Archive for May, 2014

Washed ashore

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I have found so many treasures:
a bottle with a note on higher ground,
three books the sea has read but spit right out,
remains of an old sailor’s bed
and coins, a small amount, a bomb.

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Where do they come from,
I don’t know. At lower tide
the sea always surprises me
with objects and with thoughts,
with sounds and light,
and footsteps going nowhere.

Finding truth

I hear a farmer talk of cattle
and his voice becomes
the heartbeat of life
once I forget to understand
what he says; the melody
is like a fisherman’s orating about
the best places to find herring.

Somber, honest and deep is the sound
of men in the midst of manure, or on ships
covered by the shit of seagulls;
that is where truth can be found.

On the bus

My granddaughter takes the bus with me,
probably her first time.
She is too short to look out
of the window but she doesn’t want to
sit on my lap, she is content
just watching a photo
of the bus that is hanging
in the bus
and the fact that we are there,
in that bus, means
we are also in that photo.
She claims she can see us
and she waves. I see us too.
We drive on and get to know
the essence of travel: to be there
watching ourselves in a bus in a bus.


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My toes love the sand.
The first little wave
to find the beach
draws back when we touch.

Mothers lift little naked children
when the waves get higher
but they cry,
they want to feel the sea.

We sleep naked under a sheet
that moves by the welcome draught.
Skin, we are all skin in Summer.
I watch the beige of your back
where the shape becomes half a moon
and lighter. We sleep together
in a bed too large to find us back.

When we are born,
the first thing they do to us
is clothing,
to put distance between the child,
it’s dirt, and the mother.

When we are dead, even then,
we are dressed up.
My mother is buried in a nylon dress,
her favorite, because
dirt fell off it and she liked clean.

Long after her bones are gone,
her dress will be there,
unchanged by time, untouched by earth.

I want to be naked
when I am put in a hole in the sand,
somewhere near the shore.
Maybe the sea will want me then
and not reject me.

‘Photography on wings’

An exhibition in Nottingham UK I would love to go to. It has poetry by Marie Marshall (kvenna ráð) one of my fav. poets!

Marie Marshall

Final Flyer Photography on wings is the title of an exhibition, to be staged in Nottingham from 7th June to 31st July, of the photographs of Harminder Nagi . The photographs, all of winged creatures, will be accompanied by poetry by twenty international poets including myself. The exhibition is an extension of the book Continents Connect: poetry on wings  which was published in 2012. If you’re anywhere near Nottingham between the dates mentioned above, please do make a point of going along to visit the exhibition. For those of you who can’t make it, here’s the poem I wrote for the book; it’s called ‘Eros and Psyche’, and I wrote it as though for Emily Dickinson.

I have your beauty safe in a box, ever since
I scotched my shoulder with a half-nocked arrow.
Sometimes I let it out to sit amongst the flowers
and drink; it settles until I shade it from the sun.

Things like…

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Beach pole

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It stood as a signpost in water,
it was written in sand.
It lingered in the air
and it was a tune in my head, loud enough
to be heard for miles.
So obvious. So logical. So beautiful.

You never noticed though,
did you? You missed
the beach pole,
walked right passed
the letters spelled with shells,
you don’t breathe this air anyway
you never got the song.

I am a shell trapped in seaweed.
My letters washed away,
the melody gone for good.
The beach pole remains.
It is there where you’ll find me.
I shall be the oyster
clinging on to the rotting wood.

A song about life

More and more curtains were closed then,
doors seemed to jam and houses burnt down.
This was the town my life used to be:
weeds taking over the streets and the walls.

I lived in a ruin, caused by habits I had.
My view blurred by spiders, that were broken glass.
I watched others clean up but give up as well.
We all lived in hell behind curtains, withdrawn.

So I moved to a life that was better for me,
the weeds here seem flowers of beauty and grace.
I feel quite relieved I have left the old place
and I open the curtains. As now I am free.

The poetry of birds

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The birds are waiting for something to disturb them
and I oblige, I walk too close.
They fly up in beautiful disorder,
a poem each, and I watch the whole thing
until they land, united and silent,
watching me having hiccups, watching me
walking home slightly limping.

They won’t feel the way I feel for them I think,
but who knows what a bird considers to be poetry.

I carve your soul

I carve your soul out of the pillar’s salt,
drain the sour from your blood
and smile the bitter of your heart away.

At night, when you look back, I close your eyes,
kiss you into day once more,
and carve your soul out of the pillar’s salt.

Waiting for the tide to kill me

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The beach is more a desert now,
the sea has run away somehow;
to drown myself the waters lack
in empathy, they won’t allow.

If I wait long, the sea comes back,
(if not belated by some wreck),
whom can I trust to help me go?
My footsteps are a desperate track.

The table of the tides I know
by heart but sea deceits me so,
there’s only sand and shells to see.
I shall not feel defeated though.

Six hours I shall wait and be
the patient suicidal me
and then the water does the deed
and I am swept off both my feet.

This poem is not about me personally, as I have no intentions to do myself in, but when I saw the beach looking deserted, I could very well imagine how it would feel. The rhythm was inspired by the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.

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