By Stephen Kingsnorth

Old Glories

Grand Pop would coat with calamine,
a paler pink, war painting art,
with blue tats, stark veins, printed back,
tempura fresco, Plato’s cave.

Unfocussed, waving, rising glare,
that shimmer shared by eagle wings,
though, sleeping on this surfer strand,
a factor needed, real ale slump:
I hang back now while others rise,
old glories, half-mast, rotten pole.

Driftwood, by groynes, sand speckled, scratched,
in every crevice, every crack,
patina creased, incoming tides,
once jungle dark, luxuriant,
now grey and bleached, mere memories.
Of ekki, bolted, greenheart wood,
salt-rusted shade, old ghosted days,
but would I flies with seaweed spliff,
or crabs from lying, rolling dunes,
wee shrimps awash in brine again? 

Here’s dry, hot, gusty, dusty Loo,
my own Indo-Gangetic plain
amongst sad grasses, tufty ducks,
the broken reeds, upstanding once,
where once wet-suited gutsy life,
yet king, my castles, in this air,
if faded, abdicated stare.


Like dribbled ghee on takeaway,
oxymoronic style with class,
tin foil, long spoon, flame underneath,
tea-lights that stutter in the gloom.
The Chinese Dragon chased, in play,
the cost, collect, a reverse call,
less ten percent, though service charge,
umami, yet a bitter taste,
spring roll, sweet, sour, no crispy luck.

As honky-tonk played chopsticks score,
street corner bile, black-market health,
what is the new year sign to be,
though monkey business, pigs, rats, snakes,
the tiger stalks, black water tracks.
And when foo meets that nostril fire,
a battle-royal guaranteed -
these guardians, protection paid,
so my mane line stays takeaway.

Global Bling

He wore a necklace, flaming gold,
bling dripping ring, as took a bow,
the billow, bellow of revenge,
a township out for summer fun.

She chuckled as she tipped her glass,
companion, constant, doggy flesh,
row octave bottles, breakfast skid,
her tapping, song of nursery.

Girl traded baubles, Hindu gods,
dressed garlands, petals, mela led,
boys splashing, river, by the pyres,
recycled laughter, tour-catch mood.

Twist helter-skelter, coir pile mats,
quick dippers, cash withdrawal picks,
a funland, loiters, with intent,
eye candyfloss with sticky end.

Shelves, continental, volumes range,
rays belting Ra, corona ring,
that ball eclipsed, but heat remains,
all sunny smiles, but grim within.

Way Out

Old money, LSD for me,
pound, shilling, pence their history,
just as the flights seemed fancy free,
no gravity to ground my sense,
but when in Rome, denarii,
as librae shelves, leaves solidi.

Those leaves, when rotted, compost, mulch
to smother weed and lay on couch,
the therapy of pulling grass,
but now I’m old, wear purple sleeves,
my heart parade from Nam ’n eggs,
spray jungle agent, orange tone.

That sixties psychedelic hue,
the rainbow range when life seemed full,
because my daily count, King Cong
was buried deep, well covered sum -
and as I learned, lads’ holidays,
what happened there stays in its place.

They joked, this man is silent, strong -
how wrong when words can’t meet the terms,
and pills alone can dull, fog dreams -
four mares of the apocalypse;
my days now in the minus line,
well over triple score and ten.


I want to move beyond my head.
Dement fear.
Safe at night, idea stored.
Dawn, combination?  
No, locked, forgot.
Quick, dark upper left.
Twist my neck but nothing’s there.
Life’s core logic abandoned me.
What logos stays?  
Who should I be?
A complement, returned to me.
More shadows, echoes, asdic pings,
rime tinnitus, a frosted air.
Synapse links and dopamine.
Hope, now I have entered here?
Interred, what once was glitzy, gay.
But I’m still here.
Dereliction, cry for me.
Hand over all. 
I’ll give myself.


Before I even knew the term,
it was my mother’s maiden name,
but never of the fragile kind.
As child she was of county tree,
self-taught and made, respectable,
of hunting, shooting, fishing fly,
observer, butt not in the peat.

So brave that she declined that set,
joined pacifist who courted her,
when family were tennis club
and jackboots marched not far away.
While cousins sent to private school,
they felt that ours had lowered class.

With sibling lodges, honours, fame,
she served her time in Bristol slums;
yet heirloom back they’d carded wool,
near Dunster, known for yarn market,
one given trunk, with branches, twigs,
some pruned, few lopped, a gnarled oak beam.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, including Academy of the Heart and Mind. His blog is at

5 thoughts on “Old Glories and Other Poems

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