For Her (Dowson Day Poem)

At times like this, my mind aches back

The burst-banked evenings of that year;

Where long and brittle shadows

Divided silence, split the skies –

I watch, crossed here, the days flow past

And marvelled at the pace

.

Of how we met, quite by chance

And negotiated trickery.

The old language of those hearts

Somehow survived the journey –

Fibre-optically, tossed down lines,

And shot from screen to screen

.

As was the habit of the time,

We spurted lines from fingertips

And pulled ourselves in poses.

As in vain I stammered from afar

And found myself, in real lives

Self-aware on strange train lines.

.

That time, as distant as your old home,

Bright eyes, red lips, a bed, that drink –

Things changed, somehow.

We glanced downcast and tried to think

Of how to talk to those we knew

And deliver us from news.

.

Yet somehow here, in retrospect

It barely changed, the day’s the same.

Back then, my daughter’s eyes were inconceivable.

Back then, someone else lived in our home.

You stop the boat and turn to me

“All too soon we may well tread

The bitter pastures of the dead –

Let’s do it all,

Let’s do it all again.”


The Things

It could be almost anything; the crackling layers of pastry

greasing up your paper bags, the smell of that air before the rains

which drenched those early, angry kisses.

A way of reading Freud, the endless, hanging scent of dye,

the tapestry maybe worth a fortune

hammered to the white backside

of your kitchen wall.

 

It could just as well be footsteps mutely humming

on some concrete stairs outside, the fizz of tramlines,

Miles Davis, the sound of distant dogs, that child;

I’ll spend my remaining days out hunting

for ways to take me back, and

for ways to leave again.


Bristol Festival of Nature

I have been invited to read some poems from the collection I am working on at the Bristol Festival of Nature 2014, 14th and 15th of June.Image


Kids II

Parenthood was the night terror

that spoiled those times I didn’t come home.

A prospective grimy window, left unshattered,

between myself and many others. More than

 

once I held that vigil – forty days and awful nights

willing a drop of blood to flow, as if

I’d thrust myself into a dull lunar ritual

pre-dating even the oldest stains

 

on this bed we watch unseen hands and

malformed feet, we dream up names

nicked from old books. An exhalation, a fragile limb

writhes daily, there, beneath your skin.


ZYMBOL

ImageI’m again honoured and delighted to have my poetry featured in Zymbol III – the third publication from those Salem Surrealists across the pond. They allowed me to grace their second issue with The Hothouse Remains, and invited me back for more with Waves and Schooling – surely a sign of dangerous living.

Seriously though, go and check out their anthologies. All three are utterly superb. http://www.zymbol.org


Schooling

Schooling 2014 Benjamin Norris read for Zymbol Magazine

Thinking back, I couldn’t see

how God shaped England – he was

just a character on a screen somewhere,

barely even watched by me.

Something foreign,

for the birds,

certainly too far away.

.

Those days, I paced

in smaller shoes, kicking up hours,

kicking off at school –

.

hesitantly praying some early developer

would be nudged my way

by unseen hands, slipping beneath

lock-tight waistbands that guarded the gap

between what I knew, and that

which I mapped out nightly, kneeling.

.

Much later I developed feelings,

and as my hands were not yet ruined

I wrote with pen and ink –

yet, no deity delivered

though somehow I still sought

a tossed-off thought I’d had at seven

.

Perfection awaits,

all jelly-smudged lenses, belief in heaven

brought via rings and playground glances

that somehow develop into

a slow-panning glossed eternity.

.

We bury disappointment beneath abandonment of faith –

after all, we grow out of countries

and shoes

painfully fast.


Kids

Your genes; an unseen set

of countless mannerisms, the friends

you’ll choose, the bow of your

mother’s lips, all you’ll become –

.

an accumulated ocean of poses

with which to hold yourself in sleep –

seasickness, a way with words,

reactions to a thief

.

who may or may not come

on the night you can’t drift off because

of the same sad dreams your father had –

.

all tightly wrapped in tiny fists

and held before the day your mouth will move,

and our music will pour forth and plenty.


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