Night Poem XXI

Night of the open heart,
I strive against my tightening song,
against the sad and familiar
crust of my human days.

New, new again beside
your blue dangers,
I fear death,
and life shivers in my blood.

To be new is to be merciless.
On your plain swept of regret and love,
I place an orange, round and alone.
As I peel it, it forms a hurt the shape of a moon.

And because I am empty
and pained by the passing
of everything I’ve been,
its juice afflicts me with a new love.

Night of the open heart,
to ache is to ripen,
to know the bitterness of new growth,
and the possibility of catastrophes.

But to the clenched darkness
and to the hollowed peel of my old heart,
I reply with the wounded orange’s flesh,
raw and sweet and undefeated.

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Night Poem XV

I turn my back and laugh
at the corpse of the day
with a knife in his back,
a smile on his face.
Around him,

the eunuchs of my memory
slumped and lifeless;
they tried to pin the deed on me.
I have no time for these stragglers,

their parrot-like recriminations
that keep me here
in the sun’s dead temples.
There are thunderstorms,

horizon devouring winds,
that will forgive me this violence;
they ready me for a pure and
uncompromising shore.

It was necessary to become
the self’s inexorable assassin,
to put these enemies of my purpose to rest.
On the other side,

I will be essential dust
in no man’s night.

Night Poem XI

We get drunk and play with fires.
Faces burn like sparklers
under falling cinders.
In and out of shadow,
life explodes
in a certainty of ashes,
and nobody heeds the warnings
on fireworks boxes.
Everywhere we abandon
the salt, the sun,
and leave lovers to their sorrows,
beauties to their games,
death in a suitcase with the dead.
Tonight, we burn the sky with an
irreverent flame,
we paint in circles and eights,
our bright hearts in the dark.

Night Poem I

The night sits cross-legged outside my window,
and makes me want to flee these hands.

The night is a voice of orchards gently breaking my heart,
and I remember the small feet of a woman,
and how the night once touched them, like a wounded boy.

I don’t want the night to bring me this memory of desire.
I don’t want these nights of love to describe the ruins of my sky.

But the night sits cross-legged at my window,
and calls for me by an old name.

Elephants

The little creatures
hare, mouse, beetle, man,
who leap and burrow
and exhaust their urgent hearts
in a handful of clutched seasons,

never take much notice
of these great beasts from another planet,
a former earth,
who set geological time
with their slow, creaking strides.

Long ago, it seems,
the trees, the dark rocks,
the cliffs of a gargantuan epoch
rose up, left the cramped soil,

became stones possessed by wanderlust,
and pulverized Jurassic forests
into scorched savannahs
beneath legendary journeys.

And still, miraculously, they migrate,
as if those petty, biting forces
that gnaw like sand at the stubborn bergs,
the fierce birds of prey, the schemes of men,

and reduce them to grovelling stone,
could not assault these bastions
of unhinged, colossal nature.

Herds of lumbering strata,
trunks that boom the
deep hoopla of madcap life,
dust storms kicked up by stampedes

that blind red Saharas
and spawn unharnessed hurricanes
for blighted Zanzibars.
What can you teach me of myself,
behemoths of the granite prairies?

To be something completely one
with its own grey blood?
To possess myself and my herd
in the deep wrinkles of my hide,
where I count and shelter each member?

To be mighty,
that things may tremble at my approach,
may heed me,
yet dangerous in what is essential,
never capable of cracking the earth
beyond regeneration.

You, great beasts,
stubbornly stride into centuries
that have no more use of you,
and how much we need

your vast and thirsty savannahs,
your strange, untethered soul
that never knew the harness of Pharaoh,
perhaps we are only now just learning.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014