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Sunday 17 June 2012

Message from the Outpost

Your voice each evening on my ancient phone -
my only contact from beyond this empty world
that teems with life. All look like me,
as I resemble them. Look through me though,
without acknowledgement.

Night falls. Day breaks. This place
like any other, home included.
But night and day are like no other:
the sullen light turned sudden fierce -
never a time between the two.
Never a cooling breeze, refreshing shower,
but simmering streets in broiling sun.
Parched fields are not my style. At night
a solid darkness pinpricked by a million stars -
it's one claim to magnificence.

Sounds have no significance.
The words I had have had the sweetness sucked,
pruned of all meaning, cut to their basic stems.
I walk the streets in search of friendly speech,
of words to walk in step with me,
that know the rhythms of my ambling gait.
Gargled and strangled vowels are not my style.

Never a smell to bring a memory.
They've no more meaning for me than the sounds,
give neither pleasure nor disgust, but like all else
are dumb with neutral flavours, leave me cold.

I wait to hear again from you.
ManicDdaily in Poetics at http://dversepoets.com/ has set Exile as the theme for our challenge.


Claudia said...

some tight images in this...life looking through me..made me swallow..there rings the emptiness and loneliness of the exiled person..words pruned of all meaning..neutral flavours..the lack of communication except that one person on the phone to sooth the loneliness for a short moment...well penned david

A Cuban In London said...

Before reading the prompt at the bottom of your post, I was thinking of estrangement. Especially because of this:

"I walk the streets in search of friendly speech,
of words to walk in step with me,
that know the rhythms of my ambling gait.
Gargled and strangled vowels are not my style."

I have to admit that it has happened to me on occasions, this feeling of exile and not belonging, but being able to speak the language and being married to a native do help a great deal. You get with the programme pretty quickly. Although this line broke my heart: "Never a smell to bring a memory". How true, how very true.

Greetings from London.

Brian Miller said...

def emotive man...to be surrounded by life and yet it looks right through you and fails to acknowledge your existence...and the waiting on that one voice that does, just a ray of hope to keep you going....the exile in this is finely layers to multiple senses...

Daydreamertoo said...

At times coming from England and living in Canada, I've felt exactly like this. A stranger in a strange land, with no friends or familiar comforts to fall into.
Yes, I've felt like this.
Very vivid and, heartfelt Dave.

Scarlet said...

As one who has migrated to Canada, your words resonate with me strongly specially on the sights and sounds of the native land. The days and nights, and taste is bland~

Stunning work Dave, specially the 3rd stanza, sounds have no significance ~

Laurie Kolp said...

Strong, emotive piece Dave... to feel exiled from a relationship is a horrible feeling, which you've demonstrated in your words.

Janine Bollée said...

This is the stuff nightmares are made of. Hope it never became your reality at any time in your life. It was mine [on the equator] for a year, [ actually 13 months and 5 days: I counted each of them] and it strikes home. Or rather not 'home'.

Anonymous said...

This is just terrific, Dave. Really wonderful - especially as it moves along into the missing of the language, the missing of the familiar words and scents. But the beginning to with the emptiness teeming with life.

Reminds me of some of my times traveling in India by myself, but of course, that was voluntary.

And then it makes one think of the reverse - people from tropical countries forced north and the very different sounds and scents - There's a wonderful book - The God of Small Things (I think it is) that describes that.

But you've got a different very wonderful take. k.

Ygraine said...

This is truly amazing Dave.
I, too have felt like this:
Isolated, although not alone;
Able to communicate, but not understood;
Invisible to all around me;
A stranger in a strange land.

Yes, this one speaks to my Soul!

Cressida de Nova said...

Wonderfully moving..your lifeline ,that voice on the end of the phone.I know this one.One of your best Dave.Beautiful.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A strong feeling of "estrangement" yes, I agree with the Cuban in London.
The tremendous feeling of being banished from the senses,"pruned" of meaning.
There's drama here.

hedgewitch said...

The sense of being the proverbial stranger in a strange land really comes through here, David, whether this is an emotional or physical place, you create the feeling of being there, and the exile from what has meaning, what is one's own.

Mary said...

I love the way you set and developed this poem, Dave!

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Wow! What a powerful, intense poem. Great job!

haricot said...

Very sweet. Even if the heart would be taken by sadness, memory has eternity of lively life.

Dave King said...

Much thanks - actually, you pointed out that it didn't say what I had intended it should say, so I have now corrected it. So very much obliged!

A Cuban in London
I have no personal experience of exile. The nearest I go is homesickness when a small child. But I do associate it very strongly with estrangement, so you were right there with your thoughts.
I'm grateful to you for your further thoughts. Most helpful.

Almost I believe now that I wrote more than I knew in the original, but have now watered it down. I guess it will have to go through a period ogf gestation before I can be sure.

Interesting to hear this. Thanks for saying. (I nearly followed you at one time - well, guess I would have gone first!)

Thanks very much for this. All this is interesting to me as I have said to Daydreamertoo, above. Very pleasing to me that you liked the 3rd stanza. I, too thought that possibly the most successful.

Thanks Laurie. Yes, that's possibly the one form of exile I have really felt in my life.

13 moths and 5 days! That says it all: I sympathise. Hope yu have made up for those 13 months and 5 days since! Appreciate the comment. Thank you.

Thank you so much for all this, a really great comment to receive. Lots here to help and inspire. Yes, I agree with you about The God of Small Things, though I think it's time I read it again.

Good to receive this comment. This feeling of isolation but not aloneness is the very devil. I have experienced it briefly. I'm so grateful to you for saying that you found it in the poem.

Cressida de Nova
Thank you so much. Very encouraging and helpful to know.

The image of the senses being pruned of meaning came unexpectedly as I was writing. Thanks for picking it out.

I did start with it as a physical place, though a fictitious one, but it became more and more an emotional one as I wrote. Maybe I opened it up to some confusion. Thank you for a most useful response.

Thanks Mary. Much appreciated.

Thank you so much. good to know your thoughts.

Great thought. Thanks for.

kaykuala said...

To yearn to see and hear from those familiar can be most real. In a strange setting one would be lost. Very strong and very intense, Dave!


Dave King said...

True. Thanks a lot for this.