Runcible Spoon

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                               The Map Lied


A youth in a Barber jacket guards the path with his dogs.

Wet noses nudge; glossed bodies squirm

to be properly at work.

He waits till the walkers reach the crest of the hill;

tells them there’s shooting all week.


Well, the map is wrong; it’s not open access

when 30 grand buys you nine guns for the day.

He watches their faces fill with disappointment;

there’s nothing else to look at

but clouds trailing the scent of heather

to the woods across the valley.


This beater knows a lot about heather,

has felt its springs release beneath his feet,

Sniffed up its bee-busy fragrance,

seen clumps split by dogs with soft mouths

bringing back the birds.


Dozens of small explosions pepper the air.

The moor shudders; shot grouse drop

swift as raptors.

A claxon assaults the hillside, then doors slam

on 4 by 4s. Chauffeurs gun the motors,

and diesel fumes blot the verge

where fat tyres print new maps


At dusk the silence collects itself,

pricked only by the small squeals of roost-bound swifts,

and later the echolocation of pipistrelles

tucking the night sky round the eaves.

Inside the cottage, thwarted walkers coax

a coal fire into cosy; post on Facebook

images of heather so copious it has rerouted their senses.