Stillness, silence, listening
Bells in valleys, warm sun.
Light on mountain peaks, on snow.
The evening light pale crimson
heather, rock, water,
large trout swimming in pools.
Scent of pines after rain.
Listening to silence
Howgills, their summits,
peace, a quietness not heard elsewhere.
Silence and peace
listening to that small voice
God, man, earth,
past, present, future.
Listen to peace, to peace, to peace.
Good counsel on this snowy – and in some other ways momentous – morning.
Alone I float upon a tideless ocean
There is no wind, no sound, nor any motion
Blissful in Summer haze I laze without emotion
Alone upon a tideless ocean
Sedated, satisfied, replete a Sleeping Beauty
Who has no cares, no conscience, and no moral duty
There is no winter here, no heat nor cold
No seasons change so none like me grow old
All is a perpetual Youth in a sunlit noon of gold
No time will pass and so no years will roll
Here I can smell the scented shores around
See hills where vaporous water falls without a sound
Furtive it glides among the leafy trees
Idling through sunny glades to soak the thirsty ground
Where Summer flowers fruit without disease
Where no lilies fester and the rose no petals leave
And in the gossamer grass the poppy nods at ease
It’s here I’ll dream within a hidden hollow
At peace and healed of every searing sorrow
The past does not exist. I fear no morrow
Hope I know not, so no despair can follow.
Peace? No, this is Hell I dream
My passions still burn fiercely my desire screams
Give me the storms, the battles, life’s extremes
Labour, suffering, pain. Yes let me weep
But save me O thou Unfathomable God
From a life of fantasy, of sleep.
last month in winter’s dog days
when light was a miracle we blessed
buried somewhere deep in our hearts
we knew that skies would brighten
and rain no more pour down
that spring would come full blast
with clear skies and the power to shock
the sun will warm us with force
piercing the cold wet of the earth
stirring the unseen seeds of hope
into life with its full blown glory
dazzling our minds with the beauty
only nature can bring to fruition
we knew … / that spring would come full blast
Now there’s a cheering thought on a chilly November night with talk of snow in the air!
Angela Locke’s poem After the Flood was Highly Commended in the 2016 Mirehouse Poetry Competition and can be seen along with some of the other entries here – which will also lead you inexorably onwards into the glorious depths of Mirehouse’s own website. Happy reading. Happy travels.
Suck down the nectar Let the sweetness register, hold it to your lips Like a dying man in the desert, Press a petal against your skin, Marvel at the silk soft summer strength of it. The pollen will stain your hands and make you sneeze, But that is what it does – it has a job to do. Remove the black shrivelled scorched pod firmly. It is full of tiny seeds – like eggs waiting to be born, Remove them, roughly. They are the threat. They must replace the snaking stem Clinging to the sun-blushed wall and the swaying pastel colours of the flowers. They are next year’s news.
The sharing of resources is part of our regular conversation at Mungrisdale Writers. Some of us spoke recently of the huge inspirational value we find in YouTube videos. Poets of every kind can be heard reciting or discussing their work – and our own Angela Locke is among these. So, type ‘Carol Ann Duffy’ or ‘Donald Hall’ or Ted Hughes, or ‘Angela Locke’ into YouTube’s search box and you’ll wile away a couple of happy hours before you know it. And then you could have a coffee and p-p-pick-up-a-pen …
The falls that carry the rains from the fell To the lake in the valley below Can be heard crashing down in the distance Beneath the palest of pale rainbows. For centuries the waters have worn away At the slate-smooth side of the fell And now from a polished rock flute they have formed Spout like a flared white peacock’s tail. It is not even yet November And bright berries the holly adorn, But without the sound of crashing falls There’d be nothing to welcome the morn. The songbirds now are silent From them no dawn chorus rings For temperatures falling with incessant rain Have dampened their spirits to sing. Whilst on Loweswater’s swollen feeder streams Leafy flotillas go sailing by, Leaves of oak and ash and chestnut Cascading from on high. And alongside the falls side by side are stood Golden fans of bracken And bright green ferns of the wood. The bright evergreen of ferns unchanging Whilst brackens change from gold to brown And will finally submit to winter Who’s sharp frosts will lay them down. Winged seeds of the sycamore too spiral down From branches that sway in the breeze, And red paint declares the sentence of death On diseased and unsafe trees. Plastic mesh across footpaths And signs to say, ‘This way is closed’ For torrential rains and gale force winds On the woods have taken their toll. Some of the older and taller trees Have been toppled by the gales And after seasoning and sawing Will become gates and fencing rails. Nothing here is left to waste, All will be gathered in, Brambles for jam, elderberries for wine, Sloes to colour and flavour gin. For after all, when gifts are free, To waste would be a sin.
When I drove west, gladly
listening, and writing,
the sun chased a cloud
across the face of
gargantuan Blencathra –
quietly present and glorious
And it dawned on me that
that life-giving source
and chase would do precisely
the same in a little
community gathered around
equally gargantuan –
quietly present and glorious
The iron clouds shake out their dust of stars, a galaxy to feather-fall and form in powder-patterns on the earth.
Slowly they pile in sleep-soft pillows on the stones, rounding the rocks, smoothing the scars. Lazily they lie on ledges and along the limbs of trees; in the settling silence as colour is covered.
The wind sweeps over the whiteness, snaking the surface in ripples and ribbons. Shifting the spaces to reshape the ridges. Sifting and circling the spindrift – high… to cover the sky.
The silver night crystals the cloaks of the moon-glazed mountains; shines in the glass-cold hollow of a frozen footprint, in the stillness in the timeless indigo under the gazeless glitter of the stars.
Almost closing time, the fag-end of a winter’s day. ‘The Goddess has left, but her Sanctuary’s still here!’ The young curator smiles. There’s an imprint on his chin, discus-shaped, as though at birth a god had placed a thumb to mark him. Copper pots, stone heads, a great clay urn, stone baths for ritual washing. Naked virgins parade unbidden in my head. We got lost getting here, had a row. I told him I was leaving. Now, sulking in the village square, he reads his maps. The curator’s black 4×4 goes past. He waves. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t lock you in!’ I’m alone. Fallen olives lie on stony ground; Sparrows rustle among dead leaves. How lonely to be abandoned by your worshippers; A beautiful goddess one minute, then cast aside for the next best thing. Among these fallen columns, olive trees in a ruined sanctuary, there are shadows, sky bruised after a storm, always the sea, undimmed.
Perhaps the Goddess still waits in the grove for Love, libations from the two-headed cup, sacrifices; great kings landing in their black ships, bees to nectar, along the golden sea-path. From me, sprigs of rosemary, picked this morning in the amphitheatre of Kourion, laid on this flat stone, are small gifts for what may be an altar, still.
Things were different then. The coal mine worked. Doors were left unlocked. Strangers welcomed. Though the eleven plus split up school friends, The National Union of Mine Workers and the colliery’s village people stood by each other. A cup of sugar easily asked for and given.
There’s not much I remember. I know I was given a mug with the Queen on it I think from school. There was a house – or was it a shop – decorated with red white and blue flags, Queen and Duke of Edinburgh statues waved from the balcony. They looked so real I think I might have curtsied. A maypole of moving patterns, the dancers shaped with coloured ribbons to music squeezed from an accordion.
I have no recognition of where this happened dad said was in the rec. with sports and games. Colliery band played dance tunes on the bandstand. Some street parties, trestles borrowed from the Miners Hall crackets and forms brought out of homes, best tablecloths spread with food.
That’s it, not a great lot to tell except – the weather was grey.