Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Tuesday Poem: "frisson"

I’d forgotten the electricity
like the heightened ritual
of courtship dance
between two elaborately plumaged birds

it’s poetry without the punctuation
it's animal but with sophistication
it's intellectual but draped with stimulation
and in the end it doesn't rhyme

Yes, I'd forgotten the electricity
but also never forgotten
and words are servants too clumsy
to serve the feeling awakened meeting you again

deep sorrow has assailed you
yet still your skin looks like ivory silk
and your eyes hold me like an idea of heaven

I wanted to kiss you full on the mouth
but who could stop at one?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Tuesday Poem: "A Long Overdue Love Poem"

Like a faded, jaded rock star,
I am living on my back catalogue,
a Brian Jones of love poetry,
desperately trying to tread water
in the drowning pool
of former glories.

Every published paean to past girlfriends
or, worse, the first Mrs de Winter
is another slight,
a creeping acid on the heart.

But you must understand
the combination of lover and writer is a mixture
fraught with ambition and frustration,
the one eager to gush the mush of greeting cards,
the other keen to be taut and muscular,
slicing through cliché
like a hot knife through butter.

The excuses are legion but not without substance.
Family and fallow or prolific and personally bereft?
Domestic details build day by day,
like layers of archaeological detritus,
burying romance like a forgotten civilisation.

But dig, I urge you,
and you will find
that in the orange-gold curls of our youngest son,
in the night-time catch-up conversations in bed,
in the bold and imaginative artwork of our oldest son,
in the simple shared pleasure of watching a video
after putting our children to bed,
in a rare night out pursuing adult pleasures,
in reading stories to omnivorous listeners at bed-time,
in answering left-field questions about marine life,
in anticipating the sharing of life-defining experiences,
in seeing our sons every day exploring
and mapping out this thing called life,
even in the arguments, the tantrums and the tears
are the pillars of gold
which hold up this temple
to the many faces of love,
a love enduring,
a love made manifest in these two fine little men
who will carry our love into a future we will never see.

Please excuse me for posting my Tuesday Poem on a Thursday afternoon, but on Monday June 13, Christchurch was hit by two more large earthquakes of 5.9 and 6.3 magnitude. I was lying in my sick bed at the time, recovering from norovirus, a gastric illness which lurks about when a community lacks adequate sewerage facilities.

But on a more positive note, I thought I would post this poem which I wrote for my wife, Christine, a few years ago. When natural disasters keep occurring to us, we value our loved ones above all else. Love poetry has a long and noble tradition, but I must confess I find love poems the hardest poems to write. It can be hard to find an original angle on love and I'm always terrified that the poem will come off sounding trite and cliched.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tuesday Poem: "She Dances Alone"

On the high veldt
she dances alone,
singing the song that attracts the Iion,
long, slender neck that the great jaws
will break like bringing down the running bok.

In the sweet rustling savannah
she dances alone,
ululating the wounded cry that brings the leopard,
slapping the womanly hillock of her hip
that the great cat will flagrantly
tear asunder from her torso.

Fierce mother African sun
fingering the vibrant coloured beads
that slap slap slap against your daughter's
breasts, forehead, thighs and ankles
as she dances alone,
waiting to be sacrificed to the hunt.

Daughter, your mother will come
to whiten your bones
after the hyenas have stripped them clean.
And then, out on the high veldt,
her spirit will dance alone.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages this poem first appeared.