Violet

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Almas de violeta, an early poetry book by Juan Ramón Jiménez, the Nobel winning poet, was first published in violet ink. I have a copy of his complete works, Obras completas, in which those early poems still appear in purple, or violet, rather, to match the color of the title. He published poems in green ink, too, but personally I prefer purple. Bruised clouds in an evening sky, dark depths of a rainbow’s glow, Northern Lights at the deep end of their descending scale … or is it just a desire to be different … slightly different, as if that one thing, the color of my ink, might tip the scales and turn me from mediocre to celebrity with a wave of a violet wand or the click of a pair of ink-stained fingers.

What else is there to do, other than meditate and walk your fingers across the keyboard, when rain mingles with snow and grey and white streaks fall at faster, slower rates to trace a network across window, trees, and garden? JRJ, Juan Ramón Jiménez, forgotten now by all but the scholars who read and teach him to the few ardent graduate students who clutter the ivy covered halls of academia and blow away the dry dust that settles on unused books when they languish on library shelves. Is that what will become of us, we poor poets of today? Are we to be reduced to the polvo seco de tesis doctoral / the dry dust of a doctoral thesis, as my good friend José María Valverde once wrote?

I guess the dry dust of a doctoral thesis is better than the silence of unturned pages, the empty sands of the voiceless desert, the dunes of forgetfulness shifting here and there along a sea-shore swept by shiftless winds. Forgetfulness: we must first be read … only then can we discarded and forgotten. And who will read us? Who will emerge from their twitter and their tweets to open a book and lift the written word from the page and carry it into their hearts so it can be placed on the soul’s altar and surrounded by incense and flowers?

Purple ink on a purple page, the violence of violet, life with it’s doldrums and purple patches, the cat curled up in its basket, one paw out to test the weather on this rainy, snowy day, when coffee appears at my elbow, as if by magic, and words seek sanctuary in a ritual flow of  song.

Catching and Caging

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Catching, caging, and making them sing

We track them through their courting ceremonies

hunt them down by the noise they make

clutch them tight between anxious fingers

We weave glass jails

sentence them one by one to green imprisonment

At day’s end we ferry them to city apartments

incarcerate them like canaries in their cages

and wait for them to sing

At first they are silent in this strange environment

we feed them with bread dipped in brandy and wine

and sooner or later they sing in their captivity

Now they will not eat

they await the liquor that burns them

into fiery tongues of song

Our midnights are haunted by their spirituals

 

Sun Worship

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Sun Worship

Worship the sun
as it rises over the hills
from whence cometh
its golden glory.

Trees and their forest,
forces older by far
than this Christian god,
walk in darkness
until touched by the sun.

Worship the sun ropes
that tie you to your daily work,
rejoice in your bondage,
for no man kills
to glorify the sun.

Sun, my father and my mother,
sunshine that floods my spirit
and enlightens my world,
here, before sunrise,
I raise my voice in a song
praising you, and your strength,
the life you give, the death
you will one day bring.

 

 

Twits or Tweets

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Twits or Tweets
(A Roger’s Rant)

Poor poets of today
sweet birds reduced
one hundred and forty letters
the song you tweet

oh twitter away your tune
your readers will not swoon
over anything longer
than the shortest rune

and if go on you must
the tv commercial calls
thirty seconds to adjust
words for everyone’s lust

sound bytes bark louder
than sonnets now beware
the dog byte of radio
and tv making a mockery
of all you once held good

no film rights for a sonnet
no actors no models
on the cat walk no talk
of moneyed contracts
honeyed words that brook

no contacts with either
upper or lower class
none of whom today
would stoop to make a pass
at passing poets
or offer to kiss their arse

Sandman 2

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Kingsbrae 17.1
17 June 2017

Sandman 2

The sandman brings sand
to put in the sandwiches
we have packed for the beach.
It’s as coarse and fierce as salt
flowing through an hourglass,
or red sand in an egg-timer,
not clockwork and wound,
but the sort you turn upside
down. Sand: it counts each
minute of each day, turns
minutes into hours, hours
into days, sands the stone
block of our lives, like a sculptor,
into smaller, more manageable
shapes and chunks. Sand sticks
to our clothes, makes us wash
our hands and brush ourselves
thoroughly before we sit down
to eat the sand that has sneaked
into the lunch-time sandwiches
we brought to nibble on the sands.

Comment: This is another example of the effects of a rewrite that takes place in a different time and place. The original of this poem appeared in the blog on my father’s birthday, 17 May 2017. Sandman 1 can be see by clicking on the title. A quick comparison shows how the themes have changed an meaning has been deepened in the later version, Sandman 2, published above. I am intrigued by the differences caused by a change of time and place.  There is room for still more development in this poem. It will be un to see Sandman 3, if it evolves further.

This Fragile Light

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Kingsbrae 16.1
16 June 2017

This Fragile Light

This fragile light
filtering through
the early-morning mind
filled as it still is
with night’s dark
shadowy dreams
their dance demonic
or perchance angelic
as light rises and falls
in time to the chest’s
frail tidal change
the ins and outs
of life-giving breath

Bright motes these birds
at the morning feeder
feathered friends
who visit daily
known by their song
their plumage
their ups and downs
as they dazzle and spark
breaking the day open
with their chorus of joy

Comment: According to my journal, this poem was written on Saturday, 25 March 2017, and is number 32 in the Kingsbrae Cycle that I started on 3 March 2017. I posted it to the blog on 26 March 2017 and you can view it and the earlier comments by clicking here. This Fragile Light is art of the Kingsbrae Cycle in tone and mood. It didn’t need to be rewritten in situ, and I repost it in its original form. From now on, this pattern of a repetition of earlier posts together with a rewriting of earlier poems and the creation of new ones will be the central pattern of the Kingsbrae poems. What will change are the pictures accompanying the photos.

 

Beachcombers

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Kingsbrae 15.4
15 June 2017

Beachcombers

Low tide on the island,
the bay haloed with silence.
Wading in the distance,
tourists and school kids,
shapes wading in shallows.

Soft footprints, my past,
through a seascape of echoes:
sand at the Slipway
and
rocks at Pwll Ddu.

Another sea now,
and a similar shoreline;
same light in the sky
as, barefoot, the bathers
still hop and still stumble
over sharp pebbles.

Time walks backwards
and fills me with sorrow.
Ghosts of my mother,
my father, lost brothers.

Clouds cover the sun:
so sudden the tear-tang,
salty on tongue