Carpe Diem in Suburban London

When I wake and the sun is shining
My spirits leap.
Turning,  I watch your chest gently rising and falling
And I am glad, so glad that you will be here
To share this precious day. 


The dawn has broken and the birds flit from bush to tree
Finding a perch high up from which
To announce their presence and welcome
The fact that they are alive. 
“My territory,” they announce, “My family; my food.”
I cannot blame them,
Where not to fight for the right to survive
Means certain death. 
I watched last year how the new blue-tit parents
Failed to provide 
And all nine chicks lost their lives. 


But I am human and English and comfortable 
And on Saturday mornings the whole world is mine 
For an hour or maybe more. 
Quietly I slip from the bed and into a gown,
Creeping downstairs to boil the kettle
And look out on the garden,
Which has grown while I was not looking. 
Sitting at the table next to the garden door,
I luxuriate in the early gentle sunlight
And the bird song and the peace
And the fact that there is not yet traffic. 
A woody scent emanates from the earth
As the dew evaporates with the growing warmth. 
I hear a plop and a frog returns to the
Tiny kidney-shaped pond next to the pear tree. 
And I think of England – as did Shelley- except I am here.


I have another 45 minutes, surely. 
As the sun rises and the bird song diminishes
On my little patch of paradise
I still think of England. 
I think of my early morning England. 
But the noise of traffic increases as does the dust in the air
And it becomes city dry 
Taking on that acrid brightness that is city.
My vision freezes and becomes another England. 
The heat is increasing but I pull my gown closer
And shiver at the prospect,
My tea now cool in the mug. 
One neighbour has decided to spray insecticide
Early, while it is cool – and another to trim the edges. 
At the back, the children have woken
They wail in an argument over the iPad. 
The cacophony of what is England now 
Breaks on my consciousness. 
England – fair England –
Eaten up by diesel fumes and thoughtlessness. 


I hear you stir.
I am so glad you will be here with me,
For a while longer.
The one constant in a changing and polluting world
That I still want to hold dear. 


I will take you up a morning cuppa. 

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

I apologise if you have read this before under a different name. I have made revisions and the title has changed as has the photo.

The Death

I am left with my own sounds and the ticking of the clock. 
Every swallow is a gurgle and I breathe hoarsely, sucking air in and out – breaking the silence. 
Occasionally I hear a plane overhead and one bird – a robin I think, shrieking out its warning to rivals. 
There is a strange silence otherwise. 


Yesterday was a Sunday and a stream of weekly visitors teemed through the house.
Their cacophony of living noise trespassed on my usual dreams. 
Sally, whose mother sends her good wishes and Jane who wondered how I hadn’t heard about Mrs So and So – poor soul, 
Bringing the dead to the dying without a thought. 
They mean well but it’s difficult to find things to say to an old woman who rarely leaves the house. 

And then the boys, gawky teenagers, voices dropping and then rising suddenly to a high-pitched squeak- embarrassed that manhood is not quite there. 
Their unwieldy bodies knocking over the water jug and filling the room with hormonal sweat. 
Their mother ushers them outside with whispered warnings about a dying woman. 
Me. 

But we are all dying. 
Who knows if before I take my last breath
One of you may not cross the road and know no more. 

I listen to the silence growing closer and the intermittent rattle in my chest. I shall not get up today to open the curtain and welcome the day. 
I shall not bid my neighbour good morning or answer the telephone when it’s shrill ring pierces my consciousness. 
Rather I will lie here, still, unmoving in my cocoon. 

I welcome the silence of aloneness. 
I look forward to thinking no more. 

Although I will not take responsibility for my own end, I shall welcome it. 
I have regrets but I do not dwell on them. What is, is and shall be evermore.
But I have learned not to make too much of failures. 
Hurt pride does not easily give a peaceful heart without forgiveness of self and others. 

There is a persistent rattle in my throat and an overwhelming heaviness makes me smile as everything slows down to my pace. 
S L O W L Y my senses leave me in silence
Til all I know is the smell of death –


And a rushing in my ears like water over a steady waterfall.
I am falling through a cold, refreshing current as this torrent washes over me and I swim forward; down and deep
Diving towards the light beneath the pool. 

Deep breath. 

I am ready. 

These words and photo are copyright to Englepip© 25th May 2017

Cycling the Downs (Version 2)

There’s a saying that says

What goes up must come down.

But when I’m out cycling

I’m not messing around

When I say what goes down

Must come up again too

At least when you’re cycling

The South Downs through.

They rise from the seaside

At an angle that’s cruel

At times I would wish

I was powered by fuel.

The heat of the day

Seeps right through my shirt

As I push up the hillside

Trying to put on a spurt.

I’m pumping the pedals

With thighs that could kill.

Calves that are splitting

And lungs fit to burst.

My heart rate is rising

I hear its loud tick,

And my breath comes in gulps

As I give the next kick.

And little by little

I gain on the top

As my energy fades

Almost dying away.

But the achievement is magic

As I look at the view

Out over the sea

The horizon is blue.

As I breathe the fresh air

My mind’s blown away

And I think I’m a king

In my own special play;

That I’ve conquered my enemy

In battle today.

And I look with disdain

On those coming by car

And I feel that my place here’s

More worthy by far,

For I’ve risen up high

Through the strength of my thighs

And I’ve experienced a victory

You can’t quantify.

Photo and poem copyright Englepip

The Loss

Less of a hole

More a chasm

To lose someone close.

It is as if the world pauses

And only the cooing of the pigeons 

Remains in the gathering darkness. 

Fragments of memories surface and fall

Drowned in tears of regret

Of things left undone or unsaid. 

Only the assurance that it

Was a long life, fulfilled

Help to fill the gulf of despair. 

A whole generation now gone

Farewell precious friend.

Yesterday I visited the Holy Ghost ruins in Basingstoke – more of which on another occasion, only to return home and get a call about a sad death. I leave you with the poem above.

Poem and photos copyright Englepip©



Poor Old Tree

When you planted me so long ago at the side of the track
Did you know I would outlive you?
Did you countenance the life that I would give
Not just to self replicate but in harbouring others?
From insects small to tawny owl nesting in my hollow.
Did you contemplate the years of shade
That I would afford travellers down this lane
From farm boy labourers to coaches drawn
And then to cranking cars and back to men?
Did you know that centuries later your ancestors
Would stand beneath me and wonder at my age
Drinking in the air that I expire and admire me
Almost as a generous god?
For the peace and the calm and the life I can give.

You would be sad to see how the world
Is treated with disdain
Your progeny, no longer guardians
But ravagers of nature
Greedy for expansion.
I weep and yearly drop my limbs,
Shrinking from the world at large
Drawing in on myself: to nothing.


Then drunk in their own excesses
They will choke on their own vomit
And there will be nothing you nor I can do.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

Reflections

When I stare out across the wide salt flats
I count my blessings, from a life so full
I’ve seen so much of beauty unsurpassed
In hills and dales; and becks that trickle past;
Of lakes that gleam with orange sunset light
Or slow appear from out a mist at dawn
From hills all bronzed with bracken-coloured growth
And crags dramatic grey in slanting rain.
I’ve heard the birdsong in the green hedgerow
And listened as the buzzard keens her call
Crossed hillsides where the sheep bleat all the day
Smelled garlic wild along the woodland way.
Although my body now is rather frail,
I see and hear and scent as on the trail,
For senses come to life each live long day
As the river washes all my cares away.
She stops in shallows near my wooden seat
Reflecting all that’s past just at my feet
I ponder on the waters on the sand
And know from these reflections from above
That heaven for me, is very close at hand.


Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

I wrote this poem after visiting Arneside and Silverdale, which is close to the Lake District in the UK, where I have spend many holidays. The Lake District is one of the prime hiking locations in the UK famed for its wonderful combination of mountains and lakes. Arneside and Silverdale is nearby and in fact you can see the hills in the distance from there but the river is the main attraction here. As we walked along the riverside, there were elderly couples sitting and reflecting and taking in the sunset. I imagined the thoughts of one gentleman there as he sat with his walking stick deep in thought.

Beware thistles

The dying thistles blow in the wind
Spreading next year’s crop
Of pain and beauty
Floating on the breeze.
Beautiful at a distance
They provide some
Sustenance for insects and birds,
Until on an urge to reproduce
They send out their
Seemingly innocent progeny,
On wings of fluffy parachutes
To colonise the world
In the same guise.
Then turning their shameless heads
Upwards, like little suns
Of self satisfaction
Too late they realise their
Mistake
And hang their heads
In death and repentance.


Such is misinformation
Difficult to stop
Attractive to look at
Apparently benevolent
But inflicting
Pain that pricks at our heels
And stabs our fingers.
And which misinformation,
Seeds itself in ways
That we cannot anticipate.

Beware thistles.

Poem and Photo Copyright to Englepip©

Solo survival strength

You think you’re alone
Cut off; shut in
Shunned by the world and
Separated by lockdown.


But look at your self
Look closely now
Search inside your mind.


There are intricate memories
Pictures of
Places been
Things seen.
Moments of
Complex relationships
Conversations had
Discussions
You
Could have had
Might have had
Maybe will have
And they can all be worked out
Listened to
Responded to
By your alter ego.


We are never only one.
How many names do you have?
All them you!

You are not alone.


And if you have a God
You also know He is there
Listening to you
Feeling your pain
Supporting you
And lying beside you in the darkest night
Holding you in your dreariest hour.

Never despair.
We are all more than one;
Always with you.
Strong.

This poem was inspired by looking at my photograph of this Echinacea. I zoomed in and found so many different levels and intricacies and I thought that within any structure in nature there is so much more, especially in the human mind – so many of us in one. Always more than one.

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

The Hole in the Wall

Tied
As if by a chain to the hole in the wall,
Which sends out a magic juice;
Life-giving oxygen that breathes
Slow breaths
Into me.
In
Out
Cough
Shaking all about.
Life-giving essence;
Keeping me alive.
It would only take a careless welding of
A Nightingale pipe
Put together at speed,
For a burst; a suffocation;
Murder of my COVID fuddled brain.
Count-down from 10 to zero
Lockdown;
Shutdown
And life would cease.
Another member of the herd
Obliterated.
But this tube
Although imprisonment
Gives life;
Precarious as it may be
It is a chance
To recover to
A future of what?
God alone knows.

But there’s life in the
Old girl yet!

Silence

Deep silence

Frozen in the branches

Biting into the night

Exacerbating the solitude

That comes with lockdown.

Borne on an ill wind of

Punishment

For what?

For existing?

It enters your consciousness

Like a vacuum

Sucking out the senses

Suffocating normal existence.

It’s only when you listen to the silence

That you wonder

At the malicious nature

Of a virus

That cancels a whole world

Overnight.