A road near Cookham





What did I see on that road
the one that had no name?
three grottos for giant Buddhas
and a blue virgin in a veil,
blossoms trampled by passing feet
a sweet perfume released,
walled gardens of stone obelisks
each one facing East.
I watched my reflection in shop windows,
dumb models staring back at me,
trying to hide their nakedness
so that I wouldn’t see.
a circus parade brought people rushing on the street
but they were just looking for a löst elephant
with silver bells upon its feet.
carpenters with trunks of trees
carved them up and down
trying to keep up with the brisk demand
that came from Cookham Town.
the blacksmith on his anvil
aborted sparks from pregnant steel
driving them to Limbo
unbaptized with no appeal.

By the time I got to Cookham
it was over, already done
people were on their way back home
I heard one man whisper
as if afraid of being betrayed:
‘At least this time, they can’t put the blame on Rome.’

Photo: Stanley Spencer’s ‘The Crucifixion’ Cookham

© (Löst Viking) ( November 2015) John Anthony Fingleton

6 thoughts on “A road near Cookham

  1. Louis Kasatkin

    An intriguing and evocative poem that merits the accolade ” ekphrastic “.
    Out of curiousity I gleaned this from Wikipedia :-
    Sir Stanley Spencer KCB CBE RA (30 June 1891 – 14 December 1959) was an English painter.[1] Shortly after leaving the Slade School of Art, Spencer became well known for his paintings depicting Biblical scenes occurring as if in Cookham, the small village beside the River Thames where he was born and spent much of his life. Spencer referred to Cookham as “a village in Heaven” and in his biblical scenes, fellow-villagers are shown as their Gospel counterparts. Spencer was skilled at organising multi-figure compositions such as in his large paintings for the Sandham Memorial Chapel and the Shipbuilding on the Clyde series, the former being a World War One memorial while the latter was a commission for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee during World War Two. As his career progressed Spencer often produced landscapes for commercial necessity and the intensity of his early visionary years diminished somewhat while elements of eccentricity came more to the fore. Although his compositions became more claustrophobic and his use of colour less vivid he maintained an attention to detail in his paintings akin to that of the Pre-Raphaelites.[2]

    1. John Anthony Fingleton

      Thank you Louis (I had to look up that word) never took Greek in the schools I went too. Yes I like many of Spencers work, especially those connected to Bible stories…….also I suppose I am attracted to his ” elements of eccentricity”

  2. VijayNair

    Arguably,one of Fingleton’s finest poems.Brilliant in it’s scope and execution,it includes the reader in the scheme of things.


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