English Poems From Unfinished Work Poem by Sheena Blackhall

English Poems From Unfinished Work

The Building of St Machar's Cathedral
The River Don looks like a Bishop's crosier,
When it runs past where the Cathedral stands
St Machar obeyed God to build it there

Bishop Cheyne ordered the restoration.
With many tradesmen, part of a huge team
To carve and sculpt, assist the renovation

Folk say the left arm of Sir William Wallace
Was set into these ancient hallowed walls
The building, fit to be a Bishop's palace

And Bishop Elphinstone men duly hired
To raise the building to its grandest form.
The nave and towers on the west, admired

By worshippers. Good Bishop Dunbar then
Commissioned a great ceiling built of oak
With 48 heraldic shields, Amen!

The choirs sang out, while I worked up on high
A master tradesman, teetering on scaffolds
With hammer, chisel, fit to touch the sky
Up there, as I gazed down upon the pews
I could have shaken hands with good Saint Peter
Or watched parishioners pray, sing or snooze

And every day I climbed down with my tools
Went home to pottage with a hunk of bread
And fished the Don for salmon bright as jewels

What do you think of it, my famous ceiling?
Nobody mentions me in history books
I take the pay, my talents well concealing
I much prefer a floor beneath my boots

Stages of Grief
Watch the coffin lifted,
The slow steps to the church
Follow the sermon
The minister's confidence
That beyond the constellations
Is the Happy Ever After

The pipes of the organ
Boom out Hosannas
Does the dead one know
That today he enters Heaven?

Later, stand at the headstone
Study the carved names of his kin
Death bolted him down like a hungry wolf

Wreaths give up their pretty lives
In three short days. Grief however
Never slackens its bite

The Park
Clang. Gates shut in the public park
Intrepid starlings hover over a glass green house
Mist slips over the trees like flimsy negligees
The walks are the haunt of ghosts,
Of owl and mouse

The dead reassert their presence
Those who loved this place in life
Cashiers and shop girls,
Edwardian ice cream seller in her chilly stall
Trumpet players, picknickers, lovers
High stepping ponies pulling racy gigs
All see-through, all nebulous
Shades of long ago. A Pekinese semi-visible
Trots through a low stone wall

Magical rabbits pop from secret burrows
A duck pulls the V of her offspring over a pond
A downy swan tucks her head beneath her wing
Like Anne Boleyn
Rain drops like ink, from a nib to Basildon Bond

A single leaf tugged off in a rough breeze
Swops its aerial view for the low domain of the grass
Ghosts in their faded finery glide and pass

The park is the poor man's garden
Stocked with statues, fountains, flowers, a cornucopia
Band stand, children's playground
Emptied of day, it assumes another persona
Eerie, edgy, nudging towards the sinister
As if to say ‘What are you doing here?
Why aren't you tucked up at home? '
And slowly, silent shadows creep from the leafy gloam

The Register
Forty years Miss Denby read the classroom register
Always amazed in what her pupils became
Mousy little Dolly Ewen Sprott
Blossomed into a ravishing soprano
The tessitura an timbre of her voice!
Giving the opera circuit all she'd got

And who'd have expected skinny little Gerard
The boy with halitosis and eczema
Of turning into a basketball supremo?
Brilliant Archie, who soared like a rocket and fell
As a timed-out crackhead, and timid Mary Jenkens
Ending up as a medic in an Iraqui desert
Who ended up dead.

What's the lineage of the swallow?
Did its ancestors borrow its colours from the sky?

What's the lineage of the crocodile?
Why did its forebears lie in the mud and wallow?

What's the lineage of the fish?
That finned enigma, air-breathing folk can't follow?

The human tribe doesn't care but maybe it should
Before the chance to conserve is gone for good

Like the town's criminal-ferry, the Black Maria
Rushes by, closed like a can of tinned soft strawberries
The ambulance is a white pariah
What issues lie within?
Heart attack? Bleeding ulcer? Ruptured spleen?
The siren makes a loud ear- splitting din

Like the waves of the Red Sea, traffic parts
Will this mad rush save one life, young or old?
Will another stalled heart start, resume its life?

The Unfinished Task
Nearing the end of my seventh decade
I am an unfinished task.

I would love to be fluent in Latin
I would love to go on retreat in Tibet or Japan
I would love to sail along the mighty Mekong
I would like to speak in Gaelic like a native

I am a work in progress
I am an unfinished work

I'd have liked to walk in the woods with Robert Frost
I'd have liked to chat to Napoleon or Cleopatra
I'd have liked to be on a cruise with Ben Disraeli
I'd have liked to share an hour with William Blake

Well, maybe another time, if Death allows.
Speaking of Death, what's the etiquette for dying?

The Aberdeen Burghers
Ambassadors to serve the city's needs
Burgesses once repelled her enemies
Donated weapons to the armoury
Paid for a feast to treat town councillors

The burghers held a guild box full of funds
Banded with iron, with four locks, four keys
Before the days of safes and internet
No scams back then, no IT expertise

In the sixteenth century Norwegian ships
At Newburgh whilst unloading, there were seen
But Newburgh was not a free port then-
Under the jurisdiction of Aberdeen

The Dean of Guild came with an armed officer
Arrested the crew, removed sails from each mast
If paperwork was wrong he'd set in motion
Attack, declaring it a pirate ship, in the past

In fifteen ninety seven, the Deam watched over
Burning of witches, pirates' execution
The rebuilding of part of the old town house
In all things civic, seeking a solution
Isobel Skuddie was burned as a witch in March
Needing loads of peats and fir for the fire
Tar barrels and a stake to tether her
Pay for John Justice, hangman, to light the pyre

Most executions were on Heading Hill
Thousands of citizens came to watch the scene
22 women in one year alone
Met death by fire as a witch in Aberdeen

Today, the Guild supports selected citizens
The guildry award scheme gifts grants to the special
The dean in full regalia joins
Remembrance Sunday, kirkin of the council
As in the past, still in the town today
The burghers put the city's fortunes first
This port that is a global trading point
This cradle that its citizens has nursed

A Beautiful Night in Tokyo
A beautiful night in Tokyo
Under the influence of cherry blossom
A light coverage of petals brightens the streets
Like stepping into a painting by Auguste Renoir

No waiter arrives with a chilled drink
In this food-free zone
But tethered owls on perches
Meditate (or not) on the crueltyof limitations
A unique experience? A hoot?
Is flying time built into the owls' regime?

In the Emergency Waiting Room
A pensioner chats about feral children
While nursing a broken thumb.
He thinks it is on the increase
He thinks it is something to do
With additives in ready meals

A jockey is nursing deep tissue injuries
His hobby - horse is cuts on the NHS
He's forgotten what a doctor looks like
He tells a porter. Sixteen ambulances
Park outside the door, waiting to discharge
Their damaged cargo.

A vet with prostrate problems wears a path
To the toilet. Frequency is a pressing issue.

X-rays get down to the nitty gritty
The bare bones of the matter

Aunty NHS is a very old lady now
Arthritic in places, lacking financial lubrication
More high tech developments than staff

Error Success