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Thursday
Dec192013

Sometimes a Wild God - by Tom Hirons

This is a quite extraordinary poem by Tom Hirons. Find him here:

Sometimes a Wild God

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.

‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.

When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.

In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.

‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…

There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

 

 

 

Sunday
Oct272013

Father Anniversaries (2) - by Peter Neary-Chaplin

October 19th 2013

It was a tumbleweed visit
though he would have thought that word
daft.
Hee hee you silly josser, he would have grinned.
Here lies my father,
twenty years under ground
and counting
in slow earth time.

I looked with half a heart for all my stories.
Couldn't seem to find them anywhere.
I made a lazy trawl for all my lacks,
but they were absent too.

On earlier visits I was pretty good, I recall,
studiously forgiving him
for what he had not been,
for his age,
for the man circuits he never installed in me.
Now I ask it of him,
not because I or he were wrong,
just that now I have a son
and that's how things are.
It falls away, the need to get things right.
We meet at the understanding grave,
washed and worn by rain,
one cold, one warm,
being used up.

Nothing needed doing.
I polished the stone
and tidied up
the ragged, stemmy lavendar
that still pushes out a scent.

Friday
Oct182013

Christmas Eve, by Ted Kooser

Now my father carries his old heart
in its basket of ribs
like a child coming into the room
with an injured bird.
Our ages sit down with a table between them,
eager to talk.
Our common bones are wrapped in new robes.
A common pulse tugs at the ropes
in the backs of our hands.
We are so much alike
we both weep at the end of his stories.

 

From Brother Songs.

Thursday
Oct172013

Out-and-Down Pattern, by William Kloefhorn

My young son pushes a football into my stomach
and tells me that he is going to run
an out-and-down pattern,
and before I can check the signals
already he is half way across the front lawn,
approaching the year-old mountain ash,
and I turn the football slowly in my hands,
my fingers like tentacles
exploring the seams,
searching out the lacing,
and by the time I have the ball positioned
just so against the grain-tight leather,
he has made his cut downfield
and is now well beyond the mountain ash,
approaching the linden,
and I pump my arm once, then once again,
and let fire.

The ball in a high arc
rises up and out and over the linden,
up and out over the figure
that has now crossed the street,
that is now all the way to Leighton Avenue,
now far beyond,
the arms outstretched,
the head as I remember it
turned back, as I remember it
the small voice calling.

And the ball at the height of its high arc
begins now to drift,
to float as if weightless
atop the streetlights and the trees,
becoming at last that first bright star in the west.

Late into an early morning
I stand on the front porch,
looking into my hands.
My son is gone.

The berries on the mountain ash
are bursting red this year,
and on the linden
blossoms spread like children.

From Brother Songs, Holy Cow Press ISBN 0-930100-02-6

Wednesday
Sep252013

Healing Waters, by Peter Neary-Chaplin

An angel stirred up the pool at noon
one bleak brown day in winter.
We dragged ourselves up,
on haunches, on crutches,
on brittle bones, on pressed pills and radium rays,
not racing any more these days,
preferring this half-dead unhealing,
so old we can finger only scars.
And no luck again today, nor soon.

But, as I sink back out of hope,
father's spirit gathers from the lucid lime-bright water,
rises like steam, coalesces towards me,
drags over the waters,
commands ordered columns from the shapeless vapour,
arms flung extravagantly wide,
forgives my sin,
softly seeping through my broken skin.

From My Mother is an Old Elephant, available here.

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