Jack the Hunter

As the swallows gather on telephone wires
I wake out of my summer slumber
and start to trace the lines of the breeze
while I drift among the trees
cupping the leaves within my hands
I  breathing on them
turning this one red and that one yellow
they remain a while glowing in autumn sun .

 

When they start to fall
my shadow stalks
in twilight airs
careful not to step too heavily
on rain-sodden ground
I linger amongst the  bare trees
wary I listen
caressing  the grass
til each blade is outlined in white
waiting until the ground is quiet
and then on a clear night
I fall.
White traceries mark
my touch down
but seeking
the  resting place
of the dew waters
I dive deeper,
until I have
the earth
in my grip.

 

This poem I published in  “Scissors, Paper, Shadow, Stone” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2012

South Rhins

I turn south at the isthmus
and move into the fog-laden peninsula
as I approach
scavenging rooks rise
from roadkill carcass
trees grasp overhead as
the road clambers onto the ridge
the curlews call from below
along the rock-strewn shoreline
while in single road villages
fuchsias flower on flat-topped walls
sparrow crowds cling
feeding on pampas seed
and when they are no more
beside the white pillar gate posts
marshmallow roses bathe
in Virginia creeper claret.

This poem I published in  “Scissors, Paper, Shadow, Stone” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2012

List Making

In the time
that does not exist
between me getting in
and having to be out
I am planning
a list of jobs
that I will
postpone.

This poem I published in  “Scissors, Paper, Shadow, Stone” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2012

Shrove Tide

Between the lighting of
a candle and
the beating of
batter,
at the barren bound time
when the cold iron air
hits the hard flint
earth
a spark
is created
that will light
the spring fire
of the coming year.

This poem I published in  “Everything Looks Green From Here” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2010

Ice Ages

Sprite child on sighting snow
dances with delight
at a miracle not seen before
each precious flake hoarded
to build an eight inch
snowman

Students delight in time
out of school, vying
to build the best igloo
or using compressed handfuls
in their own power
struggles

Adult involved in balancing
complex priorities, choosing
between the demands of safety
and the necessary tasks
deciding what to let
slide

Elderly trapped within
the icy waste around
their own secure home
unable to step beyond their
front door for fear of
failing.

This poem I published in  “Everything Looks Green From Here” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2010

Deer

Seaward driven by winter’s hunger
twig thieving from a barren hedge
our headlights capture you
a frightened harbinger of snow.

I published  a different version of this poem in  “Everything Looks Green From Here” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2010

Winter in the Park

It was cold when I set out
the sort of cold
where the air feels dry
as the moisture freezes

The park fenced around by shadowed
black railings kept no one in
the remains of a forgotten hedge
did not stir to the fluster of small birds
nor children call to their parents
from the play equipment
even the students, who I’ve seen
on other nights drink wine
together on the communal swing
had not ventured out
no drunks shared cider on the empty bench
and beyond though still floodlit
the playground was deserted by
cricketer and basketball player alike.

As I passed the orange  haze of
the street light
a few flakes of snow
drifted down through the light
and I heard the rhythm
of South America drums echo
through the surrounding houses
the smell of Chinese or Italian takeaways
drifted out of hot shop doorways
mingling with the yeasty
smell of the overcrowded local
a ring of Hindi jittered from a passing taxi
the far side of the playground’s dark mesh.

This poem I published in  “Everything Looks Green From Here” a collection of prose and poetry from Broomspring Writers in 2010

First thoughts on Inclusion in the Civic Culture

Amartya Sen, somewhere in Development as  Freedom, describes a ladder of inclusion in institutions. At the lowest levels are the excluded who are outcasts from the institution and cannot access it.  The first level of inclusion is when you have access but nothing more. The second when you are informed about changes although you have no real participation in the decision process. The third is when you are consulted in the decision-making process although the consultation is non-binding. The fourth is when you representation within the decision-making process either by voting for a representative or by actually having a vote but no formulation power. The fifth is to have the ability to actually formulate and actively participate in running an institution. The sixth is an odd in that now instead of you being dispensable to the institution it is turned around and the institution is dispensable to you. The seventh is the invert of the first where you no longer participate in the institution as you have moved on elsewhere. It does not quite work for civic culture as this is not a single institution but it does point out that the problems are engaging the people at the very top and very bottom. I think civic culture spends a lot of effort into trying to keep people in the 6th rather than 7th stage and what I want to look at is how to get people into the 1st rather than 0th stage. I am broadly suggesting three stages, specialist civic groups, developmental streams and integration policies.

Specialist groups come in two overlapping forms and are normally charitable. One sort seeks to alleviate the reasons for the exclusion such as poverty, disability or lack of English. The second groups aim to provide spaces where people who are excluded can participate in civic culture in a sheltered environment. This might be by having local shared meals, writing groups for people who are excluded for a specific reason or maybe gardening schemes that help them to grow food. What this does is deliberately lower the bar to access to civic culture but it often does this at the price of limiting the access. Primarily these are charitable groups.

Developmental streams are ways that individuals get the skills that enable them to participate more fully in Civic Culture. The most obvious group of this sort is the Scottish Poverty Truth Commission, who train people to advocate for themselves to people who are unaware. My memory tells me we have had Poverty Truth Hearings in Sheffield in the past but I can find no evidence of this. The nearest group is currently in Leeds. However, that is aimed at the political economy but there are so many ways this could happen. The raising of creative writing in an ES0L class. The ability to find support from community entrepreneurs when a group wants to set up a group for themselves.  This is an activism stream aimed at changing individuals so they can participate.

Integration policies really are the flip side of developmental streams. That is if people are to be helped to be able to join in civic culture, it is also true that civic culture needs to make arrangements so that it can be open to people. The WEA which runs a number of writing classes has clear statements on this and does reduce fees for people who cannot afford full ones, plus make allowances for those with disabilities. I am not suggesting that all should go this way but all institutions in this area might like to consider how they can encourage the participation of the widest range of people in Civic Culture.

I am going to be honest now. I think these three as a minimum are essential if we are to widen participation by those who are currently excluded. It will not be easy, and with every success those that are left will be harder to reach. The option not to deliberately seek their inclusion with society is that this group will grow and eventually we will have a society divided between the stage 7 and the stage 0.