Easter Sunday; Devizes

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for John (Ted) Dexter

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no cars on the road

all of the town sofa bound

food lulled and sleeping

walking home, a man

evensong’s slow gentle peace

on him like monks’ robes

old man and poet

meet in quiet communion

by the graveyard gate

souls of the same shade

in unspoken fellowship

watching the birds fly

on the bridge, silence

white blossom, silver water

Easter Sunday light

*

© Gail Foster 17th April 2017

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The Light Is Not A Solemn Thing, It Shines

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for Sarah

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The light is not a solemn thing, it shines

With merry glee and mirthful gentleness

Will not be held a hostage, in confines

Of darkened halls where little ones confess

The sins of fathers that they never chose

Nor be a slave to chapter, scripture, verse

Be boundaried, or fettered in its flows

It is the joy of blessing, not a curse

It isn’t how you said it was.  You lied

I ran, and left your lies behind the door

And here I am, and oh, the light is wide

Mysterious, and infinite, and more

A wildly wilful, free, and feisty thing

I wear a ribbon in my hair, and sing

*

© Gail Foster 26th February 2017

This sonnet was written for my friend Sarah, who left the Plymouth Brethren.  In accordance with the Brethren’s belief in the Doctrine of Separation, those who have left are no longer allowed contact with their friends or families.  In recent years former members have developed the custom of writing their loved ones’ names on yellow ribbons as a symbol of love and remembrance.

Blossom Rising

On the deaths of Major John Cairns Bartholomew, of Wadworthshire,

and a much loved Devizes tree…

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Beneath a grey and monumental sky

In wild confetti clouds that dance in air

The blossom falls; all trees and men will die

However good, or beautiful, or rare

For years, beneath the branches of that tree

Have lovers kissed, have lonely mourners waited

All men and trees shall die; he, thee, and me

By that same force destroyed and yet created

The clattering of horses’ hooves, the sound

Of yeoman passing, ghosts that haunt the ears

All trees and men returneth to the ground

‘Till from the light new word of life appears

In red Victorian brick and petal glow

Are strength and beauty blended ‘fore our eyes

Good men and trees in season come and go

Such knowledge is the glory of the wise

Drink with your eyes each bright delight you see

And savour every moment of creation

For man will pass and wind will fell the tree

And wine will drop on coffins in libation

While blood still flows like sap, best drain your glass

Enjoy the fleeting sunbeam in your ale

For trees and men shall die; for all things pass

All moonlight fade and colours turn to pale

Let hops be gathered; make of sunshine, hay

Add rosebuds and ferment a heady brew

For trees and men shall certain pass away

As dark of midnight shadows summer’s blue

For soon enough last orders will be rung

Sad flags will flutter half way up the mast

Dark laments for men and trees be sung

And rest be found for dear old souls at last

Learn wisdom, child, from ale and wood and bone

Brew love in barrels down in cellars deep

And find it there when you return, alone

To watch the man in blossom rise from sleep

*

by Gail

The Solstice Door

The light is coming… and I wish you well

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The Solstice Door

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Behind the running, running man the land

Lies silent, fallow, haunted by the cry

Of one lone mourning rook who flies alone

Inscribing solemn circles in the sky

There is no time to take a backward look

Just running, running, running, running blind

He leaves the flowered garlands that she wove

With ribbons bright, with summer’s love, behind

He runs with only hope in empty hands

All faint of heart, with life blood running cold

The chill of winter earth beneath his feet

All water turned to ice in frozen fold

All out of breath with minutes yet to live

He runs, through elder grove and stand of yew

Runs, seeking for the ancient Solstice door

Described in tales the bards and ancients knew

 ‘Till suddenly he stumbles on a glade

All silent where no wild bird wheels or calls

And in the glade there stands a single stone

And on the ground a moon dark shadow falls

And there, within the shadow’s light he sees

That which before him other men have found

A stairway leading down in to the earth

A dark descending path in to the ground

No way but down now, this the only way

He gathers one last breath, and full of fear

Goes down the old and foot worn ancient steps

That lead towards the portal of the year

How dark the endless steps of winter’s stair

That shadow down, down to the Solstice door

To where, beneath the door a chink of light

Hints soft and bright across the cold stone floor

He sits upon the bottom step to rest

Reflect, and contemplate the year behind

And lo, she comes, bedecked in leaves and fruit

And dancing, dancing, through his weary mind

Forget me not, she sings; I am still here

I wait for you, for life to shift and stir

And through the keyhole and the chink there blows

A fragrant waft of birch and silver fir

Reviving, blessing, soft upon his face

The promise of new life upon her breath

Touched by her grace he weeps upon the step

For she has saved him with her love from death

Another year dies, another lives

He sits and waits; she watches from afar

And as he waits the light in darkness shifts

And creaks the ancient Solstice Door ajar…

*

by Gail

Bar Humbug

In which there is much bad language in The Vaults (the best little micro pub in town), and Mortimer Cheese makes an unfounded allegation about Santa…

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 Mortimer Cheese wasn’t easily pleased

And he didn’t like Christmas at all

At the pub where he went for his grub and a vent

He would sometimes just rant at the wall

Particularly riled by people who smiled

He would give them a piece of his mind

He just didn’t get to where he was today

By being in any way kind

“Happy Christmas” they said, to the back of his head

“I think not” he would say as he turned

“Are you taking the p*ss?” he would splutter and hiss

Spraying mist from the beer he had earned

“Don’t give me that, about Christmas, you tw*t

All that tinsel and plastic and light

Santa” he said, “is a paedo in red

And I’m wishing for cloud on the night

As for the star and the kings from afar

I’m for Dawkins and none of that tosh

Jesus!” he said, “You are well off your head

Bring on the shagging and nosh!”

Seven pints supped, he was just warming up

He had a few choice things to say

Some thought he joked with the words that he spoke

But most folk just melted away

One girl held a candle, despite all his scandal

They had once had a ‘thing’ in his car

In a zebra striped dress which she wore to impress

She watched him with lust from the bar

“Leave me off your list” he said, getting more p*ssed

“Not you love, I’ll come in your stocking

A quick in and out, that’s what Santa’s about”

And other things frankly more shocking

His blood pressure rose as the atmosphere froze

And his words chilled the air of The Vaults

It seemed a good crack to stay on the attack

So he started on everyone’s faults

The sad and the chubby, the hapless, the grubby

All punters were grist to his mill

“What’s wrong with you folk, can you not take a joke

You’re all bl**dy ugly or ill”

By quarter to nine he had well crossed a line

Malc the landlord said “Cheese Boy, you’re barred”

“More feckin’ drink” said the drunk man, “I think

That I’m better than you and well hard”

“No, you’ve had enough” said the landlord, “so tough

It’s time you went home to your bed

You’ve been nasty and loud, you’ve done Britain First proud

And you’ve told us we’re better off dead”

Mortimer grumbled, and stood up and stumbled

And pointed himself at the door

Knocking the bar so the big humbug jar

Fell off and smashed on the floor

“Humbugs for me” he said, grinning with glee

As he picked out a few from the glass

“I’m already sweet but these humbugs are neat”

So he necked three, and fell on his a*se

“He looks a bit red” one kind punter said

“Take no notice” said someone, “he’s joking”

“Stop larking about and get the f*ck out!

Oh bo**ocks, he’s actually choking”

“Call for the Doc!”  “But he called me a c*ck”

“Well call for the nurse then!”  “She’s p*ssed”

There was nobody there who had much of a care

There were only the folk he had dissed

A bloke at the bar, who’d been quiet so far

Who had hoped to escape any drama

Had listened to Cheese, with his bile and sleaze

And had pondered the workings of karma

Understated but cool, the bloke jumped off his stool

Someone whispered “A nice little mover”

He grabbed hold of Cheese and with confident ease

Did a swift nifty Heimlich’s Manoeuvre

A grunt and a shout and the humbug shot out

Made a ring like a bell on the bar

“I’m guessing that’s time then” our Mortimer said

“I’d best get me coat then, ta-ra”

As he swayed up the street he heard following feet

And a voice that was eager to please

The girl from the pub, who was stripey and sweet

“Bar Humbug” sneered Mortimer Cheese

*

by Gail