5 To Marian, Questions, The Local: poems by Roy Carnon

Poem: "To Marian" by Roy Carnon

In the field's sheltered corner
spinney and rose hedge meet
where once you watched the heifers graze
and the bull had stood four-square,

There, three years ago
under the same February sky
we laid your ashes and our tears
on the mourning grass.
We brought no flowers
we made no mark,
but the black lace of the oak
engraved your headstone.

the living heart
met living earth,
and silently
the choirs of snowdrops rose
bowing white in solemn joy
of this communion


Poem: "Questions" by Roy Carnon

What did you gain --
arid bones of Rome's reformers
mortared in fortress foundations
of toppled empire.

What did you learn Poverello
form anguished conversation
sacrificing health
with your wealth of compassion
to Assisi's poor:

What did you lose --
martyrs who thought to smooth injustice
in a few decades
calling the old formulae
by a Wessex name:

what did you achieve --
you of that thin brigade
who stained the Spanish earth
with bloody words and arms --
abandoned on the edge of reason:

what did you expect --
patriots on dangling parachutes
drifting colander-riddled
to plough your Kentish fields?

Would you equate our shiny living
with the total of a sum that's wrong?


Poem: "The Local" by Roy Carnon

Holding his scotch
he walks
a bit too carefully
straight as a die
to address the company.
"The trouble with this country ...
too many bloody people ...
all ... so sodding hungry!
When I was at Gallipoli
we had no grub ... "
Christ he must be ninety!
"No grub at all
and sweet fuck all to drink."

The couple at the bar
stick their noses in their glasses,
the barman with the girlish voice
is busy suddenly
and the creases blond of fifty
stands looking for an order
from the public side.

"Yes, the troble ....."
and waving peremptorily
sits prematurely
and with great concentration
contemplates a world of tribulation,
of humanity
and patriots
and in particular
the shortness of his measure.


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