Where We Were Was Always The Sea Where we were was always the sea and inside the sea was me. But the sea wasn't always free to do as it pleased As it did back then When surf touched the bone Cemented into the walls of the cliff And the stiff wind dried clothes upright like drowning men. Our house was resting all those years ago Not dry and brittle like a hummingbird's nest Where all the furniture creaked as you sat And little galaxies of dead skin moved on the wind back to the sea And the surf And the sand. Open windows were the path And Irish gales blowing provided the engine Chundering and splurting out into the sky Held down with ship's rope. I smelt biscuits and held a piccolo on a string from grandfather's mattress. All my friends were further inland, in houses built of dry stone Where no moss grew And the trees stretched their long legs across the earth beds of great kings who were buried with their wives With sad still eyes no older than me But made to see the old light rising over old hills. They had seen the sea in picture postcards and on TVs with coin slots And our little pier drooped sadly when they strutted by, Never looking at the wet only at the dry. I played by myself then, And found the cave where Jane had died, And where she left her jewels full of crabs so that they would scuttle out if disturbed. But the crabs had gone, A braver one than me had shook them loose and taken them home. So I make my own jewels, And my own princess, And my own hangman And my own treasurer And to that cave I will go, In a little seaweed robe, And play where Jane died, My own friend, And my own home. Notches In The Door One day we will all grow up and see how close the fences really come. The panthers we rode as children will curl up and dry like snails climbing the path To the greenhouse, and their jungles will shrink to dry-tongued hydrangeas Screaming from inside filthy bottles. The wardrobes, backs of cars, dead logs in woods, roofs of garages, the garden sheds will no longer house glistening armies arrayed for war against disobedient brothers, the dead mice will no longer serve as transport for mayors, dignitaries, foreign princesses. All there will be is wood, unpainted like the back of a geisha's neck, metal unadorned and smells rising like bile across school night skies. No, we will have to learn to read, learn to add beads, serve our own needs and dress to digress, successfully undress so as not to make a girl laugh. We will have to understand wars where no one is winning, and read about people who are laughed at in coffee houses, yet are named gods to our ears. We must whisper fears and not shout them, because we are told that tears rip life like rice paper and make us bad employees and husbands and wives. We will have to take up hobbies like flags on a sailing ship, to strut our minds, so chaotic and unknowable, while really all we want is a sea breeze and a good book. And we will be asked to look into black irises, cough down tubes, Be knocked and battered and left weather beaten and sore Yet still better, after all this. And we will realise, after all this, that those woods are still there, with a few more cares hidden in the branches and the sound of rushing wheels close by. The castles still stand, hidden by a few more creepers than before, and Neighbourhood Watch plaques pronouncing death to any child that venture here. We will rip our suits, tear our hems and break our loafers on the solid ground But feel bonfires again shooting missiles at our bare arms, And the taste of stolen liquor. We will come back, again and again, taking holidays and lapping up petrol, Climbing over stiles half-dessicated and mostly dead, and kissing gates removed, their ribs pointing up to the canopy. We will feel the rustle of paper armour and the hiss of words, recording all we did, all we created, all our worlds, Here, in the castle hidden in the trees. Dark And Deep Old Night All is silent, all collects sound, On this dark and deep old night. Kestrels dream and the mountain stream Sits still just a little quiet. And the doors that creak, and the love that seeks Rest on this deep old night. A girl that searched for a necklace that won't hurt Died on this deep old night, And the battered battle dog that murdered Mother Moon Broadcasts on this deep old night. And the answering bitch four valleys away Longs for the cuts on his thigh. In a swimming pool under miles of shouts Here rests the deep old night. And on a mountain ridge a collared bear Roars on this deep old night And three little children with dolls in their cupboards Conjure worlds in which they can fight. A jetplane pilot with four wedding rings Is grounded this deep old night. A cicada who trills with his carapace of song Sings louder on this deep old night And the grandfather lost on a beach at sundown Still is flying his kite. The restauranteur frying screams in milk Sweats on this deep old night The couple swapping body hair under Granny's old cloak Sweat more on this deep old night. The universe under the kitchen sink, Glows all the more bright. And I may be sitting, with you far below Set up for a long cold night, The hair that I grow is never long enough Under the moonless light. But I'll end this song, and we'll move along Until the next deep old night.
All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.
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