WORLD POETRY DAY

Today is World Poetry Day; while many established poets will be honoured and celebrating, I thought there would be no harm in joining in, but I make no claim to have skill as a poet.

A SWALLOW IN MY HAND

Today I had a swallow in my hand,

its silky sheen of blue and black

within my grasp. Just one from out the band

of fledgling chicks, gape-fed, still hanging back

to crouch beside their nest across the beam.

A day went past before they launched and flew

save one small bird, dropped from their team,

to press against the window pane, not through

to sky, but tangled in the spider’s den.

I heard the noise and took it to the light

a while it sat upon my hand and then

was gone, at first uncertain shaky flight,

but next in wheeling arcs it soared away

its sweeping flight my huge reward today.

 

DARK BRENDON NIGHT 

Dark Brendon night, see lights shine out from sheds

where panting ewes and standing cows bide time

and through the night, tired souls get up from beds

and go again to watch their stock. Hours chime,

they wish themselves asleep some more and yet

seek out first signs of life to come; they wait

to ease the way with skill or call the vet

if trouble shows and problem signs dictate,

till bleating lambs and rasping licks relieve

concern and nursing dams bring young to suck.

The dawning sky creeps in the day to weave

as skipping legs and wagging tails will buck

about their pen.   The school bus comes uphill

to take the kids to class against their will.

 

I live on Brendon Hill, the eastern edge of Exmoor, UK.

 

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SILENCE

Erling Kagge is a Norwegian Philosopher, Lawyer and Explorer who has trekked to the North and South Poles, also climbing Everest to complete the ‘Three Poles’ challenge. His book Silence is being read on BBC4 at 09.45 in the mornings this week. The book expounds the concept that Silence is fundamental to our existence.

In the book he is quoted as saying getting to the South Pole is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other until you get there.

That seems to me to be akin to writing a novel – the technique of putting one word in front of another until you get ‘there’.

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POEMS

There has been much said of late of a renewed interest in new published poetry. I live in West Somerset on Brendon Hill, the East flank of Exmoor. This is farming country, in the main beef and sheep lands.  In the next few, late winter early spring, months there will be round the clock activity in calving and lambing sheds.

After a few nights in the sheds years back I wrote a piece, which after many edits emerged in Sonnet form as Dark Brendon Night.

 

DARK BRENDON NIGHT

 

Dark Brendon night, see lights shine out from sheds

where panting ewes and standing cows bide time

and through the night, tired souls get up from beds

and go again to watch their stock. Hours chime,

they wish themselves asleep some more and yet

seek out first signs of life to come; they wait

to ease the way with skill or call the vet

if trouble shows and problem signs dictate,

till bleating lambs and rasping licks relieve

concern and nursing dams bring young to suck.

The dawning sky creeps in the day to weave

as skipping legs and wagging tails will buck

about their pen.   The school bus comes uphill

to take the kids to class against their will.

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A SOMERSET TIPPING PUTT

The GTX of its day, this farm cart, a one horse Somerset Tipping Putt, worked on a single farm, Horsey Farm, Bridgwater for some seventy-five years. It was sold in the Farm Sale in the early 1990s and has rested in an Exmoor barn for over two decades.

The day I bought it I was told by its farmer owner Percy Adams, then in his nineties, that as a seventeen year old he had walked his horse from his farm to the village of Thurloxton to take delivery of the Putt from its maker, the wheelwright Jim Porter. As his horse settled into the shafts St Giles Church bells rang out to celebrate the Armistice, Monday the eleventh of November in 1918.

This week the Putt has returned to Thurloxton, the place where it was built, to be held in Village Ownership and to be part of the village’s Armistice Centenary Exhibition in November.

The Putt shows some scars from its years of farm work, but the inherent strength of its design and its fitness for purpose, still in its original, now somewhat faded, paintwork, is witness to the skill of yesterday’s craftsmen – Jim Porter, the wheelwright and Walter Winslade, the blacksmith who made all the ironwork fittings.

 

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TREE DOWN

We have seen all weathers since the Autumn Equinox last weekend, First the storm brought down a Rowan Tree, 20180926_082842not the biggest, but one we planted some twenty-one years ago as a six-foot sapling. We hope to reset the root and a foot or so of its trunk so that we have a coppiced tree and there are already two four foot growths from the last two summers looking set to prosper. Slices of the trunk will make good wooden painting boards.

 

 

Last December we had to coppice a sweet chestnut tree growing in our woodland, too tall under the power lines. Ten months on its summer growth is spectacular. It will have to be a regular coppice!

20180926_08404620171205_121724

The woodland, planted in 2009, is making good progress. Mowing the paths is ever more difficult, further trimming of side shoots will be on the agenda this winter.20180815_115334Then during the week we have had cold nights and hot cloudless days, a temperature range of some twenty degrees C, from 1C to 21C on still days. During the week the nights have lengthened by about half an hour as a full moon from a cloudless sky has ‘lit’ the scene.

The swallows have gone on their journey South and in the early morning we heard the first ‘roar’ of a rutting red deer stag down the valley. Every day we have been treated to large squadrons of  geese overflying us. Their base is at Wimblball Lake, but where they go, back and forth, we don’t know, is it to graze local fields or do they go down to the coastal plain either the North Somerset shore or the South Welsh shore?

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THE DEVON AUTHORS GROUP

Despite my Somerset postcode I stole into the monthly meeting of The Devon Authors Group this morning in Tiverton to find a warm welcome and an exciting group of writers working many genres. And the ‘Back Room’ of The Independent Coffee Shop is a comfortable place to meet, not to mention their mouth watering refreshments.

I already feel a new focus on my novel in progress: The Register Of Joe’s Trees. It is sharpening pencils time.  I’m looking forward to future meetings.

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NEW FOREST PLAYERS

NFP July 2018Good to see my play PLACE OF REFUGE on stage for New Forest Players 90th Anniversary Winners’ Week, one of six performed, a third evening performance during a very hot week which limited audience numbers.

A very strong performance was put in by two young actors earlier in the day in LA Green’s CLOTHES MAKETH THE MAN, a thought provoking two hander of two siblings, sisters, facing up to one’s gender transitioning.

“Once I had two sisters, now I have a sister and a brother.”

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