Wilfred’s Courage

When I awoke my skin seemed burnt into earth
Beside me lay men      not sleeping      some slack jawed
in shock or      even amazement
Those days lost       between explosion & revelation
that I had remained on the platform
& they had climbed aboard.

Was home ever a field like this
Most I knew came from mills or mines
lungs already alive with peculiar light
A light like frost or dew      a God struck rabbit      dares to tread
knowing      hot cloudless noon       burns his scent
Siegfried      there are visions      a man can not speak

& yet     here in this foxhole      & later      much later I find
both arms have mutinied against me,—brutes!
the hurt      absolves our sin      Men
patriotic       in their willingness       to die
far better to fling ourselves on barbed wire      than drown
like Hylas       forced back to the womb

Siegfried       in my future      I will find you
& should I fall into dark water      know
I did not go      as cattle do
the raft      all its bitter glory      took me back
to who I really am      & war is       a cleft hoof
we employ      to mask       our crumpled disgrace

©Natalia Spencer2018

Both arms have mutinied against me,—brutes!
is from A Terre by Wilfred Owen.


Trump: Feed him to the Corgis

There’s a woman in the crowd      placard
caught in a snap shot
fifteen minutes late & although she’s hot
He’ll blame her for lack of progress
Why should a woman be here at all
she should be home
filing her nails
or whatever good woman do

There’s a small woman on a Dias
in his mind      it is       where he should be
temperature rising      she’s hot
Blue hat brim shades the glare
Ninety-two is a good age for a pilgrimage
all beauty & grace      I will not bow      I would make
a good king      a very good king      the best
Imagine my gold bust in parliament square

Bankrupt he is      received      all smiles
& white gloves      Bearskins march      chinstraps guard
faint smirks      a marvellous parade
no pedigree      would stomach      such hubris
that foxy muzzle      an assassin’s mask
well versed in snaring vermin
She walks two feet behind       her trump card
played      like a come to heel whistle


©Natalia Spencer 2018


Image rights. Getty.

A Robin’s Cockfight

In between soft night’s shift       & baby blue dawn
Blackbird & I      are first to call      staccato song
He steps out proud      fine beak      a gold glint
taking snails & worms      There is
no other agenda

& I      perch on a fork      pitched
between furrows      small walls      a man
made before he lay down with a Mexican
He said her amorous sweat
swaddles him
in orange blossom

Blackbird also knows      value of love
brown mate hedgerow hopping
she comes back      grain & berry      hard won
at the end of segregating summer
Next year there will be      a pale blue clutch
a chance to raise their young

I may be idealistic      bold red breast      thrust
against one more cruel sanction
against an orange blimp
territorial struck      as I am
Blackbirds do not
belong in cages

I have no time for grand display
I will pop
the head of a cloud hung Schmutz
Watch it fall      flabby      gasless
into The Thames
all the world laughs

Pi Day

Unnumbered maladies his joints invade,
 Lay siege to life, and press the dire blockade.

Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784.

And the bible says man that is born of woman
hath three score years & ten
here in for him there was the only truth

Today earth turns & a chair is vacant
that body all angles & shapes
at last an arabesque

or black swan wings thrumming over a lake
where heron poised on one leg
waits for bright koi

Sir that you strived to weave astral joy
on our eyelids
we wear black rimmed spectacles

& Press stud frail lives like sprays of pale blue Meconopsis
to dark lapels   you are your own cosmos
tyres sparking across gumboots


I.M  Stephen Hawking

©Natalia Spencer 2018

East Aleppo May 1st 2017

Outside a pock marked Souk

At The Mosque of The Mulberry Tree

rose & jasmine rise from rubble

War has not changed its perfume


‘we have fallen from a great height

but at this time stones were meant

to be destroyed

Aleppo will be Aleppo, forever’


In bright spears of yellow weeds

amid quiet chatter there is value

food for an empty mouth

if bombing had carried on


‘I knew I would live. I was full of hope

When you have girls,

you have everything

in life. You are rich.’


And great love is a ghost story

of a Roman eagle caged in this old square

Abu & friends sit on broken chairs

And snow will come again


©Natalia Spencer 2017


Journalist Ruth Mclean’s  original piece appears here