Two Blackbirds

Two blackbirds hopping on the grass
Take little notice when I pass.
They know if I don’t stray too near
That they have little need of fear.
I’m the one who throws the crumbs
When the winter weather comes,
I listen when they stop to sing
And watch them when they take to wing.

But when my cat comes in to view
Then they make a great to-do.
A chink, chink, chinking they commence
And quickly fly up on the fence.
My cat comes nearer paw by paw
And to the treetops they withdraw,
Chink-chinking still till cat has passed,
Returning then to hop on grass.

Elizabeth Leaper
(from ‘Barking at Nothing’)

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Cat Flap

Cat flap
flip-flap.

Clean bowl.

Who’s that
stray cat?

That’s not
my cat.

Scat cat!

Flip-flap
cat flap.

Elizabeth Leaper
(from ‘Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles’)

Creature of the Night (Triolet)

All along the fence she’s prowling,
Feline creature of the night.
Listen to her softly growling.
All along the fence she’s prowling,
The volume now increased to yowling,
Putting trespassers to flight.
All along the fence she’s prowling —
Feline. Creature of the night.

____
Elizabeth Leaper
(from ‘Barking At Nothing’)

Uncle Tommy

Those buttons
are all that I remember of the man.

Mushroom-domed,
conker-brown and made of leather,
woven like a turks-head knot.

I call them ‘Uncle Tommy’ buttons.
The real thing they were,
not these tawdry plastic imitations.

They held his jacket together,
most likely tweed I think, although
of this too I have no recollection.

His face, his shape, his voice —
all that was him has left no trace.
I was far too young to remember.

So this is all there is,
this haunting shadow-memory
of a man I don’t recall.

Just those buttons and a name —
associated forever.

____
Elizabeth Leaper
(from ‘Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles’)

Pink Bird

A strange bird,
lifted on wings of wind,
hopped upon the trellis fence,

flew into the waiting arms
of the ash tree,

paused
only for a new breath, then
swooped down across the lawn
to rest by the shrubbery.

A pink plastic bag.

____
Elizabeth Leaper
(from ‘Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles’)

The Treacle Mines of Wem

Further to Monday’s post I would like to give you a bit more information about the treacle mines of Wem. I mentioned that the locals are known as Treacle Miners and I suspect this is because the town grew up around the mines to house the miners. Now, of course, due to the expansion of the town as time went by many inhabitants earn their living in other occupations, however they are still collectively referred to as Treacle Miners.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my children’s poem on the subject, taken from my book ‘Barking at Nothing’. For more information about the book, which is sold in aid of the charity ‘The Donna Louise Trust’ please refer to my Books page or go to my website at http://www.silverburnpublishing.co.uk.

The Treacle Mines of Wem

If ever I go back to Wem
I’ll visit the treacle mines again.
The best treacle you could hope to find
Is the treacle that is mined
In the treacle mines of Wem.

They dig it up from where it’s found
In sticky globules underground,
They refine it and they ladle it
Into jars and label it,
And happily they’ll show you round.

The mines are dark and smell so sweet,
But you’ll get sticky hand and feet
So they give you special clothes
That cover you from head to toes.
And when you’ve looked you get a treat —

They let you sample treacle pud
And oh, it is so very good.
And toffee-apples you will find
With toffee of the richest kind
Made from Wem treacle, as it should.

So next time I go back to Wem
I’ll visit the treacle mines again.
The best treacle in the world you’ll find
Is the treacle that is mined
In the treacle mines of Wem.
____________________________

There are many other treacle mines in England and, I believe, one or two in Scotland. Mines can be found anywhere from Devon and Somerset, through Kent and Hertfordshire, Yorkshire and Cumbria. In Lancashire too they can be found, immortalised by Ken Dodd and his Diddy Men who worked the mines in Knotty Ash – although come to think of it that was the jam butty mines not treacle mines.

For further information I can refer those of you who are interested to an article which can be found at the British Food History site here, although there is no mention of the Wem mines. (You may wish to note the date of the article).

 

Permission

It is strange but since I wrote my post ‘Resolution‘ in which I said I was no longer going to put myself under pressure to post here if I was busy or had nothing much to say I haven’t either missed a post or lacked anything to write about. Perhaps it is the very act of giving myself permission not to do it that has freed me up to just do it.

Another by-product, as it were, is that I am writing poetry again. Poetry was always my first love and other writing simply followed on from this, but for one reason or another I hadn’t written, or even attempted to write, anything that I would consider a half-decent poem in the last 18 months or even longer – until after my above mentioned post at the beginning of this year. I have been writing ‘Small Stones’ during that time, many of which have been poetic in form, but no real poems.

In the last couple of weeks, however, I have written five new poems. Okay, they might still need some tweaking and polishing but mostly I am reasonably pleased with them. My muse has returned and I’m riding with it. Who knows when it might desert me again, but maybe this too is something not to get stressed about. As I have now learned, it will return.

I don’t usually share my ‘proper’ poems on my blog but to celebrate the return of my muse I would like to share a shortish one with you today. I wrote it on 24th January so it refers to events of 22nd January!

Two Nights Ago

Two night ago it snowed.
Nothing much, just enough
to dust the ground
and then a little more.

Now it has gone, or nearly so,
washed away by a damp
and misty, drizzly day.

A little lingers on; around
the edges of the lawn,
in the crooks where branches
join the trunks of trees,
along the leaves of plants
in the shadow of a wall,

as if to let us know
there may be more to come.

Winter isn’t done.

© Elizabeth Leaper

Rachel Field

Rachel Field (1894-1942) was an American poet, novelist and children’s writer. I don’t usually quote whole poems here but having quoted the first verse from her poem ‘Something Told the Wild Geese’ in my previous post it occurred to me that some of my readers may be unfamiliar with this poem, so for those of you who may be interested here it is in full:

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, “frost.”

All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

 

(This poem is in the public domain.)

Guy Fawkes Night

FireworksWhen I was a child we always had a bonfire and fireworks at home to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. Many other children from the neighbourhood came round to our house for the party and often brought their own boxes of fireworks with them too so the display went on for quite a long time, often in the cold and damp. There was always much excitement and anticipation as we waited for Dad to come home from work and have his dinner (we always had it on November 5th whatever day it fell on) before going to light the bonfire. We had spent days beforehand making the ‘Guy’ using Dad’s old clothes.

Today private parties such as this are frowned on as being dangerous, so people go to organised events, usually at the weekend before or after. Of course there were also organised displays then, at the weekend, but we still had our own on the actual night and never did we need to call out the fire or ambulance services, no-one ever got hurt. My Dad was very strict about the safety aspect. Also they were never so noisy in those days. Why does everything have to go off with such a loud bang now?

A few years ago, around this time of year, I was invited to go into a local school to run a workshop and read some of my poems. I hadn’t at that time written a poem for children about Guy Fawkes night and as this was my theme for the workshop I decided to write one for the occasion, remembering the bonfire night parties at home when I was a child.  Here it is:

Oh Light the Bonfire Please Dad

Oh light the bonfire please Dad,
It’s very nearly dark.
I know it’s cold and foggy
But I’m sure you’ll get a spark.

We made the Guy last weekend
With an old pair of trousers and shirt.
We painted the face on a paper bag,
(it looks like Uncle Bert).

My friends will all be here soon,
When they’ve had their tea.
Oh go and light the bonfire Dad,
So everyone can see.

The fireworks are ready Dad,
Mum’s locked them in the shed
And Sylvia from down the road
Will bring some more, she said.

I love the Roman Candles
And the Golden Rain,
The Sparklers and the Catherine Wheels
And others I can’t name,

There’ll be Rockets too and Bangers
And, just for a laugh,
I know you’ll light a ‘Rick-Rack’ thing
To chase me down the path.

Look, the fog is lifting,
I can almost see the moon
And there’s the doorbell ringing,
Please light the bonfire soon.

We’ve got our thickest clothes on,
We’re gathered on the lawn.
Please light the bonfire quickly
So it can keep us warm.

We’ll ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and clap our hands,
It’s going to be such fun,
And then we’ll have some Parkin
And there’s soup to eat, with a bun.

So please light up the bonfire Dad,
And the fireworks too.
We won’t complain about the smoke,
Oh, light the bonfire, do!

© Elizabeth Leaper

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