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The Mini-Anthology

Copyright of poems included in the Mini-Anthology belongs to the authors.














In Praise of Rust 
(after John Ruskin)

Oxide of iron, painting soil and sand
in russett, amber and a hundred golds,
veining Italian marble with its sun,
spills colour over drabness, brush-stroke fold
of new-ploughed earth, sheds light upon the land.

Dark iron flows through arteries and stains
the little world of man with crimson, floods
vitality into our limbs, and runs
with tell-tale blushes to our cheeks. Bright blood
breathes oxygen to fireour mabrled veins.

The rust we curse on razor blade and knife
tints Scottish pebbles, precious jasper, stones
we value for their beauty. Every one
is alchemised from deathly monotones
by this brown mystery, the dust of life.

                                                              Barbara Daniels

Strange Birds

I listen to strange birds. They cry in sorrow
I  think, behind the fences in the park.
Usual shrieks at home
In the Amazon

I guess, but here up north they somehow harrow
my heart or lift some bone or buried spark
of what in my young time
was my perception.

Protracted peering cries, bald cries that keen,
terse cries they may not even know they mean -
and all around the lake
they glitteringly ache.

                                                              Michael Axtell
 

Roman Temple

Abandoned by its god, bereft of worshippers,
The ruined temple rises on the valley's rim.
Sparrows lark among its flaking capitols, and
Henbane sprigs the roofless sanctuary walls.

Now, the light of evening on its crumbling face,
It sits serene, like some old man outside his door,
Whose way it is to listen to the summer sounds
Of distant sheep and the singing of a few late birds.

                                                                   Janet Faraday

Sacrifices

These things are very dear to me -
Red berries which the hawthorns yield,
A midnight frost, the simple compline bell,
And goosegrass plumes which grace each fallow field.

But I would give these treasures up,
Yes, every one, to have you always near.

Four things I long to see once more -
Blue spectral fogs that whirl and race,
And rushes stirred by carp, and heathered hills;
The moon that wears its craters as a face ...
But I would wave these visions by,
Forsake them all, if you would smile for me.

                                                                           Gary Bills
Golgotha

A round skull, deep in the grave,
Adam at rest:
Root and flower, gentle, aloof,
grew from his breast.

Silent his bones, graven in time,
settled and still.
Shaken by blood, anointed with fear,
he woke on that hill.                                                Kate Foley
 
 

The Song of the Wind

I am sleepy yet and blind
But I have heard the wind
Calling, and how the chattering leaves
Go whispering just behind.
All hollow with the thirst of days
They turn on freckled wings;
And though spring comes, the wind remains
In my ears, and the song he sings.

For even as he took the dry
Cracked words of dying leaves,
He took the thoughts that I had swept
In their pyramids of sheaves;
And I was left in a field of death
Where the sun had lately shone,
And only the echo of the wind
Trailed softly and was gone.

                                                            Pamela Constantine
 
 

Summer Afternoon

(after the French of Renée Vivien)

Coolness glides through the apple-trees.
In the depth of the verdure the brook sings
The confused drone that fills a hive of bees
         With gentle murmurings.

Under the sun the summer grasses fade.
The rose, expiring after the harsh ravage
Of the heat, languishes towards the shade.
          Sleep drips from the foliage.

                                                 M.A.Porter
 
 

Loss

Someone has stolen my golden dish,
the wine, the honey and the wheat,
and I must take an empty bowl
and beg for leavings in the street.

Someone has stolen my silver flute
That charmed the thrushes from the bough,
and all that certainty of sound
is silence now.

Someone has stolen the living fire
that blazed where mourning ashes lie
upon the hearth. In dark, in cold,
I in my need have only  - I.

Through the thick silence I may at last
hear whirling, wheeling planets sing.
Out of the void a golden rose
with flame at its heart may spring.

                                                    Meg Seaton
 
 
 

Frosty Evening

Evening like an opal lies
about the faintly glowing skies,
touching with rose and amethyst
the frost-cold mist.

Chaste landscape, icily austere,
keeps watch by Beauty's frozen bier
clamped down beneath the hardened ground
beyond the reach of sound.

In rigid Death's cold interval,
'neath purity's unyielding pall,
the undefeated earth lies deep
in undisturbéd sleep.

                                                Gladys Noble
 

Winter in a Suburb

Its naked white garden refrigerates this house
In a crazy tall terrace faltering up a hill,
Roofed for congregations of birds, shadow-haunted by the mouse,
Ancient shelter of Love and the Muses  -  and here we are still.

Here we are with a cat, now, working the winter out;
Mounting, descending our desert of stairs in clumpy boots.
How beautiful flitters the snow! Time congeals; a thin doubt,
Dream-vexed in sleep, mutters, wriggles out faint roots.

Dream-vexed in heavy quilts the nights are got through.
Air-phantoms, cold-engendered, frosty armies fling
Ice-prick spears at gelid glass, sky-bitten brick; undo
Memory, and hope, and the rising hour, crippled on the wing.

                                                                M.L. McCarthy
 
 
 

Violets

Consider how the violets you smell this spring
In your forest-bound garden of rocks
Convey the same surprising scent that Sappho
Smelled some twenty centuries ago.

While empires crumble and epics fade,
The scent of the violet
Drawn from the indifferent dust
Proclaims the same enduring news:
The mute and fragrant gospel of the grass.

                                                         Cornel Lengyel
 
 
 

Pheasants

Along a lane where never stirred
(Unless the cuckoo called his lover)
More than a brown or nameless bird,
Glimpsing a cock with painted hood
Or mottle-feathered hen take cover,
Was how I falsely understood
Someone kept chickens in the wood.

Now loudly in pursuit of sport
Beyond the wood the echoes ring:
Dogs bark, guns twin-report;
And pheasant, crow and pigeon rise,
Save for a brace that with limp wing
Hangs from the hunter's belt, or lies
Too sound asleep with open eyes.

                                                Roger Taylor
 
 

Lac d'Artouste

Whether you come or not, the water falls
down granite slopes and foxglove-fingered mauves:
pink-tinted blanket of the Pyrenees,
where irises, like flames of midnight, seize
the day with sudden disbelief in pain.
Whether I'll see these slabs of slate again,
marble, and gentian, and the wind-plucked blue
of mountain lake (them, any more than you)
remains, as ever, a moot point  -  as so
all speculation on eternities,
on the immortal soul, mine, yours, hers, his
and its  -  the neuter Nature's with the N
spelt large for clearer comprehension. When
will I return, if ever?  -  or will you?

                                                        Henny Kleiner
 
 

Aqua

Full-bodied springs
From a Roman's mouth
Water that sings
A song of the south.

Crystalline cool
From the oak-leaved earth,
This cup is full
Of Lucullan mirth.

Crystalling clear
In a cup of clay,
Water quaffed here
Has a fine bouquet.

                                         Thomas Ansell
 
 
 

In Webster Groves, Missouri

In a back yard, in Webster Groves, Missouri,
a young man could consider his lot confining.
He would see more of himself than shirts and socks,
and something less familiar than the tired
path to the fishpond.

Well, that's the way it is with a young man  -
and a young man is right to get away,
as far away as Athens if he gets the chance,
and not stay put there, either, if he can avoid it.

He will come to regret his decision,
it may be:
which is not to say he was any better off
in Webster Groves, Missouri.

                                                  Knute Skinner
 
 

From the Sea

I'll go no further up this coast
Where rocks cling numbly to the shore.
The night, and sadness, turn me home,
And dawn will bring me here no more.

But I will carry  back the waves,
A slight brown girl who sat alone,
The vastness of this swelling sea  -
All etched like scrimshaw on my bone.

                                                  Bradley Strahan
 
 
 

Compulsion

The sea repeats its ceaseless rush to land;
Sun burnishing, until it stings the eye,
Undrinkable acres, barren miles of sand.

Dazed by a grid of light and sound, I stand
By splintering waves, attempt to fathom why
The sea repeats its ceaseless rush to land.

Futility? Or has it all been planned?  -
This echoing expanse of naked sky,
Undrinkable acres, barren miles of sand.

In floods the answer: a compulsive hand
That can't erase its errors yet must try:
The sea repeats its ceaseless rush to land.

Once it flung gasping misfits up to strand
Them small upon the shingle, high and dry.
Undrinkable acres, barren miles of sand

Fed them. Unable still to understand
How, after all these years, they didn't die,
The sea repeats its ceaseless rush to land  -
Undrinkable acres, barren miles of sand.

                                           Colin Rowbotham
 
 
 
 

The Moon Is Down

The moon is down, no clouds are in the sky.
The earth is dark - an empty bowl in space;
And here's my chance to look into the face
Of sleeping heaven with unguarded eye;

To wander through the dippered stars and spy
Out Cygnus in his elegance and grace,
Or follow Sagittarius in his pace
Up the ecliptic to a throne on high;

To peer across the stardrifts to the heart
Of distances beyond imagining,
And see galactic pinwheels as they start
To turn and spread their arms and dance and sing
How light wells out of  darkness by the art
Of nothingness and night's eternal spring.

                                                Jon Taylor
 
 

On Parting

You seem a sad forgotten flower
Plucked from some placid fairy-place,
Flushed and flecked with fear, your dreaming flower's face,
Damp with dew and dread;
A savage bleeding bloom, your hue
A streaming eye and swollen eyelid red.

That I might  stay another blessed hour
To kiss the tears from parted petal-lips,
Take further refuge in your fairy power
Another day, one last good night,
And hold a hand more bright and sweet, now lost,
Than even love is sweet and bright.

                                                         Kevin Roberts
 
 

Forever Autumn

 The robin sings a
Season of its own:
a sad refrain -
Belonging yet apart.

I scarce can say
Exactly what is wrong:
Why spring is edged
with ice -

Why summer's throng
Of foliage and flower
Still turns the eye
Unerringly from light.

How thin this song
and sad!
How drawn it seems
From cold-condensing air -

As if a strand as
Tenuous as silk
To float and fade
Through gossamers
of mist.

                               Mervyn Linford

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