Carpe Diem in Suburban London

When I wake and the sun is shining
My spirits leap.
Turning,  I watch your chest gently rising and falling
And I am glad, so glad that you will be here
To share this precious day. 

The dawn has broken and the birds flit from bush to tree
Finding a perch high up from which
To announce their presence and welcome
The fact that they are alive. 
“My territory,” they announce, “My family; my food.”
I cannot blame them,
Where not to fight for the right to survive
Means certain death. 
I watched last year how the new blue-tit parents
Failed to provide 
And all nine chicks lost their lives. 

But I am human and English and comfortable 
And on Saturday mornings the whole world is mine 
For an hour or maybe more. 
Quietly I slip from the bed and into a gown,
Creeping downstairs to boil the kettle
And look out on the garden,
Which has grown while I was not looking. 
Sitting at the table next to the garden door,
I luxuriate in the early gentle sunlight
And the bird song and the peace
And the fact that there is not yet traffic. 
A woody scent emanates from the earth
As the dew evaporates with the growing warmth. 
I hear a plop and a frog returns to the
Tiny kidney-shaped pond next to the pear tree. 
And I think of England – as did Shelley- except I am here.

I have another 45 minutes, surely. 
As the sun rises and the bird song diminishes
On my little patch of paradise
I still think of England. 
I think of my early morning England. 
But the noise of traffic increases as does the dust in the air
And it becomes city dry 
Taking on that acrid brightness that is city.
My vision freezes and becomes another England. 
The heat is increasing but I pull my gown closer
And shiver at the prospect,
My tea now cool in the mug. 
One neighbour has decided to spray insecticide
Early, while it is cool – and another to trim the edges. 
At the back, the children have woken
They wail in an argument over the iPad. 
The cacophony of what is England now 
Breaks on my consciousness. 
England – fair England –
Eaten up by diesel fumes and thoughtlessness. 

I hear you stir.
I am so glad you will be here with me,
For a while longer.
The one constant in a changing and polluting world
That I still want to hold dear. 

I will take you up a morning cuppa. 

Photo and poem copyright Englepip©

I apologise if you have read this before under a different name. I have made revisions and the title has changed as has the photo.


The Death

I am left with my own sounds and the ticking of the clock. 
Every swallow is a gurgle and I breathe hoarsely, sucking air in and out – breaking the silence. 
Occasionally I hear a plane overhead and one bird – a robin I think, shrieking out its warning to rivals. 
There is a strange silence otherwise. 

Yesterday was a Sunday and a stream of weekly visitors teemed through the house.
Their cacophony of living noise trespassed on my usual dreams. 
Sally, whose mother sends her good wishes and Jane who wondered how I hadn’t heard about Mrs So and So – poor soul, 
Bringing the dead to the dying without a thought. 
They mean well but it’s difficult to find things to say to an old woman who rarely leaves the house. 

And then the boys, gawky teenagers, voices dropping and then rising suddenly to a high-pitched squeak- embarrassed that manhood is not quite there. 
Their unwieldy bodies knocking over the water jug and filling the room with hormonal sweat. 
Their mother ushers them outside with whispered warnings about a dying woman. 

But we are all dying. 
Who knows if before I take my last breath
One of you may not cross the road and know no more. 

I listen to the silence growing closer and the intermittent rattle in my chest. I shall not get up today to open the curtain and welcome the day. 
I shall not bid my neighbour good morning or answer the telephone when it’s shrill ring pierces my consciousness. 
Rather I will lie here, still, unmoving in my cocoon. 

I welcome the silence of aloneness. 
I look forward to thinking no more. 

Although I will not take responsibility for my own end, I shall welcome it. 
I have regrets but I do not dwell on them. What is, is and shall be evermore.
But I have learned not to make too much of failures. 
Hurt pride does not easily give a peaceful heart without forgiveness of self and others. 

There is a persistent rattle in my throat and an overwhelming heaviness makes me smile as everything slows down to my pace. 
S L O W L Y my senses leave me in silence
Til all I know is the smell of death –

And a rushing in my ears like water over a steady waterfall.
I am falling through a cold, refreshing current as this torrent washes over me and I swim forward; down and deep
Diving towards the light beneath the pool. 

Deep breath. 

I am ready. 

These words and photo are copyright to Englepip© 25th May 2017

Cycling the Downs (Version 2)

There’s a saying that says

What goes up must come down.

But when I’m out cycling

I’m not messing around

When I say what goes down

Must come up again too

At least when you’re cycling

The South Downs through.

They rise from the seaside

At an angle that’s cruel

At times I would wish

I was powered by fuel.

The heat of the day

Seeps right through my shirt

As I push up the hillside

Trying to put on a spurt.

I’m pumping the pedals

With thighs that could kill.

Calves that are splitting

And lungs fit to burst.

My heart rate is rising

I hear its loud tick,

And my breath comes in gulps

As I give the next kick.

And little by little

I gain on the top

As my energy fades

Almost dying away.

But the achievement is magic

As I look at the view

Out over the sea

The horizon is blue.

As I breathe the fresh air

My mind’s blown away

And I think I’m a king

In my own special play;

That I’ve conquered my enemy

In battle today.

And I look with disdain

On those coming by car

And I feel that my place here’s

More worthy by far,

For I’ve risen up high

Through the strength of my thighs

And I’ve experienced a victory

You can’t quantify.

Photo and poem copyright Englepip