Posts tagged ‘memory’

07/10/2013

Soliloquy

 

The light was dreaming for the swans:

A morning mist, an autumn drift,

For necks to lift and court their kiss.

I wonder how I’ll break the news.

 

The leaves beneath my feet were soft,

But dry despite the time of year:

It could have been the perfect walk.

We are apart – so nothing’s changed.

 

I close my eyes and count to ten,

And nothing’s changed: it never will,

No matter how you try to hide.

This train pulls further from that past.

 

And closer to the end of things.

Oh god: the beauty of those swans.

 

This poem was written as a response to the photograph by artist Cheryl Garner. It is part of an on-going collaboration.

The photographs, with poems, can be found at:

www.thecheesewolf.co.uk/category/vicarious-journeys/

the work of Cheryl Garner can be found at:

http://cherylgarner.squarespace.com/

 

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17/08/2013

Object No.4 – Pot of Basil

 

An ordinary world of light,

A luminescent line in time,

I’d walk along and breathe along,

And perhaps forget to look and know.

 

Forget to hear the questions posed,

Forget to smell the basil plants,

Forget my time perhaps would end:

So sad I’d leave those things unsaid.

 

Around that pot pasts might adhere.

All through the room of light so strong,

A trace was strong, a life was long,

An ordinary world was lost.

 

The basil scent would linger here,

You’d sense my echoes through your fear.

 

17/08/2013

Object No.3 – Box File

 

I’d set its flawed trajectory

On shelves in dust and broken trust,

In New Town where I’d left the clues

And lived on loneliness and lust.

 

I’d bury all its sorrows deep,

Escape and wander through Kings Cross,

Through London’s raging, aching streets,

Through hotel rooms booked by the hour.

 

I’d fall again and jump the Strid,

Leave echo patterns on its shelves,

Take on the shadows it had made,

And mark regret upon its lid.

 

Within that air of many pasts,

Pathetic proofs that nothing lasts.

 

16/08/2013

Object No.2 – Soap Stone Monkeys

 

The tins of peaches, tins of cream,

All stirred with sugar, served with juice,

Shot through with North Sea gas and war,

With woodsheds, polish and despair.

 

There could have been the three wise apes.

They’d sit beside that music box,

Where Maurice Jarre and Pasternak

Were lost amongst the jewelry paste.

 

And off downstairs, the TV times

Would bring the wrestling, bring the scores,

And pools results and solemn prayers,

Before the pier-end sing-alongs.

 

Those three wise apes would see it all,

They’d hear, then chant their soap stone curse.

 

 

15/06/2013

Moonrain Seasilk

 

You sang a song I couldn’t know.

The moon had soaked the blood of life,

The words were lost beneath the rain,

The ghosts of ghosts sat at our feet.

 

You screamed as if the world had lungs,

The shattered glass smoothed soft by tides.

No speech could reach the pain you brought

Into the sealight roar of dawn.

 

You danced one evening on a lawn,

Immaculate in lunar silk.

You skipped the shadows with each step,

Your starfish heart within my heart.

 

You sang, you danced, you screamed, you drank,

You came alive as sunlight sank.

 

 

09/06/2013

A Week in Slovenia (Part 7 – After Thought)

 

1. Tourist Boats

 

We skim the surface, hide from facts,

We see ourselves reflected back.

A dreaming ocean laps through streets,

A knowing sea floods round the trees.

 

We are the silver and the gold,

We shine our light on glittered crests,

We speak as if we lived these lives,

We dive for pearls and bring back shells.

 

And this is how we see the world:

As waves, as mysteries deferred,

As everything we want to be,

As everything we never were.

 

We watch you work your grinding shifts,

And think we see the harbour lights.

 

 

2. Borovnice

 

I come from salamander peaks.

Around the veins, around the mind,

I bite as mountain vipers strike,

As sharp as pine, as deep as time.

 

I loosen tongues, I calm the fears.

My red is black as blood is thick.

I’m crisped by snow and swelled by May.

Within my soul the rivers flow.

 

The mountain clouds and owls arrive.

You hear the church bells call the hours,

And half awake you hear my voice.

I offer up my essence here.

 

My hillside memories are true.

I filter rock, and ice and dew.

 

 

3. And What Will Become of Us?

 

I hope you find a job this year.

I hope you find the love you need.

I hope your stories will come true.

Not much – I know – but hope is all

 

That anyone can give right now.

And yesterday the markets filled,

And yesterday the sun was bright,

And yesterday they sang your name,

 

But now the wind blows from the north.

Across the plains, the dragons stir.

From deep within the mountain caves

Come sounds we wished we’d never hear.

 

I hope you keep the joy and peace.

My thoughts are with you through these years.

 

 

4. Holiday Photos

 

Somewhere an avalanche is still,

The point just seconds from its fall.

I close my eyes and count out loud:

The avalanche awaits the pull.

 

I’m there, beside the mountain lake.

The waters clear, then from above

The ice does not collapse. The world

Does not come tumbling down on me.

 

The stillness is beyond itself.

The lake reflects the silent peaks,

The forests barely breathe at all:

I see a cloud refuse to roll.

 

I’m there – just for a while – I’m there.

The avalanche just hangs in air.

 

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.

 

 

20/04/2013

Under the Tree

 

So let’s not say that time will end,

Instead let’s watch the summer light

Come pouring through the valley leaves,

As if there were no other place.

 

And let’s not say it passed us by.

The earth beneath our feet is firm:

It stays the same – it doesn’t change –

We touch it, know it, share its pull.

 

So yes, we’ll simply linger on,

And take our shelter from the rain.

We’ll wait until the wind has calmed.

We’ll wait until the sun returns.

 

These moments, here beneath this tree,

Mean everything to you and me.

 

 

11/04/2013

The Frozen River

 

To fish the lonely winter beck

He wears a summer hat of straw,

And walks for miles through snow and ice.

There is no other human trace.

 

At night he has a makeshift hut

Of bark and reeds and bended birch.

The fire he lights is cold by dawn.

He’ll stay until his brandy’s gone.

 

A heron has the further bank.

They eye each other with respect.

As snow is falling, heron flies,

And drags behind a trail of drops.

 

The river steams with freezing mist.

The old man’s breathing joins the cloud.

 

 

Poem after Liu Tsung Yuan

 

11/04/2013

Geneva, 1980

 

From where I lay I see myself.

The lake was full of tiny fish.

I thrust my foot into the shoal.

I feel it now: the empty cold.

 

No matter whether fast or slow,

The little fish remained untouched.

Across the lake the mountain peaks

Of France were white and distant shades.

 

Geneva’s haze was spreading south,

Towards the river flowing out,

I see the fountain, see the bridge,

And see the silver flash of fish.

 

I failed to see the truth that day:

The fish untouched, in fact touched me.

 

11/04/2013

The Water Lathe

 

From minds creating waterfalls,

In fields of buttercups and flies,

The start of summer crashes in,

And breaks the stream of forming words.

 

Those thoughts which capture pike in webs –

Suspended from the highest boughs –

Are linking up connections dead,

A million human years or more.

 

So summon fish and burst the banks,

And cast about the newborn springs.

The lathe is working hard on dreams,

To join the lakes and neural paths,

 

And everything connects and splits:

This heaven Earth has Eden streams.

 

 

for Ursula Le Guin

 

10/04/2013

Dead Calm

 

We never spoke about the end –

The evening out of light and shade –

But always there the fall of doubts

That soon the shade would take the light.

 

A trace of blood from deep inside,

A simple tap, a twitch then gone.

How quickly life can pass away,

Though sometimes worse: its clinging on.

 

We missed the intervening years:

From silence, back to innocence.

A final flicker in the dark

And that was all that could be done.

 

And sometimes face to face is best,

But never face to face with death.

 

 

10/04/2013

Sticklebacks

 

I had a jar of sticklebacks

I’d netted down amongst the weed.

I sat and watched as they watched me,

Our stillness shared for forty years.

 

With azure, scarlet, silver sides,

Eclipsed the joy of my field guides.

The book I’d read on every night

Would now be left to prop a pile.

 

The jar contained the living truth –

The eyes, the spines and fragile tails –

I’d felt them wriggle on my palm,

Their life as real as mine was dry.

 

I watched them breathe through gaping mouths.

I watched them stop, grow dull and die.

 

 

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 .

 

 

30/01/2013

Solaris

 

Above these tides of dreams and life,

Where birth is but a breath from death,

And all the fears you thought you’d fled,

Can gather round to smooth your brow.

 

Above them – can we say above? –

They flow, they ooze, they doubt, they prove,

A conscious flood of yesterdays.

What made you strong – that quivered lip?

 

That toy you held, because because you knew

It couldn’t last? You gripped it tight.

The love you held as if they’d leave

A note for you, and nothing more?

 

The tides keep rising from your past:

On each remembered kiss there’s blood.

 

response to the films and novel “Solaris”.

11/06/2012

Epitaph

 

Outside the time of human facts

The dead come calling from the swamps.

The birds and butterflies don’t change.

The rocks once cast and carved remain.

 

The fears and sorrows flow like springs,

All down the ages stay the same.

And yours and mine are never lost:

They’ve found their place and blow like dust.

 

And these emotions, streams and hills

Are flesh beneath our shifting skin,

Are sight behind our blinking lids,

Are answers lost to truths and gods.

 

The swamps are deep and thick with snakes,

It’s there – in peace – we lose our hopes.

05/05/2012

Three Pasts in the Labyrinth

 

They rattle in the slightest breeze

Like wooden kookaburra’s cries.

Their scent lays thick all through the rooms:

The eucalyptus pasts of home.

 

Another past: of lemon groves,

Of almonds, olives, perfumed blooms,

Of questions in a language lost,

Of hoopoes on the ruined walls.

 

Then deeper in the endless tombs:

The aura of a summer moor

Where heather pollen drifts with bees

And curlews mourn the passing years.

 

Between the halls, Ariadne’s twine:

Unwound from love to memory’s end.