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A new poem at Christmas considering what a best year might be




On days like this I just want to suck on a boiled sweet

And be a boy called Roger, whose glum existence

Is about to be changed on a gloomy, grey day

At his Uncle’s in the Cotswolds, when a sign

From another world, possibly Saxon, or Jute,

Breaks into the Anglican community at Christmas,

And the bronze-age sword in the drawing room

Begins to glow umber at night, as owls

Hunt voles, and a light frost lands at midnight

On the ruined chestnut trees down the lane.


It is 1970, and there are a few new anthologies

Discussing a young poet called Heaney,

But otherwise, the main idea is that science

Is coming, and the future is geodesic; also,

Population is a time bomb as the covers show,

With the globe shaped like a bomb, with a fuse,

As if Africa was an anarchist in a Conrad novel.

And as Roger’s Uncle has a rather large library,

Which you access via a panel hidden in the pantry,

You have read all the books about jetpacks,


The police action in Indochina, and Aleister Crowley.

It is this last tome, then the others, which you begin

To scour, that lead you to believe he is a necromancer,

Which explains the sword, plus a growing thrum

At night, coming from Farmer Brown’s disused barn.

Then, the squat maid, Mrs Claxton, goes missing,

Inexplicably, and Detective Challenger appears

On the scene with his obnoxious pipe and wellies,

To investigate. It snows constantly, as in Lapland,

And when it stops, it rains like a sou’wester.


The tin mines are closed, and the hills hollowed out.

Arthur’s true seat beckons, and queer signals appear.

A rabbit is found half-skinned, but alive.

Soon it will be the solstice, and who knows what

Could happen then? That is the sort of year

I’d like to have, to feel happening, being sixteen,

Again, in mucky weather, with religious danger

In the air, but an ultimate courage, burning within

My amulet, connecting my spirit to the silver lexicon,

As I was soon to learn that evening at the vicarage.


DECEMBER 13, 2020


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