The Allotment Chair       

Jed’s plot was a throwback to Eden.
Dog strollers broke stride, workmen softened.
Sunday folk watched him charm turnips
from early winter beds, shake his hips

at girls. And he’d give a deft display
to show that digging’s about wrist, and say
that a thousand pounds drive a spade’s haft
but a soft forearm and a gentle shove

will turn the clods, even in quagmire.
There was lightness in him; he’d not cease
till catalogues refrained from new varieties.
But the clanging of church spades

told of an elder’s death – and it’s Jed’s turn
to lock horns with the allotment chair,
lend his plot to younger blood, and laze
beneath his laurels, turn seasons into days.

He toys with orchids, cress, Bonsai,
the raking of castrated leaves toward the fire.
But most he sits so long he’s taking root
awaiting time and tide like King Canute.

 

*

Towards Mars               

If you find yourself drawn-up towards the planet (Mars),
you will develop keen judgement …

- The Wordsworth Dictionary of Dreams
              Gustavus Hindman Miller


My father was clear - my binoculars
should be cleaned, polished, cased,
and some distant day I’d grow into them.

But, when night was lit by a million stars
I’d shadow the shadows down the hall
turn the loose key. Slow as moons wax

I’d release them - all their X10 power
angled across an open Biggles book
at my bedservatory window.

Mars can appear a red quivering marble
or a cotton pad where a nose has bled
or a button scratched by sandy beaches

until thin gone. But one time Mars grew
and grew, and I went on a journey.
The pull of Space possessed me.

Mars drew me up to its full height.
Who can I tell? I’d be laughed out of sight.
Some day they’ll grow into it.

 

More poems by Phil Burton here

Phil's article on poetry here

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