Poetry Blog by Chris Armstrong

The Almost Child

I remember exactly the spot

the place I sat

when she told me

I remember the cooling coffee

forgotten

when I was told

I remember the uncertainty

in her voice

when she told me

but

I remember how I smiled

the joy I felt

when I first knew

my almost son

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Babiesdelightfathersjoymothersnewsparentspregnancysons

Three Poems in Tana

1: An Old Transformation

 

Her body

cold

as sea ice

lay before me

broken

by life’s swell.

I remembered

the pull of her currents and tides,

her surging waves and deeps

And I knew

I could no longer navigate

the course

we had set

so long before

As she lay before me

still, pale, cold

I wept:

for ever

becalmed

 

2: Lovers

 

Naked

...

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DeathLoveLoversPeaceResolutionTravel

An Autumn Song for the Traveller

Before I go

Let me drink this rich wine

Let me sing my delight

 

This gold red dawn has promise:

vibrant with the cold sun

vanishing valley mists

leave damp spider web to shimmer

mistdrops on the long reeds

and ungathered lawn leaves

damply shining

against the muted green of wet grass.

This amber morning has perfection:

wonderfully wooded leaf tints

golden...

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autumncolorscoloursdawnleavesmistsuntrees

Contrapuntal

I only try to write of joy

But you only read my sorrow

 

She came to me by chance

I suppose that's always so

We sang the bodies' lively dance

She rescued me from woe

 

She came to me in passion

I only knew my lonely life

We dreamt our bodies' ration

She rescued me from strife

 

The tear you see escape my eye

Remembers only pleasure

The gasp of breath yo...

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HymnjoylossmemoriespleasurePsalmsorrowtear

The Sailors' Homecoming

There is a time

channel mists behind, we sit at anchor for the tide

then in the early hours the Thames pilots board

and - slowly for the mist still lingers close to land -

we move up river reaches, take tugs and find our lock

to gently nudge our way between the barges

until we are tied up again in Albert's dock,

derricks swung and hatches open -

and I am free

 

Again,...

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1960sanchoragebargesBiscaycargodischargedocksfogLondonmerchant navypilotssailorsshipsstormstugs

Colour 309 U

As we sat

over coffee

she said

                she liked

                the blue

                of the wall

 

I could see a shade of green

                in the blue

 

The next table

                agreed blue

but

understood

me

                too.

 

We called it

Mermaid Blue

 

I wondered if that lady

                at the next ta...

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agreementbluecolorscoloursgreenPantoneperception

e-Love

Those words we share

                and those we don't

The ones you use

                what do they mean?

So much is lost between the lines.

That inflexion or joy I might have heard

is mute

 

Those words we share

                and those we don't

The anger I feel in you

                what do your eyes show?

I can never know as I read the lines.

The thoug...

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angeremailfeelingsjoylovemessagingtalktxtwords

Storm Watcher

He watched the leaves float

in the pond

windmoving on the surface

drop-pitted by rain,

leaves, orange-brown against the black depths

 

He watched the leaves stick

to the patio

wetgluing to the slate

slickened by the storm,

leaves, orange-brown against the black stone

 

He watched the leaves move

on the trees

wildwaving off the branches

leafstripped by t...

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autumnleavespondrainstormstreesweatherwind

A Day in 100 Thoughts

10th October 2018

 

The radio speaks, it's daylight, I'm wakened

A momentary pause: consciousness beckoned

Sunlight on the trees says late Autumn Summer

More news on Brexit and the policy's dumber

The bins must be put out for the lorry

I had better get up, it's late and I'm sorry

There's news of a flood and a broke coffee chain

I'll email a poem to friends up the lane

...

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100 thoughtsdaydiaryeventsthoughts

Late Wisdom

You're aching for peace

I'm hurting too

Let the arguing cease

There's polling to do

 

You look for meaning

I offer a word

No sense for your gleaning

I'm not sure they heard

 

You called referendum

I thought it was flawed

A meaningless thrum

On democracy's chord

 

You were not aware and

I never knew

That voting out fanned

A nationalist view

 

...

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bordersBrexitdemocracyEUpeacereferendumtradevotes

Ashes in a Wilderness

To you, readers, I say

I am no writer -

these words

placed themselves

on my page

to tell a story

 

To you, writers, I cry

I am no chronicler -

these tales

spun their web

through my mind

to make a memory

 

To you, poets, I sing

I am no rhymer -

these lines

etched their pattern

on my paper

to form a psalm

 

To you, who come, I whisper

...

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poemsreadersstorieswordswriterswriting

Travel Sickness

I sat all day in the corner

awaiting a call on the 'phone

but when it came through

the voice that I knew

was nowhere at all in the room

 

The nurse that called me much later

knew where I was travelling to

but she never heard

the call of the bird

that flew in my traveller's dream

 

The doctor gave me some drugs

to keep the malaria down

but the pills that I ...

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doctordreamingdreamsdrugs.malariafeverflightmemoriesnursetravel

Autumn Thoughts

Black steel

curling wrought iron

balustrade

 

Beneath me

coffee steam

and noise

rise

 

and a poet

sits talking

animatedly

his foot jiggling

as he gesticulates

 

outside

autumn sun

shines on wet roofs

and casts

tree shadows

on house walls

 

outside

the sea is rising

while

London sinks

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AutumnbalconyBrexitcafecoffeeglobal warmingLondonshadowssun

Late September Morn

I, dreamlost,

wake

to golden leaves of beech

sunlit

from my bed

as airdew clouds over the hedge

rise and vanish

as the eastern horizon above the valley

is lost, sunk

beneath dawndrifts of mist

not yet warmed to fade

beneath the clear blue sky;

the uncut grass of the dew-wet lawn,

droplet bent:

cool promise as

I, barefooted,

explore

the cusp of the...

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autumnbeachCeredigiondawndewmistSeptembersunlightWales

#BeMoreSnail #Brighton

entry picture

She said

You could do a poem about the snails 

And meant the painted trails

Around the town

My mind ran down 

Fail

Hale

Male

Well met!

They let

Artists paint

And pattern

Snail blanks

And someone ranks

Their shell design

Good, bad, just fine!

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BrightonHoveMartletsSnail Trailsnailspace

The wave behind the wave

From beyond the far horizon arc

travelling travelling calmly on 

to swell gently across a sea

until the deep corals 

are left far behind

and the seabed 

rises sloping up 

to meet land

forcing us

to turn

to curl 

to break

to surge

to rattle stone

to shape sand 

our strength waining 

retreating quietly beneath

the wave behind our wave

a curling s...

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beachsandSeashingleswellswave crestwaves

Lunar

Last night the moon

orange sickle bright

seemed too large, low

hung over hedges

 

briefly eclipsed

by passing trees

dimmed by

closer light yet

 

always the lit

rondure

discovered

its umbral orb

 

to me -

I was driving

in the moondark

night

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darkdrivingduskharvest moonmoonmoonlightnew moonnightsickle

Sky

5th September 2018

 

Today

on the drive home

the transcendent wonder

of the clear ice blue rimmed with golden pink

and the blackness of trees

horizon silhouettes

and bats

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batsCeredigiondrivingdusksilhouettesskysunsettreesWales

Epiphany in the Early Morning

Low early autumn sun

a lone long strand of spider silk

                stretched across the window glass

                above a tiny downy feather like a snowflake

shivering in the breeze

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autumncobwebfeathermorningsnowflakesunwindow

Early Autumn Lake

Below the incurious sheep on the hill

                that stare at me as they endlessly chew

The sun is warm and I perch on a stone to watch quietly

As it is reflected off the surface of the lake:

                the part not covered with pond weed

                where flies dip and buzz

                dragonflies and damselflies dart

                     and hover:

    ...

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autumncountrysidedamselfliesdragonflieslakepeacepheasantsilencewater

The Invitation

a sonnet

 

That thou may'st happly spend your day

Fair maid amongst the northern hills

With books and study that will oft defray

Your time and thought in winter's chills;

That there is pleasure 'mongst your shelves

Oh lady in your cottage home

Tis proven by each and everyone who delves

In dusty library vaults to hunt a tome;

That thy bookish studies are good I swear

...

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booksCeredigionholidaysinvitationslibrariesnorthreadingsonnetWales

Towards Beachy Head

In the distance

the green tops to the chalkwhite cliffs

slope down to the sea

behind countless breakwaters

wading out through low waves

their wooden posts testament

to the shifting stones of time

 

Below the grey sky

the bluegrey water rattles the beaches

sloping down to the sea

between stark black breakwaters

mute guardians of the coast

each wooden barrier m...

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beachesbreakwaterscliffsgroynesseaskystoneswhite cliffs

On the Beach

Between the wooden breakwaters

I sit on the flinty stones

to watch the grey sea

waves rattling the beach

 

That foaming water

that was once the horizon

where I sailed

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beachesdreaminghorizonmerchant navysailingships

Eastbourne

entry picture

stone, stone, shell, flint

the rattle of a beach

of beach steps

on stones

the endless stone rattle

walking

beaches

groyne divided

beaches

 

And the waves

of a leaden sea

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beachesEastbourneSussexwalkingwaves

The Interface

Books make visible the writer's soul

Which bleeds its angst by pen:

Spread thin across life's whited bowl  

A thin red stain of madeleine

 

Books may offer us an author's eye

That ensnares the reader within its brail

Or should writers light the reader's sky

And tear apart the shadowy veil?

 

Books will hold the writer's thought

And bridge the gap twixt pen and read...

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authorsbookscompositionreaderswriterswriting

Cathedrals of Words [1]

It starts with that

the feel of paper

between the fingers

the paper worn by touch

the ink a little faded

but the weight of

the incorruptible text

resting on the eye

retaining its worth

for ever

 

Even before that

there was the heft of it

in the hand

the boards scuffed

the jacket torn

but the perfection of

that binding

resting on the palm

is ...

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archivesauthorsbookscollectionslexlibrariespaperrepositoriesSartetextwordswriterswriting

C#1

It is a meeting place, this coffee house of ours

The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed,

And it is popular with everyone.

Its tables and the chairs are a mixture of styles and ages:

Metal or wood or comfy arm chairs, and benches

They must have come from an auction!

There is a full bookcase half way up the stairs

There are newspapers in a rack

Some customers read while they ...

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cafecoffeecoffee houseliaisonsmeetingswatching

A Dark Night

Kneeling at the window as if in prayer

He looks out at the night

The surrounding trees are black shadows

Barely seen against the indigo of the sky

No stars shine tonight

But an unrisen moon lightens the air a little

With an almost imagined spectral light

Somewhere over the distant lake an owl calls

And calls again

A late moth blunders against the open window

Otherwise...

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darknesshyperboleimaginationmidnightnightpoeticsshadowsversifying

Rain

16th July 2018

In places the grass is brown and dry

The garden is a desert of cracked peat

Plants dead and trees about to die

Only my sunflower loves the heat

But this is Wales, yet

nearly all of my bees

have never known these

 raindrops

until

today

 

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apiarybeesheatrainsummersunWalesweather

ENDINGS

A series of 11 short poems

 

End of a Galaxy

 

A blink

In the silent depth of night

 

 

As the last leaf of the beech tree

As the silent tear of my love

 

 

 

End of Harmony

 

I see her dancing on the sands

 

I see her                                     as she sees me

and in that moment

sand, sea, sun, surf

vanish in the vortex

until

...

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communioncompanionshipdeathdreamsendingsillnesslifelovepassingsicknesstalk

Succubus

waking

in their bed

beneath the slates  

waking

as in a dream

slowly aware

waking

completely

waking

in the window airs

waking

in the hush

of the night

palely lit by her lucent light

the night

calls to him

and he walks out

the night

absorbs him

summer dew wet on his feet

her cool breath on his naked flesh

the quiet mysterious night

s...

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dreamsenchantmentfellmoonmoonlightmoornightsleepsuccubusysbrydnos

Who breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel?

In that first perfect summer, that summer of love

when rifles bloomed and we turned on

and so nearly dropped out

in that year we met

and in the sun

we loved

despite clouds

that threatened us

and sought to break our love

a sad weight of parental love turned on

our first perfect summer, our first summer of love

In that first perfect summer, that summer of love

whe...

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1967divisionloveparentssummer of love

Time

It is so many years

since I felt some part of me wane:

all those thousands of days

since we spoke of nothing -

could find no words;

and even many more

since there were whispers

as we lay naked in the night

or in the cottage garden

beneath the harvest sun

 

It is so many years

that I have known that dark void:

deep within my very soul

and in all those long ...

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deathlovesharingtimeyears

The Bench

I sit outside the door

on a slate bench

my back against the cottage wall

in the evening sun

listening to a blackbird sing

the most astonishing sweet notes

In front of me

there is elderflower

honeysuckle

buttercups spangle the uncut grass

and the old larch looms in its corner

beyond the ancient stones of Hafod

which mark my plot

The sun has not long returned

...

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birdsongblackbirdsCeredigioneveningsgardensrosessummerWales

39

Thirty-nine bodies

                lay on the ground

                in the summer sun

As I watched

                workers carried two more away

Around me

                life continued as usual

                a hum of activity

                oblivious

 

Thirty-nine bodies

                on that square of concrete

                that summer afternoon

As ...

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apiarybeesbodiesdeathhivepollensummer

When...

When I have gone

what waits this room

with its vacuum

                where I sat?

 

Does

my chair sits sightless

musing at my absence

midst space bereft

                   my music play on?

 

After I have left

ask my empty bed

all sheeted void

                about my dreams

 

Does

my mattress dent

minding my long night wraiths

maintain my ...

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deathghostshomehousememoriespassingshadows

Wind Dance

Sycamore leaves dance

In only the lightest breeze

They never turn askance

Like leaves on other trees

 

Sycamore leaves flair

Within their perfect ballet

In just the lightest air

Blowing up the valley

 

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breezedanceleavessycamoretreeswind

Llyfnant 2 

version without the Welsh folklore

 

Under the yellow-green of sunlit beech

between banks of bluebells' hazy blue

where supple crosiers of new fern reach             

over verdant moss still damp with dew

a grassy lane runs beside the river

 

In the mystic quiet of a leafy dome

of grey bark ash, beech and mighty oak

a far cuckoo calls all walkers home

but we pass u...

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ashbeechblackbirdcuckoohistoryLlyfnant Valleymossoakriversruinsstreamstreestroutwaterfallswoods

Llyfnant

Under the yellow-green of sunlit beech

between banks of bluebells' hazy blue

where supple crosiers of new fern reach             

over verdant moss still damp with dew

a grassy lane runs beside the river

 

In the mystic quiet of a leafy dome

of grey bark ash, beech and mighty oak

a far cuckoo calls the dryads home

but we pass unseen by woodland folk

'til tylwyth teg w...

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ashbeechfairiesfolkloreLlyfnant Valleymossmythologyoakriversstreamstreestylwyth tegwaterfallswoods

The Summer of Love

Wandering through the sunlit trees

on grassy bluebell banks, brackened

by the unfurling of softly sensual shoots;

strolling in the tide turn rippling sea

as toes sift soft sea sand, silted

and lost to the advancing wave weft;

striding across bare barren felltop

on sheep shorn Spring sprung sod, surrounded 

by haze horizoned hills and hills and hills;

standing by the quie...

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lovememoriespassionpastpresenttime

My Sunset Haiku as a Sunset Englyn

My Sunset Haiku [1] as a Sunset Englyn [2]

 

A green flash from the setting sun - and night

Now sea and sky are one

Dusk from the gold orb is spun

Thus this mystic day is done

 

 

______

1.

Where sea and sky meet

                a green flash from the set sun

Lighting distant shores

 

2.

The Welsh englyn unodl union is a straight one-rhymed englyn consi...

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darkdayduskenglyn formenglynionhaikuhorizonnightseasunsunset

The Forest Glade

I saw her stand

exposed and timid

nervous, shivering

in the leafy sun

a dappled beauty

suddenly shy

 

I saw him stand

proud and sure

brash, potent

in the cool shade

a young pretender

suddenly hesitant

 

I heard them come

angry and loud

fast, rushing

through the heat

the older lads

suddenly here

 

I saw his doubt

alone and fearful

...

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clearingfemaleforestgladelustmalewoodlands

A Silly Haiku

William had it wrong

                A haze of purple bluebells

Much more amazing

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bluebellsdaffodilshaikuWordsworth

Process

what spills onto         the page

falls from                  my mind:

it tells of                   what is there

it tastes of                 my thoughts

so they are                spread here                      with care

                                                                        as verse

the page                    becomes

my mind                    bared

...

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influencepoemspoetryprocessreadingversewriting

The Artist [1]

In so few splashed acrylic lines

see Cornish fishing boats

take shape against the quay

the red hull and the yellow

 

See Cornish fishing boats

mirrored in the harbour sea

the red hull and the yellow

with the deep sky sunk below

 

Mirrored in the harbour sea

the jumble of masts and cranes

with the deep sky sunk below

and the distant sea above

 

The jumbl...

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artistsCornwalldocksFalmouthfishing boatsharbourpaintingPantounreflectionsseaships

Lovers

There were those moments

pressed

against a Cornish rock

                in beach blackness

                with the shush of the rippling waves

                nearby in the night

lying

in a Sussex garden

                with the hot sun

                dappling our backs

parked

on a Ditchling hill

                with town lights

                spread below

...

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BrightonCornwallDitchlingloversmemoriesmomentsSussex

All the Years [revision]

In my mind

buried deep

                a golden grain

                of  Welsh

                beach

In my mind

our impressions

                in the hot sand

                where we

                lay

It is there

buried deep

                that single second

                that moment

                in which our

                minds

        ...

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beachGowerlovePobbles BaysandtimeWales

All the Years

In my mind

buried deep

                a golden grain

                of  Welsh

                beach

In my mind

shallow dips

                in the hot sand

                where we

                lay

It is there

buried deep

                that single second

                that moment

                in which our

                minds

           ...

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beachGowerlovePobbles BaysandtimeWales

The Young Lovers

Their voices harshly clash

and will not lie calmly

or rest in our ears

in peace

 

They rise loud over all else

and do not fall to our key

but strike out at us

in dissonance

 

Our song is raised joyously

and the harmonies sing

of the love we know

in concert

 

We have our air so their words

smash and fall to the ground

they do not stay in sight

o...

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dissonanceharmonyloveparentsyoung love

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