I have inserted this after the story 'Body Talk' because it adds to what I was saying about my views of the tranquillity of allotments. I think I even envisaged producing a book called 'Allotment Tales'. I am sure it was influenced by my own activities on my father's allotments but also the kind of almost cinema verite documentaries around at the time being shown on Channel 4 which involved simply following people or recording them while they were in the park and I found that very tranquil. Anyway, it was in this sort of context that 'Body Talk' was written. If I am a bad writer, I am a terrible poet, so these are just for curiosity's sake.
'On This Day' was about digging up vegetables on Christmas Day, in 1986, I assume. It must have been mild and interesting that the allotments were open. There is no religious significance in that poem as I was a devout atheist at the time, though maybe there is a Pagan element about the cycle of the year.
'Sweet Landscape' is about the huge piles of leaves that the council would dump on the edge of the allotment. They were so big that the core of the pile would decay and heat up very quickly producing this very sweet smell and hot leaves that steamed when we moved them in the cold weather on to our own plots. Reading it now the imagery is terribly hackneyed, the sun as the 'natural hearth', 'tawny colours' of leaves is so common as to be meaningless, 'silent soil', is of course naturally the case probably just put in for alliteration. 'Uncarded clouds ready for toasting' is not only poor in terms of metaphors but actually completely mixes two different things.
On This Day
On this day we dig deep for our dinner,
The year’s work for an annual meal.
This is what I have learnt this year,
I roll again, again across the rough damp grass.
On this day no train traces its path on the tracks,
But the bells ring, heard now the everday sounds are stilled.
What do we learn each year?
We drive again, again along the dirt track home.
About Christmas 1986.
[This is the comment which came with the poem, I do not know if it dates the poem or is a comment on its topic.]
As I wheel my barrow of opiate waste across the sweet end-of-season land,
The natural hearth burnishes the tawny colours of fallen leaves which lick at my rubber soles,
And colours the uncarded clouds ready for toasting as they process languidly through the streaked sky.
Before me the steamy sugar-cinnamon of decaying leaves,
The dead children of the trees lit in golden light, the naked spectators of my work.
The smell and taste of these rotting bodies tangs in my nostrils and on my tongue as I spread them across the silent soil.
The steam from this winter coat streams upwards and along with the rich pink clouds above:
Motion over calm
I return in my own old brown coat, steaming myself in the fresh late-day air.
P.P. I found another three short ones from 1987:
Comfy beds and Newlyweds
Crying boys and broken toys
Panadols and splitting skulls
Run its course and now divorce.
The future is here today
In the thoughts of other times.
This one as written out as a chain as the last letter of each word is the first letter of the next word right back to 'go'.
GO OuR RythmiC CirclE EveR RounD DespitE EverythinG
possibly works better as gourhythmicircleveroundespiteverything