By Stephen Kingsnorth


My hero’s nature seen in the field,
landscape laid for bloom and seed, 
words worth reading, learning creed,
where heart buried, under ground.

Hearts unaware, sink, daffodils -
thought gaudy, banded, bucket bunch,
an Easter easy, child-mind bribe -
this crowded host without a guide,
no manual, dead heading, scythe,
flow each year, scene eye unseen.

It is vocation, stars abound,
glitter spangled through the sward,
admired, ignored, beyond their care,
but quintessential, touchstone gold.

For all clay drawn from armature,
art framed portraits, laid, aside,
theatre, if fourth wall downed,
wordsmiths weaving, spellbound tales,
human craft of mind and heart,
our clay remains what it will be.

But flutter, dance, sphere harmony,
creation’s glory all around,
I, beholder, through the storm, 
am changed by fauna, flora wild.

Spinster’s Blue Eyed Mary

I always found the garden spoke,
anachronistic, out of sync,
as if a trough, swill overspill.  
Snowdrops, yet shade green, double chinned,
hawthorn, light powder sprinkle, May,
invasive snow in summer drape.

A floriography, bouquet,
glass slender stem, a swirl and spit,
set depth of spades or suit of cards,
but who will read the messages?

From eglantine of baby’s breath,
bachelor button, golden rod,
honeysuckle, maidenhair,
herbaceous brimming, hope and fear,
those petal trembles, flutter heart.

And as the leaves are turned as fall
asleep, still reading, between sheets,
the desiccated skeleton, 
love-in-the-mist, such brittle stem,
joins bolster pillow, feather down,
as Spinster’s-Blue-Eyed-Mary dreams.


Against contracting mire of mud
admire the struggle - such the norm -
reaction to the breakthrough bloom
from cake of crazy paving cracks.
But seeds abound for luck as this,
fall, open opportunities,
to delve, find trigger, tapping route -
in hope of flight another year,
spring gene leap too, further afield.

So draw the moisture just below 
and blaze above in fashion show,
spread solar panels, green of course,
to glow for hover from above.
Drawn by the sense of pheromones,
call carrier, high pollen count,
collect whatever male was left -
delivered, wild oats sown abroad -
the stigma now considered low.

This layer cake, clay dry to wet -
reminds of coffee, walnut flake -
has lost its status, centre stage,
to showy model, bold bling gold.
It’s found the means, its standout role,
to gather pupils, homework set,
biology, arithmetic -
though do bee eyes bear such a well,
or compound interest instead?

To cede grey wilderness to bright,
against the gloom, doom-ridden site,
through sight of mindful insight eye
is complement, how life’s to be.
I’m by herbaceous border now -
a privilege (though weeds grow too),
so cannot preach to those trapped, dire,
who face more hell than I will bear.
But still I trust that power of seed.

Gossip Blooms

No stigma here, the statement clear,
herbaceous in audacious dare,
summed up in long division clumps,
with rhizomes, half-soil, half-sun zones. 
Bold flags stand clear beside path wind
where crazy steps are slowed by thyme,
despite blue speedwell webbed among,
while each turn beckons change of view.

Alpines range, crack edelweiss,
flames, flamingos, forget-me-nots,
scree of grit in tumbledown, 
montbretia abseils from above.
Aubretia plumps slake thirst with lime -
mounts purple head in Lilliput -
snow in summer scales crevasse sides;
ice plants, stonecrops, petal flakes. 

Global lilies, Cuba, Peru,
by bottlebrush and baby’s breath,
bee balm, bellis and bergamot, 
Columbine of dell’Arte fame. 
From bell towers, campanula swing,
as Christmas, Lenten rose for faith, 
Michaelmas, Star of Bethlehem,
while brooms sweep up their far flung seeds.

Golden rod, red hot poker too, 
shoot ember flames by feverfew,
the blacksmith, hammered by his brew,
wants solitude from bellowed voice.
Snapdragon where no nostril fire,
where love lies bleeding, in-a-mist,
lady’s mantle for monkshood wear, 
goosefoot long, before steps parade.

Worldly stagecraft laid out as planned,
the pity, pleasure, profits made,
the Greenman watching as earth is played,
a commonwealth of health displayed.
For folklore, medicine, lovers doomed,
witches, wizards, wholesome wealth,
those stories gossiped, hovel gloom,
I take that crazy walk through blooms.


Both flora, fauna make a pair,
so rarely does funga appear;
yet mycorrhiza, underground -    
that is web style that’s underlaid.  
root routes to tap, war signals played.  

And there’s the gold, through rotting years,
rich tilth that’s borne of age’s filth,
a nursery for fragile growth - 
so here to celebrate the berth,   
a renaissance from birthing earth.  

Mosaic stained glass, buzzing drone,  
now bedded in, where manicured,
‘keep off the grass’, communal parks, 
trooping the colour, parade ground,  
bright summer blaze, laid square or round.  

Exotic hothouse, houseplant show,  
with sundew claws as flybys caged,
or pitchers drowning, sliding scale,
and orchid slippers, monkey face,
but not the native, floral base.  

Yet in the meadow, sweet made known,   
round ancient wood, anemones,
in crevice rocks, thrive thrifty pinks,   
from scrub of mud, trench poppy blooms,
gossamer, blood red, hope from tombs.  

An Artful Field

Some steal with stealth, as overnight,
some heal, aid health, in brew, distilled,
while uncurl, burst, unfold M.O.
from carpet, crag or concrete crack;
ubiquity and rarity,
how channel zeal for brave new world?

Each vein flows cocktail, chemicals,
told story stored in turning leaves,
a reading room of wholesome ways,
the wisdom or uncounted years;
unrealised and understood,
how manage deal as tempests come?

So ivy, bramble, strangle limbs,
while herbs contribute commonweal,
petals reveal their hidden draughts
from every dip of damp seed space,
propagation and extinction,
how safely seal inheritance?

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. 

7 thoughts on “Touchstone and Other Poems

  1. Pingback: Aesthetic Dreams

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