This year I’ve had the real pleasure of uniting some of my deepest interests – music, poetry and my humanist outlook on life – to write some songs for the British Humanist Association.
Here’s a song we’ve recorded recently – it’s now released on itunes and all proceeds go to the British Humanist Association, with some of the money going to support the BHA choir to record more music for humanist celebrations.
Flame and friendship, gifts and giving
Defying the winter’s ire
An instinct known to all the living
Gathering round the fire
May your fireside be warm and the people you hold dear be close at hand either in the real world or in this mad and wonderful online network!
I sing the pain
of the heart that yearns
(as endless poets have pleaded)
to be the object of love
but rather to be its subject
the heart that is trying to remember
how to love
how to lose itself in the depths of another’s eyes
I sing of the guilt
of the heart that feels
it is somehow culpable
for not being a beholder of beauty
for not finding, in this infinite world
even one person before whom
it bows down in exultation
I sing of the searching
as much within as without
to match my soul to another’s
wondering if it is some sickness,
some lack, in me
that stops me finding what I seek
not a heart of gold waiting to be brought to light
but a cunning tooth biting in too strict a test
(I sing… yet how can I sing?
for my voice, too, is searching in silence
where the cries of the soul are drowned
by the voices of critics debating
how that pain should be voiced
when each life-giving gulp of air is poisoned
by instructions on how to breathe)
I sing of the loneliness
of a heart that refuses to be deceived
by the flattering haze of romance
of a heart that knows what it wants
and will not settle for less
that cannot look away from the truth
that what it seeks is not here, not now
the heart that suffers
if what it seeks
strong against the night, the lights shining
red on the dark river, a bridge spanning
bright through the cloud drift, Venus glinting
slow down old alleys, our steps straying
outfacing old hurts, my heart hoping
The photo is Thames River panorama at night, London, originally uploaded by David Bukach.
In the crucible of my skull
a sunfish swims like a lost moon
a bruise throbs to be heard
above malign mutterings
There’s a flicker of mischief
In a nymph’s bog-green eyes
The unexplained slalom of a sleigh
rips snow off a silent roof
In the crucible of my skull
the junk of long days glows red
as it melts from trivia into story
in the Eden of my imagination
This is based on the ReadWriteWord prompt, to write a poem using many of the words in the wordle cloud above. As well as using the words I wanted to capture some of that rather magical feeling that comes when an idea suddenly starts to germinate into a poem… as happened when I started reading these words.
like a roman arch
the bridge of a conversation
stands through the stones’ trusting alignment
and the solid support
of both sides.
When it stands solid
it’s child’s play to run from one side to the other
lean on the balustrade, hand in hand
and watch the world flow by.
but then one day you started kicking away
the foundation of your side of the bridge
testing each word to destruction
with a chiselling eye
I lurched and fell,
in bitter tears
you kicked harder
until the keystone
and now the words of our conversations
are not a solid arc of flowing words
but stones thrown across a river
in the dark
so I sit lonely
among dust and stone and half-words
piling one stone on another
trying to build an impossible bridge
with only one pillar to support
the half-span reaching out into empty air
in my attempts to reach you
sometimes a brick falls on you
and you throw it back, harder
so now I find myself
just sitting alone
in a futile rubble
of words you will not hear
learning bitter lessons
The photo is ruin, originally uploaded to flickr by annette62.
Ochre afternoon sifts as dry as daydreams
Dim horizon lies brittle-hard as bone
Just shadows play – just echoes laugh and scream
Who hears my aching heart singing alone?
Hoop and hopscotch memories are all washed out
Bleached arcades will not echo to my voice
Tears of ripped up rainbows fail in the drought
My soul weeps quietly at the end of choice
Ghosts have no shadows by night or day
Yet creepier far than the midnight hour
Are these sad streets where only shadows play
A childhood shorn of youth’s maturing flower
No living warms these streets we used to know
Just empty dreams that faded long ago.
Thanks to Christine for sharing the image above , “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street,” by De Chirico, which triggered this poem – this is all part of a read write poem prompt where various people shared different poems, pictures or songs that have inspired them.
Sorry to share two melancholy poems in a row… things are basically fine but I just need to work a few sad reflections out of my mind!
When I watch myself reflected in your eyes
Why do I see an ocean, surging deep?
What is it that makes you fear to set sail?
My waters run deep – but they are not cruel.
I caress many shores – yet endlessly return
with the constant loyalty of the tides.
I am no foam-born goddess. Just a woman
who knows her light too well to hide in fear
The wave-glitter is not a stabbing searchlight
Just my mind’s joy calling you to dance with me.
Meantime, my loneliness is oceans-wide
salty with my tears of longing for a man
who can surf the rip-curl of my beating heart
and come safe to the haven of my embrace.
Why do I see you staring like a grown man
clutching waterwings in a clammy hand?
The photo is Mermaid in the Ocean, originally uploaded by snuglyteaddybear2007.
There was a room in my heart
its walls stained by the tides of tears
and the jagged graffiti of hurtful words
its floors sagging from old expectations
and cluttered with the lead-grey jetsam
of our broken hopes.
I spent a year cleaning the room in my heart
Scrubbing the walls with shredding tissues
soaked in the tears and snot brought up
from the deepest secrets of my heart.
Separating out what was mine to repair
from what was yours.
Now, outside the room in my heart
Sits a bag full of the clutter that you
left behind you, said you did not own.
If you dare to open the zip, you’ll see
the parting gifts that my hands have made
from our love’s flotsam.
Your private door to the room in my heart
has vanished forever. So you’ll have to imagine
how freshly the colours gleam. How the walls
(stripped back to stone and plastered anew)
are damp-proofed and caressed with sun.
But not for you.
For the room in my heart is at last swept clean.
And its new door is ready to open.
A few days ago I sent my last message in the recent e-mail exchange with my ex. Gently, and affectionately – but also firmly, having set my boundaries and said what I needed to say. Which actually was surprisingly little!
I’m now pretty sure that he won’t respond. Which is absolutely fine with me. There was very little chance we could regain anything meaningful. What I wanted was to express some things I had been unable to say at the time. And feel that I had brought the messiness of last year to an appropriate end. An end that is fitting for the spirit of the good times rather than fraught with the pain of the bad times.
For several hours after I sent the message I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. And this poem tries to capture some of that feeling.
To spin across a floor, without falling
To know how hard loss can be.
To hear my heart saying yes or no
and then act on what it tells me
To trust that my words know how to sing
To act on what must be done now.
To face cruel silences with tearless eyes
and a quizzically raised eyebrow
To tell my story with my own words
To be more content with my lot.
To act on what I believe is true
and challenge what I believe is not
To smile and catch a stranger’s gaze
To remember that hurts can heal.
To adjust my bike’s brakes to ride safely
and dance tall in high heels.
This is a list poem for the Miss Rumphius’ Effect Poetry Stretch, based on some of my recent reflections about what I have learned in the last year. Which also fits rather nicely with ReadWritePoem’s first anniversary.