Monthly Archives: January 2013

A reprieve for me. A gift of Neruda.

Today my head is like cotton, my mind swamped with dull thudding, behind eyes, inside head. All caused by tiny little things attacking and hacking away inside my body. So instead of trying to pull some words out of its think viscous embrace I am giving you a poem of someone else instead.
I am working on something I will post later but right please enjoy the words of an amazing man.
Here is a delicious poem by the extraordinary Pablo Neruda –

Ode To The Storm

Last night
she
came,
livid,
night-blue,
wine-red:
the tempest
with her
hair of water,
eyes of cold fire-
last night she wanted
to sleep on earth.
She came all of a sudden
newly unleashed
out of her furious planet,
her cavern in the sky;
she longed for sleep
and made her bed:
sweeping jungles and highways,
sweeping mountains,
washing ocean stones,
and then
as if they were feathers,
ravaging pine trees
to make her bed.
She took the lightning
from her quiver of fire,
dropped thunderclaps
like great barrels.
All of a sudden
there was a silence:
a single leaf
gliding on air
like a flying violin-
then,
before
it touched the earth,
you took it
in your hands, great storm,
put all your winds to work
blowing their horns,
set the whole night
galloping with its horses,
all the ice whistling,
the wild
trees
groaning in misery
like prisoners,
the earth
moaning, a woman
giving birth,
in a single blow
you blotted out
the noise of grass
or stars,
tore
the numbed silence
like a handkerchief-
the world filled
with sound, fury and fire,
and when the lightning flashes
fell like hair
from your shining forehead,
fell like swords
from your warrior’s belt
and when we were about to think
that the world was ending,
then,
rain,
rain,
only
rain,
all earth, all
sky,
at rest,
the night
fell, bleeding to death
on human sleep,
nothing but rain,
water
of time and sky:
nothing had fallen
except a broken branch,
an empty nest.
With your musical
fingers,
with your hell-roar,
your fire
of volcanoes at night,
you played
at lifting a leaf,
gave strength to rivers,
taught
men
to be men,
the weak to fear,
the tender to cry,
the windows
to rattle-
but
when
you prepared to destroy us, when
like a dagger
fury fell from the sky,
when all the light
and shadow trembled
and the pines devoured
themselves howling
on the edge of the midnight sea,
you, delicate storm,
my betrothed,
wild as you were,
did us no wrong:
but returned
to your star
and rain,
green rain,
rain full
of dreams and seeds,
mother
of harvests
rain,
world-washing rain,
draining it,
making it new,
rain for us men
and for the seeds,
rain
for the forgetting
of the dead
and for
tomorrow’s bread-
only the rain
you left behind,
water and music,
for this,
I love you
storm,
reckon with me,
come back,
wake me up,
illuminate me,
show me your path
so that the chosen voice,
the stormy voice of man
may join and sing your song with you.

-Pablo Neruda

The Small Things

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It’s very telling
The way you see
The small things
The way its
Viewed
By you
The winds caress
Upon a leaf
Green and new
Bright from light
Or the way
The sunshine moves
Amongst the
Reddened blossoms
Their silken petals
And heavy bottoms

The way you are
Can be found
In browned bark
Shadows caught
The light and dark

And in the
The magic
Of the sand
Gold within
Your hand
The trail of
Ages past
In the small
Fragments
That are cast
Within the drift
Of eternal sea
The earths
Grand history
Placed upon
Your palm
To be picked up
By a passing breeze

Then there is
The crunch
The crinkled
Earthen leaf
Its lines and veins
And the earth beneath
The network
Of small creatures
Who keep it
Soft and moist
To plant
Your trees
Your flowers
To while away
Those hours
Just looking
Searching
And loving
The small things

All For Her

“It was all for her” the swallow said
As it swelled its breast with pride
Watching the man with black umbrella
Walk from side to side

“It was all for her” The man softly spoke
As he considered all he had
And kept his feet to shuffle between
The snow piles up ahead.

“It was all for her” The snow declared
As it whittled down its stock
Becoming just another pile
Of water among the rocks

“It was all for her” the rocks insisted
As they mark the borders by
And so the sun may glisten upon
Their bumped backs, soft and dry

“It was all for me” the sun affirmed
As she raised her gentle head
And watched the people praise her warmth
Wishing Summers heat instead.

A Dream of Great Minds

(Disclaimer – I wrote this about 10 years ago, in my teens)

I’m tape recording angels

Singing silent night in heaven.

I’m tape recording Elvis

Jamming guitars with John Lennon.

I’m tape recording silences

Louder than your scream.

I’m tape recording what you say

But never what you mean.

I’m listening in on conversations

Between Freud and Einstein.

I hear Mozart touch a note

That breaks the barriers of time.

I hear Jim Morrison and Dali

Discuss interpretations of desire.

There are open skies of clear blue sea

And water logged rings of fire.

Winston and Beatrice

There’s an uncommon place to sit down by the wharf where the old ships still come in to port. It’s where Winston sits on cold days when it doesn’t rain. Winston sits with propped up hand upon darkened cane and his weather worn wooden leg peering out from beneath the hem of rolled up trousers.
Its a curious position there, by the harbour, for the seat does not look upon the waving changes in the ocean as it meets with the piers beside; instead this seat looks upon the cemented grounds where people might meet and move on to restaurants and boulevards which adorn the port. Children often run and squeal and mark the pavement with sticky ice cream hands and brown knees while their parents mull over coffee and look out over the murky coloured water ahead.
This is what Winston watches as he waits.
Winston waited here, on his own for many years until Beatrice began sitting beside him.
Beatrice belonged to Shady Green, an expensive village for people ‘of age’ and she would arrive by bus every Tuesday and Thursday. They all would. The rest of them armed with frames and wheelchairs, canes and borrowed arms for balance. Like an army of grey and white bobbing heads they would find a place amongst the throng in the old Blue Rose Cafe. Where they would seat and feast upon chicken parmiganas and fried fish as they drink diluted teas with small chocolate heart treats for afterwards.
Beatrice had none of that. Beatrice would waltz off the bus, chin in the air, her head far above the bobbing brigade of grey and sit next to Winston with a homemade sandwich and thermos not even deigning to look across at the gathering of her bus toting brethren.
Winston loved Beatrice the first day he watched her immaculate brown sandals flip flop off the bus and her round sashaying bottom perch itself a hands width away from Winston, such was the room on the seat for the two of them.
Beatrice pretended not to see Winston and continued to eat her ham and salad sandwich and sip delicately at the pungent black coffee in the dark green top from her thermos.
If it were fifty years earlier Winston would have peppered her questions. He might ask where she was from, what she was out doing that day and perhaps a cheeky suggestion of a date to come. But time had taught Winston that people of his age (just shy of eighty three) enjoyed basking in the pasts great story but weren’t so engaging when talking about the now.
So Winston waited and he arrived promptly at nine twenty every Tuesday and Thursday out by the dock, facing away from the water, just to sit quietly next to Beatrice at nine thirty.
It was the highlight of his week.
He could smell her soap mixed with salty sea breeze and watch her long fingers wrap around the warmth of her cup and pursed lips relax to open and engage the sandwich of choice into her mouth.
Winston always smiled when Beatrice walked purposely over, and she would pretend he hadn’t.
Winston didn’t care, he loved to smile.
One morning, the seventh time Winston and Beatrice sat in silence, Winston broke ranks and in his firm warm timbre of a voice, greeted her, “Fancy seeing you here, fine lady.”
Beatrice fumbled at the wrapping on the days tuna fish sandwich, her thermos fell to the side and rolled to the ground with a great ‘twang’ of metal upon cement and both Winston and Beatrice reached for it. Beatrice finally met his eye.
“What’s an old thing like you doing out here?” Beatrice clipped.
“I might ask you the same question.” He smiled and leaned back with both hands piled upon his cane.
That’s when Winston saw Beatrice’s smile. He could have sworn in just that moment, for just that second he had minor heart attack, but he knew his body and his ticker was not in any danger, except from the woman beside him.
“Winston.” Winston said matter of factly.
“Beatrice, you might call me Bea.” She kept her eyes on her food.
“I quite like Beatrice, I knew a Beatrice once; prettiest girl in town.” He looked over and watched Beatrice’s face, “I’d say you’re a good deal prettier.”
Beatrice lifted her lips in coy smile, “You old flatterer, I’ve met my share of you silver tongued rouges.”
“I’m sure you have Beatrice.” Winston leaned in close conspiratorially, “I’d say though that this one means his compliment.”
After that sweet connection Beatrice felt she hadn’t enough time to fill the space with all the words she wished to say to Winston and Winston basked in the glow of all the things she spoke of. As expected it was almost all about the past and the lives lived before the time of her being placed at Shady Green.
She was a fiery woman of great demand but soft to her grandchildren, unlike her expectations of her own children years before. She acknowledged this as learning but said no more.
She revelled in delight at the memories of her husband who died six years ago from a long term issue with a long term problem that she couldn’t quite find the words to name.
Often Beatrice would ask Winston questions and he would answer as best he could but cajoled Beatrice into her own world. Winston enjoyed the bright spark he saw behind those eyes, the stories of years long past.
Sandy days at the beach, stealing hot pies off her neighbourhood sills, building forts and making slingshots out of her fathers long forgotten waste heap. Her sisters golden laughter which rang strong until a case of measles struck and she lay washed out in the room they shared and slipped away quietly three nights before her eleventh birthday. She spoke of promises kept and broken, mending britches and wiping dirt and grass form her boys on an hourly basis during summers great heat. She recalled her roast dinners of lamb an duckling and the way she used to make the gravy just right for the potatoes. She reminisced about her daughters wedding and the day she watched her graduate from university and Beatrice’s own feeling of regret in not having pursued an education. Beatrice took up study after that and her husband was so proud he built her a special desk in the attic. Beatrice graduated university at the age of forty two, completing nursing and literature. She then taught mature aged students until she and her husband retired at sixty, he became ill soon after and when she watched him fade away it broke her.
Winston listened and loved the woman who began to share her sandwich with him and bring and extra cup to share her coffee.
It was a cool breeze the day Beatrice didn’t come. Winston watched the bobbing grey brigade exit and enter the bus. He waited longer just in case of something else, something different, before he took the trip to his own home in a shared village fifteen minutes walk away.
That was a Tuesday.
On the following Thursday as Winston watched the Shady Green folk exit the bus he saw a young blonde woman with name tag of ‘Rhonda’ walk toward him, and Winston’s breath was held. He raised his chin and watched the blonde young woman approach him. His wooden leg tapped nervously against the white cement beneath and his cane fell to the same rhythm.
“Hello, are you Winston?” Young Rhonda asked softly.
Winston nodded.
Rhonda smiled a smile full of regret and welled tears. Winston already knew what she would say, he knew it last Tuesday.
“I’m so sorry to tell you Winston but Beatrice had a bad fall,” Rhonda paused, “She didn’t make it.”
Winston nodded, so was the trouble with getting older. Watching friends old and new depart the world without the fanfare that warranted the celebration of their lives, like Beatrice. He had hoped she was granted the dignity she deserved.
“Her children are having a small quiet ceremony but just family I believe.” She informed him quietly.
Winston nodded again.
Young Rhonda took Winston’s shaking hand that rested atop his cane and knelt down to look him in the eye, “She spoke of you with such care and love Winston. She was rather fond you.” Her face streamed tears.
Winston found his own eyes stinging. He had long let go of the care of what others thought and let the tears slide down his old weathered cheeks. In his great warm timbre of a voice he said, “Thank you.”
“Would you care to join us?” Rhonda asked, nodding to grey crowd in the Blue Rose Cafe.
Winston smiled and shook his head. Rhonda nodded and walked away with a smile and two tear stained cheeks.
Winston waits on the seat still and watches the world go by, just as he did with Beatrice just as he will continue to do until it his time not to return.

Not Gone

The softest of spirits caresses in the lightest of nights through the rear facing window. The body in slumber doesn’t twitch, it doesn’t make a sound yet the touch is recognised, the moment known and the movement of skin beneath another’s fine life is drawn inexplicably into the internal memory of the living and never will it disappear.

Until this moment pain has had no fury, until this moment I have been without the urge to fall, until this moment I did not know my own abilities to weep and in it destroy soul and heart through the terrifying moment of loss, your loss and in itself my own loss for having gained you. Gone now, gone always, leaving me irrevocably alone.
There is a bright sky with perfect clouds outside and small sounds come from little birds twittering above the window. Slashes of light lay upon the daisy print cloth dangling loosely over an old wooden box that you had insisted we use for a bed side table for such a long time that we kept it even though it was replaced. I cry for the memory and feel the world is mocking me with daylight. I hide within the bed covers and only smell you, your skin – the musk of deodorant, the jasmine in the washing powder and your sweat, lingering in its sweetness and I wish so hard to be close to you again. For a minute I hate you for your stupid choices that led to this, but for a long time I sit with my eyes closed under a tent made of our bed sheets and remember the first day we lay within them together entangled and I pretend it still exists, somewhere in a place I can’t see.
It takes many days for me to leave the bedroom for any length of time. I find myself stopped by the phone as it rings. I watch the orange touch pad light up with the drawn out noise it should make if it weren’t on silent. I know there are messages of condolences, many messages and I can’t foresee a future where I might want to hear them, where I could actually bring myself to listen to someone else’s opinion of you in the past tense, it’s just not plausible – not yet.
I eat an apple as I stand in front of the phone watching the light pulse, yelling at me in complete silence. I become aware of my feet upon cold wooden floor boards and look around for somewhere to sit. I find our recliner facing one way and turn it around so I can still watch the phones light display. Sitting down upon its soft scarlet velour fabric I tuck my feet beneath myself, eyes fixed upon the phone. It eventually stops flashing but I decide to stay where I am.
I like sitting upon something which isn’t in the same position as it’s always been, you’ve never seen it this way and I like that. I look around the room and make plans with different layouts for the furniture we own and I ask you out loud if you agree and I can hear your answers. I hear you laugh when I think to put the couch near the kitchen again as I’ve tried many times before, but you never let me and you know I won’t do it now either.
The phone starts to blink its orange light again and I huddle into myself, close my eyes and see your face. Not the face I last saw you with, that comes at night unbidden, followed by sweats and yelling, insomnia and more tears. Instead I see the face that would welcome me in the morning, the face I met long ago on a train and the face that mocked me, loved me and sung me songs, quoted paragraphs from novels long forgotten. You belong with the old words now, the hero and the phantoms, you can reside within the pages along with them. But you haven’t gone at all; I know that. That’s why I can’t leave the house, because you haven’t left the house either.
I have a shower for the third time today, it gives me a reprieve from the outside world and I am glad we didn’t buy that house with the pool because I might have accidently drowned myself with waves of water just to wash away the world around me. I was standing in the shower crying earlier because all I could smell was your soap, lemongrass and tea tree, when I felt you kneel down to my huddled form and pull me up, hand upon my shoulder, arm around my waist. I felt light as a feather as you braced yourself against my fragile form and I could swear I heard breath in my ear as you exerted the energy it took to lift me. You let go and disappeared and I didn’t know what to do so I continued in the shower waiting for you, but you didn’t come back.
A week or so passes and I start to get dressed for the day. I have to do washing as all of my pyjamas have begun to smell rather awful. As soon as I put on a pair of jeans and a shirt I feel a little lighter and decide I might just do it again the next day. I begin eating more than just fruit and cereal, mainly due to running out of said items and I laugh at myself, like you laugh at me.
I stand in the middle of the house and stare at the scarlet seat facing the telephone (still on silent) whilst eating jam on toast when suddenly I decide to follow through with redecorating. I move the table, the sofa, the cabinet and the recliners, I shuffle the coffee table again and again but finally I have to push it out the front door and onto the porch, it just doesn’t go anywhere; out of sight out of mind. I look around at the mess of furniture laden thick with the luggage of memories of where it has been, where it should go and where it can’t go. Everything was ours, yours, mine. All of it makes me think of you, what you might be sitting upon as you smile at me working my way around a room. I tell you to go to bed. I say it out loud and demand it of you in the tone of voice you always say belongs in a classroom. Out loud I tell you that I have warned you and begin to move it all out the front door and when it no longer fits on our veranda I move it onto the lawn instead. Soon the entire contents of our lounge and dining rooms are on display upon the lawn at the front of our house. I sit down in the space left like an empty belly.
I crave a cigarette but I can hear your warning voice telling me not to. I remember you dragging me back to bed every time I wanted one when I quit years ago. You bribed me with sex, chocolate and my favourite TV shows. I quit then, but having quit for three years I now want one and I want a drink to match too; I want scotch. You’ve never enjoyed Scotch so we’ve never bought it. I used to drink it in the days before I drank wine with you. Without thought I grab the keys and walk outside. The sun screams terrible words at my dangerously sensitive eyes and for a minute I have to wait for the dots to disappear from my vision. I fumble at the front door lock then turn around. I realise the pointlessness of my having locked the house, anything of any value sits patiently out the front of our house anyway. I shrug a shrug directed at you and proceed to the car.
I am lucky I didn’t take any of the medication they offered to me, for sleeping for coping. I don’t want chemicals in my system anymore. It reminds me of you now, of that night and the blame I have for the bubbles in your system, the brew in your belly and the foam at your mouth which destroyed you. I wasn’t going to take another pill or powder as long as I lived. I could, however, drown myself in alcohol – that I have no qualms about.
I drive to the bottle shop nearby, buy a bottle of scotch and three packets of cigarettes. I drive past the shops we used to go to, but I couldn’t stand the faces of the people who knew me as yours, who knew my hand in your hand and our joint comments to the same question and the raised hand hellos to the friendly cashiers and fresh food tenders. I drive around a bit and find a shop we rarely visit. I buy fruit, bread, breakfast cereal and biscuits. My mind isn’t clear, it’s focused on the alcohol waiting in the car so I buy what I think I want to eat, but not necessarily what I need.
I sit cross legged in that gaping empty belly of a lounge/dining room with an old scotch glass we were given as a joint birthday present some years ago in a set of four, the bottle of old brown liquid, an ashtray and the remote control to the stereo. Earlier I moved the old stereo in and took all of our CD’s out of garage storage and put on music from long ago. Thrashy music I once loved, before you. All of those stupid melodic emotions from black clad men trying to express an esoteric love. I listen to Big Band and Bebop jazz, loud crazy numbers you never really enjoyed. I like having CD’s again, not just a computer or a small player, I like to make my selection by flicking through clicky-clacky cases. When I have drunk enough scotch I stop thinking of you as much, instead I think of what I might do next and I like it.
I wake up to thudding on the front door I actually locked last might, familiar echoy, voices and sunshine without your smell. I also wake up with what feels to be a large elephant crushing my head onto a hard surface and glimpse an almost empty bottle at eye level, resting on wooden floor boards so close to me that its blurry, but I know what it is. I finished off three quarters of a bottle the night before and I am just quietly proud of myself for the commitment I showed, regardless of the outcome. The door bashes some more and voices rage on. I consider the prospect of possibly opening it when rather suddenly someone discovers the open back door and comes barging in anyway, swearing at me and trying the help me off the floor. I fight back, hit them, tell them to fuck off but they pull anyway. I punch them again and feel my fist hit something with a thud and I am happy, they let go. I stand up and go to the bathroom, three voices ask me what I am doing and I tell them to fuck off again.
They stand around me like parents with their arms crossed, talking about me like I’m not in the room. I sit on my area in the middle of the big open space and smoke cigarettes, making the house fill up with wispy bits of smelly brown smoke only for it to get dragged away out of the newly opened, sunshine laced windows and to the bigger, wider world. They yell at me while I stare ahead, they are self righteous and demanding and I’ve never responded to demanding. I can almost feel you against my arm as you sit beside me and tell me they might be here to help me, I ignore you but you turn up your volume and I can’t do a damn thing because hitting you or yelling isn’t going to work. If only you were sitting here, you would tell them to go away, you would tell them that if there was anything that needed to be done you would do it for me. But you can’t say that and you can’t be here because if you were, this would not be happening. I understand the paradox before I even consider it all and I smile to myself as I think that way, because that’s you, all you.
Finishing off a cigarette I reach for another. They stop talking and I know they are watching but I don’t care. I light up, inhale the familiar freedom and exhale a satisfied breath and continue to look away from them and through the window that shows vivid green outside. You planted all of that, you kept it alive, I couldn’t. You said I have a black thumb and always forget to water things. I am transfixed by the hues shining through the window and sense myself getting up off floor. I can almost feel your fingers wrap in mine and walk with me outside. My legs feel light and I just keep staring at green waving palms and large shining leaves and tiny purple flowers hidden within sunshine and for the first time since you were gone I feel something more. The three people are following me, I can here clip-clop shoes that aren’t mine because I haven’t worn shoes for weeks. I push the French door open and step onto warm wooden planks and I stand there, bathed in sunlight, surprised by the way natural heat makes me melt. Everything in the garden is swaying and I can’t help but move to its intrinsic music and I walk very slowly down three wooden steps to a little bit of grass and an old white seat. I sit upon the seat and run a hand across its smooth, cool metal surface and I laugh. I look down at my other hand and the cigarette, I inhale again and look around for a place to put it out. I take a tissue from my pocket, spit in it and extinguish the cigarette within. I couldn’t possibly tarnish your beauty, for all of this is entirely you.
I knew you hadn’t left me, here you are in the daisies, here you are in the green, here you are in the scarlet roses, and there you are amongst the ferns, I smell jasmine on the wind and lemongrass in the herb garden sitting alongside tea tree. I see it all as if I hadn’t seen it before, and truly I never really have, not until now. I breathe you in; the mist of memory hanging amongst the flowers and I know you’ll never leave. You sit with me here in the garden, you sit in the trees, the flowers and the hidden creatures meant to reside within your make believe world, I see a gnome amongst the brush and a clay turtle near my toes. I smile, I laugh, I feel sun, I feel wind, I smell life.

I have you, you may be gone but I still have you.