Poppies for Square Tuesday

I’m delighted to be sharing the  Berkeley Square Poetry Revue with  Deborah Harvey and Melanie Branton plus singer-songwriter Howard Silverman  next Tuesday  8.30, admission £2, at the Square Club 15 Berkeley Square, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1HB. Come along and hear us, after all in these gloomy times we need poetry, music, and art very much.

Recent days have been physically gloomy, certainly here in Bristol, but I think too across our torn and anxious nation. I decided to plant the leeks anyway, which I ended up doing in a muddy downpour poking them in with a finger. Needless to say there is now a poem about it – come and hear it on Tuesday. These poppies aren’t gloomy however. I think Samuel Taylor Coleridge would have loved them (though actually there isn’t enough sun in the UK to produce what STC got off on). I can take no credit for them, they just turned up. It’s a metaphor – see below. Deborah Harvey, Melanie Branton and Howard Silverman and I won’t just be turning up though. And I’m very much looking forward it.


‘Cultivated and disturbed ground.’
The Natural History Book, Dorling Kindersley, 2010

Even in Blighty the seedpods
go shiny and hard
capped with segmented
vegetable stars
upright and brittle
on the ends of their stalks

then shiver together
faintly hissing
But gone to pale wood
and for lack of heat here
these shut cups would be
no good to the middle man
of no interest to
the poisonous helicopters.

Though where sun allowed
each seed inside
if not rattled out
by the wind or chance
but sprinkled as if from
some imperial pepperpot

might then germinate
in broken ground
between Moscow and Kabul
enter bloodstreams in Hong Kong
the outskirts here, any town
across a border.

This one dot
of poppy could
anaesthetise all pain
waste empires, make
our cornfields bleed
or decorate our bread.

Cultivated and disturbed
companion of the nodding gods
Nyx, Hypnos,
Morpheus, Thanatos.
Mauve silk, red spots.
Black heart. Full stop.





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