Life Made a home In a handful of dust Set in resistant ground Would the dry land Withhold consent A host rejecting This foreign body? The teenage fiancée Between fear and trust Said, Let it be Knowing parched shoots Were in need Of the Life she would carry Beyond borders So Life learned to walk In the valley where New beginnings so often Turn to old ends And the genius for good Gets it wrong, again Where Amnesiac cycles Reheat history In shiny new bowls And fresh taste Dries on the tongue while Hope is stubbed out underfoot Life came to The crossroads where Pain and joy meet Poured itself out Disrupting the soil Melting cold with renewal While the earth spun Life perseveres Breaks through the surface Coaxes growth towards daylight In the midst of the tension Of beauty and horror Rebirth and decay Calls as we pause Between fear and trust Exclusion and welcome
THE BIRD THAT FINALLY LOST IT
I am the songbird that swears. No tamed caged fowl, me With garish green wings No sir ! I rattle those bars And I mean to soar Over tower blocks out To the cliffs and the sea But my once subtle voice Only croaks In my throat The vinyl is scratched And I start to resemble A budgie repeating The well-worn refrains That limit its days I am the songbird that swears My wings have been pinned To my sides for too long With knotted brown string Parcelled tangled and ravelled Through months and a year Because of a bat That made the world kneel Now my wings have been clipped And there’s so much ‘perhaps’ That I’ve lost The will to fly Send me a dove To restore my voice And carry me far on the wind
Over the years Our bright acrylic traits Slide, dissolve Pale into watercolour Undefined edges Fine lines Soft colours That fail To arrest Walked past In crowded rooms Looked through At parties And in church Should I Shave my scalp? Daub it in woad? Carry a rose Between my teeth? Tear my shirt To show a rebel heart Still shouts Beneath the brittle skin? Or is there an upside To this gradual becoming Transparent? As the grain of the paper Blue-veined That carries us Starts to show through Freed From the need To airbrush perfection Layer the gloss On the uneven Rough weave of Fibre and splinters A life lived holds As our fading Draws a bridge To an open space Beyond immediacy
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?