Tuesday Poem: North


On Ilkley Moor
I parked me red
Ford Laser hatchback
and gazed to the north.
Rain and smoke stood over Wharfedale.

It was all in its appointed place:
stone houses and stone smiles in Ilkley
the wind on the bleak
insalubrious bracken.

I was waiting for memory
to make the scene complete:
some flat-vowelled voice out of childhood
snatches of Northern song.

For memory read TV:
Tha’ve broken tha poor Mother’s heart
It were only a bit of fun.
Bowl slower and hit bloody stumps.

Tha’ll never amount to much, lad. In cloth cap and gaiters,
car forgotten, I pedal down the hill. Hurry oop
or tha’ll be late for mill. Folk say
I’ve been seeing the young widow Cleghorn.
Well, now, fancy that.

In my invented character
I trail my falsified heritage
down the long, consoling streets.

Tim says:I was born in Cleethorpes, near Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, UK (just south of Yorkshire) and my family moved to New Zealand when I was two.

I returned to the UK in 1989, when I was 30, and spent much of my time there in Grimsby and points north. It was hard not to wonder what my life would have been like if my family had remained “oop North”. TV shows such as Brass provided invaluable guidance.

“North” was published in my first poetry collection, Boat People (HeadworX, 2002).

Boat People is my first poetry collection. It was published in 2002 by HeadworX, the year after my first short fiction collection, Extreme Weather Events. There are forty poems in Boat People.

Copies of Boat People are available directly from me at the cheap, cheap price of NZ $5.00 plus postage and packing. Please email me at senjmito@gmail.com if you’d like one.

Check out the Tuesday Poem blog for all the Tuesday Poems.

14 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: North

  1. Hi TimHow often we do this 'wait for memory to make the scene complete; some flat-vowelled voice out of childhood… ' The dialogue between memory and perception is a fascinating one. I very much enjoyed this – and, too, your Mars poem on Helen L's site.

  2. Thanks, everyone!Melissa, in the North of England, everything is still pretty much in its appointed place – or at least it was, in 1989.John, I remember you disparaging Heaney's poetry elsewhere. At the risk of igniting a literary feud, what is it that you so dislike about his work?Catherine, I'm flattered, but I think \”fake Yorkshire accents\” is closer to the mark.Harvey, we should have a Heartland Championship! We could wear striped jerseys and stuff.Claire, thanks!Alicia, I have dozens of invented characters. Dozens! I talk to myself a lot, too. ūüôā

  3. I do love this poem. I think my favourite lines have to be: 'the wind on the bleakinsalubrious bracken.'But it's al sol good, it's probably unfair to pick out one line as a favourite.

  4. I enjoyed this. My Dad came from Lancashire and as a little girl I loved the song On Ilkley Moor Bar Tat..My Dad was highly amused when he realised his little girl (a Farmer's daughter) was singing \”We'll milk them all by hand\”.

  5. Thanks, Kay, Joan, and Helen.Kay, not much more I can say to that – thank you! :-)Joan – thanks. There are an couple of things about the moor that have stuck with me: first, the pattern of vegetation was suprisingly similar to uplands in Otago; and second, though it was warm enough in the valley below, the need for a hat was instantly apparent once I reached the Moor itself.Helen, I enjoyed reading it too – although I think I've done the accents better at other readings – \”North\” is one that needs a bit of practice to get right. Wasn't it a great session, though – I'm only sorry I had to rush away at the end.

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