Of all the arts, poetry is the one that most people consider a sin of their youth. Something you write and never show to anyone. Well I say to hell with that. I’m sure some of you also write poetry as well as taking pictures, making music and all the rest. So, here’s a couple of my poems to get the ball rolling, I’d love to see what other people are up to.
No doubt she told him the familiar lies
Women tell men to stop them brooding: spoke
Of honour, glory and the courage
Only battle proves. Perhaps too she knew
The pulse that urged him to that erotic shore
To be the same that in an earlier time
Had opened her body to his passionate exploration.
That season over, another had begun:
It would have been foolish to oppose the change.
Nothing did she know of heroes, nor wish to:
The invulnerable boy and his besotted clan
Of killers, the vulgar giant pushing forward
In the fray, the reckless king made mad
By the betrayal not of love, but of its contract.
The ten year fight on the beach before the city
Was for poets she would never read to write about,
Herself a note at most in a line that few
Would remember: the hero also had a wife.
She stayed behind to bring up children, tell them
The imagined deeds of their virtuous dad:
He was cunning, unfailing with the bow,
And he never let down a friend.
Birds she loved, loved them perhaps
Because they demanded nothing of her,
A contact always fleeting, glimpsed
Through leaves or disappearing overhead.
Once she gripped me hard by the elbow
At the sight of a koel in a tamarind tree.
Such single-minded delight can be forbidding.
Birds I remember, massing in migratory clouds
Off the African coast, circling slowly upwards
South of the red city towards the High Atlas.
I never cared to know their names.
When you set out from your doorstep
And turn down the road away from the village
Do not ask the way from the people leaning on their gateposts
Or cutting the grass in front of their cottages.
Turn your face towards the low hills in the distance
And leave the sound of home behind you.
If it comes on to rain, you will find a tree
To wait under until the storm has passed,
And if there are no trees nearby, you will hunch your shoulders
And feel the rain on your face as you walk.
At the end of the first day of your journey
The gathering dusk will take you by surprise
In a narrow place where the hills grow steeper;
You will walk on by night and see the moon
Keeping pace with you through the branches of the trees.
The next morning you will come to a village
Different from your own and yet not different at all.
You will recognise the people, although you do not know them,
And they in turn will recognise you.
They will offer you work and lodging;
You will leave the place before nightfall.
Keep walking and in five days you will come to the city,
Its proud towers raised high above its wall.
People will be going in and out of its many gates,
Jostling you and offering you their wares.
A girl will try to drag you into an alley.
Let no-one turn you aside.
Enter by the great gate and go at once
To the square in front of the cathedral.
Do not be distracted by the pimps and touts,
Or the young women at the market stalls.
Look up at the stones and remember that the man who set them there
Came from a village no different from your own,
That he too walked under the rain and through the woods at night,
And left every village he passed through
To come to this very place.
You will look around you and see that you recognise no-one.
You will know that you have arrived.