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 firstname.lastname@example.org — poems should be previously published at least three years ago – as long ago as you like — to which you hold the copyright.
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.
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
His world is literal.
Metaphors a mystery
he cannot comprehend.
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,
He does not know
that the fact he states
is pure poetry.
‘We share the same shadow.’
first published in Purple Patch, no. 119, 2008
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
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