Poetry Blog by Chris Hubbard
I have always hankered after the life of the artist - including the world of the visual arts. In retirement I have the opportunity to follow that yearning.
The Humble Heart of the Craftsman
As corruption sheds its sting when seen
from lofty heights,
so humility shows its mettle
in the steady care of the gifted creator;
turning one's gaze from skilled hands
to the thi...
Wednesday 15th November 2017 3:29 pm
The Quiet Soldier
Why am I fighting these foes of mine?
(I know it's a soldier's fate)
to shoot my gun and die – yes, me as well as him,
when I see the blood on his cape
and his dead eyes shine;
by then it's too late for me and him alike -
but to the battle I return
with rifle and defiance primed
and hoards of bravado to turn and strike
when the muzzle-blasts out...
Monday 13th November 2017 5:09 am
When I am a sculptor, famed
in the shadow of Moore or
Hepworth, I shall fashion
in black marble an image of eternity;
Aphrodite shall dance a slow pavane
without her customary passion, and
shall shine within the foaming waters
of this brutal and ungodly Earth.
Wednesday 8th November 2017 1:26 pm
Please note that this poem is pure fantasy!
Oh, really, I find it so unutterably tedious
to be polite when faced with one so odious
as you. And yet, I must say
that you do, at times, take my breath away,
at least when I forget all your manifold flaws,
and the gold stashed beneath your creaky floorboards;
but I don't mean to be too unduly unkind,
Tuesday 7th November 2017 5:43 am
The Imperfect Gardener
Someone once said, long ago or last week,
that it's futile on a finite and populous planet
to seek a truth, or a finely polished apple,
in the still-life-on-canvas we daily behold,
and by such uncouth behaviour
we are mostly confounded, and fail to grapple.
So we're prisoners here, in uncounted millions,
unable to leap high or fast enough to...
Sunday 5th November 2017 1:25 am
Sun - Kings
The Aegean sleeps in sunbreath,
sparkling like a gift
to children on a beach;
splashing whales breach among the caïques
while drifting, effortless, to baked islands
harsh as truth, gentle as giants.
On shattered Santorini riders thread Vespas
along sea-shores and white-dusted heights; whores
cling tight with promises to come.
Corniche poseurs dri...
Friday 3rd November 2017 12:45 am
Arthur Stace, a First World War veteran and illiterate alcoholic, was known as “Mister Eternity” . For 35 years he inscribed the cryptic precept “Eternity” in yellow, waterproof chalk, using an inexplicable copperplate hand, on pavements throughout Sydney. Asked why, he would merely reply “Makes 'em think”. Arthur's dictum was sent around the world, emblazened in huge letters across Sydney Harbour...
Monday 30th October 2017 6:41 am
This piece, over twenty years old, came to me largely in a dream about being a poet.
We sat on the wharf at East Balmain,
where the ferries make the Harbour
and Robert Adamson floated away
with grace on the violent tide,
as we looked on the streams
of the living
(as in air, we were in motion)
and in action, and relative calm...
Sunday 29th October 2017 2:21 pm
Who said reusable resources are a modern invention? Rubbish!
It's said that no-one should ever die wondering
on which road to travel, how not to go blundering
in dangerous places, when it's best to be pondering
why the rain plays its tricks, why there's no distant thundering. . . .
As the years pass us by we add to our history,
little by little we work out...
Saturday 28th October 2017 3:48 am
While poring over dusty corners of an ancient night
I sang in darken'd evening flight, a voice edged
by the pain of doubt, a tempered blade to fight
an inner shout; the fearful dredge
of insomnia, the purgatory of my silent gaze;
remembrance too of sultry Australian dog days.
South-West karris loom ink-black, and rustle
as night-walkers, stepp...
Friday 27th October 2017 12:55 pm
The Fire and the Rose
If death greets us singly, one-by-one, alone
And asks why we should not be taken back,
The brave will say (or else the wiser grown)
That little terror lies along that track;
Since each knows well he lives in separate rooms
Though sometimes letting others stay awhile,
But still the doorway closes as a tomb
Excludes affliction, slights the sinner's ...
Thursday 26th October 2017 1:05 pm
in a world of two colours
the rush of the wind.
Thursday 26th October 2017 12:58 pm
The Sugar Glider is a gliding marsupial, native to Eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea.
The sweetest thing
I ever saw
Was a Sugar Glider
In a syrup-of-fig tree.
I looked at her,
She at me,
And we swooped down
To canefields of Eden.
Thursday 26th October 2017 12:49 pm
This poem first suggested itself to me while looking at the magnificent mountain scenery of Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. Beautifully dangerous!
A Mountain Cameo
Silvered by many alpine peaks, an orange sun
reflects, glass-like, off still dawn meltwaters,
a fireball inside a snow-white aural gleam
thrown carelessly into a child's rockpool.
Streaming no r...
Wednesday 25th October 2017 6:59 am
Who can identify the town that is the primary focus of this lament?
The Sky Reflects Our Labours
Her calloused hands and tired eyes,
are grey and wet and green and steely;
her gaze is stoic, and often flinty
at the JobCentre counter, as her future dies.
The grey-blue smoking ramparts march,
graven beyond the terracotta houses;
their Wellsian vision of War arou...
Tuesday 24th October 2017 3:22 am
When the morning's flight
lifts the darkened blind,
and slows the speed of time,
be ready in your heart and mind
with gratitude, as you drift
on a sweet and quiet river,
lined by silent watchers;
remember their gifts, and the jewels
of the givers,
For that light is sure to glow
fierce and steady in your memory -...
Sunday 22nd October 2017 4:07 pm
The Eye of Morning
I am the arrow of dawn, and
rise as the archer kneels,
strains his bow, sets the sky ablaze,
dissolves at the borderland
between light and shade, Heaven
and Hell; his firebrands mere crass
cascades of incendiary petals,
guttering in chiaroscuro swells.
Behold the evanescent rose-glow
of morning's opening eye.
Friday 20th October 2017 1:41 pm
This poem carries faint echoes of winter in a Mediterranean climate, in this case the South West of Western Australia; limpid skies, stormclouds threatening, people in overcoats walking hastily. Rather like an English summer, I would have thought!
And Now I'm Old
And now I'm old as softening apples
left forgotten on a sideboard
after a windy day,
the murmur of the evening room...
Thursday 19th October 2017 11:09 am
"... any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...
— John Donne, Meditation XVII.
Saint Christopher Bell
We seem to be collectors
of memories and junk,
piles of the stuff;
both kinds lean against damp walls
in self-support, waiting
finding little but ...
Thursday 19th October 2017 10:19 am
This is my humble commentary on that matchless Middle Eastern and Indian story-book “One Thousand and One Nights”. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite of the same name is the perfect musical accompaniment!
Tell me, Scheherazade, how you fled
the evil emir like a bleeding lion,
his twisting, vengeful face now full with
requieted lust; your wisdom shines...
Thursday 19th October 2017 8:34 am
I walk alone across a pale beach
at midnight, lit by shaky moonlight
reflected from the black ribs
of disturbed sea-shallows. A sharp breeze
beckons from the dunes; inviting warmth,
with duplicitous intent. My ease is not available
for casual enticement.
No, I seek a place of peaceful aloneness
where sloughing sand is my choice,
Thursday 19th October 2017 2:26 am
This is an attempt to capture the alien strangeness of the Nullarbor Plain which borders the Great Australian Bight. Despite its name it has plenty of hardy trees in places, but no surface water whatsoever. It is a totally flat expanse of bedrock almost seven hundred miles wide, and I have driven every inch of it!
The Traveller's Eye
O the light flows quickly over this blasted plain,...
Tuesday 17th October 2017 4:24 pm
Passions of the Soul
Like a lighthouse set on rocky shores
we gaze at the world within our sight
with scant regard for any cause;
indifferent as the mosquito's flight,
and chatter gaily over tea or beer
on friendship, crime or the next career.
But I am ego: I stand alone,
a moral agent in time and tide.
With resolution I keep my own
counsel; hermit-like, my thoug...
Sunday 15th October 2017 1:50 pm
As a former educator and writer on international relations, and especially on nuclear issues, my students often tried to inveigle from me my own position on the worst of all weapons. I never succumbed.
the distant siren
Horizons clatter in fusillades,
cracking barrages warn the Furies
to grasp the running
Friday 13th October 2017 2:56 pm
This poetical rumination reflects my own ambivalence, as an immigrant to Australia almost half a century ago, towards my Australian existence. Is one's life largely the result of mere serendipity or is it, at least partially, malleable in our own hands?
Shall I reject a life lead so far
from home? Or lament the existential negligence
of fifty years I did not ha...
Wednesday 11th October 2017 1:44 pm
This is a commentary on living, when the living is hard.
Dawn has come to smother the light
in my house.
As I douse the candle's flicker
its feeble flame shines at the window,
lifting the road beyond
into patterned pathways, glinting
in the early bright;
the soft rain of midnight's darkling succour
is almost gone.
It will return tomorrow, u...
Wednesday 11th October 2017 8:54 am
Beyond these indifferent walls
lies a second carapace,
pierced by small, green eyes
in a shimmering face.
It is not my own,
but lies are truths for actors;
they bandage wounds
when the liars rebel
while fleeing, open-mouthed,
from their savage selves.
Wednesday 11th October 2017 1:02 am
Doors and Windows
The simplest of houses,
doors and windows framed in white,
contains a universe within -
immured in the aura
of its keeper's light.
Tuesday 10th October 2017 5:47 am
Salt and Light
Lofty and proud, the mighty cathedral stands,
grandly waits for its faithful servants
(more on fine days - they're not exactly fervent).
Tourists chatter in, grow quiet in its shadowed womb,
some trace vanishing points among the tombs.
A child holds his mother by the hand.
Distant echoes rebound through quire and transept
as the stained glass kaleid...
Monday 9th October 2017 6:32 am
This poem was written after a day exploring Omaha Beach, one of the D-Day invasion beaches of Normandy.
Before the dawn the north wind rails
at electric curtains of purple, acid green;
soft and terrible sails
that drape the stars,
flare bright as crystaline arctic nights.
Shall I walk far through silver beech
to reach hibernating huntsmen? Snow-shoed,
can I f...
Sunday 8th October 2017 12:39 pm
This is my return to the submissions list after seven months of travel, during which I was often either incommunicado, or almost so. Technical wizardry does not always work as advertised. I do not seem to be able to suppress my historical bent.
Part One: Defiance
A land made soft
by Heaven's tears, cried
thru' blankets hung aloft.
Some ask wit...
Friday 6th October 2017 11:47 am
This beach experience has nothing to do with Yorkshire, except its name! And yes, it does get that hot.
On Scarborough Beach
flash dry fades
in the turn of the world,
a shield of furnace flame
as callous sears
your flickering city
where dance of sea-glint,
and cannily coast-wise
primates gather, cower,
crouch in ...
Monday 6th March 2017 9:07 am
This poem is a short affirmation and image of a small holiday island some eleven miles offshore from Fremantle, Western Australia. It began as a prison for aboriginal men and boys after 1838, and from 1902 served as a gubernatorial retreat from the intense summer heat. It is sear and dry, bereft of natural surface water, and now is a watery playground for fishers, boaters, surfers and many others....
Tuesday 28th February 2017 11:43 am
This poem is about flying into the city of Cairns in the far north of Queensland, and its lush and dangerous tropicality. This is an exotic part of Australia I know well. Specifically, it recalls my experiences of the wet season, when the rain falls in torrents, crocodiles inhabit the suburbs, and the humidity is like a sauna.
Tall drips of confusion
bombard flying fox invad...
Friday 24th February 2017 6:30 am
Midday's sun lifts to touch the faint horizon,
a pale discus rolling slowly along,
then gone. The lonely writer, limned in crimson
at her window desk, her ego strong,
her spirits cold as the icy scene before her,
shakes her head, breathes deeply, turns blind
from winter as snow begins its feathery fall;
The heater roars its warmth like an angry hin...
Thursday 23rd February 2017 11:48 am
A friend of mine recently completed the Camino pilgrimage of Saint James from Lourdes in France to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Northern Spain. He did it in two section a year apart, and walked, rather than cycled, all the way. I have no idea how he got there.
Saint James of the Field of Stars
I'm a travelling cyclist
(the type with panniers,
sturdy boots, waterproofs)...
Monday 20th February 2017 11:35 am
This poem is about growing old.
The City Shadowed
I cannot remember my name. And
where I came from. Or when I came here.
I am not from this place, this city, and
its silent people, its pale-vaulted sky,
its black shadow silhouettes
flickering lightly across blank walls.
Here the bar staff talk in lilting Irish
cadences, and look straight through you
Thursday 16th February 2017 5:39 am
Saudade is one of those inexpressible words, Portuguese in this case. The clearest meaning or definition I can come up with is 'melancholic nostalgia' or the like. This is my attempt to take that thought one step further.
The poem is best read by first reading the non-italicised stanzas, followed by the italicised ones.
Proteus, Old Man of the Sea,
Thursday 16th February 2017 4:08 am
Back in 1995 I seem to have been a whole lot angrier than I am today! And more lost. But there's certainly some energy here.
Lost when your eyes are too wide,
lost when the sky
shouts high notes
when it should be whispering;
lost when the fires die.
Lost when complete strangers
give you the finger and grin,
or when the beer and the noise stop
Sunday 12th February 2017 2:55 pm
I went to an extraordinary exhibition last year called "Spirit of Anzac" which was touring all over Australia. It came closer than anything I've seen in capturing the daily experiences of those who fought, and died, in the First World War, and especially in trench warfare on the Western Front. I have tried to express something of that experience, as I understand it.
Adagio of the Heart
Sunday 12th February 2017 9:38 am
This poem, from many years ago, is a fantasy about the liminal stage of a rite of passage. Looking back, I can see Celtic sensibility here that I was previously unaware of.
A Man I Know
A man I know stood beside me.
Looking up at paradise birds
he reflected their colours
with steel eyes in blinding
he began to speak:
Friday 10th February 2017 12:25 pm
This allegorical poem came out of my awareness of time passing, and a sense of the ultimately insubstantial or superficial qualities of much of this life that, as we grow older, seem less important or valuable than they once were.
Faith, old friend, so wise and fulsome,
faded beauty at end of day,
draw me aside in a beechwood spinney,
make me swear on the code with...
Thursday 2nd February 2017 1:57 pm
Everyone deserves a dream or two.
Sleeping in a Forest
Light and fire and music
all dance within me
in this perfect, silent forest
as she welcomes me to her breast,
full with fallen seeds and crinkled leaves
for my head; my bed of ashen river stones,
murmured possums, and repose. Long I slept
while overhead the white-hot starfields
bent to their nightly arcs...
Monday 30th January 2017 9:16 am
A while ago, before I retired, I was concerned for the welfare of my students on reading a piece discussing the alleged widespread use of the psycho-stimulant Retalin by Australian university undergraduates. As a performance enhancer it was said to often be accompanied by depressants to reverse the effects. For some, it may have served as an introduction to more addictive and even more pernicious ...
Friday 27th January 2017 12:41 pm
This is my attempt to understand both the dangers and rewards awaiting those who dare to write - and then send the results out into the ether.
Writing is exquisite pain and pleasure, bound
in sprayed-on railway walls, in tapping dry
black torrents like gushing wells: ill-found,
spectacular but slowly emptying to reveal
a vault of sky so bright, so slyly hiding its...
Thursday 26th January 2017 9:59 am
All I can say about this poem is that I am fascinated by deep history, and especially Greek and Roman history. I do believe that many mediate the distant past through myth and allegory, and of course our personal narratives. But human nature never changed, and never will.
How willing are the many
who run races they cannot win, to peer
in fashioned sin to sear a rival? How ...
Wednesday 25th January 2017 10:39 am
This poem is for all those still searching for home.
Sailing an Inland Sea
A stark white galley, sail aloft,
Knifes liquid mirrors, softly heaving,
Its pattering stem a story-teller
For fishers caught
On idle frontiers, poised
Between vaults of washed cerulean.
Its Master sighs to distant shores, yearning
For Phoenicia's Thalassa; a place of purple -...
Tuesday 24th January 2017 1:08 am
A while ago, I was reminded by my brother that our grandfather had fought in the Battle of the Somme, on the Western Front in 1916, where he was wounded and evacuated back home. This is for him, and for everyone.
Snow and Lightning
When winter paints the churned land white,
and splintered trees hang like sentinel flames,
snowfall that dusts bloody parapet stains
hardens to a sa...
Sunday 22nd January 2017 7:35 am
I was idly thumbing through Youtube a while ago when I came across a short piece showing Bobby Kennedy on the back of a flatbed truck in a poor district of Indianapolis, Indiana on 4th April 1968. Announcing the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he was able to calm a crowd ready to riot at the news. He did so by the force of his words, his rhetoric and his humanity. As many American cities ...
Tuesday 17th January 2017 3:29 pm
This poem emerged after I had seen a documentary programme about Macquarie Island, an Australian but sub-Antarctic dot-on-the-map in the Southern Ocean, south of New Zealand. Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' seemed a suitable matrix on which to build it.
The big bird spreads its vast black wings
over high-flown, tufted, blustering clifftops,
Monday 16th January 2017 6:20 am
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