and pay attention to
the eyes, the lips, the tongue.
Here is one approaching a rare wine
for which he waited long.
How different, had he sampled red.
The eyes agree,
When matrons, seeking lost romance,
taught maidens how to speak the language of the fan,
then at the opera, passion flamed offstage,
but in our pleasant-
the gentle folk take pleasures second-
So, when they found their seats in front of mine
and she began to waft her programme sheet
to cool her cheek, myself, though hardly young and green,
was not prepared.
But Oh had they been young, had she been sweet,
and had I learned to read this silent tongue
where fanning quickly means I loved another;
fanning slowly means I married him!
Then urgent, ardent,
you have won my love,
don’t leave me,
yes and me and yes again,
and we are being watched.
but I will come to you
and all the while,
As fever burned me up
This can’t go on!
It did, until the interval.
Discreet, I leaned and touched and fanless said,
‘You have distracted me.’
she cannot hurt me more!
The Second Act ;
but neither she,
nor her demure young friend returned.
(In the Sidney Opera House)
We have a problem.
pâté of seal,
The solo cello is a declaiming instrument. It talks and it discusses, but who is it talking to?
What a day for embarkation, running with a heavy swell,
though, thanks to Sir Ralph the Rover,
going on and on and endless, all for one and one for all,
while the sisters, though benighted, were invited to the ball
and the Prince, in desperation beats his head against the wall
He has walked upon the water looking for the Holy Grail,
but the slightest undulation makes us stagger to the rail
and the lack of concentration at each ill-
is quite unlike the aim of one who loiters with intent.
So, when x or y extend out to the unknown z dimension,
all must then confront necessity, the mother of invention.
We will see, though at the moment
I am feeling quite perplexed by my sensing of direction,
whether this or whether that should be the path we ought to take,
and when all the indications predict uncertain outcomes
to the shaping of events and the strangest turns of fortune
start to make kind of sense to the purpose of this journey.
It is best, and we will see it, when the omens are propitious
and the storms full force is spent.
So come now, let us stop,
let us pull ourselves together
as the weather has improved,
and go down to the hold
to find the book that we have left there,
then relax upon a deck-
now before they close the flood-
They are shut,
we cannot do it!
We have left it far too late!
How many times?
How many times!
Such a mistake.
And the vessel’s endless rocking
till the day begins to break
had much better had been avoided,
Was there something you could take?
It is time to shed illusions, you must tell me how you feel.
Do I hear your stomach rumble?
Have you missed your midday meal?
Let’s partake of light refreshment. If your ardour starts to cool,
they could find some grain and grind it to become a grizzly gruel;
broil a fresh spring chicken in it till the skin disintegrates;
make ethereal concoctions to decorate the plates,
based on coils of salted samphire and a splash of cochineal.
But our figs are glazed with honey
and the night begins to fall
and an ancient aspidistra
casts its shadow on the wall.
Is there something you’re not saying?
Are there things you want to hide?
Do you fear the reef beneath us
that will take us by surprise
when the storm surge has abated
and we cross it at low tide?
Best go down to lend a hand now,
as I know what you are thinking.
Take your stint there at the bilge pumps,
if you fear the ship is sinking.
No, the Prince has found the slipper
and he waves it at the band,
and the Captain sounds the siren
and the ship approaches land.
There is some, perhaps dubious, evidence that Bach’s unaccompanied cello suits could have been the work of more than one person.
and a mortal sin.
of all of those wonderful savours,
and wine, dry and astringent,
to cancel all guilt.
your life is naked before you.
For most of our guests, this
All I remember about her now is her white blouse.
She was always so far away,
on the opposite side of the class.
I stayed with the boys,
my circle of friends
not knowing then
that the circumference is real,
but the diameter
only a concept.
Agrees, extracting arm.
Her life was run with military precision,
which is not to say that nothing was left to chance,
only that no chance was left untested.
She knew the place, the position, of everyone in the room,
their strengths and weakness,
including the men in the picture hanging behind her,
who,at first sight appeared to be a regiment,
but, on closer inspection
"A Highland Gathering"
as she glanced toward them, and turned;
respect mixed with disdain
and a look that said
she had laid low many a Captain in single combat
and would do so again.
She, who never had need to look far for opponents of stature,
could always bring peace on her own terms,
Lips that knew there were two sides to every question
quivered and said, or seemed to say, " I
could have taken them all on."
while the jam became dry,
but, on the other hand this could be so delicious
as to be irresistible.
What can we see if we can not see love,
that soft and rounded blackness fringed with light?
What can we hear if love then holds its tongue?
Only the heartbeat in the dead of night.
Or might we find the sweetly scented birch,
the ash with fresh stripped bark
so moist and white?
Or else red ochre of the heat-
with cracks around each lace-
but eyes that must have seen his love,
and watched it die?
(Tales of love and food)
Wild pigs at the Cape Canaveral launch site.
Photograph by courtesy of NASA
This collection has a theme, but not a thread and most of the poems in it were pre-