On the other side of the river,
She sees me, smiles and waves.
She cups her hands.
Standing on this side, I wave too, smiling back.
Though I can’t make out her face,
I know her. I know I know her.
Somebody once very close.
‘Selma is that you?’
Approaching me she becomes the water between life and death
But I can’t be sure who
Or which of us is alive.
‘Selma is that you? Just give me your hand
No you won’t fall
You’re safe and now
the other one
Hold on tight with both hands
The camps have long gone, the soldiers have left
Fear is but the shadow of the past
Far shall we go and high
and nothing will pull us apart
Clear skies and hills overlooking the sea await us
And my guide took me by the hand
and led me
into a darkness that was not a darkness and
into a silence that was not a silence
And paused and said in a voice as quiet as running water
‘You have come from a country where truth
is so trammelled up in clever
that only opacity is praised and prized
by the blind
And faithless fools
But if you will listen and open up
I shall teach you about truth transparent and pure
as the wind and as impossible to pin down as light.
I listened and was kissed by the light.
Sylvia, I knew your Daddy, the bastard that lives in me
Neglecting each tear that rolled down your face
Feeling cheated by his coldness, he’s gone from your life,
Though lingering like the dead insect against your windscreen
in the December rain,
Like you I dream at night that I am old before my time
Being pulled towards my grave
I take one last breath and die.
Young woman’s story
brings on tears, dissimilar
yet familiar to mine
You still haunt me, as you did then,
As we wind back the clock,
Feeding the birds,
Talking to pigeons
Disregarding notions of emptiness
Love is insistent as logic, reliable as heartbeat
Obsessive as any anorak spotting train
On a cold Thursday morning,
Yet bound by your voice
That echoes an eternity.
I guessed you’d pick up echoes –
No one else could hear
This ground-bass to mourning
This hum below the surface where the angels play.
And above the swirling stars lights our beginnings,
We were hooked then,
And in the beginning,
The calendar reminds me
of the years, days, seconds
all this while
listening to my own uncertainties,
fading jangling hypnotic
lifting the other channel, if I may
on your sonorous voice
breathing mystery into the depth
that had no belonging
before I belonged to you
Refugees to humanity
Resilience and hope
Broken promises becomes
Another shade of grey
Soulless birds sing
Another kind of torture
No visible scars
Or proof of the infliction
As compassion is
Left on barbed wire
For Aylan Kudri
He dreamed of a warm bed, each night the pads of feet were soft on the walk up to bed
a fresh pillow that quilted his head for each new dream, that infinitely evolved in his mind
He dreamed of the arms that would cover him when sinking into a lullaby, his eyes closed
his mother’s hands closed his ears from the deafening waves that pounded the boat.
He dreamed of things that fell in the night rattled around in his head, catching memories
playing under street lamps, following the pigeons cooing under a Damascus moon
He dreamed of a new home, a place to breathe far from the tides of injustice that swept him
the sorrow that fill him, the hunger that brought him, to these unforgiving shores.