Artists gathering in Dordrecht summer 2021
CONNECTION IN A DUTCH JUNGLE
A wild bouquet The exotic and the plain Loosely grouped Watered and refreshed In a huge glass jar Catching the light Timeless words cascade Leather-bound On shelves as we dine Join the stream of conversation Human and divine Over flatbread and wine Unassuming church bells Skip tones on the water Melt in the air As bridges rise Releasing boats to the sea We sit, tasting time together How we have missed all of this In our Sunday glass house Stones are not thrown Cloudy panes are transparent The wilderness looks in As we see out Dialogue flows back and forth Through permeable walls A chandelier mirrors our faces Algae and dirt Silver paths traced to the sky A yellow-toothed piano Sits retired in the corner Slugs doze on the floor Rainfall rhythms our song The flowers and branches We bring to the table Leave shadow and light on blue cloth The natural beauty Of dust and of glory Within one another Laid bare How we have missed all of this
Tu as brisé le silence Par la bouche de gens Peu fréquentables, de langue barbare Que nous ne cernons pas Or, on finit par comprendre Qu’il faut larguer Le Dieu qu’on s’est formé Enfermé par nos mots. Alors même Que l’on entrevoit l’éternité On comprend L’autre, et ce qui l’anime Oserons-nous abandonner Nos jeux de pouvoir, nos calculs Le chiffrage de nos comptes à rendre Pointés par nos doigt accusateurs ? Il nous faudra ouvrir le poing Lâcher nos acquis. Tu danses avec le vent Embrases la surface de nos eaux bien tranquilles Pénètres les fissures De nos incohérences Fais ressurgir Le laid, le beau Pour les placer sous les projecteurs De l’amour Tu portes nos soupirs dans ton souffle Recouvres nos épaules D’un manteau de consolation Et nous mets en marche
You broke silence to speak Through people From the wrong side of the tracks Using foreign words we can’t make out And we somehow apprehend That we must quit The God in our head Wrapped in talk And as we glimpse eternity We understand Where these ‘others’ are coming from Dare we drop our power-games Our settling of accounts Sizing up and finger-pointing Spreadsheets of checks and balances Release our grasp on what we have attained? You dance on the back of the wind Set fire to our too-calm waters Plunge into the fissures Of our inconsistencies Dredge up the ugly and the beautiful To place them under The searchlight Of love Carry our sighs on your breath Cover us in your coat of consolation Set us on our feet again
Today this is A barbed and wounding word Seated angular and cold On a shelf way out of reach However tall the ladder A comparative word Commanding from the heights With lists that rule out hope or desire But that we still conspire to use Against each other We brush dirt from our shoulder Onto the next soul’s arm Knowing that we cannot rise Beyond our definitions We sit within them Who will convert this word of ours Restore its heart? Turn it around, burnish its corners Until it finds itself again? The thing of beauty That bends to mend wounds Irrigate dry bones Blow the dust From inner houses And sanctimony From our souls
Started in the autumn, tweaked in the spring...
Leaves with brown paper veins Have succumbed to dry earth And the neglect of the sad For months touched only By the movement of dust In the rays of an improbable sun Hope hung heavy When the world closed down And the few who were out Never looked up Fear having no time For flowers People drift past again Eyes fixed on feet Lest they fall through the cracks In the ground Towards the unknown No star but the present To guide them Heather and ferns Persistent in growth That thrive on the hills when alone And unwatched in the cold Will sit out these times Unconcerned by neglect Self-contained and serene As the earth turns And renews
Roadworks and the anxious Shout of inner voices Fills all headroom With concrete Absence of noise Dissolves the mortar Pours back the oxygen Of liquid air Thank God For the negative space Where thought Can be born again The void between Elbow and torso sculpting the body The musical rest bearing sound On its breath When the pause lasts Too long We fidget in fear, yearn for the note That signals the next act Can the negative space Of a barren confinement With no end in view Give us wings?
THE VOICE OF SILENCE
There is the silence of air and space In which breathing is a momentous act And contemplation stretches like a long beach in the sun Of limitless horizons There is the muffled deadness which descends like the padded ceiling of a too-small room left windowless to the imagination which can no longer sing This is a desperate desert pilgrimage No stones mark the exit from the valley Where music is dumb and words fall limp From the trees: will we ever touch meaning again? When freedom comes, will we be capable Of walking out to face beyond ourselves The sun that burns and dazzles the presumption And the poverty of all we thought we knew Listen as harmony and dissonance Converse and rampage in our souls Play havoc with our ritual comfort certainties And call us to the terror of new freedoms Or will we turn away and stumble blind Among the ruins of our childhood building blocks Forever numb, imagining we can contain The voice of silence
Your name weighs heavy on the tongue, some days It has been taken hostage by a foreign power And rendered unpronounceable Light years away from those simple lines Traced in Aramaic on red sand That say, without pretension, ‘I am here’ Melting the heart of violence With forgiveness Buried under layers of gold leaf Or dazzling with the neon Vegas touch Moulded to fit the fashion of the times Your name is traded, branded, owned Nailed to the edifice of certainty To ward off those you do not love, at all, As knees bend fast To pick up the first stone Dragged through the mud of our self-interest The pasted overlay of our imaginings Is peeled away by time from all its lettering Restoring it to barefaced nudity Which calls out in the core of darkness To the poor, defiled and dispossessed The letters of your name Sketched out in seeds Deep-rooted in our soil Slow-growing into trees with healing leaves Breathe life into our tired skies And the windows of our souls.