Beyond the pale, these frontier folk,
except, that front both moved and changed,
just as the daily weather map,
whether a high or low approach.
My front has isolation glaze,
bow window pain, a fender bend.
And closer home the mask of gauze
trussed over zygomatic arch
supported ears, hide nose and mouth,
but Covid ball invades the masque.
Would that were so the carer staff,
protected from the viral spread –
fake news abundant, spin for sale,
ramped up, and soon, no later than,
as meaningless right now as then.
Soldiers on foot in leading line,
direction from the general back;
the bodies lie around the field,
but M.O.s number more than fair,
share-croppers in the soil they till.
First published by Poetry Potion, April 2020
When I mowed the outer field
in burning sun, my copper head
failed to recognise host strategy.
As I circled, drawing in,
expecting rabbit targets at the bull
(can hardly say cornered in circumference)
the Kentucky cowboys
watched me work, sat with beer
(gin is my elixir of life, the tin bath stills
of mountain dew in the hillbilly
woods beyond the scrub).
I now know the date for course;
then untutored, less bothered anyway.
They swigged and laughed
that I had fallen in their trap
though I did not admit the bait
(if you understand, I’m mean).
Independence Day they said
we’ll watch the limey work, we’ll play
but I said July fourth does not signify for me.
They choked the bottle when I declared,
with some pomposity I guess,
in my best posh English which they mocked,
that I was glad they’d gone away.
No recognition from the Stetson-topped,
but I hummed The British Grenadiers
and thought busbies grander
than their wide brimmed hats,
even if my hair would melt
in that heat-cruel concentrate.
When that central final swathe was reached
there were no rodents, eye-rollings in the hay
(as Mum had regaled from her Somerset
Are bunnies rodents anyway?
I checked: they moved before first world war,
like secrets, they were re-classified).
There was a snake, a copperhead,
but none would roll in hay with that.
Iced Howdie Steve, they made a cake
on my first day, and saw me off
for Greyhound race, the pampas next.
First published by Literary Yard, March 2020
She means well, sure, comes best intent,
to sort me out in pigeon hole;
she knows what best, professional,
efficient office manager.
I know when to expect her call –
she telephones if visit stalled,
to warn if plan has been curtailed.
Then I have more rehearsal time,
mnemonic rhymes, repeating speech,
which sadly only has one line,
for her response will counter mine.
The open book I laid next seat
she closes, then tidies to shelf.
The clutter she sees lining sill
is treasury, and not misplaced.
That I remembered, holiday,
the postcard sent with schoolboy scrawl,
even if batch from carried list.
Lost button, found, on purposed view
lest visitor should see the clue,
suggest could sew, fill threadbare hour.
The pocket-money plastic bell
unconsidered – Autolycus
might peddle from under his tray –
is priceless trinket, come what will
and happily ring dying day.
Perennial school photographs,
old years, milestones witnessed by me.
Downsize may speak to smaller space
but living abhors vacuum –
upsets the breathing rhythm, grace
and favour known in living here.
These pleasures are self-evident,
and dust ensures patina time,
that lonely age is not alone.
My precious hoard of memories
with visual aids, as recall fades
are prompt that I am still alive
with glories long outlasting death.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by over twenty on-line poetry sites including Academy of the Heart and Mind; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines, Vita Brevis Anthology ‘Pain & Renewal’ & Fly on the Wall Press ‘Identity’. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/