For August's Poem of the Month, I have chosen a selection of poems from Martin Burke's forthcoming collection For / Because of / After.



CELAN


Autumn
           (is it Autumn?)
Exile
(continuing)
Autumn


1

Beyond - more than - outranking nostalgia
Your hair
its lusciousness its lusciousness
(It is Autumn but your hair is not brown)
The hours turning in on themselves
As I turn again - as I always have
Towards You
custodian of your own beauty
You say: a kiss, kiss me
I do
There is no nostalgia in this - not even for the present.




2


Salt-wave spumes attend the leaf-work of years.
Does Autumn begin or end in this leaf?
Time is a nut in a shell which opens me as I open it.

Sunday: in dreams lies my true sleep
(nor ghosts attend
nor charge me with infidelity)

Sunday. A darkness. Poppies in memory.
The moon. Its blood-beams.
Where
Were it not for the darkness of the sex of the loved one….

Let the window allow the world to witness this entwining!
Heartbeat. Unrest. Stone. Flower.
Yet on in that darkness…

Time will forgive time
              (perhaps)
As for I -



4


As if in some ghostly conversations with a ghost….

Bitter almonds. A tradition. A necessity. Almost sacred.
As the poem wants to be
(see me - almonds and language my companions)
You above all others
You as no other than you

A cruel landscape yet the landscape indifferent
To pain

I remember - cannot forget - will not - never - never
Death saw fit to walk with us.

I remember.
The three of us
Almonds.
History.

As if a ghostly conversation with a ghost
Was necessary to the life I live
and will until the river…..




5


I: ritual, candle, ancient, custom of words
Where the dead are more real than the living as Dante foresaw
History’s wind battering the flame
Other flames
Remorse for words unsaid to the dead
To speak a blessing
The river calling in a manner I so far refuse




7


Unrelenting. As if history condemned them
To it.
Digging.
In air.
In earth.
Planting the seeds of themselves
Before death panted its shadow
On them.
Which it did
With all its intentions.
Laughing at, undoing, what they did
When all that they did
Was to dig in the air, in the earth,
A trench for their grief to bed down in.




10

Into the world, out of the world
With my thought my every thought my gentle, open one
Receiving
Received

As if nothing had ever died
As if everything was at the first moment of birth

A sun
(the one out of the old traditions)
Came to bless the inhabitants - all the inhabitants
Where the silence was as masterful as any lyric could have been
(indeed, the silence was a lyric)

And light
again from the traditions but exceeding the traditions
As if it existed before its name was uttered
Yet thrilled vibrantly within your throat
When I kissed it with the first of many kisses




11


Ice?
Even Eden is unguarded

Cold burning of moonlight
Cold burning of the moon on reeds
            (this can be seen - is seen)

Ice
Earth under its nudity
            (do not ask more than this)

It sees what I see
It will return
The hour will pass
The moon already freezes



12


No-man
            (do not think this a Greek myth)
Some hand shuffles us on a loom
But no spirit enters our dust

No-man
Weaver of nothingness to this flowering substance
In which we may outlast the deities

Greece or any elsewhere - the where does not matter

Nothingness - yet a rose - a movement - language and location

Is it heaven which tears us from the earth we are rooted to?

No-man singing of thorns

Until -




16


Shadows. As dark as my mind’s necessities.
Yet even they cannot conceal the wound.

A landscape drenched in its own nakedness

Where nothing abides

Not even silence can articulate it.




18

Circling me
More real than any life I might have lived
The death-woman

Tonight the stars can only mimic themselves
There are night-birds, moon and stars
But I can make no connection

My name is already engraved on the urn of my heart.








Leaf by Anna Cervova



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Copyright © Martin Burke 2011
All rights reserved
The author has asserted her/his right under Section 77
of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988
to be identified as the author of this work.

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