A bark at bedtime

He lies on the floor,
feet to the door,
back to the press,
with kibble bowl ahead,
empty for now.

Getting things ready for him,
water and food for the night,
he sits up in reaction,
then lies back and stretches,
resuming his snooze.

Untying my laces,
shedding my shoes,
I pad about
to click on the kettle
for tea, for me.

He drinks some water,
whips his ears in a shake,
couch scratches a bit,
that unsettled bed,
waiting his time.

He inspects my toes with his nose,
in passing to the door.
Noise brings him to bark,
asking me if I am ready to rest?

So to finish this ode,
and make the last line,
before we head for the hills,
he barks … a few times.

© Howard Fox, 2017

Beaufort five and falling

Flapping in the wind,

For quarter of a hour between 8 and 9,

Clouds flow east across the evening sun.

Hammock silk tugs and stretches,

As tree mallow flower spikes sway,

Awaiting her return.

 

Noodle nests boiled for supper

Seasoned by butter and goats cheese

With Miso, provided for what I need.

Low clouds zip east.

Eyelids closed for an inner volcanic rouge

From solar bound shut eye.

 

Wind hammock billows

cooling shivers motive to go in.

Bluer above, catching the evening air

Heading out to the Irish Sea.

Cooler chilled back and coughs,

signal a last swing,

Before I unfurl my hammock,

And let my day out end.

 

Rewarmed in still air inside,

Hisses the drafts of unsteady wind,

Beaufort five and falling,

As mallow lilac flowers wobble,

In the last of the day’s sun.

Before reacting to europanto

Parataxonomy and Optical ambition

Microscopy of mountain land
ascospore sizes of all fertile crusts
slides and cover slips
ascus photomicrographs neatly
measured by graticule
each volcanic island, measured and compared
Vincent versus Lucia, unequal effort provides history for each hypothesis
a species concept for insularity
in the tropical heat, Soufriere’s whiff in a cauldron of lichenological creativity
Dominica’s thelotremes versus Guadeloupe’s, Martinique versus Grenada
An Atlas for a young intellectual’s eyesight.

Attached to a tree
Crustose blade attacks
Sovereignty transferred to a museum sector
types and standards measured immaculately
the taxonomic exploration for an island,
one genus and family at a time,
foretold in forests.

[On the scientific ambition of many years work]

The Dunsany’s Ending

Charon rowed his Pirogue mirthlessly across the Styx
The dull pains in his athletic arms ached and
his face grimaced at each passanger like they both had
for thousands of years of time.
The routine of fifty souls from the island a day had increased for a month
to thousands and then declined to almost none.
In a week without calls for crossings, his time weary aches eased and he thought
‘The ways of the gods of this time on the island were strange’
At the end of the journey across, one shadowy soul whispered
‘I am the last’. Charon concentrated on the final strokes ashore,
and with a withering swish of his oars, Charon smiled at him.

SUNDOWN AT MARIGOT

In the evening sun
sipping a glass of rum
bringing a bit of heat to my cheek
the left ear hot and sizzled
the right lobe breezy in shade
looking out on the deck to the bay
elbows comfortable in my chair
a poet’s clipboard above my knee
sharpened pencil galloping across
line after line of words
imagining being at Marigot Bay
Pencil grip firm in the heat
now with a sun burned cheek
Pour me some more rum

Sundown at Marigot (continued)

Heat that warms your bones
Incandescent backbone aches melt away,
earlobe breezes startle irregularly,
your shadow shades the grass, denies them some evening pleasure
as a cloud crosses to melt the shadows away
Grass blade quivers, waiting until the fall of day
Look back at grey clouds, absorbing the sunlight like a sponge
fluffy and hey, I need to get back to Marigot some day

Pacing around, pencils clipboard bound
with a luminous brightness the clouds will release thee soon
while I wait, a few drops hiss on the hair on the back of my knuckle,
and others miss in their entireity
Mew heat to keep the spirit flowing
and calm, warm and glowing
would the clouds ever part
and give me a new blast from Icarus’ Inferno
to melt the waxes on skin
that a few moments ago I was sunbathing in.

Pacing works, movement allows
the reassignment of sun to your back
exercise and territorial tresspass
allow your shadow to shade the road
greenery released to double one’s pleasure.
May the tarmac boils subside while I am outside
getting a penetrating fourth verse
of a submission to Saint Somewhere
as a cloud whimsys away across
a blue azule backdrop.

For eventually I will get to Marigot
On one fine evening
The bone heats and ear sweats dribble,
while the draught of the tipple burns away at the gullet
as there is a verse to do.
May the sunshine in Marigot this evening
as I imagine it to.

[First verse posted on CLS, September 2012]

This is not a Mosquito

In Bed with Byron, writing in pencil
children are safe and the wit is instead.
Hail fair mirror where is dost cobweb
above your head saliently moved above the head board
preserved but moved acting with coughs similarly
tucked up in bedlam
the fly makes it across

Rain on the roof, a squib of a shower, the pencil chop sticks
alternate points keeping the writer hewn close to the sharpener
Oh – where is this going, this errant verse
mattress sprung knuckles bouncing pencils crossed above
sprung in cotton, comfortable in bed
exhale what cotton what crisp comfort against the skin
a parable of a poet watching a fly traverse towards the cobweb
and exit stage left.

banded abdomen of a nematoceran fly with haltomeres
a dipteran cigar now rests on the sloping ceiling
in for the night as far from the light as is safe
knuckles spring thud in between the beat of the lines
writing is all in the head
what emerges on paper is just that, if it is let flow,
short words selected by texting
the little ways of saying shortly instead. Not a Mossie.

Longwinded maybe but longworded no
it is the style of the composition
that what you are used to allows
why don’t you write in Patois
and let us hear that voice
subsumed with explosive friccatives rupturing through your lips
It is hard to imagine the sound in a sweet carib voice
without the shortened syntax to go with the reading out loud.
The voice is so distinctive

it must have a metrical metre
to turn those ears around.
hark, listen to the phone conversation in the far room
drawing to an end in agreement over earlier daily rows
why does a fan of verse
worry how it will turn out
when all that matters is getting it written
and let others figure what it is about
writing a poem, some say,
this will do, hey

Number the page in the beginning
crosssed pencil slip in an extra s
excessm this metrical metre has
a caribbean-ness, composed for a salon of salubriousness
where comment is stiffled by literary politeness
while a few rauckous members scribble away, posting notices of their output.
The reader counter is addictive
maybe you have to read it twice
we are all inveterate readers no matter what it is about !

Oh what whimsical fantasy is going to emerge
from this session of scribing
I must post my Dunsany
a place in the county of Meath
a poem with a chilling ending of a civilisation
Where is the draft I have written
dropped carefully on the floor by the bed
pencils write vertically while biros are disastrous in bed

What do you do when you run out of paper,
to put the composition in the writers atellier
a quick raid from the printer, keeps us going ahead
The rhythm of the writing to keep everything going smoothly along
rushing down the page in a different way,
puts the ache in the arm rather than on the hand grip.

The sound of the paper is thinner,
now that I have reached the last page
There are opposite sides to be covered
if one needs to go on.

The sound of scribing is a tonic to the soul before sleep
let us type it in in the morning and let us see where we get
encouragement is unnecessary for one with a voice
but welcome when it is not given in jest
for what a poet needs is just some acknowledgement
a few readers smiles as you struggle along digesting this

[Vikram Seth’s novel ‘Golden Gate’ is masterclass in prose poetry]

Ardgillan Writers Group Blog II

Peeing on Seaweeds – an open apology to persons unknown.

Not far from where we are now sitting in the Brick Room, I invite you to imagine the Lifeboat House and the views to the Mournes from our walks around the coastal paths of Red Island. Looking nearer, we can see the rocky shore north and east of the Lifeboat House here, is an exposed, slippery, slithery shore with a brown kelp forest exposed at low tide with bladder wrack in rocks above. Walking here among seaweeds and rocks is for the sure footed, for those who can cope with an occasional fall.

Seaweeds detached from the rocky coastline of Red Island in the littoral, the sub-littoral to sub-tidal zones can drift in the sea water, past hardy frosty swimmers, and wash up in cast lines along the South Beach, when the high tide turns. Twice daily, this line of seaweed is fresh gift from the sea for scrutiny by dogs, walkers and storytellers.

Oberon, a three and a half legged, black and white border collie, loves going for his walk on the South Strand, once or twice a week, on the weekday evenings after work, or on a Saturday before or after lunch in Skerries, we all have the opportunity to walk a section of the one or two lines of cast up seaweed.

Seaweeds on the strand line of the beach are green, brown or red – green like the sea lettuce Ulva or the green tassles of Enteromorpha; or brown, like channelled wrack or Pelvetia from the rocks, knotted wrack or Ascophyllum, serrated wrack and bladder wrack or Fucus, fluted oar weed or Saccharina, northern kelp or Laminaria, or sea spaghetti Himanthoria. The red ones are special like the dilisc flaps of Pepper Dulse, or the tiny red epiphytic ones that colonise the stems of old brown feaminagh, like the red Polysiphonia on the batons of kelp or old stems of wrack.

Released from his responsibilities of driving a white van along the windy shore road under the bridge from down the hill from Ardgillan, Oberon arrives in Skerries harnessed and restrained on a 7m retractable lead, ready for his Saturday Walk.

Sure footed, leaps three and a half legged from the cabin to the pavement and up onto the grass. We cross the path, through a gap in the oak baton slatted fence, onto the dunes and down onto the sand. When Oberon arrives bladder full, the seaweed line is quickly targeted. A three second pee, and a splash here and there, after sniffing the seaweed’s potential. The browns of Fucus serratus and Ascophyllum nodosum are the prime targets.

The long batons of the Kelp are a suitable beach toy and plaything of this Ballyanne, New Ross dog. Hurled lead length away, Oberon scurries to retrieve. The more ramified clusters of Ascophyllum are brown bubbly floor mops, when hurled wet land slap on the sand. They are soon behind his canines, in a premolar 1 and 2 grip, as he rat-tossles them hydra-like, shaking the seaweed to within an inch of its rat-tailed life. ‘Those imaginary rats must be really terrified of you, Oberon’

Oberon’s walks on South Beach have passed off without incident, a meeting with Harley, a stop, chat and parley about dogs and peeing on seaweeds, or whether you have more than two dog poop bags, when Oberon goes thrice.

In conversation, peeing on seaweeds is an ideal theme for opening caint with dog owners. Imagine yourself saying ‘Does your dog pee on seaweeds too. I have just noticed that he did. How interesting.’

This day a man in grey trousers fell into conversation on the South Beach. We were so engrossed in the caint about peeing on seeweeds that Oberon took an unbidden liberty. He wet him through to the leg. So, what do you do. Offer to have his trousers taken to the cleaners, or be taken to the cleaners over his trousers? I must say caint about ‘peeing on seaweeds’ worked, and we negotiated for an exemption on the grounds that they were grey work trousers.

When the man got home to his wife, we can imagine the conversation.

‘How was your walk?’

‘I saw you talking.’

‘Did you meet anyone interesting.’

As she continued her Saturday morning house chores, she said.

‘Do you have anything for the washing machine?’

What happens in Skerries, stays in the Brick Room.

© Howard Fox, 26 July 2014, 766 Words

Read at an Ardgillan Writers Group function at the Brick Room – Saturday 26 July 2014