Poetry Blog by Chris Hubbard

The Humble Heart of the Craftsman

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...

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The Quiet Soldier

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...

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Pavane

Pavane

 

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.

 

Chris Hubbard

Budapest

2016.

 

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Tone Poem

Please note that this poem is pure fantasy!

 

Tone Poem

 

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,

...

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The Imperfect Gardener

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...

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Sun - Kings

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...

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Mister Eternity

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...

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Adamson Adrift

This piece, over twenty years old, came to me largely in a dream about being a poet.

 

Adamson Adrift

We sat on the wharf at East Balmain,

where the ferries make the Harbour

never still,

 

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

...

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AdamsonblossomingCaribbeanHarbourHart Craneindifferencelivingmagpiestidetransparency

Palimpsest

Who said reusable resources are a modern invention? Rubbish!

 

Palimpsest

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...

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Three Nocturnes

 

Three Nocturnes

 

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...

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The Fire and the Rose

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 ...

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bravedeathdoorwayguileseparateshadeshadowstombtriumphs

Solitude

Solitude

Autumn solitude
in a world of two colours
the rush of the wind.

 

Chris Hubbard

2016
 

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Autumntwowindworld

Sugar Glider

The Sugar Glider is a gliding marsupial, native to Eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea.

 

Sugar Glider

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.

 

Chris Hubbard

Perth

1995

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canefieldsSugar of Fig TreeSweetestswooped

A Mountain Cameo

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...

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auraleldersMountainreliquariesshoreline

The Sky Reflects Our Labours

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...

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Quiet River

Quiet River

 

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 -

...

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The Eye of Morning

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.

 

Chris Hubbard

Perth. 201...

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And Now I'm Old

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

...

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Saint Christopher Bell

"... 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

for purpose,

finding little but ...

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ambitionsBeatitudedefianceexpectationsjunklingersmemoriesneglectself-supportthe traveller

Scheherazade

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!

 

Scheherazade

 

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

...

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bleedingdawningdoomfineryScheherazadesilkensunsettriumphwisdom

Solitaire

 

Solitaire

 

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,

and possibilit...

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beachchoicedunesenticementgalaxymidnightrockpoolsmile

The Traveller's Eye

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,

...

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earthgumsnightmaresspinifexsteamtrainturtles

Passions of the Soul

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...

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Alexandriaeyesflightgazelighthousemoral agentthinking

Oppenheimer

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.

 

Oppenheimer

 

Listen:

the distant siren

entices, fades;

Horizons clatter in fusillades,

 

cracking barrages warn the Furies

to grasp the running

menace

of desir...

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JanusmenacesirenStentorsupplicationtinctureZarathustra

Atlantic Elegy

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?

 

Atlantic Elegy

 

Shall I reject a life lead so far

from home? Or lament the existential negligence

of fifty years I did not ha...

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AshesAustraliafastnessesforeignfulgentnegligence

Invisible Rain

This is a commentary on living, when the living is hard.

 

Invisible Rain

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...

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balmcandledarklingdawninvisiblejourneypathways

Mirage

 Mirage

 

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.

 

Christopher Hubbard

Perth 2016

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actorscarapaceliarssavageshimmeringtruthwounds

Doors and Windows

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.

 

Chris Hubbard

St. Romain-en-Viennois.

France

2017

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auradoorslightuniversewindows

Salt and Light

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...

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bishopcathedraldeanrainsoulstombs.echoes

Aurora

This poem was written after a day exploring Omaha Beach, one of the D-Day invasion beaches of Normandy.

Aurora

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...

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coniferscrystalinefrozenMonetsunriseterrible

Lincoln Triptych

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.

 

Lincoln Triptych

 

Part One: Defiance

 

A land made soft

by Heaven's tears, cried

thru' blankets hung aloft.

 

Some ask wit...

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cimarrondefianceLincolnpilgrimsentinelsilvern

On Scarborough Beach

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,

        fixed near

and cannily coast-wise

   primates gather, cower,

crouch in ...

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bach flower remediesbalmbeachblazingDanteanglintnightseasilica

Chariots of the Sun

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....

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Wet

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.

 

Wet

 

Tall drips of confusion

bombard flying fox invad...

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CairnspilotstropicsweatherboardWet Season

Silhouette

 

Silhouette

 

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...

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coldSilencesnowsun

Saint James of the Field of Stars

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)

...

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GaliciaParadorpilgrimageSaint JamesSantiago de CompostellaSpain

The City Shadowed

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

as ...

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Saudade

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.

 

Saudade

 

Proteus, Old Man of the Sea,

Neptune's shepherd...

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EnglandlionNeptuneOrionProteusseabirdsserpent

Lost

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

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

and y...

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eyesLostwidewinter

Adagio of the Heart

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

...

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heartliesshellshocktrenchesWar

A Man I Know

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

in flight,

he reflected their colours

with steel eyes in blinding

scintillations. Carefully,

he began to speak:

 

“...

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ColourEarthheatrainforestscintillations

Losing Faith

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.

 

Losing Faith

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...

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beechescyclingFaithflame treesLincolnsea-breezewine

Sleeping in a Forest

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...

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fireforestliquidSleep

Poppy

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 ...

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drugsPoppyredsky

Bright Sky

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.

 

Bright Sky

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...

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comprehensionskywhispersWriting

A Rider

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.

 

A Rider

How willing are the many

who run races they cannot win, to peer

in fashioned sin to sear a rival? How ...

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bayfightersRomans

Sailing an Inland Sea

 

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 -

...

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couragehomesailorssea

Snow and Lightning

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...

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1916BattleFrontthe SommeWestern

Aeschylus Unbound

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 ...

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Ocean Wanderer

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.

 

 

Ocean Wanderer

 

The big bird spreads its vast black wings

over high-flown, tufted, blustering clifftops,

takes...

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