Poetry Blog by Chris Hubbard (2017)

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Heretic

My studies have given me a legacy of interest in many and wide-ranging social, moral and ethical fields and concerns, as well as the politics of power. This piece is a manifestation of that legacy.

 

"The world is splitting open at my feet like a ripe, juicy watermelon." Sylvia Plath.

On her gravestone: “Even amidst fierce flames, the golden lotus can be planted.” Wu Ch'Eng-En.

 

He...

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Time and Windows

This poem is a reverie and contemplation of my mother.

Time and Windows

If the past is a tattered old book,

then why am I a ghost

at my mother's window,

so clear I can sense her mystery,

and her brown eyes, so alive?

 

Look, I can fly to her

through the high windows

of my memory

until I'm so close that she disappears,

and the curtain flutters silently.

 

A...

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Stone Poem

 

 

Stone Poem

 

The church yard is restless in winter shadow;

dying elms fret in a wuthering wind

beyond the wide hoar-frosted meadow,

whistling by headstones, cold as sin.

 

Then a raven croaks its grating chortle,

black eyes casting glances down

to where dark-clad people mourn a mortal,

who yielded her soul to Lucifer's crown.

 

One, a priest of tainted...

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Winter Town

This is my vision of a certain cast of English village (not so much in springtime).

Winter Town

 

March winds stir listless eddies,

fluke in tired gusts over thin pools,

flare through fields of stubble

then flag, exhausted, sour and wheezing

from the blowing day;

coughing, rubbing arthritic fingers,

cold as a church bell sounds the hours.

 

Spring will be late this...

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Slow Train to Freedom

Slow Train to Freedom

Have you ever had the feeling, late one night,

that you're pounding down an ever-narrowing path

without the strength to either flee or fight?

 

Your feet touch with fear this wanton, ferocious earth,

but the stars reflected in your teal-blue eyes

are the brazier-fires of a homeless hearth.

 

Then a slow train, velvet-clad under coated skies,

pass...

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every word

“ …. every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness” (Beckett)

 

every word

Be born, live, cry, die; always cry.

Why cry?

 

Why not?

 

I am not on Earth

to fail to exist,

or any other madman's fantasy.

 

Sammy found something

worthwhile:

he found

- Nothing.

 

Eat, move, create, decay;

earthen in earth

for the Archaeologis...

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cryEarthearthenfantasygnomicNothing

Dream River

This poem has its origins long ago in a jaunt on the Mississippi river on board the paddle-steamer SS Natchez.

Dream River

As water-light dances through cabin blinds

in scintillant counterpoint to her chattering bow,

a brooding threnody of whistles fills up the big boat's horizon-lines;

the mate checks the bearing of her painted prow.

Well-worn warrior of river life, paddles slap...

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Moon Pool

Cowaramup is a small farming and tourist community in the Margaret River wine region of South-West Western Australia. My visit long ago remains an unsettling memory of alienation.

 

Moon Pool

The blue-black raven night

draws opal-scented folds

from quicksilver sparkle, scattered

like smashed glass over meeting grounds.

 

So it is, at this paddock fence

beside the scoop o...

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cloud-streetsmoonnonesensepasturesquicksilvervoyagers

Stone of Love

This poem was written in memory of my mother.

 

Stone of Love

 

Pietà lies abandoned

on pavements

of Augustus, Caius, Caligula,

a kernel of rock

in the heart of Rome.

 

For love in stone

was never so feared

as the atrocious Emperors

who turned Love toward

such stone,

and fixed pity for ever

with boiling madness;

 

yet Pity was feared:

becaus...

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Water Street

This poem follows from my earlier work "Wet", set in the city of Cairns, Far North Queensland. Having reached the place, the next challenge is to figure out how to survive in the prevailing weather conditions: 100 percent humidity and massive daily rainfall. Air conditioning helps, somewhat.

 

Water Street

Summer was the waiting for the Wet:

On Water Street, old Queenslanders

creake...

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The Glowering Mists of Autumn

The Glowering Mists of Autumn

 

As I travel life's journey I'm often-times struck

By a vision both novel and possibly true; that serenity

In a dangerous world without luck,

Is impossible; but is there a temporal divinity?

 

Perhaps the root causes of wonder and joy

Really are in the sky, or on Dante's fine peak,

Or my fireside, where the dance won't annoy

In the compa...

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Perignon

Perignon

 

Bush-light shadowed footsteps

through seamless, speechless

desert places,

followed as we trod slipping sandhills,

the sibilant, curling wind

twisting lips around;

 

lay black,

motionless,

pinned by envy like butterflies

on grey trays of jejune absolution:

tired eyes traced satellites in sun-fires,

as sirens whooped in our memories

and night m...

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De Jeune

 

Sometimes, inspiration and imagination have strange effects.

 

De Jeune

 

Swallows dive, swoon

like wind-swayed ink drops

down, and beyond the light:

 

swallowed by the sky,

flown blue, over

road-birds – honed

by simple flight.

 

Like arrows in Canada

in thunderhead afternoons:

clouds rolling, rutting hinds

in migration, pounding sand-trails,

...

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Great White Heron

While visiting the ancient fortified town of Chinon in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, I noticed examples of both kinds of protagonists mentioned in this poem. Although the latter proved harmless (at least to our group) I much prefer the former, especially at sundown.
 

Great White Heron


 

A great white heron struts through

tangled water meadows

in search of boneless mor...

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Life by Numbers

Life by Numbers

 

1. My father walks the sea-edge and is young, as a child is young.

2. My father's voice is hardwood, and timpan drums.

7. My father's eyes are tired.

16. The cyclone clouds hang swollen sheets above.

19. I am afraid.

20. I shall put fear at the bottom of depths the deep blue made.

25. My brothers' arms surround me.

31. We sit on the brim of laughter, an...

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Australia Centurion

Australia Centurion

 

Heidelberg light, hard edged;

not sharp-cutting wire

knifed thru fractured mica.

as old canvas turns

 

gold to sepia, brown to aged

ebony, in descending years

gone back, down, away,

 

to where we survive

 

and lie cocooned – like pupae

of paper wasps

in interstices of time, locked

in desiccated people-nests.

 

alive and dy...

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darknessheartbeatsHeidelbergintersticesmicapupaesepiashards of lightStreeton's

Air Worthiness

 

Air Worthiness

 

The Harris hawk is sleek and fast; fine-boned,

she swoops free from an armoured glove

towards some distant, perfect perch,

only then to see and hear the falconer's call; to search,

then sweep down to the hand that feeds and nurtures.

A hooded hostage; in restless freedom she presents a bleeding dove.

 

Trimmed hawks hunt in packs on Argentine pampas...

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Lady Porcelain Kindness

Lady Porcelain Kindness

 

A lady with clear pale skin, few blemishes

mar her daily perfection, playing a flawless part

in her sharp European presence.

 

Inclining her head like a brisk marching soldier

into First Year lecture theatres, she convinces

the boys of the glittering sincerity

of her blue, blue eyes. Somehow wise

beyond her twenty-four years,

she does joie...

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The Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds was built in marble more than 2,000 years ago in the Roman Agora (meeting place) of Athens. It is believed to be the world's first weather station (and public time-piece). Almost intact, its octagonal construction echoes the eight principal compass points. Saved from the depredations of Lord Elgin, who plotted its removal to Britain over 200 years ago, the restored Tower now...

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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, emblazoned 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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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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Solitude

Solitude

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

 

Chris Hubbard

2016
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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 thou...

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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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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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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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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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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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