Moved here because of the new LJ policies. Might take a little while to complete the migration.
For Mary and for Catherine, on this their wedding day,
a shoddy piece of doggerel, a quick scribble to say
how glad I am to be here, how honoured by the chance
to celebrate your union, with Phoenix Gold and dance.

Marriages are tricky, we don't always get them right
(or wrong, exactly, given how our offspring bring delight).
But love's hope springs eternal, as all of us can see
and Catherine and Mary have now forged a unity.

We Quakers are a funny lot, there's nowt as queer as folk:
my role today is witnessing, it's God as makes the yoke.
Though I'm not much of a Quaker with this pint here in my hand
the still small voice inside me tells me she will understand.

Accepting one another, each her weaknesses and faults.
Her toplessness at parties or her yen for single malts.
An artwork stands as metaphor, for marriage to the max:
a corkscrew and a strawberry, bound up with melted wax.

We all know who's the strawberry, her sweetness not in doubt
her patience and her willingness to understand about
the corkscrew's latest project: the new artwork on the wall;
the mattress on the staircase; who's that dog out in the hall?

The melted wax? is all of us: society of friends,
supporting and embracing both, round all life's dangerous bends,
enfolding this sweet union, this key and harmony,
this drumbeat and this heartsong, this pocket symphony.

Is this parallel too strained, all this from that drunken mess?
but the answer's where we seek it, even innocents confess.
Always speaking truth to power, says that voice in playful dress,
as with glorious affirmation, the universe shouts YES!
My love is not a loan, creates no debt:
there's nothing to repay, no interest due,
no expectation to be failed or met,
no obligation is imposed on you.
My promises aren't part of any deal
with clause and subclause laying out your part.
My shy attempts to tell you how I feel
should not impose constraints upon your heart.
Your freedom and your happiness reward
me more than you believe. Your choices lift
me up, no matter what. Go on, toward
acceptance of this unencumbered gift.
There are no late fees if it's not returned.
True love is freely given, never earned.
In Pink Wood, on my father's land, a tree
stood fifty years (as you will stand, we pray)
and then was chosen, felled, seasoned for me
to make a log, to give to you today.

Ash is the world-tree: roots in separate lands
but branches in the single world above;
converging like this party: joining hands
to celebrate your union and love.

Ash symbolises strength and vital force:
absorbing blows, in sickness and in health,
sustaining, bearing, jointly holding course
through everything, in poverty and wealth,

'til knowledge pass away, 'til tongues be stilled
and prophecies all cease. Three things remain—
faith, hope, and love—and with them you are filled:
they run through you as through this wood runs grain.

A log's not much, so I resolved to find
what lay within: the heart-wood's hidden line.
With saw to cut and sandpaper to grind
I took away the rest, left you this sign.

Serena, Christian: strong and fine and true
and bound together—one formed out of two.


Jun. 25th, 2012 11:29 am
The Mona Lisa's there, the guide-book says -
her half-a-smile, its gentle corner lines,
her gaze - all hidden by the cameras raised:
salutes of legions following the signs.
But take his hand, my sweet, and find your way,
quick, through the arch, and left, and left again
and stop. The empty hall. The stillness may
allow you both to enter his domain,
the desert. Dust and rocks and river's side
and signs; repentance; ways made straight and clear:
hard labour - taste of ashes, murdered pride -
the things we do for love, your love, my dear.
We give ourselves that you may love anew.
We open doors for others to pass through.

This force

Feb. 14th, 2011 02:09 pm
Something in the air, the moist
and yielding opening earth, she sighs,
she stirs awake, cries out for boist'
rous love. The fresh shoots rise
and thrust into the lover's rays,
the buds engorge, the sap flows
rich with winter's stores, the ways
that wordless timeless lust knows
well. Before the saint, before
all saints, before the word, this vast
eternal love, this force more
powerful than death, this fast
yet slow dance drives us all,
brings us to life, to shine,
to seek, to find, to call,
to ask you, be my valentine.


Oct. 11th, 2010 11:35 am
Between my dreams and waking in our bed,
in this half-world, your voice still in my ears,
your hand in mine, your beauty fills my head
and heart. The way your smile unwinds the years,
unwraps the youth within the man: still fresh,
still full of vigour, impulse, passion, love;
the way our souls and bodies bond and mesh
into a greater whole, so far above,
beyond our separate identities:
a gift to each and through each to the world;
my fortune: kindness, wit, and patience, these
virtues embodied, formed, my treasure curled
next to me. As the damp autumnal light
soaks in I turn to you to share my dream
and you're not there.
Time slams, memories bite:
how could you be?
I've washed up far downstream
without you.
Broken, flotsam, carried far
beyond my purpose.
People have been good,
have found me things to do, and some days are
Our close friends have understood
but cannot mend this break, this jigsawed life,
alternate pieces gone.
So I repeat
at times this dream of you, my wife:
regain that half-world where we are complete.
Would I be whole if I somehow eschewed
these tender dreams of you, this loss renewed?


Aug. 15th, 2010 06:50 pm
Yes! I do know that I'm rubbish, very poor,
unworthy, unreliable, the rest:
inattentive, barely fit to sweep your floor
and that you deserve far better than my best.
But this is who I am. Aching and stained
with mud and rabbit shit, weary and old,
preoccupied and burdened, conscience strained
with all the world to save and kids to hold
when I'm allowed. No, I can't put you first
as you would like, as we all need and long
for and should have. I know that pain, the burst
of jealousy that bites and burns so strong,
I've lived that life, I've been where you are now
when gratitude is not enough somehow.

For David

Aug. 10th, 2010 12:14 pm
In Sheringham and in the morning sun
descend the car-park steps and concrete ramp
onto the shingle, steadily, with one
intent, one goal, we shed towels on the damp
tide-line and step together through the surf
into the sea.
                  The constant, changing, sea:
eternal shroud and swaddling of the earth
for petty finite creatures - you and me.
We vanish in its grip, like ash or sand
run through a grasp, like youth, tulips in May.
Renewed, refreshed, reborn onto the land,
we climb the beach, to Sea View and the fray:
the non-stop happy riot of your clan,
your legacy beyond this mortal span.
We'll raise a glass and give a cheer
for Jonny Leonard now.
For while our eyes may not be clear
we well remember how
he loved this life, its richest taste,
the sweetness and the salt,
and he would think it such a waste
to leave a drop of malt.
So drink and sing and fill your lives
with pleasure, joy, and flavour.
Dear Jonny's gone but love survives
for all of us to savour.


Mar. 6th, 2010 03:28 pm
I pack my bags in haste, it's not too soon
to load the car again - another trip
down South, to Brighton in the afternoon
to you, your arms, your constant comradeship,
your patience with my dull timidity:
my failure to give in to kindly fate,
to own my feelings, the rapidity,
the rush of blood, the tongue-tied nervous state
which you provoke. Your presence fills my world
so no-one else is there, though in a crowd -
there is just you. I keep this secret curled
up in my mind: it cannot be allowed
or spoken. Let us do crosswords instead.
This clue must burn on, safe inside my head.
Cast out of unthinking matter, we cooled.
flesh became, bone became, brain became, heart.
Frozen we stand here, less fooling than fooled.
Imperfect images, expressions, art.

Cast on the beach, on the sea-rippled sand,
left by the water we wait for the tide
coming to cover us, take us in hand,
Claim us by storm or by silent slow glide.

Cast in the sea like a stone, without fuss.
Knowing the future, accepting our fate:
life overwhelms us, for that's what it does.
Eyes on the rising horizon, we wait.
You are my honeysuckle, white and gold.
I am your bee, ungainly visitor
bid welcome by your scent. I gently hold
you as I venture in, inquisitor
of secrets, nectar hid for few to find
but me. You part, my gentle insistence
uncovers sweetness as you soft unwind,
undo, and yield: abandon your pretence
of innocent naivete. You flow
with joy, with ecstasy expressed, with song
unvoiced, a wordless melody we know
unknown, deep in our natures, all along.
I drink, and drunk on you I weave away
bound to return, to taste you, every day.
With two years, and consent, marriages end.
No blame is necessary or desired
given this patient interval to lend
a decency to unions expired.

You never were so patient. Having made
your choice you rushed it through. Your impetus
I loved. Christ! how I loved it, how it laid
me open, drove our marriage. Undid us.

You would deny it but you left the night
you told me that you'd lie to lie with Chris -
a flash of honesty. And in that light
I set out on the path that led to this:

My ring, long hollow, I removed today
to store with your love notes and gifts, to stay.
Our love was true, and true love is no crime.
Your memories and mine tell us no lies.
The spring and summer were a joyful time
of open arms and hearts and minds and eyes.
You took me as I was, imperfect, scarred,
and showed me love, and healed me with your touch
as I in turn healed you, though not so marred.
We grew and learned the world is not too much.
Then autumn came. I hurt you. Did you wrong
in parting as I did - you felt betrayed.
I knew that I could not to one belong.
I felt it would be worse if I had stayed.
Your poem, now, a precious gift indeed.
Forgiveness, growth, new love, are what we need.
You are undone? Then let me find your ends
for I would weave them, intertwined with mine.
I'll turn my clumsy hands to darn and mend
though I'm too coarse a patch for silk so fine.

You are undone? Well I know how that feels,
for you undo me skilfully and deft
my shuttle's cock is loosed, my bobbins reel,
I lose the thread, my warp confused with weft.

You are undone? Your courage and your strength
betray you not, your life's not in a tangle.
I think we should discourse at greater length
to unpick this, let's try another angle.

You are undone, and I have shed my tether.
So be with me; let's come undone together.


Nov. 11th, 2007 05:56 pm
They say this love will be the death of me:
if I don't end it he will by his hand.
They see my bruises and his jealousy
and think they know, but they don't understand.

They cannot see the marks made deep within:
the scorching every time he looks my way;
the pit of longing, yearning for his skin;
cold emptiness when I send him away.

They say I was a fool to make this choice,
that I should change the locks upon my heart.
They have not felt my every cell rejoice
when he returns and swears we shall not part.

They say this love will be the death of me.
They're right. I give myself up willingly.
I wrote this back in April, but wasn't happy with it, so left it for later revision. I'm still not happy with it, but I think it's never going to get that revision work, so here it is anyway.
In May he hurt you one time with madness -
his cruel words and lies, his jealous rage -
You talked him down again, in your sadness;
I comforted you and so set the stage.

July he hurt you one time, ruthlessly,
he threatened to destroy you with his mind.
You went to him, you left me, truthlessly.
You showed him how it pays to be unkind.

Two more times that he hurt you, when you swore
you'd ended it, you'd never let him back.
You knew one day the words would lead to more,
to fists and to your blue eyes swollen black.

The next time that he hurts you, will that be?
And after that? Your friends can't bear to see.
Woke up in the night with a fix for the scansion; I think this is better now
And so, my love, we come at last to this:
to courtroom hearings through the summer rain.
My heart, that you once purchased with a kiss,
beats yet for you, unwanted, broken, vain.

Love is a verb: it rests on what we do,
not what we feel, or say, or leave unsaid,
and so your distance stops me loving you,
undoes my promise, leaves me thus unwed.

But on my finger there's a silver band
to signify a lasting mark within.
We meet this way to end our marriage and
I feel infinity against my skin.

The judge is swift and fair, he will decide
but just division cannot this divide.
What good's a poet when he's lost for words?
There are no rhymes for silent reverie.
A song without a lyric's for the birds:
their chatter wakes but doesn't inspire me.

My muse has left; her leaving was the spark
that lit my fuse, that set my mind aflame,
that launched my mental rocket in its arc
and then went out - the metaphor's to blame.

Two dozen sonnets, some of them quite good,
burned from my pen, my soul they did convey.
My love, my loss, my anger understood.
Now, "having writ", I've nothing left to say.

I turn the page, but all the words that come
are just te-tum te-tum te-tum te-tum.



April 2017



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