Cameron Hawke Smith

Cameron Hawke Smith p.1

Sutton Hoo Sequence

Women of Nepal


Sutton Hoo Sequence
I therefore regard a ship burial as just as much a poem as Beowulf..
Martin Carver, Sutton Hoo, 1998. p.173


Not the obvious place
for a ship
if it was meant to travel –
a mound on a hill of gravel.


Was archaeopteryx aiming to fly
when it hopped a little
and hung there
in the suddenly solid air?

Either way, it reached us.


We all make hoards

thirty-seven gold coins
from thirty-seven
Merovingian mints, a scramasax
baptismal spoons

a coronation mug
six unused trout flies
a Brownie camera
a stick of chalk

Poet, archaeologist,
make up some stories.


A hundred iron strands
twisted tight and welded,
wrapped like a pupa,

seeming dead
it was lethal in the hand.

Red garnets, blue glass
and ivory, a fistful
of butterflies
around the blazing steel.


The bodies are just the earth's
idea of bodies. They heave into
anagrams of resurrection.

Said to be gallows folk,
they populate
this shoreline Golgotha,
in a recovered codex.


The old man leant
his Christened ear to the wall
of the mound, he recalled
the roystering of warrior kings:

he heard the drip,
drip of rainwater
eroding the great
bronze cauldron,
the creak

of decaying timbers,
the snap
of a lyre string as the gut

Copyright © 2010 Cameron Hawke Smith
Sutton Hoo Sequence read by Cameron Hawke Smith
Women of Nepal

From level palm of foot to the straight eyes
as if to walk were the heart of keeping still
straightness is where the womanʼs beauty lies.

As she who under Himalayan skies
daily makes a mountain of her will
from level palm of foot to the straight eyes

to bear her bodyweight of necessities,
gas, water, petrol, or a potholeʼs fill,
straightness is where the womanʼs beauty lies;

or she who ladles out the bowls of rice,
like a squatting buddha rocking on a heel
from level palm of foot to the straight eyes;

or dazzling teacher whose fingers flick and rise
dancing to the words of a nursery drill,
straightness is where the womanʼs beauty lies.

Like trees seeking the light of paradise
their grain hardened, and made unbendable;
from level palm of foot to the straight eyes
straightness is where the womanʼs beauty lies.

Copyright © 2010 Cameron Hawke Smith
Women of Nepal read by Cameron Hawke Smith

Browngrey chalk clay the earth,
bare the fields the fieldfare breast
fleetingly, as they fare forward north.

A labouring man on his father's ground
this was the browngrey soil he tilled
before he died the first time round,

on an unnamed field of war that became
a black hot diagram of death,
ineradicable in his brain

the disgrace that drove him to hide
his shame, what he thought his shame
at the local asylum, inside,

inside himself where no-one could find him.
And then he died the second time round,
slowly year by year they consigned him –

his family, my people – to convenient
oblivion. He gardened he kept
the lawns, the roses, the lenient

ranks of vegetables, and died
the third time round, a name
only, Irish and Fen, alongside

his people, who will say at last perhaps
there was no shame or if there was
let it lie where it belongs – in our laps.

Irvine Finch b Shelford, Cambridge 1884 d. Fulbourn Hospital 1965

Commended, Fakenham Open Poetry Competition 2012:
Comments by the Judge, Michael Laskey:
"The suggestively titled Burial is family history, an act of contrition, the moving account of presumably a shell-shocked first world war soldier locked away for life and forgotten. The verse form suits his three 'deaths' and he is properly valued at last by the poet's skilful rhyming. Showing the growing moral complexities of a nine-year old child".

Published in Being Mindful, A Shed Poetry Publication 2012

Copyright © 2012 Cameron Hawke Smith
Burial read by Cameron Hawke Smith

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