Two Poems from the War

Oh, not the loss of the accomplished thing!
Not dumb farewells, nor long relinquishment
Of beauty had, and golden summer spent,
And savage glory of the fluttering
Torn banners of the rain, and frosty ring
Of moon-white winters, and the imminent
Long-lunging seas, and glowing students bent
To race on some smooth beach the gull's wing:

Not these, nor all we've been, nor all we've loved,
The pitiful familiar names, had moved
Our hearts to weep for them; but oh, the star
The future is! Eternity's too wan


Two centuries

Two centuries' winter storms have lashed the changing sands of Falmouth's shore,
Deep-voiced, the winds, swift winged, wild, have echoed there the ocean's roar.
But though the north-east gale unleashed, rage-blind with power, relentless beat,
The sturdy light-house sheds its beam on waves churned white beneath the sleet.
And still when cold and fear are past, and fields are sweet with spring-time showers,
Mystic, the gray age-silent hills breathe out their souls in fair mayflowers.


Trees Against The Sky

Pines against the sky,
Pluming the purple hill;
Pines . . . and I wonder why,
Heart, you quicken and thrill?
Wistful heart of a boy,
Fill with a strange sweet joy,
Lifting to Heaven nigh -
Pines against the sky.

Palms against the sky,
Failing the hot, hard blue;
Stark on the beach I lie,
Dreaming horizons new;
Heart of my youth elate,
Scorning a humdrum fate,
Keyed to adventure high -
Palms against the sky.

Oaks against the sky,
Ramparts of leaves high-hurled,


Twelfth Night

His first infidelity was a mistake, but not as big
As her false pregnancy. Later, the boy found out

He was born three months earlier than the date
On his birth certificate, which had turned into
A marriage license in his hands. Had he been trapped
In a net, like a moth mistaken for a butterfly?
And why did she--what was in it for her?
It took him all this time to figure it out.
The barroom boast, "I never had to pay for it,"
Is bogus if marriage is a religious institution


Zudora

Here on the pale beach, in the darkness;
With the full moon just to rise;
They sit alone, and look over the sea,
Or into each other's eyes. . .

She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand,
Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.

'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon,
Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there,
Fizzing across the sea!'

She pays no heed, nor even turns her head:
He slides his arm around her waist instead.

'Why don't we do a sketch together--


Young Love

I

I cannot heed the words they say,
The lights grow far away and dim,
Amid the laughing men and maids
My eyes unbidden seek for him.

I hope that when he smiles at me
He does not guess my joy and pain,
For if he did, he is too kind
To ever look my way again.

II

I have a secret in my heart
No ears have ever heard,
And still it sings there day by day
Most like a caged bird.

And when it beats against the bars,
I do not set it free,


Without You

Without you every morning would feel like going back to work after a holiday,
Without you I couldn't stand the smell of the East Lancs Road,
Without you ghost ferries would cross the Mersey manned by skeleton crews,
Without you I'd probably feel happy and have more money and time and nothing to do with it,
Without you I'd have to leave my stillborn poems on other people's doorsteps, wrapped in brown paper,
Without you there'd never be sauce to put on sausage butties,


With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach

We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.

Waves leapfrogged and came
straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean?
Kit waited for me to decide.

Standing on such a hill,
what would you tell your child?
That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.

'How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?'
'As far as was needed,' I said,
and as I talked, I swam.


While The Bannock Bakes

Light up your pipe again, old chum, and sit awhile with me;
I've got to watch the bannock bake -- how restful is the air!
You'd little think that we were somewhere north of Sixty-three,
Though where I don't exactly know, and don't precisely care.
The man-size mountains palisade us round on every side;
The river is a-flop with fish, and ripples silver-clear;
The midnight sunshine brims yon cleft -- we think it's the Divide;
We'll get there in a month, maybe, or maybe in a year.


Wild Peaches

1

When the world turns completely upside down
You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;


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