What use poetry?

As waters rise above
 your threshold,
 dampen what work
 you had achieved,
 wash away the efforts
 of days.

 All possessions beyond repair,
 family photographs curl
 and float away,
 only your memories

 in your head, only the effort
 in your sinew and bone,
 beat of your heart
 to help a neighbour
 into a rescue boat.

 Hard to count your blessings,
 as if someone has died,
 anger at authority
 who failed to see it,
 resignation at losses,
 adamant determination
 you shall not be beaten,

 by the sodding weather.

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Full Moon in Cancer Christmas Day, 1977

I, ignorant, molly coddled,
 aged fourteen , outsider to pierced,
 bright red mohicanned,
 black bin bag dressed peers
 on the bus, Christmas Eve.

 Sexy ultraviolet lasses
 in black tights and dockers,
 kohl eyed intelligence
 scares my Burton’s suit.

 Fascinated by safety pinned
 noses, brazen forward face
 of defiance, I wince
 into a corner, my mam’s

 “Acceptable behaviour”,
 “When you have your own
 house you can dress how you like.”
 And my step dad’s knuckle
 marks pulse on my jaw.

 Hard to rebel when cossetted,
 pot pourried, warm duveted,
 hugged and soggily kissed
 by grandparents, all Sunday Bested
 under this Long Cold Full Mooned
 Christmas Day.

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Stone Christmas

Stone ferreted from under
 a hedge weighs well in the hand

 as if it was to skim the unfrozen
 water and bounce ripples

 out to the lapping edge, but,
 listen for my shout “tek,tek,tek”,

 and look for my stocky rich brown
 restless plumage and short cocked tail,

 flick, flick, flick, as you aim the stone.
 I may not die quickly this Christmas,

 you may remove an eye, or break
 my flesh brown legs. I am the king

 of winter whose death heralds cumming
 of spring, hugs from mates, togetherness.

 Yours is a victory stone, your shout goes up,
 “Got it!” and mates shake your hand.

 I am a present of dead feathers, broken
 bones,  a message of goodwill.

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Rabbit’s Head Winter

Midwinter takes all back to core and root,
 scrapes off summer’s fat and muscle,
 whitens the bones without leaves,
 gust polishes dry skulls into mirrors,
 bones into icy water,
 a hollowed cavity
 scratched out.

 Midwinter is a teenage lad, on
 his haunches – dead rabbit head hill,
 in one hand, penknife cold in other,
 catches the blade on the bone
 and scrapes away the fur,
 gouges out orbital cavities,
 back to the bowls,
 excavates the hollows,
 oozes cherry red blood.

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The Toff and the turkey

Boss of crowlight says there’s one
 more way conquer owldark. Plain
 commonsense and a little
 cunning subdue stronger folk

 like tricksters did gullible
 Toff of his Christmas turkey.
 Cloudfull, raining sky, Toff leaves
 for a neighbouring town,

 for a fresh Christmas Turkey
 promised well-to-do farmer.
 No car, he walks home, carries
 turkey in a shoulder bag.

 Three crooks, very hungry, thin
 cross his path, see the turkey.
“We’ve been blessed lads. Let’s take him
 for what we can get.” They split.

 One of them overtakes Toff
 by another route, stops him,
“Thas a fool. Why lug this dog
 on your shoulders? Folk’ll pillock.”

 Toff loses it, says, “You dolt.
 Are you blind? Why do you call
 a turkey a dog?”  First crook
 replies “Don’t be angry, if

 tha thinks he’s not a dog, please
 get on. I’ve no objection.”
Toff hardly walks a cockstride
 when the second crook greets him

 and says,  “O respected sir,
 highly regrettable that
 you carry a dead pheasant
 on your shoulders, however

 dear it is to you. It does
 not taste the same as turkey.”
 Toff challenges him, “Are you
 too blind? This is a turkey.”

 The second crook says, “All right,
 sir. Please excuse me. I am
 an ignorant fool. Stroll on.”
Now it was third crook Toff met.

 He turned to Toff, and said, “Sir,
 it is highly improper.
 You lug an Eagle on your
 shoulders. This is illegal.

 Law says you cannot treat birds
 of prey like this knowingly
 or otherwise, so, please leave
 him before anybody

 notices.” Toff was gobsmacked.
 “I really carry an Eagle.” ,
 he thought and threw the turkey
 on the ground and went home.


 In addition to the four
 strategies I’ve told you, there’s
 a fifth one. In the presence
 of everyone, abuse me,

 punish me, brand me as friend
 of your enemy. That will
 convince Owldark’s spies you don’t
 trust me. Spray some blood on me.

 Exile me to the hills where
 I’ll stay bruised and when Owldark
 comes, try to earn its mercy
 and trust by blaming you.

 You stay in the hills till I
 find their cave, give you a sign
 so, when owldark are asleep
 you can come and kill them all.

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six gleams to defeat owldark

Crowlight boss spoke to its gleams
 “Know this, Owldark hears better,
 flies quieter, sees better
 when our crowlight is dim, or
 when our days are short. We can

 outmaneouvre it in flight,
 mob it with brightness and hue.
 Beware of its harsh talons,
 sharp beak that dismembers us.”

 One shaft of crowlight says
 “bend to dark when it is strong.
 Attack it when it is weak.
 Don’t wage war if it won’t give
 power, or wealth or friendship.”

 A second brightness suggests
 “Never accept peace with dark
 that is not just. It will break
 its word, stab you in the back.

 Owldark is a tyrant, fool,
 a miser, idler, liar,
 coward. Words of peace inflame
 what is blinded by anger.”

 A third glow attests patience.
 “Exile is the best way. Wait
 and strike when dark becomes weak.
 In summer or longer days.”

 A fourth radiance suggests
“Neither peace nor bravado
 Can subdue strong dark
 Where these two do not work
 Flight is the best alternative.”

 A fifth glint cast its viewpoint
 ” Thee should ally with our mates,
 birdclouds, gustwings then attack.
 Boss who flees is cobratwist
 without fangs. crocodilewave
 in water hauls elephantquake.

 An ally is gust to fire.
 Stay where tha be boss, gather
 close our trusted strong allies.”

And sixth brilliance posits
 “crowlights,  use duplicity
 to finish owldark. Send spies,
 gather info on darkness
 advising owldark boss. Set
 one against other, deftly.”

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What made Owldark against Crowlight

Well, swanripple, parrotblaze,
and cranenurse, nightingalerave,
and peacockbairn, pigeoncoo,
pheasantplucker, sparrowskneecap,
met to know why boss allows
poachers. Vote owldark new boss.
As owldark crowned, crowlight flies in,
asks why and what occasion.
Birds tell him, crowlight tells them,
“Owldarks wicked and ugly,
unwise to choose another
when our boss is still alive.
Scare poachers with bosses name.
It’s how moonhares rest happy
when took name of the moon.
Sit thee sen down, get summat
to sup while I tell thee tale.”


Elephantquake bosses a vast
 forest. No rain, all lakes, pools, 
 arid. It thirsts. Knows a lake,
 hidden, always full and goes

 there to save itself. After
 five nights it revels, splashes
 in the cool lake. Daily it
 marches upon moonhares, maims

 and wounds them on its trek
 to the lake. Oblivious
 to the grief and pain its feet
 cause the small scared folk below.

 One day moonhares meet
 to save themselves
 from the thick skinned carnage.
 Some say “Abandon this place.”

 Others “It’s our ancient home.
 Let’s find an alternative.
 Let’s see if we can scare off
 rampage of elephantquake.”

Some of them say, “We know
 of a trick that works
 with elephantquake.
 we need a sharp person.

 A moonhare has a message
 for elephantquake. It says
 “I come from Moon who doesn’t
 want you supping lake as bound

 there you kills and maim hundreds
 of hares. Lake is forbidden.
 Return to your forest home.
 “But where’s this Moon, your home? asks

 elephantquake  “In this lake.
 It consoles the survivors
 of your rampage.” “Lets see it.”
 says the keen elephantquake.

“Come alone with me, I will
 show you.” Moonhare takes it one
 night to shows Moon’s silvery
 reflection in the lake, says

“Here it is, my home, the Moon.
 Lost in meditation.
 Move quietly, salute it.
 Don’t disturb it and bring wrath.”

Elephantquake sees it as real,
 salutes it, leaves quietly,
 returns to its forest home.
 Hares heave sigh in relief.

 crowlight tells the birds gathered
 to elect a leader, “that
 is why tha must choose a wise,
 and experienced boss.

 If tha don’t hear how moonhare
 and sparrowskneecap get killed
 because they choose a wicked
 mediator. It begins…


Sparrowskneecap in a cup
 of twigs, leaves, lined with down, moss
 and hair, in an Oak hollow.
 Oak that is my home, too.

 Sparrowskneecap leaves in search
 of food and does not return.
 We are good mates, and I fret
 what happened to him? Died, maimed?

 One fine morning, a moonhare
 moves into the hollow home
 of my friend. I protest, then,
 one day, sparrowskneecap comes

 back. He looks much healthier
 than when he left and he finds
 moonhare has nabbed his home.
 He tells moonhare, “Thas taken

 my home. Tha must hand it back.”
 Moonhare disagrees, “What tha
 on abaht?  This is my place.
 I’ve got squatters rights. Its mine.”

 My mate is aghast. “Lets both
 find an expert as’ll sort this.
 If thas agreed.” Moonhare is.
 Curious as to finish

 I follow them. Afterwards
 I know catspit heard todo,
 and meant to take advantage.
 It knows well path both must take,

 sets up a camp on the route,
 spreads a mat of grass on ground,
 takes meditation pose, face
 to the sun, raises its paws

 in worship, recites scripture:
“This world has no essence. Life
 is passing. All liaisons
 with lovers are like a dream,

 family illusory.
 follow the right path. The learned
 say this wretched body dies.
 Wealth is impermanent.

 Death is always at tha door.
 Free thyself from earthly chains
 He who abandons right path
 is the same as living dead.”

 “I’ll tell you right path. Doing
 good to others is virtue.
 Tormenting others is vice.
 This is the essence. I am

 in service of the boss, have
 given up all desires. I
 will not do you any harm.”
 He knows they have heard his words.

 “After hearing your account, I
 will decide who among you
 is the rightful owner. I
 am very old and cant hear.

 Please come close to me and tell
 your story.” Both come closer,
 catspit pounces, grabs my mate
 in his teeth, slashes other

 with his jaws, kills and eats them.


 crowlight tells the birds, “If you
 rest your faith in this wicked,
 blind owl, your fate is same as
 moonhare and sparrowskneecap.”

 The birds decide to work
 out matter more carefully 
 afore electing owldark boss.
 Furious, the owldark shouts

 at crowlight “Tha bugger crow,
 what harm have I done thee?
 Thas done it ‘tween owldark
 and crowlight nar. Tha can heal

 wounds on body but not heart.”
crowlight thought on it, “I’m daft.

 What have I done? I shouldn’t have
 advised birds not to elect
 owldark as boss.” It regrets what
 it said and did, and goes home.

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How Crowlight burned Owldark (1 of 11)


 Feathered Day abides in town,
 a huge tree its home.The oak
 flares hundreds of limbs. The boss
 of Day, sets up strong ramparts.

 Feathered Night abides a cave,
 ruled by a boss with a strong
 stealthy and cunning army.
 Owldark binocular eyes

 bare bold oak, and, quiet winged
 razors apart every
 crowlight of dusk Day seen
 outside the darkening tree.

 Moulted oak is not naked,
 black wing blossoms rustle.
 Sun lower in colder skies,
 owldark patrols sooner now.

 Alarmed at loss Day gathers
 folk. Says, “Tha must decide plan
 to sort taloned Night. What thoughts
 come into thee wintered minds?”

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It takes effort to kill,
 to mimic others.
 Blind when born, I am fed
 by a fooled mother.
 I put the others unborn
 on my back, push
 up so they topple out
 to break on ground
 or food for others to find.
 My call heralds spring.

 Winter, I grow talons,
 flit over hedges, round trees,
 clutch warm life in these razors.
 Rip meat with this sharp mouth.

 Spring time, my talons gone,
 I sing cuckoo.

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