Poetry Blog by john short

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john short on STONE BAGUETTE (13 days ago)

Devon Brock on STONE BAGUETTE (14 days ago)

Jason Bayliss on ON A SICILIAN BEACH (Sat, 15 Jun 2019 08:30 pm)

john short on BEACHED (Thu, 13 Jun 2019 03:25 pm)

Chloé Mballa on BEACHED (Thu, 13 Jun 2019 06:21 am)

john short on INVOLVED IN SWITZERLAND (Tue, 11 Jun 2019 02:48 am)

Martin Elder on INVOLVED IN SWITZERLAND (Mon, 10 Jun 2019 09:42 am)

john short on SURVIVAL (Tue, 21 May 2019 05:10 pm)

raypool on SURVIVAL (Tue, 21 May 2019 12:09 pm)

john short on SURVIVAL (Mon, 20 May 2019 10:22 pm)

STONE BAGUETTE

STONE BAGUETTE

Narbonne 1987

 

At eight in the morning, after coffee

we must leave the House of Friendship

to pass the freezing day the best we can.

 

The Mistral is relentless so wine is bought

from a supermarket. All of us adrift

in the pointless boat of this town's winter.

 

Watching the more fortunate as they pass,

we wrap up well and comment on life;

we ...

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ON A SICILIAN BEACH

ON A SICILIAN BEACH

A ladybird lands

on my foot in the sand

as I'm reading The Life of Pi.

A blue stretch of sea

carried me here

where an army of shiny black beetles

unbreakable as tanks

will persist in trundling by.

He was days on a boat

now I'm days in the sand

getting browner

eating pizza

reading this book

with no appetite to leave.

 

 

 

 

...

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INVOLVED IN SWITZERLAND

INVOLVED IN SWITZERLAND

He said he was a poet

but his modest recognition

would dissolve in a bottomless sea,

 

that he wrote in the dead of night

then washed up on distant shores

where his shoes were seen walking alone.

 

That he could catch the words

that welled in his mouth

like vagabonds shuffling darkly

towards unbearable daylight.

 

He said he failed ...

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BEACHED

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BEACHED

She left him like a boat

when the tide has gone out,

sandbank hours filling time.

Stole his dreams to distant sea

and drowned them in the depths

but up there in obsidian sky

the universe was concealed

behind a curtain of wonder:

silver stars he couldn't see.

He just couldn't see.

 

 

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SURVIVAL

SURVIVAL

His grandmother made us drink

before work began.

Sour wine and cough mixture

by the taste of things:

a poisonous warmth expanding

like a pack of nails inside.

It was seven o'clock

and cold fields had not woken

from their early dew.

The cat's called Socrates, she said,

because he ate the hemlock

in the garden, over there

past our broken tractor,

do...

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A DREAM OF MISFORTUNE

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A DREAM OF MISFORTUNE

 

I remember your father as

a friendly man who ate his meals

in the living room

with the huge cream fridge

 

but what was he doing

in my dreams a lifetime later

in the back of your car?

 

Shall we drop him here,

he said, or just keep driving?

It seems banal to say -

you drove me into the night.

 

I woke and you were very close

...

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BACARDI TAIL LIGHTS MACHINE GUN FAREWELL

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BACARDI TAIL LIGHTS MACHINE GUN FAREWELL

 

He tried to drown his dog

round the back of the ice rink

but it came back.

Rang the planning department

and warned them there'd be blood

if one more estate was built.

His dad abandoned,

hobbling to the pigeon loft.

Daniel is leaving tonight on a plane.

Local junkies got hold

of the bottles and the furniture

then ende...

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QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

 

That flower right next to us,

its honey perfume coloured the sea

and all the air breathed after dark.

 

You told me how it grew back home

profusely in the villages, but that

you and your sisters would steal it

 

from a neighbour's garden just for fun

which made me smile at this illicit side

of tricks and secrets as a general rule.

 

Ye...

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DOBRO

DOBRO

 

That shiny steel guitar

he got eventually

was what he'd always wanted;

just to play the blues.

 

I killed so many people, he said,

was called up twice, unfairly

because of skill in martial arts

 

and when we took a town

would often be the first to enter

but the bullet-proof vests,

they never came.

 

I should be dead by now

along with all t...

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AQUARIUM

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AQUARIUM

 

I dreamt of an aquarium

fixed into my back,

a miniature box

with tetras and an angel fish,

its glass sunk deep

instead of memories;

I had to ask each day

if they were still alive,

framed there

in that wall of flesh.

It was necessary

to watch out for these

delicate creatures, cradle

this transparent cube of life

while treading carefully

...

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DEATH OF A BAR

DEATH OF A BAR

 

Barcelona 2012

 

The warmth has gone,

the boar's head taken down

all fireplace brick surrendered

to the sledgehammer,

 

that old woman who

punished fruit machines

denied her homebound pleasure,

the jaunty evening crowd

now scattered like funeral ash.

 

The barmaid with her optimistic hair

left stranded, the perrenial

inviting smil...

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NIGERIAN VILLAGES

NIGERIAN VILLAGES

 

Some writers marry other ones

it seems the natural course

but she has never read a book,

in fact she hardly learned to read.

In Nigerian villages, they say,

you have to pay to go to school.

Her father was a teacher too;

in time I've come to understand

that this is just an economic irony

of life down there, however,

she can handle a sewing mac...

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SALAMANDER

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SALAMANDER

 

From dripping dawn to milk churn

to sheep and village fountain.

From orchard and empty

mountain road to gurgling cherry town

I carried a yellow-black fire symbol

through deserted evenings

in hidden streets where men put away

their tools with an apprehensive glance

until at last, we met and drove

the winding road to Olonzac,

and sat next day in the b...

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BOXES

BOXES

 

It's time to face that room

and all its sundry clutter.

Old stuff he kept for years:

opera magazines, sports trophies,

brittle yellowed journals telling

of obscure endeavours long ago;

the passions and activities

that cause the junk of decades.

 

I open the door and greet

my own past too - I played here

in a cloud of fantasy and aspiration,

small k...

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ROSE

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ROSE

 

My love is like

a crimson rose

and no one knows

from whence it came

 

nor where it goes -

a rose in winter

solid as Frankenstein's

monster, a frozen thing

 

that spent

its lifetime hiding

like a garage spider.

I didn't chide her

 

the garage spider,

but now the rose has

said hooray - come out

to play, has seen

 

its own refle...

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THE DOGS OF ATHENS

THE DOGS OF ATHENS

 

More than a city

a cluster of cities stretch

onwards through space,

one sprawling into the next,

so many areas

I've never set foot in

and west of the electric line's

a foreign country;

you see the names of neighbourhoods

on yellow buses passing

this evening square

where, instead of Nokia,

the street dogs are connected

by a different...

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TRAP

TRAP

 

Pardon me for ringing you

but all my friends are dead.

It's strange to be sitting here

in the place where I was born

 

and no longer know a soul.

They were sand through glass

you see. Now I'm like an invalid

who struggles unheard,

 

consigned to oblivion, yelling

in silence, exiled on the spot

and every new day I cease

to exist again.

 

 

...

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BENT OVER GEOGRAPHY

BENT OVER GEOGRAPHY

 

When off school sick

dad would bring me toast

in bed before he went to work

then leave me crumbed up

in a world of dreams,

ear stuck to a transistor

as the day went on its way

beyond closed curtains

in the blind distance

of car horns and shouting

over garden fences.

I'd suck mints if boredom

and loneliness crept in

or season permit...

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WORLDS APART

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WORLDS APART

 

Safe in a tower somewhere

a woman writes about anger

while on ground level a woman walking

home from work gets a police check.

 

Made to produce papers, abandoned

for three days in a cell, bedroll and blanket,

no chance of a phonecall either.

 

But egotism rolls around the tower

she paints it beautifully with blackened rage,

scars of privilege ...

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TWILIGHT

TWILIGHT

 

I'd like to walk into that house

over the road where a lamp shines,

quench many whims in fact

but extra vibrant years and brief dotage

are nothing more than fantasy.

 

I took photographs every day in vain

but didn't spot the change.

Too old now to keep bulldogs

I recently acquired a Chihuahua,

last night dreamed a cloud of fragile birds

that sang o...

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AIR IN THE MORNING

AIR IN THE MORNING

 

The morning air speaks loss;

slides through a sunlit moment

as eyes open to her memory.

 

From across damp fields

shrill hammering signals

a disconsolate world

where trees stand huddled

under saturated clouds.

 

Sharp black wings

tear the sky with flight;

a feathered firework erupting

until the air would burst

from its heaviness.

...

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PORCHES OF SUBURBIA

PORCHES OF SUBURBIA

 

She's delivering leaflets again,

urging residents to oust their charlatans

who'll vote through a bad deal

then claim they had no choice.

 

The people here are house proud,

they all have pretty porches and loiter

in back rooms until they think she's gone

then emerge to examine the leaflet.

 

In her old country they'd be outside

at this ho...

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BARRIO SANTIAGO

BARRIO SANTIAGO

Jerez de la Frontera

 

In the catherdral shadow

a woman peels limes

then washes them

at the blue fountain

as an angry sun burns

shapes on stone.

 

From dark passages

a bright guitar

emerges into afternoon,

arpeggios glittering

across the water

like momentary fish.

 

It predicts your path

past broken balconies,

ragged skirts, ...

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LOVE AND LOBSTERS

LOVE AND LOBSTERS

 

I love you in the car park

of a popular supermarket chain,

 

then often in the Judo class

where you usually go to train.

 

I love you cracking lobsters

with a twentieth century hammer

 

and later in the wine bar

after twelve tequila slammers.

 

They say there is no future

as the seas are full of plastic

 

and all of us will per...

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RESISTANCE

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RESISTANCE

 

We used to raid the freezer

in that dirty garage but cement

and dust made him cough.

 

His mother was a puritan;

he'd sniff and splutter when upset,

dance defiant on the car roof

then run off to town

giving her two fingers.

 

Winter mornings across ice,

spitting steamy gobs

through a face-hole in wool

with pale knees shivering

out of coa...

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BURGER QUEEN

BURGER QUEEN

An old photo snapped

in front of that plastic bubble sign,

 

our first date being the last time

I ate flesh: no more traumatic gristle

 

and though you were perfection

in heels, a pale silver dress

 

my carniverous girlfriend

you persisted with the meat habit

 

so years later, still together

you criticise me for courgettes

 

said at the ...

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PENSION MALDA

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PENSION MALDA

Peering through clouded glass

into empty space and silence.

I used to love that accumulation

of ornaments from earlier times;

Quixotic history casting shadows

on a family by their open fire.

 

There was always shelter here

no matter how late the flight arrived

and with luck you could escape

the bugs - a kind of bedroom roulette.

Creaking passages s...

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BISCUIT FACTORY

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BISCUIT FACTORY

Here one learns a new vocabulary

tinwash, tray off, mobcap,

swiping in and stacking down.

 

Some of us arrived for a month

one spring and stayed forever

like jaded nomads finding pasture,

needs met, horizons ending here.

 

In ghost-infested rooms

the newcomer gets lost, disorientated

by the sprawling tangle and pulse

of peculiar machinery

 

...

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PART OF THE COURSE

PART OF THE COURSE

I guess he was

just no good at it:

stood on every board

that creaked,

banged his knee

on the coffee table,

collided with silver;

he might as well have

worn a striped T-shirt

and carried a sack

marked swag.

So when they caught

him, sprawled

in the rose bush

and led him away

he still hung on

to his dream

and vowed to try

and...

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ADIPOSE HARRY

ADIPOSE HARRY

At an early age he learned

the folly of swimming in wrong circles

and how some languages

have no word for webbed feet.

 

I'm going to leave you

Adipose Harry, his wife says.

You are morbidly obese.

Look past appearances, he protests.

I have a heart, pure and good.

Yes, but it's enveloped in fatty tissue

and you'll most likely die.

 

He waddle...

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CHANCES TO LEAVE

CHANCES TO LEAVE

 

Hunched over his ouzo, unshaven

as the steamer pulled away on visible blue.

A guy who's going nowhere, you said,

meets every dawn with negativity.

 

Later we sat upstairs while Kumiko picked

through rubbish on the beach for fun.

Less of that scrap, you shouted down,

not everything is sculpture! Then turning to me:

At school back in Denmark we fou...

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THE GIRL FROM GALLIENI

THE GIRL FROM GALLIENI

 

The town looks run-down

this rainy weekday morning;

a single street climbing

to nowhere special,

an old boulangerie,

some sleepy Asian shops

but the church door

extends an invitation

so I step inside to breathe

the incensed silence

of wood and alcoves

 

then without a word

a vagrant poet appears

from behind the church,

his...

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