Poems of Place: Acela Express

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Boston to New York, November 18th 2015

 

Flopped, fatigued against the grain and route,

We left the dark cold concrete Boston quay

In business class, our train a silver flute

Of gleaming portholes and intricacy.

We passed sad sidings and graffitied trucks,

Framed azured skies, dark edged with orange hue,

And knew this was the day’s defensive crux

When relentless night might again break through.

By creeks and coves and whiteboard harbor homes,

We crawled then spurted to impending shade

And halted briefly where no signal roams,

Saw lights expire and all ambitions fade.

 

At this small junction, did the engine send

Its silent signal of how careers end?

 

The Pages’ Carol

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So what’s the rush?

And what’s the fuss

Compelling us to ride?

And who’s this king

The special thing

Who’s got us starry-eyed?

Starry-eyed

 

So from afar

We’ve trailed this star,

Apparently a sign

Of where we’ll find

A Mastermind,

A gift from the divine

The divine

 

 

Royal Melchior

Can well afford

To celebrate this king…

But why confer

A flask of Myrrh?

The death of everything.

Of everything.

 

 

The reason why

Lies in the sky:

This Star of Bethlehem!

He shines his light

Through darkest night

His death brings life to men

Brings life to men.

An Old World Status Notification

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The social clicks of poke and post or such

Now facilitate the way we keep in touch

And Likes like candles light up the profile pages

To show our great connectedness.

But long before the World Wide Web

Brought new currency to the way

We value social worth,

We wished good friends

The boon of serial returns

And untaxed happiness

To mark their date of birth.

So as more ancient status updates used to say,

Let the returns be many -and happy- of the day!

Poems of Place: At Legal Seafoods

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Boston Harborside, August 26th

For Nize, Dulce, and Jarod

Somewhere in that domain of blue,

Across the sound,

A jet is landing to take me home.

I’ll leave

The flutter of nylon in the wind,

The scent of lemon brine

The smiles of well-heeled WASPs,

The bobbing lobster floats

The happiness of families

Dressed up for summer nights,

The welling anticipation of lovers,

The therapy of women talk,

The baseball caps reversed and telling jokes,

And rich mens’ launches which dart across the bay

Like screensavers to my thoughts,

So now absorbed and lost in all of this,

I leave the mobile-me upon a bench.

Life pauses and then a transformation:

I leave reflection to realization and panic

Silence.

And then with staccato heartbeat

Comes the brittle face of loss,

I glance the time – compute the options.

From nowhere yet apparent,

A thunderbolt command says ring your number

I finger tones, anticipate the rhythmic loop

And fast, a friendly voice speaks in my hand

‘We’ve found your phone….’

Across the room, three faces wave at me….

And soon I’m leaving:

My smile and thanks I’m leaving here with you.

The Transformation (Under the influence of Arthur Guinness)

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At last, on life’s long pub crawl

– Exactly where I don’t recall,

I finally crossed taste’s Rubicon

And left my youth behind

In sweeter shallows of the easy kind.

And at a darker Solstice now did halt

To drink scorched earth, dark rubied malt

Embracing, we are told, the bitter hops of fate

Now surging transubstantiate,

Its tidal foam running back from caramel sands

To fathoms of adult darkness.

And in this first communion, my mission now complete,

Absorbed full realization, that life is bitter sweet.

Manifesto

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For shall the poet starve for words

Whilst shivering in the rain?

And will he drown of silence

By the wetting of this brain?

Or could he turn to pen and air

To make his heart beat fast?

And feed himself on visions

So his thirst is quenched at last

And so I’ll not defend my words

As poets sometimes do.

The words of senses sown,

To the senses are due

 

Walsall (12.VII.75)

Poems of Place: At the National Portrait Gallery with Simon Schama

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 The BP Portrait Awards

You told us to lock eyes,

Get up close and personal;

Be inspired by Hogarth’s words

And if in doubt, swipe right.

But I didn’t expect a face-to-face with Fairfax

Over the Sancerre and sea bass.

But the Roundhead was a better with pike blocks than with banter

And sadly for me he sat impassively

As I munched on burrata and asparagus,

So I talked instead with Karen.

You might have warned us Dr. Schama

That we’d been invited a Game of Thrones theme night dinner

Where House Stuart showed once more how if you win, you lose

And three big names – Strafford, Laud and Charles

Looked down at us with hauteur and as yet their heads,

As we sat below the salt

Contemplating life’s greatest dilemma:

Of being wrong but romantic;

Or being right, but repulsive?

Poems of Place: Sunday in Washington Square

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The alchemy of life’s best demonstrations are found

In sudden switchback whirls to happiness,

As when you stumble upon a random piece of heaven

Around an unsuspected turn.

Today Nature envisioned for us the perfect set:

A sky cerulean pan, unblemished and unwashed;

Big trees with names as challenging –

Black Locust, Cockspur, Hawthorn, Slippery Elm

A man-made Garibaldi pointed the way

Beyond the copper glints of water towers in the lunchtime sun.

The audience gathered and seemed the perfect sample

In gender, age and color,

They cradled dogs, stroked touch screens,

Caressed familiar shoulders, checked the progress of probing ants

Or slept off the late night booze on shaded lawns.

Protected by the hawthorn trees, stood the matt black grand

Its veteran keys flanked by plastic buckets – as yet unfilled with either folded notes or metal.

A third up-turned bucket became the seat for Colin Huggins

Our virtuoso in torn jeans, a pork pie hat and the cheery patter

He introduced us first to Frederic Chopin then to Phillip Glass

He holds us all inside his fingers

And in a moment of sweet modulation

We sit within a circle inside a Square

Held In the perfect balance of infinity.

May 2015

Poems of Place: At Kenilworth Castle

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For Babs

A generous afternoon gave us

Tea and history,

Mystery, romance and war.

We remembered past visits,

Pictured the family line,

Of parents and their children’s children.

The sun returned in splendor after

Hesitant rain,

But the wind blew through wasted staterooms,

And we, high above the court and ditch

Were sentinels of an empty stage,

Waiting to play our part

In rituals of courtly love.

And afterwards, I framed your face in tracery;

You launched a kiss towards me

And became another layer of history

Here, and in miniature somewhere in the cloud.

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Poems of Place:Bryant Park, New York City

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For Alex and Sarah

The slow motion soundtrack of Spring

Is of fervent excavators, insistent sirens, impatient horns

And the clattering treble of a daisy chained kindergarten

On-the-move and cute in red tabards.

Today the advance guard Easter daffodils

Are parading their yellow and green colors

On recovering lawns

Beneath as yet un-resurrected London planes.

In this theater, my seat is in the southern stalls

From where I watch a transitional stage project all this,

But also what has gone before:

Pre-colonial wilderness; retreating bluecoats;

The grieving tears of mourning families in a potter’s field,

The war cries of abolitionists,

The clattering of the elevated ghost train,

Protesting voices for peace and love,

And the sounds of the Midtown zone of No-Go.

Enjoying now the simple comfort of a bistro seat

-Mobile and thus empowering say the philosophers of public space-

I sit cozily inside this waffle-boarded open topped box

Contemplating scarves and sunglasses,

The fine old library, the resting carousel

The stiletto Chrysler, the taller Empire State and above all,

Feeling grateful for the park of William Cullen Bryant.

 

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