'Artists are gnostics, and practise what the priests think is long forgotten.' - Hugo Ball

poems


Over the hill runs the Horse,
above the hill rides the Moon,
silvered with the forgotten fire - 
the dappled Horse and the Moon
- SW

If you've got this far you can't have failed to notice from my paintings that I love words as much as pictures. Sometimes I add snatches of poems or quotes to my work. When I can't find anything appropriately inspiring to add to them from someone else's words, I write my own, so I thought it might be nice to have a page of my poems here.



Last Flower

This bud alone knows its own time,
standing pursed in the overblown field
awaiting the slower bee
and the briefer golden day
when the sun bends lower for its kiss.
Then, finally, that tight fist,
that bunched potential
will open its paper fingers
and hold up its golden mirror,
its florescent yellow heart,
its tiny sun to the Sun.


*****************



Sunny

Sunny under perfect blue,
wine drowsy, our methodical pastimes
leave us free for fragments
of unnecessary conversation,
vagabond words and unfinished sentences
left to fall off the edge of attention.
Unpinned moments randomly drift
like dandelion parachutes,
no push, no pull.
The creeping shadow of the sunshade pole
the only clock we need.


*********************



Stanton Moor

Nine Ladies dancing
the stone dance
can't be seen
moving -
they measure the eons
in one round
for the dead gods alone…
so slowly the soil creeps
down the heather hill
between one step and the next,
so slowly around them
the silver birches shoot up and die
like fireworks.


*********************



Bumble Bee

I want to catch you between careful hands
and feel you humming against my palms.
I’ll stroke your furry body like a cat’s
till purring, you will sheath your sting.
Then I’ll whisper in your tiny ear
the secrets of the golden day,
and you will tell me tales of nectar
from clovery meadows of uncut hay,
and why the lavender holds its sway
over your sweet passions. Then perhaps
we will discuss the Cuckoo Bee’s disguise,
the dumb wasp’s foolish anger when surprised,
the mystic silence of the hoverfly’s wings
and why the grasshopper sings.


*******************



Broken Record

Don't assume because I'm lying here -
no longer perfectly round but interestingly eaten
into a coastline and lost islands -
that my music is over, done,
silenced.

If the sea can play a fugue on sand ripples,
if the wind can get a riff out of dry grass,
if your soul can pull music from the ridges of your thumb,
then I only need the stylus of your imagination.
It's all in the potential.


******************


The Barrow

Hollow barrow,
pushing the sward,
abandoned mother
emptied out,

probed over by thin green fingers,
the knuckles of furry moss,
the lichen slow-bursting
like nebulae;

the stars process,
remembering.

The dark-hungry moon
still mimics the mystery,
the waiting sliver
and then the withering.

Spiral scrawled,
pocked and scried,
potency sucked away.
Who cares?

Who cares.
The moon's a ghost,

the sun dances
through the unguarded gate,
the adder warms his scales
on the stone.


********************



Night

The moon
is knocking on my window
full on,
no sideways smile
slithering behind the night,
no teasing through
a dusky slip of cloud,
but bare and bright
and fey -
drawing the blood tide
to dancing;
to measuring circles,
to conjuring her reincarnation
under the lunar white.


***********************



Ballinskelligs Priory

There has been burying here
for more years than can ever be remembered,
more years than even the stones have seen,
and only the sea-wind knows them now.
Heaped in forgetfulness
the first are deep,
quiet, patient, wiped clean,
whispering such secrets
that the grass bends down to listen.
But new graves crowd together
against the withering dusk
demanding memory
fighting the slow absorption into everything
with granite crosses, glass-green chippings,
with plastic roses snagging at eternity .
A tiny, broken Madonna, white as winding sheets,
as bones, rises through them
too fragile for forever.


*********************



Geranium Petals

This afternoon has
worn as thin as an
October Brimstone's
tattered wing, while
the sun crouches frayed
and low, tangled in
the hedge.

Its golden leaves are shed
like sun-fall on the grass
and across the stones
the last Geranium petals
blow, like wind-drawn
crimson blood, spotting
the dusk-damp path.


**************



Moth

There is a thrumming at my window,
keeping me half awake.
A tiny moth, a slip of silk,
longing for the rising moon,
rages gently against the glass.
A tiny wood shaving of desperation
angrily drumming its lost moments
sipping from the grey ghost flowers
in the cold ice-light.


***************



The Clouds’ Lament

A procession of cauliflowers,
puffs and feathers,
and cotton wool balls,
fringed veils,
old grey beards,
smoke, palls, gauze,
ragged sheets,
herringbones and anvils,
cloth of gold, red wounds,
battle flags, purple bruises
and bloody entrails;
we draw our circles over the world
with heaven on our backs
and all kinds of man-made hell beneath.

If you ask us what we are
we say:
we are made entirely of tears.


****************





Seagulls don’t sing of the land

Though the plough furrows its course,
it does not ride with the wind;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though it makes many waves,
they do not turn the circle;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though there is plenty,
it is not silver-quick;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though the air is clear,
it is not seasoned;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though the land is constant,
it does not worship the moon;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though the earth is wide,
it does not dance the dance;
seagulls don’t sing of the land

and though we cry in the fields,
our souls are sea-wings;
seagulls don’t sing of the land.


****************



Man and Mountain

We have this in common,
though we will rise and fall by the millions
while you mark the slow shaving of a millimetre,
that, formed by a clash, we are
those ripples where two continents weld.
We both know the sudden dangerous clefts,
hidden valleys where there may or may not be
Shangri La,
Gentle, strollable uplands
and peaks so high the cold, protecting snow
exacts the heaviest toll for trespass.
Only the fearless make it.
We share, as we go on,
the clinging mosses
and the bone spotting lichens.
The rounding, softening,
and destroying of crystalline perfection
by little searching roots, the prising ice fingers,
the wind, the wind…
and the warm and terrible sun.
Gradual erosion takes us away, bit by bit,
grain by grain, to the inevitable plains
and the river.


******************



Flint Songs

We hold in in our fingers
and knuckles of flint the sparks
of hearth fires, the axe, the old ceremony
and the quick heart’s arrow.

The Beacon’s dark, the drums are gone,
yet still we rise and beat the earth
with stony fists and say “Remember
when our hearts were full of fire?”


******************




Snail Dreams

We know every forgotten place,
all the damp sanctuaries,
where we can secretly wrap ourselves
in the last threads of the night
and dream our long dreams, safe from
the bright unravelling fingers of the day.
Spiralled tight, we lie motionless
in the curl of perfection
and sleep, how deeply we sleep.


We wait, O we wait
for the cool and sacred dark
when we will uncurl our soft bodies
and slip reborn into the world
(how easily we do this).
Then we will carefully love the earth
inch by inch, every blade, every crumb.
Then we will write our silver poems
and leave them for the sun.


******************



Winter tree

Winter tree,
Leaves thrown free,
Dancing madly
in the breeze.
Party dressed
With a magpie's nest,
And girdled with
An ivy vest,
A purple rag,
A 'Pure Wool' tag,
And topped by a windsocked
Tesco bag.



All photos, paintings and words © Sue Wookey