Do not forget, we were amazed when it was new.
Now it’s overlooked as everyday: faintly dismissed…
(although when we were young there was no story
unless someone crawled and wept)
Still. We all stand…
The thin and the fat. The healthy and the ill.
In healing or in stasis or decline.
With futures we may get to have: no longer
short and sharp, mostly, but chronically defined.
Dangling in the open, unreconciled –
were we but honest with ourselves –
although we co-exist, in the wake of an identity
A quest. What cause? What caught you up?
Maybe worry has no base, there is no reason for anxiety??!
Only… Why did we come this way? Was it short?
Who has come with us? Who have we left behind?
What if connections mattered less, and failure not at all
while we were still ourselves, and learning, in our rawness…
Skirting years of revolution for longer days of progress,
mercy, and dissent: creating value of our values ~
Forever next. Shared or solitary. We all stand.
An era comes to an end and we move into an uncertain future, with hope – always with hope.
Thank you, Arsene!
Heavy with experience and years, and growing stale
as I’ve grown dark, but not in colour (greying at the edge),
I glower round anxiety and tense the badly printed jaw
forming the overwhelming mouth which infects the skull
of my lopsided skeletal rack; chaired by my consent
into a passive beast beneath the kick applied by medicine…
Waiting for the finest drill to bite and whine its trace
into the measured root, I pause and hold to join
the lowest outer rank of silent honest fellowship;
I have come sideways to accept my birthright is to swim
among a sea of souls, who all share a trail of sentience
beyond confusions, coincidences and our suffering.
Dazed, upright, I am released to splash my calloused feet,
to paddle in the shallow clear and warm lagoon – before it
opens out beyond the fragile reef to darken with a shock
to indigo; a border marking the domain
of my acquaintances, those stalked by the white ghost
or hosting their mutated living cells…
We agreed not to look at any cracks in the construction
as if – we may have thought – that would make them go away.
They might have seemed too difficult to fix, anyway…
We liked each other in the gaps along our conversation
which is more important than your task, anyway…
So we used our tongues to draw for us
a world of the mind, like draughtsmen in our dreams…
Until an earthquake happened
Who could have planned for that, anyway?
There’s only so much that anyone can do!
Running fast to keep from falling, I stumbled anyway…
It’s not possible to win, always.
I was never very good at learning what was critical or not…
I did my best – although I know mistakes were made…
Anyway, I was entitled. Wasn’t I?
We had spoken about this –
When I gave you my safeword.
We had exchanged safewords before.
I felt your fingertips move down my back
Your rapid breathing heightened my excitement
As I turned expectantly :
Your hot flush still drying, cooling
on my chest, my belly and my thighs…
Your hesitation had been overridden
(please override my weakness and my fear)
In our silence
By the sudden shock of a first strike
And again, before recovery was full
Please punish me, again:
I hear your voice still anguished in the night
There is a grandeur in the landscape, lifted up and uplifting
and dry, or dried in brightening air.
It is matched by an earnestness amongst the people
who have been hardened in the ways of nature and cooperatives
but can now hold higher hopes out for their children, who are
open-faced with dark and shy and curious, serious eyes
burning through the open groves and scattered plots
and stooping limestone crags, towering
over the poverty of older lives, sheltered with their animals;
Living together in resilience in adversity, for however many
years and days of grace and gratitude god sends…
He had fled
as a child from the world of flood, a refugee unwelcome in his pack
who had felt afraid from the first; to find another place of faction
in which the weakest could show strength, where features concealed his fear…
His hands bled:
not minding strings of razor wire, he clambered on our fences,
he beat a bloody pulp against the bureau’s battle tank of process
but brushed aside the complex holograms besetting our enrichment
He would change.
Disliking men on task, on principle, he found enough belief
to claim control, to assert agency; but let his vision shrink into true faith
as roots turned in towards the cautious tearing agony of shifting shapes…
He was new:
on the right, his beard grew fierce and strong, in which he could rejoice
beneath a hooded eye, though his left profile was smooth and fair
like the face of a teen who had been young, without enjoyment.
Atlas stretched and flexed, but my brittle shoulders cracked;
which was sadly typical – or ingrained, even entrenched.
Versed in common rhetoric, I had adapted to the sweep of years
but shed a flake of life at each inflection:
~ When I’d learned to feed the looping thread towards the needle’s eye;
~ When I’d traced the whipping cord, recurring through the labyrinth –
pursuing meaning in the tail;
~ When I’d thought the prize to celebrate was learning how
to paper over cracks and fix some bugs – enough, to come again tomorrow;
~ When things I’d feared were inbuilt limitations to the versions that we share –
and the masks we wear, together;
~ When what survived was hidden in exceptions to my flawed pursuits
of mirages, of dreams I’d cared about so much – until I leant on them instead;
~ When (haltingly) I’d left behind those childish things, to find
that hope was badly drawn, and charity was bound, threadbare;
~ When threads were all there was to see.
At least – I think – those threads were real, despite my contemplation;
But did they – could they – lead to grace, or even beauty?
Now birds hunt not sing, evoking older fears
of a single strike we felt could cast us down;
and daydreams, of likening to those encountered briefly
while switching (versatile) between the roles
we’d made within the gift of life. Sometime supplicants,
always turning on the pinwheel, stiffened by surprise,
we are held safely, still, but shaking / in each others’ smoky hands
and cleaving to the promise of rebirth…
Branches etched out movement on a bright November sky
tracing their patterns of regret and birching silver stripes
of clarity above the shadowed lowering wood,
sharpened by a northwind blown across the course
to shiver those still trailing leaves of painted-on decay
in dissipated beauty drawn from distant, coppered splendour…
Cold and heedless of disorder under heaven
but (stumbling) striking sparks on harder ground,
we wandered through this landscape:
silent figures with our dogs, casting crablike
in their underworld of withered bush and musk,
stepping lightly through its sere, discoloured fall.