I could not stop to think

Because I could not stop to think
Thought kindly took me in
And taught me how to Contemplate
Inside the chattering din.

We found a little Quiet Place
Underneath a Tree
And there all things passed us by
Like Eternity.

For Centuries I stayed with Him
But seemed like just a Day
We watched the planets come and go
Through the Milky Way

We heard the children laugh and play
Cicadas sang their song
The summers danced round winter grief
I felt the whole Earth’s throng.

I touched the ground with fingertip
I scarcely felt the urge
And Earth responded suddenly
With an awful thundering surge

Awakened all my mind to naught
Thought looked on in terror
My spirits hid in foliage
And trembled at my error.

But much to Our relief
From out of shattering Blindness
The Clouds transformed to Rain
And soaked us with their Kindness.

Man lying on a wall

Man Lying on a Wall (1957) by LS Lowry

A moment of joy lifts him
from pavement onto factory wall
from straight to horizontal he paints
a line into his fag and he and
the chimneys smoke and
the clock tower strikes

and the bus pulls up
and we all journey home
through soot and chill, but he’s
not going anywhere soon. A man,
lying in state balancing his hat
like a crown on his belly

for all the world and his dog
to see. The steady fall and rise
of middle-age. Brolly and briefcase
stand to attention,
ready for battle

against the hazy smog, the stretcher bond
of bricks and mortar. A sense,
then, of contemplation
only wants an artist
by chance on the top deck
of a bus passing and then this painting

for us to remember him by.

I wrote this parody of the poem ‘Man Walking’ by Owen Lowry in October 2013.

Walk along the beach

Live without pretenses, live
So that, finally,
You draw towards yourself the love
Of space, hear the future.*

One should walk along the beach
and see winter spacing itself between
people, but don’t fill in the gaps. Leave them
to chance and feel the sand between your toes,
sinking into soft ambiguity. Others may find your
path, step inside, perhaps, but keep to yours,
seaweed on one side and the tide, inching
closer, on the other until your paths
converge (it won’t retreat or apologise)
and your feet are fully submerged.
Your footprints will disappear without trace
and, finally, you can say I live.
I may walk this beach again, but, until then,
I live in the margins of time and place.


*Boris Pasternak, “To be famous isn’t decent”  Translation by Bob Perelman and Kathy Lewis in Glad and Weissbort (1978),Russian Poetry: The Modern Period

.

The fairy was past caring
and – half-dazed – smiled.
Captain America swung on his thread,
ready to catch her. It was a good idea
to put the tree near the window. See the crystals
catch the light and the clouds.

At night, I dream of you. You do what I do,
which is odd, but the brain gathers
and tends to both memory and fantasy the same.
Nobody thinks twice or makes sense.

Planes carry on taxiing down country lanes
trimming hedges with their wings.

The birds were everywhere

The birds were quite fearless of the guns,
the squabble, cloud, gaggle, and cast.
The call of the cuckoo carried on
between each and every deafening blast.

The brown owl ignored the racket of fire
and the kestrel attended her nest unmoved.
The swifts circled the skies, still higher
and the stork returned early and only proved

as indifferent to the thunder of guns as any other bird,
parliament, witness, murder, and mutation,
all flocked to post, stump and wire undisturbed,
a noisy, irreverent congregation.

Otherwhere in Song…

In Spring, I finally hear them. Green tree frogs.
I’ve never seen one nor waded into their bogs,
or the odd swimming pool, or the marshes and creeks
where they croak, incessantly, like cicadas, for weeks,
(only when they’re silent, the sun might hide behind
a cloud, can I really hear the din). I should find
hundreds of them, the whole choir. Now, they’re gone,
the heat’s dried up the little brook. There’s none
in the garden, but still I look and see the sun cleave
a path through the weeping willow. I must leave
everything behind and listen. Barefoot, I tread
with nothing but the ghost of singing in my head.

I cartwheeled over the sea

I cartwheeled over the sea and
saw you waving from a bus at me.
I jumped aboard and yelled come play
with the light over the bays and
the clouds whispering with the planes.
Let’s clamber through the pipes
and balance on the poems in the streets.
Climb the statues and skim the marina
with me. Let’s peek through our fingers
at paintings and play hide and seek
with the tour guide. We’ll paint
with light and waves. Hop off, hold
hands, run and see what we will see.

Please understand

Take a look and please understand
that you will not be allowed to
close the box until you see all
its contents and tell me that
you understand everything you see.
You cannot proceed until you have
looked inside the box. This message
will not disappear until you tell me
that you understand. You cannot pretend
you didn’t see. You cannot pretend
you did not understand. You cannot
not understand so please tell me
that you understand. Okay? I want
to make sure you know. You can learn
more, but you cannot close and walk away.