Night Poem XXIV

Night of my harsh confessions,
you won’t let me turn away.
Tonight, regret is a new nerve,
and I probe the opening
where my years writhe exposed.

My failings dance before me.
I throw them wild flowers,
I throw them cabbages,
and they dance and sing and burn.

I failed to love anything
fierce enough to die, they sing.
I failed to be driven mad with longing
for a slice of this world.

Everything I touched,
I let drop from lukewarm hands,
my music, my literature,
my one aching adventure,
the girl who loved me with a dangerous sky.

They all got away,
and now another, bolder man
has the girl and the dream,
while I sit waiting for the night,

for the dawn, for the naked revelation.
I am the lion that never roared,
the bronco that never bucked,
the rolling stone that got stuck in the moss.

Night of my harsh confession,
I cannot turn away.
My regret is an old nerve,

and it tells me I will live out my life
in a parlor like a piece of furniture,
with my drunken relics,
my moth-eaten youth.

Can I salvage a brazen mouth,
a roar,
a life of pristine adversity,
a dangerous core?

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Night Poem XVII

Who can resist the night,
disobey her giant’s arms?
See how she dims their fierce lives,
for her dark palms are cribs,
and in them lie, in equal count,
lizards and women.

They accept this,
the soft erasure of their finite span,
and call it sleep.
Given a name, sleep becomes part
of the logical momentum of our
feverish accumulations.

But sometimes one, quite inexplicably,
yet filled with strange expectation,
refuses to close his eyes,
and waits up into the night’s deep realm.

And he discovers in her deserted streets,
her rustling orchards,
an amplified existence,
weird noises that echo
the weirdness of his own soul.

What the boys and girls bestowed and
named with songs and rumours,
the night assiduously removes.
What he used to call bird cries,
could now be wind, could be colours.

What once was wakefulness
is now pure tension,
the promised vibration of his fear and longing.
And the day bestows, and the night effaces.

And he walks on through her deserted streets,
out of language, out of landscape,
until his name has no meaning,
and is only a chord struck on the night’s enormous bell.

What We Give

From head to toe, I ache.
All day, I stood between the trees,
the rain running down my neck,
my back, till my skin was sodden.

This work, deftly, swiftly pulling
away the unripened fruit,
the smooth sensuality of sustenance,
is not just a passing of time,

while pockets fill with quick hopes.
No, the trees demand from me
nothing less than precious life hours.

Hungrily, they slake themselves on
my fast decreasing song,
while each day, I give a little of myself over to
the grass.
Before long, what will be left to me?

Like beads of dew licked by the morning sun,
I am becoming a sky of blue wind.
I lose myself here in rhythms
dictated by the branches.
And yet there is no loss.

What I burn in myself to hot exhaustion,
and what leaves me alone like a husk
at the end of the sun,
takes the shape of a thousand fresh years,

and is like a pip of incandescent seasons
that travels along the infinite tendrils of the
lithe, red earth,
to reach far into the mouths of others.

Cross Over

It was cold,
and the wind was piled high
with bad memories,
and walking was hard,
as if the street was a wound in my feet.
And to forget,
I crossed over
to the other side of the road,
where a cat flashed
like a fallen lamp,
and the swift clouds
grazed the sky until I was raw,
and I couldn’t remember dates or years.
I walked on a street
where nobody knew me,
and not even the night
held a candle,
and the lamp posts
no longer recalled your name,
and the stars were like the clarity
of a life wiped clean.

Don’t Call it Absence

Don’t call it absence.
Don’t call it the never gotten love.

The certainty of distances,
how close they are to you now,

and she who clasped herself
to the wind and soared,

leaves behind this city,
full of her possession;

you trail fingers over the rippling walls,
follow her echoing scent.

What is far gone at the end of an unravelling sky
is not outside of you.

You have taken her inside,
you who sing with the lilt of her voice.

And the span of a thousand palms
is not separation.

Look, you inhale and
across never plunging oceans she breathes.

Step forward into the leaning day,
while these familiar things look ripe without her,

she leans in on the other side, speaking,
speaking the hours that you walk.

Don’t call it absence,
this silence that can’t be broken,

that slips between the grooves of your body,
singing over and over what remains of her.

Out Walking After the Storm

Walking along the river tonight

after the typhoon

I notice the newness of everything.

The sky seems closer,

as if it had come down

to inspect the fresh earth.

The moon too leans in,

face still raw

from the lashes of the wind.

Everything wears this new sheen

from the storm

which passed over like a mop,

washing off the mud

and the iniquity

of the bruising summer.

And the elephant clouds,

stragglers of the whirlwind armies,

lumber through the

clear pools of night,

dipping their white trunks.

Even the river rushes on

more quickly now,

flushed of all the junk

from the men and the mountains

that clung to his old hide.

There are turtles, backs glistening,

clasped to his swifter mane,

heading for the sea

and the gleaming plankton fields.

And on the blue bank

and the still reeling grass,

plundered by the fierce palms,

the old tree,

shadow of tendrils and leaves,

damp, creaking trunk,

strengthened by the

ordeal with the murderous rain,

exhales through his pores

the dark, calm scent

of the defeated storm.

Nature’s ancient capacity

for renewal spreads everywhere tonight.

And when we’ve, in our own turn,

laid her low

with our own catastrophes,

when we ourselves are amber

in her deep soil,

there will be dark, galloping mares,

ferocious rivers, silent moons,

purer than anything we’ve dreamed,

that know nothing of our capital.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014