Poets at work, present and remembered subjects

It is summertime and poets are out and about. Photo credit to Geraldine Green, Cumbrian poet, who took the banner photograph of poets on an outdoor workshop at Burns Beck Moss earlier this year. I think this is such a lovely image of poets at work I have switched to it this summer even though some of these poems rely on memory as much as observation. Memory is perception too. Different sorts of responses to what can be seen in quiet spaces.

Tony Lewis-Jones brings us a sensitive, contemporary poem comparing a social media relationship to a romantic Oxford love affair in the past. Maureen Weldon looks at a house in evening light and remembers its story. David Callin, who admits to being “fairly deaf,” gives us a witty and sophisticated poem about mishearings –there is a summer outdoors feel to his poem as well as the pleasant touch of French.

I think we need a Spring is Sprung poem too, so I’m beginning with Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Spring. (Sorry to make life a little harder for the other poets.)

Thanks to all the poets.

To take part, send up to three previously published poems, published at least three years ago, to which you hold the copyright, to Sally Evans 35 at gmail dot com. You may also send your own pictures if you wish.

Enjoy your summer!

Gerard Manley Hopkins
Spring
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –         
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring         
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush         
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush         
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.         
What is all this juice and all this joy?         
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,         
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,         

   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

First published 1918  (long after it was written –he died in 1889.)

 LivinginOxford
Tony Lewis-Jones
Search Parties

I do read your twitter. I know
You read my facebook
Illicitly our best moments
Were illicit, stolen
From someone else’s time,

Someone else’s bed.
Your spell is on me still

I suppose — your recollected beauty,
The urgency of love
Tortured Oxford relationship 
I think of you when it snows
Because that is how it was 

You made my life and the cityscape
More enchanted, unearthly,
Three times a dream.

First published on Writers Café USA 2013

darkness-1232724_960_720
Maureen Weldon

House of Three Generations

Now bent to the evening sky,
a tree with the moon in its eye.

And I think of the house
of three generations –
where she, beloved matriarch, died.
I asked her, not to come back –
I would be frightened.

So like the lamps lit at sunset
reflecting three times –
through a tunnel of trees:
my mother, my daughter and me.

Then, to our house in the dawn,
sea lions called – barked,  the
Alsatian dog next door barked back:
his owner assuring us, “his bark
was worse than his bite.”

In thickening light –
grass turned from grey to green,
while roses glistened dew, to sun-pink.

And from the not so far away – Shropshire
Union Canal. On a narrow boat, a tune
seeps through … a man with a violin.

Now bent to the evening sky,
a tree with the moon in its eye.  

First published, Homage To Cheshire, Edited by Terry Fox, Cheshire Poet Laureate

David Callin
Mishearings

A fawn, I thought at first: a sylvan scene,
of course, but Bambi-like, domestic bliss
embodied in those pretty creatures fresh
from drawing boards in heaven, full of grace,
unfallen, although that rutting flute,
sketching the diabolic interval,
seems to allude to something less pristine,

but not this shaggy fellow, sleepy-eyed,
awaking from his dreams of ribaldry
among the shrubbery. His jutting cock
is Adam walking in the garden, naming
the sullen nymphs and, knowing them by name,
sometimes pursuing them into the shade
to frolic for a while, and then subside.

Mallarmé is difficult. The grounds
include his musicalité cryptique,
syntactical inversions and the like,
but in his sonics, so they say, resides
a greater mystery, ses purs ongles
(her pure nails) becoming ces purs sons,
these (or those or his or her) pure sounds,

and in the realm of anecdotal myth
I’ve seen the same, as once in Orléans,
that hotel clerk and Quel est votre non?
Yes, what was my no? Could Sartre say?
And later, when I asked Où est le loo?
Le loup?
she gasped, and looked around to find

a chair to stand on or to hit me with.

Mishearing is creative. Ask the deaf.
(You may have to repeat yourself.) They work
with insufficient data, making up
their world as best they can from what they catch –
a state that may be general. Perhaps
the starry welkin rings with angels’ singing
and we live too far down the treble clef.

first published in Message in a Bottle

Mandy Macdonald
Decades                  
               

Whose birthday is it this time? It’s
another of those big Os, and in this company
no-one has to lie about which one.
We will gather in the latest Italian
– someone will have read the reviews of it –
talk that London talk
of concerts and exhibitions and the kind of films
you don’t get to see in Aberdeen or even Foligno.

Once upon a time
we all lived together in a big white house
with a cranky boiler and decaying carpets and
only one bathroom for nine people, two of whom,
after a while, became teenagers.

They called us a commune, but it wasn’t that, it was
a soup of affection, ideology, nostalgia even then,
an effect of gravitation.
It ran on argument, music and wine.
There was a cooking rota.
Later on, some of us got proper jobs,
and the wine got classier.

One of us is gone now, three years past,
and we have scattered across London, across the country,
across the world, like thistledown.
The teenagers have children of their own.
The big white house is sold, too,
gone to gentrification and period detail. Meanwhile,
the upward-creeping arithmetic of birthdays
tallies our friendship, keeps it safe.

(first published in Lunar Poetry, 2014

 

 

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Enhanced by shadows

So many things are enhanced by shadows: pageants, pigeons, memories of seaside days; other people’s poems. There are many shadows in our lives and what can we do but look for a view of them as enhancements? 
    Seth Crook’s poem glosses this one by Norman MacCaig: you can access the poem here on videoclip:
    https://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-478-010-C

Sheila Jacob tales us slap into the middle of a retro beach scene, and Angela Topping gives a panoramic, historical view of London. These two poems are linked by the interest in transport. Shadows everywhere, while Maureen Weldon offers the enigmatic title poem.
     Gary Beck’s long narrative and reflective poem Once in the Bronx looks at definitions of war. In case you don’t make it to the end (though I hope you will) I give you this penultimate paragraph, which also informs our title of Enhanced by Shadows: 

‘Our schools are losing the spirit to struggle,
our leaders always have eloquent answers,
our churches are falling silent,
while multi-national corporations peddle our heritage.
Are we mortally wounded?’

As always, many thanks to the poets, and a reminder that poets are welcome to send in previously published poems, to sallyevans 35 at gmail dot com. You can send your own pictures if you wish. Sooner or later, usually every month, the poems received will transform into part of this blogzine.

 

Easter pigeonsEiffel tower

Seth Crook
What the female pigeons said after they read
Norman MacCaig’s poem “Wild Oats”

We’re female pigeons
and do nothing dowdily.
We’re beyond that
– so far beyond.
Sometimes we see
a fine example
of the human bald head
pecking at a page
with a primitive
handmade beak
and peering up through windows
at our menfolk
as they preen and try to pull
some pretty fantail.
He scribbles
and he dibbles
and, like most men,
thinks we care
about what men do.
We don’t, we coo.

First published in Message in a Bottle, 2013

easter Maureen 2

Maureen Weldon
Enhanced by Shadows

I knew it would happen,
jaw, sort of magpie’s nest
cheeks a dried up river bed
eyes dark like wells.
They say – laughter lines?
And neck, slender as a plucked swan.

But to hell with it,
when I entertain
I will light two candles,
one for him, one for me;
my breasts high as Olympian peaks,
lips cunning as Aphrodite;
legs and ankles stretching round the room,
we will clink ruby crystal, drink golden mead.
And afterwards
walk in moonlight until dawn.

First published, Poetry Monthly, magazine
easter seasidesandcastle

Sheila Jacob
Day Tripper

She’s light-headed with relief
after the charabanc journey,

dress sponged down,                                                                           
face washed and dried,

cheeks nicely buffed
by an unexpected  breeze.

She taps rich moist sand                              
into a plastic bucket,

crumbles it like cake mix
between her fingers.                                

If she could just stay here,                        
share Mum’s mint humbugs,                            

help Dad build a castle,
stick paper flags on top ..                          

But they’ve come for the sea,
the waves, the blue-grey ocean.

Pebbles roll and slide
beneath swirling glass.

She’s knee-deep in water,
toes clenching,

head spinning, arms
anchoring around her Dad.

head spinning, arms
anchoring around her Dad.

First published Sarasvali, 2015,  London Transport
Eastr London

Angela Topping

First the river: slow barges on royal progress
Tudor kings and queens blaze roses on a June day.
Now clippers and pleasure boats take to the current,
slipping easily under bridges ancient and new:
Blackfriars, Millenium, Westminster, Waterloo.

Electric trains whisk by above our heads
and below ground, crammed with passengers.
Steam trains are locked in memory but must
have filled London skies with white breath:
Hungerford, Clapham, Wandsworth, Bexleyheath.

And beyond into the stratosphere, planes dive
above clouds, over the wrinkled river, London   
set out like a model city in all its domes and glass,
Shakespeare’s Globe a wedding ring, unicycle Eye:
Helsinki, Gothenburg, Cologne, Dubai.  

from Paper Patterns, Lapwing 2012.

Easter Bronx

Gary Beck
Once in the Bronx

Once I had a girl friend who lived in the Bronx.
I got lost whenever I visited her.
I vaguely remember her neighborhood,
a resplendent boulevard built to welcome
Napoleon IV, Marshal Foch, General De Gaulle.
But it received instead my urgent lust,
leading me astray in the seven hills,
not of rambling Rome
and the conspiratorial Tiber,
but of less noted waterway, the Bronx River,
already submitting to sludge and squalor.
I never found memorable landmarks.
The Bronx looked like so many other places
in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island too.
But the people were calm and untroubled.
It was a little while after one of the wars….
Big II?  No, Korea!  So I exaggerated.
So it wasn’t a war.
We’ve coined new phrases to describe not-a-war,
at least since World War II.
Thus public approval continues
for legitimate bombardments.

Afterwards, our puppeteers again mishandled
the strings that make the public dance
to a more appealing prosperity.
So we don’t call it war, no more, no more…
We don’t call it war, no…more….
Police action.  Protective intervention.
Preventive strike.  Preemptive attack.
Far east, mid-east, near east….
So many ways to say we’ll bomb you.
I could go on, but you get my drift,
or you might as well depart,
’cause you won’t appreciate the rest.

I never noticed while I searched for my girl friend,
how many old people lived in the Bronx.
For the youngsters came home from World War II,
married their girls, packed their bags,
kissed Ma and Pa goodbye
and went to college on the G.I. bill,
followed by a class jump to lower middle,
paid for by good old Uncle Sacrifice
to reward their loyal service
with the first installment of the American dream.
So they got their degrees
and moved to Westchester and Long Island,
to new houses, lawns, two car garages
filled with the latest consumer goods.
The Bronx was not for them.
While they were packing and moving out,
marooning Mom and Pop in oversize apartments,
no longer rattled by arguments and growing pains,
distant political agitators,
in San Juan and San Turce,
were stirring credulous Puerto Ricans
with dazzling tales of streets of gold
waiting for them in New York City.
And where did they settle?
(Can’t you guess?)  The Bronx.
So out with the old,
in with the unprepared for city life,
unassisted by family, government, union-
the Hispanic migration.

Instead of welcoming the newcomers to our shores
with jobs, education, assistance in urban living,
once again we betrayed our immigrants,
but this time better than ever before.
Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, Italians, Jews-
however low they seemed to America’s owners-
were more acceptable than Black, Hispanic, or Oriental,
despite the pledge of life, liberty and the pursuit of…
After all, the less we look like our masters….

Once I had a girl friend who lived in….
I no longer remember her name.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you….

While Puerto Ricans were pouring off the planes,
Blacks were torrenting off the buses,
stiff and creaky from the long ride
from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi too.
Driven out, not by Goth, Hun, Zulu, Mongol horde,
but farm machinery, by Deere, by Deere,
that rendered unnecessary until World War III,
or Interplanetary War I,
agriculture’s favorite utilities,
the bent human back, the grasping human hand.

And so they came to the Bronx, the Bronx,
as others before them had come, had come,
for jobs, homes, schools, a better life.
Does this sound unreasonable to you?
But in the mid-nineteen fifties
It was unacceptable to most.
For in with the new, out with the old,
who galloped, drove, flew, trucked, punted, fled,
until the once comfortable neighborhoods,
abandoned by experienced city dwellers,

left groups of rural newcomers adrift,
on harsh, unfamiliar streets of decay.
Despite all the universities in the Bronx,
and law courts, and legislators,
constitutional guarantees lapsed:
inalienable rights were alienated.     

I’ve almost forgotten the pleasures long ago,
shared with my girl friend in the Bronx.

I didn’t go back for twenty years.
What a change, citizens.
I had lived in Germany,
walked the ruins of World War II,
saw defeated ghosts of the Vaterland,
heard the laments of destruction,
met a madman, crooning for the lost “Fuerher”,
rushing crazed through Stuttgart streets,
chanting:  “The bombs are fallen, Berlin is dead.
The bombs are fallen, Berlin is dead.”
What does this have to do with the Bronx?
Imagine that I made no gentle rediscovery,
but found a biblical revelation.

Abandoned, burned, collapsed buildings,
spreading rubble, refuse, riots,
on unresisting residents,
atoning their sins in urban purgatory.   

Yet across the river,
on Sutton Place terraces,
comfortable observers counted the fires,
entertained by companions and cocktails,
while tenuous holds on life went up in flames….
But how the feasting in Sodom went on….went on….
and the pleasures of Gomorrah were many….
Separated from us by the palace guard….
The prosperous wallowed in indulgences,
refusing to receive suppliants,
a perilous subway ride removed.
Thy song, chanted for all of us:
consume, consume….Waste, waste….
Burn, baby, burn….

Her house was buried under rubble,
while the fires still smoldered,
and extravagance burdened the people.
But who had declared war on the Bronx?
Did I miss the notice in the New York Times

that intelligently explained the invasion,
or authorized high altitude bombing?
Dresden, Hamburg, Nagasaki, ravaged cities,
welcome to the Bronx, don’t say no thonx.
My visit no voyage of atonement,
nor conquest of reclamation,
but arrested by these bleeding streets,
I was possessed by the wilderness,
and compelled to serve the needy.

I saw visions that tortured my spirit;
murderous madhouses of anguish,
provided by the state, the state,
no different than bedlams of Dark Ages.
Our prisons jammed, crammed full-
criminals, sinners, sufferers, babies-
hidden from sight behind forbidding walls.
After my pilgrimage to American Institutions,
I recognized the style of government consent.
The children of the parents we would not help,
were finally receiving some attention,
concealed from us by padlocked doors.
While outside those bitter caverns,
where frightened children howl,

the non-war on crime, drugs, poverty,
and all the other social divertissimos,
that keep the media at peak employment,
constantly declare truce, amnesty, armistice,
whenever it’s time to go home to the suburbs.

Our schools are losing the spirit to struggle,
our leaders always have eloquent answers,
our churches are falling silent,
while multi-national corporations peddle our heritage.
Are we mortally wounded?       

I think my girl friend was crushed
beneath the wreckage of her house of dreams,
in a once pleasant neighborhood,
now submerged,
somewhere in the Bronx.

from Expectations, published by Contemporary American Voices in 2008.

 

 

Today and Yesterday

Where would we be without memory, and where would language be without time? Language needs time simply to flow. Music needs time. In the short or longer term we are bound by it. Our poems, we hope, remain relevant through time. Mandy Macdonald’s poem of music accompanies us as we move through time, between days.

Fiona Pitt-kethley gives us a view of political time for a whole country (she lives in Spain), in a poem published five years ago, but as relevant as ever.

Mark Connors writes of a night time journey  from Dervaig on Mull, while for Kathleen Jones, in the  first poem here, a wintry and difficult place is looked back on with love from a distance, and in easier weather.

We conclude with an affecting poem by Angela Topping of a widow returning to a life she had abandoned.

We see everything from today’s viewpoint though, and the appearances around us, the landscape, the weather, including personal weather, affect all our dealings with time.

It is good to beat time in yet another way, and see these lovely poems again, long after their first publication. Thanks to the poets; my recent appeal has stocked us up a little but keep the poems coming, to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

Poems shoud be published three years ago or more, and you must hold the copyright.

img978

Kathleen Jones
Hill Country — Winter

Winds slice air scalpel thin
searing vision
to an eyeslit.

Over the craggy curve of skull
the rain-drugged soil
boot-heavy
lurches underfoot. 

Maggoting to light
the footrot and the liver fluke and worm.
No forgiveness
in the womb-dark
under this starved grass. 

A man could break his life
on these bones. 

The gaping cottages
and barns
mark their departures.
Each broken earth-bond
with its bone-crack tithe
a lambing shelter
for the pregnant sheep.

A place to wish for
with summer
and a hundred miles
of road between.

 

first published in Unwritten Lives, Redbeck Press, 1996
New Welsh Revew, 1994

 

Fionamandy

Mandy Macdonalad
a little night music

late at night
the moon is high, yellow
and round as the big streetlamps
in the town across the bay

where a neon-flaring
curtain wall of waterfront bars and clubs
casts a net of noise over the water

stramash like a cliff-
full of kittiwakes, while
out here, where we are, the quiet water
whispers secrets against our hull

puttering port patrol boat
ticks to and fro like clockwork
bent on shattering the moon’s golden sea-path
into an arpeggio of ripples

first published in The Wait charity anthology, 2014

 

Fiona Spain

Fiona Pitt-Kethley
Spain

(With apologies to Auden)

Yesterday the drunken British tourists
Buying golf villas as investments,
Starting Irish bars on a wing and prayer.
Yesterday the line dancing and the karaoke.

Yesterday the high-priced British supermarkets
Full of brown sauce, Marmite and Tetley´s teabags,
Nescafe, Mr Kipling´s cakes, Ribena.
Yesterday the rat´s piss coffee in the English cafs

Yesterday the Brits who won´t learn Spanish
And think every Spaniard is an orange-picker
Who has been done a favour by their presence here.
Yesterday those who could sell have already gone.

Yesterday the UK´s papers tell the usual lies
Exaggerate to bring the euro further down.
No-one is in need of a Dunkirk style bailout.
And most other countries have similar problems.

Today police violence, but only in some spots.
Rather less rioting than the UK has seen.
Unusual for Spain where the right to demonstrate is enshrined in law.
Today a hope that this right survives.

Today the New York Times photographing dumpster divers…
Are there none of those in their own city?
Much of it is healthy, letting nothing go to waste.
Today the countryside is clearer thanks to scrap-metal recycling.

Today volunteers, including myself, planting cypresses where fires raged.
In the past the council paid contractors
And many plants died off through being put out in summer months.
Today our trees will have a better chance.

Today less wonderful free concerts,
All the early music ones have gone from my city,
Fewer fiestas, fewer free paellas and sardinadas.
Today the banks who paid for this have less money to burn.

Today the empty estates where feral children played.
A seaside destroyed by concrete.
Wild wetlands tamed with townhouses.
Today one suicide too many has stopped the repossessions.

(First published in Headland 2013)

 

 

fiona owlscorrect

Mark Connors
Beyond Dervaig

And we leave Dervaig before the final bell,
cutting through an artery of Mull.
The only stars visible are from a galaxy not so far away:
a panicked constellation, huddled,
teetering on the sharp edge of a passing place
high above a path of silhouetted death:
the gnarled and charred remains of tortured pine.
And as we pass those stars, we give the gift of flight
to a pair of barn owls, their wings like white shirts
under the black light of rock clubs
we used to frequent; magnesium bright,
as they rise from the dark for a beat
then fly back into black
away from the fire of our full beam,
their almost screams filling up the big black sky.

First published by Dawntreader (Indigo Dreams) 2013

 

fionalivferpool sta tion

Angela Topping
Relinquishing Berlin

For Monika

Picture the woman on the station platform,
wind pasting woollen coat to her legs;
at her feet a small checked suitcase.

The train she waits for will take her
back to Berlin and into a future
that could once have happened:

her name known all over Germany
and beyond, to Hollywood,
her face gleaming in magazines,

long legs in their seamed stockings
insured for thousands, her red hair
a trademark, famous, glamorous.

This is the future she relinquished
to marry the poet she met at language classes,
how she was tempted to Liverpool,

how she was wrapped in his love
until his heart gave out, leaving her
stranded in a strange country.

No-one she loved is left in Berlin.
Her suitcase is full of poems,
her arms full of grandchildren.

From Angela’s 2012 collection Paper Patterns, Lapwing Press.

 

 

 

 

Time for December Keep Poems Alive. Let’s have something non seasonal — we don’t always have to be relevant if relevant means frozen, sad  and disillusioned by the world out there. Reading can be “escapist” in a good sense, it can be refreshing and warming. So we start with a poem by Fred Beake, on an unusual subject: he is saying goodbye to a car. This will take our mind off those December cares for certain.

But still we think about others. Tony Lewis Jones is warm too as he sets out in the milieu of his poem Christmas Cheer, based on the cold outdoor days of December, and the people he might find in the churches and streets, and how he feels about sharing his fortunes. 

Next, a very unusual poem by Vivien Jones, to widen the subject matter of this month’s batch.  This poem works by saying things we’re all aware of but hardly anyone ever says. The courage to look hard at the obvious.  I find the title obscure but fascinating: it had me looking up Visions of Cody but I’m not quite there yet. Sometimes following a poem takes time.

A little self indulgence may be considered appropriate at this time of year. Nikolas Evanz was my uncle. He ws primarily a painter and the picture of a narrow boat on a canal was recently found in a Gloucestershire antique shop, by someone who managed to get in touch with me via his booklet of poems which I published. As you see, Thirty One Socks is a mild complaint against others in the family who found it hard or alien to accept him as an artist.

We finish with Yuan Hongri’s transcendentalist Chinese poem of whatever is inspiring out there beyond the leaves, flowers and trees.

To send poems for Keep Poems Alive International please email  them to Sally Evans 35 at gmail dot com, stating where previously published . You need to hold the copyright.

Dec vintage-car-2851452_960_720

Fred Beake
For A546 HAD, commonly known as HAD

Well HAD I remember getting you from Avalon Garage
  With Mr Smith’s usually reliable assurance
That you were a good car, whereupon your handbrake disintegrated
  Which might have put off someone who was in a position to choose,
But I ground my teeth and persevered with you
  — Rather like with a woman I could not quite give up on.
And that Christmas (or maybe the one after) my son and I
  Were belting up to Yorkshire
And you spilled your oil in the middle of the M1,
  And we were told it was a miracle you had not seized up,
But you went on with indifference.
  And that summer my brother was forty
The garage left your oil cap off
  And again you spilled your lubrication.
And then there were the trees at the eccentric Mrs King’s
Which covered your white with green strange mould.
  Somehow I left it, feeling it became you.
Yet with all your vagaries of mood
  You’ve been a good car to me, HAD.
All those trips to Wales, climbing the passes
  On 900 c.c.’s, all those visits
  To Devon to meet with Nicholas or William.
All that traipsing around back streets of this town for work.
I’ll do my best to sell you to someone with a sense of humour.
  They will need it, but with luck
They will come to love you
  And keep you a little longer from the scrap heap.
But with your looks increasingly I wonder if anyone will want you
  And perhaps to end it now would be kindest.

First published Poetry Scotland 13, 2002

Dec candle-2818819__340

Tony Lewis-Jones
Christmas Cheer

Another icy day at the beginning of December,
except it’s Payday, reason enough to feel warm.
I go to St Mary’s Catholic Church downtown

to pray and light candles –

there’s only one other person in there
at 9.30 in the morning –
he looks like a grizzled veteran of the streets
complete with a bag full of clothes, and he’s standing over
one of the Collecting Tins as if he’s trying
to ascertain how much there is inside.
 
Hoping I may have saved him from himself,
I say my prayers and light 3 candles
and then quickly leave. Outside, 
on the City Centre streets
a low Winter sun bounces off car windscreens –
I remember what you said
‘There but for the Grace of God
go you and I’ – and people will suffer
this year at Christmas
for the lack of twenty pounds 
from a good friend
or a regular job – let us
spread our good fortune if we can – 
it is that Season.
 
first published on the Writers Café USA, 2014
Kerouac

Viven Jones

After Kerouac’s Visions of Cody
It’s 64 years since i was born, but
there’s no one with me here tonight.
My sons making money in cities,
graqndchildren intent on growing,
siblings being grandparents —
any one of us might just stop living.

If it was me, my husband

would just come
looking for supper or talk,
with shavings on his clothes,
he would touch my cooling body,
want to ask me what happened,
re-calculate the rest of the day.
If it was him, some sudden stop,
fallen over his work-bench.
I’d be mad that he waslate for supper,
march down there practising rage.
Then I would rage — how could he
better demonstrate our togetherness
than by deserting it?
Though  it ‘s background most days,
it’s been there since the start,
the black side of love is fear of loss,
and one of you is going to get it.
Published in Short of Breath, Cultured Llama 2014

Nik Evanz narrow boat

Nikolas Evanz
Thirty-One Socks

Thirty-one Socks
Every Christmas I get from
Thirty-one relations
         he said
Pairs of course
and Ties
Ties
Ties
         he raised his hands
         in supplication

They all know I paint
Why can’t they give me
Thirty-one
         paints
         brushes
         canvses
         easels
         smocks
Not thirty-one
         socks

Published in The Open Air Exhibiton, 2002

Dec cheetah-2412554_960_720

Chinese Poet Yuan Hongri
Translated by Manu Mangattu
Bright Star – Sweet Song

I do know that heaven is in my frame, in my front
Yet I still covet the covert far-off kingdom of aliens
Longing forever to hear the soulful song of the stone.
My footsteps, when I tread on the earth
Shall accompany the throb of the years
Every leaf is a word
Every flower is a poem
Every big tree has an old soul
And all could hear the sweet song of the stars.

星空璀璨的甜蜜之歌

我知道天堂在我体内或者眼前

可我依然想看到遥远外星的神秘之国

我甚至想听到石头的灵魂之曲

当我在大地上行走

脚步会伴奏着岁月的脉搏

每一片树叶都是一个词语

每一朵花都是一首诗

每一棵大树有古老的灵魂

他们听得懂星空璀璨的甜蜜之歌

November cheer

Most of us have come across Thomas Hood’s succinct verse November, but it’s worth revisiting for those who haven’t. Hood is now most known for his puns but he is worth a little more attention. He was interesting and funny. He was born in London, the son of a bookseller. He worked in a counting house until an illness forced him to move to Dundee, Scotland, to recover with relatives. He was there from 1811 till 1818 he returned to London and worked as an engraver. He was probably one of the first writers to receive help from the Royal Literary Fund.

In contrast, Maureen Weldon’s poem about a city of poets is crystal clear. Carolyn Yates takes us on a journey of discovery with Entropy, while George Colkitto’s poetic rant published in 2007 seems very much more apposite a decade later. We finish with a tailpiece by Sandie Craigie, which contrarily, is a narrative in Scots with a quote in English.

Please contribue your previously published poems for use on this site, and email them to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com

 

dull weather

Thomas Hood
November
.

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –
November!

1844

DULL TRUMPET

Maureen Weldon

Impression of a City
 .

On the side of a heated street
the ex trumpet major plays his tune,
sword like sounds soaring,
while darting clouds reflect
on the golden lip.
Hope, he plays. Hope.
A seagull screams out of tune.
On top of a hill
A Cathedral rings the evening prayer.
Around the hill
poets talk their art.
As music and song rubs the evening air
the first star shines silver
along the river.
A sleeping baby gurgles in a happy dream.
The City turns with a sigh.Maureen Weldon
First Published by Reflections Magazine :  Issue 61 :  2006

Translated into Ukrainian and Published in Vsesvit Journal 2006 Editor-in–chief  Dmytro Drozdovskyi   

dull entropy
Carolyn Yates
Entropy
 .
Time’s arrow
you say
drives what we have seen
what we have experienced
what we think will happen.
Like electricity in a battery
power in a pylon line
lightning
the wind in a weather system.
 .
It is why iron
 rusts
dry ice
moves
  uphill
.
why storms
and tsunamis destroy
and boulders 
 .
fall.
 .
It is why bones break
why copper greens
why tools wear out,
why people get sick.
.
I ask,
Hearts too?
You reply,
It is why everything living has to die.
.

Published on line  LabLit verse series 26 October 2009

 

dull hymns

George W Colkitto
Land of Hope and Glory

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
As I am of your children why do I now hate thee?
I was taught you were a beacon for freedom and for right
That countless were the fallen in morality’s long fight
Against the powers  of evil against oppression’s claims
Shock it is that in my time these no longer are your aims. 

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
You may no longer stand alone as ruler of the sea

Empire is gone, conviction lost, no values you now keep
It’s gain and influence and power your politicians seek

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
What bastard children have you loosed what wickedness for thee
They strut and posture bow and scrape for vanity and ego
In history they would carve their name no matter it is evil

If you are truly mother of all who should be free
Demand of these your children the things that ought to be
Justice and right and honour, love and generosity

If you can return to bring these now I still believe in thee
As land of hope and glory, mother of the free.

 

Published in Dead Amidst the Daffodil, Paisley, 2007,
also currently available on Amazon

dull street 2
Sandie Craigie
The Christian in the Street
.
The Christian in the Street gies me a card
thit sez May All Your Dreams Come True
an I  take it, jist in case
she hus a knife
in her poakit
 .
from Cowgit Bairns, Red Squirrel 2015

A Thousand yellow flowers

Last month it was a thousand miles. This time it is flowers. Round numbers bring home truths. A letter, news or no news.  Lost, homeless, dead and remembered, dead and loved: people live in all of these poems, amid varied memorable backgrounds, whether in Mexico with Maureen Weldon, a grand but past-clinging refurbished theatre building in London (Michael Murray), or a Northern garden, as with Eileen Carney Hulme’s gardener friend.  Rachel Bentham imagines her absent son sitting beside her on the train. Is this an autumn mood hitting us? 

We’ll finish with Richard Livermore’s Proposed Letter to Homo Sap. For one thing, it’s refreshingly abstract and playful, and for another, it offers a possible explanation why we’re dealing with all this remembered love and life without any consolation from religion.

Many thanks to all these poets. To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

KPA Oct candle

Maureen Weldon
The Day of the Dead

I burn Mexico.
Lit the old candle
which I got six years ago
in Cuernavaca.
So much love
in the eye of a flame.
It is as though –
those I hold most dear
and can never hold again
are here.
It is as though, the petals
of a thousand yellow flowers
are scattered
between earth and heaven.

First published : Open Mouse e-zine

KPA Oct Enp

Michael Murray
Old Empire

The refurb on the Regal Ballroom was done with the wrong shade,
using youthful and dynamic hues. It should be faded glory.
The tale it is telling the world of supplements, glossy mags
is now of the primped and preened, when its real story
is one all recognise: decline, and old grandeur; the rags
of State and empire, that still adhere in a place like this:
the peeling  of frescoes, gilt  cornices; the loss of prestige, trade.

The Jubilee Line rattles the foundations; a dust ghost
with glinting buttons, bayonet, in auditorium, on stairs.
The Ballroom built over previous habitations replaced
a minor palace, Girls’ Academy. From those stairs
we watched the building of our dream of State, and how we placed
ourselves within it; both pros and cons raised in one toast.

Doorway sleepers choose here for the warm draughts at night;
that they are here at all is still appalling: ‘The homeless,’
we recite, ‘are always with us.’ cite this as right.
How all now sleep in the glow from old warmth, alone;
the half-life of old empire continues to light us
long after it’s left us. ‘Dead is the right of might!’ we also recite.

first published in Ol’ Chanty, online magazine, 2014

 

KPA Oct veg gdn

Eileen Carney Hulme
Jock

August is autumnal here in the North
the subtle change of air –
its scent, its breath

today, walking, I’m reminded
of you and the years I lived
in the Gardener’s Cottage

you were the gardener and the cottage
rented out now

daily you’d pedal to work
with your bicycle clips on,
I would hear you whistling

cutting logs, placing a brown paper bag
filled with fresh vegetables
outside my door, its contents
a reminder of each changing season

sometimes I would come to find you
in the wood-shed or in the grounds
your back bent to the task

your life reflected in your hands –
top of one finger missing
a black thumb nail

‘I’ve just put the kettle on,’ I’d say
you’d lay your spade or saw to rest
and happily we’d pass the time of day

when I told you it was time for me
to move on, I said keep in touch
I’ll send my new address

you replied you were not one for writing
and that you’d think of me often

years later a mutual friend wrote to tell me
you’d died, in the tool-shed I picture
your worn work jacket with
its stray wood shavings hanging on a nail

I think of your smile
your complexion
your life complete.

from Eileen Carney Hulme’s collection The Space Between Rain 2010
KPA Oct travel

Rachel Bentham
My son

I don’t know where my son is,
so sometimes I pretend that
it’s him sitting next to me on the train.

The young man with the beard
playing with his ‘phone – it could be
him, he’s about the right age.

We could have been out together,
shopping, and now we’re coming home.
There’s no need to chat;

we’re a bit tired, and there’s a hill
to walk up from the station. Together
we sit in companionable silence.

I allow myself to enjoy it.
It’s so good being with him.
Even if it’s not him really.

Yes, I do know that.
I’m told he’s in this city,
but he doesn’t want to talk.

I hope he’s happy.
I hope he’ll change
his mind. I hope.

‘My Son’ was first published in Raceme , Issue 4

cartoon-god-24799689
Richard Livermore
Proposed letter to Homo Sap.

Let’s start the letter “Dearest…” No;
“Dearest” doesnt really go.
We’re not on “Dearest” terms but “Dear.”
“Dear homo Sap., I’m sitting here
wondering what I should do
about the species known as you.

The difficulty, I’ve decided,
is you and I’ve become divided.
I’m in Heaven, you’re on Earth,
which means in Hell if there’s a dearth
of things you do not know are mine
to give to make your world divine.

Something’s turned you off of me.
Science or philosophy,
history; it doesnt matter,
though I suspect it was the latter.
It’s no surprise our love has gone,
the way religion carried on.

But something more — a consciousness
which has made you somewhat less
amenable to what’s behind
the things that come before your mind
— or should I say your eyes and ears,
for they are hardly formed ideas.

I sit up here in Paradise
thinking, wouldn’t it be nice
for you, my Dear, to realise
that I’m the you behind your eyes,
your sense of hearing, taste and smell,
touch and what you think as well.

For then you’d see the truth again,
which isn’t five and five makes ten,
but, plus the one come down from heaven
to do the adding up, eleven;
furthermore, you’d also see
the lesser sum divides from me.”

from Selected Poems, 2009

 

 

A thousand sailors

The writers of these poems are looking back and forth through time, analysing, enjoying and marvelling. Sue Haigh’s dog has been sailing and greets the seal.  Michael Murray leaves an unsatisfactory cityscape and sees moths. Mike Gallagher  documents a family interlude. This group of poems seem to have a coastal element, even the ones that do not, involving distance, a change of place. Catherine McDonald makes it simple, with a fisherman seeing a rainbow in the sea.

Like Eileen Carney Hulme the poets look out of windows, and see not one thing but contrasting recollections or insights.

What you see is what you decide to see.

Thanks to these five poets. To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

 

STREET 3

Michael Murray
Moths

The top road at night, the street lights stop
half up the hillside; the sink-town sunk
in fog below. Stand there among cat’s eyes,
the camber of the road shining,
outside the town boundary,
that last fall of light.

Occasional cars, their eager white headlights,
wind down into it; red tail lights –
up all night arguing – drag home.
The town has squandered all,
it has rifled your accounts:
savings, pensions gone –
the fruits of a generation smashed there.
And has given you
unrealistic hopes,
wrecked relationships.
It is in the long cooling that words bring;
and a bald laugh’s quick quench.

When street lights end,
those tipped-up bowls,
strung along the hillside as if for a wake-
no christening, or wedding…
where they end, is blackness, waiting.
And you wonder, What was it
broke there, spilled itself? And, Will it let
you go into it, pass through?
How can it allow a light to show
out there where it is most complete?

And then you see them, moths,
as they flicker in; their home is out there:
watch them, they flicker away again.
And you want to follow them, be one of them.

Stand, 2013

 

life waits-2619266_960_720

Eileeen Carney Hulme
Life waits inside us

Like a Sunday morning
peeling back light
to find a winter sky
drowned by dull rain
and driftwood stars
gathered at the window,
you think perhaps
you should let them in
these damp stars, that once
you wished upon
on another Sunday, summer
huddled in the dunes
moulded skin to skin
to your midnight lover,
no, close the curtains
stop and think
how long it takes
for stars to dry out
to cease their drip, drip, drip.

from The Space Between Rain 2010 published by Indigo Dreams

 

photo(1)

Sue Haigh
Arctic Ocean meets Caribbean on Kinshaldy Beach in Winter.

For Lou, the dog who sailed to Scotland from the French West Indies and the seal who swam from the Arctic Ocean.

We are alone. except, of course,
for miles of frosted shore;
and cormorants on distant banks,
a benediction of wings
wedding sea and pearl-domed sky;
and oyster catchers at the edge
bobbing in prayer
for a thousand sailors, lost
beneath the crash of waves;
and Lou, his wild exuberance
etched in frozen sand.

an hour out we reach the fence
and the wind comes hard about,
hauls in sheets of rain
to soak our seaward side.
Watching, as if for us,
a shimmering form rises
from the sea, stares
his marble stare at Lou,
opens his silken jaw.
his mer-man song of long lament
drifts on drenched grey air;
yep – yep, yep – yep, yep-yep.  

Lou turns a dog-ear,
folds legs beneath him
echoes the call,                    

yep-yep, yep-yep, yep-yep.
blessings, Man, abu ye!
how was the journey, brother?
where’s your other shore?’
‘a thousand bone-chill miles away,
as the fish flies. And yours?’

‘Man, a hundred thousand more,
from Sainte-Marie Galente,
by Guadeloupe and Amsterdam.
and then a thousand yet.
well-met, Man, well-met!’

 

first appeared in Northwords Now and was used in artist Moira Buchanan’s “All Washed Up” exhibition in Irvine. (author’s image)

Echoes

Mike Gallagher
Echoes
(For Ethan)

You will not remember our special time.
Frail aunts recall that my grandad
played ball with me in Oghill bog,
shared sidecar reins through Finiskill
on the trot to Mohill mass,
and yet I do not mind the man.
Still, I know that somewhere deep
within, the music of place names –
Carrick, Drumshambo, Cloonbo, Gorvagh –
echo the whispers of that man in Oghill bog,
Paddy Reynolds. And so to us.

Your stay was short, mere setting down of roots.
First hours were fraught; you cringed
with fright at my approach. But patience
brings its own reward; next morning
my arms reached down, your hands reached up,
we shared a porridge bowl. Afterwards,
and twice a day every day, we shared
a garden bench, looked out from Renagown
on a big, big world. You, nine months old,
wary of the wary dog, gleeful when he rolled
on gravel path, wished that you could do the same.
I watched those eager saucer eyes absorb
primrose shiver, snakehead dance, the tulips’
gentle sway. I melted when they turned to mine,
all playful innocence, euphoric with the wonder
of it all. A sudden gust left me chill; body charged,
you sprang to meet it, exhilarated curls flying,
gurgled all the way indoors. And then,
on the very eve of your going, Nature itself
saluted one who so much pleasure gave;
we heard our first cuckoo of Spring,
the pheasant piped again in Sheehy’s field,
a swallow scout sussed out the nesting stall.

You will not remember our special time –
such joy sustains only the old. Still, one day
in your London home, you may take down
a dusty tome and find the music of these words
re-echo from that man in Renagown.

2011 video by Renagown Productions. Author’s image.  An audio version of the poem can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wIZgDLvjes

 

sea rainbow

Catherine McDonald
The Fisherman’s Spell

The fisherman winks
casting a spell over the shore
as he cuts his baited line through
a glimpse of a rainbow

Caught up in the surf
the rainbow breaks
and vanishes into the sea
washing all its colours away

the surf rolls back into the sea
the fisherman smiles

A glimpse of a rainbow
caught up in a moment of time

April 2009. published in issue 1 of the Lyric Poetry Magazine

 

The Timelessness of Stone

Thanks to the poets whose poems piled in after last month’s KPAI — keep them coming.  This has enabled me to produce another instalment in the middle of a rushed and busy month — what’s new, poets? And you relax and question, draw pebbles, write sestinas, make collages, wonder about the triumph of evil (Moriarty), and concentrate on the timelessness of stone. Thanks to Morelle Smith, Maggie Mackay, Stephen Mead, David Whippman and Joan Lennon.

To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.

You may send your own images, otherwise I will find suitable copyright-free illustrations, which I quite enjoy doing.  Sometimes it is a challenge. Morelle Smith and Joan Lennon sent their own illustrations for their poems, as well as the collages from Stephen Mead.

I should add that Morelle Smith took the header photo we are using at the moment. It’s of fells near Kirkby Lonsdale, where a substantial stream comes out of a hole in the ground (in field , right foreground) and runs down to the River Lune. To me, that stands for continuous and timeless poetic inspiration. Thanks to Morelle.

See you some time in September.

 


010

 

Morelle Smith
Canal Street Café

The café is empty,
except for me, and the person
who brings me a mug of tea.
He is tall, speaks slowly
has a foreign accent I cannot identify
and an exquisite jawline.
Thick moisture on the inside
of the window.
When I run my finger over it,
water drips down the pane.
And outside, it is raining.
A newspaper lies on the table
next to me.
I am writing in my book
and the footsteps of the man
who served me
move slowly across the café –
measured steps I hear quite clearly
above the whiny chatter of the radio.
I’m just about to look up
when he picks up the paper,
walks back again
behind the counter.
I left most of the mug of tea,
not because it tasted bad
or I didn’t like the mug
or the radio station.
Or because the sound of the knife
being sharpened grated on my ear.
No, I left because I was late for
an appointment.
That’s why I didn’t drink the tea.
It had nothing to do with that
haunting jawline.

The Way Words Travel, UK Authors Press, 2005

 

pebbles 

Maggie Mackay
Picking up the Pencil

Your student hand pencils a heavy mark
on the white space. The stone’s grain
starts to show. Gleaned at low tide,
it smacks of salted beds of pebbles,
washed by North Sea currents and seaweed traces.
Light movements across the space calm your doubts.

Banishing Mrs Smuts you lose your school day doubts,
smudge, rub, blot a heavy line or loose mark,
stirred by the sense of Joan Eardley’s traces,
her footprints on that beach. Another line reveals a grain
of doubt which stops your hand. A second pebble
is a fresh challenge, a chance to stem the tide.

You walk Joan’s sands. Dreamtime… beachcombing at low tide,
your feet drawing faint surface lines. Those doubts
sting your fingers, blotting seal-grey patterns in pebbles,
like synapses in nerve cells. Your eyes lift to mark
the angled detail with smeared grooves of grain.
The room stills. You hear a pencil shift to leave its traces. 

You stare into the image, make traces
of an orange stone, crater blasted, eroded by the tide,
a volcano, bursting gigantic grains
across your sketch page. More fuel for your doubts?
Instead your fingers smear a rivulet to mark
the change of colour, a dark replaced by brighter pebbles.

Six on the table, a daunting huddle of pebbles,
battered by nature, revealing traces
of water, salt, their individual mark
you imitate with your tiring hand as the tide
of indecision grapples with those limpet doubts.
You falter. Not like you to let slip a single grain.

Your teacher intervenes with a grain
of insight. ‘Change your perspective on those pebbles.
Refresh your touch, flex your fingers, chase those doubts
down.’ You erase careless carbon traces,
the hesitating lines of an easy, potent tide,
run a fine and bolder mark. 

The grain of lines and traces take shape in this enlightening life,
as you view the pebbles, imbued with colour by infinite tide;
Your doubts slip away as enduring love of learning makes its mark.

The Lake – contemporary poetry webzine february 2014

 

Bring Color Back to Me -music swims back to me b and w merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
Bring Colour Back to Me
collage
(above) from the  print zine, Color Wheel, 1990s

 

sherlock

David Whippman

The Fall of Sherlock Holmes

Called from London, the Great Detective
travels first class. (He will answer for this
when the sink estates rise against Lestrade’s men.)
The famous sleuth looks as always
for clues and reasonable motives – jealously, greed –
but beyond his magnifying glass
the world is creeping up on him
and the pointless murders happen with  genocide speed.
With a final flourish, Moriarty is unmasked
but removes a second disguise. Underneath
he is something much worse
and  this time, he will win.

published by Snakeskin in 2013.

 

P1040215

Joan Lennon
One More Happy Boulder

And if you must,
    then please,
        reincarnate me
retroactively.
I yearn
for the peace of prehistory,
the long slow swing
of years without name,
time marked only by
the occasional
    carefree
        shrug
of continents, or
the meticulous production of sand
    unrestrained
        by hourglass.
Let me join in Scotland’s ancient
centimetric journey from the South,
where tall pre-fossil trees,
serenely stone now in a Glasgow park,
bifurcated greenly
in the soup-like warmth.
That is the journey
I would choose –
    millenial,
        northwards,
where no wrong turning troubled
and no one tired of travel
and there was no one.
Rock me gently in the arms of such
    a respite
        from responsibility.
One more happy boulder
amongst so many
    surely
     could do no harm.

Spectrum magazine, 1994

 

Black Rhino Poem merge 8 x 11

Stephen Mead
collage
Black Rhino
poem published in 2007 on ListenandBeHeard.net

Ravaged by her treasure

Poems of the world and beyond, with Wordsworth’s sonnet to build round. Classical English Poetry has a drive from the sense of phrase that sometimes in contemporary work  gives way to the separate words. Language is a whole , as the world is a whole, and these poems both look at our busy world and look through it, just as Wordsworth wishes to be a quiet pagan again, or whatever it is he means: it’s up to us to interpret the poem.

Thanks to Tony Lewis-Jones, for his post-email connection of cities, and for reminding me to make a July KPA  post as I, too, floudered in my daily world — ravaged by treasure no doubt, as Gary Beck puts it in Bag Lady; and to Judith Taylor for her quirky start to a mundane working day and to Vivien Jones for a startlingly real haiku from Italy, and to Hongri and his translator for the longer poem about a world  behind ours. Dont forget to enjoy the  Chinese calligraphy below Manu’s  translation. The image with The City of Gold was supplied by the poet.

The idea now is that KPAI will continue to bring you a post every month, at any time of the month. It does depend on poets supplying their work and permission: any poems previously published (minimum three years ago) to which you hold the copyright.

email for poems, queries etc sally evans 35 at gmail dot com

montreal

 

Tony Lewis-Jones
Sun in Montreal, rain as usual in Bristol UK

Your loving email arrived today.
Love, you are a treasure
and your news is a delight
at any time. Your newest book
is out there in the World —
you fret like all authors over sales —
the margins beween success and failure
are as thin as ever.

There, the hobos hang out for a fix —
the Ghost of Slavery haunts our every action — 
and the gap between the rich and the poor
has become a chasm only a few can cross.
Soon maybe the city will burn again
with the feral anger of the streets —
but this being an English summer
currently, it just keeps raining.

first published on the Writers Cafe, USA 2012

worlsis too mch

William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

from Poems in two volumes (1807).

woman tramp

Gary Beck
Bag Lady

No longer young,
but not much older than me,
I have seen her often
in subway visions,
ravaged by her treasure
simmering in shopping bags,
her eyes the hunger of zoo animals,
with a wrinkled, worried face
that will not allow tomorrows

from Days of Destruction, Slurve Press 2009

van

Judith Taylor
The Dog Warden’s apprentice

Work yawns to take you in again,
reliable as the automatic doors
that wheeze and open into your face.
And through you go, telling yourself you’ll last.
You always do. It’s a shame, though, you’re so early:
you echo, crossing the atrium
alone, like somebody truly doomed.
Fortify yourself. Remember heartening things
you’ve seen – in the street, at the bus-stop;
from the bus. Think of the Dog Warden’s apprentice:
he was young and dark and slim and laughing wickedly
in the passenger seat of the yellow van as it passed.

First published Koo Press,  Earthlight 2006

sparrow

Vivien Jones
Haiku after Florence

Thick dark chocolate,
roof-top of the Uffizi,
a sparrow underfoot

from About Time, Too, Indigo Dreams 2010

 

001XsPjjzy7bHBL3pwqb6&690

Yuan Hongri (China)
Translated by Manu Mangattu (India)

The City of Gold

Ah! Into a pleasant hallway of gold
Thou didst the crystal of the sky mould.
A shining City of Gold
Chanting unto me from far afield.

Into the golden gate I strode
A palace colossal to behold.
Without, a soaring Tower to dazzle
A towering wondrous Grand Castle.

It seemed to the past a billion years I travelled.
Perchance, a primal giant my eyes beheld;
In the breeze his sleeves fluttered.
A transparent golden Robe uncluttered;

The appearance was holy, hallowed.
With a sweet smile they bellowed
As tall as a mountain they loomed
But as light as birds they seemed.

Into a golden palace I sauntered
To regard the sacred giant
His body was like the Sun
Enveloped by a golden flame.

In the hall at the centre he sat
Where bloomed many a huge lotus
Some golden giants too were there
Sitting on the lotus flaunting a smile.

In that Grand Palace studded with gems
Hung an enormous mould of gold;
A mellifluous song lulled all along
Rumbling like thunder, causing concussion.

On the front wall I saw engraved
In a noble script, an impressive word;
Resplendent and magnificent, the whole palace
Was filled with fragrance – wonderful, intoxicating.

Clouds with golden wings
Were flying over: all a mirage
A blossoming thrice wonderful
Blooming in the garden outside the temple.

I saw a towering Castle
Like a mountain, upright in the sky
Brilliant design, gorgeous styling
As if God had built it Himself

Colourful gems shine like a mosaic,
A medley of all kinds of strange drawing;
A round gold tower
Like a forest stands in space.

A broad circular Gallery then I saw
Surrounded by the golden castle
Each column was as high as ten thousand meters
Carving out numerous exquisite images.

I walked into a great hall,
I saw some huge statues
Like a group of golden giants
Smiling unto me.

I crossed a huge arch
Into a golden hall
To see a huge picture
Hung on the hall wall.

Each portrait of a transparent flash
Could draw a Golden Paradise
As if a three-dimensional space
Magically unfolded before thine eyes

I heard a mysterious music
Which made my heart take wings
A huge picture of the holy girl
On a plucked instrument was manifest.

She sat in a huge palace
A giant circle around the ring seat
Every giant smiled and smiled
Curling around a golden flame

This girl’s elegant posture
Wearing a golden dress
Body shining like a huge halo
Resembling the head of a golden sun.

A huge palace like a fortress
Outside the temple was the endless Garden
Flying golden feather bird
The garden with its pavilions, terraces and open halls

A blossoming of the wondrous exotic
Giving out an intoxicating fragrance
Like a sweet girl
With her model of elegant charm

A sparkling waterfall
Circling along from the hill
As a crystal emerald
Haunting this amazing Garden.

A group of boys and girls:
Dressed in bright and colourful clothes
Some would sit and rest in the Pavilion
Some would walk in the flowers, in the game.

I saw a huge old man
Sitting in a red cloud.
Only a crane flew around
And there was a huge Phoenix.

Another city in the sky
Far from the golden light
At a grand chic
The sky stood in layers

I seemed to hear the call of the divine
The old man came leisurely.
He lifted a huge golden book
And a kind of novel language I heard spoken

I saw a great line of words
Like a row of golden giants
They turned into a ray of light, and,
Suddenly flew into my chest.

My body was sweet and happy
The moment turned momentous
The sacred old man stood beside me
His smile filled the air of the city.

I became a golden giant
Beckoned back to the golden castle
Then came a giant
Who smiled and called out my name

Our bodies were just as big
We were like twin brothers
And Lo! This huge golden castle
Seemed to belong to us.

All on a sudden I saw a vision
I too was a holy giant
In every palace in the city of gold
I too had left my glad imprints.

3.18 .1998

 

黄金城市

远红日

天空的水晶啊

你化成金色的长廊

一座黄金的城市

在远方向我歌唱

我跨进了那座黄金的城门

看到了一座座巨大的宫殿

一座座高耸天外的巨塔

一座座巍峨宏大的城堡

我仿佛来到了亿万年前

看到了一个个远古的巨人

他们的衣袖啊随风飘飘

仿佛是金色透明的袈裟

他们的容颜神圣庄严

又含着甜蜜动人的微笑

他们的身体高大如山岳

却像鸟儿一般轻巧

 

我走进一座黄金的宫殿

见到一位神圣的巨人

他的身体像一轮太阳

环绕一层层金色的火焰

 

他端坐在这座大殿的中央

周围盛开巨大的金莲

一些金光闪耀的巨人

微笑地坐在莲花之上

 

宏大的金殿嵌满宝石

悬挂一幅幅巨大的金像

一种甜蜜悦耳的歌声

像雷鸣一般轰轰震荡

 

我看到一行行巨大的词语

刻满了大殿正面的金壁

整座大殿宏伟辉煌

弥漫着奇妙醉人的芳香

 

一只只翅翼如云的金鸟

飞满了这座金殿的上空

一朵朵巨大绚丽的奇葩

盛开在这座殿外的花园

 

我看到一座巍峨的城堡

像一座山岳挺立云霄

绝妙的设计华丽的造型

仿佛是上帝亲手建成

 

五彩的宝石熠熠闪耀

镶嵌出种种奇异的画图

一座座圆形的黄金巨塔

像一座座森林矗立太空

 

一条宽广的圆形长廊

环抱着这座黄金城堡

每一根圆柱都高达万米

雕刻出无数精美的图像

 

我走进了一座圆形巨厅

看到一些巨大的雕像

仿佛一群黄金的巨人

正在向我迷人地微笑

 

我跨过一座巨大的拱门

走进一座金色的大厅

看到一幅幅巨大的画像

挂满了这座大厅的金壁

 

每一副画像透明闪光

画出一座座黄金乐园

仿佛一个个立体空间

神奇地展现在你的眼前

 

我听到一阵玄妙的音乐

令我的心儿怦然而动

一副巨画中的圣洁少女

正在弹拨着一种乐器

 

她坐在一座巨大的金殿

周围环座着一圈圈巨人

每一个巨人都欢喜微笑

周围缭绕着金色的火焰

 

这少女的身姿端庄优雅

穿着一件金色的裙裳

身体闪放巨大的光环

头顶一轮金色的太阳

 

巨大的金殿像一座皇宫

殿外是一望无际的花园

空中飞翔金羽毛的大鸟

园里是一座座楼阁亭台

 

一朵朵巨大闪光的奇葩

悠悠飘出醉人的芳香

仿佛一个个芬芳的少女

现出各种优雅的风姿

 

一条光芒闪闪的瀑布

从一座金山上飘然洒落

化成一条晶莹的玉带

萦绕着这座神奇的花园

 

一群群欢笑的少男少女

穿着绚丽多彩的衣裳

有的在亭台上静坐休憩

有的在花丛中漫步游戏

 

我看到一位巨大的老人

端坐在一朵红云之上

周围飞翔着一只只白鹤

还有一只只巨大的凤凰

 

天空闪耀另一座城市

远远发出金色的光芒

一座座宏大别致的金殿

层层叠叠矗立在天上

 

我仿佛听到神圣的召唤

悠然来到了老者的身边

他托起一部巨大的金书

念诵着一种新奇的语言

 

我看到一行行巨大的词语

仿佛一排排金色的巨人

他们化成一道道光芒

倏然飞入了我的胸膛

 

我的身体甜美欢喜

一瞬间变得异常巨大

我身边那位神圣的老人

微笑着飘入空中的城市

 

我变成了一个金色的巨人

回到了那座黄金的城堡

这时走过来一位巨人

微笑着呼喊我的名字

 

我们的身体同样巨大

仿佛是一对孪生兄弟

这座巨大的黄金城堡

仿佛本属于我们自己

 

我恍然看到了一幅幅画面

我原本是一位神圣的巨人

这黄金之城的每一座宫殿

都曾留下过我快乐的足迹

 1998.3.18 北京

 

 

Time slowing down, time racing by

April escaped Keep Poems Alive.  Poetry has its own time, like life.  Our time sometimes slowing down, sometimes racing by.  Here are five fine poems to make up for the hold-up. There’s really as much about darkness in them as about time, yet this is the time of year when light comes back, and light is the subject (or the object) of poems about darkness.

Many thanks  to the wonderful, faithful poets, Tony Lewis-Jones,  Judith Taylor, Mavis Gulliver, Rona Fitzgerald and Tuan Hongra

To send poems, email sallyevans35@gmail.com — poems should be previously published at least three years ago – as long ago as you like — to which you hold the copyright.

Keep trees

Tony Lewis-Jones
Out of the Dark
 

All Winter, she rested up – she could not face
The all-embracing darkness. Then, as the snow cleared,
And rivers were in flood, she ventured out
And back into the World again. But nothing
Was the same – maybe the cold had penetrated
Too far into her this time.
And the Light
She saw so clearly previously, was somewhere else –
Though every so often she could glimpse its power,
From a distance, thru trees, reflecting on water.

First published Writers Café USA 2013

Inchmaholme

Judith Taylor
The Bower

The story was, the Queen of Scotland
loved this boxwood bower on Inchmahome

– but how much love would you feel, really,
for a gaggle of shrubs on a cold, windswept island
where you were kept waiting
three weeks, at the age of six
to be taken somewhere better?

Somewhere better’s the thing, of course.
We’d like to believe a tenderness for Scotland
– or a portion of it –
hung about the heart of that young girl
at the glittering court of France.

We’d like that
in the face of all the evidence

that to her, Scotland was lumber, nothing more:
her oldest family heirloom,
awkward, dark, and crudely made.
That it wouldn’t have broken her heart
if she had lost it. That she wasn’t glad to find it

all she was left with
when the husband died, and the big prize
slid from her pale, finely-manicured hands.
But kings and queens
had always worked that way: the story was

they loved their people better than anyone else did.
And people who think they’re loved
will wait around through almost anything;
will allow themselves to be traded on,
traded away, like chips in a game.

At any rate, the bower you see
is Victorian, no earlier.

A few old trees could not sustain the onslaught
of Romanticism – all that love
that came on the boat
in the early nineteenth century, needing souvenirs.
Step in, then, to imitation shade,

you lonely visitor.
Rest on the park bench
so thoughtfully provided.
And consider how the love is divided out
between the one who leaves – at least
until there is nowhere better left to go –

and the one who stays, all that time believing
their cheek once felt a kiss.

from Gutter 5, 2011

keep shadow

Mavis Gulliver
Savant

His world is literal.
Metaphors a mystery
he cannot comprehend.
Facts flood
from his wrongly wired brain.
Ten thousand books,
each read in an hour,
imprinted on his memory
are placed upside down to show
he has no further need of them.
Zip codes, dates and places
fill his head.
He can tell you the route
to almost anywhere
but cannot go alone
to the end of the street.
He recalls every tune
he ever heard, can pick them out
on the piano with fingers limited
in their flexibility.

Simple tasks elude him.
His father cleans his teeth
buttons his shirt
links his arm as they walk,
everywhere
     together.

He does not know
that the fact he states
repeatedly
is pure poetry.

‘We share the same shadow.’

first published in Purple Patch, no. 119, 2008

Keep Dublin

Rona Fitzgerald
Dark Matter

Swaddled in obsidian layers, hunched, hidden,
wearing his world on his back. He never asks
for anything, searches the bins for waste.  

Sleeping in the air, under soft green bushes in summer
doorways in denuded winter, he spends the day walking
reciting Shakespeare, a fool or a king by turns.  

I once spoke to a woman who slept in the hallway
of the National Library in Dublin. She said the black
helped her to disappear, to care less, to be free.

First published in 2014 in ’Making Waves’ by New Voices Press

 

Keep flowers

Yuan Hongri
Translated by Yuanbing Zhang
Tomorrow In The City

Open your door
I will write the words of fire
On your snow-white wall
Draw a sun
In a forest of stone
Let blue rivers fly
My hands of the dream
Are a flame
Come from the hometown of the sun
I turned over many mountains of emeralds
On the forehead of time
Engraved my name
I’ll open the sun’s cage
Fly tomorrow’s pigeon
At the square of the sky
Let the colorized feathers
Bathe in the sweet sunshine

城市的明天

打开你的门扉
我写下这火的词语
在你雪白的墙上
画上一枚太阳
在一座石头的森林
让一条条蓝色的河流飞翔
我的梦之手
是一团火焰
来至太阳的故乡
我翻过了一座座绿宝石的高山
在时间的额头上
刻下了我的名字
我将打开太阳的笼子
放飞明天的鸽子
在天空的广场
让彩色的羽毛
沐浴甘美的阳光