Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Striving and Scrambling, Clawing and Clattering"

When I was a young man,
I was hell-bent on making a name for myself,
don’t know where it came from
this cloying ambition,
this shard of self-promotion
stuck deep in my heart

Oh, to meet me you wouldn’t know it,
wouldn’t sense this striving
seething beneath my politeness and good breeding.
No, you would probably say,
if you thought to comment at all
to your companion at the time,
upon walking away and not being otherwise distracted by,
say, the play of the light on the sun-tawny hills
or the way a passing young woman’s dark curl strayed
across her forehead
that “there goes a sensible young man with dreams,
sure enough, but dreams rooted in pragmatism”.

But all the while, I would be clamped down
on the ashes of envy, bitter against
the roof of my mouth and I would covet
what you had, my Jekyll and Hyde shadow
reaching out
to knock you from your perch.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Poem for Ilana"

Like the tree for which you were named,
you combine the aesthetic with the practical.
Your principles stand firm
in the buffeting winds of peer pressure,
you offer the weak and voiceless
the shelter of your humanity
as branches beckon the birds,
you bear the fruit of your personality,
growing with each year
and proudly tended and harvested
by your loved ones,
you send out new shoots and tendrils
to embrace the shape of experience
and inhale the oxygen of knowledge,
you grow upward, ever upward
in anticipation of the limitless sky
and when you smile,
we behold it with the same joy
as awakening to the first blossoms of Spring.

I wrote this poem many years ago when I was working for a South African Jewish family on a moshav in northern Israel. Ilana was their teenage daughter and she was only a couple of years away from having to do her compulsory two year military service that most young Israelis must do when they turn eighteen. Ilana is Hebrew for tree, an appropriate name for someone growing up in a horticultural environment.

Please excuse the late posting, but school holidays can be all-consuming for a parent.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Strike!"

Restless fisherwomyn,
don't cast into the darkness
of the future,
your fretted brow
played like an instrument of torture.
Wading into the clear, fast-flowing stream
of consciousness,
you look not at the glinting dance
of dawn upon the water
but over your shoulder at the glowering night
that hangs on to the horizon
with whitened knuckles
and breathes on your neck
its snaking, insidious gases,
issuing from its swampy maw
fetid with fear.

Nervous fingers catalogue your flies,
here the feathers of your commitment
frayed and threadbare,
there a once sparkling spinner
now tarnished with disappointment
and you wonder,
sighing as you survey the eddies,
where will it strike
and do you have the lure?

I lie,
deep in the aquamarine,
the sun filtering through the shimmering surface,
firing the melody of my rainbow markings
as I ripple my body,
flicking my tail just enough
against the current
to hold myself as still as the now.

And when I strike your shining lure
you will know my savage momentum
brooks no hesitation,
never contemplates going back
and buries the hook
into the bony jawbone of belief. 

Welcome back to Tuesday Poem after the Southern Hemisphere summer hiatus. Do take the time, if you have it to spare, to read all the wonderful Tuesday poets.

Unfortunately, we denizens of Christchurch got a Christmas present from Mother Nature that we would rather not have unwrapped. More big earthquakes. I'd be a liar if I pretended the ongoing seismic activity didn't wear down our resilience.

But I hope that elsewhere you had a lovely Christmas and a restful holiday.