L I t T e R

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Mark Goodwin

Frightened in the Gap

rumble of machinery behind hedges
thick walls of summer leaf shaken dusty
metallic whistle-rattle of dozer tracks

same sound as battle-tanks

same iron noise as in war films
of Panzers approaching
relentless across landscape
through houses of cardboard
and woodlands of matchsticks

I walk towards the noise & leaf wall
angry as a man following his bayonet

it is hot but I can't smell my sweat's musk
only burnt diesel's wriggling particles

I crouch and watch
from a gap in the green defence
from within the frail branch barricade
the machines will rip

I could stand

in front of one of these manufactured beasts
matador-arrogant Tiananman-square-style

but I don't

pathetically rabbity I watch it happen
the meadow being peeled raw brown
high oaks turned to torn stumps

the ancient in me is petrified
by this tool-violence he discovered by accident
and the modern in me he is bored of hope

and the me of me     she-he is stuck

somewhere between them     lost
somewhere amongst their war

I crouch in the hedge alive
amongst live green for the time being     I stare

at the ground's emptiness which used to be a place

which used to be a place

where I recognised my self


a sloe's first flavour shrill

then the clinging-pelt after taste the stone worried
clean of fruit by my tongue rough
in my mouth     hedge-nipple     saliva     comfort     my footfalls

on soft rain ground     ah

and the authoritative-chitter of a blackbird his or her
demand to the demands
of landscape's declaring shapes behind rising floating lines

of mist

hedges moss     fences algae     walls lichen     slopes this is England

this evening's sky's like
the comfortable threats of a sloe's flavours

(under it I'm tiny
on this rucked carpet of Charnwood I crawl
through a shadowy weave
of wood rock & soil thread)     my breath

just shows its white
bloom in the cool a strip of sky brightens

and o a back-lit-birch     my feelings

for you are almost dirty      your hairy trailing twigs
long white limbs     black fingers     your pliant
sketch haughty against sky     gods' blissful distress

yet gentle in air     filigree of frail embrace     long sapless grasses clutch

at my ankles    my footfalls
slowed through thoughts

now papery voices of walking
into autumn my    footfalls amongst

fresh fall perhaps frost-loosened a layer
of rust-orange beech leaves mixed
with soft green larch needles a     ditch gurgling     a partridge's

feather peppered with water droplets    I touch it    balanced
clear wobbles    mercury-like    slide off    leave
the feather dry

Leicester's distant street lights

to the east    below this Charnwood high ground -
another place    other places     being lit     city (a bowl of embers)
(a king dividing his mind
with thoughts of daughters)     my footfalls painted slow

by mud

in my eye-corner a flamey shadow -
a sudden fox     gone     ha ha a fast hare vanishes     the sun's fall

at first      shrill strands through clouds then

the deepening into pelt     a huge black oak claims
leftovers of sky     the dark cling     yes     tonight

just before sleep - dream-bloomed black-blues     the taste
distinct     just beneath


The Widening

the lorry brings     slivers     packed
tight in tanks

where the wet meadow     used to be
a lit expanse waits     a new dimension
for spangled beings     its surface ripples

the driver nets     a metallic fantasy
transfers     sleek packages of virility

from tank to tub     together we carry
a sloshing vibration     to the meadow's


my hands are drawn     into the quivering
inside the tub     a sense as fresh
as teenage disclosures     of touch
or that first     swim whilst naked

slippery musculature     flips & slides
against my arms     as cold wraps
my wrists     I see     yellow-rimmed eyes


my heart pumps     its dark current
and the lake's inside     is wide inside me

the bank's dark soaked     soil smells
cool & full     the driver celebrates
another release with


Brookies     Brownies     Rainbows
and look     a Zebra Hybrid!

he describes the finery     of rainbow-fabric
each red spot bears     a blue pin-head

we tip the tub towards     the new dimension
they nose the rim     then


like knowledge     they streak
soundless     sucked out     by the weight

        of open

Copyright Mark Goodwin, 2007