A year in poems

In 2020 we’re adding a poem a month to this website.  Each poem might say something about Airton Friends Meeting House, Malhamdale in general – it’s culture, history and landscape – or any current topic.  There’s no set format or theme but the poems could be thoughtful, funny or inspiring.  You can contribute by sending an original poem to airtonbarn@gmail.com and we’ll select one to display every month.  (All submissions must be original and carry no copyright restriction – please confirm this in your email.)

March’s poem is by Steve Whitaker, Airton resident and some time performer of the written word in events at the Meeting House.  It treats the trickiness of writing – a feeling that anyone who has put pen to paper is familiar with…

The Twittering Machine

Birds on a Wire:
painting by Beercp (public domain)

Cacophonies of birds are my reward
for hours of honest labour undischarged.
Not song, you understand, more nuisances
of sound deranged as if by accident

upon the tone-deaf ear. Larks ordered
like notes along some mad atonal wire
are what I see and hear. Unending lines
run parallel yet never cross to yield

the lightning charge, the shock of
knowing how and where and what
to pen, in sync suffused,
the ill-used, febrile muse.

It needn’t signify, for like Paul Klee’s
sequestered blind, the end may be
some existential trick played subtly on
the ever-waiting, hopeful mind.

Stephen Whitaker

In the eyes of God : Climate Change

I swish, I sway,
I stand, I lay,
The Earth is shrouded in light.

For here is me,
Behold, I see
A world of colour
Or black and white.

The end is near
For I am dying here
I feel no longer bright.

My plants are dying
And my people aren’t trying
I am now crying
The world is not a pretty sight.

Alice Peart, aged 10
February 2020


Winters past

When winters past cloaked these grounds in feet of snow,
little did those who gathered
wish for anything more than a wakening flame
in the hearth.

To their chilled hands, the warmth of this Meeting Place,
walls and windows
dripping with the breath of
dozens or more, was a haven
from the storm.

Little would they recognise the green dampness
of winters now –
though comfort they would find
in our conveniences, fabrics and fortunes,
all welcome –

but we share these winters with them,
past Friends,
who though silent and unknown,
left us this hallowed space, this home from home
in Airton.

Simon Watkins
January 2020