City beauty

A sequence of short poems inspired by Claudia McGill’s reflections on geraniums at windows.

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There is joy and beauty

beneath the city grime,

and the blackbird’s song

is just the same

beneath this sky.

*

There is beauty in the stone that glints

with the colours of the changing light,

and in the chaotic fluttering of sparrows’ wings.

There is kindness in the dirty blanket

laid beneath an old dog’s head,

and happiness when a greeting is returned,

a stranger’s uncalculating smile.

*

The earth is deep and dark in the garden plot

where snails creep,

elegant and unhurried,

among the stalks.

The earth is deep and full of life

that shoots and climbs higgledy-piggledy,

without order or patience,

riotous and lush,

because the sun and rain fall here as anywhere.

The earth is,

deep and eternal,

beneath my tread,

and over my head,

the sky.

 

And on a lighter note

 

How grey the sky and damp the air

and loud the screech of tyres complaining.

Beyond the cloud and heavy mist

somewhere there’s sun and it’s not raining.

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Sings the moon

I haven’t done a cleave poem for a long time and thought I was due for a bit of self-inflicted punishment. I’m adding it to the dverse open link night because these poems are so hard to write, and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.

If you don’t know what a cleave poem is, it’s a three in one poem. Each side is a separate poem to be read vertically, one side dark, the other light, opposites. But they can be  read horizontally as a single poem too.

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Loud the city silence                 sings the moon

Breaking glassy fragments      in a sea of darkness

All about                                      the brittle stars blink and listen

I stop my ears                              to the swell tide’s refrain.

Though scraps of anger            ride on peaceful calm,

White or red                                 sails full of dawning

Grow round and full                  like moons on water

Fruiting in the heat                    lily blossoms, reflections

Of a summer night                     in a still forest pool.

 

When the hum of the city

Photo©Robert Natkay

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When the hum of the city enfolds me,

And the shrill, broken laughter pierces

The rumbling yellow-lit doorways,

I wish I were miles away.

When I hear a voice cracked and splintered

Breaking a tune in pieces

And wringing its blood on the doorstep,

I wish I were miles from here.

The light never fades in the city,

The shadows too shallow to hide

The ruins of soft living and dying,

And I wish that the windows were blind.

When the streetlights hang veils in the night sky,

Like hellish moons daubing the dark,

I wish for a falling star’s magic,

A white owl, I’d spread wings and fly.

Autumn afternoon

Photo ©fr::lb:User:Ernmuhl

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Walking through the city, in my hand the keys to the house in the countryside.

Not the big barn door key, an antique almost the length of my forearm but the house door and the veranda door. We need spares cutting.

The air is hot, sky blue, and the key-cutter hums to himself.

Even the traffic lazes along, slow and steady.

I jaywalk across the boulevard, up to the triumphal arch and beyond to the cathedral square, where a mime artist, spray-painted gold, jerks into movement and a guy falls off his bicycle in surprise. The Spanish punks with their sleeping dogs laugh, but on the whole, nobody notices.

Past the town hall and the cobbles, fishscaled and uneven, along the railings of the municipal gardens and the art gallery to the park, resin-scented and dappled with hot sunlight, where two policemen are arguing with a young guy sitting on the back of a bench with his feet on the seat. But nothing is happening, the boy sits and the other policeman watches the girls in the café opposite. Then the older policeman huffs and puffs and they get back on their bicycles. The air is too hot and calm and peaceful to make a fuss.

The shopping mall is a hideous sixties pile, built when there was a lot of money for big projects, but maybe not much of it went the architect’s way because the result looks like a heap of old Daleks and giant leggo blocks stuck with beach pebbles to remind us, I suppose, that somewhere quite close is the ocean. But inside the concrete pebble-dashed bunker, there is quiet, no music and no crowds. I need a frying pan to take to the new house, and some Italian cheese, because shops in the countryside are sparse and Italian cheese will be a luxury. The boy at the checkout is getting everything wrong and the women at the next tills, older and maternal, laugh and help him out. The queue gets longer, but nobody seems in a hurry.

Walking home, the air is hot and lazy and the pines chatter with children going home from school and the shadows are a little longer.

I walk in the golden light falling, down the street that says Cours d’Albret on the nineteenth century enamel plaque, and Cours Messidor engraved in the stone beneath, reminding me that this city was once the seat of revolutionaries, and I wonder if they were as sleepy as we are now.

In the hot autumn light, gold and pine-scented, the city has a friendly, comfortable feel. But the keys jingle jangle in my bag and the song they are singing is of cool stone and trees where orioles warble, shading a stream, and morning light falling through open shutters onto a small piece of terracotta-flagged floor that my feet will tread gently back and forth until I make it my own.

Desert

The Daily Post prompt is: Desert.

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It stretches bleak from side to side,

Dust and arid stone shapes rising,

No heart beats in this dead wasteland.

 

No tender green to break the drabness,

No gentle blue in seas of grey,

It stretches bleak from side to side.

 

I search the skyline for trees waving,

But the wind blows, finding only

Dust and arid stone shapes rising.

 

Neon falsifies the moonlight,

No pulse throbs just engines roaring,

No heart beats in this dead wasteland.