Category Archives: Poetry

Night Departure

Tail lights vanishing into a darkening sky,

A symbol of your leaving,

An intermittent spark of fading cherry red,

Dwarfed, and made miniscule by the vastness of night,

The lonely silver disc of the moon, bathes the landscape with surreal intensity,

In it’s unfeeling spotlight, for an unknown reason, I feel desolate,

You, speeding across the roof of the world, chasing the eastern mystic dawn,

I gaze at the last seductive blink of light, yet distance and darkness conspire,

The universe wins, and defeated, I stand alone,

I trudge to the car park, wearing shoes of lead,

Having nowhere to go, yet no reason to stay,

Out! Out! onto the highway, My reality here,

Yet My spirit soars east, chasing, never catching,

Radio taunts, me, romantic songs,

I turn south, and briefly look up,

I see another, red, winking, vanishing into a darkening sky

Mark Charlwood© 1989

My Rural Pub

My Rural Pub

 

 

Balmy evening, sun not set, sky is azure blue,

As I set off to the pub, to sink a pint or two,

I stroll along the leafy lane, and cross a rotting stile,

It’s not a gruelling journey, just barely half a mile

 

The woods I have now passed through, and either side are crops,

And over in the distance, is the village church and shops

On my left is golden wheat, to the right is yellow rape,

And my friend, the lonesome horse, stands waiting by his gate

 

I walk into the village, up round past the church,

Up cobbled lane, my local, The Robber and the Birch

Rural English tavern, horse brasses, and oaken beam,

Weather-beaten whitewashed walls, slowly turning green

 

Ducking to protect my head, I push the creaky door,

Entering the alehouse, where footpads drunk before,

All the chequered history, of my ancestors lie here,

You can smell it in the woodwork, and taste it in the beer

 

Minstrels, Monks and Robbers, perhaps a Prince or two,

Have stopped to quaff a jug of ale, as they were passing through,

Relaxing by the window, I slowly sip my beers,

With the sounds of Merrie England, still ringing in my ears

 

The cricket teams’ just entered, a very happy crowd,

I think that they’ve just won their match, and feeling very proud,

The clink of cheerful glasses, loud celebrating toasts,

With giant plates of sandwiches, provided by our hosts

 

 

It’s time to go, I nod goodbye to the old man by the door,

Glancing round my local pub, it’s English to the core,

I wander back, round past the church, and down the dusky lane,

Down through the fields, and past the horse, away, to home again.

 

 

Mark CharlwoodÓ 2018

 

The Guardian of the Skies

The Guardian of the Skies

The Pilot has a trusty friend, who’s heard, but never seen,

Who issues forth instructions, in a never ending stream,

The calming voice, in times of stress, our anchor to the ground,

The measured tones, in hours of need, a truly welcome sound
When we’re “uncertain of position” or have a crisis in the air,

It’s good to know you have a friend, who’s always waiting there,

When fuel is low, and met is poor, you’re losing V.M.C.,

That’s when you’ll really value, the folk in A.T.C.,
It’s easy for us pilots, to infringe somebodies zone,

A moments inattention in the hurry to get home,

Then we get admonished by the ATCO, we’ve unhinged,

Who curtly, politely, tells us, his airspace we’ve infringed
When things are getting busy, near an airports cluttered skies,

Our invisible supporter, lends another pair of eyes,

On flying a tricky clearance, your jangled nerves she’ll settle,

As she vectors you quite safely, amongst the heavy metal
Next time you go aloft, spare a moment for the chap,

Who commands the little lines of blue, upon your half mil map,

Don’t gripe about the airspace, that in the UKs rife,

Or curse the ATCOs down below, one day they’ll save your life 

Eat Your Greens – The Sprout’s Revenge

As its Christmas…….

My Mum has always told me, that I must eat my greens,
And for many years I’ve done so, as disgusting as it seems,
But of all the veg I’ve eaten, there’s one that gives me doubts,
Those nasty, bloody, tasteless things, the dreaded Brussles Sprouts

I blame it on the Belgians,they named the filthy things,
I also blame the EU and and all the nonsense that it brings,
Boil them, roast them, fry them, bake them on a griddle,
How to stop them going soft, that really is the riddle

And now we come to Christmas, the season of good cheer,
We cook our Christmas turkeys, and drink our wine and beer,
And after lunch, we watch the Queen, full up lads and lasses,
Then the sprout’s take their revenge, with farts and squeaks and gasses

This work is the intellectual Property of Mark Charlwood © and may not be published, copied or used with out written permission. If you want to use it, please contact me.

Don’t Tell ‘Em I’m Only Sixteen Mum

I wrote this after visiting the WW1 graves at Ypres, and West Flanders. Having looked at the names and ages on the simple white headstones, following the Battle of Passchendaele. There were numerous graves of 16 year olds. I also attended the Last Post at the Menin Gate. It was one of the most moving military ceremonies I have ever seen. When I looked around, virtually everyone, men, women, children, me. We all had tears on our faces.

I hope I’ve done these men justice in the following words.

Don’t tell em I’m only sixteen, Mum,
Or they won’t let me go the the front,
I’ve been issued a Lewis machine gun,
Which I clean as I sit on my bunk

I’ve heard there’s a big push tomorrow,
The barrage is starting at dawn,
The sky’s grey and dark with Gods sorrow,
The Poppy’s stand limp and forlorn

We stand in the mud of the gloomy old trench,
Waiting silent for daybreak to come,
Backing us up are Belgians and French,
All shaking from fear of the Hun

Some lonely boy in a dugout, is playing a gramophone now,
A sweet image of crisp sheets and home,
With my girl at the Theatre, to see Chu Chin Chow,
Surrounded by men in a close crowded trench, I’m alone

Don’t tell ’em I’m only sixteen Mum,
Or they won’t let me go over the top
I’m no longer a schoolboy, so,I must go and battle the Hun,
I’ll make you proud, Mum, and I promise I won’t get the chop

The Suns golden fingers, are now probing the top of my trench,
A whistle is blown, the ground starts to shake, my ears filled with brimstone and noise,
Dawn’s freshness corrupt, by explosions, the smoke with a cordite stench,
A shout, and the smell of fresh mud hits my face, as I climb up the steps with the boys

The barbed wire fence is in tatters, like a snakes skin just freshly sloughed,
The whipcrack of bullets buzz by my head, like like so many furious bees,
We slowly move into the maelstrom, friends falling like rain from the clouds
Away to my left is Sid from the village, chest Crimson, he sinks to his knees

Through the smoke I see a small crump hole, half filled with my comrades, and mud
I look back to the trench that was home, about fifty yards I would guess
I crouch and hobble to safety, and see Charlie, who’s covered in blood,
I held his hand as he died in the green slimy mud, I cry, “My God, what a mess”

Don’t tell them I’m only sixteen Mum, I’m really just doing my bit,
If the Captain finds out that I’m under age, they’ll send me home in disgrace,
It’s just that I’m so very scared Mum, that on the next push, I’ll get hit,
Then it’s back to the factory, white feathers, and old ladies who spit in my face

Don’t tell them I’m only sixteen Mum….

No Flying Today – Ops Scrubbed

I wrote this after wasting a day at a little grass airfield in Southern England, waiting for the grey overcast, and the heavy rain and showers to blow through. – typical cold front weather. The airfield – Popham in Hampshire was, and still is the home of the Spitfire flying club, and on that morning it was pretty atmospheric, and I just got to thinking. This is the result.

For those unfamiliar with the UK flying licences, the reference in the poem to the IMC is the Instrument Meteorological Conditions Rating, held by pilots who are qualified to fly on instruments, in cloud.

No Flying Today – Ops Scrubbed

The weather at the airfield, was gloomy wet, and grey,
The rains lashed down, the clouds whipped past, a dreary, soggy day,
I mooched about the clubhouse, and heaved a mighty sigh,
And cursed the fickle gods above, who wouldn’t let me fly.

So I sat there glum, dejected, and sipped my tepid tea,
When a rheumy eyed old warbird, plonked down next to me,
And as he sat, I glanced around, and there I chanced to see,
Proud but faded, on his chest, a single DFC.

I turned away, and sipped my tea, which I add, was weak,
I made to go, and drained my cup, and then I heard him speak
“Don’t feel cheated old chap, this weather will soon pass by,
And if you fly this morning, then you will surely die”

“What makes you so sure?” I asked, “Why should it be me?”
“I have flown in cloud before, I have my IMC”
He chuckled quietly, and then, before he spoke,
He looked at me, and politely cleared his throat

Alone, inside the club house, with the rain still crashing down,
I noticed that my new companion’s face was creased up in a frown,
He grasped my arm, leaned forwards, and peered closely at my face,
His voice was low, insistent, then he rushed on a-pace

“It was on a ropy day like this, in the summer, of ’43,
When I scrambled in my Spitfire, to patrol the cold North Sea,
I was supposed to track a warship, the best the Hun had got,
Then pass my observations to the Navy, for them to make a plot.

Once airborne, I was soon enveloped in solid looking cloud,
Which as I discovered later was to be my burial shroud,
I stared upon my gauges, nailed airspeed and AI
And then I saw some green above, where I should have seen the sky

It took a few eternities, before it all sunk in,
I was fully inverted, sir, and also in a spin,
I pushed the stick, I kicked the bars, and pulled every stunt I knew,
But nothing could recover it, there was nothing I could do

The next thing I remember, is sitting on my arse,
watching as my kite burned out, scorching, black, the grass,
It was just then that I noticed, with a feeling of sick dread,
That the pilot was in the cockpit, and he was surely dead

So, old son, take note from me, advice that you should heed,
Don’t trust to luck, or the instincts of your breed,
Instruments, like people, sometimes fail, or lie,
and if you blindly follow them, then, like me, you’ll surely die.

So, One pilot to another, I say to you, old chap,
Don’t bugger about in clouds, watch the landscape, and your maps,
Only fly when birds do, don’t take needless chances,
don’t fly in bad weather, or in iffy circumstances

I considered all his comments, and thought perhaps he’s right,
I turned to thank him for his guidance, and he’d disappeared from sight,
I looked around, but he was gone, or was he there at all?
Then I saw his young and carefree face, staring from the photo on the wall

I read the caption, inscribed upon the frame, and this is what it said

Pilot Officer Jim Smithers, DFC
Killed in Action 1943, aged 19
And, I realised he Was Dead

Mark Charlwood © owns the intellectual copyright to this work. Unauthorised copying, distribution or publication is prohibited. Please contact me if you wish to use my work. Many thanks

First Date

Another one that I wrote some years ago….musings on a first date at a country pub, in Leafy Surrey. I seem to recall it was early spring time…..

First Date

Its Friday night and I head for home, the working week is done,
I’m happy its the weekend and I’m going to have some fun,
The sun’s still shining brightly, as I walk up to my room,
The clock is showing half past six, I must get ready soon

I gratefully shrug my suit off, and hang it on the hook,
Go over to the unit, select myself a book,
I choose a decent comedy, I like to have a laugh,
And now to soak the day off, by laying in the bath

Cleaning time is over, I leap out – still soaking wet,
Cross over to the hi-fi, put on a good cassette,
Something from the Beatles, their twenty golden best,
I sing along with some of them, and hum to all the rest

Listening to the music, I towel and comb my hair,
Then open up the wardrobe, and consider what to wear,
I’d like to go quite casual, but my jeans are looking rough,
I wouldn’t want to meet her whilst I’m looking like a scruff

Well – that’s it – I’m ready, or as ready as I’ll be,
So I infiltrate the kitchen, and glug down a cup of tea,
I pick up my “shades” and my car keys from the bar,
Have I forgotten anything – No! then out and to the car

Its early when I get there, we’re supposed to meet at eight,
I start to fidget nervously; I hope she won’t be late,
Ten past eight has come and gone, and now I start to doubt,
Perhaps she won’t be coming, perhaps she’s blown me out

Relief floods through me, as I suddenly spot her car,
She pulls up in the car park, right outside the bar,
I walk over to her vehicle, and there I stand and wait,
She stands, she looks around her, and Wow! she’s looking great

I cannot quite believe it, to find a girl like her is rare,
Intelligent and attractive, in whose interests I can share,
And so we both just sit there, and talk and talk, and talk,
Then suddenly its over, Oh damn! the night’s too short

And so the evening has ended, and there we have to part,
May I see you again soon? I’m asking with hopeful heart,
She nods her head and smiles – the answer’s yes – I really hoped she might,
And with a head that’s still whirling, I head off into the night

Mark Charlwood

Mark Charlwood©

Mark Charlwood is the owner of the intellectual copyright of this work. It is prohibited to re publish, or distribute this work without prior written permission. Please contact me if you wish to use it.

Airport visit

This is another one from my back catalogue. I wrote this whilst working as a part time crew bus driver, when I was raising money to pay some big bills. The scene was London’s Gatwick Airport South Terminal. The Northern terminal wasn’t built at the time of writing.

I found it in a folder whilst unpacking some boxes that I took out of the loft.

So here it is…..

Airport Visit

Yellow sodium lights, string upon string, row upon row,
Casting a yellow aura onto the pregnant clouds,
Whilst the world slumbers, this is a land of insomnia,
Never sleeping, teeming with life

I pass through the doors, into this concrete and chrome citadel,
It’s artificial warmth engulfs me, bright neon and noise,
Smells of stale burgers and stale humanity, crowded yet empty,
A different world – an alien place

Wandering through this manmade canyon, yellow stalactites offering directions,
Avoiding the endless cleaners, driving their powered brooms, scarabs of the night,
Ever watchful, vigilant, evading mobile cages of luggage,
Destined for who knows where?

Dante’s hell here, tens of sentient corpses, in limbo,
Strewn like victims on stereotype couches – the un-dead,
Awaiting their flight into the future,
The cheerful obnoxiousness of a giant orange kiosk, serving processed juice.

Musical, the chimes demand attention, the disembodied voice,
Reaching into the furthest nooks and crannies – no escape,
Calling the faithful to the altar of travel,
A tired policeman, gun on hip, drinking plastic coffee from a cardboard cup

As I walk by a party of arrivals dribble from the customs hall, motley collection of searching faces,
Meeters and greeters surge forward clipboards held aloft like religious talismen,
Their overspill of emotion floods me, drowning me, relief, tears, tiredness all at once,
The elderly couple tightly embrace, oblivious to anyone but each other

Deeper I penetrate into this strange land, my eyes assaulted by TV screens that force feed data,
Boldly, I step onto the rubber walkway, driving me into the maw of the machine to be processed,
Journeys end! Departures, and I go to the check in desk,
The uniformed clone launches a computer designed smile at me, chants a litany of questions to appease the gods,

I’ve passed the test, and weigh my bags,watching, devoid of emotion, disengaged,
They lurch away, into a dark oblivion, nostalgia hits…will I ever see them again?
I stand and appraise my fellow travellers; the lady in the two piece, face taut, fearful,
The drunken louts in suits with Nikons round their necks

I see a weary figure, a foreign lady, pushing her cleaning cart like a mobile penance,
How many toilets has she cleaned today, how many will she clean tomorrow?
Will the pretty girl ever see the soldier she’s kissing goodbye again?
The future seems so uncertain, and I share their insecurity

I am alone. No one to wave farewell to, no one to miss, or send a card,
A piece of business flotsam, jostled by the tides of commerce,
Cast wherever the capricious winds of profit blow me,
Oh no – A loud stag party with braying laughs and cowboy hats,

Happy and sad, birth and death – it all happens here,
The total gamut of human emotions and life; deceit, betrayal, love and loyalty,
But emotions can’t be X Rayed, or found by customs – prohibited articles?
Just people, all suffering the common condition of confusion

At last we’re moving towards the rubicon,
Passport in sweaty hand, boarding pass clamped between gritted teeth,
Shuffling like convicts towards the scaffold,
A bored security guard barely glances at me or my papers as I pass through,

Out of the warm cloying fugg, and into the drizzle, the smell of kerosene in the air like mist,
The sleek belly of the aircraft, illuminated by intermittent flashes of Amber and red,
I’m dwarfed by its size, and the impatient whine of its power,
The raindrops hit me, disguising my tears, as I shuffle forwards to embark

The night is then ripped apart, as I stand at the hatch, mesmerised,
A cluster of lights race past me, rotating, clawing their way up the fabric of the night,
Suddenly absorbed by the clouds, with only the lonely baying of jets to testify to it’s existence.
I turn, and see yellow sodium lights, stirring upon string, row upon row

Mark Charlwood© August 1989

Mark Charlwood holds the intellectual property rights of this work. It is prohibited to copy, republish, or distribute this work without the written permission. If you do want to use it, please contact me.

Night of Beauty

Night of Beauty

Soft-perfumed dusk falls silently, like black snow,
Creeping over quiet english meadows and fields, gently heralding night,
Warm laughter floats across the garden,
A sea of sound, washing along the shores of consciousness,
Orange and red lights outline the silhouette of the country tavern,
Fluttering moths glitter, as they perform their haphazard evolutions,
Evading, by chance, the zooming bats that swoop above,
Deep blue eyes, made mysterious by the shadows,
A smile that cuts like a searchlight through the gloom,
Soft, warm fingers entwine with mine across the table
As my internal warmth of happiness shuns the cooling eventide
Look heavenwards! Above, countless numbers of stars glittering,
Strewn like shards of broken glass on Tarmac,
Awesome in their profusion, humbling in their magnitude, numbing brilliance,
And so, I relax, in the mental easy-chair of contentment,
Noticing that lady night has changed her gown,
From one of grey to velvet of the deepest violet,
The better to show her finest jewel – the moon,
As red as a blood orange, wreathed in ragged wisps of clouds,
Majestically climbs the firmament,
And Mother Nature congratulates herself on the creation of a night of beauty,
Made complete by the beauty of you.

Mark Charlwood© December 2014

Notes: This poem was written by me on a summer night in June back in the early nineties. I wrote it after going on a date with a beautiful woman, to a small pub in the middle of nowhere in West Sussex. I have been with this lady ever since. She is still beautiful.

Mark Charlwood owns the intellectual copyright on this original work. It is prohibited to copy or republish this work without the prior written permission of the author.

Dream Holiday

Dream Holiday

The city traffic hum, is reduced to a murmur,
Washed away by the sounds, flooding from the taverna,
The strong heady aroma, of Ouzo, Retsina,
On the wings of a zephyr, spread across the marina.

When I arrive, I know that you’ll meet me,
With crowds of old friends, who’ve turned out to greet me,
Away from old London’s pollution and lies,
To relax on the beach, under warm Grecian skies.

Hand in hand we wander, through quiet olive groves,
Or tramp for miles on the white, dusty roads,
And when too tired to wander much farther,
We sit with cold beers, on the wall of the harbour.

When I arrive, and the sleek jumbo lands,
I’m minutes away from your warm, golden sands,
Away from the smog, London’s urban disease,
To relax on the beach, with its azure blue seas.

Then I come to, with a frightening shock,
Realising I’m still in the travel agents shop,
My heart is still with you, a powerful call,
Propelled by the picture of Greece, on the wall.

So, alone I wander, back out of the door,
The Oxford Street traffic a deafening roar,
The strong heady odour of fumes, and decay,
Make futile my plans for a Greek holiday.

But all is not lost, for with coming of night,
When I climb into bed, and turn out the light,
Once more in the darkness, my spirits at peace,
As my ‘plane touches down, and I’m with you in Greece.

Mark Charlwood © November 2014

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