Stephen Kingsnorth


The dirt track is now a jacaranda tree

the neighbours shoes, papaya;

the littered muck is citrus scent,

the drain become a rock-drop shute,

and varicose, a smile.

I see kingfishers where rough seas before,

a raven for past poor consciousness,

the bear, the buffalo and deer,

a new menagerie in me.

I lift my eyes up to the hills,

before I saw the ditch;

I have new sight, surgery,

colour-blindness removed,

the palette scattered now

through leaves and changing sky.

My cleft removed,

the daily shame replaced,

my angled poise now stretched above

and fixed my brave new world.

This face lift costs far more elsewhere:

thin line lips become bolder,

ripe fruits grudgingly a grin,

banana splits with strawberry juis,

rejected pantry shelf.

Boot Scraper

Outside the church, the squire had set

for ploughmen’s boots, an entry stile,

ensuring the tiled nave was free

of soil from land the gentry owned.

The fruit of toil scraped clear of souls,

the lord saved from indignities.

The entry font a stooping test,

the hymnary, enchanting source

of hieroglyphs and blandishments

to coax a faithful apathy,

religion’s outer garment, cloak,

encouragement to mask the truth.

In some hundreds, the boundary,

with annual beating to remind,

tells all within, the ladder gone,

that metal rung, no longer bell

as had become, to forewarn folk,

a leprous colony inside.

The carpenter with sawdust shakes,

swear-box filled by hammered stakes,

the seedsman understanding growth,

aware of seedlings scattered far,

they gathered by the open door

found no demand that shoes be raked.

And soon the radical took route,

with taxman revenue to joke,

vineyard owner, mast to climb,

the lady of the night to light,

some homeless, shelter with intent,

companionship to share fresh bread.

Stephen Kingsnorth © 2019


Some derelict, boy soldier old,

known only under sods of late -

his state decided use complete,

dismissed to find his winding way.

His wife had found another cause

as his own troop had altered sides,

political expediency

brought swifter end to that affair.

With comrades carried home in bags,

short shrift reduced to none at all;

he could not face the grocer’s queue,

food bank, account, no interest.

He started beneficial forms

till pride took stand, double cross sign.

Bow arching over stretching road,

bare honesty brought home, to stare.

Those secrets not to be confessed,

lost wife, lost war, loss self-embraced.

Then only creed he could, aware,

declared to priest in curtained box.

Unsure whether condemned, seduced,

the last straw loaded back himself.

He found the dereliction here

that led too soon to bottled fear.

Fast Track

Like fast track post I started school,

my first class stamped, leap year, one day,

the prime remove from norms of life -

now stubborn age confirms that rite.

Eleven when they emptied box,

all then been franked, indelible;

the sorting office pigeon-holed,

a destination clarified.

I enjoyed words, the sound, the shape,

so told that I was grammar-good;

my estate mates ate bloater paste,

while I forced boater, crown of head.

Steered by string, pram wheels, orange box,

the stock car racing, pavement swerves -

lost to buttoned brass, leather brief -

told more sedate for station walk.

The track took me around the globe,

express train network privilege;

far friends remained in shunting yards,

few points to change direction, line.

The journeys of those loco’s, fast,

no better than they ought to be,

all rest on work in engine sheds,

those mates with spanners, oil and rags.

Stephen Kingsnorth © 2019