Tag Archives: autumn poems

Mass Mortality of the Heart Urchin

The sea-potato, Echinocardium Cordatum, inhabits the sea-bed

lives up to twenty years in a permanent burrow,

ambulacra crammed beneath hard-packed sand in pentamerous symmetry.

Mass mortality of the Heart Urchin is twofold and of the seasons.

First, a winter storm disturbs the deep; chokes those burrows with sand,

Smothering the hearts with chaos, pressure too great to bear.

Then the husks, spewed up onto the strand,

Picked over by undiscriminating gulls; Dilber and Stretch on a future Christmas morning.

Or picture a summer, if you prefer your tragedies unusually hot,

The sun’s over-attention spreads a blanket of decaying plankton over that sea-bed,

Deoxygenating the water as it settles down to rest.

Poor, unfortunate hearts, forced up, up in search of breathing space,

Suffocated for want of air,

They and their stellate potato-babies, thrown in their thousands onto a harsh white beach,

So that you may chance upon them

As you gasp in surprise

As the desert-hot sand burns the soles of your feet through cheap holiday shoes

Or as you lie, buried to the neck with your music box and gun,

Praying to a clearblue sky for the deliverance of cloud.

Two Dozen Roses in a Rainstorm

The pregnant afternoon brings a sudden drop in temperature,

Pendulous clouds cross the hill above the creek;

A storm is coming.

Arizona’s season of changes, challenging my willpower,

Facing me down if I waver.

Maple leaves, burnt orange, and blood red,

Shiver in the face of the warm Pacific storm.

Throwing open the doors, I stand and listen to the thunder,

Fork lightning tracing the sky like a scar.

It has been a year since, desolate, unconfident, night-waking,

I watched, near heartbroken as you flirted,

Unselfconscious, with my heart.

The storm and my memory challenge me,

Like a song sung without love.

This year, I greet you like an old friend,

Let the fresh rain plash on my naked feet,

Rejoicing in the storm.

I hug you tight, feeling your frailty

Beneath your tale of two dozen pink roses,

And wish you well,

Now I am secure in this place.

No storm will wash me away.

The ten months-dry earth now is riddled with racing channels,

Slaking the sand’s thirst.

Sure-footed and calm I watch,

For I know the lie of the land.

Water in the landscape is home territory for me,

And the storm plays out like an old familiar tune.

The Rivers of Oak Creek Canyon

We took the West Fork trail

To Mayhew’s Lodge and

The Call of the Canyon.

‘There are seven more rivers to cross

Before we reach the trailhead’ said my love.

‘How do you know these things?’ I ask, impressed at his orientation.

‘I have passed this way before’ he replies.

At the third crossing I slip,

Chill ice-water drenching my shoes

When I put a foot wrong.

At the fourth I am mindful

Treading carefully to avoid the river’s wrath.

I wonder, briefly, at the women

Who crossed this way before.

The Pioneers, and wives of the famous

Who played here in its 1930s heyday.

How do I measure up to them?

And to the recently-departed girls,

The ones who didn’t make the grade.

When he asks ‘Shall we cross one more river?

Shall we go another mile?

Or have you had enough?’

How do I know if I’ve passed the test?

Either of my endurance or appreciation

Of this day’s passing beauty?

It is cooler by the river banks,

Where water meets the air.

Red rocks rising, Sedona’s gift.

Bugger the Vortex – this is the magic, right here.

Twisted oaks and hundred-year apple trees,

A legacy from the days of the lodge,

When movie stars, presidents and dream-makers

Played in the Canyon.

Walt, Jimmy, Hoover and the girls.

Have I crossed enough rivers? Or did I fall short?

Another pebble tossed in the stream

A stepping-stone for

The next girl on the trail.

The river says ‘Be calm. The time will come.

You have not yet learned my geography,

To negotiate your way through the Canyon

Like a new Pioneer.’

Looking-Glass World

High on the upper walls of the crumbling house
Hangs a gilded hand-mirror
Its frame an intricate fretwork
Of knotted garlands; English roses.
Held in your selfish hands,
It reflects your image
Silvers the tarnish,
Affirms your being, in the sea-level landscape
A trinket to hold in your hands.

You weigh its worth, then place it, face-down
Or hang it tenderly on the hook,
Lovingly abandoned
Cold against bare plaster walls
Where it remains, silently reflecting
Your unassailable beauty
Till the next year’s spring brings you
Travelling North again,
Seeking out your looking-glass world.

A Change in the Weather

A trio of swans

Criss-cross the canal,

Their beating wings

Dopplering their way across the moor

Heralding a change in the weather.

I need to be in the open air

To bend like the withies

With this season’s passing.

Nothing stays the same,

And this long while is at an end.

I turn, and fix my gaze on the bend in the road

And I know it is time to go.

Ninety-two Christmas Trees

I want to live long enough to forget your name.

To smile, simply, to say ‘I know you, don’t I?’

To hold your hand without quite knowing why,

To take a gentle walk down a distant memory lane,

And be home by lunchtime.

How I want the short straw of growing old;

Ninety-two Christmas trees and cards on Mothers Day.

I want you, all grey and wrinkles, crows-feet and arthritis

In the chair next to mine.

I want to fade, gently, you alongside,

With lilies, iris and lanterns

To light my way.

Badger Alley

Found this chill autumn’s morning,

My fancy takes you for lost

in mourning for the cull.

Poor Brock; dead of a broken heart.

Reality is roadkill.

Fit now only for shaving brush and paint

Not a scratch nor a tear in that double-breasted pelt.

Flayed now a fortnight by nature’s course,

Deep, rank and meaty in the hedge

Bloated you shine; ripening to burst.