Sisyphus

Sisyphus

Long gone, those good old days, dead and gone,
their centers collapsed in on themselves
unable to hold on to time’s hands
circling the clock of ages, that timeless rock.

Beyond these days, long days when light will fail
to enlighten, eyes will be dimmed, the burden
will grow heavier and even more heavy
with life lying in wait, to weigh us down,
always lying, and the lies themselves
more rocks added to the pile we must carry.

Carrying them is one thing. Rolling them up
this endless hill only to have them roll down,
again and again, forcing us to stoop once more,
not to conquer, but merely to live our lives,
to journey onwards, relentlessly, to endure
from the beginning of the end until the last,
and we must endure, will endure to the last.

“Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.”
Albert Camus

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Sisyphus




Starless Night

Starless Night

Night without moon, without stars.
Dark sand dropped filling my mouth.
I walked the lonely bed of a dried up river.
When I stumbled in my dream,
my feet left no marks on the sand.  

Colorless was my path
through shadow and shade
where a thousand figures of darkness
danced before me,
hollow their eyes,
their mouths black caverns.
No flesh decked their bones
and no night birds called.

Footless the earth worm
sighed a sibilant song.
Mindless he drew in a net
full of sorrows, silver fish
darkling losing their sparkle.

The dusky shawl of knitted dreams
wrapped itself around my shoulders
and I picked at knots of tangled memory
that bled like fresh wounds.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Starless Night

An Experiment Gone Wrong

An Experiment Gone Wrong

Not everything turns out the way you want it to, and some experiments are total failures. Just look at the poor snowman in these cartoons.

On the left – “I won’t believe in global warming until April or May.”

On the right – “April May be too late.”

Oh dear – all those crows and doggy dump time. How embarrassing.

As for me, I tried painting today with my paint and draw kit on my computer. What a disaster: I handle a mouse even more clumsily than I handle a paint-brush. I was going to publish the ‘first attempt’ as a warning to others. But it wouldn’t convert. So I looked for a better idea: no innovation and back to the tried and true.

Oh Moo of little faith.

This isn’t a poem, so there’ll be no sound track with this one. “Oh brothers and sisters I bid you beware – of giving your heart for a snowman to tear – especially when the sun is warming the air.”

“Do you like Kipling?”

“I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.”

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

I am the one who throws his hands up
into the air to join all the clocks that stop
at midnight, when the moon is full, and ghosts
patrol the streets in search of their loved ones.
I am also the one who leaves this place,
and returns to this place, all places being one.

I think I know who I am, but I have my doubts
when I shave. The razor rasps across my chin’s
dry husks and I see the bare bones of eye-sockets
staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

Three witches dance on the soap dish. One spins
the yarn, the second measures the cloth, while
the third reaches for the razor that will one day sever
my thread, poor earth-bound, time-worn creature
that I am, born only to one day die.

You too must one day see yourself in that mirror,
oh fraudulent reader, my lookalike, my friend.1


1 oh hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère – Baudelaire.

Listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Mirror Image

Comment: A whole week since I last posted. Nothing much has happened. I have been writing, revising, and critiquing the work of my friends, but I have posted nothing. I regret the absence, the current lack of commitment. I guess power losses, T-storms, rain and storm watches have something to do with it. Also the current nature of the world – for avoiding reality, in all its forms, including the poetic, is sometimes the easiest path to take.

Gloves

Gloves

“I work in a match factory.”
“Do you put the heads on?”
“No. I put the gloves on.
They’re boxing matches.”

A golden oldie, still vibrant,
from the Goon Show, BBC, 1950’s.

Your gloves are off now and they lie
on the table where you work.
How long have you had them?
Fifteen, twenty years?
Like good wine, carefully stored,
old friends are better with age.

A second chestnut from the Goon Show:
“Have you put the cat out?”
“No, dear. It wasn’t on fire.”

And that’s another good reason
why the water tower,
and its full renovation,
is so very, very important.

Bible and Water Tower,
hand in glove:
“And Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed
like any of these.”

Comment: A gorgeous photo, colors and textures, light and dark, from my friend, Geoff Slater, the line painter and muralist. He is working on restoring the mural on the water tower in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Gloves.

Poema de Amor

Poema de Amor / Love Poem
Complete version

Mitla is a sacred burial place in the Oaxaca Valley. The caves in the hills above the town are said to lead directly to an underworld from which demons and devils emerge at night and by means of which humans can communicate with the souls of the dead. Mitla, in fact, is often called the city of the dead. Legend has it that if you embrace  a certain magic column in the Palace at Mitla, the time left for you to live can be measured by the distance between your fingers as they reach round the pillar and almost touch. The pillar, they say, grows and shrinks according to the length of the seeker’s life. Petrus,  a rock, in Latin, evolves into piedra, a rock or stone in Spanish: upon this rock will I build my church.

1
We walk on tiptoe round the garden
peeling free the sunlight cloud by cloud

sometimes the heart is a sacrifice of feathers
bound with blood to an ornate altar

petrus
this rock cold against my chest
piedra
centuries of glyphs alive in your face

if our arms meet round these all too human columns
what will become of us?

2
beneath your skin the woad lies as blue as this evening sky
yellow light bends low in the fields below us
each darkened pool a warrior fallen beneath the scythe

the moon paints a delicate circle
its great round open eye stands out
above the rooftops
tonight it bears an eye lid carved from  cloud

our teeth are diadems of whiteness
we tie shadows to our heels
and dance in triumph through street and square

3
daylight bends itself round rock and turns into shadow
we flourish in blocks of fire

dreaming new selves from roots and branches
we clasp each resurrection with greedy fingers
will the moon rise again tonight and will we watch?

dark angel bodies with butterfly wings
our shadows have eloped together

we can see them sitting side by side
bumping knees at a table in the zócalo

4
church bells gild the barrio‘s rooftops
our fingers reach to the skies and hold back light
we draw shadow blinds to shut out the day
night fills us with stars and silhouettes

we dream ourselves together in a silent movie
closed flesh woven from cobwebs
lies open to a tongue-slash of madness

the neighbor’s dog wakes up on the azotea
he barks bright colors as dawn declares day
and windows and balconies welcome the sun

can anyone see the dew-fresh flowers
growing from our tangled limbs?

your fingers sew a padlock on my lips
“Listen to the crackle of the rising sun!”

Click on this link to hear Roger reading on Anchor.
Poema de Amor

Fake News

 Fake News

Sometimes at night I hear deer walking across the lawn outside my bedroom window. Intruders in the garden, they rattle the feeders then walk darkly into the woods. Sometimes a coyote howls at the fingernail moon and my heart pumps sudden blood, rapid, through my veins.

            Below me, in the hall, the grandfather clock ticks the night away. I stitch myself up in my dreams, count the black sheep in the family, and iron old ghosts upon the ironing board until they are as flat as the white shirts we wore in boarding school on Sundays.

            If I close my eyes, they rise up before me, those Sunday shirts, flapping their arms, and mouthing their apologies for the sorry life they made me lead. No, I didn’t need to spend those days praying on my knees before the stations of the cross. Nor did I need to ask forgiveness for all the transgressions pulled from me, like teeth, in the Friday confessional.

            Marooned in a catholic cul-de-sac, I walked round and around in rigid circles. An academic puppet, I was trapped in the squared circle of an endless syllogism. Who locked me into this labyrinth of shifting rooms where sticky cobwebs bound windows, doors, and lips? Why did the razor blade whisper a love song to the scars crisscrossing my treacherous wrist? Who sealed my lips and swore me to secrecy?

            A tramp with a three-legged dog, I slept beneath a pier at midnight and woke to the sound of the waves rolling up the summer beach. Once, I stole a deckchair, placed it at the edge of the sea, and told the tide to cease its climbing. The moon winked a knowing eye and the waves continued to rise. Toes and ankles grew wet with wonderment and I shivered at the thought of that rising tide that would sweep me away to what unknown end?

            Last night I wrapped myself in a coward’s coat of many-colored dreams. My senses deceived me and I fell asleep in a sticky web spider-spun by that self-same moon that hid among the clouds and showed her face from time to time. My fragile fingers failed to unravel all those knots and lashings and I was a child again walking the balance beam that led from knowledge to doubt.

            A thin line divides the shark from the whale and who knows what swims beneath the keel when the night is dark and the coracle slides sightless across the sea? I gather the loose ends of my life, weave them into a subtle thread, and make myself a life-line that will bind my bones and lash my soul to my body’s fragile craft.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Fake News

           

Love Song

Poema de Amor (3 & 4)

3

daylight bends itself round rock and turns into shadow

we flourish in blocks of fire

dreaming new selves from roots and branches

we clasp each resurrection with greedy fingers

will we watch the moon again tonight?

dark angel bodies with butterfly wings

our shadows have eloped together

we can see them sitting side by side

bumping each other’s knees at a table in the zócalo

4

church bells gild the barrio’s rooftops

our fingers reach to the skies and hold back light

we draw blinds to shut out the day and shadows fill us

we dream ourselves together in a silent movie

closed flesh woven from cobwebs

waiting to be opened by a slash of the tongue

the neighbour’s dog watches from the azotea

he barks bright colours as dawn opens doorways on the street

can he see the flowers growing from our tangled limbs?

your fingers sew a padlock on my lips

“Listen to the crackle of the rising sun!”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Poema de Amor

Suite Ste. Luce

Suite Ste. Luce (1 & 2)

1

Black backed gulls,

nature’s alarm clocks,

waking the seaside

with their glaucous rattle.

High tide? Low tide?

We have drifted on our life raft

far from the grasping hands

of the city clocks.

Gulls dine on the beach.

Day’s rhythm all at sea.

2

6 am? 7 am? 8 am?

What do they mean?

The planet’s slow revolution?

This sun arc sketched in its stretch of sky?

Salt spray combing seaside fingers

through a young girl’s hair.

A man in a red boat, fishing.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Suite. Ste. Luce

House of Dreams

House of Dreams

1

The clematis unfolds

bruised purple on the porch.

Jazz piano:

beneath the black

and white hammers

of ivory keys,

old wounds crack open.

A flight of feathered notes:

this dead heart

sacrificed on the lawn.

I wash fresh stains

from my fingers

with the garden hose.

2

The evening stretches out

a shadow hand.

I feel my heart

squeezed like an orange

by long, dark fingers.

Somewhere,

the whitethroat

trills its guillotine

of vertical notes.

I flap my hands in the air.

They float there,

white butterflies,

amputated

in sunlight’s

net.

3

The light fails

fast, I hold up

shorn stumps

of flowers

for the night

wind to heal.

The pale magnolia

bleeds into summer:

white petals

melting on the lawn

like snow.

Sparrow sings

an afterlife

built of spring

branches.

4

Pressed between

the pages of my dream:

a lingering scent;

the death of last

year’s delphiniums;

the tall tree

toppled in the yard;

a crab apple flower;

a shard of grass

as brittle

as a bitter tongue

at winter’s

end.

5

A leaf lies down

in a broken

corner

and fills me

with a sudden silence.

I revise

our scrimshaw history

carving fresh tales

in the ivory

of new found bones.

6

A vixen

hunts for my heart.

She digs deep

at midnight

unearthing

the dry teeth

you buried

from my borrowed

head.

Click here to hear Roger read this poem on Anchor.
House of Dreams