Varadero

The morning rises with a tide in flood,
a swelling warmth of swallowed salt
that lifts my body off its feet
then muscles up and through the chest
as it overpowers a racing mind with calm –
or the tastes of sweetened rum and the delights

of islands that once dreamt a feathered man,
imagined in the humid light, a force of colour
radiant in palm-carved air, hanging….
but vibrant with a pregnant pungent life
which if inhaled infects the heart and fills me
with uneasy sweeping dreamy peace.  Peace

that may forget the old molasses and mosquitoes
of a Caribbean twice a sentence, twice a grave:
a candied killer and attractor, destroyer of the men
who made sugar for the craving and reward
that brought wealth beyond their avarice for the few
and a fevered anguished aguey death for many;

islands liberated but still branded by the stain of slavery,
when one was damned and ten, a hundred men were owned
to make an ancient sin industrial:  the power
and the desire to erase those people’s names
and chain their children to that rotten block –
the foundation stone of empires, the anchor of our trade.

Thirteen ways to view a season

August 9th : 124/1/913
An opening :
The day perplexes, as it startles us: welcome to an altered equilibrium….

October 4th : 124/24/910
Speed skill and movement flow at perfect pitch / and then a long consolidate

October 20th : 123/5/910
Battered but not bowed, we survive a mighty onslaught / to seize an opportunist win

October 24th : 125/8/942
Dominant and headed top / although clear weaknesses are on display

December 21st : 25/24/772
Moneyed rivals are outclassed. We’ll never sleep: excitement reigns all night!

December 28th : 123/5/907
Expectations rise, hopes surge, hearts open; the new year beckons and entices….

January 24th : 123/4/909
But the good guys are tricked again / by a thuggish cartoon bandit

March 2nd : 24/21/754
Plunging, in the thirty minute switch / from triumph to disaster

March 13th : 9/25/256
A perfect afternoon / except they had a plan and we had self-destruction

April 2nd : 126/21/968
Revenge is sweet, revenge is comprehensive / does it point the way ahead?

April 21st : 24/24/743
A sterling success, in isolation / but the coinage had already been debased

April 30th : 24/24/750
Sideways backwards slow. We have come to loathe predictability

May 15th : 24/22/745
An ending:
We grind a final clear-cut win / while that other lot implode;
Consistency eventually is excellent / when leavened by surprise!
Yet shadows gather in the wings / as we watch veterans depart.

 

[Originally posted May 16, 2016.  But since it was – in part – inspired by Wallace Stevens’ ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’, I thought I’d re-post it today]

STA

I was ambivalent and awkward, an outsider twice squared
who was fluent with an accent and my eccentric idiom –
just a small-town foreigner, come to work their way

except that I became a citizen by choice
of a city in the orbit, on the horizon’s outer edge
which signalled opportunity (although not in its back yard);

to discover England’s shrivelled heartbeat flutters weakly
in those precincts – and my veins, now clouded by regrets
much as the limestone-flooded water hardens in its pipes;

when little men entrench themselves to replace what they lack
where importance is a virtue and welcome is pretence
since inclusion is a theory here and amity a lie…

the princess, dressed/bare

I sensed its chill: a skin of fishscale and of early light
on lingering sea mist beyond the limestone wall,
a gossamer translucence across her graceful bones

Which once held power at bay – but were cast down
since she had been so brave and dared and lost;
the chosen in dissent, fated to be free
plundered by her enemies, forgotten by her friends

To be remembered later / in a sweet and clumsy way
as people come and go / and stop and stare
in shallow speculation / at the finery and weeds
of a bold abandoned princess / pale daughter of the sea

Whose pretty ghost can count for little now, except for play
by kings or strident citizens or idle revellers,
her corse still dressed before, stripped bare behind…

Their humbled vibrant sacrifice, borne prostrate unto God.

Who?

So should we find there is no choice
who will build a case to answer
force of arms and purpose, perhaps
to advocate a simple life with none,
or challenge views we’d closely held?

What room is there?
To choose to stand up in those times.
To accept our fate with dignity.
To grovel in denial, face down in the dirt.
Which is black or white or red?

Especially since the best are gone.

A game?

We may choose to make our play
between the black queen and the red,
the chariot and the high priestess,
until they blur together, outlines blending,
detail lost, on a random roulette spin

Knowing by custom red moves first and black responds
while red leads suit though black is trump –
but does black always follow? Must she observe
tradition and so leave room for red to breathe
or may she take initiative to end it?

Each breath we draw in genuine uncertainty
has consequence (or none) as yet unknown
no matter who should call or who may choose –
unless, unless, until black overturns the space.
Then who will be dealt with at a whim?