STREAM-WRITING IN A TIME OF WAR

(Another attempt at a set time of 30 minutes, writing directly on to this blog with no pre-conceived lines, just a feeling, a sorrow that it’s all happening once again. I just listened to James Taylor, Carly Simon and Graham Nash singing The Times They Are A-Changin’, my mind moved on to Lay Down by Melanie Safka, whose father was Ukrainian, and who wrote ‘We all sang the songs of peace, some came to sing, some came to pray, some came to keep the dark away’ and it’s set me writing whatever happens here.)

This poem is for you, is about you.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know?

The child is thinner.
She bends to let the clear water of the poisoned river
flow through her hands.

The girl looks up at her mother, who stands close.
I drink hot water with lemon and honey.

A woman pleads for help into a camera.
A man sits with his arms wrapped over his head.
Somewhere in the future Aristotle tends his bees.
He wears his hearing aid at night so he can listen to his dreams.
A glider rises into a grey, blank sky.
Hide in the basement, under concrete.
In Mariupol, in Zelenodolsk, in Kherson, in Odesa.
If the missile strikes perhaps you’ll come out with nothing worse than memories.

Good morning child, Virginia says, as she passes your mother
on that last morning, her pockets full of stones.
(I still have the book you gave me, I still wonder how you are.)
In honour of the Queen somebody has produced
a Platinum Jubilee Musical Rotating Biscuit Tin.
Through the summer of ’77 I wore my Abolish The Monarchy badge.
Virginia sits by the river one last time, smoking a bog oak pipe.
Find a list of people who smoked pipes.
Briar, ceramic, corn cob, meerschaum. Take your pick.
Sometimes you just get images and sounds and
meaning is impossible to find or understand.
Yes, you said, but never explain a piece of writing,
let it explain itself.

Remember, it was the night we saw America.
I stayed at yours and crept away at first light.
You were afraid of being thrown out.
The next time, I hitched home through the night.

Make music that will clear the bad energy from your body, says the monk.
From here to way back then, from here to way out there,
may they discover you, may you discover them
, says the monk.
People do their best to clear away rubble.
New rivers form, impossible to cross.
I am afraid of water.
I see confessional poetry’s in again, says
the sneering little barrel-chested man in a tie-dye tee-shirt.
I walk away, think of how
in the seventeenth century English sailors were given a gallon of beer a day.

I dreamt last night of the first stirring of the first cell
on the bed of an empty sea.
On the TV gulls circle a temple on a cliff
beneath which boats of war come again.

From the top of the lighthouse you can see
a shimmering of submarines, the shape of warships in the mist.
They boast they can create a tsunami so big
it could swallow this island.
I imagine it spitting out chunks of East Anglia, the Black Country, Snowdonia
as it slows into idleness across the Atlantic.
The whole of the south floating south
away past the Bay of Biscay.
On the shore people gather to watch.

Those who build empires say they don’t want to build empires.
Those who build empires say they want to save the world.
Those who build empires say they want only to defend themselves.
I think of the quiet girl I loved so much.
Remember, it was the time you said I don’t kiss anyone I don’t love,
and then I thought you’d just changed your mind.
In the moonlight through the open window I watched your bare shoulder,
your face as you slept, your arm across the sheet.
And in the morning someone brought us mugs of tea
and said You two look like an old married couple.
And someone put a record on, that one by Crosby, Stills and Nash
that begins Our house is a very, very, very fine house.
They say the last thing that leaves you is the music.
I keep my dying to myself.
The excitement of moving on, of losing touch.
The sorrow of loss, of drifting away.
At the open-air concert for peace, young people
wade and splash in an ancient fountain.
The singer talks of beginning again at the end,
of ending with the first song.
Thank you for coming… and to start the evening off… thanks again to all the volunteers… please do come and say hello after the show…

He slows the last verse to let the audience know the song is ending.

The girl is thinner, lets the water of the river drift through her tiny hands.
What can I tell you that you don’t already know?
There are explosions somewhere close.
The girl looks up at her mother.
Aristotle tends his bees somewhere in the future.
People clear away rubble.
Some even make music and dance.
I’m sorry this is not enough.
That old line again:
Give peace a chance.
This poem is for you, about you.




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