Over the weekend, it’s been such a pleasure to see more poetry in Tunbridge Wells, and lovely that the first Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival was such a success. Thank you Sarah and Paper Swans!
A joy too to see our Poetry Trail in action, and actually catch REAL people reading them…
If you missed the trail, then here are four of the poems, and I’ll be posting more over the rest of this week…
For Chegworth’s Farm shop...
This is how I got out of the woods
These woods are strange and I think I might be lost.
There was a path behind me. Now there’s not.
I stand. I listen. Hear the ants at work.
A breeze scampers through the top branches.
Wait, don’t go. Help me– It’s gone.
I smell nothing but sun on dark, damp places.
Then the forest floor breaks open before me, just a little.
Pine needles roll to left and right.
A few oyster mushrooms push through the mulch,
shaking the soil off their wedding suit grey sleeves.
Pied-de-mouton steps up and now come chanterelles,
their apricot scent trailing a little behind.
Girolles follow at a discreet distance.
Bumbling porcini shove gently between mushrooms chestnut and white.
And here’s wide capped portobello calling on me to follow.
Polite, insistent, they roll over snatching briars so that I can pass.
Insistent, polite, they wait while I start to clamber over a vast fallen trunk,
change my mind and go around.
And when I stop, perplexed, they crowd around my feet,
kind and curious as sheep.
And when I go on, they tumble onward like a guiding stream
until at last there is no more forest.
They see me safe to the edge of the wood,
then vanish before I can thank them.
For Arte Bianca…
My Mediterranean Diet
My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness – Michelangelo
I wander Tuscan hills to find Heaven
in fields where poppies bloom
and bees contentedly pollinate
In hilltop towns populated by church spires
I fulfil dreams and make memories
evoked by red petals frolicking in sunshine
that twinkle and scintillate in my glass of Chianti
I sail the Calabrian Coast
and gaze on majestic mountains
from where church bells call me
to explore monasteries and mediaeval castles
that nestle on crags where time has little meaning
but life is nourished in noisy Piazzas
where I store up fun filled memories
to be evoked by bergamot flavoured tea
the taste of porcini mushrooms
and ambrosial sensual gelato
I explore Florence
where Renaissance masters sculpted treasures
embodied in David’s statue
carved from marble deemed damaged and worthless
he now stands gazing into the distance
a symbol of strength, beauty and virility
that evokes what it is to be human
and entices me to celebrate with King Barolo
the quintessence of full–bodied wine
And so it is in Italy I find my staircase to Heaven
For Hall’s Bookshop
Halls of Books
Between Church, Chapel and Gin shop lies heaven
where the bibliophile comes to pray
using an exercise regime of a forward bend until only the torso is visible
extending head to the right, eyes are lost in the world of books.
Library steps, directionless orphans until manoeuvred
a bag rest
a book rest
a stairway to bookshelves of discovery
readers perform pliés to access lower shelves.
Books stand to attention, spines shouting,
making connections as section headings issue instructions:
Slaughter the Sibling in Fiction
Edible and Poisonous Fungi, not eat me, drink me, but read me.
Plucked with outreached fingers they open themselves up
offering therapy for the reader
spilling all contents, their frontispiece an invitation to name names
tissue guards illustrations of detail
endpapers indicate the quality of their creation.
Go downstairs on stairways that twist and turn to posters from films
where Ian Fleming decries ‘You only live twice !’
But here you can live again and travel through books of your life
with Morocco bindings. Instead of falling down a rabbit hole
climb a wooden staircase to find Alice in Wonderland
while Arabian Nights twinkle with gold foiled blocking
along pine corridors lined with Harry Potter, Dickens and Mein Kampf.
The Cadaver of Gideon Wyck and Mesmerism in India
lull readers to browse to the music of words, Bowie, Bolan and the Sex Pistols.
Here, dear reader, your dreams are the stuff of magic, history and nightmare.
And hunger for the smell of books drives the addict to possessive desire.
Architectural glass cases, with their own locked front door,
store the bricks and mortar of Kent’s millionaire rows of local history
where the great and good are labelled valuable,
slightly decreased by the graffiti of marginalia.
This is where books come to mature,
rare or peculiar with
top notes, chipping, scuffing, browning
base notes, flaking, faded, foxing
develop, valuable descriptions for collectors as they scan virtual folios online.
And an affectionate father’s cursive script to his Charlotte, 1845, reminds
how to Gift a book – even by Edgar Allan Poe-
is merely to borrow from the chaotic library of life.
For the Fairfax Gallery:
The gallery beckons, calls me.
I dive into colours,
drawn into avenues of trees,
misty beaches, crowded streets,
lose myself in skies and seascapes,
flowers and breeze.
I am a child again,
walking in enormous woods,
shades of blue within the green,
bluebells at our feet.
Cool observant owls watch from the trees,
blackbirds scold until we leave.
By the harbour the seagulls mew
fighting for scraps, watching for boats
or picnickers with soft white bread,
a squabbling squall.
A beach stretches into the mist
out of sight.
A girl sits abandoned, forgotten, waiting
Waiting for a careless lover.
The bell rings, calling me back, the magic fled.