Friday, 25 November 2011


I believe there is no justice,
but that cottongrass and bunchberry
grow on the mountain.

I believe that a scorpion's sting
will kill a man,
but that his wife will remarry.

I believe, the older we get,
the weaker the body,
but the stronger the soul.

I believe that if you roll me over at night
in an empty bed,
the air consoles you.

I believe that no one is spared 
the darkness,
and no one gets all of it.

I believe we all drown eventually
in a sea of our making,
but that the land belongs to someone else.

I believe in destiny 
and I believe in free will.

I believe that, when all 
the clocks break,
time goes on without them.

And I believe that whatever
pulls us under,
will do so gently,

so as not to disturb anyone,
so as not to interfere
with what we believe in.

Michael C. Blumenthal

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Willows - De Wittsee

A cloud moved close. The bulk of the wind shifted.
A tree swayed over water.
A voice said:
Stay. Stay by the slip-ooze. Stay.

Dearest tree, I said, may I rest here?
A ripple made a soft reply.
I waited, alert as a dog.
The leech clinging to a stone waited
And the crab, the quiet breather.

Slow, slow as a fish she came,
Slow as a fish coming forward.
Swaying in a long wave;
Her skirts not touching a leaf,
Her white arms reaching towards me.

She came without sound,
Without brushing the wet stones,
In the soft dark of early evening,
She came,
The wind in her hair,
The moon beginning.


I woke in the first of morning,
Staring at a tree, I felt the pulse of a stone.
Where's she now, I kept saying,
Where's she now, the mountain's downy girl?

But the bright day had no answer.
A wind stirred in a web of appleworms;
The tree, the close willow, swayed.

Theodore Roethke


Saturday, 12 November 2011


When you’ve got the plan of your life
matched to the time it will take
but you just want to press SHIFT / BREAK
and print over and over
this is not what I was after
this is not what I was after.

When you’ve finally stripped out the house
with its iron-cold fireplace,
its mouldings, its mortgage,
its single-skin walls
but you want to write in the plaster
“This is not what I was after.”

When you’ve got the rainbow-clad baby
in his state-of-the-art pushchair
but he arches his back at you
and pulps his Activity Centre
and you just want to whisper
“This is not what I was after.”

When the vacuum seethes and whines in the lounge
and the waste-disposal unit blows,
when tenners settle in your account
like snow hitting a stove,
when you get a chat from your spouse
about marriage and personal growth,

when a wino comes to sleep in your porch
on your Citizen’s Charter
and you know a hostel’s opening soon
but your headache’s closer
and you really just want to torch
the bundle of rags and newspaper

and you’ll say to the newspaper
“This is not what we were after,
this is not what we were after.

Helen Dunmore

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


René  Magritte  -  Great Journeys

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Käthe Kollwitz
Self Portrait

There is love to begin with, early love,
painful and unskilled, late love for matrons
who eye the beautiful buttocks and thick hair
of young men who do not even notice them.

Parturition, it figures, comes after, cataclysmic
at first, then dissolving into endless care
and rules and baths and orthodontic treatment,
Speech days, Open days, shut days, exams.

There are landscapes and inscapes too, sometimes tracts
of unknown counties, most often the one great hill
in low cloud, the waterfall, the empty sands, the few
snowdrops at the back door, the small birds flying.

Politics crop up at election time and ecology
any old time, no ocelot coats, no South African
oranges, a knowledge of the Serengeti
greater than the positioning of rubbish dumps
here in this off-shore island in hard times.

Seasons never go out of fashion, never will,
the coming of Spring, the dying fall
of Autumn into Winter, fine brash summers,
the red sun going down like a beach ball
into the sea. These do not escape the eyes
of women whose bodies obey the tides
and the cheese-paring sterile moon.

As you might expect, death hangs around a lot.
First ageing mothers, senile fathers, providing
the ham and sherry when the show is over,
examining stretched breasts to catch the process
of decay in time. In farmhouse kitchens they make
pigeon pies, weeping unexpectedly over
curved breasts, among the floating feathers.
The men tread mud in after docking lamb's tails,
and smell of blood.

Elizabeth Bartlett