by A. O. Griffiths
by Pete Crowther
They rediscovered a man;
Captured in a corner of The Rural Life Museum,
His things are mounted and displayed,
His implements arrayed for tourists:
The blade with which he flayed a pig.
The spade with which he dug
And cracked his sinews.
A card, placed nicely by a plough,
Tells us he was illiterate,
Spoke with his mouth,
Hard language in his tools,
Wrote in iron,
Gave history what his anvil would allow.
His face is lost, but his hands are here,
Cast in a throng of horse-shoes,
His thumb leaving a million cells
On the nail he rubbed
And in the mallet grooves.
There are bees above the gate-house door,
A hive beneath the quiet wood,
Alive with May-time industry,
Reminding us this was a place of war.
There is no powder now,
No death by shot;
The pikes set upward in the wall,
No longer hot with conflict,
Stop only vandals and the fall
Of wayward youngsters to the moat.
About its chin the fingers of the Medway float,
Look up and gloat
At the bloodless castle face;
A fallow place
Where youth is done;
A skeleton where hives but mimic flesh
In recollections of the soldier and the gun.
She was the barmaid at the Crown ,
With lips of peach and eyes of plum,
She was a lamb not dressed as lamb,
An innocent of twenty-one.
She was not lustful or desiring,
Worse still, she was young and lonely,
She stood behind the pumps and wondered
If they'd make the Egon Ronay .
And then it happened, just a flicker,
The eyelids poised to take the change,
She felt herself slip in the water,
It seemed an innocent exchange.
Soon came the chatter lined with silver,
Silky and premeditated,
And then just as a door-click shivers,
Suddenly she finds she's dated.
I've not been here for thirty years;
My humble pitch converted in hard times
To a merchant's yard,
And where the wicket used to stand,
A pile of builder's sand.
I walk towards a thicket,
Past a stack of bricks at extra-cover,
Peel back the briars to discover
The old pavilion,
And, where my feet once rested,
Sleeping bags of garden peat.
A little rusted now, but still the shadow of itself,
The scoreboard stands,
Invaded by the bracken and the ivy hands,
Its numbers lost
And, no doubt, lying somewhere
As a sad memento to the cost
May Fair at Maresfield,
Sussex in hive,
Dancing and dog-shows,
And comical wins on tombola.
There are jazz-men that roller the ears,
Trivial ease and the blues.
Where and why
Is the coconut shy
With it's absence?
Did it choose not to lie
With the W.I.
And the raffle?
Will it baffle the locals and make the committee
May Fair at Maresfield
And the missing link
Is Sussex ghost and clown;
Crowning questions in the haunt of Piltdown.
Tell me, said the monk to the potato,
Do you feel pain?
Already spiked and baked,
The potato, unable to explain
Made no reply,
But secretly hoped the monk's meat foul,
A maggot in the faggot
Cheek by jowl
With gristle in the rissole.
Hard-nosed spud and thoughtless brother,
Made for each other
In murder and indigestion;
At such a question
From the navel;
In the monastery,
With sleepless nights
(Godless potato grumbling for his rights
In active gut)
And glut of meditation.
They placed pride's Piscina
In a city of cold Shropshire -
Belligerent imperial throw,
A show of culture on extending finger,
Ring on Watling Street.
The sheep about are unimpressed,
Banal and on their feet
About the ruin.
With neither reverence nor scorn
And but for fences
They would eat its coat
To leave it naked in the winter.
'This morning when we walked beneath the trees
by A. O. Griffiths