Tom was a poacher.
Things were hard for country people;
farm work, when you could get it did not pay a deal.
Tom inherited the tricks –
generations of forebears who took
the products of the country as their right –
to poach was not to steal.
Tom can be found
with his lamp, his snares and flams,
walking stealthily that copse at the top of the rise.
Tom listens to the wind;
there’s a good pegger getting up.
Forgoing the pheasant for tonight,
the coneys will be the prize.
Tom watches his step,
and you should too if you should dare
to venture there. Take care not to become the quarry;
Tom might mistake you
for the keeper or the village bobby.
Tread warily in the gloam, my friend
for this is Tom’s territory.
This poem first appeared in the pamphlet, A Tale to Tell, published by Glasshead Press.
Mick is a poet, songwriter, musician and events organiser from Doncaster. Involved with Doncaster Folk Festival and Ted Hughes Poetry Festival, he also runs Well Spoken! a monthly poetry night at Doncaster Brewery. His second poetry pamphlet, When the Waters Rise, was published by Calder Valley Poetry in November 2019.
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