For August's Poem of the Month, I have chosen a selection of poems from Martin Burke's forthcoming collection For / Because of / After.
(is it Autumn?)
Beyond - more than - outranking nostalgia
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
custodian of your own beauty
You say: a kiss, kiss me
There is no nostalgia in this - not even for the present.
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.
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
As for I -
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
I remember - cannot forget - will not - never - never
Death saw fit to walk with us.
The three of us
As if a ghostly conversation with a ghost
Was necessary to the life I live
and will until the river…..
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
Remorse for words unsaid to the dead
To speak a blessing
The river calling in a manner I so far refuse
Unrelenting. As if history condemned them
Planting the seeds of themselves
Before death panted its shadow
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.
Into the world, out of the world
With my thought my every thought my gentle, open one
As if nothing had ever died
As if everything was at the first moment of birth
(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)
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
Even Eden is unguarded
Cold burning of moonlight
Cold burning of the moon on reeds
(this can be seen - is seen)
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
(do not think this a Greek myth)
Some hand shuffles us on a loom
But no spirit enters our dust
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
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.
More real than any life I might have lived
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
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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.