Geese across the City Night

A blank page                       a single line appears.

Cool and grey                      apart from the melee

A single bird                         flying against the cloud

In winter                                framed by the skeletons

Wind beaten                         shrouding the evening light.

These afar                              a distant call crying

A solo                                      but soon a strange chorus

Conversation?                        Perhaps though too random

Overtaken                               by sound more felt than heard

Ear beating                              muscle and sinew bent

Overhead                                  to propel the arrow

Grey to grey                              across the world’s troubles

Here unseen                              as the passion of flight

Holds the eye                            and the wind beats the ear.

And then gone                           like a train in the night

Echoing more                            in some inward room

In the soul,                                  leaving a darker grey,

Sodium pin                                 pricked; traffic rumbling;

Urgency                                       left at a safe distance.

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The Child Prodigy’s Choice

Do you think she knows?

I wonder if that youthful vision blinds?

The promise floating from the shimmering

Brilliance, the warmth of line – melody

That cuts to the chase, singing the sadness

Of the world, the harmonic mystery

That uncurls the protective thorns hiding

Our fear and need, those seed beds of beauty.

 

 

There was sacrifice; it was important

That we knew her links to the great, her prize

Winning potential; not though out of pride,

More to show the question – was her decision right?

Had she taken the stage, turned to applause

From the hardships of family life,

We may have talked of her, wiped the odd tear

From our eyes before a Mozart cadence,

Joined with the general admiration.

 

 

She made her choice however, through wisdom

Or instinct I know not. But I do know

Her decision changed me, opened the door

For me and for many others, to life;

To go from watching, listening to others,

To creating, living the music we find

Hiding in places we’d never entered.

So her choice was to live and to give life –

Surely she must know.

Isle of the Dead

Sitting, muttering as life hurries by,

My hope is to catch the pulse of the sea

Rolling in the deep ocean where the wind’s

Whip calls to the lone horizon’s searching.

 

The pull of the tide draws me to new lands.

New lands where puffins burrow to safety,

Where shade cools my eyes and herbs fill the air,

Where peace gathers me in beauty to rest.

 

I dream and the swell takes hold. It carries

Me down to the cold currents in the depths.

Here all of the world is dark. A living

Soup moving to some alien rhythm.

 
The teeth of the isle, flossed black by the salt

Lie low. Innocence, unseen in the deep

Holds hands with the moon’s cold force to reveal

Nightmare’s appetite, the rock’s gape, grinning.

 

Spare me from the wreck; bear me to the sands;

Set me on the shore to pass from the world

With waves as my dirge, the wind as my song,

All grief set aside in the cool morning

On passing Tryvan

imageThe old man slept in the clouds

Nose turned to find the scent of heaven

Beyond the reach of my footsteps.

Spurned, I sped past, intent

On the same search by a different route.

Not that the raw simplicity,

The bare rock and the wind,

The strain of muscle and sinew,

The idea of completion,

Did not tug at me.

But I sped past, intent

On finding the still voice

In the interplay

Of melodic lines, rooted

In human endeavour

St Matthew Passion

A bit late since Easter has now passed but it records an experience when singing this Bach masterpiece in the centre of Wolverhampton UK.

We had arrived in sunshine –

One of those days when Summer

Looks in, unexpected at the back door.

Our minds however were in the shade

Of this solemn monument,

This foundation stone of received wisdom,

This anthem of the elite.

We stood together in the comfort of our age,

Open mouthed, singing the songs

In their heaviness, woven around

The certainty of death

And the unshakeable testimony

Of powerful voices. The oboe’s chocolate

Flow piped its tragedy to the eaves.

The church faded, grubby, dusty,

The sunlight found no purchase on these walls.

Reverence filled the pews.

But this was a city church

And death must take its place

Beneath the roister of trade,

The shunting for position

And the contained explosions of escape.

In the silence between the notes

A growl grows until the earth shakes

And a monstrous savagery, a scream

Of bone and flesh, a leather clad

‘Fuck you͛ roars around us.

No one moves,

The music goes on.

We might prefer our encounter with this death

To be cradled in a cloister

But he did die amidst the raucous shouts,

The cruelty, the neglect of a city͛s anxiety.

Epiphany

I turned the corner where the ice gathered

To catch the unwary – a pool of darkness

Lethal in its smoothness. The sky was cleared

So the stars could imprint their glints of light

On the pavement. The cold stillness shivered.

A scimitar cut into the blankness

Borrowing the sunlight to point

To the retreating west. Venus teased me

With its steady, its lifeless mocking gaze.

 

There’s comfort in the thought of a journey,

To some moment of blest revelation.

We like to think we bear gifts of value

That can bear witness to Nature’s balance

Between creation and cruelty;

That can celebrate rich beauty without

Mocking the miserable poverty

Of the innocents; that can bandage up

The open wounds of injustice and fear..

 

But the unflinching stare of the planets

Shrinks our steps to absurdity and shines

An indifferent light on the parcels

We wrapped with such care. But I blunder on,

Oblivious to the thread of consequence

Unravelling behind me – what a joke

Is wisdom and the foolishness of power!

 

We are flecks in the tide of chaos

Thrown away by the relativity

Of great things and the quantum mystery

Of the small. Our marks have oblivion

In their essence, our songs are just soft waves

In thinning air, and our touch is a spark

In a vacuum. But still I blunder on,

I turned the corner, hoping that our kiss

Can defy the harsh violence of Time

That burns all things to cold sterility,

To the absolute, too frigid for ice.