Archive for the 'poetry' Category

Poem: Three o’clock

When the train from the city finally stopped
It was three o’clock forever:
Past and future were stolen from me.

Nobody knows my name. I do not know my name.
At there o’clock we dance in the evenings
Once the ice is broken.

At three o’clock I do not eat much
Thinking of those who must carry me
Wandering and working as this world requires.

A broken toy a rag doll
That I had loved as a child
Once bright faced, now crumpled.

By her clothes I knew it was she.
I covered her face and broken eyes
And glanced back only once.

A punch-drunk puppet in pajamas
That dreams with open eyes said,
“I hear wilderness crying in your voice”.

I had not spoken a word.


Written 1987. (Found three months ago in a pile of papers in my Dad’s attic).

This poem was inspired by an article in the Partisan Review by an ex-inmate of the Treblinka extermination camp. In an attempt to preserve the fiction of ‘resettlement’ as long as possible, the Nazis had erected a false train station. In the interest of economy, none of the machinery there actually worked, so the station clock that the victims saw on arrival was permanently fixed at three o’clock.

Much of the poem’s imagery is derived from medieval wilderness poetry, especially the description of the dead in the fourteeth century poem Sir Orfeo, lines 389-408.

Poem: The Ballad of Julie Blue

A poem that I wrote 20 years ago, and forgot about. But it came back to me, walking with the kids in the park today and seeing everything sweltering in this febrile July. Without being specific, it’s about a love affair that is time-limited, which makes it all the more piquant. You both know that promises to meet again won’t happen, because if they do, both of you will have had a world of seperate experiences and can never be together in the same way again. The poem is celebration, carpe diem, lyric and elegy.

(Sharp-eyed readers who know my love of Elizabethan drama will see a stolen line. There’s a free subscription to my RSS feed for the reader who can spot the source. )

The Ballad of Julie Blue

Jan left me cold and April cried
June came when I finished with May
through the signs and the seasons
with her rhymes and her reasons
Julie blew the clouds away

a perfect shadow in a sunshine day.

A month of summerday nights she stayed
blue skies all day each day clear
til the sun in her eyes began to fade
with every daisy chain she made
and she kissed me goodbye like a razor blade
singing I’ll return next year

But tomorrow’s a world away.