Three Poems

By Tracey Stanley

Adlestrop Revisited (24th June 2020)

Yes, I remember Adlestrop.
We cycled there
In search of Edward Thomas
One hot summer’s day
Through narrow Cotswolds lanes.
It was late June.
We came, and stared, and left again.
The bare platform was gone,
But the sign remained. Unchanged.

24th June 1914:
When Thomas made his sleepy journey
Across England’s gentle land.
He wrote a poem,
Whilst around him the world turned
And dark forces gathered
Across Europe.

24th June 2016:
A referendum, a nation waking up to
The results of a vote. An MP killed.
Dark forces once again unleashed,
Taking back control.
In the name of an England past.

24th June 2020:
The meadows are laced with wildflowers,
The riverbank is heavy with willows.
People swim, in sunny innocence,
In the cool waters. As blackbirds sing.
Whilst death waits again in the shadows.
Yes, I remember Adlestrop.

August

At the height of summer, autumn’s decay
Is never far away. Leaves corkscrew from
The trees, and blistered limes fall to the soil.
Blackberry bushes bloat with purple spoil,
Picked over by the birds, staining the path.
The roses are over-blown, casting off
Their rotting petals. Lettuce goes to seed.
A rabbit lies on the path, glassy-eyed,
Unseeing, obscene, with its guts ripped wide.
A jackdaw scrapes its brutal beak against
The abandoned nets on the tennis court.
A three-legged greyhound sniffs at parched grass.
In these dog days, cobnuts crunch underfoot.

Autumn is waiting in the wings, like a
Ghost at a feast. A second wave beckons.

Transport for Wales

In Wales, our trains are for essential transport.
After a blissful break in Ibiza, life is still in limbo.

Stay alert, wear a face covering.
When will my choir be allowed to sing again?

Stay two metres apart. Please see latest guidance.
Cat tests positive. Don’t kiss your pets.

Walk or cycle if you can. Wash your hands.
Hands up if you need a holiday!

Is your journey essential? Stay at home.
Dear customers, I face ruin, please come back.

Avoid facing other passengers. Don’t stand.
Five tips to get your car out of lockdown.

Together we’ll keep Wales safe

I’m writing in Cardiff, and started writing poetry during 2020 when I found myself spending so much more time at home and trying to make sense of what was happening in the world.  These poems were written in 2020 and 2021 and they reflect specific moments for me which stood out in the pandemic. I have a website at http://stonefragments.org.uk/ and a twitter handle: @fragmentsstone.

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David Newkirk
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David Newkirk
4 months ago

Hi Tracey – I enjoyed all of these but especially August. You’ve effectively packed a lot of imagery of decay and death into a short few lines. These let the reader build a sense of an impending catastrophe. The payoff for this is in the second stanza, where, “like a ghost at a feast,” the second wave beckons. Really nicely built and great imagery and very appropriate for the theme of the site.
Here’s a thought as to a “sequel” of sorts – in the US, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel (I hope).If that’s the feeling in Wales, it might be interesting to pair “August” with “May” where things are beginning to come back to life.
Again I very much enjoyed this – David

Tracey Stanley
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Tracey Stanley
3 months ago
Reply to  David Newkirk

Thanks David for your thoughtful comments. Would love to do a May poem. Certainly there’s a lot of optimism here as the vaccination programme rolls out and covid deaths drop, but some nervousness as well and concerns about new variants. It would be interesting to explore this different dynamic and mood.

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