poetry diary

Poetry is just the evidence of your life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. (Leonard Cohen)

Category: Poems

To the sea

What do you know of me?
Enough, and nothing.
And what will you do with me?
Consume you, whole.
But I can swim, and like it.
I can wait.
How far do you go?
How long have you got?
You are beautiful and strong.
I care not.
I know this of you, and yet I care still.

Outdoor concert

Summer oaks tremble
to music she summons with
delicate fingers.

As Spartacus

You stood longest, yet at last flew too,
and so I scorn you most.
For still we might have won, us two,
just as we did before –
against all odds – when you were true.

But now in chains we sit and wait,
like in the classic film:
the judgements false; the hour too late;
and Romans standing at the gate.

No tents, no chariots, no swords, no hope;
no future but the rope.
For you no Spartacus will stand,
and as I rise, I know.

******************
Romantic idealism and business do not mix. I agreed to leave the business I founded and built yesterday after 14 years, more than 100 people employed and many happy memories. It feels like the ending of ‘Spartacus’, except Tony Curtis is remaining seated, happy to become a slave once more.

Deserted

Not dead, but fled.

Not as in myths of old we stand
together to the last.
Instead an empty hill, bloodless and with trees
and me.

Not stopped, their armies come
with winds, and leaves, and silence.

Not here, my friends and soldiers.
Not now for you;
just me.

Not glory or romance,
no moments, no suspense.
No hope, no history;
just me.

Just me.

And you – not you, for you are
not dead, but fled.
Fled.

I am, you see
not dead, nor fled,
but me no more.

*******

I wrote a poem about a last stand some years ago, when I felt my company was about to fail (I was wrong). I feel I understand the reality somewhat better now.

Spring

From distant woods, leaves
rise like mist. Here, a sparrow
alights with a twig.

********

Possibly still under the influence of my visit to Japan.

A jelly baby

And what remains of love is this;
a pack of jelly babes.
“Give these to your mum,” he says,
and turns away to shield
his tears.

Fifty four sweets are in that bag;
one for each year of coloured days.
This one tastes of ’65,
that one of ’91 –
all gone.

“She still likes these, sometimes,” he says,
“as far as I can tell.”
She takes one more, unsmiling,
and heads towards the door,
unsure

of who she is or who we are,
or why these little bumpy things
still seem to mean so much to us
and feel so warm and moist,
almost

defining something once well known
she feels is lost or yet to come,
but will not find her now.
There must be something new
to do.

Across the room the curtains close,
and in the fading evening light,
a single jelly baby lies
alone; her lover’s furious final wail –
of farewell.

************

Jelly babies are traditional English sweets. People with dementia seem to like sweets.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.

The Albemarle Rest Home

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know; her mirrored eyes my own.
Like ancient sailors held in Siren song –
here sung by soft armchairs and patterned rugs –
they sit with cups of tea and biscuits, brought
by strangely purposed nurses, patiently.

Only their eyes resist that strengthening pull –
call back like whales to days long gone
of youthful lives on tennis courts,
school open days with charts and pens,
parental hopes and grandchildren;
of lovers trysts and last year’s post;
to yesterday and slowly fading vows,
and yesterday again, which seems much like tomorrow now.

Amongst the row of faces waiting death
is one I know. She’ll always be my mum.

*********************

This rest home specialises in dementia. We reached the point at which we could no longer cope with caring for my mother in the family home two weeks ago.

Posted on d’Verse Open Link night.

Leaving Japan

Early spring morning.
At Haneda I buy
hand-printed fabrics.

*********

Leaving Japan, feeling sad. It is a lovely country full of welcoming people.

March in Tokyo

No cherry blossom
yet – in Shinjuku a girl
smiles at her lover.

******************

Inspired by Basho (translated):

Behind the virgins’
quarters.
one blossoming plum.

Arriving in Tokyo

Neon characters
compete against winter rain.
The bus door opens.

**************

I haven’t written a haiku for a while, but as I find myself in Japan (somewhat unexpectedly and for the first time) it seems appropriate.