Above White Cliffs
(For Charles)

August sun burns hot upon the coast,
All eyes turn to beach and sea,
And fun is easy for these people,
For freedom is their right,
Their all,
And they have no doubt,
Of their importance in this land.
Above white cliffs,
Not high enough to see them,
But lofty, looking beyond green edges,
Across the bluer water to the horizon,
No hint of land to see,
Is a treasury of men,
An aeroplane in brick,
Housing warriors of iron will,
Fading into history,
But still marching.
Above white cliffs,
Charles dreams his dreams,
He is young again, but scared,
As the front drops to reveal the beach,
Painted with the detritus,
Of a battle still raging,
But like the others,
Dreaming in this lofty eerie,
He marched on.
Charles never stopped,
He never fled,
Yet fought the war his way,
No robot he,
But would stop for wine,
For a lady’s smile,
To help a friend,
So many fell beside him,
But he marched on to the end.
Above white cliffs,
Not far away,
The Peregrine stoops,
And soars over its domain,
It jinks and flies above the sleepy heroes,
And stoops again,
Then up,
High enough to see the far beaches,
Where those men marched,
To make us free.
Above white cliffs,
Charles fades into history,
With his comrades,
With little fuss,
Saying ‘thank you’,
For every little kindness shown,
A gentle man of iron,
Meeting his end,
With dignity,
No fuss as he goes away,
Such was the man, Charles Hanaway.


This final week,
Held the pall of doom,
Mild, damp and shiny black,
Cloud, no moon,
No stars,
Just stifled sounds,
In jet insulation,
Every delay a defeat,
Each tiny move,
To destination,
Gives hope,
Like a flaring satellite
And clop-clop-clop goes my shoes,
On shiny black pavements,
Dappled with tracks,
Roundels of city filth,
Settled there,
Washed from the dirty air,
A bleak art,
A terpsichorean rhythm,
Of choreographed people,
Dancing to Hellions,
Playing traffic music,
And somewhere,
A robin sings,
His war song,
And it fills Castle Lane,
And I smile,
At the madness,
We’ve made.


Fat man eating crisps

A round, bespectacled fat man,
With bald pate and ginger beard,
On my Gloucester train,
Munches crisps,
One packet, two, three,
Eyes closed,
Mouth working like a washing machine,
Beard bristling with each crunchy revolution,
Backlit by sun,
Like a happy, rosy, boy,
Grown large with his years of crisping.
He is so happy,
He makes me smile too,
Rather than be scathing,
I think the World,
Should eat more crisps,
Feed the priests, imams and despots,
Twenty packets a day,
And we may have peace,
Apart from the crunching.

Kevin Woods

Bidein a’Choire Sheasgaich did for me,
Filtered out the man that was,
From he who struggled
Up the diagonal gully.
So far out.
Carrying a pack filled with years,
Over the top,
Then down towards the bealach.
Lurgh Mhor dragged me on,
Until I stood and looked back,
From the peak at millennia,
Stretching away,
My few years nothing.
Then back.
My eyes espied a red robed wraith,
Bounding with poles,
Passing upwards with a smile,
Covering my hour in minutes,
Then down, to saunter next to me.
Kevin Woods clothed,
In shorts, trainers and youth,
Glaswegian rock,
Heading for two last Bens,
Klibreck and Hope
To tie up all Munros.
He left me to wander,
In the Monars.
I made that last bealach,
Hours behind him,
Years behind,
And slept through wind and storm,
To retreat,
To regroup.
So many Munros to do,
But I read,
Kevin Woods had marched from me,
To Klibreck and Hope.
All done.
“Good man!” says I,
That Iron Scot,
Kevin Woods.


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