The Fall

 

storm-cloud

 

 

When the clouds broke, when the clouds

Truly tore apart: that was the moment

We realized, at last, that the sky

Was above us after all. Nothing

Makes you more aware of the

Vastness above you than the sudden

And entire collapse of it,

Its iron clang, the ferocity,

Its uncompromising reign from

One horizon to the next

Now bereft in the throes of war.

The sky, falling upon you, heavier than lead.

When the clouds broke, it was heaven

Breaking. It was the law

Of nature, just breaking. The taste

Of metal was water on the tongue,

The earth began to smell of it too, damp

And slick and under siege,

A cry was heard, the rain was a crowd

Jostling and jeering all around us;

You couldn’t move for it. As the clouds broke,

It was suffocating: the air was contaminated.

It invaded our lungs, coats, sodden shoes;

The cold clung to us. As it tore apart,

We sought shelter for ourselves, looking on

In abject homelessness; and

Our idle understanding that the sky

Would always be up there, benign like some

Passive, laissez-faire and absent God:

That too was broken.

 

 

I’m often asked to write with less reliance on structures and meters. So I decided to translate that to the subject matter in this poem, too: the moment in life when, all at once, something you have taken for granted is torn apart above your very head. 

 

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Staying Afloat

 

drowning-art

 

Although we live forgetting, we are but

One breath apart

 

From drowning. Drifting gently, though I may,

The current’s hold

 

Can coldly take me down; I merely float

Above that thought.

 

It only takes one grasp of memory

To clench a heart.

 

 

 

…Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. 

 

A Devil’s Bridge

 

devil-bridge-pic

 

Throughout our world is granite proof

Of the devil’s hand:

 

Bridges too ancient to have used

The techniques of man,

 

To manipulate the stone itself

To hold in place;

 

The mass of rock impossible

To bear its weight

 

Across an impassible gulf,

A dream too wide.

 

A fiendish architect had to abet

This treacherous lane,

 

To construct this path on earth: to pave

The mortar in these stones,

 

The devil’s hand, they say, was in it.

Man sold his soul

 

To lease a bridge which still demands

The greatest toll.

 

 

Short little piece on devil’s bridges. I am not convinced by the folkloric claims myself, but it certainly adds an air of mystery to them. Pictured is the Rakotzbrücke in Germany, a particularly fairytale-like example. 

Half Rhymes to my Nemesis

 

sherlock nemesis.jpg

 

The basis of all lasting loves is, of course,

The sense of danger.

 

I place my piece on the checkered board,

You cast your wager;

 

Keep me on my toes, poised in position

For a moment’s threat,

 

Held tight in the throes of anticipation,

A grasping breath.

 

And so, I treat you as my one

Nemesis; and like all true

 

Nemeses, I dedicate my soul,

My waking life to you.

 

Sparring partner, my opponent.

I stake my claim,

 

For all I am, every waking moment

In our lovers’ game.

 

I second-guess you, test my chances

As a doubter

 

Too wary not throw spilt salt behind

His own left shoulder;

 

A grown man who still dare not glance

In a darkened room,

 

Held by your menace, there; thrilled by

Your next move.

 

 

For Blair. Keep me on my toes. 

Art by “Hoo0”: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Sherlock-Moriarty-293702850; http://hoo0.deviantart.com/

A Surfeit of Autumn

 

autumn surfeit.jpg

 

It is not for a lack of love

That my heart is burdened,

But the surfeit;

 

Not from loss of dappled leaves

That the golden birches

Now must suffer:

 

The ochre patterns long to live.

But their pain has broadened

Their wait from summer.

 

No branch can hold that gold aloft,

The weight unbidden,

A hurtful summit;

 

And it is not for a lack of love

That my heart’s now burdened,

But the surfeit.

 

 

For Mum. 

 

Under the Weather

 

changingweather

 

I am awfully British. Terribly, terribly British. And it is an entirely correct accusation against us that we are fixated on our ever-changing weather. Our temperate maritime climate is just one endless kaleidoscopic mess. Every day is a sodden adventure. But we have incorporated this into our collective psyche, our language for moods, emotions, fears, aspirations. That, I think, can be quite beautiful. 

 

Like a passing cloud. You speak

About this mood as though

The weather itself is changeable, a

Storm in a teacup, prone

To blowing hot and cold, subject

To changing pressures.

You accuse us of pathetic fallacy.

 

The sky though, despite seeming

Ever-changeable, has memory.

She has played these colours

Countless times.

Over our heads she has draped

Herself in lilacs, lowering herself

To deeper hues, as she seeps in blue

Time and time again. She has

Never changed in that respect, my dear,

 

Delighting overhead,

Writing her own turns of phrase

And inspiring ours;

It may seem though it’s changing, but

It’s the same old dance of an shameless atmosphere.

 

And unlike our moods, the sky

Is endless.

 

 

Throwaway

 

We cling to keepsakes we should lose,

The ornamental stuff;

And choose to sell those simple things

Of which there aren’t enough.

 

Precious moments, thrown like coins,

We spend them, for we must.

While years are lost on older hearts,

Who gather them like dust;

 

Faith is misspent by the trusting,

The faithful and forgiving;

Our youth is wasted on the young,

As love is, on the living.

 

 

My brother once wrote a poem to the effect that, if youth is wasted on the young, then wisdom is wasted on the living. The young, of course, cannot be told. Youth cannot be invested: it can only be spent. And our final years cannot be frittered meaninglessly, but instead must be treasured. There’s an ironic symmetry to it.

By way of an analogous metaphor, we say that our “patience is spent,” or we “lose our temper.” Interesting linguistics there. These are qualities we should keep, in a way; but are fungible, devoured through use. 

So, I quickly jotted out a brief lyrical verse. Quite jolly in meter, I suppose, despite the subject matter.