Mare's Tail

Mare's Tail

(By Paul A M Palmer)

"There's only one way to kill it:
You have to dig it out."

It's what they recommend,
The locals: they have the knowledge.

Scrape and scrape the top, spade against 
The turf and tufts of lichen and moss.

“You have to deepen the trench and then
Scrabble and search for the roots.”

Black and brown in the soily ground
Its fibrous tubes and tendrils hide.

It's what they recommend, the locals,
But it somehow returns.

Even in clay it can survive the culling,
Fighting its way back to the top.

A neighbouring allotment, untended,
Lets it fester and plot its survival.

Mare's Tail, used to bind the mounds of
Earth for the castle's moat and bailey;

To keep the soil solid against the 
Water that surrounds the keep.

It’s just like a regret or a grudge:
You have to dig it out to kill it dead.


The Office Waits ... ►


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Paul A M Palmer

Sat 7th May 2016 11:25


Thanks for the lovely feedback. I had the idea festering in my mental allotment for a couple of months before trying to do something with it. I'm really glad you like it.


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Graham Sherwood

Sat 7th May 2016 10:52

I too have felt your pain Paul!

I love the analogy too. how it is important to get to the heart of the matter to remove/expel it and if not done properly, may well return, often with a vengeance!

Nice idea, nice piece!

Well done


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Paul A M Palmer

Sat 7th May 2016 09:41

Mare's Tail is a poem based on an experience of trying (with my Dad) to maintain an allotment near Pontefract Castle. We were repeatedly given (the same) advice from another gardener when trying to remove Mare's Tail from the patch of ground we were clearing.

This gardener told us that they used Mare's Tail to bind the earth to build the motte and bailey castle and that's why it was found in the allotments nearby where we were digging. Of course, being a retired gardener with all the time in the world, he frowned upon us part-timers who were at school (me) or at work (my Dad) not putting the effort in to remove the Mare's Tail.

It occurred to me that we can sometimes use an event or a memory to bind our emotions and build some edifice (the mountain out of a molehill syndrome!), and I wrote the poem to combine this thought with a rather obscure memory from my youth.

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