Thursday, October 05, 2023

Golden Ways to Brittle Days

—Poetry byStephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Stephen Kingsnorth


What riches lie beneath our feet,
not undermined by industry?
These carpet tiles, in annual lay,
through work of auxin, sacrifice,
a compote turning clay to tilth
is seedbed, mycorrhiza spread.
Then crosspiece, felled by winds of change,
cambium rotten, host to stags,
is slower compost, death delayed,
a purgatory underway.
Combined is mindful, of our health,
communion with partner, earth,
found sound as site for pupils trained,
honework, shaping, moulding soul.
This cycle path as seasoned would
spin forever, spread spokeshave drift;
rural rides by cobnut swathes,
swag for spring in underlay,
harvest raids, launched aerial dreys,
bushy tales from forest glades.
Well-healed, footwear turning leaves,
re-treads for our pacing soles,
golden ways to brittle days,
gait through five-barred, country code;
some may balter, slipware sway,
prefer grey tarmac, neater stone,
but is firm footing underground
the route sustaining, future-bound?


These corvidae, they swirl amok,
escape the R of neutral nett,
found over, under, dry and wet,
the Droste effect in mirrorwork,
congruency flown wild in flock.

Unrestrained they fly without
regard to norms of optic laws,
and prey, cowl stoop at carrion,
jackdaw, black-capped, life-thieving judge.

But mycorrhiza of the sky,
spun link of saprophytic mesh,
capillaries of far-shed love,
in murmuration of their own
can be our saving grace, despite.

Yet clusters, do they host their nests,
slum noise, untidy overcrowds,
rook us, magpies, stealing shine,
as bubble wrapped against the sky,
backdrop space turquoise, silver-lined,
a promise when we go beyond?
 Mother Mushroom and Her Children
by Edward Okun (Poland) c. 1900


Fly agaric, magic meal—
hats off to this motherland,
fantastical and curious,
Mutter Courage, circle brood.
The dozy beeches dream at dawn—
lost birches bark at their misgnome,
silver slivers, parchment curl—
thirty pieces, betrayed on tree—
why wood portray, mush, toadstool?

Hirth’s Weekly, magazine of art,
Jugend, phantasy and fact,
mycorrhiza underneath,
network web, active unseen.
So, Poles apart, scene and unseeen,
Polonia, Copernicus,
or Chimera, wavy hair?

So why is it we love it—
nostalgia, fairy plates;
with soft blades edging bottoms,
the outline sharp for scrolls?
The fungus grows in secret,
as all dawn pickers know,
and I am drawn to mystery,
well executed art.


Steel tributaries cross the sky,
strobe delta imprints petrify—             
‘but have no fear, hold close to ted,      
it’s jumbo falling out of bed’—
as if the plane turned, flown berserk,
topography in mirrorwork,
string vein of burning sequin gouge.

A crack as whip, but rumbles on,
far reach of energy in search,
a mycorrhizal network stream—
‘now hush my child, just count to ten,
light flash comes first, then later sound;
if overhead, crash bang is loud,
expect it’s over, passing on.’

The charge is natural enough,
perspective, spacious over earth,
from firmament, like stellar streak,
though thought theophany of God.
That Faraday could block the force
reduce its power by cage of mesh—
it’s just like hugging teddy bear.
Photograph of Bowie Wall, Brixton London 
featuring mural by James Cochran

Now Bowie, ten, a Bromley lad,
just as was I, but up the street,
a crow’s-fly mile at most I’d say.
My class desk in a row beside
his Burnt Ash School; like Brixton’s fires,
the riots of a bile unjust,
piles pillars, bricks from racist wiles.

Graffiti there, the poet’s tool,
and walls, illumined manuscripts
bloom words and storeys of new ways;
a due home for once aliens,
‘no dogs, blacks, Irish’ labels gone.
In inner city, outer strife
gives way to carnival of life.

They, Wolf Cubs, his gyrations thought
were from another planet moves;
from group to band, encore, again,
most missing, songs of early years;
would Bowie sheath or flick that knife,
in search from Iggy, Ziggy flame
with paranoia of his genes?

Space oddity, an odyssey,
to find his hunky dory name,
androgyny to mask within
his clouded eye from fist of friend.
Cracked actor, music of the spheres,
too many balls hang in the air,
sheer stardust coming in to land.

(prev. pub. by The Ekphrastic Review, 9/8/23)


Today’s LittleNip:

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Cambium hides xylem, phloem,
flow mycorrhiza to the sky;
query—when will rainbow fly,
except we judge ourselves, then veer?


Our thanks to Stephen Kingsnorth for today’s fine poetry (mushroom season is here!) which is all about our Seed of the Week, Connections, and for tracking down photos to go with it.

Today is National Poetry Day, both in the U.S. (  and in the UK ( The theme this year is Refuge. So, cheers to that, but for a poet, every day is Poetry Day!


—Public Domain Photo Courtesy
of Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

A reminder that
Sacramento Poetry Center celebrates
National Poetry Day tonight with
an open mic reading on the theme
of “Refuge”, and
Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis
features William O’Daly and
classical guitarist
Louis Valentine Johnson.
Also tonight: The Roux Open Mic
and POHOP at the Guild Theater.
For info about these and other
upcoming poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page.

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