Monday, 10 December 2007

Mr. Barker's Book of Songs

Sometimes you could feel those toothless gears slip
as he embarked on his Thought Processes
(with the long E);
While he rode high on dust devils
I'd observe the proceedings,
waiting to be the audience
for his grand re-entry.
Then he'd expound a new theory of butterflies
or clockwork marbles
and it would be my place to smile and nod as needed...
He lived in cracked prisms
but unexpectedly,
that fractured beam shone clearer in his way
than all our darkened theatres
of self-proclaimed spotlights.


These eyes are my limitation,
and not for the first do I regret
having chosen microscopes when there are stars in the sky.
We moles know nothing but tunnels,
and though they be marvels
they can't protect us from our disbelief
and fear
when we remember that our fathers knew the Moon
and worshipped her.


Dogs know:
Dogs know, and maybe cats.
They found out long ago that everything
is food and sleep
and mutual grooming on a chilly night.
Dogs know that words mean little,
bodies more;
but given a chance, above all else,
a good nose sees the world.


Don't take your troubles to the water,
for they have clarified the wonders of that muddy home.
Cement rivers, cement rivers,
all tamed and wrapped in conduit;
rivers leashed and strangulated,
obediently vapid, never venturing to dance.
I have seen rivers:
Rivers lined with sharp sedges
like the down on a woman's arm;
changeable and wild as a woman's soul.
I have seen exuberant thunderings of spring:
Rising, tossing bridges like old stockings,
straining at the corsets until they're undermined;
washing everything at last in true release
cleansed of restrictions
and ready to travel in new channels.


It saddens that I've seen so many trains in life:
They clatter on blindly to places they've seen before,
screaming out their names to avoid encounters,
only living speed and destination.
What good are unnamed mountains rushing past without a pause?
We understood things when we walked:
Every path just slightly different
every trip an unexpected
every scene the warm familiar
or thrilling unknown
every step an effort
and every face, every being
valued as true companion
on the road.


I've seen that smile, my dear.
I've seen that smile and can only hope
that you who know everything
can smile when knowledge fades.
The world is a teacher of the old school
taking pleasure in the rod,
and its lessons are sore and long...
The words it will give you are beautiful
and if you will hear
it will measure your heart with purest sound
and after all
and everything
you will smile.


This is a weird, weird poem. Weird enough that, even though I know where my head was when I wrote it, I'm not going to tell you anything about the process or the reason or (heaven help us) the meaning.

Yeah, let's just leave it there. Probably best not to poke it with a stick, either.

1 comment:

Sparroweye said...

I was born in the wrong century.
Cats don't know. They just channel
things. I have no idea what this poem means but it is definitely Deeol. I love it. I have written nothing with more than one or two syllables lately. I think maybe it is early dementia. I hope not.

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