Poetry

I write poetry to record scenes and events that have a particular impact on me.

My poem, The Bronze Chalice, was published in Poems in an Exhibition, an anthology of poems inspired by art in support of the charity, Standing Voice, and published by Oxford Folio in 2017.

The poem was inspired by a Bronze Chalice that was given to me on leaving Nigeria. I have recently passed on the chalice to my son-in-law, Ian Johnstone, author of the Mirror Chronicles. The whole poem can be read in  Growing up in the Mandara Mountains.

The Bronze Chalice
Sitting cross-legged on his grass mat the Blacksmith
Chips away the clay mould with infinite care.
Squatting beside him, his Grandson watches
Mesmerised, as glimpses of bronze are revealed.
All afternoon the Boy watches, creeping closer,
Spellbound as an exquisite bronze chalice is revealed.
Cupping it in his hands the Grandfather
Solemnly gives it, his final creation, to the Boy.

This poem was inspired by wildlife visiting our garden in the centre of Oxford

ST SWITHIN’S DAY
They’re here again this afternoon
The gentle muntjac and her fawn
Daintily stepping on the strip of carpet
Scattered with peanuts to entice our twilight visitors
Who’ll snuffle and grub in black and white evening dress.

For a moment the doe holds my gaze
As she glances warily through the fence
Ears pricked, nostrils sniffing, eyes alert,
Then turns, arching her neck upwards
To browse on hazel struggling to grow amid the brambles.

I see ripples in her russet flank as I tiptoe up the garden
And quickly banish an image springing unbidden
Of venison hanging in Oxford’s Covered Market.
She pauses, gracefully turning her head towards the fawn
Then soundlessly glides away into the thicket.

Left to his own devices the youngster
Forages the windfalls dropped from our trees,
Licks the fence post and gazes unafraid
Then stamps his feet as I take a step too near
Observing the dainty hooves and black stripe on his nose.

The low hum of ring-road traffic, a siren screeching,
Even a plane’s roar descending to Brize Norton
Are no threat to the graceful creature playfully
Nuzzling nettles, grasses, blackberries and hawthorn
While bathed in warmth on St Swithin’s afternoon.