Poetry

Over the years, I have had many poems published (in Magma, Envoi, and other collections and publications). You will find below a selection of these.

REMEMBER THE TULIPS

 Look how they stun:
the first days they stand stilted in their uniforms
disciplined like new soldiers
waiting for parade
-their perfect sheen speaking
of creatures in their teens temperate
with their sentiments

 They came into your house innocent
of their yellows that daze or reds
that burn
-no scent, but the soul hidden
in the darkened depth, tongue
stretched in thirst and search,
animal.

 In their later days they dance mad
flamenco, flaunt their billowing
skirts, swell, swivel,
arch their stems, libertine,
become all mouth
-cajoling the dangerous light.

 Today they have
lived long and loved late,
are done in, sapless.
Thin-lipped, pale, papery,
they take a bow
-the dance, they say, was heady.

             *  *  *  *  *

ABOUT A DAUGHTER

 Her face wears the clear light of trust
which follows me, however dark
the room.
One day, like a hermit crab,
her little hand outgrew mine
just as her feet could recite the way to school.
“It took me a year to wean you out of it!”
she says now, squealing with laughter.

 Winter is closing in today,
my own hand has work
to do:
writing, and always the garden
where the trees stand their ground this year,
hang onto leaves,
the solanum blooms on regardless and
it is still too early to prune.
This is respite before the uncharted.
I finger a late yellow rose,
unsure,

 and it comes to me like a scent that sometimes
after crossing a street and
before letting go,
her thumb would caress my thumb a while.

             *  *  *  *  *

OF GIRLS AND PEARLS

 1-    I must have been sixteen, I think
when she endowed me with a good necklace,
the kind that speaks of rank and expectations,
an early reward for good behaviour
which would hold me to that promise
and aimed at keeping hope safe.
It said who I was before I had even found out,
locking me inside an approved label
and tied me to her kind
-frightened, needy, you want talismans…

Much later, discovering the pearls again,
I took my little sewing scissors
and thoughtfully freed them from each other,
letting them slip off the thread,
and like pale stars
they jumped on my lap, off my lap
took a dive onto the rug, bounced a little,
found their way, rolled on,
twinkled in the light
-better now.

2-  Brighton -another of those Saturdays
when the hours are jubilant
and the blue-painted arches of the station
frame our renewed embraces.
I call her my little golden delicious
-she has done something to her hair;
my pearl -that’s for her skin.
She laughs, calls me mother-of-pearl.

Arm in arm we stride towards the sea
which she gives me on every visit,
and we lap up the salt of wind,
the wayward curls of waves,
laugh at our tears in the exploding air.
Other times we sit here on the pebbles,
happy to finger them, our hearts clear.
Crowds pass by, children run to the water,
feign fear. The sea is so loud.
Our silence is elsewhere.
I will write her a card
when I get back home.

             *  *  *  *  *

ABOUT MEN

 Because they found me hungry for things I did not know
and understood little
making their way to my door because
they were hungry for things they might have known
but did not give away, or little,
we danced a while, then slept.

 Waking up was the hardest part.
Apart, reality was split, shattered,
a broken egg that no army would mend,
but desires remained, transmuted
by some longings appeased, and others awakened:

 transience was begging for eternity,
a risible calling for who knows the demands
of the soul, and the clumsy talents
of our flesh and our hearts.

 The Gods might weep, or laugh.
It is of no concern to me unless
a particular light, a speaking in some code
sheds clarity, gives the key to the conundrum.

             *  *  *  *  *

BEDDY BYE BLUES

 My old bed was ridiculously large
for my life-style
-for my night style-
so had to go. It went
to a couple who wanted more distance
between their dreams.
I bought instead
a mid-sized wooden bed
with a carved head of golden harmonies
that would welcome opportunity
in style,
but the mattress forbade joy,
or peace, except eternal:
it had to go.

 Reality stepped in
when my tiny new house
gave storage a priority:
my new bed can now hold
in its base my old wedding trousseau:
cotton sheets and fine lace,
table cloths, soft blankets.
It stands like a monument in my little room,
makes too many demands on the eye
and the heart: so it will have to go,
be replaced by a bed of sensible size
for the sensible dreams
of a sensible life

                                                           -and if I strike lucky
we can always go to his house.

             *  *  *  *  *

LEFT HAND, RIGHT HAND

 The left one is long-fingered, smooth, has some grace
-is keen to show it-
It doesn’t mind posing, is fond
of holding my chin, lying on my heart.
It doesn’t feel guilty while it rests.
A sensitive messenger between will and initiative,
it holds, calms, pacifies,
loses nothing since it claims so little.
It is the lady-in-waiting, the vestal
of unseen temples, and it wears a ring
to show that love once lived in the house.

The right one shows no hesitation:
strong, square, lined, it has scratches
and burns all earned in action.
A warrior with a clear head, it plays
cards on the table, hides no game
-it is so sure of itself it confounds me –
At times foolhardy, it is often brave,
ready for work, competent.
It doesn’t mind showing its age,
claiming its prize, saying “I want”.

 Apart, they would feel maimed, sisterless.
Together, they would say a prayer
and if heard, live in harmony.

             *  *  *  *  *

 BONNARD

 I don’t care what you say: Bonnard
painted loveliness at every stroke
even if his wife was sick,
even if she had to have another bath
again and again, to feel clean.
Could he have painted so much light
without being inhabited by light?
Ask Munch. “What light?”, he would have asked,
-the prisoner of such horror
sees nothing else-
whilst Bonnard would have said:
“Another bath? yes, dear, I’m coming
to paint you again in your nudity”.
Balzac, having spent himself with a woman,
would say: “Another novel gone!”
Not Bonnard; he would paint,
again and again, the light, the light.

             *  *  *  *  *

THROUGH A GLASS LIGHTLY

 It rains now and
I stand protected, nose
to the glass -eyes wide:
the trees show black against
an evening of celadon sky.
Half past five in early March,
the birds have started their chorus
not quite hidden in so many greens.
The garden is mine and glows
– did I make this?

Some time along that long lonesomeness
I must have wished myself well
must have said no
to the shattered child:
there would be light,
a fountain, birds, a place
of rest…

I shall not want now since
the days come open-handed.
I shall give thanks
for my friends the foxgloves,
clematis, roses and akebias.
I shall be quiet, wise,
feed on light.
If the garden keeps its promises
there will be, in the summer breeze
the glow and the sing-song swing
of a robinia.

The sky is full of comforting noises.

             *  *  *  *  *