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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Even the gulls are taking a morning off
As I drift around the deserted harbour;
The tide is out, the sky deep blue,
And the beach warm and yielding
Under my inappropriate footwear.

Amidst this light brown desert,
Brief rivulets of muddy water
Command me to take a run
And leap to reach the
Next patch of firm dry sand.

The railway viaduct now fenced off,
The Grand Burstin and Rocksalt
Both dark and sad and empty;
And the metal gates to the Harbour Arm,
Anticipated host to thousands
Over this warm Easter weekend,
Are firmly closed.

On a morning as delicious as this,
It would have been perfect
To stroll its two concrete tiers;
But the only tears today
Are for the sick and fearful
Imprisoned in homes and hospitals
Across an anxious but resolute land.

Bob’s seafood stall and Folkestone Trawlers
Plough lone furrows on the deserted Stade,
While a pair of deep wrinkled fishermen
Lean against the chain railing and reminisce
When fish was plentiful and the ferries full.

I bound another murky stream
And lean against the pink house;
Planted in self-isolation,
Its former lustre lost too,
With peeling paintwork and ponder the fate
Of the next Triennial, triumphantly announced
Barely a month, but another lifetime, ago.

I turn the corner of the East Head
Under the rock perched orange house,
That, unlike its pink neighbour,
Has had a reviving lick of paint;
Two young girls lift their skirts,
And paddle in the gentle, shallow waves
On the incessant, incoming tide;
I cannot avoid the uncharitable suspicion –
A sign of these strange and fretful times –
That, as they giggle and jostle each other,
They may not be from the same household.

I could stay here for hours yet,
Till the water washes over my shoes,
But an insistent call of nature,
Prosaic and not infrequent visitor
To this man of a certain age,
Summons me to return swiftly
To my home by the park.

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Time, that skittish mistress,
Is playing her tricks on me again.

Two weeks now since lockdown,
(At least that’s what I’ve been told);
Disorientation swamps my senses,
My relationship to time
Is completely out of whack.

What day of the week is it?
Groundhog Day of course!
All the normal indicators
That would help me compute,
Like football on a Saturday,
Are no longer available to me.
Every day now is Sunday
And Wednesday
And Friday.

No longer can I put my
Absentmindedness
Down to a senior moment.

Time appears to stand still
And drags its feet,
But then appears to sprint away,
So fast I cannot keep up.

I am still half expecting to
Step into a coffee shop
Whenever the impulse takes me.

Yet, at other times, it is hard
To remember the time
Before our lives changed.
“Back in the day” no longer means
Decades, but just three weeks ago.

But then there is another,
More positive, aspect to this;
Those of us not engaged
In essential work,
Suddenly, confined to our homes,
Find ourselves with time on our hands.

A time for breathing,
A time for thinking,
A time for cleaning –
Our homes and our minds,
A time for learning new skills,
A time for gratitude,
A time for caring
For each other.

Soon enough I suspect,
That time will be gone,
When we may again be the slaves,
Rather than the masters, of time.

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On Thursday evenings all over the nation,
A spontaneous movement of appreciation
Has engulfed the people, young and old,
With rich and poor it has taken hold.
In every city, town and village on our map
People stand outside their homes and clap.

From houses, blocks of flats, even ships at sea,
From police and fire stations, from you and from me,
Hospitals, care homes and from all who isolate,
The sounds of cheers and horns reverberate.
A lost spirit of community once more unleashed
A mutual pride, support and respect released.

From work or play it’s a mere momentary pause
To join our families and neighbours in applause,
To demonstrate we have the needed attitude,
And proclaim our heartfelt thanks and gratitude
For those who heal and those who care,
For those who serve us everywhere,
For those whose sacrifice inspires,
Who teach our kids and fight our fires,
Who empty our bins and feed our poor,
Who help rough sleepers sat in shop door,
Who stack the shelves and deliver food,
And all those whose deeds lighten our mood.

In our homes we might on our settees sit,
But by doing nothing we are doing our bit.
Whatever else we can, or cannot afford,
We can all join in two minutes to applaud;
It takes so little time, yet means much more,
To those who risk their lives we are in awe.

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In this unsettling moment
In our recent history,
When the privilege of
Rambling anywhere,
And for as long as I like
Is no more afforded me,
Where on earth might make
This torture tolerable?

Perhaps San Francisco,
Epicentre of my cultural cosmos,
And beloved second home
For a quarter of a century,
Would be where I yearn to be?
But with Shelter-in-Place
Shutting the shining city down,
Its renowned allure is lost.

Or would I feel more at home
Ambling through the narrow streets
Of Sorrento, Taormina or Naples,
Climbing the Campanile in Florence
Or canal hopping in Venice?
But it breaks my heart to see
Mia cara Italia cosi malata,
And I cannot be there either.

But I account myself so blessed
That I am just where I should be,
Where the thrilling, restless waves,
Expansive skies and rolling hills,
Make that strict daily exercise
So satisfying yet too short;
Folkestone has everything I need
Till from our present horror we are freed.

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Waking from a sound night’s slumber,
I reach gingerly for my mobile phone
To check the overnight death toll,
Only to hear voices outside in the street.

Not the customary cacophony of
Gulls, ducks and jackdaws,
But real voices,
Human voices.

As rare on days like this
As trading stores on the high street;
At least two voices, both female,
Swear words in odious evidence.

Was this an illicit assembly
Of more than two people,
Or might they just be members
Of the same household?

In less than a fortnight,
With life never more fragile,
We have become so sensitive,
So easily offended by others’ actions.

So my thoughts turn instantly
To resentment and anger
At the perceived thoughtlessness
Of my unwelcome morning alarm.

Bu then, as I rise to rebuke,
A girl emerges from behind the tree,
Switching off her phone
After a loudspeaker conversation.

Just one girl, alone and guilty only
Of raising her voice in public at 6am;
Leaving my ears assailed by birdlife again
As I fill the kettle for the day’s first cuppa.

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Fancy a coffee?
Plenty of establishments
To choose from,
All over town they are,
Where you can sit and savour
Your black americano
Or caramel latte,
Even sneak a slice
Of millionaire’s shortbread.

Sorry………closed.

Run out of underwear,
Looking for a new dress,
Or, like me, you need
To get your cowboy boots heeled?
There’s plenty of shops
For you to browse and buy in.

Sorry……….closed.

Need some peace and quiet,
To rest your weary feet?
Pop in the library
And enjoy its warm embrace
As you scan the shelves
Or browse the events flyers.

Sorry………closed.

Is your hair getting too long
Or your nails are cracked?
The hairdresser or beautician
Will see you right in no time.

Sorry……….closed.

Caught short while out and about?
Drop by the town hall,
Asda, Sainsbury’s,
Or any of the aforementioned cafes,
Or Pleydell Gardens
Or Radnor Park.

Sorry………closed.

Arrange to meet a friend
And take a stroll along the prom?
Hug, hold hands
Or just walk side by side,
That costs nothing, surely?

Sorry……….not allowed.

All simple, everyday pleasures
We readily take for granted,
Now temporarily withdrawn.

An inconvenience, an irritation,
A jolt to our comfortable routine.

But a small price for our safety,
And the opportunity
To appreciate them again.

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It breaks my heart to see the town
I made my home four years ago,
Be to its knees brought cruelly down,
By an unforeseen foe, laid low.

Lines of listless people straggle
The erstwhile bustling shopping street,
Six feet apart, no speech or gaggle,
Silent, patient, shuffling their feet.

Some wait to get cash from machines,
For stores that will only take cards;
Some with trolleys in third world scenes,
Praying that shortages are past.

Coffee houses, bars, and restaurants closed,
Some may not reopen their doors;
Dark, empty shopfronts lie exposed,
Bleak images of a town floored.

The day cannot come soon enough
When we’ll be free to hug again,
Laugh and chat over coffee cups
And joy will overcome the pain.

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Walking on the Leas has the same appeal
As ever it did when Alice Keppel strolled
Its green sward with her philandering king.

But this morning, there’s an unfamiliar feel,
The world has changed, grown frail and dull and cold,
Though the blue sky screams out the start of Spring.

The peace along the path seems so surreal,
People keeping their distance, young and old,
As waves crash beneath and the small birds sing.

Nature mocks mankind’s poor attempts to heal,
Bright sunshine sends the wind and rain on hold,
Our latest disobedience our last fling.

Enjoy the sun, stay as long as you can,
You may get ill, but also get a tan.

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Woke up this morning,
Got the Folkestone lockdown blues;
Woke up this morning,
Got the Folkestone lockdown blues;
Craving a full English breakfast
But no place left for me to choose.

Went strolling along the Leas,
For my approved exercise;
Went strolling along the Leas,
For my approved exercise;
Looking for my ten o’clock coffee fix,
But no place open, I tell no lies. .

Went shopping for a toilet roll,
Just one would do for now, no more;
Went shopping for a toilet roll,
Just one would do for now, no more;
Searching high and low around the town,
But not a single sheet in any store.

So I think I’d better stay home now,
As the politicians instruct me to;
So I think I’d better stay home now,
As the politicians instruct me to;
I’ve got eggs, bacon and coffee there,
But for toilet rolls I’ll just make do.

Woke up this morning,
Got the Folkestone lockdown blues;
Woke up this morning,
Got the Folkestone lockdown blues;
Craving a full English breakfast
But no place left for me to choose.

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Outside my bedroom window
A lonely wood pigeon sits,
Mourning his mate that has
Mysteriously gone missing
This past week and a half.

Compelled to remain
On the same spot,
On the same branch,
On the same tree,
Day after day after day
In the hope she may return.

He has neither called out
Nor left his perch to hunt for her,
He waits, still and stoic,
As a pair of frisky magpies
Cavort blindly above his head
And a nimble squirrel scurries
Along the adjoining branch.

He does not flinch a feather,
But sits and waits
For when his life
Will be the same again.

Though it can never be.

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