Tag Archives: new poet

A shared love of The Shipping Forecast

Three months into this alien life

I had a bit of a meltdown.

The total immersion into stateside life

Finally taking its toll.

No Jungle injustices for me but still

I feel the un-belonging

The invisibility of the newly-arrived immigrant

Ironically juxtaposed with

Your wide-eyed stares,

Your gaping mouths and nudging whispers.

Three months into this alien life

My senses speeding like an amphetamine rush

The catch-22 frustrations of

Online bureaucracy

And the face-to-face refusals of acknowledgement

That I do, in fact, exist.

Three months into this alien life

I cry in your arms,

Tears staining your jumper’s familiarity,

The only recognisable landmark for

A stranger in a strange land.

Then you shared with me

Your own experience as an émigré,

Though far and away another time and place.

Holding me tight, you whisper three words:

‘The Shipping Forecast’ You say,

‘The Shipping Forecast’.

How, late at night

You would lie, alone, or with some girl,

And let those familiar tones wash over you,

Comfort you with images of home,

Fitzroy’s guardian angels of the Beaufort Scale,

Forewarning sailors of their times at sea.

Strangely, that rare admission of vulnerability,

Such an insight rare to you,

Fills me with calm

Those three words hypnotise me

Like a scruff-held cat,

And that connection with my abandoned home

Reassures me that all things will be well.

The Cutting Garden

I discovered the garden one summer afternoon

Its high stone walls offered shade in the heat of the day.

Curving arches coaxed me in, along paths lined with violets, chamomile and fern.

Wallflowers, warm and velvet, stroked my legs,

Diverting my senses with colour and faded perfume.

Brazen lilies cat-called from the back row,

Towering over tulips,

Mouths deliciously parted in scandalised mock-horror.

Shafts of climbing sweet peas, tangled in withywind,

Reached out to grab my wrists as I tripped and almost fell,

The cobbled path less even than it seemed.

I sank to my knees then, assaulted

By a soft, ripe bed of shameless peonies.

Big, brazen blooms of open-faced beauty.

How I craved them, rubbing my face in their scent,

Tugging their petals and pulling

Generous handfuls to my lips, my mouth,

Breathing in their musk like a lover drowning.

I reached for the knife in my pocket, and hacked at their stems,

greedily scything, frenzied with lust for their passing beauty.

Gathering their heads in my pollen-stained arms

I ran back down that path,

Laughing at my floral indiscretion,

My torrid love affair with bloom.

Two Dozen Roses in a Rainstorm

The pregnant afternoon brings a sudden drop in temperature,

Pendulous clouds cross the hill above the creek;

A storm is coming.

Arizona’s season of changes, challenging my willpower,

Facing me down if I waver.

Maple leaves, burnt orange, and blood red,

Shiver in the face of the warm Pacific storm.

Throwing open the doors, I stand and listen to the thunder,

Fork lightning tracing the sky like a scar.

It has been a year since, desolate, unconfident, night-waking,

I watched, near heartbroken as you flirted,

Unselfconscious, with my heart.

The storm and my memory challenge me,

Like a song sung without love.

This year, I greet you like an old friend,

Let the fresh rain plash on my naked feet,

Rejoicing in the storm.

I hug you tight, feeling your frailty

Beneath your tale of two dozen pink roses,

And wish you well,

Now I am secure in this place.

No storm will wash me away.

The ten months-dry earth now is riddled with racing channels,

Slaking the sand’s thirst.

Sure-footed and calm I watch,

For I know the lie of the land.

Water in the landscape is home territory for me,

And the storm plays out like an old familiar tune.

Granite Creek

The first of December

Drawing back the curtains

I see you, standing, stock still

At the water bowl.

Wary of my disturbance

Your perfect antlers

Framing the pine,

Our eyes meet,

And you stare me down

Then, deciding I pose no threat,

You stoop to drink,

Eagerly, and alone,

Your precious oasis

Above the dry creek bed.

I had longed to see you

One last time before I go.

I too stand silent,

Drinking in the image of you,

A perfect parting gift

This icy winter’s morning.

The Girl Who Dreamed The Drowning

Alone in wanton daydreams sits
A maid so fair and clever,
Alone she walks, alone she dreams,
Her visions fading never.
Too young to live, too old to die,
There’s no discrimination,
For all’s foretold, in heartless truth,
Borne with determination.
This poisoned gift, this precious curse,
Is not a gentle guest,
But eats away her fractured heart
And tears her tender breast.

Beneath a canopy of leaves
Her lover sits a-writing,
The day grows warm, impending storm,
The water so inviting.
She sees the lake, she feels the heat,
The water so inviting,
She sees her lover’s letters home
But cannot read the writing.

A sudden breeze disturbs a nest,
The sky all darkened flutter,
The writer pauses, pen in hand,
To hear the cries they utter.
The young man lays his papers down,
To cool his burning skin,
The writer is a swimmer now,
The vision growing thin.
A wayward bird, blown from the West,
Hops boldly to the water,
And hoarsely cries his warning wise
‘Beware the gypsy’s daughter!’
And at the water’s edge, the swimmer
Gazes skyward, frowning.
‘Beware’ the darkling Raven calls,
‘The girl who dreamed the drowning.’

San Salvador

Chasing the shade to the holy interior

We sought Sanctuary from the day’s heat.

An arrow of sunlight, threaded with dust,

Brighter than merchant’s gold and the hearts of kings,

Pierced the high altar,

Sweet and sharp as the hidden voices

Cutting the air with crystal clarity.

Beneath the Titians

And the high-strung censer,

We shared this fleeting tenderness;

Side by side in silent witness,

A moment of forgiveness

In a small corner of Dorsoduro.

The Tourist Information Centre on the Piazza Maggiore

The Tourist Information Officer

Greets her customers with a frown.

Service with a scowl,

Each tentative enquiry revengefully resolved

With carefully constructed misinformation.

Her T-shirt reads ‘Paris – City of Love’

But she is in Bologna.

Her face a picture of untravelled dismay,

Her forehead creased with care-worn frowns,

As yet undisclosed at Passport Control.

The highlight of her day

Is the pleasure she derives

From directing the innocent tourist

To an incorrect location.

Voluptuous desires

And her dreams of erotic Parisian adventures

Sated by a wrong turn,

A left instead of a right,

Via Zamboni

When she knows it’s quicker via

Via Belle Arti.

Her ramrod-stiff Romeo lies bedded

Between the covers of her Michelin Green guide;

Her Moulin Rouge hidden

Behind a barrier of red tape.

For the Tourist Information Officer

On the Piazza Maggiore,

Eiffel Tower apparel must suffice;

She cradles her dreams,

Crumpled like yesterday’s travel itinerary

As she heads for her home

On the Via Malcontenti.