What could I have given you but some words, more collateral on the debts incurred? What could I have written? Just another thought in a gilded cage that my pen has wrought. What could I have told you when you looked inside, but the faded song of imprisoned rhymes? And would you hear the purpose of those sad laments? Add them to the pile of unwrapped amends? There’s a finger on my lips And I know your smile, and your gift to me is another child.
I worked late again. A snack and bed
at the terrible hour of midnight,
when the floorboards start to wake
as the house sinks down to sleep.
A hot water bottle under the duvet, I am
typing at another screen, small now,
never failing to appreciate the irony,
or is it double irony? I never could tell.
I typed for nights for months, or years,
cannot say. Wrote so many many words,
but when my son asked me, could not
explain what it was I did at work all day.
And by the end of the sixth day, my hands,
they feebly fell, and the tight black ball
that I had been, unfolded and spread out
like a fallen teardrop across the world.
It was that perfect spring day, full of air
and blue skies, and there was hope hiding
just around the corner. The leaves had not
sprouted but there were gliders circling the hill.
I made pancakes for dinner on Easter’s eve.
We filled them with fried pork and artichokes
and scrambled eggs. I made two in the shape
of suns for the kids and the last one was a fish.
The boys made a worm hole in the garden.
That’s right, a hole for worms, filled with water,
but the worms would not come. I was busy
gardening. I promised I would help, tomorrow.
At five I wake from a dream and lie wide open,
memories fluttering out like butterflies, yearning
and sweet and full of regrets, full of things
unfinished and unbegotten and extraordinary.
Now the old village at the top of the hill
which we can see from the bedroom window
is a smudged orange halo, and gold rain
is pouring in, just like it did nine months ago.
Tell me then, what do lovers do?
They wait in the lobby of the hotel bar
in that leather chair with the ridiculously tall back
with a cocktail and roast almonds. They eat in Soho
and get hazelnut soufflé at l’Oranger in St James’s,
and then they dance and shout through the music
at some young hangout in town, not sure where,
and fall asleep at dawn, drunk and deaf and happy.
They walk together the green Derbyshire hills
with an ordnance survey map from the B&B
until they tire, and lose themselves on a goat trail
in the hills in one third world country or another
until a woman with a goat shows them the path
and gifts them oranges, or they escape the deluge
at the foot of the dunes and follow the flooded roads
until they reach the coast, he drives, she navigates…
He looks closely at her skin and hair and eyes
for signs, as they say goodbye in the morning,
the dunes and camels hanging on the kitchen wall,
but her eyes are averted and her arms are at her sides.
When he comes back, they tell each other about
the day’s events over simple dinner and some wine,
and they sit on the big old brown leather sofa
and get to know each other again.
They fall asleep, hands locked under the duvet.
So tell me, what do lovers do?
This morning I had my mind blown by my seven year old son, who wrote this poem at school. Soon I may have to down my pen and hand over to him… What do you think?
She leans over the bed darkly
as droplets of moisture gather and now
run down her ribs and under her belly
where they hang in suspense.
Today her skin is clear and chill
and stretches taught to the horizon
over bumps and curves and dips
of which I can see each detail.
The bell up on the hill is tolling seven.
I lie back in the bed and close my eyes,
breathe in deeply, and my lips and tongue
know that her breasts are goose-bumped
as her hard berry nipples
nourish me with things to come.
At Caminino they make merry
Among the ghekkos and the fairies
In amongst the olive groves
Where the prosecco fountain flows,
Where the wine forever flows
In amongst the olive groves.
And there is a fig tree there
Competing with the prickly pears
For the devotions of the guests
Who come to eat and drink and rest
Who come to find eternal rest
Among the spirits of the blessed.
An ancient chapel stands out back
And those who venture up the track
Beyond the figs and prickly pears
Can see the ghosts of monks at prayer
A thousand years and still at prayer
Beyond the figs and prickly pears.
And here they give you caponata
And the veal is tonnato
And the boar is freshly slaughtered
For the baptism of the daughter
For the baptism of a daughter
A cinghiale freshly slaughtered.
And the children shout and run
And the men discuss their guns
As the smoke of their tobaccos
Charm the fairies and the ghekkos
The merry fairies on their ghekkos
Inhale the perfume of tobacco.
And as you drive back to your place
Hot tears will flow upon your face
For you to mourn all that is pretty
As you cry tears for the city.
Yes, you cry tears for the city
That taught you everything you know
About the ugly and the pretty.
At Caminino as the night turns dark
The guests have played their final parts
And exit as the curtains close
In amongst the olive groves
In amongst the olive groves
Where that magic fountain flows.
– o –
dedicated to that very magical place, Pieve di Caminino, its hosts and their new daughter Maria Giovanna.
Buried far far beneath the evening sky.
Where the trees have lost their shadows,
where lonely lights hunt through the depths
and the last of the supermarket shoppers
shoot cigarette smoke with the guards
before they hang their heads home.
Want to be up there, upon that mountain,
among crystal air and pink gold clouds.
Sorry, please come back later, I’m in the middle of a crisis.
Daddy, you know, this floor,
it’s a puzzle of a whirlpool,
he said, crouching down in his pyjamas
squinting at the parquet floorboards
as I was trying to wake up.
And as I did I saw that he was right:
the grain and eddies of the wood
were jigsawed and reassembled
into a thousand discontinuities,
stitched together randomly
until it was safe to walk,
so we could live and love
without falling through and drowning,
or always thinking of the ever present
danger beneath our feet.