Orange Day Parade

December 30, 2015


The black slugs on the lawn are turning orange.
They come out nightly – or in rain –
like Black ‘n’ Tans patrolling the grass,
yet less aggressive: gentle giants weighed down
by duty; burdened by obesity; wannabe snails
longing for the protection of shells.
I feel a strange compassion for these ugly mutants:
they should be beautiful – colours richer
than burnt sienna. Yet I shudder
at their artwork – vivid streaks
on a canvas of shamrock, silver outlines
scrawled across the concrete of the yard.
Not that I bear them any kind of malice –
for these are harmless ogres, freaks of nature,
unaware that fear incites atrocity,
engenders murder in the meekest soul.
My flesh creeps: dreams become nightmares;
I’m in a cold sweat, eager for dawn to drive them
under the bushes or into the underworld
of crazy-paving cracks beneath my feet –
like dinosaurs of hideous proportions
or icebergs sinking into lukewarm seas –
resting their pitiable loads
until the damp air beckons and they re-surface:
look-alike flames, slow-burning bonfires,
flaunting their orange nakedness;
dispassionate; green to my black designs.

Carolyn King

(Carolyn King lives on the Isle of Wight, where two of her poems are cast in bronze at Island landmarks, but grew up in Slough – alongside Eton College playing-fields – and comes from a family of musicians – mother a classical ballet dancer and pianist/father a jazz violinist/great-grandfather a well-known composer, lyricist and performer around the First World War. Her poetry has won competitions, been published in various magazines and she has three self-published collections – with a fourth currently seeking a publisher).


May 14, 2015

The Butterfly

He’s dressed like a big-game hunter,
but he’s looking for butterflies;

finding them too – a flutter of small blue
copulating among the clover.

Angling his shot and adjusting his lens,
he captures the moment.

Later he’ll transform the photographs
into paintings – gentle watercolours,

pale as his blue eyes. Yet, until we spoke,
I’d not realized he was so old – frail

as a brown fritillary – trembling,
struggling to hold the camera steady.

He says he comes here often: the habitat’s
second to none. I know – I live here.

Drawing the curtains that night,
I startle a painted lady at rest in the folds.

Later, half-slipping into sleep, I sense
the safety and warmth of her refuge;

remember a childhood game of ghosts
and the sanctuary under the covers;

picture a boy with a butterfly net
scaling the cliffs in search of a dream.

Carolyn King