Poems

By Beryl Stockman

    

Pathways


Pierce the situation even deeper,
Push back surrounding fronds and branches,
Do not rest until you have seen it all,
Found a place to sit at the heart of things.
Your rock is there and your pool of water,
Look carefully and do not be afraid
Of your own reflection mirrored in it,
Stay there for a while but then walk away,
Pursue your own paths as they appear to you,
And do not consent to be turned aside.





  

January


The wind cuts sharply last night snow fell,

Now branches bare dark bones to a frozen sun,


Seagulls perch and fly above the line of the rooftop,

Changing places in an endless dance,


White clouds drift slowly past clinging to the window pane, 

All light seems distant, all life unreal,

There's no warmth to break this icy spell.




  

Pylons


The sky is like a drive-in dream,

Pylons laced together against a watery sun,

And every angle, every corner turned,

Brings scribbled clouds washed in aethereal light,

White wool formations above a frozen land.





Weather


It was supposed to rain today,

Instead it was cold,

Sunny at first with white clouds,

Then stubbornly grey.


No rain fell,

Clouds stayed suspended, life seemed suspended,

It was neither winter nor spring. 




  

Awakening


The pot outside my door is full of flowers,

The sun gets warm and stronger every day,

The sky is brighter now and night falls slower,


Even harsh winds grey skies hail and showers,

Are easier to bear when you can see

The pot outside your door is full of flowers,


And startling bird songs fill the daylight hours,

You know that better days are on their way,

The sky is brighter now and night falls slower,


The trees have put out buds you can be sure,

That winter’s gone and spring is here to stay,

The pot outside my door is full of flowers,

The sky is brighter now and night falls slower.




  

Skylines


Sky screen above the sweep of the flyover,

Near-silhouettes and darkening blue,


I drive the city in search of skylines,

And never knew until know.




  

Evening


Evening, the air is hung with honey,

With moistness that clings and enfolds,

Soft sounds ruffle the silence,

A single star pierces the crepuscular gloom,


Stillness surrounds the world outside the gate,

Warmth and darkness descend, 


And resting in gentle reverie I brush the day aside,

Like a silk thread spun across the porch.





  

Surface to Air


Slide through crystal water

Slow torpedo,

Surface and roll,

Sink in sun salt

And cool droplets,

Lie and drift skywards,

Think only of oceans.




  

Summer Passes


It's still summer the August sun pours down,

No breeze to relieve the sizzling heat or cool the scorching stones.

The sea sparkles, alive with sails,

Smug hotel facades rise above the promenade, white and dazzling, 

Seagulls swoop and glide on sinewy wings, 

Outlined sharply against a blue sky, harsh cries circling the air.

The only clouds are lazy wisps of cirrus.


The beach is crowded, people doze,

Soaking up warmth and sun.

But the sun is lower than a week ago, it sets sooner,

And it's time to draw the blinds,

Regret the long light evenings and think of autumn days to come.


September can be sweet, although it's a time of winding down,

Of waiting for flowers to die, for trees to shed their leaves,

For that first sharp pre-winter chill,

For rain to fall and wash the soiled pebbles,

Clear away the grit and grime,

Filling the air with its sharp wet smell.


The shadow lies ahead, 

It won't be long before cold winds wind through deserted streets,

And thoughts of summer are tossed aside.




  

Changes


Moist gusts of wind send summer spinning,

Leaves fall fast,

The day is grey, fine rain spits softly,

It's almost dark by six,

The street is lined with silhouettes of trees.


Lights come on and shades are drawn,

Time to draw inwards, retreat from the changing season

Light a fire, cling to shadows and inner things.






    

Consolation


Summer’s turned to mist and grey,

And velvet flames of autumn flowers

Flicker in my mind’s eye.


I listen to soothing needles of rain 

on the glass,

And think of the time

When a real fire will burn in the grate,

And I’ll curl up and wait for spring.






  

                           Landscape



                   trees stripped of leaves


          colours close to those of clouds


                         turn inwards


                see walls and statues


             structures summer hides


                      under green


                  under open skies


                 centuries laid bare





  

Maze


Every year grey streets return and grey tones on brown,

Damp seeps through to everything,

And someone sits in a doorway forbidden to go in.


Within recent memory there was wind that scattered leaves,

There was colour, now most of it is gone.


Still someone sits in a doorway,

And may not cross the boundary between cold outside and warmth within.


In places icy draughts are funnelled,

Corners capture them tall buildings draw them in.


You can escape through pockets of brightness,

In this wilderness somewhere there is the colour of fire.

Fragments of mosaic, patchwork, bright paper.


And cold that is deliberate like ice in a glass.


Here is merely an icy street,

Bricks, paving, bare railings, grey rooftops, concrete and grime.


Leafless trees and cast out items, 


Nothing that speaks of home except a discarded mattress,

And someone who sits in a doorway and is forbidden to go in.






  

Invitation


Today is bright,

It feels like the coldest day so far,

I’ve lit a fire,

Stretch out your hands, feel free to share it.







  

Christmas Card


Christmas again so what shall I say and how shall I say it?

Well here’s a sweet metric teaser to round off the old year,

A bit like last year’s, different though, so what can it be now?

Scan it and you’ll see, look at it closely, see how it’s moving

quietly, contours dissolving, close your eyes now open them again,

I’ve drawn this space, perfectly square, so fill it with holly,

snowflakes whatever you please, tinsel, glitter or robins,

trees with bright lights, music or bells, frost, icicles, brandy,

candles, lanterns, stockings and reindeer, chimneys and sleigh-bells,

flickering firelight, reflections and shadows, cards in the window,

greetings and laughter, sealed softly, tied with red ribbon from me.





    

Diary continued…


By treating each line like a piece of conversation,

To be listened to and slotted into place,

I hope these lines will end up balanced,

Even though there’s no set metre,

And that rhythms will emerge slowly and unforced.

(That’s the idea anyway).

I’d hate the slightest thing to jar our meeting,

It’s twilight and the mood is soft.

Italians call this time “l’imbrunire”, “the browning”,

The immediacy is strong, it pulls you in,

You become a figure in the darkening landscape,

Caught in stillness. 

Our words for this time of day have a different feel,

The effect is gentler, 

I’ll use them now to complete the conversation,

“Twilight”, “dusk” , “nightfall”, “crepuscule” (“crepuscolo” in Italian),

(Can you think of any more?)

They’re so steeped in tiredness, they make me want to rest,

I’ll close my eyes and sleep.

But don’t go away, I’ll see you in the next conversation…




  

Small Town Tune


There’s a solitary trumpeter 


on the corner of the street,


He spills out evening,


The melancholy notes billow.


Slowly they steal through the town 


and envelop the rooftops.


He is small and ragged,


He is oblivious to clouds and rain,


Should I drop a coin at his feet?




  

Gales


Caught in a gale

gates bang 

leaves fly

To a tap tap of heels


Trees bend

Currents curve 

and sigh 


Blown to the corner

pinned and tossed 

pitted

against a moaning wall


Caught in a gale 

gates bang 

leaves fly

To a tap tap of heels


Trees bend

and currents curve

and sigh





  

That Time


It will be when morning light is too strong

And cuts shapes into glass and brick façades,

Leaves nothing but unreal shades of night,

Dispels dreams, softness and restful thoughts,

It will be a time when early shafts of light

Have lost their charm with changing seasons,

So the sun shines down cold and demanding,

Forms sharp contrasts against the rooftops,

Picks out slabs and railings in the street.


It will be time to dance with darkness,

Then draw away into the mist and smoke,

Surround all shapes with protective shadows,

That would seem like so much grey and grime

If the place and time of year were different,

If your mood were lighter or less weighed down,

If your dreams were not buried under stone.





  

Map


The map meanders,

Red routes and green arteries pulsate,

You glide by fields under streamlined bridges, 

Past watery mirrors while soft slipstreams pull.


See dotted street-lights as darkness falls,

Shapes loom one by one, the concrete ribbon unfolds,

Slowly the map draws you into its urban scrawl.

  



  

  

Darkness


In your dreams you scream and shout,

In vain there’s no-one else about,

Above you something closes in,

You panic how you feel it pin

you to the ground you must get out,

You run but find your legs without 

the strength, if you could just sprout

eagle’s wings, no you’re well hemmed in

In your dreams.


Your eyes are blank your teeth fall out,

You’re trapped by fire the walls spout

slime, monsters writhe and devils grin,

Until you wake up in a spin,

Still gripped by all the fear and doubts

In your dreams.




  

Fireside

The cat sat on the fireside mat,

It stretched its paws out to the flame,

The dog came in and thought that it

Would rather like to do the same,


It stretched its paws out to the flame,

The cat looked daggers and it spat,

The dog said shame upon you shame,

There’s room for two so don’t do that.


The cat looked daggers and it spat,

The dog said you’re the one to blame,

Go out and catch a mouse or rat,

I earn my food you do the same.


The dog said you’re the one to blame,

I guard the house and more than that

I have my rights so what’s your game?

Move over let me on the mat!


Move over let me on the mat,

The dog said, you’re the one to blame,

The cat looked daggers and it spat,

The dog said shame upon you shame.





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