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Archive for July, 2010

BEARINGS

They lie after loving in a shuttered room,

lit with an underwater vagueness,

replete with jasmine. They hear but

do not listen to the hoopoe calling

in the almond tree or the goats clinking

softly in the olive grove. They no longer

even hear the roar of the cicadas.

She lies in his arms. They sink into sleep,

lovers drowsing in a perfumed sea.


The spate plucks willows weeping from the banks

and careers them swirling, whether or not,

to waltz downstream with honeysuckle stems,

a bloated lamb. Do we change course, with charts

and signals, once, inexorably? Or

do we drift at wind’s and swell’s mercy,

unremarked and far into the night?


A lamp flickers. The mainland is mauve,

precipitous, its valleys covert, profound.

A flute moans in olive groves. Brief insects

chafe the night air. Behind them, waves

from Africa rush to shore. They have steered

for open seas yet homed on the past.

They will skirt the swamp. Upstream, where the river

is jade, beneath the invisible nets

swifts weave, on a low hill, are fate’s stone doors.

Priests and their chicanery resurrect

numberless tribes of the dead: old men and brides,

lovers and generals. The future

waits like an assassin.

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PERSPECTIVES

From the long window on the half landing, I saw,

almost as soon  as you had filled the small bird feeders

under the pine and come inside, the big beasts land

to eat the scattered seeds – three wood pigeons, two turtle doves

and a solitary magpie –  then a cat appear, the birds scramble

and you again, shooing.

From where the hawk stoops, I heard the magpie’s

irrelevant chatterings, saw a tableau of live flesh;

saw our Victorian suburb from where the airplane flies –

heard nothing above the thrumming of the engines;

from beyond the stratosphere, saw somewhere

still not yet silenced by the enveloping yellow

of the Sahara or the Arctic’s melting blue.

From the long window, I heard the next track begin –

late Billie Holiday, ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’ –

heard her miss the key change yet again, promised myself

never to play it yet again.

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ARE WE NEARLY THERE?

The tide is at its ebb. Late sun quick-silvers

the narrowed estuary,  where river and sea

conflict and oyster catchers race upstream.

An ice cream van’s jingle jangle sounds

across the almost empty sands. ‘O sole

mio’… And you are suddenly there –

aged three – digging with purpose into the dusk.


Your daughter – that longed for, longed for joy –

already strives unprompted towards the sun,

scrabbling beyond the bounds of her play mat!

‘…n’aria serena doppo na tempesta!…’

How calm you are, how fulfilled with love!


As we leave the shore for home, mute swans

fly west – their thrilling wing beats song enough.

Somewhere before us, echoing through the streets,

the ice cream van calls: ‘O sole, sole mio.’

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THE DROWNED FIELD

The Duke owned both banks. The pleasure steamer,

stuttering, washed his clay into the current,

older than property. His oak woods moved

past us into dusk. We disembarked and

strolled between lascivious, attic blooms

to where, before the Great Hall, his Grace

had let the play be set. Like smoke on summers’

nights, the plot unwound down the lawn’s gentle slope.

The crossed, cross lovers mazed each other

but we knew how it all would end neatly –

the affluent young, loyal artisans,

Theseus dispensing Tory patronage.

What many hands might dissipate, his held.

Fays, in all but pitch-black, blessed with music

bridal beds, ducal woods – fenced, burgeoning –

and ourselves in the loud and flighty dark.

He rang for a field-glass to focus, out

in the wintry park, on a shimmering

– pit subsidence filled overnight with rain.

Under tumbled acres four men were dying.

They moaned in the stifling darkness – their

rescuers muffled, far away as light.

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ZELEZNIK’S THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

Though there is no evidence that Busby

Berkeley was a descendant of Bishop

Berkeley (in spite of the Californian

connection),  who would deny that George

were the spiritual, or, rather,

philosophical ancestor of Bill.

Bishop George Berkeley, John Smibert, circa 1729

Busby Berkeley circa 1935

Hundreds of girls’ legs opening in unison

is a pure if anachronistic

example of the Irish Divine’s hypothesis.

And Busby was keen on fountains too!

Fountain Scene from 'Footlight Parade', 1933

So, if long dead Dick Powell, that innocent

tenor, seems to be hoofing still then

esse is truly in percipi!

Dick Powell with Ruby Keller in '42nd Street', 1933

Dick Powell with Ruby Keeler in '42nd Street' 1933

Though revelations of absolute truth

are commonplace and transitory,

the universe is an uncertain place.

Ludwig Wittgenstein July 1920

In 1915, Wittgenstein’s whistling

a Mozart clarinet concerto whilst

on active service in the artillery

workshop in Cracow in spite of his

rupture seems to be a quite different

phenomenon from the stain which has appeared

on our bathroom ceiling.

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