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Archive for March, 2010

OH YES THERE IS!

Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar

Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar


You are Princess Ayesha, the principal girl,

in the youth group’s pantomime at St Barnabas,

West Street, Crewe. Disguised as a boy, you are searching

for Aladdin – your true, lost love – in the canvas

forest and the bazaar, among the painted caves

and the amphora. Heavily Max Factored, dressed

in torn shirt and ripped shorts – having crossed the desert,

outwitted each one of the forty thieves, bested

Abanazar, bamboozled the Genie and charmed

Widow Twankey to be downstage centre – you sang

Buddy Holly’s top of the hit parade, ‘Oh Boy!’


Your story – we had not met then – though embellished,

of course. But I can see you as clearly as if

we had – in what you say, leave unsaid, and do not

know about yourself: lovely, witty, determined,

courageous, heart breaking. ‘Oh boy, when you’re with me,

Oh boy, the world can see That you, were meant, for me.’

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THE PRICE

Just beyond the lamp’s beam, where coal and dark

were one, was fire, flood, blast and rockfall.

Shoring bulged, split. Rock jerked through. Earth returned.

Exploited roofs fell, distantly like sighs.

How men loved life to work that labyrinth

crowded with frustrated lives! There were

children in the collapsed seams. There was dust

in ears, nostril, mouth, pores – ubiquitous

as death, death’s colour – and in the palm, a chance

shaving from the crushed forests, the suppressed

centuries, drawing blood.

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PREPOSITIONS II

TO LINDISFARNE

From Seahouses to

Inner Farne, a bumble bee

escorted our boat.

OFF POINT OF AIR

In a far channel,

a lone boatmen plays the pipes:

‘The Road to the Isles’.

FROM HILBRE ISLAND

A pale summer’s day –

low tide, windless, infinite:

seals bark distantly.

ON YNYS LLANDDWYN

On summer’s last  day,

wind flecked wave crests arise, curl,

spill like quick-silver.

FROM THE MARITIME MUSEUM

Brown pelicans glide

freely, over Alcatraz,

like tawny galleons.

FROM GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

Shouldering the wind, our

close shadows are stretched below

on the ribbed water.

ON SCREMERSTON BEACH, NEW YEAR’S DAY

In the dunes, a seal

was stranded – dissipating whisky

and resolve.

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THE GREATEST OF THESE

All day I was accosted by the same

black wino who called me, “Sir”, who had not,

he said, worked for three years, had an illness

(unspecified) and never knew me though

we met outside the Tribune Tower, the

Art Institute, a camera shop on

Wabash, Berghof’s, and then under the El

at State and Jackson! Finally, as I

took my first Wild Turkey of the evening

while I stood at my hotel window, there

he was on the far side of Harrison,

raising the product of his day’s labour

in, surely not, salute!

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PARTING THE WAYS

Earthmovers roared, made a whirling progress

six days a week: a four-lane highway

to bypass our provincial town. Gone were

Traveller’s Joy, Heartsease, Love-in-Idleness.

Our wood and its narrow roadway – a lovers’

thoroughfare – severed. Only clay was left

from world’s edge to world’s end: a no-man’s-land,

a dried-up riverbed. One Sunday,

our daughter crossed the silent excavation

and, from the opposite bank, called out:

‘It’s just like the Red Sea!’ And she waved.

We acknowledged the future lovingly.

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