Friday, 5 May 2017

A quiet hammock-nap




Having had a busy morning, I opted for a nap in the hammock after lunch. Tucked between a lilac and a large mahonia bush, and overlooked by climbing roses not yet in flower, but grasping thin air for more support, I lie there, sheltered from the cruel North-Easterly and it's wicked attempts to nullify Phoebe's yellow heat, my eyes are drawn to the tattered rags of the low cloud scudding across the cyan space, and am mesmerised. A small bird alights in the naked ash tree above my head, silhouetted, and mouth full of feed, impatient for me to remove myself, so it can feed its young. Far too impatient, and trying not to expose the nest site it decides to attempt a route from another direction, flits, and is hidden.
A small procession of swallows appears from the south, wheeling and churning, picking flies out of the sky as ever they do, before disappearing as rapidly as they came.
My gaze returns once more to the clouds, where my eye is captured by a movement - a buzzard, soaring, with a slow gyration, quartering the local grasslands for a lame or injured rabbit. Such eyes they have! he is so far up that his markings are indistinguishable, though I know him as a regular visitor. As he passes out of view, I spot his mate, following a similar route, and being somewhat bigger, her markings are a little more obvious. How many more people have spotted them, I wonder? Few in number, I'm sure.
A commotion!  A lone sparrowhawk fleetingly scythes the air across the garden, mobbed by several smaller birds, attempting to distract the express predator from the naive fledglings whose only thoughts are food, regardless of safety first.

Everything settles down again. The clouds unerringly drift and scud South-Westward on the breath of the cold wind.
I close my eyes, and think how lucky am I, to have seen so much in the space of so few minutes.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A cold North-Easter in Spring



Drawing back the curtains
I am dismayed to see
the grey blanket
of sullen cloud
that has assembled
to be ushered in
under cover of darkness
ahead of the ponderous
North-East breeze,
barely moving, but
sucking all the joy out of the
head-hung wisteria
making her hold her perfume
for yet another day.
Donning my togs
my energy I squander,
wander to the wood-shed
returning with logs and kindling
and rain-spots on my glasses
and once more
re-light the Rayburn.

Friday, 3 March 2017

A poem I wrote in 2014

Noise

His ears were filled with ambient noise
not his, but incidental
to the sounds of daily hand-to-mouth, of constant give and take
it seemed to him quite ceaseless, undiminished, incremental
and he longed for total silence, just to give his mind a break.
From the moment that his morning eyes
took in the world around him
his head would start to fill with sound, incongruous to his thought
like the rattle of a Gatling at commencement of a battle
and he couldn't shut the noise out, no matter how he fought.
He swore beneath his silent breath
not wishing an addition
to the chatter, natter, patter, clatter echoing in his brain
it weren't as if the sound was kind, a steady repetition
such as falling water, sighing wind, or even driven rain.
Oh no - these were man-made, every one
demanding that he listen
requiring that he be a part of other peoples lives
when what he really wanted was the chance to do some thinking
and not have his thoughts dismembered by others' noisy knives.
Thus it was, he found himself
in a glen between two rising walls
a glaciated, hanging valley high in Scotlands hills
where noise was Nature's own dominion, nothing more than whirring pinion,
shushing grasses, bubbling burn and quietly running rills.
He came across a Thinking Stone
and there he sat in reverie silent
taking in all manner that presented to his eyes
and hearing not another sound that man had made or uttered
he delighted in the silence
and deemed himself quite wise.



© Rob King 2014

Friday, 11 November 2016

Cannon-fodder




There is nothing left to feel
the mud and blood have sealed my eyes
there is nothing left to heal
even pain my mind defies
the whistling bombs and rattling guns
no longer frighten me to death
for Death is standing over me
arms folded, waiting my last breath.
To think that all I ever dreamed 
a life of love, and love of life
destroyed by powerful men who schemed
and used the likes of me in strife
They will never face such thoughts
as, smashed and shattered, I face now
The future will my bones expose
exhumed by shiny-breasted plough
and once again the shining sun
will warm my relics in the tilth 
and birds replace the booming gun
forgetting all this bloody filth.

© Rob King 11th November 2016

Friday, 25 March 2016

Unsettled

Sunset over Scarning Village




I've been feeling a bit troubled recently with all the political crap that I'm coming across. This puts my feelings into words.


Unsettled



The sun is bright, but has no warmth
the days are growing longer
Winter's truly done and gone
but I'm not growing stronger
I need to set the blood a-coursing
throughout my limbs so weary
but there's too much crap inside my head
and I sit here feeling teary



Is it me or is it them?
that cause me so much trouble
that make me feel that all is bad -
reduce my heart to rubble
It seems to be a daily fight
to find a happy thought
when the world around me isn't just,
and doing what it ought



I read the words and hear them said
and try to understand them
and assay to divine the truth
but find I can't command them
there's lie on lie, and lie returned
all words of propaganda
and liars thrive within the hive
paid out with a backhander



So if I say "the truth to tell"
I mean it as I find it
and cannot offer guarantees
to the truth that lies behind it
for I can only speak out loud
of truth as it's presented
but walls are built with bricks of lies
and with more lies cemented





© Rob King

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Ode to the Rayburn


Ode to the Rayburn

Throughout the Summer you solid squat
an iron mass, doors numbering four
your heavy eyelids held tight closed
chrome eyelashed like some blinged-up whore.
Your brooding blackness fills the corner
lends it darkness, saps the light,
no comfort will I find within you
whether it be day or night
for should I chance to get too close
your skin will suck the heat from me
the needle on your gauge at zero
you slumber, and I let you be.
But come the Autumn you awaken
I brush you down and clean you out
surround you with fresh feed and fuel
make you feel less cool without
The ritual begins in earnest
paper first, then willow chips
and thicker sticks, all laid in lattice
tunnels where the hot flame licks.
Now logs to crush the embers down
and slowly make an ashen bed, 
so Ash goes in and shrinks to ash
while giving up its heat instead.
Quietly you start to sizzle
water in your boiler warms
spitting willow in the firebox
sparks contained will do no harm.
The needle on the gauge is lifting,
oven warming, hotplate too
I lift one eyelid, you respond
awakening with work to do.
Kettle filled I gently place it, 
but water on its underneath
spits a violent reaction
instant steam demands relief
I sit back and read awhile 
aware that you are gaining power
the kettle gently starts to sing
from nought to a hundred,
Half an hour!
Tonight, above your shielded hotplate
ironing will be hung to air
a silent job to last the night time
but you will neither know nor care.
So as the winter’s wicked tendrils
creep through gaps ‘tween door and floor
You become the silent heart
of welcome in our home once more.

© Rob King

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Olivia Juliette




You cleave unto my wool-clad chest
as a starfish to a rock
with tiny perfect fingers clenched
and bootied feet a-splay
I watch you as you dream in sleep
of things you know-not-what
and caress your gossamer covered head
and hold you, while I may.

I kiss your head, and smell your skin
and taste the peace within you
Your tiny lungs take in a breath
and gently let it go
I watch your rib-cage rise and fall
so slight, it's barely moving
my giant hands hold you in place
but I don't think you know.

I wonder if there'll be a time
from deep within your memory
that you will get a feeling that
I kept you safe and warm
while you just lay there sleeping
and listening to my heartbeat
unworried and cocooned in love
protected from all harm.

For you, I wish a peaceful life
a life of constant loving
that you might give, and yet receive
all pleasure, without end
For holding you so close to me
I feel a bond between us
unknowingly, you give me love
my darling little friend.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

In Memory of......


This photo by my friend and fellow photographer, Victoria Burns , inspired me to write a poem about the strange sight of a bouquet of roses on the frozen surface of a canal, somewhere in Scotland.

In Memory of......



A dozen yellow roses
neatly wrapped and cellophaned
greenery included
beautifully arranged
lying on the frozen surface
out of reach of probing hand 
carefully slid across the ice
by someone on dry land
They've been there quite a time now so that 
petals to the ice have stuck
and efforts at recovery
would need much more than luck
The clinging ice will not give up
despite the cold bright sun above
this symbol of remembrance
these glaze-wrapped flowers of love
The passer-by, her progress now
arrested by th'incongruous sight
of roses on an ice sheet
that were slid there in the night
She wonders what the reason could be
roses out of season would be
left here in this public place
to wither in the light.
Yellow rose for friendship
traditionally the florists say
so were they left in memory
when friendship went astray?
or is the feeling deeper still
did icy water friendship kill
and roses mark the horror
of a love tryst in decay?
The sweet juxtaposition 
of the bouquet over water
that as yet cannot engulf it
brings a feeling to her mind
of a moment held in timeless space
before the final resting place
where memories and souls commune
and life and death are kind.

©Rob King 2015


Many thanks to Victoria Burns for allowing me to use her photo.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Paradise


Where the rolling turquoise ocean
meets the sun-hot silver strand
where the breakers level out and touch the sky
there's a place that no-one's named yet
because no-one's ever been there
and gazed upon the scene and wondered why

If we never came to stand here
just to witness all there is
and to wonder at the sight before our eyes
is there just a tiny chance that we
could possibly imagine
it existed without us - are we that wise?

I'd like to think that somewhere
there's an island beach untrammelled
by the cankerous and offensive hand of man
but if you ever hear of it,
I beg you please just leave it
to exist without us, leave it if you can.

©Rob King

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hedgerow Oak

It was after seeing the following beautiful picture, taken by my friend Dawn Alford, that we were in conversation about the tree, and its significance, and she told me that sadly, the tree was no more. It has taken a little while, but I knew it had a story to tell .......

Photo - ©Dawn Alford



Just a humble hedgerow oak
she was never destined for greatness
- born too late
to be seen
by the Royal Navy surveyor
who, in another time
would have stripped her limbs
for the knees and ribs
of the man-of-war
and sawn her body
through-and-through
for planking and decking
- too young  to be noticed
by the local builder
who had laid low her parents
and aunts and uncles
for the cruck and hammer beams
of the manor house
where, grey with age
and bearing the mark
of adze, axe, and shave
they still reside
preserved in time
as an historic lesson
in building technique.
No - this young lady
had another part to play.
Throughout her life
she has stood as a landmark
- an addition to the sky-line
and a silent witness
to the comings and goings
of all about her
from the lowliest insect
foraging over the lichens on her branches
to the snuffle and jingle
of the ploughman's horse
with head in nose-bag
while the weary carter
eats his bait
in the shelter of the hedge
with his back against the tree
and out of the cutting wind
midway around the headlands.
She has observed the bitter folly of war
- even taken, unmoved, a lead ball
in her thick hide
though now buried deep
within her structure
the wound long-since healed
and forgotten.
She has heard the ringing laughter
of children
as they collected
acorns to feed dad's pigs
or helped with stooking
the itchy rustling sheaves
in the stubbled shortening days
of harvest.
She has heard the parish bells call to worship
more times
than she can bear to remember.
She has stood firm against wicked winter storms
sighing at the feeble attempts
to tear her limb from limb.
She has breathed the foul air
and made it fresh
that all may breathe again.
She has in all that time
never ventured an opinion
nor hurt nor betrayed
a living soul.
But yet,
as is the way with all living things
her time has come.

While in her very prime
disease struck
and leached the very life
out of her,
and slowly
while her bark decayed
and the boring beetles fed
and her fingers fell
never to be replaced
she became a skeleton
- the bare bones
of her former glory,
her sun-bleached naked arms
reaching up as if in supplication
against a timely backdrop
of the setting sun
only
to fall
one Sunday morning
to the raucous rasp
of the farmer's saw.
With a final creaking groan
she stumbled and succumbed
her limbs shattering
and spiking the sod
and her back broken
revealing
the scourge
that was within her.
No more a familiar landmark
but no more a liability
to passing traffic.

Her final act of kindness
was to warm the home
of the man
who laid her to rest
across the furrow.
-----------------
Little more than five paces
from the ring-marked solid table
that remains
a testament to her
one hundred and ninety four summers
one of her children
has his head above the hedge
spared by the slashing tractor
for being too close
to the road sign.
Young and slender
and of tender years
He peers out over the landscape
and breathes in
the spring air.

©Rob King