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SEEING ANGELS (POEMS 2010 - 2011)



IN THE GOLDEN CHAMBER OF ST. URSULA

 

Bones spiral outward

drenched in gold

small and thin, chicken or child

 

Golden chrysalis of pain

a stillness unbroken

by waves of thunder

 

That last night of Mary’s month

the sky dripped fire

and eleven thousand

 

Stars burned in the wayward streets

men phosphorescent

turned to little lumps of clay

 

In our hour of need, O Princess

did you spread wide

your ermine cloak?

 

*


BUTCHER BOY

 

Watch him wield that cleaver

he’ll cut you open quickly

lay your several parts

bleeding on the clean white counter

remove your heart and hand it

back to you with a smile

‘Thank you Madame for your business

Next!’

 

 

*


GHOST

 

If you think that you can’t still hurt me

If you think that you can’t still hurt me

If you think the very fact of your existence

doesn’t still hurt me

 

then you know nothing at all

 

The colour of your eyes

still hurts me

The sound of your voice

still hurts me

The way you look round a room

still hurts me

The clothes you wear the things you say

Your smile the shadows hiding in your eyes

All of these things hurt me

 

Until I want to scream

Stop! you are killing me…

 

And my happiness would not be complete

without this neverending sorrow

 

*

 

Hearts come in all sizes

the biggest are also

the easiest to break

like giant eggs

poised on the rim

of steep infinity

 

*


WINTER JOURNEY

 

If I come

will you open once more

your dark heart to me

 

Will we walk again with swans

beside a black canal

(the sky is falling)

 

and drink the wine

of coal dust and decay

(the sky is falling)

 

Will we lie awake

the night long

as we used to do

 

dreaming of forests

where it is always winter

(we have lost our way…)

 

A single step and

I’m there

light as bird upon snow

 

and whatever

you wanted to know

will be clear at last

 

If I come

 

*


I DON’T WANT TO WRITE A LOVE POEM

 

I don’t want to write a love poem

to your eyes and to your mouth

(although they are beautiful)

 

I don’t want to write a love poem

to your body

(although I kneel down to worship it)

 

I don’t want to write a poem

with words at all

but with soft white wings

 

My poem is nestling at your heart

wordless in silken feathers

now stroke me

 

 

*


SPRING NIGHT

 

There’s a forty-foot woman

in white satin

outside my window

waving her arms at the moon.

 

*

 

CHRISTMAS SONNET

 

Night and day I thought of it

that one face in a billion

dearer to me than worlds and time

more beautiful than every sweet perfection.

So the blue years rolled deep at my door

Still I never lost sight of you – wrought as we are

together heart sinew and soul

What matter whether near or far?

Now on this holy night I stand

ready, my lamp burning

in my hand, with the light

from your eyes still yearning

And the one gift

is to know you safe and good

and one last look to reach me

here on the dark road through the wood

across worlds and time

in all your sweet perfection.

 

*

SEEING ANGELS

 

a line of light

at the horizon

something gold

at the bottom of a glass

a feather found

a stillness on the ground

a girl in white

with dirty hands

 

*

 

HAPPINESS

 

Tonight my heart is full

and all my angels

are smiling

 

Sometimes grace amazes me

hands me happiness

on a plate

just like that

 

 

*


SONNET CONTRAFACTUAL

 

If you had not been, then was I also nothing

If you had not come into the silent world

bringing me this bright delirious dream

I half-made should refuse to be born at all

Not enough room between us

to get so much as a fingernail

Is there, my darling?

Oh you have battered this heart of ours till it bleeds

You have written my name in heart’s blood

in letters a thousand miles high

I have written your name

and still I love you

more and more

and evermore

 

*

 

Soon the summer light

sighs once again

soft skin opens

to the sun again

and so we smile…

 

*


SONNET FOR ISABELLA

 

A one-eyed butterfly fell

from the Hammersmith flyover

crumpled on broken knees crawled

away - a tale for gondoliers to warble

on lurid nights once the money’s gone

nicrophorus vespillo a parasitic beastie

feeds on the bodies of others flies

towards the light - Impact!

right into a truck but now it seems

she’s still breathing through those red lips

exotic fruit beginning to rot badly

moulting bird a few parts broken

DRINK ME – it says on the label

DRINK ME

for the funeral the lady shall have a new hat

 

 

*


SONNET – FOR SEMIMARU

 

Twin blossoms bowed

by the weight of white beauty

upon a single stem

twilight

whispered secrets

songs that any small

harsh wind might shake

break upon the concrete ground

brother and sister

unblemished chalices

to the glass brim

our still thoughts dreaming

two blossoms seeming

but one heart

 

 

*

 

COSIMA

 

What I liked about him

was his large square head

where gods’ own orchestras

fought it out in gold-lined waistcoats

and armour he was also rather

good in bed

 

 

*

 

‘Starry Night’ (Van Gogh)

 

Ocean of stars

caught in the sleeping

mermaid’s hair

 

*

DONNA CAMILLA

 

They say she once hit a man

who dared speak to her in the street

that she loved opera

and hated my grandmother

a fisherman’s daughter

who married her son

 

You are just like Donna Camilla

said my grandmother

and laughed and patted my head

but I never met her

 

Was it a good thing?

Bella, bella ragazza!

said my grandmother

She called me a black witch

she said

She was much too good for me

too high, oh she was high!

 

Am I high then?

I’m only six and

don’t feel high

my grandmother buys me

a cannoli

 

 

*

 

Topic: Schooldays

 

If only I had a pair

of white wings

young escape artist

 

*

 

Topic: literary festivals

 

A festival of poetry

inside my head

night and day

how exhausting!

 

*


MITTELPUNKT

 

The middle of the world

begins with ‘W’

is a still green point where

pear blossoms drop

one by one into

my drugged heart as I

remember your sweet

crazy promises sung

in another tongue

the middle of the world

is right here and nowhere else

this small pure heaven

where we might have

kissed once under those trees

kisses that tasted of

childhood and stolen pears

 

 

*

 

CANOE

 

small boat of dreams

over deep water

singing

 

*

 

BEGGAR GIRL ON HORSEBACK

 

‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ – English proverb

 

Laughing she clings to

his blue mane as together

they cleave the air

 

Little beggar girl

dressed in bright

dreams come true

 

 

*


THREE SEASONS

 

between the apple blossom and the cypress

just enough room for

a naked lily

 

*

 

THE BICYCLE

 

bluebird waits at the door

for my quick feet

let’s dance!

 

*

 

THE WEATHER IN BERLIN

 

Sunny today with only

a few small clouds

hotter tomorrow when the

roses will begin to wilt

towards late afternoon

will you sit on the terrace

a slim volume of poetry

in your hand and

fall asleep thinking of

me?

 

 

*


BREAKFAST AT TEN (Sapphic)

 

Still under morning sky two books one coffee

small of silver porcelain shaded in ivy

shadows an airplane roars through clouds overhead

swallows are diving

 

*

NIGHT FOX

 

Little fox-claws

tear at my heart

try to unravel happiness

 

Only stand guard

over me

a palace or a

garden or a much-injured

princess

that fox may get tired and just

slink away

 

 

*

 

 ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT

 

Curled in the warm

corner of your lap

girl cat in love with you

 

 

*

 

ROSES

 

real roses are blooming

in imaginary gardens

come and play

 

*

 

ANGEL

 

The shadow of an angel

once seen and

never forgotten

 

*

ATLANTIS

 

Under the glassy green translucent dream

Is a castle hoarded from rococo shells

Where mermaids softly sing of bartered love

And weave their garlands out of dead men’s eyes.

 

This is my home, and I am Princess here

This my kingdom of bright melancholy

Where every salt wave is mine and every hour

A new baptism among fallen stars.

 

The fish, my courtiers, dance in golden rings

While seahorses perform their subtle tricks

And in the garden pink and orange flowers

Open living mouths and sing my praise.

 

This is the place I live and breathe and move

No other needed to attend to my love.

 

*


FAME

 

Most found where most sought

Hardly earned and cheaply bought

Even harder to keep than youth

Unless you ‘re really good

Now that’s the truth.


 

*



Some of these poems first appeared in The Smoking Poet, Litteratour, Snakeskin, Caper Literary Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, Pen Pusher and the Guardian.