Forsaken now
stands this stronghold
against winter’s jolt
and summer cloudburst
seasoned by centuries
once humid with life
harbour for milk-breathed beast
hoard for the harvest.

Dank, airless within
lit in patches by beams
of drifting lint
picking out last year’s
buckled hay bales
and corrupted metal
a mildew reek
buffets the senses.

But pause a moment.
Draw breath.
Look closer.
This old frame hums
with a different essence.

The swallow
carves exultant arcs
banking, dipping
defying g-force
takes flies mid dive
carries them back
to the gaping mouths
colonising the soffit.

Follow the cracks
erratic fault lines
in the brickwork
to a dim recess
where fledgling starlings
demand nourishment
shredding the air
with electronic discord

and secluded behind
an ungoverned sprawl
of feral bindweed
waxing, multiplied
from a random
gust-blown seed
a sitting flycatcher
warms her stippled clutch.

Under dusk’s shawl
up there by the
redundant grain hoist
quiet, soft as a lisp
a barn owl ghosts home
from the hunt
with a vole, plucked
from life to give life.

But below the horizon
coiled for the attack
broods a menace
a relentless coming
of reclaimed timber
of glass, steel
and artificial light
an open plan Elysium.

Soon, some alpha nabob
will acquire, fumigate
straighten drunken gables
plug it into the world
of devices, and park sleek
wheeled missiles where once thistles
ragwort and groundsel thrived.


23 thoughts on “Barn

  1. These are beautiful and sound to my ear medieval-ish. Here is my attempt at the same tenor

    His Candle

    It was his candle-light
    to mount and armour in,
    his battle blood and bone,
    shatter in lance point, axe point
    wound unhealing,
    knelt at his lady’s door
    ajar with hope of other worlds
    and dreams.

    Then, in his candle half-light,
    sat around half gaping
    at the warming fire, bristling
    with burning expectation of this –
    king on his throne clenched fist at chin
    and bishop, too, should seem in other worlds
    catching the deaths he caught at
    by the river’s ice and blue and sky
    where their lost fathers’ fathers
    granted them crowns and bishoprics
    by right of arms clash
    reddened in the white of ancient winter
    only he can tell of as a chant.

    His candle to the altar after,
    clatter of spur on stone
    under the blue and gold red glory’s scatter
    on nave’s hard floor
    in sacrifice and chant,
    dim space of holy terrors
    wait in other pendant worlds
    to cry from in a soul’s mass, heart’s mass,
    and the hopes of other glory.

    Then in his candle smoke light
    rafter and hall blown
    are his tales against the seeing off
    and final gestures of mortality,
    around that circle lit by word’s magic
    behind it always
    – just beyond the story –
    is the dark.

    PS not very fond of navajas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never thought of them as mediaeval before, David, but I’ll willingly accept the compliment!

      Navajas, that was it. I was trying to remember the Spanish name. They’re definitely not to everyone’s taste.

      What about the goose barnacles?

      Thanks for the splendid poem.


  2. jb. Thanks for this poem. Here is a quote you will appreciate.

    D A Powell

    When we think of great poems that we love, we think of the ways in
    which the language casts a certain light upon some occasion or subject to
    create a new and impressive way of listening, seeing, experiencing the
    world. Words we know, artfully turned upon the writer’s lathe, confound us
    and please us with their newness. We haven’t acquired a second language.
    Rather, we have acquired a second sense of this known vessel the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I see Merril Smith, one of my most gifted and favorite followers, conversant in both poetry and prose liked your poetry. I see similarities in both your styles.

    Thank you for the follow today, Julian . . . much appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this. My take away from this was there is so much life in the world, and so much beauty in that life that we, as humans never appreciate. Our species has been the best at controlling and manipulating our environment, and it’s lead us to think that we are the lords of the manor, and that only our own needs matter. I don’t want humanity to die out and end itself, but I do wish we tried harder to balance our own needs with all the other life around us.

    You’re language is very evocative as well. With the rightly chosen words you paint the world in your poem and the reader can experience it all vividly in their minds.

    You have a great talent, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful stuff. And I learnt a near word – soffit. Reminds me of a barn in Shropshire where I used to watch the swifts dart in and out. Sadly part of it collapsed in a storm and I no longer know the people who own it but I hope they still leave what remains for the swifts.

    Liked by 1 person

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