Friday, 28 October 2011

The Night Watch

(a draft here of something that came as a consequence of a brief stay at the guest lodge of the Cistercian monastery at Mount St Bernard's, Leicestershire, which, by the way, does not have a spire, except in Pugin's original drawings.)

Monk's Guest House

Some distant schools of stars in swarm
above a spire, and farm,
and drowsing cows. All meat and milk
in steep sunk sleep, a cud of dreams,
untroubled by the muscled tower's
electric prod, its bells' peals' starry tongue
this herd has never heard

since its first day tired. My watch face
says three and my slow animal wakes
as the bells' claw and clamber breaks
the burr and mumble
of where am I am. Legs and arms, feet
to hands assemble

like lines racing a plough. I snub
forward into night-buttoned, numb
promising air, head down
toward shell spills of crackle, side
slips of gravel and a door

homed low on a still stone hull
where a shy
bay chapel waits
us and the hushed sparse wash

of dark and morning vigil.

written 8th -10th & 13 & 16th October 2011

© David Bircumshaw

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

For Troy Davis

due to to be executed Georgia 7pm local time

It says that Saturn is retrograde
and angry Mars in opposition
but not that later

today they will strap you
to a long board like a sick man

someone wants to save and
laid flat behind hushed glass
they gonna go inject ya.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

And Gnoetry too


The blackness of the
world I had in the palace
of conversations

at the close. The water and
swam towards the light and there.

Fannie Louise Apjohn, The Enchanted Island
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eighty Years And More; Reminiscences 1815-1897
R.M. Ballantyne, Cannibal Islands

A collaboration with Gnome 0.2

Sun Aug 7 00:15:49 2011

Gnoetry Again

The Sadness of Leaves

I grew to be good
and to hear grass growing too
in perplexity.

Eliza Poor Donner Houghton, The Expedition of the Donner Party and its Tragic Fate
Woods Hutchinson, The Child's Day
Hildegard G. Frey, The Campfire Girls at Camp Keewaydin

Produced in collaboration with Gnome 0.2

Mon Aug 1 11:16:46 2011

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Breathing Haiku

Vespasian Cough
 (after Shiki)

The snake has grappled
my throat.  I think I am about
to re-enter stone.

Note: as well as my own respiratory condition and the Roman Emperor's last joke, this is loosely based on a piece by Shiki, written shortly before his death from tuberculosis:

Masoaka Shiki (1867-1902):

hechima saite tan no tsumarishi hotoke kana

The snake gourd blossoms.
My throat is blocked with phelgm.
I am already a Buddha.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Becoming Victor Meldrew

Dear David,

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to you because I have recently discovered that you are a trombone alumnus on the National Youth Orchestra! We are having a major clean up of our data base and are keen to reconnect with as many alum as possible and we apologize for not being in touch sooner.
   If you would like to stay connected with NYO and hear about our concert and be updated on our database please could you email me your telephone number, address, DOB and the dates you were in NYO for. We are also holding a Family Alumni day at the Royal Albert Hall on 6 August at 12.15 we would love to see you there. If you are able to attend please do let me know and I will send you more information.
  Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope to be in touch with you soon.

Best wishes,

Emma McGovern

Development Officer

Dear Emma McGovern

thank you for your kind message today informing me that I was an alumnus
of the NYO, on the trombone, and inviting me to reconnect with your
orchestra and organisation.
 Unfortunately, I am in fact 56 years old and have never played a
trombone in my life. Excited as I am at the prospect of a new career, I
am afraid my total incompetence at this instrument, as well as my
precarious claims on 'youth', require that I decline your gracious


David Bircumshaw

Sunday, 31 July 2011


The Hotel Machine

It is a vast dome
glowing with a love for each
other. The ore in

the light. We learn all you are
in themselves so easily.

This tanka was created using Gnoetry 0.2 and the following:

Horatio Alger Jr., Joe The Hotel Boy
A. Maude Royden, Sex And Common-Sense
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tilton Cuttings

 Jurassic Huddle

Three bivalve fossils
about 185 million years old
looking as if
just arrived from yesterday

found like litter droppings
at the cliff bottom
of a disused country
branch line cutting

bunched in mudstone silt
like a little nucleated
swallowed family

Poised now
between index and thumb
like a calcite question
on the long animal
and cynosure

of this hand