Posted by: okathleen | February 9, 2009


‘In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in a bedroom gently shakes.’

Sleepily I bookmarked my place with my ticket, and leaning my forehead against the cool of the window; looked through my reflection at the moon, hanging in the distance.

Suspended like a mirrorball from a celestial ceiling, casting grey shadows over the slumbering landscape.


A Hare Moon. Whatever that is.

I closed my eyes. The pulse of the engine dragging us through the Peaks was putting me under.

I slept and dreamt of lunatics.
I woke with a jolt cramped and cold.

My feet were numb with pins and needles. Had the heating in the carriage  failed? Freezing in here.

We were slowing into a station. The moon kept up alongside us; closer and lower in the treacle sky. Now bound in a peach halo her edges blurred.

“Doesn’t that mean it’s going to snow?”

The question came from a man in a Crombie overcoat opposite me. His face creased and rude red.

“I’m sorry?”

“A ring around the moon – snowing very soon”. He chuckled as he put on his worn leather gloves, gathered up his newspaper, creaked to his feet and shuffled to the door.

I think I knew that. Vague memories of ice crystals and cold fronts shunted through my mind.  I watched the elderly chap struggle down the step and through a clutch of passengers impatiently waiting to get on.

They all looked cold and bedraggled.

I began to spread out in an attempt to make the adjacent seats look occupied.

Too late.

He crashed into the seat next to me and began to unpack a filthy grey rucksack, plugged in his earphones and unwrapped a slice of chewing gum.  His head began to nod in time to the bass leaking from the minute sponges in his ears.

The pounding of the beat was nothing  compared to the squelching, sucking, chomping symphony coming from his open mouth.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Without any doubt my new friend would be a camel.

Not a pretty camel with curly lashes, like the ones you might find in a cartoon. No, this camel next to me had receding gums and bad breath.

I faced him frowning.

My filthy glare changed nothing.

I shifted round to face the woman now settled in the seat opposite me.

Her eyes were too far apart.

I guessed that the little girl kneeling next to her, in a grubby anorak, was her daughter. Same eyes, far apart.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Well, these two would have to be rock lizards.

I smiled at her, hoping for sympathy, hoping to make contact, a raised eyebrow, or a shake of the head, willing her to look over.

She doggedly stared out of the window, determined to ignore me, seemingly oblivious to the slug sucking and blowing opposite her.

I opened my book.

‘Snorting noisily, she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses’

The chewer of gum  unplugged his music, and sauntered towards the buffet car.

The woman with the gekko face watched him go.

She looked at me and said: “How the fuck do you make so much noise chewing gum?”

I nod and grimace.

She smiles.

Three front teeth are missing.

I look at the moonless sky beyond the train.

She turns to her daughter. “Get down Eleanor”.

But I think her name is Helena.



  1. Lichen-ness O’ Me, April 15, 2006

    Standing in a ring of my own peat piss
    Traced on moss bloomed asphalt-
    Awestruck response
    To the ample plat’num Passover Moon
    Fanc’fully in front o’me stretching South
    Expansive corridor o’thirsty trees
    Wisps o’maple pine tinged pink candy floss
    Now prancing imperceptibly Eastward
    ‘Cross the hazy quiet quantum wobble

    O’fiery, smouldering coal of Mars
    Juniper Jupiter jovial jew’l
    Stunningly encircled siren Saturn
    Deftly dance Westward
    ‘Cross the plum black sky
    Pristine Pocono peak floodlit darkness
    Bount’fully backlit bodacious Diane-
    O pregnant prescient moon so crisp & round
    Floating ‘bove the red dots and fine flashes

    O Cracking and shuddering grey giants
    Loose your shallow fragile fetter’d footing
    Upon the unyielding bone plate grate slate
    Listening to a stark whir o’silence
    Or what’s perceived as silence-
    Relentless ring-
    Piercing pitch pipe silence

    Thick antiviral blood
    Warm flush faced South
    Expectant fallow deer tick nymph laden
    Northeast Pennsylvanian wind whipping
    With a willow wisp- a winking wobble
    Take these hobbled hungry grey giants down

    Frank Jump

    • Frank, do you know this:

  2. Ah Humphrey Jennings: so lyrical. More lyrical than Auden in fact, and that rather lovely poem of yours, Frank, could easily be from his wonderful book ‘Pandaemonium’ the story of the coming of industry, in which I first discovered Christopher Smart.

  3. frank does poetry too?

    hey there kat!

    here is one for you

    The Pig

    In ev’ry age, and each profession,
    Men err the most by prepossession;
    But when the thing is clearly shown,
    And fairly stated, fully known,
    We soon applaud what we deride,
    And penitence succeeds to pride.–
    A certain Baron on a day
    Having a mind to show away,
    Invited all the wits and wags,
    Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates, and Skeggs,
    And built a large commodious stage,
    For the Choice Spirits of the age;
    But above all, among the rest,
    There came a Genius who profess’d
    To have a curious trick in store,
    Which never was perform’d before.
    Thro’ all the town this soon got air,
    And the whole house was like a fair;
    But soon his entry as he made,
    Without a prompter, or parade,
    ‘Twas all expectance, all suspense,
    And silence gagg’d the audience.
    He hid his head behind his wig,
    With with such truth took off* a Pig, [imitated]
    All swore ’twas serious, and no joke,
    For doubtless underneath his cloak,
    He had conceal’d some grunting elf,
    Or was a real hog himself.
    A search was made, no pig was found–
    With thund’ring claps the seats resound,
    And pit and box and galleries roar,
    With–“O rare! bravo!” and “Encore!”
    Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
    Who yet knew something of the town,
    Beheld the mimic and his whim,
    And on the morrow challeng’d him.
    Declaring to each beau and bunter
    That he’d out-grunt th’egregious grunter.
    The morrow came–the crowd was greater–
    But prejudice and rank ill-nature
    Usurp’d the minds of men and wenches,
    Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
    The mimic took his usual station,
    And squeak’d with general approbation.
    “Again, encore! encore!” they cry–
    ‘Twas quite the thing–’twas very high;
    Old Grouse conceal’d, amidst the racket,
    A real Pig berneath his jacket–
    Then forth he came–and with his nail
    He pinch’d the urchin by the tail.
    The tortur’d Pig from out his throat,
    Produc’d the genuine nat’ral note.
    All bellow’d out–“‘Twas very sad!
    Sure never stuff was half so bad!
    That like a Pig!”–each cry’d in scoff,
    “Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off! Off! Off!”
    The mimic was extoll’d, and Grouse
    Was hiss’d and catcall’d from the house.–
    “Soft ye, a word before I go,”
    Quoth honest Hodge–and stooping low
    Produc’d the Pig, and thus aloud
    Bespoke the stupid, partial crowd:
    “Behold, and learn from this poor creature,
    How much you Critics know of Nature.”

    yes that is of course Christopher Smart

    • Appearances can be deceptive Lawman, especially when separating the swine from the men…

  4. Lawman you are a dark dark horse: or pig. I orefer the pig, for its utility.

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