The Fourth Day of Christmas

Forecast for 28 December, 2011

This is it: even at noon the fields
can raise a crop of furrow shadow.
Hedges are flailed pension plans for fieldfares,
and rooks spell out in shifting pictograms
what the ivy knows, but isn't telling:
that trees are doomed public sector workers,
and Britain's growth depends on the horizon.

While house martins put flight capital
into sunny tax havens, and swifts scarper
as the schools go back, harlequin ladybirds
over-winter in your curtains, parakeets
are making a go of it, and another egret
arrives at Southampton, pockets empty,
willing to do a gull's work if gulls won't.

An Atlantic depression jostles with a blocking
continental anticyclone. Our sky will try to host
both systems, while the backdoor Gulf Stream
delivers cowrie shells like drowned slaves' teeth
and three degrees of lost imperial heat.
Hunched in their ivy tower the wide-boy rooks
reckon it means more weather either way.      



*Nick MacKinnon teaches Maths and English. His puzzles appear in the Sunday Times, he's been second in the Bridport and Edwin Morgan, and his audiobook Storytelling read by Stephen Campbell Moore and Juliet Stevenson comes out in 2012.




Seasoned Reasons
 
because Bethlehem vanished in a blizzard
of correction fluid, and shoots grown-on
from palms crossed with shekels flowered
 
because what hammers society into iron
was not, and will never be, pederasty — still
quite the hook to hang a captive audience on —
 
because communities burst their rivers
Israel-wide, far beyond, and in his bed,
every receiver grew to meet his giver
 
because astrologers, magicians, qualify
as that day's queers, aroused as they are
by the deviant star's clean Roman coin
 
because the contemporary stage holds
that a roof can bend in the centre like a tent,
not lie flat like a precise law's banknote
 
because the whole Leviticus Code rests
on this: cattle lying prostrate in a stable,
beside the mild current of the Christ-child
 

 
*Mark Burnhope's poems and reviews have appeared in print and online publications including Magma, Horizon Review, Nth Position, Stride and The Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt). His debut pamphlet, The Snowboy is available from Salt Publishing.




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