Wetland Character Building


I almost drowned once
down near the mill
swimming the current of the Coquet
three quarters of the way across
my legs lost power
against the undertow
I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me
as the river reeds
wrapped around ankles
my head bobbing up and down
like a braeburn on bonfire night
and the rest of the boys
jumped back in
like working-class Hasselhoffs
and pulled me to the side
they were much stronger swimmers than me

a quick rest and pat on the back
spitting up some of the river
then swigging back
some calming Carling
the realisation – dawned on me –
I had to swim back
facing a new fear head on
because backstroke was no good
I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates
we swam back together
like geese fly
    – in formation –
reaching the riverbank’s safety
and although my swimming didn’t improve that day
my character did.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.

Hope you liked it and if you did, feel free to leave a comment.

Take It Easy

Paul x

Weekends At The Club

Quid in the jukebox
The Jam, Bowie, Queen, Elvis –
Presley – not Costello

grass-green baize
torn and twisted in places
twenty pence a shot
free on Saturday afternoon
when it’s a fiver-a-man tournament
winner takes all
no chalk for the cues though

footy on the telly screens
piracy definitely
we don’t complain
it’s the best pint in town
and they do pork scratchings

they’ve got a bloke
who does runs to the bookies
backs himself to return the betslip
in under 10 minutes
he gets a drink either way

the old gagdies tell tales
of when they worked the shipyards
or some down the pits
they shake your hands every time
theirs brittle –
scarred with hard graft
and union strikes

sometimes it gets rowdy
when the domino crowds in
accusations of cheating
to win a 2 quid pot
it soon settles down
like the best pint in town.

*******

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, inspired by weekends and evenings spent in the social club in my hometown, which are an important part of the North, unfortunately declining in recent years. If you get the chance, pay one a visit, and sign up with them depending on their membership requirements.

Take it easy,

Paul

What Is A Fire Without Flame?

a dispassionate mound
of glaucous ash
the warmth lost
ready to die out
at any moment

or rather

a scattering of embers
the reminder of warmth
we shared
when flames flickered in frivolity
kissing and caressing
kindling and coal
when white,gold and ochre
danced
as strong as they could 
for as long as they could
to the gentle chaotic rhythm of crackling
shades of silver in the hearth
silently whispering
Live Life Like The Fire.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this poem and are having a great day.

Take it Easy

Paul

Image courtesy of Canva.

Dedication

I felt it was an insult that
each new street
was named after
a different species of tree
they chopped down
a lasting dedication to
rapid decimation
of the ancient woodland and hedgerow
their deaths were dealt so swiftly
that the hawthorn berries
didn’t even get time to bleed.

Now when I walk past
Oak Avenue, Ash Drive & Beech Terrace
each brimming with life
I think of the bricks, mortar and glass
I believe the woodland remains
just in a different guise
and the dedication isn’t an insult
but a celebration of what came before
that the trees that once thrived there
are a solid foundation for new roots to form.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, feel free to leave a comment if you wish.

December Nights

finding comfort 
in a chunky knit sweater
and sherpa-lined socks
hands clasped around my favourite mug
the steamy scent of hot ginger wine
waltzing in the air
with the aroma of an oud wood candle
while the crackle of beechwood
burning on the tv
soothes selflessly
the hardest choice I have
is deciding what book to get lost in.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this poem.

Paul

An Early Date

A cornflower sky
littered haphazardly
with spluttering wispy pearls
housing an effortless sun
watched over us
as we dangled and dropped
twigs of beech, ash and elm
into the dawdling waters below
our knees planted
porous
on the sandstone bridge
absorbing some of its history
our eyes followed
the branches ferrying
along the river
stroking and slapping
against limestone and basalt
we were quiet and thoughtful
wondering where they’d end up
wondering where we’d end up
and although sometimes
silence can be deafening
on that day
the silent moments we shared
only spoke of our serenity
with each other.

Like the river
we’ll continue our meander.

Sports Mixture & The Sun

I was 11 years old
buying the Sun
on behalf of my Dad
anticipating
50p worth of sports mixture
with the change

a boy
i recognised
my sister’s age
7 years old
trying to buy
20 Silk Cut and 2 litres Cider
on behalf of his Dad
struggling
under the weight
of expectation

a man
40-ish years old
trying to provide
for his family of 6
a newsagent
eager
to please his patrons
to be welcomed
into the arms of the community
his journey long
from Bangladesh to Britain
via marriage and military service
looking a blend of bemusement and sadness
at the boy trying to buy
cigarettes and alcohol
who he turns away from his counter

a man
50-ish years old
reeking of addiction
to tabs and cheap booze
storming the shop
firing slurred slow
deliberate insults
and asking
do you know who i am
irked by the response of
yes a thug and a bad father, we dont sell alcohol and tobacco to children
it was then I witnessed
racism first hand
shock absorbed
in my young brain
stood like a hostage
the tirade continued
the threat of a firebomb
to the newsagent
and his family
the smell eventually leaving
when he couldn’t achieve his demands

me, a boy of 11
buying the Sun
and 50p worth of sports mixture
with the change
apologising
for someone else’s actions
that I didn’t understand
receiving a wink and a sad smile
I ran home
to deliver the newspaper
and the news of what happened
to my Dad

My Dad
then in his mid-30’s
a butcher by trade
the sight of violence and blood
known to him
sat stoically on the sofa
listening to my recap of events
crinkling the pages
between fingers
stained with ink of
yesterday’s news
providing words of wisdom
be kind to those who deserve your kindness scum always rises, but it always ends up skimmed and discarded, remember that, learn how to recognise and skim out hatred and you’ll be alright
followed by
can I have a couple of sports mixture
I gave him the bag.

————-

This poem is based on a shocking morning trip to the Newsagent just around the corner from our house.

Most of the time there was a real togetherness in our council estate, but on rare occasions, a sinister underbelly came to the fore.

Thanks for reading, I’d love to know your thoughts,

Paul

Chimneys – A Haiku

indigo darkness
marauding across rooftops
chimneys breathe heavy

Here’s a little Monday evening haiku. The nights are setting in quickly now in Newcastle with some lovely shades of colour among the blackened blue.

Why not check some of my other writing while your here.

I love reading your feedback.

Take it easy.

Paul.

Time Travel

Taking a carefree stroll
through an inviting burrow
of oak, ash, cedar, elm and yew
I allow myself
to talk to the trees
and travel through time
the history stored
in trunks and roots
is phenomenal
whispered secrets
shared by the world
filtered through canopies
of bronze, emeralds and golds
could fill all the libraries
in all the world
woodland sentinels
silently observing
passers-by
witnessing the same
litany of mistakes
made by multiple generations
the main one being
that your present
is already your past
and the future is now.

This is something I’ve learned
by talking to trees
while travelling through time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this poem, inspired by wandering in the woods and listening. I’d love to know your thoughts.