Poems by Leicester Kyle

Emma Smith, "green thigh" (2011).
Emma Smith, "green thigh" (2011).

Happy Valley:
A Lament for a landscape about to be mined

“The connectivity of the area will be disrupted by the
presence of the mine, but will be restored across the two

pits as the area revegetates. Overall the present vegetation
has a high degree of naturalness. Those areas that are to
be mined and rehabilitated will lose their naturalness for
a long period of time.”

We stand on the divide.
Two catchments —
one to the north,
the other to the south.

The red marker is the edge of the road.
Here is where the pit will be.
A third of the valley will remain,
and the tussock.

The pond won’t be filled
but the larger, over the rise,
will make way for the road.

“The Happy Valley landscape character area is in a
natural and unmodified state. It is well-defined visually,
and appears as a distinctive sub-unit within the wider
plateau landscape. It has a high natural character,
amenity and intrinsic values.”

They have an eye for a suitable place.
Once they would have built an abbey here,
now they dig a pit for coal.
They did it to valleys in Wales
and in Yorkshire where
they fouled the waters of the River Aire
at Castleford.

But that was in the old world.
This has just begun;
it’s too innocent for spoiling.
There’s nothing here that knows it can happen.
     Rock and river
     leaves and sun
     have work to do
     and only know to do it.
There are the birds —
they have no song for apocalypse.
Ask any questions of them
and silence is their silencing reply.

“The ability to replace soils and restore a topographic
profile similar to what is present now, will aid in re-
establishing the naturalness of this area.”

An older world would read the signs,
and reply with adventitious weeds
drought disrupted drainage dust
slips smells faults and
protected archeological sites,
but here?
It’s remote,
no sounds of pain will carry
to call help.

Perhaps it has a tutelary soul.
The glades of Greece had nymphs,
yet they’re now desert;
English woods had fairies,
and they’re gone;
Ireland too —
there’s only remnant left.
Is there something here that’s real
for defence?

Ask it,
ask this place
this suitable place,
ask the species —
the 23 birds
      3 lizards
snails and invertebrates
      1 bat
all the insects
rats opossums hares
the 80 dicot trees and shrubs
       72 dicot herbs
       29 sedges and rushes
       10 grasses
       8 orchids
       10 other monocots
the 23 ferns
       14 mosses
       13 lichens
and 28 liverworts

“Even 50% remaining is well above the threshold
considered desirable for the conservation of biodiversity
within an ecological district.”

Ask today,
while the sun shines;
be quiet,
and you will hear in silence:

the weta and the gecko,
all the birds, the leaves,
the sky-blue orchid by the creek
       ‘We go with you to destruction,
       but the seed of life remains.
       You demand coherence,
       Time is our defence.’


I Like It When The Sun Doesn’t Shine

To love a place unworthy of love
in July

When it rains and the lightning strikes
in fog

in cold and wet the mud is cold wood wet

This is the road that curls between the houses
to the moors that brown the water
These are the people that smoke themselves to sleep
They only talk when the sun comes out they walk

This is the bush that grows around the houses
Where once was rock there’s rubbish of a century
composting plastics bits of glass car and clothing scraps almost organic

Here is the fire in this dead calm it smokes

Here’s the car it must be towed it’s saturated

The tap that dribbles now it’s full of grit the filter’s fucked

The house my house with grey mould in the cupboard
                             the blanket’s blotched
                             the window gone last storm
                                                      you can’t cross the creek
                                                      there’s rock on the road
Then the sun comes out
                            — it glows it grows it steams it dries —

                           [turn it off!
                             there’s a switch somewhere —
                             some little icon
                             to be touched by a mouse]