penny for the Guy please?”,
burnt on the family bonfire amid fireworks bought with the proceeds of my begging.
Tradition lost in a land that wants to go back on itself once more.

We also used to play in the Trafalgar Square fountains,
splashing in icy midwinter,
kissing Policemen at the stroke of midnight,
fraternity with authority on the turn of the year.
Now crowds buy tickets to watch fireworks over the Thames, passively.
We no longer make our own festivals, they are arranged for us.

We need to take back the small anarchies,
set off Fireworks in our own gardens in November,
burn the Guy as effigy of all we are told to be frightened of,
embrace the neighbours, we are all in this together.
Whatever colour or creed.

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

This weekend, the British celebrate Bonfire Night  with fireworks and large bonfires.  The tradition of burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire has all but disappeared.  We also don’t tend to set off our own fireworks in our gardens anymore, but go to large neighbourhood displays.

Of course, the classic poem, that we all learnt when very young, is:

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

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Slow Dance

My land was carved in a slow dance
Glacier in, glacier out
Wind and rain overlies the slow dance
Smoothing smoothing
The rhythm of climate is our slow dance
Beat heats up, beat cools down
Industry changed the tempo of Earths slow dance
Faster faster, hotter hotter
We all move to the rhythm of this slow dance
Species come and species go
The way it has always been………..

 

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

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.

twenty twenty

Crowded into the bowl, excitement mounting
Shouting as the brightly coloured teams come on
Every ball is greeted by an intaken breath
Every shot is acclaimed by cheers
The bowler waits restlessly
As the batsman gardens at the wicket
Fielders circle to the boundary edge
Keen to take the catch
Wicket keeper nonchalantly sledges
A crack and the ball lofts high
Leather on willow performing the longed for magic
The Great Game is on

 

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Chalklands

Chalklands

Chalk undulates across Southern England
Hills, gentle yet steep
Can be overtopped by clay peppered with flints
So treasured by the old folk

As old as the hills is true here
The chalk is a two hundred million year ocean
Stiffened and folded over time
By our living planet

Several human species
Have hunted  in these valleys
Have dug into and sculpted these hills
Have left their ghosts for us to trace

The ancient monuments we treasure
Hill forts, stone circles, long barrows
Are but modern remnants
Compared to the first folk

My hills have deep roots

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

M1 in winter

M1 in winter  (Watford Gap 1 mile)

 Mist enwrapped trees extinguish the low orange glow of the Sun
Taillights warm the twilight ahead
Headlights shine on traffic cones and road workers  jackets
Jagged shadows in a field reveal a ruined brick barn
Aerofoils loom above, rotating for electricity
We return from lunch with a son at University
Time, long and relaxed, spent talking junk
Films, comics, games, YouTube
Reconnecting the family

Each capsule of metal alongside, before and behind
Contains a story
Adulterous trysts? Mismanaged meeting? Half Term visit to the Zoo?
All these journeys and ours are twenty first century bubbles
Made manifest in the manic twentieth
Our posterity is as yet uncertain
The fields and their shadows will outlive us all
Animals will graze, trees loom in the dark
And Suns set, wetly

Copyright © 2017  Kim Whysall-Hammond

Crying the moor

Crying the moor

Sedge and moss, peat and grass
Cover  the uplands
Sheep run from us, cattle simply watch
Clouds scud past, rain threatens
Stone track turns to muddy path
As we descend to the combe
Past the ruins, past the ponies
Towards the burble of falling water
The fluidity that carved the hill folds
The agent that governs this landscape
Made manifest in Hollocombe Water

Copyright © 2016 Kim Whysall-Hammond

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