I first noticed the village pump some years ago

when there were farms, spreading fields,

a lovers lane, open sky to the west.


Today, I find a maze of habitation,

a settlement satisfied with itself,

taking serenity for granted


leaving such little trace;

a pond of sorts surviving,

crude tyre marks of mountain bikes

bloodied by mud at the bank.


I was frankly lost

but then, as the sullen sun made jewels

of TV aerials I wandered

at the mercy of strangeness

and found that pump again,


it's spout and handle like the beak and tail

of a cormorant petrified,

a still life in its frame from the past. 


It was here we played Mr and Mrs in the sun,

my biceps against your thighs,

our two bikes on their sides in the grass.


We fantasized then about textbook yokels

slaking their thirst under that same merciless sun

host to new invaders,


to the raising of families

caught up in their destinies

while ours perished in the dustbowl

of forgotten dreams.







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Wed 24th Apr 2019 20:15

Thanks Jennifer. I have found it can be very disconcerting to relive a visit which was so intense, to find a sort of blandness that misses the mark. In your particular case this can be consoling in a way, especially if you meet original inhabitants who can provide a sense of continuity. This often happens I think in more humble areas that have not been pepped up by developments. Some of the saddest places I have visited have been the old South Wales coalfield towns like Tredegar which have never recovered from the loss of industry and are soulless places.


jennifer Malden

Wed 24th Apr 2019 14:56

Great writing as usual, sad but beautiful. I think we definitely enhance treasured memories of long ago times when we were perhaps happier or at least carefree. Sometimes it is better not to go back, as it can be disappointing not to say heartbreaking. I went back to a village on the Aberdeenshire coast a few years ago, where I had lived as a child of 7 (many many years ago!), expecting to be disappointed, but apart from the school being now a Social Centre, and the shop and bakery having disappeared, nothing had changed.


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Tue 23rd Apr 2019 16:46

Hi Rachel. I appreciate your feedback as always. The TV aerials has had a thumbs up from others too - just an idea I had. The mercy of strangeness was something I was pleased with especially. Thank you.

Keith, the experience you describe and highlighted in the poem are common enough, but nevertheless are poignant. A story by George Orwell illustrates it better than I can: "Keep the Aspidistra Flying." Rather depressing really. In that stanza I was trying to depict smugness. Thanks a lot.

Thanks for stopping by Martin and adding your as ever appreciative thoughts.

Hi David, funny you mentioning the cormorant. I sought out the most appropriate image with the idea of making the theme bird watching but lost that plot quickly on account of lack of knowledge. Sometimes I change tack completely. Regarding the wider issue, there has been a correlation between upheaval from an area into an alien environment and high rates of heart disease, due to trying to adapt. Your point is obviously highly significant on an emotion level. The nearest equivalent I can envisage here is the erosion of cliffs and the consequent destruction of buildings. Or sinkholes of course! Thanks mate.

Thanks all for the additional likes -Steve, Philip, Des and Marie.

Stu, you imp you! Ironically I just bought online The Meaning of LIfe and was struck by the mention of the school cormorant. Wonderfully metaphorical in that world of crow like cloaks and stagnant teaching policies. A great film - though some of the sketches I found this time round a bit tee hee wizard prang. Still gold though.

Thanks everybody - make my day!

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Stu Buck

Mon 22nd Apr 2019 13:04

lovely imagery ray but i cant read the word cormorant without thinking of this

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Martin Elder

Sun 21st Apr 2019 14:37

There are some wonderful lines here Ray. I particularly like' sullen sun made jewels of T.V. aerials'

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keith jeffries

Sun 21st Apr 2019 14:13


I am very rooted in the nostalgia of places long since visited. This poem has a particular appeal for me as I used to walk, as a boy, along a lane with my grandmother which was full of squirrels and old trees. A couple of years ago, with a cousin, we revisited this area to discover a transformed landscape which was so inappropriate. I felt quite upset almost as if my memories had been violated by the change. I could never go back there again, nor wish to.

The second second stanza is so very apt.

Thank you for this


Sun 21st Apr 2019 12:32

TV aerials and the mercy of strangeness--there are some quite beautiful lines here, Ray.

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