Tag Archives: England

Winter at the hill fort

Bright winter pools lean against the
steep grassy ramparts
and trees are doubled by reflection.
Our path is not so much muddy
as at swimming depth
so we clamber up to where
large cloven hoofprints
embroider the rim.
A fat old oak
moss green, porcine, thick with time
blocks our way,
it’s toes scrabbling
pushing into slushy mud.

 

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

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Sunset at Round Hill

Dusk wallows in the hill folds
waiting to be let loose,
shadows settle between trees
as birds settle on the branches.

Westwards, the sky is marmalade.
Laced with lemon rays,
horizon hugging clouds obscure
the main event.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

Somerset Tsunami

The surprise flood leaps high up the church wall
infusing its stones with estuarine silts.
Priests exalt the Lord, gladdened by long awaited  Armageddon
prepared to guide their flocks to heaven
or to hell.
The press of water and terror makes it difficult to breathe
the fields are indigo like the winter sea
they are the winter sea now.
Sheep murmur in the waters.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

A large portion of Somerset, in the West Country, is very low-lying. It is called the Somerset Levels, and still floods today at time of very high rainfall, despite drainage canals.

On a sunny 30th January 1607, there was a sudden, very high, flood. The written descriptions  from the time describe the sea receding before the wave arrived and that the wave rushed in faster than people could run. A crowd of people stood and watched the high wave coming towards them until it was too late to run. It is now understood that the ‘Flood’ was a tsunami.

 

Deceiving hills

These hills deceive.
Apparent summits slide off away
as the slope goes farther up again.
Their hollows and ridges
cosset then expose.
Any level walking is above the spring line
so the ignorant go thirsty.
In their interior,
direction is lost with the clouds.
The oldest ways stay close
to the stiff steep slopes down to water
and someone to tell you the way.

Copyright © 2017 Kim Whysall-Hammond

 

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!

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.