Poetry

travels are not always Pretty

That wild beast, which lives in man and does not dare to show itself until the barriers of law and custom have been removed, was now set free. Peter Mass, Love They Neighbour: A Story of War

Copy of Labelled 2

Special thanks to Jo Paul for her fabulous “Labelled” 2014

           Labelled

i know that shirt
hanging by a thread
with that drip of blood

it was on the line outside
orphanage in Lipik
bombed   machined gunned

out of all recognition

its same shirt
now look   all
these years later

still crumpled up

like that little boy
who’d witness his parents
being executed

that’s his shirt
i knew i’d seen it before

*

Summer Of ’59

Pauline skirt
tucked up into
her knickers

boasted handstands
against the same red wall
she later holds me against

where i braved for my first kiss
practiced weeks before
on back of my hand

even the pillow

the moment to remember
until we clashed teeth
and i tread on her toes

1993

Our wagons rock

jerk through lines of pot-holes
a foot deep in a cinder path

where children walk barefoot

it’s a ride down
into something i don’t understand

a dog shelter where at least
one hundred families live
who beg out their hands
and cough loud barking coughs

naked kids swapping boredom

for disease under a tap
splashing cold silver
into mud pies

our interpreter – an English Lit student

his family wiped out
is talking of Shelley in a waste land
such as Eliot never saw

“Thumbing From Lipik To Pakrac New And Selected Poems”

first published with Waterloo Press ISBN:978-1-906742-00-3

Not Being Me

– For everyone on the autistic spectrum

Childhood nights were dreams
of being a sheep
then up and outside of a morning
a quick check to see

if by any chance in the night
there had been a change
of being just like all my friends
and not the odd one out

like afternoon dance lessons
spent hidden
in the toilet
out the way because

I couldn’t dance the sheep step
that’s why I dreamed
of being a sheep
so I could be like everyone else

First published 208: “ Thumbing From Lipik To Pakrac – New and Selected Poems” Waterloo Press: ISBN 978-1-906742-00-3

In some ways, this is different from Street’s other work: more overtly politicized, less filled with people, and yet many of the same things occur: spare, usable language; the sound(s) of natural speech condensed to drive the poetry; attention to the power of white space.  Anyone engaging with this book will leave it more informed; as William Carlos Williams said: “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there”.  We all die miserably for want of what is found in Peter Street’s deceptively simple yet rigorous work.  Everything natural is beautiful and itself and a metaphor at the same time; everything is dangerous and true “remembering those poor beetles  / who tested the waters and teased  the millions of elms into suicide  / even then we were still ignored”.  This is a book we all need to read. Caron Freeborn

Caparison is pleased to announce the publication of Earth Talk by Peter Street, a timely collection of highly idiosyncratic eco-poetry…

http://www.therecusant.org.uk/#/caparison-books/4538998565

In the age of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, Peter Street once more takes his place as veritable poet of the trees and flowers, giving them radical voice at this time of climate emergency. Melting ice-caps merge with the iceberg sensibility of Hemingway in Street’s economical style, a strange meeting of ee cummings, W.H. Davies and Edward Lear. In these humorous, polemical and imaginative poems we are privy to jingoistic exchanges in a Parliament of Flowers, and the covert operations of plotting beetles. Street’s gift for personifying flora and insecta is no mere accident, it’s cultivated from an arborist’s sensibility, and beneath its whimsical surface is something deeply empathic, polemical and subversive. In Earth Talk the earth fights back against the aggregate damage done to it by the human animal, and Street gives us unique insight into the bud and bug agitators of hisnative Wigan… 

0 copy.png

Saying No To The Icebergs   Sand SedgeCarex arenaria

like all families we have fought

put it behind us
an army is washing
towards us

waves of them
from land of ice and water
we have to be ready

or be washed away

come and stand with us
here next to my triangular stems
shields against their salt-burn

we have to slow those waves down

take the battle to them here
on these dunes
Sand Sedges are natural warriors

we take root colonise
safe in numbers
know what we have to do
are you with us

Daffodil’s                       Narcissus

Those trumpet Competitions
Was every daffodil’s dream.
The tension was unbelievable
facing other gold winners.

Christ we used to rise up,
And let those cornets rip!

You’d see the Tulips swaying
to our rendition of  “Men Of Harlech”
We had the best section
in the country,
with medals to prove it.

Oak          Quercus robur 

I’ve been here since England began.
When you see me, you see a tree,
not something bent over
all the time.

Come on, stand up straight!
Let’s see what you are made of!
You Japanese Cherries all look the same
with your little confetti bows.
All your good for’s
wedding and coffee tables.

Ships! We became ships,
and went to places you’ve never even heard of,
whether they liked us or not.

*

Howe Bridge (Atherton) Bandstand

for Andy Bubble

A stroll into woods
on a path floodlit
with buttercups and dandelions 

past a gang of nettles
lolling about on the corner.
A push through layers of tunes 

from last Summer’s brass bands

clinging to your mind
pulling you down into the woods
deeper  

towards the young sycamores
gathered around the wooden
bandstand built by someone  

 who thought his  New Jerusalem
is there among the trees

Summer 

wildflowers dress up
in their Sunday best
showing off 

in summer breezes
swank to and fro
hoping to impress us 

before they are sworn at ripped up
discarded

into a green bin
crawling with maggots

*

Dove Tales Adviser Peter Street was diagnosed with autism six years ago. At 70, Street believes his incredible life is in large part thanks to his autism. A qualified Arboriculturist and environmentalist who writes on Green issues, his book Trees Will Be Trees was published with Shoestring Press. He launched his last book, Listening to The Dark, at the Albuquerque Lit Festival, where he appeared during a tour of Midwest America funded by Professor Fred Whitehead, retired. Preeta Press published his memoir: Hidden Depths: Life and Loves of A Young Gravedigger. Street was recently interviewed with the BBC “1800 Seconds on Autism” and Readers Digest interviewed him about his work as someone with five successful poetry books with an international readership. John Harris, in his Guardian Weekend stated, “Peter Street was the most interesting person I have ever interviewed.”

Even when Street writes of the wars of men, a strong current of the natural runs through his poetry. Below, are two poems previously published in Thumbing From Lipik to Pakrac, by Waterloo Press.