Posts tagged ‘history’

15/09/2013

The Silent Keeper

 

She held her breath and life whirled round:

It blasted, blew and buffeted,

But somehow, silent, she stood still,

As if untouched, she stayed her voice.

 

Within, she held the secret tales,

And slow, she acted out their ways,

And slow, she carried on the lives,

Of all the slow and silent ones.

 

And all the rest just passed her by,

Ignored her quiet, hopeful words.

They lived so quick they barely lived.

They spoke so fast they made no sense.

 

When she breathed out, all history bent,

But no-one saw their world whirl round.

 

15/09/2013

Her Lineage

 

Her warmth was bundled up with tales,

Her knowledge flowed on through the years,

The gentle heat, the milk and sweet,

The alchemy of cultured thought.

 

And in each bite, a crunch of salt,

The memories of mountain peaks.

From ninety generations formed:

A slight and sliver, ash and heart.

 

With such pride she gave her love,

With each remembered trick and tip.

On every drying shelf a tale,

Another history of grace.

 

She carried secrets to her grave.

She took off much, but left her soul.

 

16/08/2013

Trailer for “The Things (Les Choses)”

 

 

 

Trailer for the video poem “The Things (Les Choses)”.

31/07/2013

High Summer at the Roman Fort (Mastile’s Lane) – video poem

 

a video poem by set around the site of a Roman fort on Mastile’s Lane, above Malham in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

the written version of this video poem can be found at:

http://www.thecheesewolf.wordpress.com

 

this video poem is copyright Gavin Jones 2013

30/07/2013

High Summer at the Roman Fort (Mastile’s Lane)

 

I heard the ravens calling south,

And crows and jackdaws called as loud.

They tumbled off towards the scar,

And hung on uplifts by the cliff.

 

I heard the promise of the clouds,

The tick of wheatear, buzz of wire,

The ceaseless flowing of the grass,

The voice of bees, the songs of breeze.

 

The sounds were here, were always here,

Were here when Romans piled their stones,

And here to carry off the screams

Of sacrifice to temple gods.

 

I heard the ravens call the rain,

I heard them call through time again.

 

 

21/07/2013

The Apple Trees

 

We sit beneath the apple trees,

Which bloomed all through the long decline,

And raised their blossom to the skies:

A world of struggles, famine, war.

 

Those complicated patterns form

Across the grass like veins of time,

And radiate out from the trunk:

They chart another year of growth.

 

Another era for their leaves,

Which we will live, then leave behind,

As bees and beetles, moths and flies.

The shade is cool, our days are short.

 

We plant the seeds and tend the shoots:

Above us spread the apple trees.

 

 

15/06/2013

The Ottoman and the Atheist (A 19th Century Riddle)

 

Between the trees a light breeze blew,

A gentle ripple shivered leaves.

It seemed the trees had never moved,

Their roots held deep in solid ground.

 

It seemed the breeze was passing through:

Once here then on. It barely touched

The earth at all, it had no weight.

The trees were real, the breeze a myth.

 

And from the breeze the stories grew,

And from the trees the tales were true.

In time the trees and breeze would change:

The breeze grew leaves, the trees took flight.

 

It seemed the breeze had never moved.

It seemed the trees were passing through.

 

 

09/06/2013

The Dance and the Dancers Both

 

The dance begins at half past two.

They break us, bend us, lash us to

Their silhouettes and pirouettes,

Across the maps of fiefdoms formed.

 

On barricades and barbed-wire proms

They build themselves a wall of trees,

And there they prance their mountain dance

To rules set out by forest kings.

 

We cower beneath their dancing shoes,

Their ballroom, breath room, cold war gloom.

They chat, and rat-a-tat, and crack

Our tarantella minds with tap.

 

At three they leave us to our tears,

To empty moves in darkened rooms.

 

 

stream of words poem written in response to:

http://mindlovemisery.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/prompt-7-nonsensemadness/

 

 

 

02/06/2013

A Week in Slovenia (Part 3 – Part Forgotten)

 

1. When Summer Comes

 

When summer comes the fields will fill

With flowers as rich as sun itself,

The clouds won’t form around the peaks,

The streams and waterfalls will dry.

 

When summer comes our days are long,

Our swallows laze against the sky,

Our lakes will haze and we will swim,

We’ll live our dreams and drink our wine.

 

We wake and find the air has ice,

The snows retreat but still have bite,

The birdsong has an urgent force:

We wait to take a breath of sun.

 

Forever waiting, never here,

When summer comes the end is near.

 

 

2. Unmarked War Grave

 

How many layers before the skull?

You breathe the air, you touch the grass,

You scrape the earth, you search for tracks,

But rarely can you see beneath.

 

The silence of the mountain air

Reverberates amongst the trees.

Old shots rebound from bough to bough,

From tight-lipped year to silent air.

 

And if you could reveal the skull –

Dig back once more the soil and skin –

What would you find but naked bone,

Corroded name tags, wasted times?

 

The silence held the truth too long:

That what was gone has lingered on.

 

 

3. Contradictions

 

The ivy rose to touch the sky

Whilst dragging down the tree it crushed.

The castle high above the lake

Had also found a sky to touch.

 

The mountains seem to stand as truths,

Yet on their slopes their lies are writ.

They’re not immortal: just like us

They rise, they age, they turn to dust.

 

A bridge is built to span the gorge:

An enemy will burn the bridge.

The bridge will fall and find its words:

The enemy will do the same.

 

The world is wrapped within itself:

The opposites have tales to tell.

 

 

4. Sentinel

 

Behind the trees a woman waits.

Her dress is grey, the snow is late.

Her youthful dreams inspired her once,

But now they eat her from within.

 

She waits to meet her southern guests,

No different from the other times:

They’ll pass the café by the slopes,

They’ll walk straight on and to the slopes.

 

She thinks of times when this made sense:

When eyes like hers had hidden depths,

When snows in May were something rare,

When friends had love and time to share.

 

The snow would fall from now to June.

The southern guests would pass by soon.

 

 

5. Burja Bora

 

The mountain butterflies all fled

Extremes of scarring sun and storm.

The butterflies had lost their wings.

The winds so strong they tore off roofs.

 

The winds so strong they broke their hearts.

The mountains turned away and wept,

The leafless forests bent and cracked,

The butterflies found caves and hid.

 

The butterflies found caves and slept.

They spent their years in worlds of thought,

They rolled through centuries of doubt,

They let the hurricanes abate.

 

And when at last they crawled back out,

The skies belonged to voltine moths.

 

 

02/06/2013

A Week in Slovenia (Part 2 – Overheard Tales)

 

1.  The Angel and the Buzzard

 

Above the Ljubljana plain

A buzzard wheels, then tips its wings,

Its eyes fixated on a point

Where, in the grass, a halo glints.

 

The angel fell to earth in search

Of Jason and the golden fleece.

Instead he found a world of fear:

A mythless world of worthless wealth.

 

The buzzard lands: it speaks no word.

The angel and the buzzard stare

Into each others’ eyes, and know

They come from better worlds than this.

 

The angel nods, then leaves this world.

The buzzard screams for all it’s worth.

 

 

2. The Forest Man

 

Beneath his canopy of pine –

Far deeper than his stands of beech –

The forest man is moving rocks:

He’s building walls around his tales.

 

His beard: a twist of ivy fronds.

His mind: a mass of histories gone.

He plants his feet with sapling oaks,

He carves the tunes of violins.

 

His walls are taller than before.

They hide the world of dragon’s teeth,

Of golden chamois, witch’s curse,

But still the forest man builds on.

 

He knows our world has lost its myths.

He’ll keep his stories safely hid.

 

 

3. The Shadow Figures of the Vrsic Pass

 

I took the high road through the pass.

The rain and mist whisped round the pine,

Above the trees the clouds touched earth:

I saw the shadow figures there.

 

I moved towards them, they withdrew.

The shadow figures knew the tracks:

They knew them like the hazel grouse.

They padded lightly with the lynx.

 

I saw their faces briefly there:

Beyond the rock face, glaring down.

I saw their questions, wild and raw,

With human eyes and shadow souls.

 

The mists soon closed the Vrsic Pass:

The shadow figures melted back.

 

 

4. The Once Great Dragons

 

Of course the dragons are still here:

What else could make a mountain shake?

What other creature barks at night,

And turns the forest tops to steam?

 

Their fear lives deep within the woods

And writes itself on cavern walls.

Their scales are found on river beds,

Their teeth and claws still scour the land.

 

And in the dark you hear them prowl

The village margins seeking blood.

Their rumbling feet, primeval growls,

Will haunt your sleeping, drifting hours.

 

The dragons curl in caves and cry:

They once were myths, but now they’re lies.

 

 

With thanks to Maja and Luka.

 

 

25/05/2013

The Shadow Figures of the Vrsic Pass

 

I took the high road through the pass.

The rain and mist whisped round the pine,

Above the trees the clouds touched earth:

I saw the shadow figures there.

 

I moved towards them, they withdrew.

The shadow figures knew the tracks:

They knew them like the hazel grouse.

They padded lightly with the lynx.

 

I saw their faces briefly there:

Beyond the rock face, glaring down.

I saw their questions, wild and raw,

With human eyes and shadow souls.

 

The mists soon closed the Vrsic Pass:

The shadow figures melted back.

 

 

19/05/2013

Alone Again Or

 

The dust and strings and motel lights:

An Iliad of horns which weep

Across the desert south, and sweeps

The meeting place of every scream.

 

They all converge and break their songs.

Cicada tremolos, which tease

The furtive loves lived out of bounds:

Illegal mouths to feed with dreams.

 

The voices dub and layer above

A canyon deep, where visions clashed

On streets with water cannon blasts.

Achilles – swift – has lost his fight

 

And hangs alone above the sands:

A broken man from distant lands.

 

 

Prompted by:

http://mindlovemisery.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/prompt-4-music/

 

inspired by:

Alone Again Or,  by Arthur Lee and Love

20/04/2013

Corncrakes (South Uist)

 

The sweetened stench of kelp in lines –

As long as reef and Viking old –

Comes tangled with lamenting seals,

With diver’s wails of freedoms edge.

 

And through that sharpened sense of sky,

Across the machair, orchid wild,

The corncrakes called and answered spring,

And sleepless summoned summer’s nights.

 

These are the worlds of ocean spray,

Of distant deeps and tangled sedge,

Of histories hidden in the sands,

Of islands on the brink of time.

 

Through scented tides they call the moon:

The corncrakes mark the passing years.

 

11/04/2013

A Breath (A Stream)

 

The simple contact of the stream,

A touch of ice which fell as rain

And soaked the paws of hunting wolves.

A mix of mists condensed on ferns.

 

The breath of trees through ancient leaves

Which hid a thousand goshawk nests,

And oaks on oaks have hidden more,

And added streams to other streams.

 

Around the fish the waters flow,

And through the water spectrum’s bend,

And in those prisms histories meld,

And through those pasts the fish still breathe.

 

I run my fingers through the stream,

And all is now, and always was.

 

 

04/04/2013

White Headed Duck

 

A haze has melted tracks and trees

And terraces and Moorish walls

And egrets staring into space,

In which the vultures spin like dust.

 

Below the surface of the pools,

Behind the garish skin of sky,

And deep beneath the mottled earth,

There hide the many names of pride.

 

The fountains, tiles, the mind of god,

Re-shaping seasons, draining swamps,

The petrol shimmer on the lakes,

The urge to build away the pain.

 

An absence lingers by the nests:

You lose the pride, you lose the birds.

 

02/04/2013

The Harrowing

 

1.

From sky to sky the furrows blew

Away untended in the wind,

And scattered, like the absent birds,

Accusing hoards of shattered bones.

 

And from those salted furrows spread

A desolation thick with ash,

Which cursed the earth and sun and stars:

It settled on the crops like rain.

 

The memories stopped, the histories stopped,

In lines of charred remains they stopped,

The furrows piled with families stopped,

The lines of generations cut.

 

The sky above was blue and cold,

As empty as this land was old.

 

2.

The breeze has blown the needles clean.

Along the ridgeways, through the parks,

Across the waste ground and the plains:

For some the stories never end.

 

The needles clean, the branches blown,

The avenues of memory quake.

The yew and cypress tremble through

The death of air, the fear of rain.

 

They bow before the emptiness,

They shiver with each final breath.

Each tale is one more silenced year.

The scars are needle sharp and old.

 

The echoes shake these moors and dales.

The trees are rattling day and might.

 

3.

To cleanse and wash away the stain

To put an end to all the pain

To purify and nullify

To simplify the tales to tell

 

To wipe the village, burn the land,

Erase the stories, strip the bones,

To hack and waste and salt the earth,

To foul the water, flame the corn.

 

To nail the poor inside their graves,

To open graves and hang the poor,

To starve and strip and flay the poor,

To throw the cannibals the poor.

 

The harrowing has turned the breeze,

The harrowing is shaking leaves .

 

 

24/03/2013

Rylstone

 

Up on the moor, beneath the crag,

A ruin rots its walls in rain,

The bracken shoots break through the rust

Of last years’ growth and crumbling rock.

 

The curlew’s call, reclaim the sky,

Await the screams of summer’s swifts.

This point round which disaster whirls,

Is still and calm and sorrow deep

 

They left the shell and took the heart.

From hanging hopes the stories drip,

From dropping ropes and sheering axe.

A ruin stands its speechless ground.

 

And every spring those curlews call,

There’s freedom here to question all.

 

 

03/03/2013

The Snowden Monument

 

1. Stone

 

Up on the moors a marker stands,

A point of reference for a past,

Its millstone blocks are still edged sharp.

The past is gone, the past remains.

 

Its plaque is stamped with cold relief,

Released from duties and from loss,

It stands apart from choices made,

From compromise, from harsh mistakes.

 

Beyond the ridge the village slips

Into a valley, blind and bleak,

Still full of life chipped from the stone:

The stories new, the stories worn.

 

The world is circling round these rocks:

Forgotten cairn which marks our loss.

 

 

2. White

 

The milk and mortar ends of time,

The cotton sheets and cobbled streets –

Which shine beneath the western skies –

And clouds which hide the hills from sight.

 

The Mesolithic depths of life

Are dragged from earth like dock-leaf roots.

They glimmer, broken tooth and jaw,

The glaucous grin of history’s scar.

 

The markless drifts will melt the walls,

The lambs will slow and watch the gulls,

The frost will dust the shadow’s track.

A tarnished memory turns its back.

 

The bread and fish, the starch and lead,

The white forgotten light of fate.

 

 

3. Gold Standard

 

The towns and villages were choked,

With lines of sunken eyes and hopes.

The basic decency of folk:

Together bound, together broke.

 

They gathered round to try again,

Rebuilding shattered lives of men.

Where wealth was measured out in graves:

A balancing of lost and saved.

 

The mills were emptied of the souls,

As soulless mechanisms rolled,

Across the disregarded world:

They snuffed out hopes and hoarded gold.

 

The rich can claim no small success,

As lives are crushed for their excess.

 

 

4. Freedom

 

Where golden plover rest in flocks,

The sun will set and ages pass,

And forests grow and fall and rot.

Each spring the plover find their nests.

 

Where tewits tumble through the clouds,

Our lives are measured out in earth,

In hopes and prayers, in bitter joys.

The tewits call the start of spring.

 

Where curlew mourn the rising sun,

We cut our links and try to run,

We buy the land and think it ours.

The curlew drift on wings of song,

 

The moor has drawn us here to see:

For those who don’t, the birds can be.

 

 

5. Debt Burden

 

You sought it in the word of god,

You sought it in the human heart,

You sought it round the noble fire,

You sought it, then you let it die.

 

You sought it in the free exchange,

You sought it in the chains of gold,

You sought it in the price of time,

You sought it, then you let it die.

 

You sought it in the bought and sold,

You sought it for the highest price,

You sought it at the highest cost,

You sought it, then you let it die.

 

You lost your hope and lost your way.

You built up debts you could not pay.

 

 

6. Traces and Tracks

 

The landscape stretches out of time,

Beyond the solid to the sun:

The setting, bloodied, monstrous sun.

The moors are full of spirits lost.

 

We crucify our histories here,

We break the links and travel on:

Erase the mysteries of our age,

Betray the ones who need us most.

 

The empty tombs and hollow shrines –

Where rites of truth and pure belief

Were once the center of the world –

Are crumbling and forgotten stones.

 

Across the moors are hidden tracks

Where spirits weep on cotton grass.

 

 

7. Handcart

 

The madness of the century churned,

Within, without, with demagogues,

With splits and deaths and compromise,

The wheels ran smooth and fires were stoked.

 

And fear had spurred the horses hard,

And land deals turned and history spurned.

The rich could cheat the grave once more,

And pour their assets overseas.

 

The shattered bones and broken homes,

And promises to workers burned,

In chapel halls and Liberal clubs,

Where speeches drifted cheap as smoke.

 

The mad, the rich, the charlatans:

Their cart rode past and you hitched on.

 

 

8. The Speech of Moors

 

The ancient language of the hills,

Hides questions in the tussock grass.

So close to earth, they feed its roots.

So close to sky,they shake the seeds.

 

Your scattered ash returns the words,

As old as rock and lost to time:

The dialect of moorland farms,

Forgotten lanes and trackless moss.

 

Up here your lives can ebb away:

A cairn, a plaque, a hiding place.

In snows the sheep will huddle round,

So far from everything you were.

 

And this is where the questions start,

It’s where they end, it’s where we part.

 

 

 

Dedicated to the people who always carry the greatest weight, and who always suffer the most in times like these.

 

26/01/2013

The Lost Paths of London (Walk No. 2)

 

The city’s still and empty paths –

Between the churches, through the fumes –

Are lines connecting times of change

From peasants’ lands to gilded claims.

 

We trace Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

We visit Blake: his grave at odds.

We walk down Moorgate, cold as plague,

And breathe the fires of old Blackfriars.

 

Beneath the heartless greed and lies,

The godless domes and faithless spires,

We find a world of poet’s songs,

And Celtic track-ways lost, not gone.

 

This hidden London seeks the light,

Downtrodden worlds and open minds.

 

 

30/10/2012

Our Time

 

We let these moments pass us by:

The simple gust, the breeze of dust.

As if the air were empty space,

A different and inhuman place.

 

Inhale like every other time:

That breath was once in Sappho’s lungs,

In fibres rolled in ancient scrolls,

And mixed with Dreamtime songs and chants.

 

And Lorca’s final, sand-filled gasp

Is falling now as Autumn rain.

And Rosa’s blood from Landwehr ditch,

Is in the beat of every heart.

 

We miss the air, as air flows by.

The drops of Lethe have filled our sighs.