Category Archives: Odes

Bingo Lingo

ODE

On

the

BINGO LINGO

heard at the

WOODTOP SHELTERED HOUSING

In the Lancashire town of Burnley


STROPHE

Ladies & gentlemen eyes down,
Bag o’ sweets for your line,
Two pound your full house;

Snakes alive, all the fives, fifty-five,
Christmas cake, three & eight, thirty-eighty,
& it’s half-way there, four & five, forty-five,
Danny la rue, fifty two
Doctors orders, on its own, the number nine,
Seven & six,
     “Was she worth it?”
               “Every penny!”
Seventy-six,

Fanny’s started fidgeting as usual
Gerry takes a sip of Cuban Rum

Kelly’s Eye, on its own, the number one,
& its three & O, Dirty Gertie, blind thirty,
Tickle me, six & three, sixty-three,
& its thee & me, two & three, twenty-three,
Five & nine, the Brighton Line, fifty-nine,
Its Diana Doors in droopy drawers,
All the fours, fort-….

“EE-YAAAA!!”
Shouts Mary Pie,
Much to Cliff’s consternation,
He only needed one for the line.

Al, the old drunk, goes to check the ticket;
55, 76, 1, 63, 59, 44
Then hands her the boiled sweets.

“I’ll give them to Dolly,” says Mary Pie,
‘They’re no good for mi teeth…’


 

ANTISTROPHE

Suddenly it gets serious,
Destiny comes calling
Eyes Down for your full house…

On its own, its lucky seven
Unlucky for some, thirteen
Heinz Varieties, five & seven, fifty-seven
Ooo! its those legs, eleven…The room echoes to shrill cat whistles

& its all the fives, fifty-five
“I’ve had three of them” sez Gerry,
Shuddup you,” says Gerry’s third wife, Nora

Sherwood Forest, all the trees, thirty-three
A fumph & a duck, five & two, fifty two,
All the sixes, clickety-click, sixty-six,
& someone didn’t flush the toilet,
Its a dirty loo, thirty-two…

‘Five-O, Five-O, its off to work we go,
With a shovel & pick & a walking stick, Five-O,Five-O!’

Purple-haired Slyvia gets exited & carries on the song,
“Five-O, Five-O, its off to work we go,
With a bucket & spade & a hand grenade,
Five-O, Five-O,”
Blind fifty!

Its two little ducks, twenty-two,
Its the sunset strip, all the sevens, seventy-seven,
& a duck & a crutch, two & seven, twenty-seven,
Almost there, eight & nine, eighty-nine,
Ooo! its top of the shop, blind ninety!

The tensions maxing out now
Like when Kruschev sailed for Cuba…


 

EPODE

The room is about to explode,
Cliff only needs one for the full house
But Mary Pie (the old buggar),
is right on his tail…

& its queen bee, seventy-three
Anyway up, six & nine, sixty-nine
& its those steps! three & nine, thirty-nine
Man alive, the number five
& its two fat ladies, all the eights, eighty-eight,
You’ve been & gone at eighty one,
The key of the door, two & one, twenty-one
& its Ghandis breakfast, blind eighty!

“EE-ya!” shouts Dolly, knockin’ over her drink
Much to Cliff’s annoyance

Al goes to check the ticket;

7, 57, 33, 66, 77, 90, 88, 21, 80

& gives her the two pound!

“I’ll share it with Mary Pie,” she says with a smile.

Ladies & gentlemen eyes down,
Bag o’ sweets for your line,
Two pound your full house…

Love At First Sight

ON

the

LOVE

this poet experienced

AT

the

FIRST SIGHT

of

Sally Cinnamon


Being virgin to Eros & his sighs
Spectral seconds attend the growing soul
Hearing a lute-string’d aether-breathing call
I turn’d to see her star-wreath’d, lustful eyes.

My eagle-lashed, Latvian poetess,
My pearl-eyed raven in her Persian dress,
My Spanish pea-hen spangling as she comes,
My nude Numidian banging the drums.

Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like money men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold

We are the music of the finches green
We are twa pussies purring by a fire
We are the fragrance of a vernal scene
We are twa frogs full throated with desire

I watch’d her as she walk’d across the moon,
An airless void of loveless futures spent,
Each little step she’s taken plays a tune,
Beholding her a parfit innocent

I rocketed into her grey-toned sphere,
& scatter’d lunar dusts, as these unveil,
A world of fertile colours, closing near
Her heart’s cocoon, it crumples, thin & frail.

Crackling with all the majesty of love
She flutters into air with velvet wings,
An angel floating, hovering above
An orchestra supports her as she sings;

“We are two blossoms of this bonnie land,
We are two rabbits sprinting ‘cross the glen,
We are the seaweed strewn across the sand,
We are two badgers snuggled in their den!”

Long time, for this fair moment, did we wait,
Which two sure hearts attaches into one,
& felt us fair as fairly dealt us fate
As match we – with a gasp – empyrean!

There was an instant karma to our touch,
As if we had belong’d since time began,
For how can two new strangers feel so much,
Thro’ times like these life serves the higher plan.

Like songbirds witnessing the world’s first dawn,
Or proud parents cooing their babe’s first yawn,
Like virgins witness to the breast exposed,
Or an exploring of the always closed,

We are morning in the Tuscan enclaves,
We are night on the Sea of Galilee,
We are swans a-gone gliding between white waves,
For we are one in nature, you & me.

Junkie Fucks

Strophe

He tried to tear the horror from himself,
Searching in the sockets of his eyes with needles
Till they burst blood
The Phoenician Woman

***

There’s a Junkie Fuck
Everywhere you look
: in Leith

Great Junkie Street
Five-minutes-to-midnight
Zombie-crowded cash-machines

Kids like, ‘Where’s-my-crack-pipe?’ boy
Grinnin’ into school
Thinkin’ he was cool

‘I’m never injecting,’ he blusters upsetly
Blazin’ about his Best Friend’s funeral:
At the Wake… to ease his grief… shoots up first time!

His crack-whore ‘Wudya,’ works the Leith Links’s edges
A posh-painted Picture pick’d up by drunk dockers
While her daughter chews straws at McDonalds

Her looks are fading, she turns to friends
Getting them hooked so maybe they’ll pay
For these needles fresh ‘besties’ dare share

There’s a Smackie Kunt
Always on the hunt
: in Leith


 

 Antistrophe

When I think aboot the future… I’m nae in it.
I can see my mither & abiddy I ken,
I can see them a’… but I cannae see me
The Artist Man & the Mother Woman

***

There’s a Junkie Worm
Every corner turn’d
: in Leith

The Skag is a slippery, shrieking Beast
Cunning as Fox, strong as Lion
Foul as farting Pig

Don’t listen to what they say, but how they say it,
Bullshit Defence Mechanism takes control
Insiduous serpent contorting thought

How the hell can ya call it glamorous?
When glamping means begging up the North Bridge
Contemplating suicide in torn, soggy shoes

Viledom’s finest scourge Leith Walk
Piping, ‘We are young… We can handle it…’
‘…We could drop it just like that.’

But when they join the clucking Cold Turkeys
& Methadone Monkeys in gibbering clinics
It’s more  { { p e a c e f u l } }  just to try it one last time

There’s a Bag-Head Prick
Itching itself sick
: in Leith


Epode

I’m rather afraid that we’re going to get tough.
The gentlemen of Britain have had e-bloody-nough!
The Common Chorus

***

There’s a Junkie Fool
Shuffling past yer school
: in Leith

I was twenty-one once,
Busking down Bournemouth
Boozing wi’ beggars

I’d follow’d ‘em into a nappy-dirty yard
Watching ‘em cook up their hard-earned stuff
& said, ‘I’ll have a go,’ in all innocence

‘You don’t wanna try,’ said Feathers,
‘Do I not?… alright…’ three days later
I found him overdosing in his tent

Never babysit a Smack-Head!
If you show signs of weakness they will take
& take & take & lie & take & steal & take & scrounge

& take & take & lie & steal & take & scrounge & take &…
…when you’ve stopp’d giving they’ll turn round & hiss,
‘I thought you were my friend?’

There’s a Junkie Shmuck
Lonely, Soul-less, Stuck
: in Leith

Haiku From Heather Lodge

SPRING

When will winter end?
A wind too wild to walk in
Or swing nine irons

Golden gorse aglow
Oxen roam Rucklaw West Mains
Sheep claim Clint’s green lawns

Yews yearn for romance
Females hanging single seeds –
Males, sun-bronzed catkins

Nettles start their show
& midst these virgin stingers
Single bumblebees

Molehill mountain range
Subterranean violence
Soil-swept volcanoes

Welcome wee calves!
Doglike in thine agile skips
Jigging pig-snouted

Dew-sparkling Markle
Twixt Traprain & Berwick Law
Drear clouds, clear skies clash

Green tinted treetops
Clint’s floral bells – pinks, reds, whites
Rhododendrums rare

Glorious sun-stream
Gorse gleaming ne’er so golden
Hedgerows gain the gleam

Sunbeams pierce the pane
Seed trays fill the window sills
Little lettuces

Last week all was bare
This week woods are green again
Summer’s luscious spread

Adolescent lambs
Mothers shedding winter fleece
Strange, like melting snow


 

SUMMER

Rabbits everywhere
Panicking before my feet
Catacoombing hills

Uugh! Crossfield foot squelch
Cowpat soft in sweating sun
Perpetrators laze

Frantic buzzing spree
Wasp wound up in spider’s web
Rescued with a wink

Warm & windless walk
Dunbar’s windfarming becalm’d
Like spitfires sleeping

Gleeful Smeaton lake
Duckling diaspora down
Peerless cedar’s high

Countryside scamper
Face-high fern at Woodhall Burn
Scrambling up steep slopes

The serene greenhouse
Full fruits of summer sunblaze
Fourteen tomatoes

Garden thick with flies
Insectoid diaspora
Rainbow sheens & sounds

Something flicks my hair
Daddylonglegs on the roof
Gollywopperworld

Apples on the tree
Reddening & ripening
Young-fall floods the floor

Wet Whittinghame woods
Mushrooms rising from dank soil
Weedery decays

Bank holiday bliss
Barbecues & tennis shoes
Geetahs neath the stars


 

AUTUMN

Nether Hailes’ tractor
Fresh-hewn fields of harvest hay
Into huge balls roll’d

Wee spiky sputniks
Playgrounds of champions
Conker carcasses

Wee fruits tint the trees
Elderberry baubelrie
Perfect pies & wines

Fluffy forest floor
Midst lush fernage & branchfall
Mushroom wonderland!

Ghosts surround the house
Hurricane sweeps Heather Lodge
Leaf-fall snow flurry

Leaves fill up the lawns
Leaves trailing all thro’ the lodge
Leaves still clinging tall

Year’s first barren tree
Wintry reminiscences
Autumn’s leaf lament

These thinning woods
Decaying vegetation
Lines of sniper sight

Rustling leaf pile
Scampering midst forest ferns
Squirrels tend their stores

Whirling icy winds
As treetops twist & twindle
Last leaves full of fear

A sharp morning frost
Across the sprinkling snowdust
Robin happily hops

Sunset, half-past four
Red, ribb’d sky yon Whittinghame
Papple’s fields aflame


A&A image.jpg

WINTER

Chocolate calender
Muddy roads & rotting leaves
Drear December’s dawn

All-seeing Horus
Far from Sommer’s hazy gaze
Wan, weak & wind-worn

Glacial sea-frost
Ice scatters oer Pressmennan
Elegant zing-sounds

To the great North Sea
Gallops Whittinghame Water
Icy, insect free

Snowflakes a flurry
Nature’s cotton candy realm
Bumbling tumbledown!

Woods too cold to walk
Ten minutes – bitter retreat
No Antarctic Scott!

The years first flowers
Miniature metropolis
Whimsical snowdrop!

Distant Pentland snows
Cloud cover growing thicker
Wind & wooly hats

Heron flaps wide wings
Whittinghame Water’s lifewell
Swells with melting snow

Skorries Park corner
Crocus circus comes to town
Marquees half-masted!

630 A.M
Dull o’er murky Lammermuir
Deep Homeric Dawn

Daffodils explode
Explosions in slow motion
Move the child-like soul

Photo-0251_1.jpg

The Lost Poem

TO

a

POEM

that was

LOST

in the

CITY OF
STOCKHOLM


 

I wrote a poem once,
At Stockport, not far from the gates of Europa
My friend was driving there one sunny day
Smoking reefers & talking about life’s changes
We ended up in a funky metal scrapyard
One of those places you never thought existed
Like when you were younger & joked
About where all the lost odd socks went
But this place was the real deal,
Full of Volkswagon carcasses,
Camper vans & Beetle hulks
& a couple of greasy mechanics,
chilling with the sun

While Nicky looked at a ninety-nicker bumper
I was suddenly inspired to write a few desolatelines
About the decaying Earth & the dwindling fuelreserves
& finished it off with an arty kind of twist
About discovering an old photograph of myself
Holding a pretty young lady,
She was wearing beads
Sat upon the beach of, perhaps, San Remo
We’d been drinking red wine to the rise of the sun
While our friends were making fire shapes beside us

…It never happened like that, but all poems need an end

So I stashed it away,
A single sheet of paper folded several times
Constantly forgetting to type the blighter up
Until it turned up in a book I was reading
Livy’s remarkable Early History of Rome
I’d packed it to study on my mission round the Baltic
Where, trawling about the soft streets of Stockholm
Wondering what the hell the plastic cows were for
Every time I picked it up the sheet fell out the pages
Constantly reminding me that I should make it safe
It would only take a second, but I never took the time…

IMG_20160321_173253678.jpg

I found myself having one of those moments
The sun setting sublimely as I made my evening meal
On the forecastle of the hotel boat I was staying on
The splish-splosh of the waves & a gust of seabreeze
Blew out the sheet as I turned a page
To float on the air like a falling feather
Time was standing still but the paper started       F
A
To slip thro’ the narrowest of cracks tween the     L        boards
To be found one day in the distant future                L
By somebody breaking up the hold for scrap           I
N
G

From Stockport to Stockholm had flown my fine words
& now I’d gone & bloody lost ‘em
I was well gutted at first,
Like the time my girlfriend ran off with a German
But, as I ponder’d home to my cabin empty-handed,
Past painted memorials of the age of sail
I had a remarkable epiphany
At last my poem had a proper end!

Upper Inferno

Strophe

Around me grew the pathless shadows of life’s dark wood
Three Beasts block’d my way
Leopard on the path clad in light revealing lingerie
Lion fills my ears with fear, roaring modern cacophony
She-wolf eyes my rucksack daring to rid me of money

At the point of defeat I heard a human voice,
“I am the shade of Virgilius of Rome,
Poet to Augustus & the false & lying gods!
You must take another road & if you follow I will guide you,
The place eternal waits, where shrieking ancyents wail for second death

THRO’ ME THE WAY INTO THE WOEFUL CITY
THRO’ ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN
THRO’ ME THE WAY AMONG THE LOST PEOPLE
ABANDON ALL HOPE THOSE THAT ENTER HERE

Clapping hands * Screams of anguish
Haunted sighs * Lamentations
Loud Wailings * Strange Tongues
Horrible Lingua * Words of Pain
Behind a shifting banner I saw so many people,
Train of wretched shades by black & loathsome river
Where daemon steering hovercraft beams eyes of burning coal
“This is the Acheron,” said the poet, “& that is Charon!
Father of the livid marsh, watcher of its river crossing!”

Souls, like leaves of Autumn, ping into his craft
Driven on by divine justice, until the tree drew bare
&, as a new crowd gathers while the pilot sped away,
A red blaze shone, dark winds struck up, my senses overcome,
I shudder & fall like one seiz’d with sudden sleep

Heavy thunder awakens me
Rested eyes survey the Valley of Pain
Deep & dark & blanketed in vapours
The poet turns to me, painted death-pale with pity,
“Let us descend into the blind world down there…”

We stepp’d into that abysmal place
Serpent-realms girdling the infernal world
Where countless wailings rise, & sighs forever tremble
Where swell vast crowds of men, women & little children

The Poet turns to me with sad, sad eyes,

“These did not sin, they have merit enough,
But were born before the Harrowing of hell
Faith’s gateway by them never meant to know
& so… are lost…”


 

Epode

A blazing light shone beyond that forest of thronging spirits
& we went thither to a noble castle set apart;
Seven walls of intelligence protected from immorality
A gentle stream of eloquence stood watch over the dark
Guarding a gallant tribe, gazes of grand authority
Observe us as we drift there, men like the dashing Aeneas,
Ceasar, Cicero, souls of science & philosophy;
Aristotle, Plato…
then turned back to their playstations
Apart from one old man who hobbl’d over to greet us
His name was Thales, & we talked of poetry & of our
Noble school of eagle-song, when our converse over
We pursued a sloping drawbridge to a place without light.

Here Minos stands guard
Horrible, snarling, Judge of the Dead

Encircled by his spiral tail his sinners are hurl’d below
To a place of muted light where a restless, hellish storm
Blows them hither, thither, upward, downward,
Lamenting & blaspheming the great Power of God

“These are the carnal sinners that forever reap LUST’S whirlwind
Of a life subjected to their heart’s desires,
No hope of rest or comfort from the lust which drives their souls”

Thro’ battling winds long lines of shades pass like hungry cranes

“When you abandon yourself to a love that is nothing but love
You are in hell already!”
Three-headed Cerberus perceives us
Bares bloody fangs, fierce & hideous
Groveling in the sunken mire
About the Great Worm of Hades

My master throws handfuls of dirt into three ravenous gullets
Calming the devouring Beast,
Who, mumbling, lets us pass to a pitiful place,
Upon this spot falls an eternal, cursed rain
Unceasing measure, cold & heavy hail, foul water, snow,
Fallen souls lie hungry & helpless in the mud

“These know a strange & loathsome penalty,
Flesh-loving fools, far from luxurious banquetry,
Yielded their souls to food without spiritual motive!”

Then we went around that curving road, lost in conversation
To come on Pluto at the point where path fell steep

“Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!”

Clucking monotone warning from the old god of Hades,
The baron of Zeus, Lord of the Grecian underworld,
Who once lost his kingdom to the arch-villain’s armies,
Not now forced into lowly lieutenant-hood

“Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!”

My Master rants,
“Silence accursed wolf, our journey has been willed on high!”
As wind-swollen sails fall aheap when tall masts snap,
The cruel beast fell


tumblr_nie6z3bspm1u7v5k3o1_1280

Antistrophe

Passing beyond the whimpering God of Wealth,
We follow the serpentine tail
Scampering down the dismal slope
To where fresh toils founder & pain is newborn

God’s justice flings sinners into wild tormenting whirlpools
Jostling & jousting & dueling with sharp credit cards

“Who are these souls that pierce my heart?”
“They are the hoarders & squanderers of Avarice,
Who embroil’d their lives worshipping material existence,
Now all the gold that ever was beneath the moon
Will never grant them rest!”

We left that circle & its endless scuffle
To walk on ever deeper thro’ the flame
Descending to a greater wretchedness
Entering marshy STYX beside a gloomy stream,
Gurgling Purple

This circle’s inhabitants are the Angry
Smiting each other in the sucking slime
Head, hand, breast

Virgilius turns to me & sings,
“These signal wings will sweep us deeper through the grand malign”

Phylegyas crosses the dismal hollow in his dirty, little boat
Single silent oarsmen guides us down a stagnant channel…
Defiant fallen angels mount approaching iron walls
Our poet pipes a ballad of Christ’s Harrowing of Hell
Whose memory demands those daemons let us pass this day
Thus we found unhappy Dis, woeful Satanic stronghold

From tower’s top three blood-stain’d furies wail
Tesiphore, Alecto & Megaera
Naked-breasted, Hydra-hair’d, black tongues rasping
“Summon Medusa to turn these fools to stone!”

“Turn thy back,” said the poet, “& shut thine eyes,
Lest the Gorgon show herself & trap us here forever!”

Hand-blinded we hurried on ‘til they were safe to open
Before a flamey plain full of pain & torment

“Who are these buried in those open, funerary chests?”
“They are the self-deluding, messianic, arch-heretics,
Tardisesque their followers are buried deep beside them”

Further into the Morning Star’s domain
Scatter’d massive mountains of red & ruin’d rocks
One was thus inscribed,
‘I hold pope Urban II
Whom Adolfus Hitler drew from the straight path’

‘This marker means we soon shall reach darkest depths of evil
Come let us rest awhile beside this unbelieving pope.”

Our spirits scent-adjusted to the vile stench of the Devil
We drew a breath of stagnant air & puked into the Pit
Gunk tumbling down a cliff face, three terraces divided

Marettimo

ON

a

TOUR

of the

SICILIAN
ISLAND

of

MARETTIMO

Il mio giro di un’isola bella


STROPHE

Italia d’oro
Paradiso di pensiero esiliato
Regina di poesia

Sicilia sublime
Cuore di oceano antico
Cucina di cultura

Animato Trapani
Smeraldo del Mediterraneo
Delizia di pescatori

Magnifico Egadi;
Farfalla Favignana
Pigro Levanzo

L’onde riflettono il sole
Marettimo splendida estensione
La genti su avvicina al porto

In fondo alla prima strada
Madonna e angelo di pietra
Fanno la guardia di tombe bianche

Odore di pane cotto al forno
Caldi panini riempiono la mia borsa
Pizza per prima colazione

Galleria d’alberi
Gl’uccelli cantano dolcezza
Pietroso paesaggio cresce ripido

Gioco di roccia irregolare
Punta Bassano
Crocifisso del pescatore morto


 

ANTISTROPHE

Passi di esse levarsi
Serpente zigzaga attraverso il paesaggio
Pini affollano la Carcaredda

Morbido, marrone pavimento della foresta
Tappeto d’agi innumerevoli
Ceppi aspettano la panetteria

Discendo alla spiaggia
Salto masso dopo a masso
Lungo la baia forma d’arco

Roccia di marmo e rosa
Geologia dilettante
Acquaforte di tempo profondo

Scalo la Spalmatore
Sopra, un’altro pianeta,
O quando nostro mondo era giovane?

Signore di Marettimo
Piramide di sassi muscioso
Mare su tutti lati

Suono spacca il silenzio
Aviogetto Italiano
Curva attraversa le scene

Da Tunisia lontana
Pantelleria nebbiosa
La Sicilia chiara

Pace poiche la mia anima,
Questo momento purifica,
Canta per Sicilia

Fiodo.JPG


 

EPODE

Discendando con il giorno
Da questa cresta d’edera
Faccio valanghe miniscule

Passagio ondulato comme onde
Ramoscelli scrosciano sotto il mio piede
Piccante aroma

Orrizonte rosa
Mare inghiotte il sole rosso
Stella di sera che si alra

Pericolosa passaeggiata
Il Gabbiani molestano
Una barca di pescha sul mare

Monte Cofano
Levanzo & un castello
Avanzano furtivamente dentro vista

Vecchio Castello Spagnolo
Sella la schiena d’una tartaruga
Gemiti fanno eco dalla sua prigione

Stelle cominciano il loro regno
Capre fuggono al mio passaggio
Scorto la barca alle paese

Uomini, donne e bambini
Gettano le loro canne per calamari
Gloria in chili

Nel bar della piazza animato
Leggo ad alta voce la mia poesia
Il mio giro di un’isola bella

Tsu-Na-Mi

TO

the

250,000

VICTIMS

of the

TSU-NA-MI

of

BOXING DAY

2004


STROPHE

Remember the host of the ghostly battalion
Imagine them drown’d in a growling sea
Beach-huts for driftwood, corpses for carrion
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI

Sing to the outlying islands of Andaman
As waves strip the tribesmen’s neolithic dress
Ripping them out to the mad, frothing ocean
Leaves nothing behind but a waste wilderness

Far worse than the monster that shock’d mighty Lisbon
From the Guadalquivir to the Antibes
Struck by the scope, the proportion of Ocean
Witnessing forever these biblical seas

Remember the mood in the days after Christmas
When so many strangers shall shun the new year
A new, doleful sound when the river grows restless
As so many tears crystallize a new fear

ANTISTROPHE

Remember the grief in the streets of Sumatra
Second Krakatoa rolls in as a gale
The wave left a swathe for the here & hereafter
Of death & destruction on Golgothan scale

Remember them fleeing those huge walls of water
That snapped them & tossed them & made bloody piles
The aftermath pale, she search’d for her daughter
A sad scene repeated some three thousand miles

These scenes a portent of deadly Katrina
Soon Louisiana would suffer the same
When lives devastated by merciless water
Become bloated bodies of barbaric shame

Remember them flock from the lush Phuket beaches
As in rush’d a storm to destroy the fair bays
Lost in wreck’d Kamala street urchin beseeches
The first waves survivors the Oceans still raise

EPODE

Remember the sounds on the shores of Sri Lanka
The crunching & breaking & snapping & screams
As ships of pig-iron are ripped from the anchor
& pack’d teeming trains flung from bent, steely beams

Remember the shock when the seas were retreating
What nuclear winter on all sides was seen
Upon the horizon the dark sky now meeting
A vast wall of water of Aegean green

When in the black minute that Heaven was swelling
Nature’s awesome horror in raw, rampant state
For two-hundred-thousand the death bell is knelling
What Sayer or Vates could foresee their fate

Remember the trail of those waves of destruction
From Asia to Africa surged the wild sea
Remember, remember the Lord of the Ocean
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI

Kalavu Iyal

On

the

KALAVU
IYAL

of the

TAMIL
POETS

of the

SANGAM AGE


Wisdom hath builded her house,
She hath hewn out her seven pillars :
She hath killed her beasts ;
She hath mingled her wine :
She hath also furnished her table ;
She hath sent forth her maidens :
She crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.
The Book of Proverbs

Strophe

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:
For thy love is better than wine
The Song of Solomon

Let me recompose the most esteemed treatise
Of our ancient Tamil poets,
Into which is pour’d a thousand worthy love-opines.

Let us sing upon the sacred love-meeting,
The marriage-system of the celestials
Who find copious delights in the melodies of the lyre.

The Lover & his Lady-Love meet in equal status,
Excelling in individual talents,
Enhancing each other’s virtuous qualities.

When the look glimmers reciprocal,
Signs of love-making soon shall take place;
So say the Poets…

As modesty & simplicity in the act of love
Belong to the female nature : her amorousness
Shown only thro’ gestures developed by the Code of Love

In the course of their amorous advancement
Lovers express the greater passions known,
Fate-exclaiming, affirming their bond’s assurances


 

Antistrophe

With our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love… My hands strayed oftener to her bosom than to the pages… our desires left no stage of lovemaking untried, & if love could devise something new, we welcomed it
Peter Aberlard

Excepting three days of menses
There will be no day without a love-meeting :
Even during this time the tryst is not forbidden

The act of fixing the meeting-place
Can be night’s argyrodite or the glint of day;
…So say the Poets of the Sangam…

The day-meeting-place will be outside the house,
For even in storms leaf-flowing tree-bowers caress us
The way to which woods must be known by the Lady-Love

Although she may ignore him on arrival,
In the Lady-Love’s eyes there trills no look
Which cannot reveal her emphatic love

Moving closely with one another & the physical touch,
Connecting to love’s enjoyment, wailing upon separation;
This is adoration’s’ ranunculus meeting

When the Lover leaves his Lady-Love:
Bemoaning his departure she will sigh after him,
Being grieved at the loss of her mind’s serenity


 

Epode

If this is Odysseus in truth, then we shall soon know each other better than well by certain private signs between us two, hidden from the rest of the world.
Homer

From the act of love-making springs ardent desire,
Brooding & pining: from pining springs
Suspicion of knowing the love affairs of others

During the period of secret love,
No play or festival the lover will enjoy
Without his lady-love

When the lady-love prattles her dreams of love-excess
To her medicean maid-friend, their once secret love
Becomes the hot gossip-topic, soon, among the public.

When the great secret is revealed to a foster-mother,
She is said to be the mother
…So say the Poets of the Sangam Summer!

Thinking she has not the wisdom to reckon her partner,
The mother & foster-mother may approach the wise-people
To clear millstone doubts hung about the love-choice

The way of marriage is of two kinds:
The marriage after the secret love is known
& the marriage before it is known.

To An Englishman With Liberty

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I
Why do you place us on monstrous pedestals?
We have all feet of clay, women as well as men…
Oscar Wilde

Sir, did you please your skin ‘neath Nunraw’s sylvan falls,
Or ease your boat within Old Dunbar’s harbor walls,
& have you ever gazed on Whittinghame’s great yew
As morning chorus lazed, drunk on a fresh haar’s dew?

Sir, did you stroll the swerve serving Port Seton’s sands
Invested with the verve East Lothian demands,
Like pluckin’ young fungi from Saltoun’s lofty wood
Or gladly ambling by wylde Bara’s handsome flood?

Sir, did you ever take the views from Deuchrie Dod,
& in that moment make a pact with Man & God,
To wander to & fro, record all seen & felt,
’til all thy senses slow, when mental trances melt.

To an Englishman with Liberty
Dost thou ken thy’s a bard?
‘I do, sir, in my dreams!’

You do?
By land & sea
Ascend art’ s boulevard
Upbending via beams
Thro’ heavens thickly starr’d!


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II
Everything you can imagine is real…
Pablo Picasso

Sir, did you ever take these bright isles in a tour,
The pride of Scotland slake on Hampden’s awesome roar
& did you ever stun the herd of Wicklow deer
Or strike a mountain run on Snowdon sloping sheer?

Sir, have you spent a night with Haggis Burns & song
Or watch’d a ravensflight from battle cairns at Kong
& have you seen the sun oer Glencoe’s savagery
Or seen Portmeirion in total privacy

Sir, did you break your fast upon old Boney’s nose
Then gaze down on Belfast & all those terraced rows
& have you ever stood atop the Isle of Man
With weather fine & good, & Britain like a fan

To an Englishman with Liberty
Ye love thy Celtic fringe?
‘I do so, & am proud!’

You are?
Then set life free
& let your soul impinge
Into thy native crowd
Streaking a silver tinge


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III
The country is looking much more beautiful
than when I came through it three weeks ago
Edith Holden

Sir, have you ever seen Cumbria clad in snow
Or Brighton’s beaches been in summer’s easy glow
& have you ever heard the Cambridge matin bells
Or felt your senses stirr’d when England’s anthem swells?

Sir, did you drink the ale brewed for the northernmills
Or watch seafarers sail from Whitby’s salty sills
& did you ever feed your thirst in Cornish Springs
Or take the time to read thro’ histories of kings?

Sir, have you ever pass’d an afternoon at Lords
Or watch’d a happy cast a-tread Adelphi’s boards
& have you ever cheer’d the horses at Aintree
Or as a bargeman steer’d the waters of the Lea

To an Englishman with liberty
What of these coy demands?
“These things, sir, I have known!”

You have?
Then let us fly
Beyond these fabled lands
The English call their own
Set sail for Calais sands


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IV
The sea is calm to-night.The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone;
Matthew Arnold

Sir, did you ever ride the high-speed Gallic trains
Or climb a mountainside kept by Croatian swains
& did you ever try the tramways of Zurich
Or skiing full hilt fly upon an Alpine peak?

Sir, did you ever tour the fields of Waterloo
Or urge Rooney to score amidst a foreign crew
& did you lap the flow of Castalian Spring
Or seek a fireside glow from Finland’s wintry sting?

Sir, did you take a dance with maidens of Seville
Or breathe the elegance of the Avantine Hill
& walk the wylde contree barefoot upon the Basque
Or taste the brevity of the Venetian masque?

To an Englishman with Liberty
Italy has it all,
“It does, sir, & does well!”

Bene!
No finer place to visit
& forge a poet’s soul!
Tis here the muses dwell
& welcome one & all


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V
Paradise of Exiles
PB Shelley

Sir, did your pallet taste sepia’s sable sheen
Or spread green pesto paste on bread like margerine
& steep Collodi climb to read Pinnochio
Or see day set sublime oer Pontevecchio

Sir, did you Lord Byron raise through old Venetianlanes
Or find yourself amazed by Pompeii’s strange remains
& did you ever take the waters of Trieste
Or swim Averno’s lake without a moment’s rest

Sir, did you cheer the riffs as Ligabue rocks
Walk Cinque Terran cliffs, or bought Le Scale box
& did you deck the sails round Ponza’s pirate isle
Or study Tuscan tayles in Dante’s sweet new style

To an Englishman with Liberty
Art thou adventurous?
“I am sir, life is good!”

It is?
Then reach this sea
The gods named glorious,
Let freedom clasp thy hood
& cross the Bosphorous


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VI
In Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
Christopher Marlowe

 Sir, did you feel the heat of searing Rajhastan
Or clad Kimono greet fair geishas of Japan
& did you ever wear th’Atlantic’s mistral miles
Or dreams of Zion share amidst Pacific isles?

Sir, did you ever ride the Vladivostok rail,
Or watch the proud Roos hide from harsh Van Diemen hail
& did you ever climb the Islandwhanan rock
Or hear the lilting chime of the diannual clock?

Sir, did you note the chill of the Saharan night
Or felt your senses thrill with Rio neath yourflight
& did you ever smell the waifs of Singapore
Or share a living hell when nations go to war?

To an Englishman with Liberty
With spirit cavalier,
For you the world grows dull?

“It does!”
Then come with me
A fresher course to steer,
Launch from Canaveral
To chase the stratosphere


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VII
Whenever mankind has sought to conquer new frontiers,
there have been those who have given
their lives for the cause.
Mission of the Astronauts Memorial

Sir, did you foot the floor of dusty lunar seas
Or spread your mind & soar upon the solar breeze
& did you ever sail betwixt the Saturn rings
Or catch a comets tail & tie it to your wings?

Sir, did you abseil down craters of Mercury
Or wander rusting towns of Martian history
& did you pierce the clouds twixt Ceres & Trojan
Or hide beneath the clouds of rain Venusian?

Sir, did you feel winds form on Neptune’s azure reed
Or watch the great red storm from twinkling Ganymede
& did you once observe the green Urasian glow
& with Colombus verve pass fringes of Pluto?

To an Englishman with Liberty
Have you these pleasures sought?
“I have sir, & have felt!”

God bless astronomy!
Relax, come let us float
Beyond the Kuiper belt
Upon our blazing boat


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VIII
Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.
Sigmund Freud

Sir, have you ever gone beyond the icy Quaoar
Or paused at Ixion, core of an ancyent star,
& did you scan the skies from lovely Varuna
Or set your naked eyes on sanguinous Sedna?

Sir, come with us & spin upon this scarlet sphere,
Through head of tiny pin watch our vast sun appear,
Here ye shall find no guide, nor shall ye hear asound,
From Sedna’s swirling side a rocky moon slips round…

Sir, watch the goddess sit, voluptuous & fair,
Beloved Enuit, with starfish-dappl’d hair,
Whom by her husband cruel purg’d of her vanities,
Now sits she as the jewel of the infinities…

To an Englishman with Liberty
What brings ye to this place?
“She called me from her stone!”

She did?
Then cross this sea
She calls the stretch of space,
Continue, sir, alone
A vapour without trace


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IX
Perhaps, long hence, when I have passed away,
Some other feature, accent, thought like mine,
Will carry you back to what I used to say
Thomas Hardy

Sir, feel each sphere that forms as if life’s hallow’d birth,
Faint, incandescent storms enough to swallow Earth,
& we shall delve among distances none conceive,
Some durable among extremes none dare believe.

So many rocks like ours, some more Peg Fifty-One,
Whom in a hundred hours hurtles around her sun,
Stars flicker firefly by supernovae gongs,
While choirs of nebulae court angels with sad songs;

Sir, witness Icarus, a single stable star,
Whose supergiant dress our furthest light by far,
Here nature helter-skelts, her cosmos skirls askew,
Here conscious motion melts in pools of pearly blue;

To an Englishman with Liberty
Freed fell thee from this cage?
“I do, Sir, like a bird!”

You are?
Then let us flee,
Forever on this page,
Untether’d from the herd,
A jester on the stage.