By Stephen Kingsnorth

First Fall

My chassis sashay unreturned -
I cannot rise from weeding bed; 
where couch grass spread, snapdragon split,
I’m splayed, pride punctured by the blades,
and love-lies-bleeding in the tilth.

It’s not the autumn, falling leaves -
progressive failing of my limbs,
dyskinesia taking hold
and tremor shaking confidence,
but garden potter, potting shed?

My granny’s bonnet on the soil,
the nightshade dropping, fears aroused,
my morning glory faded now,
the days of speedwell yesterday -
forget-me-not, those moving days.


Raking is an autumn rôle,      
dealing with results of fall,    
dropped leaves, rolled gold, now settled scene,    
closed books where once our reading was.    
Smoke, from bonfire, rising still,    
poplar plums, wayfaring thorns,   
told chestnuts, holms, and elder crabs,   
detritus scattered memories,    
rooted deep, foundation soils.    
Lore Eden said, before the fall,
as now environment suggests,  
the fallen, leave to nature’s route,  
land, fuelled worms, for future years,    
part and parcelled, life released.   
Our age now more pottering shed,    
the briar patch, thought cleared, now back;   
though corms, spring bulbs bedded in,   
perennials, scent for bees.   
So when I lie beneath the box,     
that plane will take me from my pain,   
stories dug, full tome revealed,   
all pests, maggots, dealt as faced;
I’ll spin old yarns by spindle tree,  
ash raked, spread thin, checked, cool at last.   

Final Dance

Contentment in the seventh age
must use, to measure, other gauge.
One sums achievements, 
older ways,
aware though, short space occupied,
so brief the influencer’s wield,
with lengthened years, 
such poor imprint.
So what the measure, 
latter dance, the sadness, 
impress of our steps,
that time outpaced, 
perspective’s change,
changed paradigm, 
a sunset cause,
and little left, memoriam.
But if our expectations tamed,
the ashes known, 
concluding fire,
those cooling embers, of the plan -
no fire forever, but in hell -
the heat no benchmark of success,
but faith in tasks, 
that moment named.

On course in art and literature
the bequest lasts as long as skill
in seeing, reading, 
sway by frame,
for none dismiss Turner, our Will.
But if that testament,
last will,
leaves little but inscription, stone,
there’s none to do except comply,
accept the limits now imposed,
and celebrate the menu served.

Gun Slinging at Ten

It was the winter ‘63
that I found, under thaw, a gun,
as ending, schoolboy trek for home.
The lesson had been clearly taught,
from posters, post-war infancy,
if metal object, armament
was seen, then not to lift it up.
So wise, and in obedience trained,
I shuffled toes and nudged it light,
dislodged the barrel from the snow,
and through the ice, and down the road,
I kicked it, sliding, trigger ice;
so through the gate and up the path,
and there it lay beneath the step.
And knocked, my mother, shocked at sight,
the gleam that raiders chucked about,
my pride that I’d not lifted it,
but followed rule that adults gave,
right to the letter, as been said.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), born in London, but retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, most recently The Sweetycat Press, The Parliament Literary Magazine, Poetry Potion, Grand Little Things, The Poet Magazine, Stone Poetry Journal.

4 thoughts on “First Fall and Other Poems

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