NN8 Run-a-round

I’m not called Poetonarun for nothing! The inspiration for this poem came on my 12 mile run around Wellingborough. The artwork, as much as it is, tries to incorporate the physical features of the town with the running shoes that I wore to pound the footpaths and cycle tracks.

 I’m off for a run round the town of my birth
 this mid-land patch, these square miles of Earth.
 Starting my run in the old Market square
 once noisy with stall holders peddling their ware,
 now hushed like a baby, its almost asleep
 except for shops selling everything cheap.
 I enter the park, a hidden gem
 where emerald green lawns and poplars hem.
 Swanspool Brook, snaking muddy brown,
 a wildlife haven in the middle of town.
  
 Running south of the town to the Nene River
 where dive bombing terns swoop hither and thither.
 Slender necked swans jostle Canada geese
 and the whirr of Whitworth’s disturbs the peace. 
  
 From there I pound up Turnell’s Mill Lane
 Where my energy levels flag and wane.
 Reaching the top I establish the beat,
 And tap out the rhythm with my feet.
  
 Slogging northwards to sprawling estates
 with labyrinthine roads to navigate.
 The white bread blandness of these courts and drives
 brightened by the buzz of community hives
 where the old are fed and the young play sport,
 and club members meet and tai chi is taught,
 and punching the air, the screams and shouts
 of kids set free when school is out.
  
 It’s all downhill from Redhill Grange, 
 So the running is easy for a change.
 I reach the station, the Victorian quarter
 With roads of terraced bricks and mortar.
 Factories that once hummed the metallic din
 of boots and shoes crafted from cow skin, 
 converted now into bijoux flats,
 just a stones throw from the railway tracks.
  
 Twelve miles around and back to the heart
 of this ancient site with a Saxon start.
 Successions of families have made it their home
 adding to the mix of the body’s genome. 
 Its people breathe life into the streets
 creating community with each heartbeat.
 Rehomed Londoners from the East End,
 Caribbean islanders joining the blend,
 Gujarati speakers from India’s North West,
 East and West Africans all came as guests,
 Polish, Europeans and British migrants,
 painting this town, diverse and vibrant.
  
 I’ve pounded the pavements of this market town
 And reaching the church and slow right down
 'til I’m under the clock in the ironstone tower
 with its eight huge bells chiming the hour.
 I’ve run right round the town of my birth...
 I just love this place, these square miles of Earth.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   

Hope

NN8 Writers Group have been tasked with writing on the theme of “Hope”. I find myself again writing with two voices, but it is the hopeful one that speaks the loudest.

Hope isn’t the taste of a pear, just a day older than perfect, tinged with the blue-green taste of the bruise, spoiling it from the inside, out.

Neither is it the smell of flowers left at the graveside to wilt and frost, turning brown and limp.

Hope isn’t the daily Covid count, awful yet compulsive listening. Neither is it the reassuring words as the monitors buzz and the cries as they fall silent.

Hope isn’t scratchy and harsh, its billowy and enveloping, fleeting and insubstantial.

It’s the smell of the wind and the rain on a mountain top and the sound of a stream gushing over stones on the valley floor.

Hope comes as the taste of a sweet ripe peach, bursting with juice and quenching thirst.

It’s the sight of fragile snowdrops emerging strong, from the frosted ground.

Hope shouts from the roof tops,

“All will be well.”

Hope whispers in the ear,

“And all manner of things will be well.”

2020

A macaroni poem is written with two voices. Last year, like all years, leaves us with a mixture of emotions which whisper inside as we look back and then forward to a new year.

Here is my personal reflection.

A year to remember
A year to forget.

A darling girl born in March
Into a family, loving and safe.
Emerging into lockdown more like.

Streets were deserted and the air clean;
Among the birdsong, the cuckoo called.
Covid, Brexit and climate change.

We met up online, zooming to work;
Phonecalls, Facetime and Whatsapp. 
No touching or hugs to ease the soul.

Running the Nene Way, backpacking the Dales;
Dog walks and bike rides. A time to grow.
Plans were scuppered and money lost. 

Sun, sea and coloured sand on the IOW;
A trip down memory lane for us both.
Job losses, furlough and foodbank queues.

Virtual choirs, virtual races, virtual church;
We were living in a digital age.
Thousands died with no family nearby.

Another long walk, another challenge
Taking me through the dark winter days.
Zombie like eyes above obligatory masks.

A vaccine and the hope of Christmas
To celebrate Immanuel, God is with us.
Where is he in this pandemic?

What a year!
What a year.

The Day After Christmas

While out with the dogs I saw an inflatable Father Christmas, lying slack on a driveway.

It lay there, on the flooded patio,
Deflated and spent, like a giant's condom;
The spectre of Christmas in a puddle.
Hung from the tree, darkened lights,
That in the night shone bright,
Now smirked and revealed the sham
Of stars fallen to Earth. 
Green bins bursting open with bottles and paper
stand skew-whiff reeking of "I know not what."
Traffic absent, the roads lay empty
And become the paths, as parked cars
Mount the pavement with wind mirrors folded.

The feverishness of Advent reached its peak
With a day of eating, drinking and being merry.
Now, in the hiatus before New Year,
Tiredness, grief and "What now?" descend,
And with festive pyjamas, we land deflated and spent
In front of the telly.

Names

As a teacher for 38 years, there are names which make me smile and then there are those that make me sigh with frustration. All names have been anonymized. Feel free to add your own!

She slumped in the chair
ran hands through her hair
rubbed tired eyes
and breathed out a few sighs.

Then came the names
of the kids whose games
drove her mad 
and made her glad
the school day was over.

O__________ with his irritating grin
determined each fight to win.
J__________ with a face of thunder
throwing chairs and tables asunder.
C________ who couldn't sit still
until she swallowed her magic pill.
E____ and R_______, two,
M________, D________, to name a few.

Those names for ever
tainted and so never
chosen for any child 
in her family.

I am, who I am

The NN8 Writers Group was given the task of writing about our name. What follows is the first in a series on the theme.

reading a poem at my parents diamond wedding anniversary
At school I was Carrot or Ginge
But that's not me anymore.
For years my surname was Knight
But I traded it for a mum-in-law.
Some shorten my name to Val
But they're only friends for a while.
My name can be sung, Val-der-ree
Or belted Amy Whitehouse style.
To a favoured few I'm Grandma
Never Gran, Nanny or Nan.
But to Him who knows me,
Really knows me,
And yet still loves me,
I am, who I am.

Sounds from our caravan.

Another poem about dogs to make me smile and remember those lazy, hazy days of summer when we would go away in the caravan, two adults and two dogs, for rest and relaxation. Not!

Starlight and new moonlight pierced the dark
and the sound of silence covered the park

Until,
the dogs ears cocked, they barked at the air
'cos they heard the rabbits nibbling out there.
She went to bed and he read his phone
while the dogs lips smacked on a half chewed bone, 
until they curled and sprawled in the chairs
occasionally stretching and shaking out hairs.

At the crack of dawn, there was a thud on the floor
As Bramble jumped down and scratched on the door.
To keep the peace, she let him in
and first on the bed was agile Pippin,
who stretched out between Val and Pete
then Bramble jumped up and curled on their feet.

The sound of snores filled the room
As man and beast slept once more in the gloom.

Val awoke and JUST THOUGHT of a short run
and before she knew it the whines had begun,
for dogs are psychic, no need to talk
and all excited they prepared for a walk.
Pete turned over and said, "Thank the God's"
for the bed was now his - no wife, no dogs.
Hysterical laughter came from the van
while inside she peed in the toilet/can.

And still she laughed and tears rolled down
'cos laughing at the world is better than a frown.

It’s a dog’s life.

Covid19 seems to have shrunk my world to a few people and a medium town in the Midlands. No longer are my poems on subjects life unfairness, injustice and poverty. Instead I think about dogs! Perhaps it is self preservation in a world which too big to solve. I suppose I could justify this poem as a form of mindfulness and appreciation of what I have; a thankfulness for the simple things in life.

I scratch the floor, at something after four
And wait for the sound
Of her stumbling down the stair, in her second-hand nightwear
To let me out the back door. 
In the misty garden, dark, I let out a muffled bark,
I can't help it, its an involuntary twitch.
She stands and waits, while I dither and cogitate
Deciding the best place to sh..
Then I follow her to bed, and settle by her head
And dare to lick her face with a kiss.
At seven my tummy rumbles and out of bed I tumble,
Pawing her curled up form.
A breakfast of sardines, sprinkled with some beans
And I'm ready for my daily walk.
I pull her to the park, chase Pippin for a lark
And if I'm lucky find some wet fox poo.
I wander up the hill, sniffing and cocking until
She hands me a treat and my lead,
Cos' she's finished on her phone and it's time to wander home
Where she wipes my fur and paws. 
The rest of the day I sleep, curled up, my head on my feet
Dreaming of rabbits, squirrels and sticks.

It's a dog's life, so, being the master, I know,
She can't resist my doleful eyes.
I wag my tail madly and she'll laugh and gladly
Give me what she knows I want.
I don't need to nip and grovel, my life is doggy simple.
Food, poos, treats and cuddles. 

I've no need to moan or grouse,
For I'M the master of her house.

River Nene

This is the fourth in a series of seasonal poems inspired by my local river, The Nene. As I ran along the river bank in this Covid year, 2020, it became clear that although our lives have changed, as we grapple with the affects of the pandemic, Mother Nature is still doing her stuff, and I found this comforting.This

This is the fourth in a series of seasonal poems inspired by my local river, The Nene. As I ran along the river bank, I became aware again of the power Mother Nature has to adapt and restore.

Swans still flock and the terns still swoop,
Bull rushes reach up at the water's edge.
Cows still graze the lush sweet grass
As the leaves yellow in the Autumn light.

Fear grows as a second wave threatens.

But down in the valley...

The river still flows and the fishermen wait,
Boots and shoes pound the Nene Way.
Tractors still plough and gulls follow
As the rosehips glisten in the weak sunlight.

Alarm deepens as the infection spreads.

But down by the river...

Ducklings have grown and signets have whitened,
Dogs off their leads sniff and follow
The well trodden path by the water's edge
And high above a red kite soars.

Autumn Thanks

Two songs keep digging into my consciousness like ear-worms, reminding me that despite the pandemic, climate change and the uncertain future, Autumn comes around with comforting regularity. The signs of Autumn may be delayed by Indian summers, and in the long term the seasons may merge, but nature is awesome in its ability to adapt and amaze us.

This is a reworking of an Autumn term Primary School favourite, sung in assemblies and now sung only in my head. There is always a reason to be thankful for small everyday things.

Autumn days when the grass is jewelled
and the silk inside a chestnut shell,
Lacy spiderwebs sparkling with dew,
All these things I love so well.

Another favourite tune that keeps playing in my head, especially when out running or walking, come rain or shine, is…

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds thy hand has made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
They power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee,
How great thou art! How great thou art!

And for me ….

When the clouds appear and the rain drops fall as tears,
I doubt he's there, and wonder if it's true.
Then my soul, aches for affirmation
And I turn to him, my God, my faith renewed. 
Then sings my soul ...