Duende

img_0826-3.jpg

Duende
Federico García Lorca

It starts in the soles of your feet, moves up
to your stomach, sends butterflies stamping
through your guts. Heart trapped by chattering teeth,
you stand there, silent, wondering … can you?
will you?what if you can’t? … then a voice breaks
the silence, but it’s no longer your voice.

The Duende holds you in its grip as you
hold the room, eyes wide, mouths open, possessed,
taken over like you by earth’s dark power,
volcanic within you, spewing forth its
lava of live words. The room is alive
with soul magic, with this dark, glorious
spark that devours the audience, heart
by heart. The magic ends. The maelstrom calms.

Abandoned, you stand empty, a hollow
shell. The Duende has left you. God is dead,
deepening your soul’s black night. Exhausted,
you sink through deepest depths searching for that
one last drop at the wine bottle’s bottom
that will save your soul and permit you peace.

IMG_0810 (2).JPG

Russian Roulette

IMG_0724 (2).JPG

Russian Roulette
(1789 & 1937 & 2019) 

trickster mind
bred in heaven’s
half-acre
gateway to counterpane
sleep-full forgetfulness

yesterday’s
visual banquet
bluebell primrose
clover and cowslip
gone all gone

cuckoo survives
emerges every hour
calls from cuckoo clock
skylarks lie buried
within vinyl grooves
no more to rise

lions tigers panthers
elephants rhinoceros
slipping off the ark
sliding into oblivion

soul’s dark night
empty the house
spun Noah’s wheel
no more bets
the stakes are set

space-ship earth
humanity’s house-boat
spins onward into what

wheel of fortune
onward she goes
where she’ll stop
nobody knows

Comment 1:
I am intrigued by the ideas in this poem. Sitting in the eye surgeon’s waiting room this morning, I watched a video on vanishing wild life. The result: I added some images to this poem and elaborated it a little bit more. There may be some twists to the cork-screw, some more spins of the gun’s roulette wheel. I am not sure that I am finished with this one yet.

Russian Roulette 2
(1789 & 1937 & 2019)

yesterday’s
visual banquet
bluebell primrose
clover and cowslip
gone all gone

cuckoo survives
emerges every hour
calls from cuckoo clock
skylarks lie buried
within vinyl grooves
no more to rise
unless the magician
waves his wand

who loads the gun
points the pistol
pulls the trigger
fires at lions tigers
elephants leopards
pushing them off the ark
sliding them into oblivion

soul’s dark night
land’s desolation
all covered by rising seas
Noah spins his steering wheel
les jeux sont faits
rien ne va plus

space-ship earth
humanity’s house-boat
spins onward into what
a roulette wheel of fortune
onward she goes
where she’ll stop
nobody knows

Comment 2:
Told you I hadn’t finished with it. Here’s the next version. Great to live in a bilingual province. What a pity that so many people do not speak both official languages. If you have read this far, let me know which version you prefer. I am going for the one below, the latest edition.

Rushing Roulette
(1789 & 1936-39 & 2019)

yesterday’s
visual banquet
bluebell primrose
clover and cowslip
gone all gone

cuckoo survives
emerges every hour
calls from cuckoo clock
skylarks lie buried
within vinyl grooves
no more to rise
unless the magician
waves his wand

who loads the gun
points the pistol
pulls the trigger
fires at lions tigers
elephants leopards
pushing them off the ark
sliding them into oblivion

soul’s dark night
land’s desolation
all covered by rising seas
Noah spins his wheel
steering space-ship earth
humanity’s house-boat
onward into who knows what
a roulette wheel of fortune
onward she goes
where she’ll stop
nobody knows

messieurs et mesdames
les jeux sont faits

rien ne va plus

.

 

Don’t tell me your troubles

IMG_0624 (2)

Don’t tell me your troubles

vultures circle overhead
tight-beaked grimacing
ready for any old thing
to drop down and die
leaving them some space
they bounce on the wind
feather-tips poised to plunge

drivers drive dodgem cars
through pot-holed filled
parking lots
bumper to bumper grinding
following each pedestrian
plodding from hospital to car

red alert three bell alarm
an engine starts
reversing lights flicker
someone’s coming out

cock fights dog fights
domestic pussy cats
all booted and spurred
claws out for the bust up
three dust ups already
today

nobody happy
everyone hopping mad
round and round
circling false alarms
sitting waiting
for someone to move

we’ll all be late
for our appointments
no room at this inn
not here not today
my friends no parking

Carnival

 

IMG_0198

Carnival
(29 March 2019 AD
12 April 2019 AD
25 June 2019 AD)

house of cards
jacks and jokers
twos and threes
running wild
vacant faces
loaded wallets
crowded rooms

dry bones
wizened teeth
tongue-tied cheeks
feet shuffling

tiny corkscrew
worms gnawing
through what passes
as a brain

high-wire tumble
into this tumbril
wheel-of-fortune-barrow
plentiful cornucopia
copycat horn of luck

clock faces blank
no numbers no hands,
egg-white circles
stuttering uttering
cluttering
flustered minds
meaningless circus sounds

IMG_0618 (3).JPG

Ghosts

img_0168

Ghosts
(1431-1463 AD)

galley dance
grisly ghouls
skeletons blowing
white in the wind

rangle jangle tangle
bones like trombones
air-hole pierced
the high thigh
pipe of flute

crows for cronies
jolly roger flag
flapped by black
wing strokes

who-hoo the owl’s
night time chant
will seek mercy
grant forgiveness

wind drops
sighs its secret
bodies tap dancing
their swan song

souls aloft
winging away
on shifting air
no longer care

Dawn

IMG_0169.JPG

Dawn

I turn over in bed. The light on my neighbor’s garage has come on. It is triggered by movement and I get out of bed to see if the deer are back and crossing his yard. But no, it is not the deer, it is the paper-man, up early to deliver the news. He turns in the yard at the bottom of the street and his headlights flood my room with light as he drives up the road.

6:20 am. I go back to bed. The moon is a thin silver arc. It climbs out from its hillside bed and leaves the forest to scale the early morning sky. Today, the sun will rise at 7:49 am. Until then, this silver sky fish will follow Venus and Mars as they march across my window. On clear mornings I watch them as they move from frame to frame. A double window, with 24 panes of glass in four groups of six panes each. I lie in bed and count them in those sleepless hours before I feel the need to rise. I start with groups of 3 going 3-6-9-12-15-18-21-24. Then I go back down again 24-21-18-15-12-9-6-3.

I think of my father counting the dots on the wall as the sun moved slowly across the walls of his house in Rhiwbina. Then I too play games with the window panes, counting them one by one, then two by two, then three by three, then four by four. It is, I suppose, the magic of counting sheep. First, you count their legs, and then you divide by four. Venus and Mars grow brighter as the sky lightens a little bit more. The moon changes from a clouded orange to a shining silver. I play a new game, counting the window panes in Spanish, then French, and finally in my “use it lose it, long-abandoned” Welsh. I am no longer sure of the order of the numbers, so, when I hit a road bump, instead of stopping, I follow the language pattern and invent.

Dawn: what a funny time, what a funny word, so many funny meanings “and suddenly, it dawned upon me”. Here the dawn walks uphill towards me. It slowly fills the sky with light. The planets shine, then moon and planets disappears as, at 8:09, that first ruddy ray splits the darkness and lands rosy-red upon my bedroom wall. The planet’s dance has ended. The flirtatious moon has come and gone. Time now to end all games and to wash and dress and face reality. February 1: it is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Venus, Mars and moon dance through my mind, moving to a different tune.

Take These Chains

 

IMG_0196.JPG

The Great Chain of Being … Happy

The Great Chain of Being, a concept applied to Medieval Literature by Arthur Lovejoy, suggested that all beings are related in hierarchical structures that link them from top to bottom in an ordered chain. I have always liked that idea and see myself as one among many voices, past, present, and hopefully future that feel and write about the joys of living on this wonderful planet that we inhabit. This thought immediately poses the question: do we write from joy or sorrow? Obviously, it depends upon the individual. Equally obviously, we can write from joy at one stage of our career and from sorrow in another stage.

Antonio Machado phrased it this way: En el corazón tenía / la espina de una pasión. / Logré arrancármela un día: / ya no siento el corazón. I felt in my heart a thorn of passion. One day I managed to pluck it out. Now I no longer feel my heart. Machado is a seemingly simple poet, but that simplicity is oh-so difficult to translate and imitate. So: what happens if we write from that interior passion and then, one day, we wake up and the passion has gone? Good question. Some people stop writing. Others take to drawing. Others take photographs. In my case, I have sat in a south facing window just gazing at the sunshine reflected off the snow and pottering through my favorite poets.

Francisco de Aldana is one of my favorites and I am drawn to reflect on these lines: Hallo, en fin, que ser muerto en la memoria / del mundo es lo mejor que en él se asconde, / pues es la paga dél muerte y olvido. I finally discover that to be dead in the world’s memory is best of all, since the world’s wages are death and forgetfulness. While these words will seem gloomy to some, to me they express the joys of retirement, the wonders of just sitting and looking out of the window, the escape from the necessity to produce, to achieve, to be ambitious, to grow a career, to drive myself on and on. “What is this life if, full of care, / we have no time to stand and stare?” Words of wisdom from the Welsh poet, W. H. Davies.

When I sit and stare, I also think, observe, and remember. And I see things I have never seen before: how light changes the world, how sunshine falls on the petals of flowers, how texture is changed by changing light, how light slips through the fingers like water or sand. The end result is an inner peace that accepts things for what they are and the world for what it is.

IMG_0187.JPG

In my privileged case, and I realize just how lucky I am and how fortunate I have been, I have grown to appreciate the tiny things, the small achievements. And small things now satisfy me: the completion of a crossword puzzle or a jigsaw, the nature of light, the beauty of an orange, peeled and tasted, its life blood still fresh upon my fingers and gracing the air, words prancing in lines and chains across a page, the dance of shadow on wall.

IMG_0173.JPG