Traffic Jams

Traffic Jams

The bane of modern living is the daily traffic jam
When the flow of vehicles forms a metallic dam
We sit there a prisoner in our little solo cell
With no easy escape from this very private hell

But somehow we seem prepared to endure this daily grind
As commuters we have been sensitized to problems of this kind
After all we’re not alone as we crawl along the highway
Surrounded by mass travellers as we take a quick glance sideways

As long as we keep moving we seem to be appeased
But when others break lane discipline we surely are not pleased
A string of shiny red lights ahead is a warning we don’t like
And if we stop completely we might be tempted just to hike

But of course we won’t leave this cosy little capsule
Even if lack of progress will destroy the daily schedule
Because we are safer just to hang on in there, however long it takes
Missing all the deadlines and the subsequent heartache

We are tuned into the traffic news which brings us little comfort
And we know a stern warning awaits when our boss we must confront
But we will tell her we were not alone on that crowded motorway
Not the only worker with a bad start to their day

Unfortunately there is a thought in our head which will not go away
No matter otherwise the progress of the day
And that notion is the prospect looming ever closer
The journey home in twilight’s gloom might well be even slower

Ken Fisher

[This poem is published on the day the new Queensferry Crossing
on the Forth opened to traffic (30 Aug 2017)]

 

 

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

[Monday 21 August 2017]

As we look up towards the skies
[And don’t forget to shield your eyes]
The moon will block light from the Sun
As its shadow will our globe o’er run

Not everyone will be in shade
So you need not really be afraid
But parts of the U S A
Will find that night replaces day

I think that those who will be in shadow
Won’t miss the daylight they must forego
Because if they observe with care
They might catch the Sun’s coronal glare

I suppose there is a kind of magic
To experience this shade fantastic
And all fear of the dark will be dispersed
As in the gloom they are immersed

Eclipses make us all aware
Of other objects ‘way out there
And just as shadows cross our path
We should not let them prompt our wrath

For the moon’s shadow will progress
Renewed light will its power repress
And in due time the sun’s bright rays
Will penetrate another day

Ken Fisher

The Wonders of Wales – revisited

The Wonders of Wales – revisited

Llandudno

Once again we have headed for the coast of North Wales
Whose attraction for us never seems to pale
Most of our time was spent on the Isle of Angelsey
In a little hamlet, well suited for rest and for play

It is interesting that even in the modern world of today
The Welsh language is spoken here every day
And reading the multi-lingual road signs
Can quite often be a bit of a bind

However this is a minor irritation
And Wales on the whole is a generous nation
Across the Isle of Anglesey and from shore to shore
There is much for the holiday-maker to explore

The eastern gateway to Anglesey is Telford’s mighty Menai Bridge
And not far way the Britannia crossing spans the Strait’s wide ridge
At Holyhead in the west you can escape overseas
And take the Irish ferries with the greatest of ease

Having exhausted the pleasures of Angelesey’s beaches
The short trip to the mainland makes it easy to reach
Llandudno, Penmaenmawr, and royal Caernarfon
And Snowdonia’s mountains there to be climbed on

Llandudno is a seaside town you really need to see
Its pier, long promenade where Punch & Judy still brings the kids much glee
There’s the Great Orme tramway, Happy Valley and even some copper mines
Shops to spend your money and restaurants for food and wine

For the tourist North Wales offers many attractions
Scenic railways, slate mines, Bodnant Gardens bring much satisfaction
And wherever you go or whatever you do
To have chosen Wales you will never rue

Ken Fisher

 

[See my previous poems on this subject:
The Wonders of Wales – Sept 2015
North Wales – A Holiday Treasure – July 2016
See also my Poem – Dublin’s Fair City – Aug 2017]

Dublin’s Fair City

Dublin’s Fair City

From Anglesey if you look to the west
At least if perched high in the crow’s nest
You could perhaps catch sight of that city so fair
Where the denizens seek to live with such flare

I refer of course to Dublin so fair
Which many claim is beyond compare
Not just for its girls ever so pretty
But for all of life in that capital city

So a quick hop on the Stena Line ferry
From Holyhead these ships never tarry
And with hardly time to say goodbye to Wales
You have safely landed within the Pale

Now with Irish politics one never should meddle
Digging into their history might simply court trouble
So on a quick city tour you just watch and listen
Don’t let your temper arise to a frisson

There is much to excite as you straddle the Liffey
And the commentary explains it all in a jiffy
This University town boasts many literary giants
And not just a few who excelled in science

The writers have enjoyed world renown
Shaw, Yeats, Beckett, Swift and Heaney all owned this town
But science was never neglected there
Of Robert Boyle, Ernest Walton, and Kathleen Lonsdale you will be aware

The achievements of the citizens are too numerous to quote
But one city concoction will always tickle your throat
I refer of course to their particular Erin brew
And don’t be confused it is not Irish stew

If you enter a pub in any Dublin Street
The evidence of this libation you surely will meet
I refer to the ‘Black Stuff’ – that’s the name they shout
It’s Guinness the world’s most famous stout

So it’s no use protesting that you are TT
Your eyes will light up as soon as you see
A tall pint of this quite unique Irish brew
Pulled by the barman especially for you

At last it is time to leave behind all these Irish sensations
And head back to the port for our home destination
As we leave Dublin behind with a glow in our heart
For this city where living is somehow an art

Ken Fisher

Golden Glow

Golden Glow

[On a sunny July day]

Sunlight’s golden glow
Accosts our sleepy eyes as we awake
Dawn’s shadows scattered
By the radiance from the east

The prospect of a sun-filled day
Fills us with anticipation
Active hours in the great outdoors
Or lazy languishing in some shady arbour

Our spirits lifted by the vaulted sky
Azure blue with tiny wispy clouds
Flowers standing proud and tall
Bees teasing their alluring petals

All’s well with the world
As temperature mounts towards noon
No place to be out abroad in such heat
Siesta time surely has been called

From its apex the sun tips gently downwards
But still much joy in parks and gardens
As tiny tots cavort in paddling pools
And barbecue sets called into service

Throughout the afternoon’s long sun-filled moments
Absorbed in a novel’s world of imagination
Or transported by some majestic symphony
Brought to our senses by head-phones

Gradually the sun inclines toward the west
Daytime pleasures stretched into twilight
The glasses shared bring greater conviviality
Until the chill of dusk chimes benediction

Ken Fisher

The Cicada

The Cicada

[A model in ceramics]

I have often thought that this resounding vibration
Was produced by some birds having an altercation
But when travelling on a recent holiday abroad
We were subjected to the noise that cannot be ignored

I am referring to those all-pervading continental insects
Engulfing the plane trees, making such noise to great effect
As they suck the sap which seems them to intoxicate
The males produce a high-pitched drone, all other sounds to dominate

The noise seems to increase as the temperature rises
And the fact they are seen as a pest does not surprise us
But in nature every creature no doubt has some purpose
And if we don’t bother them. Surely they will not hurt us

Apparently the “singing” of the male cicada is not stridulation
typical of the cricket, but rather a different kind of resonant vibration
By contraction of its muscles it produces those loud clicks
Thus commanding all the world around to be transfixed

One wonders if they would not by and by desist
But for hours on end they continue to persist
And eventually the clicks become as background music
A little less pervasive, if not completely muted

The cicada has been immortalized in local folklore
In French Provence it is difficult to ignore
And models in ceramics are now a major feature
Thus runs the fame of this noisy little creature

Ken Fisher

Continental Train Journey

Continental Train Journey

The joy and romance of a continental train journey
A feeling of excitement and even mystery
Each and every destination seems exotic
Despite the fact that many are quite quotidian

Perhaps it is the element of the unfamiliar
The anxiety of ensuring you are on the right platform
That you line up at the point for your intended coach
And not forgetting to compostez votre billet in the yellow machine!

The train trundles in to the station and you scramble aboard
If you have reserved your seat, can you find it?
Perhaps it is upstairs! A feature unfamiliar in Britain
Soon the journey starts, are we travelling in the wrong direction?
Who knows? Who cares?

We steadily progress through the suburbs and into the hinterland
Fields of stony ground support the serried ranks of vines
We are in the South of France where vineyards abound
Perhaps you prefer the olives, here in equal abundance

We gaze out at red tiled roofs and farm steadings
They seem to stretch for miles in every direction
No wonder the French are keen to support agriculture
It is claimed most city dwellers are only one generation from the land

Sometimes, at a distance, we catch sight of an ancient hilltop monastery
For centuries home to a venerated religious community
Offering up prayers for this profane world
As they devoted themselves to their Order

As you look out across the landscape little things surprise
The pylons seem like elaborate constructions from coat-hangers
And of course, who can ignore the railside graffiti?
Far exceeding the art of David Hockney or Jackson Pollock!

Inside the train we are not neglected and if you travel TGV
Or similar, you may be served a very civilized lunch with wine
And always the sun seems to shine perpetually
Surely this affects the outlook – warming the soul – who needs the wine?

One disconcerting feature which can concern the traveller
in a foreign land, is the on-board announcement to passengers
Schoolboy French provides about ten percent of the message
Check how the natives are reacting – then follow the crowd!

This journey is but a mere snap shot, a transient moment
In our life and theirs. But as the track bisects land
Little cameos of local life flash before our eyes in rapid succession
And in some small part we catch a glimpse of similarity and difference

In due time we reach our destination and climb down
to the platform – We know what sortie means!
So we emerge on to the station concourse
In expectation of further delights of the unfamiliar

Ken Fisher

The Bee

The Bee

 

We have a lot to learn from the humble bee
Who works ever so hard for you and me
Their principal role is pollination
Which is vital to the crops that feed our nation

Most of the bees are social creatures
Being together is a quite distinct feature
Up to 50 thousand Honey bees inside a hive
It’s amazing they all manage to stay alive

Bumble bees also like to congregate
But apparently they want a bit more space
So we find about 150 under their roof
Perhaps they prefer to be somewhat aloof

Both types of bees depend on their Queen
Who lays all the eggs, this seems rather obscene
But thanks to the efforts of that sovereign so fertile
All that hard work of the drones is not futile

Indeed I am told that one third of all the food that we eat
Relies on the pollination of bees – that’s surely some feat
One out of every three bites that we munch
Is thanks to the bees – if we lose them, then comes the crunch!

So my message is this, if you hear a bee’s buzz
Don’t be tempted to create undue fuss
For on that bee depends your food supply
Better it lives to ensure you don’t die!

Ken Fisher

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way
[North Berwick to Dunbar]


Routemarker – the John Muir Way

In the shadow of Berwick Law we set our easterly course
A happy band of ramblers, eyes fixed on the road ahead
Steady is the pace, chat comes easy, spirits high
As we tread this walkway opened to commemorate
The 100th Anniversary of the death of John Muir

Our first objective is to reach East Linton and the Preston Mill
An ancient structure , still preserved, for grinding grain to flour
Powered by a waterwheel fed by the speeding flow in the lade
An energy efficient method – so long as the rainfall does not fail!


Preston Mill

Enlightened and refreshed by our visit to the mill
We continue our rural ramble, encouraged by brightening skies
Through open country our journey takes us inexorably toward the sea
But not before meandering through fields of wheat bordered by woodland

Among the joys of walking with friends is the chance to
Tune in to the natural world around. The birdsong,
The flowers and trees of infinite variety, the differing landscape
And times of animated conversation or moments of silence and solitude
To wonder at creation and breathe it in to our jaded souls

We eventually enter the John Muir Country Park at Belhaven Bay
This extensive sandy inlet changes with the tides’ ebb and flow
And as our eyes are drawn outwards from the shore line
We catch a view of the steep volcanic sides of the Bass Rock
Featured in works of fiction, including Catriona by R L Stevenson


The Bass Rock

And so our steady progress continues, our faces weathered
By the changing conditions, the cobwebs of the city blown away
Our hearts inspired by the heady mixture of fresh air
And recognition of the beauty of life, we press on gratefully

As we near the town of Dunbar we skirt a verdant golf course
Then the coastal path reveals vistas below of the rocky shoreline
Notwithstanding our weariness, we have to descend
And then ascend several stone stairways which brought back childhood memories
Of scenes in some of the adventures of the intrepid Rupert Bear

At last, like pilgrims on a journey, we reach our final destination
Weary but contented. Happy to have completed the distance
Happy to have communed with nature, happy to have been in
Each others’ company. Grateful to share in  John Muir’s legacy

Ken Fisher

 


Dunbar

Drenched

Drenched

Surely it can’t last long. But a few minutes is enough
Cotton T-shirt soaked through, Shoes saturated
I didn’t come prepared. This is meant to be summer
At least it might please the flotilla of ducks

What began as a gentle meander through the park
Suddenly transformed into a battle with the elements
Blue skies overwhelmed by foreboding dark clouds
The galvanizing flash followed by the distant rumble
Where to run for shelter? – definitely not that chestnut tree!

I don’t know what the chances are of being struck
But this is not the time for statistical speculation
I feel I have entered on a game of Russian roulette
Do I run for cover or trust myself to the open ground?

A few more electric pyrotechnics, echoed by muffled roars
The torrential downpour siphoned into a mighty spate
No escape. Grass, flower, trees all inundated
And then a strange calm descended, and the sun peeps coyly through

Leaving the forces of nature to restore my composure
I found myself content to sit on an abandoned bench
And gradually, as steam rises from asphalt paths and verdant grass
Evaporation transforms my soul like the waters of baptism

Ken Fisher

 

Summer Moon

Summer Moon

Summer moon hanging lofty in the sky
Its dappled face almost asking why?
Seeming so near and yet so far
Neither quite a planet nor a star

Constant companion of her mother earth
From whom she may have received her birth
Waxing and waning as the light reflects
But ne’er revealing her dark obverse

On summer days she emits a discreet glow
An unobtrusive presence to us below
At night her modesty is cast aside
As she besports herself with pride

We gaze with wonder at this mysterious sphere
Her facial features to our distant eyes made clear
We marvel at the enormity of endless space
And man’s insignificance in that vast place

Ken Fisher

 

See also:  https://thebardofkelvindale.com/2017/01/17/moon

Green Energy

Green Energy

The need for energy that is said to be renewable
A utility whose worth is doubtless invaluable
Has prompted the search for this holy grail
Manifest in the breath that moves these sails

As the invisible air-flow traverses the land
The pressure exerts its powerful hand
Forcing these mighty blades to rotate
Driving the dynamo as they twist and gyrate

We are able to steal from the atmosphere
By subtle legerdemain it would appear
And simply by raising up these metal arms
We have beguiled the wind to yield its charms

So thank goodness for this mysterious spell
Green power from this wondrous carousel
And as long as that breeze continues to blow
Such bounty on us it will surely bestow

Ken Fisher