Get Your Premium Membership

Bridge Over The Aire Book 3



The halcyon settled on the Aire of our days

Kingfisher-blue it broke my heart in two

Shall I forget you? Shall I forget you?

I am the mad poet first love

You never got over

You are my blue-eyed

Madonna virgin bride

I shall carve ‘MG loves BT’

On the bark of every 

Wind-bent tree in 

East End Park


The park itself will blossom

And grow in chiaroscuro

The Victorian postcard’s view

Of avenue upon avenue

With palms and pagodas

Lakes and waterfalls and

A fountain from Versailles.
3 You shall be my queen In the Kingdom of Deira Land of many rivers Aire the greatest Isara the strong one Robed in stillness Wide, deep and dark.
4 In Middleton Woods Margaret and I played Truth or dare She bared her breasts To the watching stars.
5 “Milk, milk, Lemonade, round The corner Chocolate spread” Nancy chanted at Ten in the binyard Touching her tits, Her cunt, her bum, Margaret joined in Chanting in unison.
6 The skipping rope Turned faster And faster, slapping The hot pavement, Margaret skipped In rhythm, never Missing a beat, Lifting the pleat Of her skirt Whirling and twirling.
7 Giggling and red Margaret said In a whisper “When we were Playing at Nancy’s She pushed a spill Of paper up her You-know-what She said she’d Let you watch If you wanted.
” 8 Margaret, this Saturday morning in June There is a queue at the ‘Princess’ for The matin?e, down the alley by the blank Concrete of the cinema’s side I hide With you, we are counting our picture Money, I am counting the stars in your Hair, bound with a cheap plastic comb.
9 You have no idea of my need for you A lifetime long, every wrong decision I made betrayed my need; forty years on Hear my song and take my hand and move Us to the house of love where we belong.
10 Margaret we sat in the cinema dark Warm with the promise of a secret kiss The wall lights glowed amber on the Crumbling plaster, we looked with longing At the love seats empty in the circle, Vowing we would share one.
11 There is shouting and echoes Of wild splashing from York Road baths; forty years on It stirs my memory and Will not be gone.
12 The ghosts of tramtracks Light up lanes To nowhere In Leeds Ten.
Every road Leads nowhere In Leeds Nine.
Motorways have cut The city’s heart In two; Margaret, Our home lies buried Under sixteen feet Of stone.
13 Our families moved And we were lost I was not there to hear The whispered secret Of your first period.
14 God is courage’s infinite ground Tillich said; God, give me enough To stand another week without her Every day gets longer, every sleep Less deep.
15 Why can’t I find you, Touch you, Bind your straw-gold hair The colour of lank February grass? 16 Under the stone canopy Of the Grand Arcade I pass Europa Nightclub; In black designer glass I watch the faces pass But none is like your’s, No voice, no eyes, No smile at all Like your’s.
17 From Kirkstall Lock The rhubarb crop To Knostrop’s forcing sheds The roots ploughed up Arranged in beds Of perfect darkness Where the buds burst With a pip, rich pink Stalks and yellow leaves Hand-picked by Candle-light to Keep the colour right So every night the Rhubarb train Could go from Leeds To Covent Garden.
18 The smell of Saturday morning Is the smell of freedom How the bounds may grow Slowly slowly as I go.
“Rag-bone rag-bone White donkey stone” Auntie Nellie scoured Her door step, polished The brass knocker Till I saw my face Bunched like a fist Complete with goggles Grinning like a monkey In a mile of mirrors.
19 Every door step had a stop A half-stone iron weight To hold it back and every Step was edged with donkey Stone in yellow or white From the ragman or the potman With his covered cart jingling Jangling as it jerked hundreds Of cups on hooks pint and Half pint mugs and stacks of Willow-patterned plates From Burmantofts.
20 We heard him a mile off Nights in summer when He trundled round the Corner over the cobbles Jamming the wood brake Blocks whoaing the horses With their gleaming brasses And our mams were always Waiting where he stopped.
21 Double summer-time made The nights go on for ever And no-one cared any more How long we played what Or where and we were left Alone and that’s all I wanted Then or now to be left alone Never to be called in from The Hollows never to be Called from Margaret.
22 City of back-to-backs From Armley Heights Laid out in rows Like trees or grass I watch you pass.
23 The Aire is slow and almost Still In the Bridgefield The Joshua Tetley clock Over the Atkinson Grimshaw Print Is stopped at nineteen fifty Four The year I left.
24 Grimshaw’s home was Half a mile away In Knostrop Hall Margaret and I Climbed the ruined Walls her hair was Blowing in the wind Her eyes were stars In the green night Her hands were holding My hands.
25 Half a century later I look out over Leeds Nine What little’s left is broken Or changed Saturday night Is silent and empty The paths over the Hollows Deserted the bell Of St.
Hilda’s still.
26 On a single bush The yellow roses blush Pink in the amber light Night settles on the Fewstons and the Copperfields No mothers’ voices calling us.
Lilac and velvet clover Grew all over the Hollows It was all the luck We knew and when we left Our luck went too.
27 Solid black Velvet basalt Polished jet Millstone grit Leeds Town Hall Built with it Soaks up the fog Is sealed with smog Battered buttressed Blackened plinths White lions’ paws Were soft their Smiles like your’s.
28 Narrow lanes, steep inclines, Steps, blank walls, tight And secret openings’ The lanes are your hips The inclines the lines Of your thighs, the steps Your breasts, blank walls Your buttocks, tight and Secret openings your Taut vagina’s lips.
29 There is a keening and a honing And a winnowing in the wind I am the surge and flow In Winwaed’s water the last breath Of Elmete’s King.
I am Penda crossing the Aire Camping at Killingbeck Conquered by Aethalwald Ruler of Deira.
30 Life is a bird hovering In the Hall of the King Between darkness and darkness flickering The stone of Scone at last lifted And borne on the wind, Dunedin, take it Hold it hard and fast its light Is leaping it is freedom’s Touchstone and firestone.
31 Eir, Ayer or Aire I’ll still be there Your wanderings off course Old Ea, Old Eye, Dead Eye Make no difference to me.
Eg-an island - is Aire’s True source, names Not places matter With the risings Of a river Ea land-by-water I’ll make my own way Free, going down river To the far-off sea.
32 Poetry is my business, my affair.
My cri-de-coeur, jongleur Of Mercia and Elmete, Margaret, Open your door I am heaping Imbroglios of stars on the floor Meet me by the Office Lock At midnight or by the Town Hall Clock.
33 Nennius nine times have I knocked On the door of your grave, nine times More have I made Pilgrimage to Elmete’s Wood where long I lay by beck and bank Waiting for your tongue to flame With Pentecostal fire.
34 Margaret you rode in the hollow of my hand In the harp of my heart, searching for you I wandered in Kirkgate Market’s midnight Down avenues of shuttered stalls, our secrets Kept through all the years.
From the Imperial on Beeston Hill I watch the city spill glass towers Of light over the horizon’s rim.
35 The railyard’s straights Are buckled plates Red bricks for aggregate All lost like me Ledsham and Ledston Both belong to Leeds But Ledston Luck Is where Aire leads.
36 Held of the Crown By seven thanes In Saxon times ‘In regione Loidis’ Baeda scripsit Leeds, Leeds, You answer All my needs.
37 A horse shoe stuck for luck Behind a basement window: Margaret, now we’ll see What truth there is In dreams and poetry! I am at one with everyone There is poetry Falling from the air And you have put it there.
38 The sign for John Eaton Street Is planted in the back garden Of the transport caf? between The strands of a wire mesh fence Straddling the cobbles of a street That is no more, a washing line And an abandoned caravan.
39 ‘This open land to let’ Is what you get on the Hollows Thousands of half-burned tyres The rusty barrel of a Trumix lorry Concrete slabs, foxgloves and condoms, The Go-Kart Arena’s signboards, Half the wall of Ellerby Lane School.
40 There is a mermaid singing On East Street on an IBM poster Her hair is lack-lustre Her breasts are facing the camera Her tail is like a worn-out brush.
Chimney stacks Blind black walls Of factories Grimy glass Flickering firelight In black-leaded grates.
41 Hunslet de Ledes Hop-scotch, hide and seek, Bogies-on-wheels Not one tree in Hunslet Except in the cemetery The lake filled in For fifty years, The bluebell has rung Its last perfumed peal.
42 I couldn’t play out on Sunday Mam and dad thought us a cut Above the rest, it was another Test I failed, keeping me and Margaret apart was like the Aztecs Tearing the heart from the living flesh.
43 Father, your office job Didn’t save you From the drugs They never gave you.
44 Isaiah, my son, You made it back From Balliol to Beeston At a run via the Playing fields of Eton.
There is a keening and a honing And a winnowing in the wind Winwaed’s water with red bluid blent.

Poem by Barry Tebb
Biography | Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes | Email Poem - Bridge Over The Aire Book 3Email Poem | Create an image from this poem

Poems are below...

More Poems by Barry Tebb

Comments, Analysis, and Meaning on Bridge Over The Aire Book 3

Provide your analysis, explanation, meaning, interpretation, and comments on the poem Bridge Over The Aire Book 3 here.

Commenting turned off, sorry.

Book: Reflection on the Important Things