Like shadows of a former self
Deserted villages flit fitfully by
Their church spires rank reminders
Of past acts of ardour, cloaked in faith,
Of devout, unapologetic passion.
Awash we were with energy and adoration
And sensuality we dared call love.
Where are they now, those reckless moments
Of rapturous, guilty innocence?
Where are the whisperings of our worship?
Have they too gone deadly cold
Like those piles of stone, there
Beyond the now leafless trees?
Has time erased what once consumed our souls?
Untended fires flicker, then expire,
Leaving ashes white with evidence.
The spires, empty now of fervent prayer,
Mark memory’s horizon like headstones.
We’re almost there: at Gare du Nord
All will be wiped, but - like e-mail binned -
Etched onto the hard disk of experience:
Unseen, entombed, forever gone, forever there.
Here he sits
At 55 resolved
To be his own man at last
Unfailingly surprised he is at
The world’s wickedness
Not excluding his own:
Annoyed, too, for following
The wrong, well-trodden path
From here he goes
Not mincingly or weak
But full of purpose
Directed at he-knows-not-what
“There must be another vista,
Once I round the corner”
He mumbles, but not audibly
For he is certainly not old
Later, from all the wandering
He falls asleep, still hopeful,
For there is a depth to him
Unfathomed, waiting to be revealed –
Tomorrow morning, no doubt
After coffee and the morning papers,
When nothing will prevent him
From finding his true course
(recorded on waking, 1 Feb 2002)
Flaming red torsos
of Olympian skittlers
pushing their puck
Fading in soft focus
without shame or season
Into the icy rigidity
of princely erections
and flaunting their luck
Living with Absence
Demure and soft of skin
Hair brushed back behind the ears
Expression earnest, posture prim
The mouth plum-like, pursed -
That's how I remember you
In your long skirt, your eyes
Unfocused across the little table -
Like a woman in La Coupole.
The pain of distance already yawning
Negating the lingering intimacy -
I hear myself plead for patience...
Then, emotions bleeding, I am gone.
The light grows dimmer.
Your hand unmoving and alone now
Still loosely holds the teacup's ear.
A sigh. And the hand moves on.
Sacred ibis glide-landing
on deserted Sydney shopping street
one radiant Sunday morning,
folding wings, strutting, pecking,
his impossibly long bent bill
nosily inspecting piled garbage,
Gets caught in plastic bag
which winds round and round
his swanlike neck, slowly strangling him.
Houdini tricks absent among his options,
the only witnesses a strolling couple
wrapped in tranquil weekend mood.
Roused, resolving action is required
they pursue the ibis who, terrified
scampers limpingly through alley and arcade
stumbling, dragging his smelly noose
till driven into a hopeless corner
and overcome, and finally set free.
Later the couple find him -
criminal returned to his place of crime -
stretching his slender neck longingly
towards the bag that almost killed him:
base desire outflanking experience.
The couple, askance, noble deed devalued
though not the quality of their impulse,
resume their stroll, pondering the thin line
between the sacred and the profane,
between rubbish bin and temple.