Roaming In Rome, Connecting In Retrospect

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes to our locked-down spirits!

I sat a while in our town centre gardens, drinking a coffee while watching people come and go. It was almost, almost, like the world before, when nothing impinged on our intentions and freedom other than schedules and finance.

The new warmth took me back even further, to around 2006, when I was in Rome. I would get up early and after showering go for a walk along the Tiber. Along the way I’d call for a bottle of water from a small shop that I knew of, tucked away down a small backstreet, that was championed by the locals as it didn’t charge the inflated prices that the others inflicted upon we tourists.

I would loop a route back round to take in Peter and Paul in St.Peter’s Square, up there high on their pedestals, before the crowds arrived with their clicking cameras and eager eyes. As the day wore on, with the sun well on its way to reach its zenith, there were no shortage of churches that I could choose from to seek respite in their cool stone shade.

It was on one of those days, easy and long, that I was sat having a beer next to the Colosseum when my wife messaged to inform me that the girl we fostered had shaved off her eyebrows!

Talk about being hooked right back into the ‘real’ world back home.

It’s funny how different places bring different memories, small connections that lead into each other over time. Hopefully soon there will be new places offering new memories and connections to be made down the line.

Anyway, that particular memory found a home in my second poetry collection In Brigantia, born of a conversation with one girl that made a connection with the recollection of another.

Bang The Drum, Let Summer Come

I took this photograph a few days ago of a local fishing pond, frozen over.

There’s not much colour in it, is there?

January has always been bleak, even without the added burden of a national lockdown.

The lines of a poem in my first collection, Heading North, come to mind:

There’s not much colour in that either, is there?

But that was the particular tone of that poem, it is called Laments of the Urban Dead after all.

But we can still hold hope, if not joy.

I know I keep banging the same drum, but before we know it spring will be sprung, to be followed by the first fruits of summer. You know how it works.

Seasons don’t follow lockdown rules, nature doesn’t adhere to restrictions.

So hang in there, Jackdaw friends, wherever you are and whatever circumstances you find yourselves in, there are brighter days to come.

Thank God For The Night Time

That’s almost a certain Neil Diamond song.

And I know I’ll be regretting saying that later when up in that heat box of an attic of mine that I sleep in. Or, rather, attempt to sleep in.

Although it’s not exactly cool, at least there is some respite from the day’s fire out here.

I’ve been sitting here for a while, light fading, darkness falling. There’s a bat flitting around these gardens, and a large dragonfly, large enough to have made my daughter scream if she’d have been out here with me, passed determinedly by, maybe heading for a place to settle.

That’s provoked two questions. 1: Do bats always flit ? And 2: Where do dragonflies sleep? Just a couple of more things to keep me awake during this hot August month.

Just thought I’d check in and see how you guys are, warm or cold, in lockdown or post-lockdown.

I’ve heard we may have another storm heading our way.

Here’s hoping.

The Swifts Are Screaming

Above the house, the swifts are screaming.

Can you hear them, Clarice?

We are bogged down by time and heat and lethargy.

I’m thinking of an old poem of mine, Dog Days, written under the sledgehammer of a July, noon-day sun:

who can deny /the sapping sun/at its highest point /lording over /our genuflecting /straw gods

We are all genuflecting, lowering our weary, supine brows. It’s been a hell of a long summer, and we’ve not yet reached July. Who could have foreseen this, who prepared? Not we little men, we average Joes and Josephines.

Not tonight, you-know-who.

Tomorrow is more of the same, that has been foreseen, but nothing lasts forever, nothing lasts at all, and storms are due to hit the day after that.

And then we batten down. Straw Gods and rush men.

Children of the corn. Drinking in the rain.

Summer Lions

I’m sitting in the garden, once again, this time reading Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.

It’s summer. I can smell summer; taste summer. My jackdaws are lining up along the neighbour’s rooftop, tethered by the sun.

It’s in the autumn I’ll think of my father; my grandparents, see the young ghosts of my brother and I playing cricket in the ginnel, dwarfed by walls I can comfortably peer over.

For now, it’s my children, playing with the dog as I pause to watch, mid-sentence, laughing on the threshold of a great beyond.