Purple

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Purple

I pen poems
in emerald ink
but I prefer
the violence of evening’s
bruised violets

wind-beaten clouds
add dark depths
to a rainbow

a glow of satisfaction
flutters northern lights

the setting sun
hums low notes
to cello
and double bass

Comment: I like this, but I prefer the re-write. If you wish to express your preference, I would be glad to receive it. This is the third revision. Click here to read the first posted version of Purple. Any comments on the evolution of the poem would also be welcomed.

Purple

violent
evening’s
bruised violets

wind-beaten clouds
move through dark depths
a rainbow arcs
an iris curve

northern lights
flicker organ music
fugues of color
sound into light

low notes hum
bring tears to the eye
cello and double bass
serenade a setting sun

 

Migrants

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Migrants

Think natural disasters. Think famine,
wars, violence, plague. How our world changes
when refugees arrive, blend, contribute,
offer so much, their languages, cultures.

Yet we still exploit them, stealing subtle
things, their identities, their energy,
their ability to adapt, to give
so much and really to take so little.

Who would want to build a wall,
to reject them, to deny entry?
Maybe a million Indigenous people
can actually claim the right

to belong here. Most are immigrants,
late-comers in one way or another.
To accept, to grow together in peace,
to establish a nation where people

need not fear imminent expulsion
for the color of their skin, their language,
their religion, their political thoughts,
the fact they may not even vote for us.

Operation Merciless

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Operation Merciless
(1916 & 2019)

what can we
will we do
we raise our eyes
to silent skies
sing hymns and arias
who listens
nobody replies
we must do our duty
lambs to the slaughter
bleating as we march
our bleeding hearts
pleading for release
this earthly bondage
a bandage over eyes
decimated they tell us
one in ten of us
each must give a finger
a toe everyone must go
ten percent of everything
we own docked
a spaniel’s tail
a boxer’s ears
I cry out why
as I lie on the gurney
hoping to hell
I will not die

 

 

 

Zeitgeist

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Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is a concept from 18th- to 19th-century German philosophy, translated as “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch.
Wikipedia 

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

Poems for troubled times.

My current poems are deliberately cryptic. Each one is a mind game I am playing with you. I do not underestimate you. I have placed clues throughout each poem and if you follow the clues you will arrive at many of the poem’s hidden meanings. Some poems are more difficult than others, their meaning more recondite. Others seem very straightforward, yet still contain secrets.

This style of poetry has a long history going back to Anglo-Saxon riddles and way beyond, back into the mists of time. Luis de Góngora (1561-1627) and Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) specialized in similar forms of recondite poetry, often based on metaphor and the juego alusivo-elusivo, the game of alluding to something while eluding the act of saying what it is. Jorge Guillén (1893-1984) and Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) also played this game, as did Octavio Paz (1914-1998) and many of the surrealist writers. In the works of all of these poets, the clues may rest in the poem or they may be found in a generic knowledge of the mythology of the poem’s exterior world.

Our world finds itself in an incredible mess right now. Somehow, we have to sort it out. We must pick our ways through the difficulties of these troubled times, as you must pick your way through the intricacies of these poems. Many of you will give up. Some of you, the chosen few, will make your way to the heart of each poem. Remember that images and metaphors tie past, present, and future together. Each word, each image offers a picture that reflects some of the shared realities with which we live.

Remember, as I said above: “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” (George Santayana). Otherwise expressed, in the words of T. S. Eliot: “Time present and time past / are both perhaps present in time future / and time future contained in time past” (Burnt Norton). The seeming anachronisms in my recent poems suggest that perhaps all time is ever-present and always one.

Madness & Method

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Madness & Method
(1729 & 1955-1962 AD)

his voice woke the wilderness
shook bread from heaven
he cast it on wild waters

scything and tithing
Frocester’s old barn
Gloucester a stomping ground
walking and biking
whenever he can

dry dusty parchments
old faded leaves
talking together
among the wheat sheaves
Hebrew Greek Latin
vernacular spaces
falling like rain
between words on a page

dearly beloved
moved into sundry places
a town mice stirred into open fields
harvesting blackberries and apples
gleaning like a country mouse
house tumbling wind-blown down

marooned now and listless
an old hermit crab
basking on a sun-dried beach
quilts and crisp  sheets
mermaid-hair pillowed
claws click and comb
fresh footprints laundered
warm summer sands

Senseless

SD 16

Senseless
(19 April 2019 AD)

taste my words
lick them from your lips
feel the roll of your tongue
creating saliva
cranberry choruses
lemon librettos
vanilla vocabularies
gooseberry grammar

fooled are those
cheated of their senses
who cannot sample
savoury flavours
nor test the scent
of April flowers

cancer perhaps
chemo-therapy
Parkinson’s stealing
memories away
childhood tangs
chocolate unwrapped
a Christmas orange peeled

aren’t you pleased
your taste buds
are still teased
by such offerings

grieve
for all you’ve lost
all you are losing
sooner or later
everything will go

last dregs of meaning
draining from your cup

That Wall

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That Wall
(1953 AD)

build that wall
top it with wet cement
place bottles in a row
sign it date it
carve the barrier in stone

when the cement sets
break those bottles
impenetrable barriers

walled now this garden
its interior holy of holies
a paradise for the chosen few
peace and roses only a dream
glimpsed from the outside

a climber climbs
rips flesh shreds clothes
mottles concrete with blood
wet washing hung in fleshy strips
a red flag now this Siegfried line
its shattered glass wire
its see-through brittle anger
excluding all intruders

walled this garden studio
this monument
built by my father
seeking to block who out
trying to lock who and what in