Thursday, 30 July 2009
Three of us went
And lived on a beach for a week, alone.
We didn’t see another soul.
Our bare feet hardened to the gneiss and we got used to the way the eagles would linger,
To their cries, callous calls.
And we perched like they did after a few days,
On rocks that served as lookout points.
I was used to different ways of seeing: from my car window, the garden from the kitchen sink,
But not like this: I suddenly caught every movement, and lived the weather
Mind, body and soul.
Every insect left an imprint on me.
I saw everything.
The sky was too big to take in,
And the scale of it filled me with terror some days
The truth was so big, so vast,
And the sea stripped me of all my accoutrements
Each passing tide bit at my toes
Washed and emptied me of all personality.
My fingers traced the detail of rough seams of quartz
Through rumps of rock,
Stroked cotton and thrift.
My talents went unnoticed.
Born diplomat, expert negotiator
And no need for communication here…
No need to record a thing.
No artifice in a place where all is laid bare
To the winds moods, painted on sand.
I etched out my name with a stick quietly
And come morning, there was nothing left of me.
All the same, I washed up carefully, with seaweed for a scourer
And watched our oily dregs swirl into the sea.
I stayed close to the tent.
In some smaller gullies plastic milk cartons, an old he-man toy and a buoy, but
The only object we worshiped now was the trangia,
so we knelt at an altar of tin.
At night I went to bed cold, despite the fire, and waited till the sadness crept beside me,
Like an unwelcome thief.
I just wept mildly.
We each saw phosphorescence at the shore and watched it for a long time:
Fluorescent crazy dancing on tiny eddies,
Spun magical artistry under the moon.
But kept it to ourselves.
No words were necessary,
No collusion here.
We watched a storm pass, and saw it come in dark and loaded over the next peninsula
Then leave behind glowing white crofts to the north
And not one of us said a thing.
When we finally left, lean, with blackness ingrained,
We had learned to fish with our hands, and found a redundant agility.
Our eyes had been flooded with forms and shapes
Longing and emptiness,
Spectres of selves.
And we left together, but went our own ways,
Carrying whalelike, unspeakable truths
On our knees in the car.
But I was younger then,
And I was glad to go
Back to a world I knew my place in
And leave such chaos.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
(for the Beta Band)
I'll think of you when you're gone.
Tell ya what it meant with this jitterin knee
Sounding out time, hell yeah,
I’ll jump up and down, see
There's a line across the world from me to you - though
Sometimes we stand looking at each other
holding our separate handles on this shit and spinning -
We trip them up, eh babe,
make em fall, make em dance
to the tune of it all:
till they're two inches off the ground.
How does it feel without me?
It isn’t because I’m beside myself with love that I can say these things to you.
You did say you might go away someday,
(Take me away too).
Sometimes we take this damn rope
and wrap it round us all -
tight as a wrap and closer too
Rising higher and higher so
You and me must never be far.
When I’m at 90 degrees to the rest of the world or
Getting stuck right in the middle
I’ll turn to you.
Bounce myself up and down,
I found my peace, peace of mind for the girl inside,
I found my solace
And it was with you –
Music is the only thing that finds my pulse some days.
Hell we all live together on a little round ball
I hear your love, know it, this reality
Though sometimes there’s nothing in it,
I won’t go away any day.
I can't believe I'll never hear you again,
when your voice means more than this world to me.
I won’t cry
The world is so funny
I got tripped, rope-tripped, picked up sticks and
fell through the gap again.
Yes it's true I love you
and it doesn't matter how you feel without me and
I'm so much beside myself with love I can say these things to you –
Sometimes it’s all too beautiful.
The robots in the sky have called a war
But I don't care how the west was won – nobody wins, see
How I'll use the bullets from the games you've played for
I'm a woman who likes to be alone, and think alone:
Doesn't mean I can't get high and smile.
I'll take my books and stand upon a mountain -
quite enjoy being the type of person who sits alone with a book on my own.
We might just break and I find it very hard to say what I see:
I disappear in you, when it’s all too beautiful
And I can’t see the point of it all
And there are no words.
I’m not alone though, not at all,
And I love you though I know you slide.
And I watch where the wind blows
And people find me…
I ain’t gonna sell you nothing.
Can't deny my love for pizza anway.
And this one was always gonna be for Scotland.
Might not want to see ma friends, and might be goin round the bend, as
I got no food and sometimes I'm so paralysed and
I won't share my thoughts and
You like to feel that I would go away some day
but I will fight and
I'm no coward, so I said and I'll speak of
no reasons not to spend my life with you.
Once upon a time I was falling apart,
and now I'm always falling in love.
Dusty rooms, dusty windows,
tic tac toe and a whole host of other things.
I think you'll shake a corner of my world today and
finally this thing is epic, an odyssey,
you couldn't get more impassioned than me,
and I felt so high, higher than nothing…
I wish I could be with you now
Though people that I love will someday die and
I might go first in just the blink of an eye and
Love can never hold us down and
You could be the one to see me turning around though
In the meantime, I’ll probably have to get myself off.
Make me dance, go on then, find ma tune.
You won’t find another like me.
I'm in heaven when you smile.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
I’d like to tell you
Stand tall -
But don’t be afraid to crawl in bug-eyed awe
Through such a massive world.
Touch everything you can,
Whether it’s jelly, someone’s cheek or mud.
Take every delight you can
In each of your six precious senses.
Ribald, round little buddha -
Show me that toothless grin
And don’t stop laughing loudly and dirtily
It's a pantomime state that we’re in.
You’re on year one of your life
And I’m halfway through mine.
You’re just learning to balance and stand;
I’m only just learning to stand back
And lay down my sword and shield.
You’ve yet to make yours, let alone tag an enemy.
Your best weapon will be that fearless smile.
Or a bubble. Blow a big bubble then climb in.
Make plenty of soapy mohicans
And always create a big splash.
Part of the process is to discover what pleasure is
But then be just as sure to let it pass.
Lie on your back in long grass
Revel in having tanned, happy hands
And damp, scratty hair
Like yours is just now:
Daft blond elf,
Dancing to every tune you hear,
Never stopping moving, looking, noticing,
But remember to stop and stare too.
What’s this? What’s that!
It’s the discovery stage you’re at.
Next is grabbing and yelping Mine! Mine too!
Then learning slowly that no thing is yours
No matter how hard you hold it,
And that nothing really matters -
That’s a hard nut to crack,
But therein lies the peaceful path.
I’ll always watch out for you,
But only you can be the watcher of your mind:
It can be a locked metal box, a prison
Or let you be free as an endless sky…
And always keep a secret or two.
Be a crazy jack-in-the box.
Remember every man is an island
And that no man is an island too.
In fact, men are like mice,
So don’t expect them to see a plan through.
All of them scurry and change their direction
Without even meaning to…
I hope your daemon never leaves you
That he always stays by your side
But if you do find yourself alone, then keep marching on
Like a great elephant, don’t lose your stride.
These words will seem like riddles
For many a year to come yet
In the meantime, there's a whole day to play for
So for now, let’s watch the barn owl swoop
Let’s listen to the wood pigeon coo.
Now who’ll tickle who?
One day I hope to grin back at you
When my grin is toothless too.
July 09 (IV)
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Did I tell you about when I met a boy gazing into a rockpool?
He pointed out for me the myriad of colours and species that inhabit such a small space and
I followed the golden line of his arm and saw too, all the lighter colours, and all the softer ones-
We marveled for a while then he walked off, across the water, to see something else.
Next time I clapped eyes on him he was standing in a tall forest with squirrels,
Wood pigeons, mice, voles, baby rabbits, foxes, badgers and the like all round his feet:
He had one hand out with a palm turned to the sky and small colourful birds were landing
On his fingers, singing and taking food (he had pocketsfull).
Another time I followed him up a mountain where he went to get a good view:
At the top, he turned into a goat and danced crazy on the rocks,
Then ran down the long spine of the great tremendous Beinn and never tripped once, just
Sat laughing and breathless at the bottom of that great inestimable rock.
One day he said he was going to walk from where a river started with the smallest rain drop in these High lands, down, down through the valleys to see where it all ended -
He was going exploring to find the metropolis where the river finally met the sea.
He tipped his cap, and left me standing in a cornfield.
The ceiling where he stayed was low, and so was the sky, and you had to adopt a kind of stooped
posture just to get about a lot of the time. The city was riddled with subterranean trains, shaking the foundations night and day, and screeching as they passed underneath. Helicopters and fighter planes tore with sirens through the few clouds that were left.
When I next saw him, he didn't follow a lot of what I was saying, and seemed to have
Lost his ear for my accent. They all spoke different where he stayed now.
Sometimes he mumbled something then said it again without the Scots:
“I'm learning all about life,” he said, “there's a lot to see.” I didn't disagree.
One night he found a strange green beetle, and held it gently on his palm with joy,
Pointing out the mandibles and the iridescence and the sheer magical beauty of life -
But he dropped it on the pavement, and the next man that passed crushed it to cochineal with his Boot. The stain was clear on dusty concrete, as was the big splash of his tear...
“If only that had been grass,” he whispered, “we'd both still have been alive…”
“It's always been like this,” I told him. “There's always been vagabonds and scallywags and drunken sailors and men who rape and take and who'd stop at nothing. Women who tear jewellery and babies from one another: whores and bitches, tinkers: it's always been like this in the big city – dark clouds, low and polluted over cemeteries and destructive roads, excrement and filth poured into our river arteries, and sometimes the people swarm in too like rats, out of plain terror…There was a great fire, a bubonic plague, other terrible diseases with red crosses on the doors, and poverty, always, always hunger and then there were the damn irish, stray dogs, bombs, war planes... don’t you remember?”
And not unpredictably, War came next
And I watched his eyes get flinty, filled with soot – and he started watching his back.
Vast torrents of people poured out from their homes wearing white T-shirts
And waving banners around.
And one day, I spotted him across the street and he'd taken
His beautiful, carved shepherd's crook
and was holding some guy pinned to a wall with it, saying something low,
he was at him, crook to throat, and the boy looked scared…
Another time I went round and his ukelele was broken -
There had been a break-in, two thugs in balaclavas, and he'd had
No sharp instruments to hand so he'd just gone for them with this
And ended up tearing his own instrument in two, broken at the neck now.
“I'll fight with my bare hands,” he said, looking like he needed a rest.
I looked at his bare hands and they were all calloused, sore and dirty.
“You could try loving me with your bare hands instead,” I offered.
He peeled back his dry upper lip and showed his teeth.
I have been here before.
Limpet ridden ribs of rock splayed and beckoning below
And dark tunnels, empty, throaty Os to get through before
Stopping, being stopped, by gulls at the mouth
Demanding my full attention,
And such an idyll before me.
They said there was no such thing as a safe harbour,
and so I find one.
The shells are different and have changed since I was last here, somehow,
And I think the sand has reformed differently too.
Wiser men coax acceptance of this.
I must get used to the way life is: seasons whirling by me, clocks constantly changing, not one rug staying still…
And losing you, the person I knew: how people change too,
How it scares me, how little I learned
How much less of what I knew is true.
So I watch from the shore as you leave once more,
Strange to me now, not you.
Wide stone walls halt the battering sea just as your arms used to enfold me.
Still I’m hopeful of a low tide,
Of a long time,
And I learn to trust my feet,
Bounce balanced from rock to rock, sure of something, and
Climb high, with rhythm, to a grassy place at the top of a stack
Where I rest
Watching thoughts plunge like fulmars into the sea.
I must have missed your glances, missed our chances,
But I don’t mind. Not any more.
Mind like a perfect harbour
And my anchor,
The still blue.
I have been here before, without you.