"We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time." (T S Eliot)
"A dark and chanted verse is what I am." (
Forough Farrokhzad)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PHANTOM STREET

Could our footprints
Be there in the concrete -
Smudges on the asphalt
Scuffed by our shoes,
Shuffled short stops and starts
Where we would greet,
Marks of steps we took
While we could not lose?

I watched from my window
As you walked past,
Your face forward,
Tresses black and flowing;
You were hurried but happy,
Travelling fast,
And I wished
To be
Where you were going.

But there were times
I saw you waiting there,
Balanced on your high heels
Until he came,
A man
To whom I could never compare,
I had no claim,
I was too meek, too tame.

Thugs changed the name
Of that street long ago;
Yet it's the same -
Vanished phantoms still glow.


Monday, May 25, 2015

SHOMAL

On the northern side of my block
There was the never-ending sea.
But my small studio
Faced south
So my home
Caught the sun most of the day,
Unless wayward rain
And mazes of mist
Blew in from the steppes
And crossed the waters.
Neatly paved streets -
A realm of shiny vehicles
And well-dressed pedestrians -
Ribboned below me.
Smaller buildings were freshly painted,
Trickling wet and glossy after a storm.
Skyscrapers appeared
To be built of glass
And not much else.
At night I could look
Through any window
And see families gathering for meals,
Children busy with computers
And video games.
Later the lights would dim.
People retired to sleep away
The fatigue of each unknowable day,
And, perhaps, to trade in love.
In the morning they rose again,
Well after the sun materialised,
And set off to exchange mysteries.
Traffic always moved
With an erratic disorder
That seemed so random
But must have involved remote control
By an all-seeing manager.
Beyond the residences
And the roads
The land began to rise,
Gently at first,
Towards the mountains.
On the lower slopes there were farms.
Men and machines kept to routines
While workers wielded a shovel;
All was dispatched in giant rigs
With wheels at least as big
As a poor man’s hovel.
And the cycles of husbandry
Changed the colours of the fields
Day by day and week by week.
Swathes of cream and yellow
Gave way to pale weeds,
Then to deep brown
As the ground was ploughed.
There were rows and rows of small trees
Dotted with technicolour bounties,
Either ready and ripe,
Or still no more than blossoms.
Above the orchards
Nature’s flora began
With stately oaks, beech and chestnut,
Everchanging,
Giving ground to junipers,
Evergreen,
As the forests gained altitude.
It was magnificent artwork –
Every imaginable shade of cool green,
And the occasional arc of crimson,
With scattered splatters of gold,
And shimmers of vermillion.
At the top the mountains towered,
Peaks barely lower than the sky.
Snowy summits
And bulky black blocks in the light
Becoming dusky silhouettes
When the sun proclaims the night.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

NIGHT AND DAY

And all the day
The wind cries out
You're ill
While raindrops splash
Closed windows
With the grime
Of foul pollutants
Burned some other time
That no one owned
And no one ever will.

Then comes the night
Of loudness like land mines
Exploding up
With echoes through the dark,
Anonymous,

They fail to leave a mark
Except on peaceful sleep
And glad dream times.

And all the day
The wind cries out
You're ill ...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

OLD SONGS

 “The crow that flew over us … will tell about us in the town.”  (Forough Farrokhzad, ‘Conquest of the Garden’)

Certain music drives me back
All the way
To the wanderer
That I was
Before money bid me
Dance to its beat and sway
And the wealthy
Condemned me to be poor.

I remember
When our hearts were touched
With fire from flames eternal
(That later turned infernal).
Lighting up the night
We blazed like burning stars
In the black crows’ sky above,
White-hot in the zeal
Of our requited love.

I remember all this,
And more than this,
I remember you,
That last time that we kissed,
Your final phone call,
And your face
Across the street
In the traffic crawl
Of an orange taxi fleet.
How I wish
I had leaped
To my feet
And run
To rescue you
From what was to come.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

SOU'EASTER


I watched the storm strut
On the sea’s edges,
At first far-off icy chops,
Chilly sprays,
Steered by a wind,
Once lord of freezing days
In Antarctica’s wild mounts and wedges.

That sou’easter blew the white water on
Towards the shore
Across the sapphire blues,
Then rain fell from skies blackened like a bruise,
As if morning’s warm sun had never shone.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AFTER LIFE

In that single moment
Before the end
Is there only the past,
Old marred memoirs,
And no future,
No such thing as again,
No way to grow,
And no new repertoires?

If the years ahead
Belong to the rest,
Then they will all gradually forget
The times
When you were there
Amongst the blessed.
They’ll move on and prosper
Without regret.

You'll be in a silent film
Degrading
Through mistaken recall,
Discarded takes,
Intentions misjudged,
Legacy fading -
Memories of you
Transformed into crude fakes.

But then again
You might travel to find
The sweetest places
Of your explorations -
Those haunting sites
And dearest destinations -
And the ones you loved
Who left you behind.

Monday, May 11, 2015

FOOL MOON

There are days
When sorrows wake up with you.
Last night’s moon haunts you
Like a fool’s mirror,
Reflecting lights
That you must misconstrue -
Reminders that madness has stepped nearer.

These are your random days of dire distress,
Regrets without meaning,
Pointless despair,
Hollow hot tears that scorch,
Bid you repress
Sanguine thoughts
Of others who might still care.

And when the sadness lifts
You will wonder
Where it went
And when it plots to return.
But for now
Your heart quakes,
Split asunder,
Although it beats,
The pulse stings like a burn.