Timeline

As timelines go, the last few months have been pretty shocking for me. In August my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, and a month later my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and has since been stuck in hospital, as well as having poor mobility to start with. No wonder then that I have neglected my poetry site, and indeed the only poem I have written was the one I read at my Dad’s funeral, which I may or may not post here in future, as it was largely a personal piece. There have been emotions aplenty, but little tranquility in which to allow those emotions to distill into thoughtful and considered language. It comes to us all, and we know it, but when sad events strike they still come nonetheless as a shock to the system.

In any case, I thought it was time to post a poem, and in some ways it is quite appropriate that I should “dig out” one I was toying with this spring, while out walking. I had originally envisaged it as part of a larger piece, and am not even sure if it is finished (like most of my poems!) – but I think it deserves a place here, being as it is a warning, I think, that now is all we can be sure of, and to savour the now, for living for the past or the future can be a dangerous habit when we never know where we might meet our end on the timeline…

Timeline

Shatter of stumps on the green, thwock of a golf ball,
A girl playful in her own solitary world, a coated horse,
Fields thick with insects, fading doppler of a plane, all
Stir my awareness of this moment in the timeline.

It is our moment, from breath to breath and smile to smile
And kiss to kiss, drinking deep of melting time
As seconds pass and those unaware
Are marked by knowing strangers.

Footsteps carry my senses through conundrums
Of thought as I observe each moment in the timeline
We share, each humming conversation and explosion
And the drone of flies, of cars, of fleeting sights

As swans dip and geese parade. What human
Thoughts are left in the dark as sleep comes to all
Except for the still watcher counting the precious
Moments, knowing that now, this moment

Is the only forever we can know.

Couple in Betws-y-Coed

Regular readers of the Poetry of Rob Radcliffe will be aware of my fondness for Wales – and recently I have been exploring again, this time managing to scale Snowdon (well, at least on the train as far as Clogwyn!), find Dolbadarn Castle in Llanberis, and also spend two days in Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. The second day was a damp squib where I ended up trying to find Swallow Falls with a bag full of expensive camera equipment, and instead ended up walking through a constant waterfall of rain! However the Thursday spent there was a lovely day, and I managed a great walk into the middle of nowhere with plenty of sheep! Upon my return to the village, it was an idyllic midsummer’s evening with birdsong, and that was where I discovered the Pont-y-Pair, or bridge of the cauldron, and the foaming, rushing water of the river Llugwy that passes beneath it. As I walked across the bridge – well, this poem gives a snapshot of the experience, which as well as being about “romantic” love, also encompasses the Buddhist ideas of mudita (sympathetic joy, rejoicing in the happiness of others) and metta (goodwill to others).

Couple in Betws-y-Coed

Where Llugwy churns under Pont-y-Pair
And the river’s cauldron bubbles through this
Prayer house in the woods, as I crossed the bridge
A kissing couple stopped me in my tracks
And asked if I would photograph the two of them.
So I framed their love in the viewfinder
And froze a moment of them cuddled on the stone,
Waterfall boiling like laughter and love behind them.
I walked on, and turned to see them staring
Eye to eye with hands held tight.
Where Llugwy churns under Pont-y-Pair
We waved – I shared their joy – I wish them well.

river LLugy in betws-y-coed, pont-y-pair wales

The Strangers

I have some poems up my sleeve, for now here is one about finding one lonely person amid a crowd of strangers – and how simply listening to them, acknowledging them, made them open up with their pain, their issues – and how a sense of connectedness arose despite wildy differing circumstances from my own.

The Strangers

The strangers passed her one by one
as she asked for directions
and I stopped to stare at my own tears
in her booze bleared eyes as she explained:
“just the one drink after work,
Just this one last drink”.

In a minute her lifestory unfolded -
married, with a son, a full time job
and the alcohol, the alcohol,
the hurt, the suffering it caused her
“But it hits the spot” she said,
blinking my strangerness away.

She left for her one last drink,
went to undo the demons for an hour
as i walked into sunshine and strangers,
eyes sparkling with suffering,
and no distance left between our breath
or our beating hearts, no distance at all.

Cosmic Love Poem

Well, I’ve been busy lately bustling about, doing lots of new things, and the writing seems to have taken a backseat. Either that or the words won’t come in the right place at the right time, and even then rarely in the right order. Still, I’m experiencing lots of stuff so I suppose those words are gestating and will come when they’re good and ready.

I did write this last month, it’s based on my curiosity about life elsewhere in the universe (and there must be, seems like an awful waste of space otherwise :) ) I’m also intrigued by the fact that we all came from this single point in space and time, so cannot really be all that separate – and even the other side of the universe was once right here. We often think of ourselves as separate from the rest of space time, but I feel we’re actually an integral part of it as the system seeks to achieve higher and higher levels of consciousness. There are particles which share properties, and even if they were a million light years apart, one particle will affect the other instantly, defying the laws of physics. Who knows, maybe one day that mechanism will be used to send a message in a bottle. I hope we hear back – and soon :) Anyway, enough of scientific wafflings :) I’m not even sure if this poem is finished – ah well, one day I can revise it…

Cosmic love poem

These words are formed of stardust,
Sift the atoms you will find the signature
Of a shattered star, some cobweb in the sky
We sprang from, faint yet still revolving.

Night’s planetarium opens its illusion show,
Planes and satellites glide through networks
Of stars, galaxies dwarfed by distance
Nestle on the ends of branches.

Why were we cast so far from anything
That a message in a bottle at the speed of light
Would never reach its cosmic shore
In the lifetime of the sender’s species?

The sky is silent while machines click and beep
To track the static and the footprints
Of our making that our eyes can’t see
As we trace the fragments of the cosmos.

So many stars, there must be others looking
Back, maybe there are others who know
Of love or who have come to this conclusion:
Love is the universe as it seeks to know itself.

Metaphor

Things have been, and continue to be busy lately and it’s been a fallow time for my writing, but I have written some, and spring is often a productive time for me. I will post this brief poem for now, it is quite self-explanatory and rather simple, kind of an epilogue of Zen Love Poem…

Metaphor

The fire burns and I paint snowflakes
Into the picture for her, white flames
In her twists of hair, smouldering in auburn.
Something wrong with the canvas or brush
Or my artistry leaves her eyes empty
And her skin stroked cold. I finish
With something Rubenesque, yet Dali-ish,
Staring at a palimpsest of all she never was,
And all the things we might have been.

West Beach Sunset

A short poem to kick off my 2007 poetry postings – a little late, as January is almost over! How the time does fly! Anyway, this short poem was inspired on my last trip to Llandudno (and I am hoping for brighter nights and slightly better weather so I can start my journeyings again soon). The poem is about a sunset I saw on the West shore – was quite spectacular and beautiful, and I watched the cars lined up as people sat there watching the sunset – and although I will never know them in person, I felt a remarkable bond with the people and all the other sentient creatures sprawled across that beach. I got the line “star stuff” from Carl Sagan, who inspired me when I was a kid to be interested in the Cosmos through his TV series, and now I recall, the first episode of that series was actually called “The shores of the cosmic ocean”. It’s very easy to forget that we live in a vast universe, and that the atoms we’re made of were actually forged in the early supernovae of ancient galaxies :)

west beach llandudno sunset poetry

West Beach Sunset

Lava from a distant eruption of sunset,
Light flows along flats of burning water
To my wandering feet. These elements
Have been, and are, and will be my being
As I take my form with these curious others
On this beach where we sprang from star stuff.

Gulls scratch cuneiform meanings on a coin
Of sun as it drops to let darkness
Cool and solidify among rocks.
Then gone, its photons linger until
Galaxies spiral like seashells
And we, their offspring, burn and are bright.