NORTH CAROLINA TREES
Tall pines, straight as railway sleepers,
Stun me with their skinny beauty
Some of these were old
When Abraham Lincoln was barely knee high.
And it is even possible that George Washington
Touched one or two as he rode by.
Durham was young when these pines first sprouted life
As were Raleigh, Charlotte, and Queensboro et al
Perhaps it was the Redcoats who seeded this lush terrain
Beauty shipped all the way
From England’s green and pleasant land
To conceal the carnage of their long and murderous campaign.
Why do they cycle in the middle of the road,
Or hog the white line,
Go when the lights red
And sometimes stop when they are green,
And steer with their knees
While their hands are doing something obscene?
THE GREEN FORGOTTEN VALLEYS
Those green forgotten valleys,
No longer can be seen
Lying hidden behind the tall fir and larch
That have made these brown hills green
Relentlessly marching down the hills
Burying everything in their wake
The dead are long gone from this place
The pike no longer in the lake
The houses just hollow shells now
Where the past ghosts eerily through
The vacant windows and doors
With rotted frames and jambs that once were new.
Back then there was no silence, only the sound
Of human laughter, and bird-calls to each other
The dogs growling at a wayward sheep.
And children’s scrapes kissed better by their mother
Nature is having the last laugh now
Soon there will be no trace of us at all
As the trees come marching down the hillside
No one hears the lonesome curlew’s call.
Green for go, he muttered
Eager to surge forward
Praying the lunatic in front
Wasn’t turning right
Is this what it has come to?
The whole world grinding to a halt
Impatiently waiting for a green light
How would we cope
If every light in the world
Stuck on amber
Or even red?
Would we be re-programmed
To react to a whistle instead?
Ending up is what we all do.
Burnt-out cases, like our man in Havana.
How green was my valley, you may well ask.
Up the singing mountain, where eagles dare…
And the postman always rings twice.
There is no catcher in the rye,
But be careful
Not to kill a mockingbird.