David Ratcliffe – Silent Leaves

Ratcliffe LE P&W Jan 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023

Silent Leaves, poems by David Ratcliffe.

Silent Leaves

There is a trickle-down calm
as the moon hangs over hillside
projecting silhouettes
of lonesome branches
from a tree rooted to earth.

Naked in the autumn soil
you can almost hear it weep
as it mourns the passing of its fruit
retreating into bark
making ready for winters worst;
its movement that of a planet
rolling around the sun.

Caught within the glow
of this fond goodnight
a flock of migrants
leave troubles behind
leading and following as one,
their visa expired.

They display a unity
not found in humankind
assigned to a common goal
as they lead and follow
in their airborne peloton;
no arrogance or ego at play
just a joint survival flight
on the wing to Africa
and exotic feasts.

However, they will return in springtime
indifferent to the wind torn suffering
of the now blossoming tree,
whose sunlit leaves
if given to speak, might say…

they always come back
when they want something.

Though, they remain silent
accepting the order of things
as I sketch the scene,
chewing my pencil
pondering my part in all this.

All things

I lock my troubles in the car
and walk towards the moor
as urgent clouds
direct events
turning emerald fields
to vivid limes
then back again.

It’s a late afternoon in spring to challenge your wardrobe,
a day for a jumper tied to the waist.

The fresh breeze hits my face
snuffing the embers of futile thought,
yet, somehow it brings a sense of foreboding,
a sinister feel of future events
like the moment you realise
you set off in the wrong key
with the chorus fast approaching.

There is murder in the skies;
below is a freshly laid tillage crop
and I smile at the irony of a pair of crows
sitting on a wooden cross of rags
cawing their anarchy.

I turn and look over a dry-stone wall,
the odd new-born wobbles
like it spent lunchtime in the tavern;
more innocence awaiting slaughter.

These hills are both beautiful and haunting
with a large bird hovering over headland,
maybe a buzzard?
the bloke with the binoculars would know,
well, whatever it is, it’s magnificent
as it selects its prey
from the menu below.

Midway up the hillside is an isolated farmhouse
a large cowshed, a barn,
the faint grunt of pigs,
the even fainter sound of the
puk-puk-a-waaah of chickens.

I imagine those slaves inside
weary and bent,
who’d maybe kept the fire burning over the winter
with final demands,
hoping for salvation from threatened soil.

With earth and dung
drifting through my cavities
my fears safely wrapped
in the bedsheets of my mind,
I realise that struggle is universal
as I look to the farmhouse
and then to my faraway car,
pondering my place in all things.

© David Ratcliffe

David is a poet, playwright, lyricist and short story writer from the North West of England. He is a member of the international poetry study group Worldly Worders. He has been published in a number of magazines both on-line and in print. In 2016 his poem ‘Home Straight’ featured at the Fermoy International Festival. The stage play ‘Intervention’ was produced for World Peace Day.The main influences on his writing include; Ted Hughes, Ann Sexton, W. D. Snodgrass, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda and his favourite poet Philip Larkin.

His poetry has been published in the following publication: Poetry Pacific Magazine, TRR Poetry, Sixteen Magazine, Mad Swirl Tulip Tree Review (Print Version) Oddball Magazine, Poem Hunter, THE BeZINE, Creative Talents Unleashed, Drawn to the Light Press, Live Encounters & The Galway Review. His poem ‘He Crawled’ was placed third for the Pushcart Prize in the Blue Nib magazine in 2018. Also, in 2018 his poem ‘Pour me a Vision’ featured in VatsalaRadhakeesoon.wordpress.com for Dylan Thomas Day. His debut collection ‘Through an Open Window’ was released in August 2021. David’s website contains poems from his book, along with new works.  https://david-ratcliffe.squarespace.com/

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