Transparent Words - Poetry
4 Poems by Mandy Pannett
The hoop of night rolls out like turf across a humid field.
Downtown the wolf in sackcloth lopes,
devours graffiti on the bridge.
Across such lanes the pilgrims crept as penitents in grief.
They’d claw their way to paradise,
with gongs and drums bash out their faith.
In Somerfields the walls are bright with oranges and greens.
Beneath the asphalt in the car park
dust in a plague pit stirs.
A wild swan dies of pestilence, somewhere
a rattle shakes. The wolf in sackcloth curls and creeps
around a withered street.
Long deserted villages still testify to loss.
With tambourines the burger kings
take up their ancient dance.
Layers and Levels
This city is layered in water and rock:
Promenade and March, promenade
and march. A lead-shot tower on a low skyline
grim as the sniper of death.
Who is the one creeping inside the walls?
Who is the stranger outside?
A sensation of boots and a dirty light:
Who goes there? cries the watchtower ghost.
Joker or thief, there is no way out.
Under the moon a man freezes up like a hare.
The fountain is green like the margins of shadows,
stone looks malleable, soft as a fish, curving
upwards and round. An explosion
of fireworks but no matching light.
Grey hills of Wales are empty of foe,
bodies scatter like gravel. Frost in the quarry
is vicious at dawn – time to split rock at its heart.
There are poppies in buttonholes, petals on graves ...
Move him into the sun for the mists of November
Layers and levels, water and rock, promenade
and march. The Cathedral pilgrim stirs at the music,
shifts his misericord, rubs his poor bones.
Relying on Christopher and the new moon,
he stumbles into the night.
IN YOUR DREAMS ...
Once he ruled the darkness of the ancient wood, the wild
ancestral bear. Who dared to enter if confronted, had the will
to pass? He could rip the skins off night, destroy the sunset
with his paw. In this tangle-wood of conflict
he is out there still.
Nothing to see but a ruin.
Even a rabbit or seabird would help.
It is silent after the hours of guns.
What am I looking for ─
Ghosts of my men?
They are all shells.
Bodies lie stiff in a windy field.
I am slaughtered inside.
IN STONE ...
The grey stone owl is old. Well worn and weather-beaten, he is verdigris
ingrained with mud. He sits through all the years.
The stones I love are heavy and moon-faced: smooth enough to paint or just
to hold and listen to. At times they seem
like shrunken masks – white and eyeless, dispassionate and chill.
They are echoes of the wind: impacted and compressed.
I think of aircraft on a hillside: a cross, chalk-white against the green
skeletons retrieved at Plugstreet Wood.
THE POET WRITES ABOUT WAR ...
... rode the six hundred he jots down
relishing the sound of rhyme; it gives the men
collective fame: a valiant troop that fought
in the heroic mode and died as fits tradition.
In recent years he gives them names
like Hodge or Jack, adds details to provide
the tender touch. Remembers how
in Saxon times, he was spectator on the spot
allowed to hide behind the shields
record events as they occurred:
who was cut down, whose noble spear
lay vanquished in the mud.
To Me, To Me
Remember the beach where we swam in the sea and the sky
was the texture of heat wave, lit by gashes of storm?
That was a long time ago.
Today the same sea is placid and flat.
Families are staggering onto the beach, determined as deckchairs
to have a good time. A small boy is running
with bells on his shoes. His father is trying to harness
a windbreak, fix it in sand. A few people stand
at the railings alone, stare at the sea. From somewhere a song ...
O bring my love back ...Words are distorted by gulls.