A Cobbled Life

PEI + bockle 2008 025

A Cobbled Life

I have been writing away, but keeping it to myself. No more posting original material on Facebook or the Blog. I feel a little bit knotted and washed up by the tide, tied in knots, so to speak. Never mind. There’s lots of old material and photographs to work with. I am tired of reading “publishing on your blog or social media counts as a publication.” Like heck it does! Try going before the Promotion and Tenure committee with articles from blog, photos from Facebook, and a collection of letters to the editor of the local newspaper.

Obsolescence

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Obsolescence

The programs that no longer work.
The files you can no longer access.
Photos that vanish
leaving a blank space in the album.

Memory that goes on the blink.
Forgotten phone numbers,
the birthdays of family members,
that carton of eggs left in the store,
your cousin’s face, her name,
the parking spot where you left your car.

“What day is it today,” you ask,
for the second or third time.
“What time is it?”
“Who’s that coming for tea?
Are you sure I know them, dear?”
“Where did you say we were going?”

“Just round the corner, to visit a friend.”
Or should that be … round the bend?

Comment: Apparently I placed this poem on Facebook a year ago, but I have found no trace of it here, on the blog. This time last year, I lost both of my computers to what was diagnosed as obsolescence. Luckily I had most things backed up. The group who swore they could transfer 99% of my hard-drive material to the new machine, migrated just 1% (my desk top) and the other 99% went on walkabout. I was able to piece much of it back together, but obsolescent programs and out of date apps no longer functioned. So much material was deemed irretrievable. This experience made me realize, yet again, how fragile is our hold on our possessions, our memories, our sanity, and yes, our very lives. For me, it is a very sobering thought that, with a flick of a switch, I, like my computer, could be turned off, and 99.9% of the wonders of my beautiful existence would totally disappear from the memory-banks of this earth. Some say, and I believe them, that, like my computer, I will be re-cycled, recirculated. I will become a part of the wider oceanic world-consciousness. Alas, we can have faith in whatever we wish to believe, but sometimes, we really don’t know.

Lost

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Lost

My body’s house has many rooms and you, my love,
walk through them all. Your shadow dances on walls,
in mirrors, and your breath brushes my cheek

every time I open doors or windows. That silly cat
looks for you and hisses when I bring her kibble.
I move from room to room, but when I seek you,

you are no longer here. I knock, nothing opens.
Afraid, sometimes, to enter a room, I know
you are in there. I hear your footsteps on the stair.

Sometimes your voice seems to break the silence.
You whisper my name in the same old way.
How can it be true, my love, that you have gone,

that you have left me here alone? I count the hours,
the days, embracing dust motes. I find no solace
in salacious sunbeams and my occasional dreams.

Comment: Regular visitors to this blog will probably recognize this poem. It is a rewrite of an earlier one, also bearing the title Lost (click here for earlier post). I rewrote, or rather, reorganized the structure of the poem, added some words, and subtracted others. I did this earlier this summer while Clare was in Ottawa visiting our daughter and grand-daughter. And yes, I missed her. I always do when she in not present or I am away. Comments on either version will be welcome, particularly if you prefer one version over the other.

Book Burning

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Book Burning

A sharp-edged double sword,
this down-sizing,
this clearing out of odds and ends.

Library shelves emptying.
books disappearing, one by one.

So many memories
trapped between each page,
covers, dust-bound now,
dust to dust and books to ashes.

Sorrowful, not sweet, each parting,
multiple losses, characters
never to be met again,
except in dreams.

Heroes, thinkers, philosophers, poets,
their life work condemned to conflagration.

Alpha: such love at their beginnings.
Omega: such despair,
with Guy Fawkes celebrations
the means to their ends.

Word-fires:
the means of forging
those book worlds that surrounded us.

Bonfires:
the means to end them.

Steadfast, the book-fires,
flames fast devouring

all but an occasional volume
snatched, burnt fingers,
from the flames.

Loss

Books

Loss of …
… something just beyond my fingertips
that I can’t quite remember

By the time I remembered your name,
I had forgotten your face.
Then I couldn’t recall why
I wanted to talk to you.

I trace dark landmarks
on the back of scarred hands:
blood maps,
unremembered encounters,
dust covered photographs,
grey, grim, not belonging in any album.

At night I cruise among islands,
emerald green against sapphire seas.
Why did I never visit so many places?

Golden sand trickles through
night’s hour glass as stars, planets
dance in Platonic skies.

My memory fails.
I wake each morning
unaware of where I have been.
I track the sails of drifting ships,
white moths.

I think I have caught
them in overnight traps,
but they fly away each morning
in dawn’s forgiving light.

I give chase with pen and paper,
fine butterfly nets for wild thoughts
waiting to be caught,
then tamed.

The Return

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The Return

This time last year I returned to KIRA for a visit after my one month artist’s residency. I have been back several times since, but each return is always more difficult than the last. Memories are golden and the reality of the return is never quite the same. Here’s the link to last year’s post on my first return to KIRA: KIRA Return July 2017 .

You can never walk in the same river twice (Heraclitus). This is what makes the return always so difficult. It is like the spoken word that, once spoken, can never be reclaimed.

I guess the return is more difficult for some people than for others. There are so many places to which I have never returned: Cardiff, Gower, and Swansea (Wales), Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Christchurch, Frome, Gloucester, Hengistbury, and Wick (England), Oaxaca (Mexico), Avila, Bilbao, Elanchove, Madrid, and Santander (Spain).

These place names scratch memory’s surface, no more, for there are places within those places, also never to be seen again, save in old photos and dreams. Yes, my dreams are tinged with sadness, the sadness of remembering. There is also the great joy of having been there, of having borne witness to this moment and that. Time and memories slip through grasping fingers like water or sand. The ephemeral: it will never last, even though we catch it for a moment in a photo or a verse.

 

Thursday Thoughts: Divorce

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Thursday Thoughts
19 July 2018
DDD
[Divorce, Division, Dissent)

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you realize that you can do no more. So what is it about family split-ups, the pain and ugliness of a disputed divorce, the glue coming unstuck in an already unstable marriage,  a financial settlement that satisfies nobody and splits and impoverishes both sides of a divide? And how do you bridge that divide when you are friends with father, mother, children and the wounds are so deep that everyone of them wants out, whatever the costs and whatever it takes? And what is it about the deliberate wounding of each by the others, the permanent scars that will never heal over, never be stitched over, no matter how hard a third party tries? And what right does a third party (fourth party, fifth party, sixth party) have to step in and try to force issues? And what is it about lawyers, when too many guests gather around the Thanksgiving turkey and the knives are out for everyone to take the choicest cuts and what’s left now but a skeletal carcass, no flesh on the bones, and the guests all hungry still and their empty bellies rumbling for more, more, more … and this isn’t Oliver Twist, “Please sir, may I have some more?” though everyone is heading for the poor house and the beadles are also gathering by bedlam’s door with their handcarts and dogs and the full enforcement of a blue-serge law made to twist and torment, though I have never understood the law, especially when it is left in the hands of lawyers, for “the law, dear sir, is an ass”, a striped ass at that, black and white like a zebra, though grey and costly in the areas that matter most. And what is there to do but rant away about the injustice of it all, the size of the checks and now you must check-out the food banks, the soup kitchens, the meals on wheels, the charity eating and boarding houses, because there’s no more roof over the head and the house is sold and the incomes are split and the children are more-or-less cared for, though rather less than more, and the dog is turfed from his dog house and the pussy cat booted from her feathered bed. Rant, I say, rant and rage away, rage, rage against the dying of friendship and the death of love, because that’s all you can do in this blood sport where even the spectators are spattered with the refined frenzy of friends turned into fiends and foes, and this is a protest, a rant against love that doesn’t stand the course of time, against families that break up, against a society that breaks them up, drives wedges and scissors between people once bound by the puppet strings of love, against relationships that can no longer continue, against the rattling of dead white bones in empty cupboards where the skeletons dance their way into legal daylight and the spectators call for more, more, more, more blood, more money, more blood money, and the engagement diamond is a blood diamond now, a tarnished garnet, and where is the Little Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, that spire inspired needle that will stitch their world back together, and stitch you back together when you have been shocked out of your own ruby-sweet rose-tinted world and torn into little bits in their oh-so-bitter one, the biters bitten and those bitten biting back in return, a new world this world of snapping turtles, turtles standing on the back of turtles, and turtle after turtle all the way down until this carnival world wears its dead clown mask and turns turtle in its turn …

I dreamed all of this last night and woke up this morning and realized … I can do no more.