Conker Time

By Bruce Parry

Wind and rain push the branches of horse-chestnut to scatter childhood across the land,

green shells break open to reveal the promising brown shine,

tiny wellingtons jump and squash them apart for chestnut gold.


Conkers slide out from their green summer coats gleaming with Autumn.

Finding sticks to throw up to knock down bigger ones,

they fall like sky treasure, prickly and tumbling.

Tread of heavy bags full, across an empty park.


Where crunchy leaves are stacked in bonfire piles,

by Park Keepers that rake and smile with teeth gripped pipes,

tobacco drifts along with the dancing leaves,

that will burn bright before a Christmas wish.


Children fall into the leaf stacks that remain so dry, so high,

losing hats and boots in laughter and daring,

and homeward bound with conkers to sort and skewer the holes,

threading with string that must be strong and knotted twice,

for battles in playgrounds with drinking fountains,

and corners where milk crates are stacked,

hands sting from ‘sixer’ misses before the playtime bell.


The half term moon is so large and bright,

shining down on the bag of conkers left behind, by the back door,

forgotten and last to become wet and mouldy,

finally thrown on the bonfire for spitting and crackle,

light that reflects in Guy Fawkes’s masks.


Raked over days later,

one conker survives and rolls down into the ash,

buries itself in rain and germinates among the houses,

growing tall, unheeded, in a new garden.

Wind and rain push the branches of horse-chestnut to scatter childhood across the land,

and the stories will be told again…


Inspiration: This was written to bring childhood and nature together. It tells of parks, park keepers, crunchy leaves and autumn gold. The horse-chestnut will travel and survive by the children of the earth across the land. I have written much about British parks and their connection to humanity and life.



Pens of the Earth is about environmental tales from a positive Portsmouth – encouraging writers to celebrate existing environmental initiatives, and to imagine what might be. This year, we will also be supporting two charities, one global, one local.

Help us to support our global reforestation charity Tree Sisters and plant 2,000 trees by March 2021.

Click on the logo above to donate via Pens of the Earth’s TreeSisters page. Every £10 plants around 25 trees.

More about our plans to raise money for our local charity, WilderPortsmouth, in the coming weeks.

Learn more about Pens of the Earth:

Sign up to the Pens of the Earth mailing list.

Follow Pens of the Earth on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

Star & Crescent are proud to support Pens of the Earth as a media partner. Stay up to date with all the Pens of the Earth stories as they’re published here.


Image by AJP_Photography from Pixabay.


Star & Crescent is Portsmouth’s only independent community news outlet. We don’t answer to shareholders and we don’t publish sponsored or promoted content – we answer to you.

Get involved or donate to help local independent media thrive, and be part of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter