lovesong for a sleeping child

when I have combed and carded all the clouds
I’ll weave a greywhite blanket for your bed

 
when I have ravelled up the sky
I’ll spin the silk of it to soft blue sheets

 
and all the sun that gathers in the moon
will make a pillow feathered with gold light

 
the stars I’ll leave alone my love
to spin in darkness high above your head

Jan Dean

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What to do when everything tastes of stupid.

all the soup in this place    ………..is vaguely tan no matter what they call it   ………it tastes of swede stretched overheads?         …………a cook who can’t? I give it a wide berth            ………. but now discover the shepherd’s pie is flooded with it the fruit salad’s                     ………..full  of melon the wrong shade of orange rank with ghosts                  ……….. of winter fields drab clay                                ………..and  dreary sheep grazing fodder beet from sticky ground I stand up suddenly             ………..screech my chair                                ……….. along the wood block floor I’m never coming here again a shock of feathers from my feet               dance a bolt of music in my ribs                            sing I am giving up tan                ………..giving up grey by more than a sidestep this place that smells of swede            ………..right down to its Victoria sponge has seen the last of me ………………………………………………I’m out of here Jan Dean

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Recycling Ernest Dowson

she makes the paper from cotton rag
her grandmother’s sheet …………….. shredded
adds more kinds of bulk……………….stirs
the greywhite porridge ………………..with a yellow paddle
from her brother’s sea canoe

all kinds of making are journeys
she thinks ………………………………….as she riddles the deckle
lifts it dripping from the pulp……….rests it
where the vacuum sucks out water
before the paper’s pressed between soft felts

she chooses carefully …………………..someone else’s words
they are not long, the days of wine and roses
it’s August now …………………………..and raining
what she’s chosen ……………………….she embosses
in this fresh new thing still damp enough to mold

later she inks the letters ……………….soft oranges
and apricots ………………………………..strawberry red
plum yellow …………………………………before she makes the sky
indigo and lamp black ………………. …feathering it to nightclouds
dreaming a hill from the flat ground

she clothes it with woods ………………dips a pen into pale ink
white …………………………………………..green
paler than the flesh of baking apples
duller sandstone-yellow lines …………mark undershadows
substrate pulled through veins

a landscape lit by bedsheets
small things repurposed

Jan Dean

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Flick weed and other difficulties

my neighbour’s new                       ..to gardening
but believes it to be therapeutic    .works
in the NHS                                       .. psychiatrist

 
I think                                                 doesn’t know
her annuals                                     .. from perennials
still                                                       seems nice

 
I tried to help                                     she doesn’t like advice
believes                                            .. the sift of soil
through fingers                               .. is enough

 
that work will rescue                        outcome’s not important
might be something true                 in that
unless she looks back                   .. on the graft

 
when that neat line                           of seedlings crops
to bittercress                                      who wants to break their back
hairy bittercress                                 goosegrass   bugle

 
she’s got the lot                               .. forget-me-not
I have a soft spot for                        ..but it spreads
you have to watch                           …and celandine

 

I can’t think that a weed                  .it’s wildness creeping in
I understand we all                          ..leave chinks for madness
that we’re fond of                             ..but there’s limits

 
I watched her yesterday                  ..working a new bed
pouring topsoil from a barrow        spreading compost
onto undug ground                         ..she’s laying up a heap of trouble

 

you’d think a woman                       .in her line of work
would know                                   ..   there’s no use burying
weeds                                                   no use at all

Jan Dean

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Ms Gardner paints

this valley is waiting           ….. tight against the skin
of branches                          …… buds fatten
green lurks                           ….. .sidles sly        in sap

the slap of water on stone where the rill falls
runs through the warm air  ….earfuls of wet noise
travel                                      ……across grass-sigh and sough

she feels the weight of sun on her shoulders
the push of wheat and tufted barley underneath her feet
the beating pump of           ….. everything growing

this will not be a green picture
for grass                               ….  not a blue picture
for water                             .  ..  this valley will burn

red-orange                          .. .. yellow
seethe hot purple               .. . bleed magenta
she sees                                …..the undercolour of what is

Jan Dean

 

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Conversation by the lych gate

Peter touches on the spirit of the place
the light the space …………………….the cube of air held
in these pale stones …………………..grey and lavender

it’s good here ……………………………I’ve lived in places that looked fine
but felt nasty ……………………………one place in particular
my wife ……………………………………she used to see things

I never did ……………………………….she used to see things
not everywhere breathes welcome
but here………………………………….. it’s all right here

the sound of cattle ……………………threading through the liturgy
becomes a eucharist of milk
the real presence moving in April sunlight

Jan Dean

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Inconsequential events in Sidmouth

because I was not wearing my glasses
I thought it said the proper way to eat a frog
because I was not wearing my glasses
the coins slipped into a not slot     and rolled
and rolled and there was never a single thought of figs
though I frequently think of figs
their fatness
their blue purpleness
their red seedy flesh
and that scene from the film of Women In Love
all tongues and sex at some al fresco meal
that was definitely not a cream tea

because I was not wearing my glasses
I couldn’t see the silver skittering towards the drain
though I heard it fall                        followed it
with my unlensed eyes       …………a complete waste of time
and then suddenly I did think of figs
I could almost smell them
feel their cool kidskin against my lips
and remembered Alan Bates and Eleanor Bron
Eleanor Bron            …………………..in that garden
at that not cream tea table
and how ridiculous …………………..that I ever thought
there was/ 
there might be a proper way to eat a frog
and now how shall I pay for my parking
with all my coins sunk in stormdrains
which might serve frogs/ ruin figs
and I really do need my glasses
because

Jan Dean

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