Time

Just before closing the door

I looked round

Eyes squinting against the morning sun.

Scattered across the floor

Were the lost papers

Skim read and abandoned.

I could have waited

To find patterns,

To wrap stories around bones of words,

To let my half closed eyes

Construct some kind of truth.

But there was too much there

And it was time for my eyes to close.

Wordwool

Walking in circles in forgotten streets

Fog shrouding my crepuscular paces,

Faces loom, leer, leave, to uncertain beats

And I blink, walk on whilst my mind chases

Some words to throw behind me, like breadcrumbs

In the forest. Here I can live unseen.

Safe, alone, save when a flailing hand comes

Out of the mists to touch me; what has been

Sits heavy on my shoulders, whispering

Plausible nothings. So I sing my songs

From this hiding place, blindly staggering

To nowhere, where wordless silence belongs.

Yet I send words spinning through the air

A flailing hand, a sign that I was there.

The Death Bed

Death stares unflinching beneath the dry rasp

Of airless rooms. Bones stretch the skin

To force their gaping will to the light.

Thingness triumphs, movement stops, the cold clasp

Of time freezes over warm exchange to thin

Slivers of memory in the night.

 

 

“͚Is that a fact?͛” he said, standing beneath

The budded tree. Careless colours

Claim their hour above the killing fields;

Songs are not unsung; they find their own breath

In voices in new choirs; rage hollers

Its defiance and the black night yields.

 

 

And does death blink? Its hunger satisfied

In the warming sun? Do the stars smile

And kiss each other in their cradles?

The black hole beckons, time͛s devouring tide

Sweeps all things down the unforgiving aisle

Crushing the lies of song and fable.
“͚And yet we live͛” he said, and hear the cry

Of those who love, the cry that drowns out

Oblivion͛s rattle with hot tears,

The songs of sadness and endeavour fly

Beyond the reach of death͛s leer, the shout

Of life lingers ringing in our ears.

Tuesday 17th February 2004 Bridgnorth

 

Across the brown artery,

the water stirred and swollen to a level

beyond our resistance,

I walked alone up the cobbled street,

Imagination closed,

roller shutters down,

hat a substitute for style, pace for purpose.

 

 

The day was without features,

without rain, wind or sun,

neither hot nor cold.

Drained of colour by the unbroken cloud,

a blank canvas stared at me

like the first page of a second novel,

reflecting only my emptiness.

 

 

But there were the intricacies, ingenuities

of cliff side houses, cave homes,

engineers fashioning safety out of the hillside;

decorative shapes, rich colours;

gardens, yards, porches

Alive with determined humanity –

 

 

Then emptiness became an adolescent

affectation, a way to

interpret common or garden exhaustion

as if it had some meaning

of wider significance than my own

shortage of sleep and shyness of nature.

 

And so I drive home

Into the darkening sky,

with raindrops for company

giving a dazzling blur

to the oncoming traffic.

The Bridge

The water surges on, sure

in its purpose, indifferent

to the sweat stained pack horses

shivering on the wrong bank,

to the Johnny-come-lately

hominids now hovering,

mud struck from rutted highways,

in fear of taking the plunge.

It has swallowed the odd corpse,

thrown it to one side downstream

and swung its way to the salt.

 
But we must connect, alone

we shrivel and feed the vermin.

Our future they staked below

the gravels and silt gathered

from the wild lands. Water’s force

they turned against itself, rocks

they carved to cut through the flow;

arches span thin air to give

us our first space walks, lifted

along a ribbon of dreams

to exchange, compare and grow.

 

So the river may flow on

to a timescale out of reach

for us dreamers and builders.

Our will is pinioned in oak

and made visible in stone.

For us, now, different flows

cut across the stream’s sureness,

its certainty of purpose.

They lead us to something new,

ephemeral, in the air,

our strange need for pilgrimage.

 

I wrote this whilst reading Nicholas Crane’s history of the British Landscape – a fascinating account of amongst many other things, the development of the idea of ‘place’ from the times of hunter/gatherers. Bridges were of course an important step in this journey.