Night Poem V

The night brings its own openings,
its own fissures of chance,
to those initiated in its bittersweet fruits.
On a bridge strung from dark star to dark star,

youth blooms from the icy flow,
and I am thrust from my memories,
and I am shown the beginning of my life.
And trembling,

I am filled with the beauty of
what is to come,
and the immensity of my soul.
The galaxies full of sadness,

that until now waited,
embrace me like a comrade,
while the night sings in a riot of stones below.
And I am now the sensation

no one could describe,
and I am equipped for my life
with a blindfold of journeys,
and I wear a robe of mountains.

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The Birds

The first visitors were struck silent
by the utter abandon of this land.
The forest and the calls of the birds
descended like unanchored bells
to the very shore.
An ancient, sonorous veil,
washed by the gray dreams
of the clouds,
covered this un-spoilt archipelago.

And how they sang,
from the low hum
of the dark moa,
the shrieks of the flightless parrots,
up through the canopy
to the impossible song
of the bell bird, the fragile tui,
the land seemed born in music.

Here the forest was
the wisest monarch,
here her kingdom of birds flourished ,
gilded, pampered,
here the dark, gray ocean,
for centuries,
flung back the continents,
and the land grew folds of peace.

The kakapo, the weka,
stained by the deep green of the sheltering ferns,
shed their wings,
grew indolent and irascible,
larked and spun madrigals
on the forest floor, dissipated courtiers.
The wood pigeon fattened itself
on the dark berries
of enormous totaras,
where silent wetas
oozed their eons of sediment,
clinging to thick trunks.

The land lay open,
a ripened lime, beyond any grasp,
and the birds ran riot,
abandoned feverish toil,
precautions against invasion,
sung recklessly
through the numberless centuries.

Only the ancient tuatara,
perched still on the rocks,
watched as the polar storms
approached but never arrived.
And sometimes
a great albatross,
exhausted by the slipstream,
alighted on the unguarded coast,
leading the new comers
who had followed him for days,
their prow like a harpoon,
their starved hope plunged like a hook
into his wake.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

The Pianist

It’s everywhere,

madness is,

if you look close enough.

So many folks

split in two,

like wood on the block.

So many souls

sent sideways and

out of shape

by the axe men,

driving a wedge.

This burnt out salary-man,

who comes here

every Friday,

to stake out the same spot

in the café,

compulsive, neurotic,

plastic cup of iced tea,

staring blankly

at the banality of others;

pay him no attention and he’s

just like the rest.

But look closely.

He’s tapping his fingers,

intently

over an invisible key board.

The others don’t know it

but he plays for them

silent mazurkas

on the over-polished table,

hollowed where his

melodies have

burned deep troughs,

full of panic;

a passionate,

desperate, silent concert

for a mute audience.

In his eyes,

that slump over

the cold distances

of inhuman afternoons,

you know he’s been

hewn apart

by the axe men.

But those hands,

and their fiery gavottes

that could have been,

go on dancing

over the void

of so many lives,

trying to mend

what’s been torn apart.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014