Poems from a Forthcoming Slim Volume (R8)

quite often these days

I focus on a moment from the past
identify strongly with it
and very soon find myself back there
pursuing a path that leads
from the moment into other moments
that just might have been

so that I am lost in passageways
I never took—corridors of time
I maybe only half-explored; it’s an effort
to wrench myself away back here
where all’s strange and unaccountable
& forlorn with a sense of great loss

so it was when I discovered (used as
a bookmark) a letter I never answered
asking me if I was happy now
I had left her and gone my own way—
if I could let her know (she said) she’d
rest content—so I disappear into her

missing me and start wondering how
to reply—the letter is fifty years old
for god’s sake but as I said I’m prone
to follow up these distant naked leads
fully expecting the characters I bring
to life to make a response as I do to them

10th  September 2011


in this dream

I am a sort of
with a heap of books
to choose from—
I reject Isherwood
in favour of a poet
with a lot of i’s
in his/her name
whose words seem
to skip across the page
with no sense of
grasping : a man
saunters down the street
and upends
a bucket from which
leap angles (acute)
and philanthropies
that take to dangling
from silver birches
along the way

it’s 3 o’clock dark
and the cat
expresses surprise
when I turn on the light
for paper & pencil

no book & no poet

a thin streak of moon
on the library floor


the soul

can either build of itself
a work of art
or sit and watch the Barbarian
inversion of old certitudes—
mask of Evil that entices
into the wilderness of the future
or    riding out of the Wasteland
tramples the vineyards
demolishes the shrines
giving over soil to sand
and the mind to this awful simplicity
of box & buttons
of fad & fashion
mere mechanisms of personality
invented by the age

the Barbarian cannot make;
it can only befog and destroy—
but even that it cannot sustain
(as soul would sustain)
lacking limit and boundary
which are essential to all making

and we are victims offered daily
to the cruelties of the moment
with no tradition
to incarnate the gestures of
daily living in song and stone

only wayward mythologies—
an ever-shifting empty hagiography
of temporary heroes
of slogans and the gleanings
of mass culture


the doctrine

of inevitable progress—
the present the highpoint
of cultural and personal development—
the ancestors treated with condescension
the thinkers ignored unread
(those who told it how it really is)—

the present (so they say—the powerful ones
in their powerful ignorance) is
the threshold to a Golden Age—
provided you accept our [mendacious]
version of events…  tissues of false imagery
& abstraction

progress is the ghost
of a big black dog
cocking its leg against the lamp-posts
of infinite dark streets—
a convenient construct;
an unsubtle trick of the imagination;
a laying of eggs
in a basket that does not exist

2 thoughts on “Poems from a Forthcoming Slim Volume (R8)

  1. I’m always struck by what happens when I sit quietly in the presence of poetry, how the use of heightened language creates a type of internal bridge, and I find myself moving through time and space, stopping at different places in my past, or having thoughts and images of my own that either remind me of my own limits, or take me down passages that offer new possibilities and gestures of future musings. I can stay lost here, as one of your poems intimates, as the morning fades in the distance.


  2. So many lines in “quite often these days” resonate with me, Colin …. perhaps none more than “I am lost in passageways I never took – corridors of time I maybe only half-explored”. Achingly beautiful verses!


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