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.
Hill Country — Winter
Winds slice air scalpel thin
to an eyeslit.
Over the craggy curve of skull
the rain-drugged soil
Maggoting to light
the footrot and the liver fluke and worm.
in the womb-dark
under this starved grass.
A man could break his life
on these bones.
The gaping cottages
mark their departures.
Each broken earth-bond
with its bone-crack tithe
a lambing shelter
for the pregnant sheep.
A place to wish for
and a hundred miles
of road between.
first published in Unwritten Lives, Redbeck Press, 1996
New Welsh Revew, 1994
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
(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)
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
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.