A new poem

Well – I haven’t written anything in ages, only little bits and pieces that have gone nowhere. It has happened to me each time a new book comes out – I become incapable of saying anything and think I’m never going to be able to write a poem again! So delighted to get this new one down on paper. It has been floating around in my head for a while. First draft – any comments welcome

Red

A cockerel’s comb
winter berries
oriental poppies
the robin’s breast.
The first speck of life
in the yellow yolk.

Little live blood rubies
for crimson,
their death in it;
mordant alum to fix.

Vermillion from the mingled
blood of dragon and elephant:
sulphur and mercury.

Red Alligator, Grand
National winner, ‘68.
Red rosettes.
Copper Khan.

Years of sky warnings
and delights,
Turner’s fading sun rises
and sun sets.

The hand of Ulster,
the hand of history.
Red rag to a bull.
Caught red handed.
Marked, wrong.
A stop sign.

The letting of blood,
blood pressure

it’s thicker than water
but not thick enough
to carry the weight of us.
Blood soaked. Flowing.

Lips stained with wine,
desire,
the memory of rhythms,
the first rivulet
running down a pale leg
fertility
the stains that life makes.

Blood thickens, slows,
dries up. Rust. Clot.

I’m bringing little touches
of red into the house,
in compensation, a vase,
a cushion or two, red frames
for black dancing herons
and a black horse.

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