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.
The Day of the Dead
I burn Mexico.
Lit the old candle
which I got six years ago
So much love
in the eye of a flame.
It is as though –
those I hold most dear
and can never hold again
It is as though, the petals
of a thousand yellow flowers
between earth and heaven.
First published : Open Mouse e-zine
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
Eileen Carney Hulme
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 life complete.
from Eileen Carney Hulme’s collection The Space Between Rain 2010
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
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