It’s almost as though Valentine’s Day has come early with our first two poems. Against backgrounds of London or Scotland, there are two people in each of these poems of movement, change, travel, closeness and distance. The other two poems range further afield: an uncertain encounter with a boatman, and divine providence in the Antipodes.

Thanks to the poets Tony Lewis-Jones, Ian W King,  Morelle Smith and Baljit Singh.

Keep Poems Alive needs Your poems first published at least three years ago. See first post of the year (in January archive) for details of how to send. We appreciate shares of this site on twitter and facebook.

KPA playing cards

Tony Lewis-Jones

We sit in the drawing-room, playing Hearts.
London is sepia and slightly faded
Under a memorable November sky.

Long roads leading South are never silent.
She is only half an hour away.
I play the Queen of Spades, decide to go.

Outside the Brixton tube station, we kiss.
Something about loving before the hurricane
Or the volcano explodes. Sunlight. Burning rain.

First published in The interpreter’s House 1997


KPA Kite

Ian W King

Paistin a draiggin

Loud shi left mi lyk a wind
ir had it bin a frosty haar
Ah widna seen ir gan
looed shi left mi, ir had it bin
ir madder-licht, ir cramasie
Ah widna seen ir
taen pincul, papir, stick an twine
the sharins o it aw
Pastin a draiggin, says Ah
                          Ah’ll flee it till it faws

twa haufs inside ma heid
an sic a nairry brig
tae haud twa sels thigither
syn Ah’ll hae cleft the Divils’ fit
an lamed him lyk a king,

From the tenpenny chapbook Cuidna Get a Bear Eftir Aw, Dunfermline 1974


KPA Boat rope

Morelle Smith

While I spoke to him
The owner of the boats
Passed a thin rope through his hands
As if to tie up all loose ends,
Dispense forever with a thread
That had uncertain destinations
And might lead to something
Coiled beneath his memory
Like a sleeping snake.
He talked as if such memories
Could be appeased, could be coerced
To go on sleeping
Only while he spoke.

His face was brown and bearded
And his eyes spent so long looking
Into distance that when he
Brought them back to me,
They were sea-stained,
Like reflections of the sky.

I found a shell beside the path
That led down to the boathouse.
He looked as though he had a tale to tell
But there was no one he could tell it to.
No one who knew the sea
As well as he did,
No-one he could trust with his sea-eyes –
‘Half Russian’ he said,
‘With bits of Welsh and Irish’

He coiled his rope and talked of boats
And held us in contempt
For all we did not know.
His story lay like a beached sail,
Waiting for high tide.
His eyes blurted out horizons,
As he looked out past the jetty,
Into the open sea.

‘Once you get a taste for it
It will not let you go.’
I thought that he was talking
Of the sea of course, but when
His eyes swung round to look at me
I felt I did not know at all
What he was meaning

And I held my sea-shell
In my hand and turned to go
And felt the coiled rope circle
Like an undertow and still –
Felt that I did not know.

First published in Deepwater Terminal, diehard, 1998

KPA Tasmania

Baljit Singh
Your Mercy Dear Father

Your mercy dear father
You never count
I crossed many rivers on your back
You never count

Holding your hand, I climb mountains
You never count
Troubled days I seek your grace
You never count

Good time I cherish
You never count
You deposit money in my account
You never count

First published in the Tasmanian Gazette, Melbourne, January 2009