Stones

This light-dusted town, pocked with memories

drags these feet between old blocks. Patina shifts, and the

soils of years harden. I am swerved –

westward and that way, past new wives,

shivering children, bottle-green voices,

those who sell and those locked in

to hands scratching deep, having grappled at mornings –

the bakers have left, the workers are hid. Somewhere

.

the sun does its thing, defying the wash

of English temptations, of time spent downwards,

avoiding the days. A road appears – surprising

one who spent time abroad – yet it holds the usual

glittering discs, and tightly packed wraps

of chemical compounds all set for the night,

boxes for boxes, and watery tea

infused with the times of the river.

.

Fate cuts no hands, but my legs are compelled

to step down this path my tendons had lost. I’m struck

at a window, piled high with desires –

softly forced rocks, strung up on silver,

jaspers and jets, vivid value in earth,

selected for those who are pulled to pass on

slices of India, hacked out by a man

whose coalface was lamplit, decades ago.

.

My eye follows wands tipped sweetly with orbs

knocked out of amber, suspending old lives.

Passes through pages, tinted expressions

exclaiming small magics, ways to heal, odes to

even the lamest complaint –

I come to rest on the girl, caved in receipts, and

propped to the side of a pretty collection

of bangles and phone lines, old records, deceptions

.

reserved for those who know their base. A piece

of something catches my air, and movement

makes movement, we bend to the floor.

She knows the deals, chips me away,

shows me a stone that will change

my days. Time is eaten, and weeks petrify

in bed-shapes, hollows, ashtrays carbon-dating

various poses. We identify awhile

.

as one, yet something stops mouths,

even swollen and sore, I look at her stones

refusing her faith. Energy, auras, cosmic detritus

drop from rubbed lips; I harden and shift

such attrition occurs, as if this is

some type of natural process. Erosion erodes,

we are carried in rivers, washing up

somewhere, elsewhere in towns.

.

Now, walking, I notice the beaded masses

painted and plucked, and laden with stones.

New wives, shivering children,

bottle-green voices

gather at windows, gazing to wish

at millennia structured in glittering cuts –

a slice of India, something to pass

for those who can abide the noise.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

5 responses to “Stones

  • Benjamin Norris

    An attempt to write something completely new, autobiographical, and quite traditional.

  • ladywhispers

    Quite powerful this one. Very different. Liked it.

  • bonniemcclellan

    ‘bottle-green voices’ is lovely.

    • Benjamin Norris

      Thank you. I’m really unsure about this poem as a whole. On one hand, I spent far longer writing it than I normally ever would a poem – it is, also, far longer than most of my work. However, this more straightforward, ‘honest’ style is relatively uncomfortable for me and I honestly can’t tell if it is worthwhile pursuing or not.

      • bonniemcclellan

        These personal maps often have legends that only the poet can read. I see in this some of the open-ended ambiguity and fine imagery of your previous work. As to the length, it’s anything but tedious, the repetition within the stanzas functions as a pleasant ‘coda’ bringing the reader back to the resonances at the beginning. The hints at the geologic nature of time and our relatively short moments within it “Erosion erodes/we are carried in rivers, washing up/somewhere, elsewhere in towns.” and the ‘xenolithic’ sensation of the traveller who returns home are resonant outside of the personal/intimate context that they may hold for you as the writer.
        I encourage you to explore this vein for as long as you feel that there is something there pulling you in this direction. If something is difficult, pushing towards it can mean that you are gaining breadth as a poet.

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