Poetry: Stephen Kingsnorth

Stephen Kingsnorth

For reason, the apogee,
on the value scale of love, 
I halted chimes, tested times.
Because its ever-rhythmic toll,   
reverberated childhood’s bell, 
Westminster peal that reassured, 
called for my largest repair spend.

It forecast the expected call
that I should climb the stair.
It recalled scold and scalding tears
that I remained below.
It told me train would never wait,
neither school, I was late.
It woke me from bad dreams at night,
told that I lay at home.
I heard it when I could not sleep,
yet within, all was well.
It took me through my boyhood, safe,
family surety.

But now I, the older man,
time has moved the scenery.
Family means something new,
a story each own and tell.

So I alone was formed by these
appealing sounds in ringing ears,
that followed me when scraping knees.
And because my love
found the strike a noise,
I stopped the chimes.


My face is known throughout the world
          though different point as ring the zones.
Circadian your body pulse -
          dawning, morning, dusk and night;
my ancestry of sun and shade
          and sand stream into bulbous glass.
A classicist with language skills,
          I turn my hands, with spring in step,
to Arabic and Latin script,
          and even dots, morse quiet pips.
Unlike my analogue approach,
          the young set never lift a hand -
just digits, never finger, thumb -
          a weekly wind-up all I get.
Wristband rainbows stole my place -   
           you save the world but I set pace;
Granddad fobbed an age ago,
          a chain and pocket, waistcoat ware.
Religious creed, horology -
          it’s cognitive, an inner piece;
a right hand man strapped to left wrist -   
          learnt once, it feels like riding bike.
That watchword, jewels, now past age,
          quartz as if it sits with pint,
sad for old Father, Grand before,
            but travel light, just fold my hinge.
A measure, marker, spacing time,
          I know my chronos; Kairos, sign?

Crossing the Line

A green hill, outside city walls,
this for an observation post,
a strange site given sunset strip -
this brassy lady, GMT.
Back then when Dr Who was born
I stood astride that Time Lord zone,
before a war of seven days.
That time can’t heal as God’s involved -
for both sides know that God is one,
and both know that God told them so,
from pinnacle to rubbish dump -
for that is what one hell named for,
smoke, flame, smell, another strip.
But though my line’s now laser beam,
the noon bell, new day - no control.

Pipe Dream

While pulsing coals contained in grate
a spill brings flame toward the bowl;
the piper’s wail, lament for past
invades the musings under jars. 

This Greek frieze terracotta pot,
a tourist pantheon, fake past,
confronts imagined good old days
with flaky memory and shag.

Though painted scene on second urn
sees butterfly on blackberry -
the species gone, the meaning changed,
so undervalued in our past,
cakes of taste now stripped and cut.

In his chamber, first packed then tamped,
over dottle, stummel caressed,
while ring of fire, floats round above,
will-o’-the-wisp to light the pipe.

Aglow rite muse, reflection now,
a retrospective, curling smoke.

Judgement Seat

I knew a lad once, criticised, 
harangued and bullied, told no good,
who turned to crime as hope to shine,
proof, one subject, where might excel,
yet skater board led living hell.
He failed of course, saw prison road
beckon, shimmer from the heat;
but redrew map, encouragement,
his best affirmed in time to bloom.
Escapee, serendipity,
chance fall of things, or angel powers,
and from redemption, kinder gods,
the seat of judgement never joined.
Fresh cut, rough diamonds, polish best,
facets, always within, revealed
by expert eye, time’s wisdom grown,
potential released, stone set gold,
potency for good set free.
‘Bad boys’ is all too easy slang,
a merit, badge of honour tag,
alluring, easy mark to make,
a starring rôle when part is gloom;
but new routes always plot ahead.
That middle way guides balanced track,
less risk when sat, though dare intent;
for pilgrims’ path on offer here.

Bio: Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had some 350 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, most recently The Parliament Literary Magazine, Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Poetry Potion, Grand Little Things.  https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

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