Cat Flap

The tabby hunter
was most displeased
yesterday afternoon.
Someone locked the cat flap
and went out for quite a while.
When Mummy came home with groceries
and little girls from school,
tabby meowed at her loud and long
as Mummy stood and stared.
“She’s telling me off !” she said,
then she put away the groceries
while ignoring Tabby’s harangue.

Young Chloe checked the back door,
unlocked the offending flap.
“You shouldn’t bring your birds inside !”
she told the outraged tiger.

Now therein lies the problem
which Tabby does not see.
She brings her birds inside
takes them round each room
as they scatter poo and bird feathers
until they die of shock.
Then she buries them in the living room
for little girls to find.
Five year old sensibilities
are distressed by lifeless birds.
Mummy doesn’t like cleaning up
bird feathers and poo.

While Tabby keeps on hunting
she will always be locked out
when the family are not at home
to reject her hunting trophies.

She’ll be far from the sunny couch,
from beds covered with teddy bears,
and the luxurious faux fur throw
on Mummy and Daddy’s bed.

Previously posted May 2016.

 

Cat Flap

A Fox Crossed Barley Lane

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
towards the scattered Essex farms
to hunt for a springtime dinner of hens
ducks, geese with newly hatched young.
He passed a farm labourer plodding along
the rutted track to a meagre dinner.
The fox would dine better than he tonight.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
towards the prosperous Essex farms
keenly seeking a poultry dinner
from their large abundant barns.
He briskly rounded the loaded wagons
creaking along the potholed track.
His mind was on his dinner.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk
trotting from his den on the heath
to seek his dinner at Essex farms and
backyards along the High Road
crossing Barley Lane as it followed
the new railway with its deafening trains.
It took more work to extract his dinner
but he always filled his stomach.

A fox crossed Barley Lane at dusk.
He left his den in the woodland patch
in the park round the Essex hospital,
hunting his dinner in the long back yards
of houses built up around Barley Lane.
Poultry was rare but cats and rabbits
were there to be eaten in moonlit gardens.
he rushed across through a narrow slit
in bumper to bumper urban traffic.
Now for his lip licking dinner.

Previously posted October 2016.

A Fox Crossed Barley Lane

St Kilda’s Bay

You and she had four bright days
on southern tussocked hills.
On Monday  night in jagged pain
you crumpled to the floor.

On Friday morning there we sat
baffled, unbelieving,
in the chapel, at the cemetery
above St Kilda’s Bay.

Up at five that morning
for two hours she drank tea,
listening to your skirling pipes
cry from your CD player.

We listened to your eulogies
told by friends and clan,
while to our left the windowed wall
showed us St Kilda’s Bay.

Vast clouds billowed, black and grey,
dark seas endless stretched.
The waves were surging back and forth
down on St Kilda’s Bay.

She did not want you rushed away
after your hymns and rites.
By your casket at the windows’ end
she stood alone with you.

Did you see her ? Did you hear her ?
She bent down and leant her head,
her arms, on your timbered chest,
for you had deserted her.

She smoothed one hand in circles
on the wood that shrouded you,
trying to draw you back from
beyond St Kilda’s Bay.

We kept our distance by the doors
in that keening silence.
At last she turned, walked back to us,
your 14 year bond severed.

Dark grey clouds were billowing,
the gulls and wind screamed out.
The waves were surging back and forth
around St Kilda’s Bay.

Previously posted November 2016.

St Kilda’s Bay

Charwoman

Young Cornish widow Bessie
after two months in a faraway
land grieved for her husband
struggled with her five children.

New settlers around her pitied
her plight, bought her a mangle
to take in laundry, found her
charwoman’s work scrubbing
rich people’s floor and stairs.

Baptists took her to heart,
became her family, held her
close in her grief. Each day
her tiny frame lifted wet
laundry from copper through
mangle to rinse tub through
mangle then hung it to
dry in her tiny back yard.

for the rest of each day she
scrubbed floors and doorsteps
while her children attended
school as demanded by law.
Young Minnie wrote letters
to family back home.

Young Tom ran wild, was sent to
reformatory, later taught to farm.
Bessie swallowed her grief, put
her daughters into tailoress
apprenticeships when they
left school at twelve.

They were as small as their
mother but were spared her
burden of laundry and charing.

Previously posted September 2017.

Charwoman

Cornishman

Cornish lad Tom found work
in Redruth town at the inn as
an ostler like his horse loving
forefathers. They were drivers,
stable boys, ostlers, working
with horses, teaching their
sons their horse loving skills.

Young laundry maid Bessie at his
inn caught is eye, his fancy,
his love. Soon she was pregnant,
they wed. Later little Tom was
joined by a sister, and a brother.

Hard times came to Cornwall.
Unemployed Tom joined the
desperate ranks at the mine
head daily, grasping odd
days of work as two more
babies arrived. In despair
at the mines’ darkness, in
grief for his stable days
Tom wallowed in alcohol
blotting out his pain.

Hi sisters in New Zealand
married to farmers, set up
his family’s passage there.
But alcohol now gripped him
hard despite his new job in
the livery stables, caring
for horses. His drinking
continued, lost him his life.

His widow and children now
faced life in a new land without
him after two months in their
distant new homeland.

Previously posted September 2017.

Cornishman

Hugenot

In 1689 French state and
monarchy aligned with the
Catholic church yet to
their fury urban artisan
classes sought God and true
faith in their own beliefs
and own church worship.

These skilled tradesmen and
workers with no wealth or
power owed no allegiance to
landowners, living simply
off daily earnings from
their own tools and labour.

So soldiers and populace
were stirred up to slaughter
these simple folk living and
worshipping their own way
………….in a bloody massacre
On Saint Bartholomew’s Day.

Some escaped over borders
jumped aboard foreign ships.

Young Thomas the lamp maker
sole survivor of his family
sailed into Falmouth to
to start life again, in Cornwall.

Previously posted September 2017

Hugenot

Out Of The Workhouse

As Victorian Britain’s empire
prospered in trade from its
scattered colonies those distant
governments sought European
settlers to clear and farm
rich soil for crops and herds
offered assisted passages for
labourers and families to
cross the vast oceans.

Scandinavian councils cleared
parishes of surplus young
men and couples prolifically
breeding dependent children
forcing them to accept passages
with deposits paid to a distant
land of accept harsh living
at home. Fare deposits cost
less than a lifetime’s upkeep.

For three months they sailed
to a distant land with a foreign
language to hack out farm
clearings from thick forest
on allocated land living
in rough shacks, tents,
toiling dawn to dusk daily.

No fares were paid to
return to families, homes
or a familiar tongue
in their own home land.

Previously posted September 2017.

Out Of The Workhouse

Into Exile

As nineteenth century Poland’s
borders and peoples swirled
in tumultuous upheavals with
fast shifting eddies landowners
sent bailiffs with stock whips
to drive their peasant tenants
to their three chartered
seagoing ships at the port.

Cracking whips herded this
human flock on board these
vessels separating kith from
kin, young from old, children
from parents. Crossing ten
thousand miles of ocean
for three months they were
offloaded at Taranaki’s
port in New Zealand with
only the clothes they wore.

Reunited at last they started
their new life in rough
immigrants’ barracks. Their
new land had assisted ships’
fares for farming labourers.

There was no money for
homeward fares to their
faraway home land where
their homes no longer stood.

Previously posted September 2017.

Into Exile

The Railway Station

As World War II’s  juggernaut
ploughed across Europe
tossing humans like skittles
up in the air around many
countries kind strangers
seeking refuge after their
displacement passed through
Poland’s tiny Matula station
taking with them the newborn
baby abandoned there.

Barely keeping themselves alive
they left her at an orphanage
who named her Anna Matula
for where she was found, she
would always know her place
of origin soon after birth.

Deported from Poland the
orphans were sent from
country to country finally
to New Zealand where all
seven hundred of them were
allowed to stay when the
communist government
demanded their return.

So Anna Matula in a distant
land married a fellow Polish
orphan raising Polish
New Zealand children
putting down roots far away.

Previously posted August 2017.

The Railway Station

A Fine Morning

On this fine sunny morning
she was excited to be standing
out by her fence where I
rarely saw her,only occasionally
seeing her in her conservatory
as I passed by on my way
to the local supermarket.

Her caregiver had arrived early
that morning to help her out
of bed, to shower, to dress.
Now ready for the day she
felt energised, walked out
of her conservatory, across
the grass, over to the fence.

She spoke happily, excitedly
enjoying outside air, sunshine.
Visitors go to her conservatory,
elderly friends, middle aged
children, teen aged grandchildren.
She wants more company still.

Visitors help her to forget how
her body devours itself,
cancer tentacles through
her lungs, kidneys, turns
her spine to honeycomb.

Her voice is husky
she gasps for breath
in spite of the tube
taking air to her nose.

Her mind is sharp and clear.

Previously posted August 2017.

A Fine Morning