Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Beeching, Cumbria, Federation of the World, iron mining, Lake District, Lakeside and Haverthwaite, Peter Rabbit, Pleiades, plutonium, railways, steelmaking, technological change, The Plough, turbines, Wordsworth
(Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway station
Photo: mattbuck 7/7/2013 Wikipedia)
Once that head of steam was up, rails were laid
and Wordsworth’s wooed wilderness converged upon,
prelude to trucks toting plutonium,
criss-crossing the land; scouring surfaces
as deeply as glacial striation.
Then Beeching came and railed against the lines.
Coal, iron mining ceased; steelmaking shot.
Peter Rabbit quaking in his burrow,
anticipates fracking with timid twitch.
Turbines wave their arms quixotically
at those on muddied foot and cycle paths,
attempting to revolutionise health.
The golden keys open every barred door.
Geology is sacrificed to greed;
the hills afforested with money trees;
the night sky, filled with commerce, blinds poets
to The Plough, Pleiades, meteor showers.
We cannot hear the curlew’s stony cry
and now The Federation of the World
will never float the European flag,
but, ruled by those profit-hungry traders,
will talk us through its groovy projections;
will take us on economic projections;
leave us in a mistaken metaphor,
in a siding, instead of skimming on
to an optimistic mainline station.
Science no longer moves slowly, slowly.
Evolution morphs to revolution.
Wordsworth, proud of his skill to reach a point
rowed, unswerving to his destination,
dipping his oars into a silent lake,
before the ringing grooves of change arrived,
with consequent unknown modes of being,
bringing a blank desertion and darkness
to a landscape loved by the choicest minds.
saw half the swords were broken
on the battlefield.
After thirty days he’d forged
curved, slaughter-proof blades.
The gohei protect
our tatara from evil.
Older steel will stretch.
By the flames’ colour, we know
when the curve must be straightened.
Burns just mark me out;
hammering gives me tremor.
I can’t stop half-way.
Cold alloy cannot be worked.
I cannot grip my chopsticks.
Thick clay is applied
to the blades, before quenching.
with a gradual cooling:
that is how we gain our souls.
The visual effect
of differential hardening –
a bright, speckled band –
can be seen from long angles:
nioi can never be faked.
Sharpening gives shape:
it can take up to two months.
Some old tachi blades
can be converted, but lose
signatures in the process.
or ‘Moving Zen’ as it’s called,
used by Iadoka
show two hands better than one:
tensile strength and grace revealed.
You protect your lord.
Seppuka preserves honour,
of deity and mankind.
Art Deco, Celestial City, Clyde, Clyde-built, dredgers, Dumbarton Rock, Flybe, Glasgow airport, Glasgow University, John the Baptist by Da Vinci, Kilpatrick Hills, Luftwaffe, Paisley, River Cart, Singer Factory, soor ploom, speug, Titan Crane
Yes, folks, I’m back. Here’s a wee poem for you, describing my thoughts as
Flybe took me out of Glasgow Airport:
SHE’S LEAVING HOME
Instead of a speug’s* view at ground level,
I have a skewed vista doon the watter.
There’s a lump in my throat like a Soor Ploom,
as my keen eye picks out Dumbarton Rock,
before the plane’s wing and cloud wisps obscure
the Ben and those Kilpatrick Hills – cradle
of my childhood. The tributary Cart,
where mighty hulks dragged their chains,
buoyed up those liners that would cruise the world,
while dredgers kept the channel free of silt
and every vessel seemed to be Clyde-built.
A solitary crane marks the spot
where political tourniquets strangled
the life out of industry and population.
Patchwork fields look as if they have been stitched
into a quilt by a local giantess,
the boundaries hemmed in by Paisley thread,
before Singer stopped treadling out machines
and its Art Deco clock had its hands tied,
as the shriek of town sirens was stifled.
I see my house, my school, the High Flats,
where Luftwaffe rained down a thousand bombs,
before I saw the light of day. Yon spire
of Glesca Uny soars toward the sky;
beckons to a Celestial City,
just like the finger of John the Baptist:
a pointer to a life outside the frame.
Education – the sky was the limit.
And now I can never come truly home.
Photo by Stephen Sweeney, Wikipaedia Commons
- speug- a sparrow
- * soor ploom- a sour plum-flavoured sweet