Tag Archives: poems about unrequited love

Mass Mortality of the Heart Urchin

The sea-potato, Echinocardium Cordatum, inhabits the sea-bed

lives up to twenty years in a permanent burrow,

ambulacra crammed beneath hard-packed sand in pentamerous symmetry.

Mass mortality of the Heart Urchin is twofold and of the seasons.

First, a winter storm disturbs the deep; chokes those burrows with sand,

Smothering the hearts with chaos, pressure too great to bear.

Then the husks, spewed up onto the strand,

Picked over by undiscriminating gulls; Dilber and Stretch on a future Christmas morning.

Or picture a summer, if you prefer your tragedies unusually hot,

The sun’s over-attention spreads a blanket of decaying plankton over that sea-bed,

Deoxygenating the water as it settles down to rest.

Poor, unfortunate hearts, forced up, up in search of breathing space,

Suffocated for want of air,

They and their stellate potato-babies, thrown in their thousands onto a harsh white beach,

So that you may chance upon them

As you gasp in surprise

As the desert-hot sand burns the soles of your feet through cheap holiday shoes

Or as you lie, buried to the neck with your music box and gun,

Praying to a clearblue sky for the deliverance of cloud.

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.

The Rivers of Oak Creek Canyon

We took the West Fork trail

To Mayhew’s Lodge and

The Call of the Canyon.

‘There are seven more rivers to cross

Before we reach the trailhead’ said my love.

‘How do you know these things?’ I ask, impressed at his orientation.

‘I have passed this way before’ he replies.

At the third crossing I slip,

Chill ice-water drenching my shoes

When I put a foot wrong.

At the fourth I am mindful

Treading carefully to avoid the river’s wrath.

I wonder, briefly, at the women

Who crossed this way before.

The Pioneers, and wives of the famous

Who played here in its 1930s heyday.

How do I measure up to them?

And to the recently-departed girls,

The ones who didn’t make the grade.

When he asks ‘Shall we cross one more river?

Shall we go another mile?

Or have you had enough?’

How do I know if I’ve passed the test?

Either of my endurance or appreciation

Of this day’s passing beauty?

It is cooler by the river banks,

Where water meets the air.

Red rocks rising, Sedona’s gift.

Bugger the Vortex – this is the magic, right here.

Twisted oaks and hundred-year apple trees,

A legacy from the days of the lodge,

When movie stars, presidents and dream-makers

Played in the Canyon.

Walt, Jimmy, Hoover and the girls.

Have I crossed enough rivers? Or did I fall short?

Another pebble tossed in the stream

A stepping-stone for

The next girl on the trail.

The river says ‘Be calm. The time will come.

You have not yet learned my geography,

To negotiate your way through the Canyon

Like a new Pioneer.’

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.

Looking-Glass World

High on the upper walls of the crumbling house
Hangs a gilded hand-mirror
Its frame an intricate fretwork
Of knotted garlands; English roses.
Held in your selfish hands,
It reflects your image
Silvers the tarnish,
Affirms your being, in the sea-level landscape
A trinket to hold in your hands.

You weigh its worth, then place it, face-down
Or hang it tenderly on the hook,
Lovingly abandoned
Cold against bare plaster walls
Where it remains, silently reflecting
Your unassailable beauty
Till the next year’s spring brings you
Travelling North again,
Seeking out your looking-glass world.

Some kind of requiem

The first day of winter; the leaving of the year

And now, more than ever, I feel my mortality;

Life’s fragility.

My body aches, and my heart misses

The reassuring presence of you.

I am a half-person

And this, my half-life.

The day sets, edgy, with the promise of storms

Yet here, surrounded with white roses,

I acknowledge my loneliness

Fend off the night-time thoughts

The fear of you not-wanting.

I long to tell you the depth of my love,

But hesitate, hold back

For fear of chasing you away.

And I am so, so grateful for the tenuous chance

That brought us together;

For the giant of a man you have become

And for the knowledge that you hold me

In your heart.

So this is some kind of requiem

Memento Mori

For the girl so sad for so long.

Lasciatemi morire

I shed these tears now

Not for grief, nor loneliness,

But for gratitude, and wonder

At this late-found love.