Oasthouse Aromatic


Boxers, gamblers and scrap-metal moguls
Muscle in from the black-tie clan
Of Bethnal Green's lugubrious gangsters -
In-laws, outlaws, Jack 'The Hat' McVitie -
And overwhelm, back-slapping. 
September, so they're centre-stage
To tell eye-popping stories.

Scenery-chewing gypsies
Crack wood-nuts with their teeth -
Race red-hot tractors till they overturn,
Draw knives when they're demoted in the field.
Surviving children roam in expeditions
Bingeing on brambles, cornering
The occasional pheasant.

Opinionated students, liberal
With blacklists of the unacceptable,
Amuse avuncular farm regulars
Who mock with warm guffaws
The world-improvers
In clouds of airborne powdered hops
Intoxicating summer air.

Frenzied tractors bounce and roar
Flat out.  At teabreak - sunburn, banter,
And Old Man Henley 
Stately walks his kingdom.
What impossible task will he set us?
For a daughter's hand, a place in next year's crew -
Bring him the golden hop-bine?

After the hops, 
We bring October apples -
First shock of autumn cold. 
Caravans and children 
are dragged resisting from the rainy fields. 
One year to wait, in exile.