February, when the end of Winter
Greets the start of the start of Spring –
And what better time for ravens to be mating,
For early-birds to be doing their thing ?
Valentine ravens, tender and dear –
Mating-for-life for year after year.
Coming out of the edges of the wilderness,
From the Northern moors to the middle-class downs –
Now nobody frowns on their loving anymore,
So they do it in the open and they do it in the towns.
Valentine ravens, cawing their love –
A far better symbol than a teddy-bear or dove.
A glass of native wine to drink.
Opened my eyes and made me think
I saw the future and the past.
The distance between them truly vast
That dark void – the linking chain
Echoed briefly with my name
I saw things I ought not see
But which were clearly naked me
It cleared my sight, I saw her plain
The eternal ‘she’ who has no name
I looked into those deep green eyes
There, to my great surprise, –
Doig. Ealing. 2018
A meal in that nice vegetarian restaurant
in Hampstead High Street – our first meal out.
We had mixed bean stew.
He said he’d been longing for this and hoped it would be
the first of many, contemplating
the bean on his fork.
Longing for what? Many more mixed bean stews?
Well, certainly I liked that stew – after all
I ordered it.
But many more? Could he have meant
the start of a relationship? Surely not!
And did I want it?
It would be safer to stick with the idea
of many mixed bean stews.
Even as the words formed in my mind
I saw a bean beginning to sprout.
It grew up and up
and up and up until an infant universe
sprang off the top. Its big bang
and expanding briefly at near the speed of light
it broke through the restaurant walls. Was this
to be our relationship?
He said he thought
I was above all that
sex and love
and relationship stuff,
the messy business
I know he meant it
in a generous way,
that he saw me
as a spiritual being
on a higher plane,
but his words
cut to the quick
the distance I’d placed
and the cut thrust
There is still time,
while the world teeters
on its cosmic eccentric
as if holding a pose
to let the perihelion pass,
while the days have stopped shortening
but are hardly any longer;
there is still time
to set a course for the year.
To point a pencil of light into the fog,
to sketch out a map,
ink in some outlines.
To grow in stature
while losing some weight.
To get a little more sleep
to spend more time awake.
To laugh more often
but tell fewer jokes,
to start conversations
but write fewer posts.
To read one more great novel
but dispense with old fictions,
to get a poem going every day
and get one finished on occasion.
To listen to music
to enjoy the silence.
To appreciate more art
but be less artful.
To stop watching the news
but keep up with events.
To repay debts
and find things to invest in.
To reduce the footprint
while stepping further out.
To be happy with less
while searching for more.
To stop killing time
while living the moment.
To never be lonely
even when quite alone.
To dispense with faith
and rekindle belief.
For the world is not flat
here be no dragons,
you will find the coastline humdrum
in fifty weeks’ time.
Think of the sunshine
your feet warm upon deck,
those are the moments
that make the journey worthwhile.
The stories we tell ourselves
are the narratives we use
to keep us together
while we find our way home.
©Nick Barth 2018
Her daddy was a wealthy man acquisitions,then some sackings
I came from a lower caste with social graces lacking
Maria was a lovely girl, good manners, middle class
Not a lot in common with the youth who cut the grass
And yet she smoked my woodbines, as we sat in the tool shed
Mam and Dad were often absent, with the busy life they led
I never called her by her name, usually just “Miss”
But one evening in a thunder storm I stole a naughty kiss
During lightning and torrential rain, she was a frightened lass
Never even slapped my face, said “Just stick to cutting grass”
So quickly I was disabused of my silly notions
People with her background have a grip on their emotions
The tempest was the trigger, my behaviour was quite crass
But then she had clung to me, like bad luck to a tinkers ass
Next year we are going to bring the gold star home
for want of sovereignty, and it is alright.
Places we lived, or travelled to freely
must live by themselves, and welcome others freely.
We want the sovereignty for ourselves at home
instead of sharing it, and this is alright.
It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,
but now it’s been decided, nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
which is alright and from what we hear
the sovereignty only caused us trouble.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.
Next year we shall be living in a country
that brought a gold star home for want of money.
The other stars will still be flying on the same
flags on foreign embassies, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it’s a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is a little sovereignty.
(with thanks to Philip Larkin)