By a strange twist of fate, the words of a poet who tread the Corpse Roads, vanished upon the breeze. An echo of his testimonial remained carved upon milestones.
Here now though through the scrying of technology once undreamed of, we have captured the whispers from the aether and bring you now the poetry of Tim Turnbull…
They have brought him indoors again, Scarecrow,
propped him in the armchair, poured him a nip
of Laphroaig (doubles for themselves) and toast
and laud him, fine splendid fellow that he is:
for did he not bring them glories unbekent
in their lifetimes, class and outright victory
at Scarecrow Festival; did not the beer tent
glow all night, song swell through the district
over misted fields and greening woodland.
Hail to thee, O Flay-crake! O Hodmedod!
O Bogle! they cry, glasses in raised hands,
in honour of their straw-stuffed half-a-god,
and Scarecrow tilts his head as if perplexed:
their panegyric’s tinctured with derision,
and rough-handling, not kindness or respect,
distinguishes their weekly depositions.
Tonight a boot was left among the furrows;
tomorrow they’ll drag him out and nail him
back up again, nursing filthy hangovers,
and leave him to the mercy of the wind.
An Old Acquaintance
Death comes chapping the door at 2 a.m.,
jiggling an own-brand single malt as bait.
So long and anxiously anticipated,
he – half coy maiden, half best bosom friend –
slurs mitigations, invites himself in,
and from the sofa, roiling bletherskate,
holds forth; confides, inveigles and berates;
oscillates between rapture and maudlin.
Through hours of inebriate remembrance,
discourse descends to fractured anecdote,
to he said/they said/something happened once,
and thence to warm and grainy oblivion
until the morning takes you by the throat
and searing, sickening light reveals him gone.
Surprising how it has seeped into one’s
being, all that land; that boggy patch
behind the Dutch barn, not discernible
from the field edge – perhaps with geophyz
or satellite it might show up – which caught
the ploughshares and pulled the Fordson
back on its heels, so that, with differential
lock and independent brakes, we churned
and worked in tacky clay until the plough
came free; and across the field, the wood,
frightening and dark, which had been just that –
a wood – but now’s Picea abies, Norway spruce,
un-thinned, neglected, spindly, a poor crop,
overlain since with accretions of schooling,
fact, and even – whisper it – the odd opinion;
and beyond the wood the hedgerow where,
one autumn afternoon, we went with tin
and a tarnished dessert spoon lashed
to a bamboo cane, and I filled the bowl
with pink powder, thrust it down the last
unblocked rabbit hole, tipped the poison,
withdrew and sealed it in the earth.
Poetry © Tim Turnbull
Tim grew up in a farming family in North Yorkshire and resides currently in Highland Perthshire. His collection of eerie tales, ‘Silence and Other Stories‘ is published by Postbox Press. His poetry is available from Donut Press.
Wyrd Harvest Press are planning to publish more of Tim’s poetry in the near future. Keep watching these lonely paths …
Photos © Andy Paciorek