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Friday, 30 September 2011

Two Teachers : 1


This was a lesson
on the teaching of science
by a man much older than I.
About to retire, or so I'd assumed -
but didn't write that in my book.

I was a student
about to aspire -
though I wouldn't do that,
not really and truly,
until I'd a class of my own.

This class was unruly.
I'd seen them before;
they lived on the apex of havoc,
and knew all the angles to try.
"You'll need a strong voice," I was told.

But I was a student,
just there to observe
and to note all I'd learned in my book.
But what could I write?
It seemed so remote - a mere trifling thing.

With the class on the cusp
he would lower his voice
to the ghost of a whisper - by which
he would kill all the mischief at source.
Not a sound or a movement there'd be.

I thought at the time:
it's the sum, is it not,
of all you acquire
from a lifetime of talk
and facing them down.

But was it experience, that and no more
than the confidence gained
that could let you ignore
all the tricks of the trade
that our lecturers taught?

I made up my mind:
that man was my goal.
I'd have signed him, I know,
had the contracts been there -
his patent, mine own.

And now I'm retired
I think of him often,
when I think about schools:
why something so simple
could not work for me.

Teacher number 2 tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Egypt in the Cotswolds - or where I was last week.

No poem for today - methinks I hear long sighs of deep relief! - but never one to make idle threats, I thought it time I kept mine to blog on where I was last week.
We (Doreen and I) went away for five days with two friends (Bill and Judith) to Nailsworth. We stayed at the Egypt Mill Hotel, which I thought at the time a strange name and had visions of this quintessential English mill on the River Frome exporting textiles - or something - to Egypt! You will not be surprised to learn that it was nothing like that.

In 1675 a Richard Webb bought the site on which there had been a corn mill for a century or more, but which at that time consisted of two fulling mills, a gig mill, dye house, rack close and forty acres of land. The original mill survives as part of the present main building. Some of the meadows have been converted into fish ponds.

We stayed in The Mill House, just a few yards from the mill which now houses the restaurant and bar, kitchens, reception, lounge, some bedrooms and facilities for conferences and weddings etc. Mill House is said to be a classic example of the Cotswold eight gable house, being square in plan and having two gables at each end.

Mr Webb, it seems was something of a tyrant and the mill soon became known locally as The House of Bondage, he being cast in the role of Pharaoh as a result of his treatment of his "slaves". This is the explanation of it becoming known as Egypt Mill.

In 1814, two clothiers Stephen and Edward Blackwell, took a lease on the property, and for a while the mill produced textiles. Alas, it did not last. They went bankrupt in 1832 and for a while the mill became an adjunct to a nearby mill, The Dunkirk Mill, Egypt Mill's meadows being flooded to provide Dunkirk with more mill ponds.

In 1890 the mill was sold with two waterwheels generating twenty horsepower and it again became a corn mill.

The main wheel and associated machinery are visible, mainly behind glass, in the bar, though some of the machinery extends into the bar - which I show in my photograph. The smaller wheel is in the restaurant.

My second image shows the former mill pond, now a water garden

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

When stuck for inspiration: ask a squid.

On the square between the sweet shop and our garden fence,
a pair of squids the kids had left for me to find.
(How could the kids! Why can't they stick to pretty things?)
They raised their ping pong ball-eyed heads as I went by,
then drawing themselves up to their full heights,
looked down at me; he from thirty five feet in the air
and she from forty three. Then sensing in my tortured gait
my urgent need for a fine prompt, they challenged me
to find my inspiration in their squidgy forms.

"Take your pick," said he, "and did you know that we can fly?"
"Short distances," said she," out of the water and back in!"
Then he and she each waved their ten arms and two tentacles
as though gesticulating some great memorandum
to the world. But Oh, the horror that I saw! Along each arm,
along each tentacle, a thousand suction cups on waving stalks
and round each cup a ring of fine, white, sharp and spiny teeth.

The square just now 's a battle ground. No, something surgical,
a disemboweling of the earth, with plastic barriers
to keep out germs, deep holes and excavating vehicles
exposing water mains and sewer pipes beside the
almost human piles of clay that bleed their fluids back
into their bodies' cavities. All meat and drink to squids,
but far from what I'd had in mind - far as Eden is from hell.

They must have caught my look of horror, for they disappeared.
How did they work that trick?Their skin is wrapped in
things - chromatophores - for changing colour. Easy peasy
then to vanish when a predator appears. And did I then
depart with prompts galore to try on my next project. One.
It's this: when deadlines loom and inspiration goes AWOL
before you write, you fill your pen with ink that vanishes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Sad Tale of Smallest Raven 2

For the image and the prompt, my thanks go to Magpie Tales and for the myth connection also to The Gooseberry Garden

Long, long ago, in the darkest
of dark days beyond recall,
before the human race was born -
or even thought about -
the only land was Spirit Land
where only ravens lived.

So dark was it that Smallest Raven 2,
hereafter simply to be known as Raven -
suddenly as close as any raven ever came
to nervous breakdown or insanity -
took fright and flight, and with
a pebble in its beak, made its great break
for freedom in the wider world outside.
Soon tiring of the pointless pebble,
Raven let it go and watched it fall
and hit the sea, then saw it swell
and go on swelling, long beyond
the point where it became an island,
on and on until it had become
a major land mass, greater by far
than Spirit Land. Now Raven flew
down to inspect what he had caused
to be created, and was overcome.

He saw a clam with tiny creatures
trapped inside. He pecked hard at
the shell until he'd made a hole
through which the prisoners
could find their way to freedom.
They very soon began to grow, becoming
the first humans of the world.
To one of these new creatures
Raven lost his heart: her raven hair
and raven soul held him in thrall.
But this was only to incense
the ruling spirit in the Raven Land,
our Raven's great, great grandfather,
Raven Maximus the Sixteenth.

Raven Maximus the Sixteenth
pecked a hole in Heaven's floor,
bigger than the hole that Raven pecked
in the clam's shell, and through
it poured a mighty flood to drown
both Raven and his lover - and then
the vast majority of that first human race.
Only Noah and all his family were spared.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Forgotten totem

I am indebted to Jenny Wolf of Jenny Wolf Travel Writer for this prompt. She posted on her blog a photograph of this sculpture which she found apparently discarded and forgotten at the old Commonwealth Institute. I have taken it out of its ivy-clad environment and imagined it somewhere in the Cotswolds (where I recently sojourned for a few days). There it confided in me thus:-

Forgotten totem?
No, not quite.
A mis-conception, if you like:
a dead end somewhere on
your evolutionary trek,
your spiritual excursion
from Eden to
your ultimate extinction.

Too much perception,
the blunderbuss approach.
Arrays of organs:
synapses firing everywhere
and everywhere at once.
No organised reception.
Uncoordinated, lacking
guidance from the centre.

Always naive, you lapped
it up, saw what I described
and wrote it down
in that big book of yours.
My muddled vision...
you floundering in my wake.

Here, try it now,
and see what you can make of it.
Just see me as I'd see myself
if I were you
with all my gross
impediments - which I
in spirit passed to you,
your forebears, long ago.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

How light does marble it...

Consequent upon the quality of light,
upon the way it marbles, limestones, sycamores
the space in any way that sun, rain, fog or snow
may sanction or suggest, in ways amenable
to all the sculpting skills that landscape brings.

The torn edge blurred by firs or cypresses,
the distant concaves that the hills have carved,
the spruce that splits the tight form down the grain,
and here, between the wild rose and the reed,
a tension that no heft from elsewhere overthrows.

But this is landscape with a fourth dimension
the open door to movements, moments of expression
from outside: a figure, sheep or cattle, water, clouds
or winds among the branches or the genuflecting flax.
Small movements and each momentary stillness speak

of presences among the rivulets, the vetch and chest-
nuts hung with dots and dashes now to give them meaning -
our light punctuation or white notes along a stave:
the dry stone wall, the cottage and the barn, both thatched.
Each time you look it will have changed - but just a touch.

Because we invoke meaning, sometimes all too glibly,
there is no option but to let the landscape in,
incorporate it in the soul of us. (To others, though,
we are immersed in what they see.) Our intervals,
the measures of those distances from beasts that roam to us.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Antony Gormley at The Hermitage Museum

That very traditional and august institution, The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg has made available a generous slice of its gallery space and a courtyard for the purpose of Antony Gormley doing what he does best. This is what he has done. The installation is called "Still Standing".

"Still Standing," Gormley calls them,
these figures, lego-like
                        though individual
in poses of becoming,

caught in the fraction
of a second
           before or after
static balance turns to something more dynamic.

They have thrust themselves upon The Hermitage,
are acting out an undisclosed scenario. 
Unlike the Gormley castings of himself that brood,
create an ambience, a climate, mood,
a tone, a tenor, or quality of feeling: 

unlike the figures they've displaced;
unlike the best of Ancient Greece and Rome
who form no ties and correspond
with no one, near or far, in or beyond their milieu...
still standing                  but about to spring
to launch themselves, to go to war... 
Still standing                 never standing still.

My warmest thanks to all who visitied, and especially to those who left comments, while I was a way. It is good to be back and blogging once again, even after spending a pleasant few days in The Cotswolds, about which I shall no doubt post anon. Thanks again.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Bits and Pieces

Could a landscape, in the way it haunts the mind,
become a match for any catchy tune?
Could it command your feelings or your thoughts
long after it has faded from the scene
the way great music or a poem can?

Or could a rose, caught in the corner of your eye,
be there until sound sleep washed it away?

What Nature breeds, it seems, can grab the soul,
but only man's creations can hold on.

Beautiful, even from the rear, and even if I didn't quite catch it.

And that's it for a bit. I'm taking a few days' break from blogging to see what else this great world offers. Hope to see you all at the weekend - D.V. W.P. U.S.A.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Man With Two Shadows

Taken as a sign,
feted by his people,
possessor of a second light
invisible to them,
it pointed straight towards
the common source: the sun,
the candle or the torch.
On feast days it was extra strong,
became the only one.
So he was shaman, wise man
King - and giver of the law.

Then came the sun's eclipse.
He did the usual thing:
he pranced and prophesied,
berated and exhorted,
promised this
demanded that
and passed a law of instant death
to those who made false claims -
only then to find
that when the sun returned
the shadow was not there.

He'd had a dozen rivals
waiting for their chance
and now they all stepped up,
each with his magic mark
to prove himself divine.

Found guilty by his law,
they threw him from the cliffs.
It seemed to take an age
before his body hit
the rocks, to break
like angry spray.
And close beside him
down the cliff, rotating
as he fell, two shadows,
side by side at last,
converging as he died.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Postcard from the sun

Finally arrived here late last night,
had chicken sandwiches (cold) then straight to bed.
Up with the lark this morning, eh?
First with a lounger, soaking up the sun
and studying my fellow guests -
and what a crumby lot they are, close up!
I watched them in the pool for quite a while... ah yes,
the pool! Guess what: there's human swimmers and there's fish:
angel fish, spiny things, exotic fish of all sorts. Popular?
You've never seen the like of it, they're queuing up to have a splash.
I thought I'd have a dip and got in line. Some monkey says to me:
"Gotta put down a deposit, John!" "How much?" I says,
"Your life is forfeit!" so this dickhead says. Imagine that.
Can you believe it? Quite preposterous. They're all mad here!
I told him what - and jumped in anyway. "The holiday
is all inclusive, mate!" I yelled, once I was in. Tell you what, though:
three old dames just passed, one's a flipping zebra,
skin all bands of dark and light - I wont say where:
one's covered in a polka dot design; and the third...
all brindled and with whopping patches like a cow. The word is -
I've just heard - the pool's a gene pool. People come
(to take the waters, so to speak) from round the world
to swap their genes with what- who-ever comes around,
all random like. I'm not sure how that works, maybe
there's something in the water. It's something chemical
or magical. Or just chimerical. Who knows? for them as do's not saying!
Whatever. Fact is, you might end up part jelly fish;
you might be better off. More likely worse,
but if you're not content with what you are, you take the chance.
They call it therapy. If so. it strikes me, mum,
they should have dolphins in the pool,
imagine what we might pick up from them.
A thought. I think I've partly sussed it mum:
them going down into the pool, they could be punters
in some glitzy big casino. They're full of fear and trembling,
they don't expect to win, they know that most of them
will take a beating, just a few will win - or none at all.
Which makes me think... the psychedelic dames...
they might have used cosmetics. Can't be seen unchanged
when morphosomething's all the rage. Cripes and bugger me,
you'll never guess what now! Some bathing dame has just held up a fish -
and there's a finger sticking out its head. Must go,
just to say I'm safe and well, stop worrying, love son. XX

I have offered this poem to dVerse Poets for citiques

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Vampire Wood

This image is one of several offered by Poetry JAM as a prompt this week.

Do you see the writing there upon the hills?
Do you understand those annotations in the trees?
Have you seen the angels bleeding D.N.A.?
Do you see a new world blown towards us by the breeze?
It's easily mistaken for a mist
in which the normal outlines have been blurred,
and capital that nature thought ring-fenced
is as sacrosanct as droppings from wild birds.

Everything is now in different clothing
and everything we knew has come adrift -
it's as though we've stolen what was offered as a gift.
In the bark and in the creepers life is loathing,
but almost all of it knows neither what or why -
not that its heritage has been severely blighted
and all its inner yearnings unrequited,
that nothing now is open to the eye.

We have been mugged, I think it's fair to say
by muggers wearing clothes that nature cut,
but hidden in the ample folds, they've tucked away
the weapons of the vampire and the slut.
There's not a leaf on any tree that we can trust -
and if the optimist thinks man can readjust,
it's because the change is deeper than his vision
and he misses what the world has undergone.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Good Doctor

It was only an ice-breaker, understand,
but his first consultations always began
with a tale that the doctor swore was true:
A man there was who travelled the world
for botanical specimens, tropical, rare.
And with him went - at enormous cost
in money and time and energy - a marble
headstone carved with his name
and every conceivable relevant fact

Only the date of his death remained
for the mason to chip when his chips were cashed.
Amongst the facts already there,
the one great achievement of his life:
that the stone had gone with him wherever he'd gone.

So why did he burden himself? you ask -
or have perhaps your theories wrought?
Stop a moment and frame those thoughts,
for that's the question the doctor put
to every patient who heard the tale.
Their speculations enlightened his mind
and revealed to it what tormented theirs.


Poetry Jam's prompt for this week was to write something on prescribed drugs.

To move at all
she needs to take the pill,
the yellow one
that makes her ill.
But still,
she needs to move,
though taking it,
she's not just ill,
but covered head to toe
in spiders, snakes
and sundry slimy things.
And not just her;
the walls as well,
the garden and the street.
They're trying to adjust
the dosage - just a tad
to meet her need
for sanity.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Wrong Bed

The sunflower, yellow-rayed,
had forced its way between
the ulna and the radius,
inclined its head
and let its myriad seeds
spill from its matrix there
into the stainless steel of waiting palm
all but concealed
beneath a wave of brambles. Never
did steel look flimsier,
nor more appropriately placed.
Prosthetic limb among the fallen limbs
of silver birch, ground-hugging
creepers and a hug of leaves,
its pin-thin pistons
and twin cylinders
caught flecks of sun
to make it visible -
and kith to all those creepers
creeping over it.
It might have rooted,
might even have forsaken
its technology,
and gone to earth again -
from whence
all things derive.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Magpie Tales provided this image by way of prompt, along with the proposed title "Revenant".

George? Yes,
we still meet up
from time to time,
though not as often now.
We go way back, of course.
I knew him long before he died -
never mind, before I did!
This, my last snap, taken
Ectoplasmic process
without flash, f/00000.
My last seance, that was.
Just a few days later
and I was joining him.
My old house. Empty now,
so I'm postliving there.
He still comes round,
just like he owns the place.
Doesn't change much...
still the same old Georgie -
and game as ever was.
Of course it's not the same.
We had a fling way back.
He'd like to start again,
but resurrection's not for me!
No end to it for men, it seems.
Diff'rent for a woman.
That closed eye, though...
that's something new.
Says out of body,
space is non-existent.
Bi-focal vision doesn't work,
totally confusing.
I can't say I've found that...
maybe it's diff'rent for a man!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

So Sorry America!*

sometimes events are just too big to comprehend like mushroom clouds they shadow all the usual thing is distance numbs but in this case space melts away five thousand miles is touchable a world event is personal a nation lives next door to us we've given it our own zip code the pain referred is palpable from this still eye they travel out those shock waves still into the void our world in part has now become the feeling is of family the guilt is ours who now must try to reconcile the world we've made with prints of what is possible

*Occasioned by the thought that each of us, and others in our name, have "done those things that we ought not to have done and have left undone the those that we ought to have done".

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Giving Space Its Due

Space calls the soul                          landscapes know how
create themselves                             in space they leave
around themselves                             and balance it
with space displaced


the two are one                               mould and moulded
each is either                                each moulds other
neither supreme

looking at one                                do you see both
do you focus                                  tiny detail
or do eyes sweep                              like T.V. guns
refreshing screens

space is solid                                sweep and focus 
miss the solid

look deeply in                                as if into
a lover's eyes

the landscape is                              the more sublime
the more the two                               

                         are equalised

artists have tools                            to show this space
in paint or stone                             but where are words
for poets' use                                how can language
describe a space                              solidify
it in the mind                                and give it weight
to equal flint                                or sycamores

when landscape calls                          and shape is seen
to shape the call                             when heft is felt
how sculptural                                the rest becomes!

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Gooseberry Garden Spell to Prove a Lover

(see here for details of their suggested modern spell.)

Turn your antenna towards the moon
switch on the box and croak or croon
or whisper it low or simply hiss:
"I summon the flesh that I wish to kiss!
Lover true or faithless cur,
are you Divine - or Lucifer?"

Blackberry, Apple, broadband, i-,
all the powers high on Sky,
Say if my love is far or nigh,
say if my love will live or die.

Say with conviction you wish him well
or if you wish the bugger in hell.
Tell him you'll spell him into bed,
or if you wish, you're wishing him dead.
Remember your mind is far from set.
The spell will tell if love is met.

Blackberry, Apple, broadband, i-,
all the powers high on Sky,
Say if my love is far or nigh,
say if my love will live or die.

Look at the set, the snow, the rune
(ancient wisdom from the moon):
there in the scribble, your love, your hate
to turn you on or to nauseate.
All your hopes and fears are there,
brought to you across the air.

Blackberry, Apple, broadband, i-,
all the powers high on Sky,
Say if my love is far or nigh,
say if my love will live or die.

Now turn off the set, run round it twice
then eat an Indian full of spice.
Eat for joy when the meat is cold,
cold as love that is not bold,
but whether the spell says love is vane
or open your heart to the hurricane,

Blackberry, Apple, broadband, i-,
all the powers high on Sky,
have said if your love is far or nigh,
have said if love will live or die.

Squark in your best voice: "Man is weak!"
and give your SatNav a chance to speak:
'Arriving at destination,' you
have proved your lover good and true,
but heed the words that you're bound to hate:
'Recalculate! Recalculate!'

Blackberry, Apple, broadband, i-,
all the powers high on Sky,
Say if my love is far or nigh,
say if my love will live or die.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A book is... what?

Ask me three score years and ten ago
'What is a book?' I'll tell you this:-
'A small one is a thing we have in school;
sometimes the teacher opens it
and looks inside it as she speaks.
It makes her use a different voice.
Sometimes she's funny and I laugh;
sometimes she's sad; sometimes just daft,
but while she's sat there with the book
she's not Miss Gottlebug at all!'

'A big book, though, that's different now!
We have a big black one at home;
it lives in Gran and Grandad's room,
I've seen it on the smaller dresser - which seems odd,
seeing how very big it is. They've opened it
(a few times only), not far in, to let me see
the picture of our family tree. When they've done that
they've let me touch someone, then told me all they know -
a distant tale of who they were
and what they did. But further on,
there's Adam and there's Eve and Noah,
and best of all, the Tower men built at Babel.
That one shakes me down.'

Ask me, the teenager, I'll tell you how
books became my rabbit hole, bolt hole and mirror,
a magic door through which I'd disappear
to surface in another world.
A worm hole, long before worm holes were known.
Since when, that truth has held, is still in place,
but as a man it needed to be broadened.
Non-fiction elbowed its way in, deserved its place.
Some book are wands (and long have been),
are wands that wisdom waves
to carry necessary knowledge to
a mind that craves it more and more.

Ask me tomorrow as a child again, I'll say:-
'A book's a magic screen on which words fizz,
change their identities and do not
say the same from one look to the next.
They make new sense - or none at all.
But nonsense is not no sense, so they find
their way into my mind the way they always did.
That's where the magic's done, and no one knows -
not even me - what they do there -
or what the truth of that will be.'

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

So your poem's too long for a major prize?

Poet of poems too long to win prizes,
how would it be / if you trimmed / them a bit?
wrote them / the way your / reviewers / transcribe them?
Your eighty five lines / became forty / or less?
(The absolute most / most judges can read!)
I've "slashed" this stanza (in part) to show
how sixteen short lines are reduced to seven.

but u myt nd 2 shrtN yr epic's lines
2 telescope mor of em N2 1.
dat bn so, considA transcribing
1st 2 d lang of txt.

Here, second stanza's translation:-

But you might need to shorten your epic's lines
to telescope more of them into one.
That being so, consider transcribing
first to the language of text.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Land Art - as a cottage industry

It has recently occurred to me that I haven't posted one of my Land Art photos since June 2009 (see it here!), so I'm guessing that some of my good friends out there will be having pretty serious withdrawal symptoms by this time. Not to worry, here is the latest:

As you will observe, this time I am treating you to a night shot - this is purely and simply in the interests of variety only, and has no special significance.

You might like to compare the two and note the development of my art - or maybe not. As my title indicates, though, it has occurred to me that this could become quite a lucrative cottage industry. I'm thinking along the lines of those jig-saw mats you can buy which allow you to roll up your unfinished puzzle to store it - or to take it on holiday with you, should you feel so inclined. How about that? A bit of cottage land art, roll it up in an industrial version of the mat and flog it at a car boot sale? What think you friends?

One motive behind all this is a developing passion for the work of a young artist, Ingrid Calame, rapidly coming into prominence with an art based on tracing the minutiae of imperfections, cracks, bobbles, chips, inscriptions, marks of all sorts on the ground. All sorts of ground. It struck me that it's a land art of sorts, even if not advertised as such. Here is an image of one of her works.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Beware the spiders!

Pure, unbounded sex they are!
Kings by day
and monarchs of the night,
they have it made,
the spiders with their sexual flair
and awful potency.
Of all our fears, we fear the most
their prowess in the web.

They have monopolised the field:
good sex, bad sex,
they have it all, who hang their wares
upon the nearest tree
and tease us as we try to pass,
their long legs in our way.

What are these wares of theirs?
Why, nothing less
than organs of the tender trap
made in situ
and deployed outside the body!
Beauty becomes them
and becomes the trap.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Onlooker Sees Nowt.

The cloisters breed a claustrophobia.
Even the moon seems trapped, the shadows
wrap themselves round everything
like army blankets. When the new day dawns
they fall, untidily, upon the floor, or crumple
where they lie, as they have done today.

Today, indeed, morning has dawned in say-so only,
and there are figures in the shadows, furry, fuzzy
figures perambulating aimlessly. They haven't slept,
they have been exercising through the night -
their form of meditation, I suppose - emitting
sounds, low moans or whimpers as they walk.

I wonder what obsessions their minds entertain,
imagine that they play non-verbally
with pictures and with sounds and that
the images relate somehow to these surrounds:
dull, claustrophobic, bleak and out of focus.
And then to each in turn, at moments critical

in ways outsiders cannot guess, there comes
an inner glow, brief herald to a blaze of light,
a blinding flash. He falls as dead.
Only the tourist, the uninitiated notices.
I wonder which man wins the mystic game:
the last man standing or the first to fall.

Inspired by the current image on the Lisa Ricard Caro Blog Writing in the Buff.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sea Canoeing

Each evening we upended the canoes.
Capsized on dry land, they were tents -
and did they look the part! The beach
a campsite, muti-coloured. Glorious,
as if the sun was out. But not this night.

This night was different. This last night
we'd planned to paddle out, past where
the River Cuckmere meets two currents and
the tide, where we'd been dunked before,
to pass round Beachy Head and on to East-

bourne to a pub we knew. We'd planned
the week to end as all such weeks should.
I see us like a line of old men stooped,
canoes along our backs, one hand steadying,
the other with the paddle in its grasp.

It seemed a long way to the sea, the moon
a hidden light, and in its turn an iron
spike, rusty, sharp, was hidden from our view.
Protruding from the sands, it found the calf,
the fleshy part, of our instructor's leg.

He drove himself to hospital. Sports car.
Two seater. The only transport near at hand.
and so it was we paddled out, now leaderless,
instructorless - and clueless, truth be known -
to Eastbourne to the A and E, to learn

he'd left and driven back. We'd missed him by
a few strokes of a paddle. Winked at us,
the pub lights did. We hurried by, as if
we were conspirators, as if they knew
our kayaks were not made for crates of beer.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Only she knows when

Her smiling face
what you can see of it
peeping through green shutters
opened just a chink.
Streets 'well aired' by now.
Actress type you know,
doesn't keep our hours,
doesn't show too early.
Just when she does...
What a performance! Wow!

Did I forget to say
that smiling face
becomes her as it has become
her soul.
She's promised to reveal it,
not lightly,
or thoughtlessly -
and not too soon.
At the appointed hour
she'll throw the shutters back -
those tiny triangles;
perfection of geometry,
engineering from the Master,
He who made us all -
and we shall know her as she is:
beauty unadorned.

There is a moment
when the soul is right,
when she will act
and in that action speak
and say what must be said.
We must be patient,
only she,
only the sunflower knows the hour.

(Please see my note in comment 2)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Kiss : Gustav Klimt

This my response to The Gooseberry Garden's Poetry Picnic Week 2 prompt.

son of a goldsmith
gold was godly mystery
gold was decadence

icon-flat the paint
no shadows no perspective
just the flesh stood out

image as mirror
reflecting sacred passions
seen in human form

symbols amplify
transcend ephemeral form
feigned naivety