It was a picnic, all of us were there,
my grandparents as well, even he who died
years before my birth, so my mother cried a bit.
The others, unaware, had fun and drank
and laughed; the bread was shared, they sang.
I looked my grandad in the eye, he didn’t see
me standing there. My cousins chased the butterflies
and there was sunlight in their hair. We had red lemonade,
and an uncle did some tricks with cards.
We ran and danced. It was a lovely day.
But what if I fall?
you said before climbing
your first tree. Will it hurt?
Let’s worry about that
when it happens
Maybe I should have said
something different, more adult.
Nevertheless, you started climbing.
You were a bird about to fly
and for a short, unique moment
I was sure nothing could hurt you.
The sum of all that gets lost
during our years of living
never exceeds to what life is worth,
you say, imitating the Thinker of Rodin
as you take place with your back against mine.
I ponder about it
sitting on the other scale of the balance,
same position as you took, should have taken,
but I am not sure, even when I fall and the
whole thing tells me what weighs more: my body or your soul.
On the black tarmac road
next to the silent driver
in the rhythm of the engine
thoughts emerge to live a little,
growing into adulthood as poems:
oversized obese sestina’s,
frolicking free verses
or remaining youngsters, the size of a mere haiku,
before they die in the gloom of red traffic lights,
and buried quietly next to the dead sheep on the moors.
Then we go on and the driver never looks back.
A look ahead to the 2 poetry volumes “Roads 1” and “Roads 2” which are due to be published by Winter Goose in March next year 🙂
What has been said, all fondness, now is gone, replaced
by murmurations of indifferent looking words, unbound.
I connect the dots they are to make a life line
for us both, but where are you? The buoy has sunk.
Clueless do we swim in darkest water with no ground.
Still life goes on. Today I watched the storm
turn over littered pages: words once printed –
fading dots, they spoke to me without a sound.
Maybe it’s time to read back all your letters
but I don’t expect the fondness will be found.
Just playing chess: you and me,
you were three borders away,
and every move we made went by mail.
It took years and much postage
to never finish the game.
Meeting each other was out of the question.
You liked Bob Dylan
and so I got his record.
I did not understand his music though,
only much later I was moved by him.
You had never seen the sea,
which I couldn’t believe.
We wrote in English, rather
than in German. A sort of friends.
A sort of English. A sort of writing.
I never met you, still I have your photo somewhere,
all your letters survived removals. Between the lines
you taught me to find myself. You taught me what is important.
I don’t think you learnt much from me though.
Your inventive white knight was too late
to come to my rescue, you said,
in an angry letter after I told you
I was getting married, aged eighteen.
You said I was too young. It ended our correspondence.
‘t Was true.
It had been a silly move.
Check mate, you wan the game.
Czech mate, your next move
has been long overdue.
In the seventies I had a pen pal in Czechoslovakia, Peter J.
I saw you for a moment as you were –
your shoulders lower and a silent stare;
you had been gone a while.
When you saw me, you dug out a smile,
although, let’s face it, we both knew
that it was over, me and you.
Oh fashion, I’m so sorry I don’t care!
I can’t be bothered with what clothes to wear.
So all the best. I’ll keep the grey mohair.
Of what we can not think and have no words for –
such we dream, seemingly asleep but in our minds
unwinds a movie that takes over logic, sense,
unfencing our understanding.
Only if we wake abruptly we remember some
of what we saw, of what we heard,
but most is gone into oblivion and what
remains in flashes seems absurd.
Yet one day in a shiny rainy street
it will all be revealed in eyes you meet,
which pass you by and make you follow
until you disappear as well.
Your dream comes true.
The end of the day softens our faces;
you look younger, life is over
until we both shall rise again.
We linger a bit, watching birds nestle
in the ruins of the sunset
and I go first to wait for you.
When I met you I became a poet,
about to read his work to a high brow audience,
realizing it was his shopping list he started to declare.
“Bread! Milk! Those cookies with chocolate!
Detergent on sale… Toliet paper?” I must have talked rubbish.
You applauded with your eyes though.