A CHRISTMAS EVE GARDEN

featured in the poetry forum December 27, 2012  :: 0 comments

Just before the ritual begins, a space
Undissolved, where wings of survival scatter
In their wintered search. Birds shrill, desolate,
Entering like dampness into the bone.
Their cries ache with life as in gardens
Everywhere, each year, the universe dies.
Dying, the last gnat climbs a calm stepped air,
A stairway made from slabs of mist, closing in,
Surrounding his delicate ascent, jerky perhaps
But perfection to him, slipping occasionally
And then firming his grip – up again.
Under this sketchy geometric pattern, clawed
On the Earth’s rim, a cat takes what is given,
Hangs on to solitude and a morning gift-wrapped
In December’s grey skies. The year shuts its eye.
Vaporized rain pulls on to each deciduous tree
A glistening stocking, bulging with hope. Hovering
By the shoulders of oaks, stunting the tallness
Of tall pines, the soaked horizon closes in.
There is no feeling of trespass, only of entry,
A slow stealing, claiming back the stolen ground.

editors note:

This holiday past; so quickly glint glad smiles of thanks, so soon loving laughter’s echo fades. Our lives enriched, memory’s imprint so deep to us, so impervious to tree bark or frozen earth. – mh

NOTES FROM THE END OF A CENTURY

November 10, 2012  :: 0 comments

There is a stillness about this morning
That makes all movement foreign; the rattle
Of harness clanks into panic
And ploughs normally tied to the clay
Rear and prance above the furrow.
It has been like this for days,
The air, dry and electrified,
And rain, not usually a threat, advances
Yard by yard, honing the slopes
At the end of the valley.
Beyond the rolling hills thunder shunts
Earth to sky, and only above the white cliff
There appears the smallest opening.
Winds rail at stagnation
As some clouds fold inwardly.
Others spread themselves across a smothered sun.
From this darkness Eric visits me from Kent –
Brings the usual tales of violence,
His clothes smelling, not unpleasantly, of smoke
He describes the special burnings.
Apparently there was defiance
And courage in the flames. He complains
Bitterly. Their lack of cowardice
Affects him, makes his once ageless eyes
Flicker at my wood fire as he walks
Stiffly now, his legs heavy pendulums;
The slight pause at the end of each step,
He does not regard as interruption –
And his fingers cannot stop the tremble,
Wrapped around my offering of bread.
He accepts hot tea in a chipped mug,
Turns the crack towards me, then twists
His knees towards my hearth’s warmth.
Instability, he says, stops the sowing
Of his fields, destroys all hope
Of September’s harvest.

EASTMAN SOLILOQUY
(With apologies to the Bard)

featured in the poetry forum November 10, 2012  :: 0 comments

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler to recall, in camera,
Film and chemistry of Ilford and Kodak,
Or openly take issue with digital trickery?
And opposing – end it? Process and weep
My friends; yet by weeping say we stop
The delicious grain of pushed Tri-X
Or saturated blush of Fuji Velvia?

We took our pics and waited hopefully,
That patient merit of unworthy takes –
Perchance to dream of the perfect frame,
Our sins developing in the dark.
All this we are heir to: snap or wrap;
Grab shots – aye there’s the rub, but
Phixoshape will wipe away the tears,
Erase all warts and thorns of life.

And so our native hue of resolution
Is now to be disjoint and out of frame.
These obsidian templates, do we see,
In HDR, ecstasy greenly turned awry –
And losing truth? Yet Neopan
Transformed to good enlargement,
No perfume lost in newborn naked film;
Good light locked for future generations.

In that held breath what dreams we leave
As we shuffle off some instant scene?
Now they layer reality to decorate
Their cracked and crumbling artifice.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow images from the past
Will show history as they like it shown.
Their marketplace must never be deranged!
Our moment stilled must be forever changed.

editors note:

It’s a deeper struggle than the choice twixt “paper or plastic.” There’s no gain in giving up the soul-satisfaction which comes from the forging of hand-crafted memories. – mh

NIRVANA

featured in the poetry forum September 3, 2012  :: 0 comments

Calypso has shown me
Her windswept Isle of Dreams,
Where herring gull and guillemot
Fly over crested seas.
I swim into her inlets
And ride her basking shark,
Where bleached bones of angels
Dance beside her surf.
Sharpened on the edge of gales
My spirit feels no pain,
Here on the cutting edge of life
Her magic knows no sin,
She tells me that survival
Is on her Isle of Dreams;
As her ocean melts my body
Just where her darkness gleams.

editors note:

Odyssey interruptus explained; to be adrift is bliss. – mh

A SINGULAR RESISTANCE

June 20, 2012  :: 0 comments

Words are banned, the book outlawed.
No right of return, no sight of his homeland –
Using their laws they pass silence upon him.
Outstaring the spider, memory centres on its own web
Or in his father, who worked the dark unpromised earth.
As a boy he trained for a certain purpose, which
Is denied him, becoming a refugee in his own country,
A volcano waiting to erupt, a sky hovering above them.

You know him by nerves repaired and affected nonchalance,
By streets where he walks; the wet stone; the honed night’s edge;
Each arm swung loose, like an axe, the heavy body
Carried, on a weightless spirit of prayer: endless steps,
A path around the world. They know him by design;
Enemies shattered touchingly. By helmeted skulls
Cracked like eggs. Their walls and high towers,
Useless before him. His penetrative silhouette imploding,
Forms the cave to his tunnel, bursting and the explosion
Standing before them – His Shape.

There is no escape. They know him. A cauldron:
A slab mill, spilling its banks, the blistered steel
Of his mind, festers. An invisible force, overwhelming
Invading armies who have only technology and firepower,
Their tanks, squashed, like children’s eyes beneath his gaze.
As their world crumbles, they relent, allowing him
His day’s toil but his harvest will always be taken
And his presence ignored, in the manner of their race.

A POND FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

featured in the poetry forum June 20, 2012  :: 0 comments

To an Englishman
America is Hollywood,
All The President’s Men.
Congress, Senate, well, yes,
I get those too in a remote sort of way.
Military adventures – the Pentagon:
A killing machine or the world’s policeman?
That Special Relationship between
Britain and the US of A – what is that,
A handshake? A nod? Or merely tolerance?
Then I listen to ordinary people,
You know the type; they’re always there,
Unlike All The President’s Men,
Changing their faces
Like I change my shirt.
So these Americans, who’ve shown me
Humour, poetry, music, joy, sadness, generosity,
From over the pond, that distant land
Where they like to live in peace,
Because they’re born that way.
Every day of their lives fighting
To keep their families together,
Just like me. Not so far away after all,
That distant shore, not so different, this other side,
That opened up for me,
Another America.

editors note:

This could easily describe Another _______ <fill in here w/ the country of your choice>. There are governments and media messaging and then there are people trying to survive. – mh

Deja Vu

April 4, 2012  :: 0 comments

Always in the early hours
Demons creep across the void,
They beckon me to play with them,
Their memories in black and white –
Celluloid of flickering thoughts!
The jerking movement of their limbs
Carry spirits of the past but then they tell
Of future plans already writ by those
With sins inside their eyes –
Yet, are these lies or bitter truth?
We have no choice in what we do?
Those twins wrenched apart at birth,
Meeting later find their lives
Identical in every way.
Pressing these keys I think I know
But then I don’t. It’s all been said
Before, in some past tomb
A mind lies quiet; he’s played his part:
This is their law.

Just Friends

featured in the poetry forum April 4, 2012  :: 0 comments

She crosses her legs, my words
Entangle in her stockings.
She leans towards me,
Her breath massaging my neck –
Our friendship closer than my own skin.
Bare shoulders shrug,
My mind goes into orbit,
My pulse racing as her smile
Slowly takes over the room.
A mere mortal she drags me onto
Mount Olympus, the sheer sides
Of her thighs hold onto
My eyes. When she laughs
Her head is thrown back
Her soft neck, her throat,
Tormenting my hands,
Though my fingers are empty.
We part without touching.
She walks away, the rhythm
Of her hips pounding my heart
With that rounded, tightness,
I will imagine throughout the night,
My hands still clinging to her shape
At dawn.

editors note:

The object of our affection is most beautiful when just beyond our reach. – mh

AFTER WE’VE GONE

February 1, 2012  :: 0 comments

Heat shakes the still resistant air.
In shy silos, thorn trees stand guard.
The sun cruises. Noon dust
Clouds argument in the lion’s throat.
Dewlaps of blood dry-clean
Inaudible protest.
The cheetah coils
To a sprung escapement.
His shrunken head rolls below,
Barely keeping abreast,
Of the following
Hump of his shoulder. Casually
He puts the menu down
And orders lunch, does not complain
At the service.
On the stroke of sundown,
The dark shadow
Of an elephant’s face
Vegetates. Antelope parade
Their banners, their ears
Unfurl. Surely they vanish.
The dusk, uncertain, returns.

A PAD OF HIS OWN

featured in the poetry forum February 1, 2012  :: 0 comments

Beneath the old pier, a hand scrapes
Wet sand into sketches, carving artistry from
Within him, pulling the crowd, who watch
Over the rail and throw into his bucket
Their coined applause. A metallic clap for this
Still life, culled from a husk of the sea.

A hulk of a man, never showing his face,
Bent over his work, he oscillates
From boot to boot. From hip to head,
A woolly thick knitted spine suddenly collects
Its wages and then with meticulous timing,
Vanishes, just before the ocean spawns;
A shifting glaze, through which
The artist’s visuals can still be observed.

His London Skyline becomes
The Underwater City, its muffled churches
Stifled by a pulsating angelus of waves.
The etched mane of horses and the wet fur
Of dogs, cats: these drown quietly
Under bubbling ripples.

And then surging from the deep, thick
Opaque slices, slabs obliterating
Each deliberate line. Mouths and deeply gouged
Eyes shut forever by the shapeless being
Lunging at the beach. Ordinarily incredible,
Hard to imagine, this liquid body being dragged
By its tail, thrown back in a heap.
Yet this is the way of it.

When the quiet industry of a beaten surf
Rolls out its shores of yesterday, as if…
As if there had never been, mistakes, fools
And foolish dreams, you could
Almost believe that this, then, is life:
A smooth unending slate – wiped clean.

editors note:

Each day we start tabula rasa. The rising of the sun lights an empty page; yesterday’s scrawl wiped clean by the waves. – mh