David Clarke

David Clarke’s spring

Frost Photograph: E.E.Nobbs

A Harmony for Spring

When sun makes lakelets of suburban window panes
and March has struggled into its itchy suit of spring,
when love performs its unapplauded legerdemain –

I tie the burlap sack of myself in a cunning knot,
sample the air with its hint of herbs and hen-warm eggs,
tap at asphalt with tireless feet and wake strange thoughts

in the mind of that giant whose skull we populate like fleas.
Old, dumb world. Red steam rising off
black fields shakes out a blue that’s ripe for bristled bees,

and flowerheads, like dessicated rubber bands,
distend and give, then roll out lolling amber tongues.
My strolling pace will metronome this saraband

of sap and dust, experimental birdsong trims
the lanes, and in the softest burrows, dreys and lairs
birth unfurls those cries which are its synonyms.


A Partial Art


March is a sprinter who steams on a pocked track
or one who plays pastor to the cranky deceased,
his transept paved with their names in tablets of ice.

The swingers who weekend at converted farms
open their wallets in the village stores,
inhabit the museum of themselves.

A landscape must evolve its own phonetics,
a cardigan must choose the loosened thread
from which to unspool. But windows frame

the views they have, propose the identity
of place and self, the metaphor of fire
to ash. A rowan hedge is warden of England’s

sleep, the beck’s slow, bright trombone a ledge
on which the quick, black birds of spring alight.


Now memory will print its pugs in thawing
ground, a past traced out in mammal scat,
or sidling to my table snatch cold morsels,

wing away. Consider this hard view –
a lime-washed wall. Beyond, a fat, slumped barn
where skulks the Muse, perhaps, or sundry vermin

nibbling wainscot and cable. The phone is empty,
an old hag comes to card the wool of the land.
She is the wind and scatters handfuls of flints,

each one a tit with a cheeky twig in its beak,
flurried by the planet’s churn and ire,
an orphan given to the season’s ward.

If you see white then it is blossom or bone,
a tarn which catches the overflowing light.



David Clarke is a teacher and researcher living in Gloucestershire. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines including Magma, Tears in the Fence, Under the Radar and New Walk. His first pamphlet, Gaud, was joint winner of the Flarestack Poets Pamphlet Prize 2012 and subsequently won the Michael Marks Award 2013. His first collection, Arc, will be published by Nine Arches in autumn 2015.

1 thought on “David Clarke’s spring”

  1. These poems are filled with March music!

    Some favourite lines –

    “My strolling pace will metronome this saraband//of sap and dust”

    And this –

    “…an old hag comes to card the wool of the land./She is the wind and scatters handfuls of flints,/ each one a tit with a cheeky twig in its beak,”

    I’m delighted that Abi matched up my photo with Dave’s poems about the in-between season of March – I like how that “itchy suit of spring” and the burlap reference seems to go with the edgy frost and dead grass in my photo :-)

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