Is my favourite. Who flies
like a nothing through the night,
who-whoing. Is a feather
duster in leafy corners ring-a-rosy-ing
boles of mice. Twice
you hear him call. Who
is he looking for? You hear
him hoovering over the floor
of the wood. O would you be gold
rings in the driving skull
if you could? Hooded and
vulnerable by the winter suns
owl looks. Is the grain of bark
in the dark. Round beaks are at
work in the pellety nest,
working. Owl is an eye
in the barn. For a hole
in the trunk owl’s blood
is to blame. Black talons in the
petrified fur! Cold walnut hands
on the case of the brain! In the reign
of the chicken owl comes like
a god. Is a goad in
the rain to the pink eyes,
dripping. For a meal in the day
flew, killed, on the moor. Six
mouths are the seed of his
arc in the season. Torn meat
from the sky. Owl lives
by the claws of his brain. On the branch
in the sever of the hand’s
twigs owl is a backward look.
Flown wind in the skin. Fine
Rain in the bones. Owl breaks
Like the day. Am an owl, am an owl.
George MacBeth (1932 – 1992)
Illustration by Hua Tunan
Clear Night by Charles Wright
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.
I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.
And the wind says ‘What?’ to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say
‘What?’ to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.
Artwork by Pascal Campion
If we could get the hang of it entirely
It would take too long;
All we know is the splash of words in passing
and falling twigs of song,
And when we try to eavesdrop on the great
Presences it is rarely
That by a stroke of luck we can appropriate
Even a phrase entirely.
If we could find our happiness entirely
In somebody else’s arms
We should not fear the spears of the spring nor the city’s
Yammering fire alarms
But, as it is, the spears each year go through
Our flesh and almost hourly
Bell or siren banishes the blue
Eyes of Love entirely.
And if the world were black or white entirely
And all the charts were plain
Instead of a mad weir of tigerish waters,
A prism of delight and pain,
We might be surer where we wished to go
Or again we might be merely
Bored but in brute reality there is no
Road that is right entirely.
Painting by Aron Wiesenfeld
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.
Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales,
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.
Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall, Malin, Dogger, Finisterre.
Painting by Sir Frank Brangwyn
Note: Rockall, Malin, Dogger, and Finisterre are a reference to the British Shipping forecasts: “Because of its unique and distinctive sound, the (Shipping Forecast) broadcasts have an appeal beyond those solely interested in nautical weather. The waters around the British Isles are divided into sea areas, also known as weather areas and many listeners find the well-known repetition of the names of the sea areas almost hypnotic, particularly during the bedtime (for Britain) broadcast at 00:48 UK time.”
From Weblog “While there is still time” by Asha (http://whilethereisstilltime.blogspot.com/…/rockall…)
Monday, by Alex Dimitrov
Doesn’t it bother you sometimes
What living is, what the day has turned into?
So many screens and meetings
and things to be late for.
Everyone truly deserves
a flute of champagne
for having made it this far!
Though it’s such a disaster
to drink on a Monday.
Image by Lori Nix
Alone on the railroad track
I walked with a pounding heart.
The ties were too close together
or maybe too far apart.
The scenery was impoverished:
scrub-pine and oak; beyond
its mingled gray-green foliage
I saw the little pond.
where the dirty hermit lives,
lie like an old tear
holding onto its injuries
lucidly year after year.
The hermit shot off his shot-gun
and the tree by his cabin shook.
Over the pond went a ripple.
The pet hen went chook-chook.
‘Love should be put into action!’
screamed the old hermit.
Across the pond an echo
tried and tried to confirm it.
Sculpture by Hans Some
(The literal meaning of the French phrase ‘chemin de fer’ is ‘iron path’.)
It rained from dawn. The fire died in the night.
I poured hot water on some foreign leaves;
I brought the fire to life. Comfort
spread from the kitchen like a taste of chocolate
through the head-waters of a body,
accompanied by that little-water-music.
The knotted veins of the old house tremble and carry
a louder burden: the audience joining in.
People are peaceful in a world so lavish
with the ingredients of life:
the world of breakfast easy as Tahiti.
But we must leave. Head down in my new coat
I dodge to the High Street conscious of my fellows
damp and sad in their vegetable fibres.
But by the bus-stop I look up: the spring trees
exult in the downpour, radiant, clean for hours:
This is the life! This is the only life!
Alistair Elliot (1932 – 2018)
Painting by Larry Bracegirdle
“So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren’t saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other’s arm.
It’s early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn’t enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.”
Raymond Carver, Happiness
Painting by Kim English
“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”
Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems
Painting by Montserrat Gudiol (1933 – 2015)
“Architects plant their imagination, weld their poems on rock,
Clamp them to the skidding rim of the world and anchor them down to its core;
Leave more than the painter’s or poet’s snail-bright trail on a friable leaf;
Can build their chrysalis round them; stand in their sculpture’s belly.
They see through stone, they cage and partition air, they cross-rig space
With footholds, planks for a dance; yet their maze, their flying trapeze
Is pinned to the centre. They write their euclidean music standing
With a hand on a cornice of cloud, themselves set fast, earth-square.”
A.S.J. Tessimond, Earthfast
Image by Wenjie Zhang
La Pedrera, Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudi