We met on the Greek island of Kythera ( pictured above) in June 2000, and returned, for the first time in 14 years, this June. It was magical when we met, and it (all) still is. On the same trip we met Hera, but that’s another story, maybe another poem. But for now, this is for Helen, who has my heart.
How did two decades
All but a year,
Filio laughed and hugged us, even cried,
The bamboo drifted in the soft breezed warmth
You and I, beside.
The taverna table laid up for two
Where once I waited
And the taxi ( thankfully)
never arrived, instead,
There was you.
As the wild thyme keened the air,
The kestrel plummeted
Geese hissed in a dust bowled olive grove
and the first cicadas of the summer began to drum.
Bees, drunk hummed on myrtle sipped nectar
The blue and yellow collided
Over Kapsali mountainside.
Near Mitata, the church tower split, stricken,
We walked a new path
Crunched ancient shells underfoot
Stressed from the strains of bygone volcanoes
Tiny flowers grasped life from thin soil
A goat danced, windwarded.
How graceful you were
As we spanned the unknown
Having walked the Englishman’s Bridge
Revisited a love story
On the island where love erupted,
Bloomed, prospered, sun soaked
No longer alone.
We wrapped it tight,
Made it home.
Now, needs must
That I guard the treasure.
At Strumble Head
A half hour stolen from the day, so
I came to Strumble Head.
The sea, blue grey rolling hillocks.
An oyster catchers cry splitting the bay.
Foxgloves, daisies, sky blue candy tufts,
and a cormorant, jet streaming the billows.
The intermittent mirrored wink of the lighthouse
gleaming, sun streaming.
Always, the inner gasp as a breaking wave
behoves a porpoise – or impossibly not.
Simply in my dolphin dreams?
Ever, the reverberating of the gulls,
persistent squalls, mews, occasional screams.
Outside this bubble, a world becalmed
The noise, the mighty chaos and upheaval,
and the smaller fuss, went on.
In Germany, a man, armed
Took a fatal spree, a cinema shooting run.
A composer died, aged one hundred.
Refugees lay, exposed in 50 degrees of heat,
unhindered by aid, a blanket between seven,
no tents, no water, no food.
As the waves primped and plumed,
how it is that,
across this planet of ours
the odds remained:
As people on our islands voted
Again, again, again…
My mind was tumbling, Strumble bound
To past walks with you, picnics and dogs.
A curious seal, whiskered and severe
Head bobbed brightly in a cove we know.
The coast path meandered, stumbled.
Lost, then found.
Then, returned to my small reality,
albeit cage dragged and reluctantly.
My heart and soul ablaze, it’s true.
For Strumble, Penrallt and so much else besides.
this sea bound, cliff scaped endless beauty.
The odds are stacked,
my card marked…
From, my ever treasured you.
This poem was written on the day of the UK Referendum (aka Independence Day – ha, the irony!) I shall continue to seek refuge in the beauty of landscape, environment and the unconquerable nature of Nature itself. And, am grateful to all – most especially HB, for this was written expressly for you – who have spoiled me with love and affection.
I am indeed, a most fortunate man.
I see you, in my mind’s eye,
as the rail skimming miles slide by.
You are peeling apples
in our kitchen,
two ageing, worsted cook books,
flour dusted, unflustered
by your side.
Chunking, slicing, chutney dicing.
Slooshing, whooshing, liquid reducing.
And that, which cannot be denied?
You’re the jam, the jelly roll, adoration preserved.
The unadulterated, unreserved,
honeyed, sugar coated,
The core – I’m sure,
and yet, by me : surely undeserved?
The bowl of cherries and more.
The moon, a fat yellow cheese,
gobbles the duskling skyline above Morfa Head.
Later, silver tongued and stealthy
it lights the path for a night time wander
as three dogs and I
ghost along the lanes
badgered, foxed, rabbit worn, and,
turning for home and the deep bliss of the warm bed,
far out on the horizon
a ships light splits sea from sky
and hangs, suspended and watchful.
grey rocks grinned upon the hillsides
scarring the mountain, snow bleached and soft pillowed.
Today, we walked below Carningli
warmed by thin winter sun
though the wind, when able,
did not hesitate to cut a cruel song,
the grass frost blasted and resentful.
A horse nickered,
dogs cavorted and capered,
occasionally raising a sceptical ear to the distant cries of long lost cousins.
Jet planes droned above
buzzing the sea shadowed sky.
Across the valley,
a ragged stone wall crooked a finger,
“walk on, follow me”.
The hills, plumped and greened,
sun plumed, farm groomed,
sweet air steamed,
all, carelessly platformed
snapshot and scattered
ship shaped and sand blasted,
to my mind’s eye.
Dedicated to Jules and Bea (Beazley) for their wedding, 6th December, 2014. May all your wishes come true.
How I wish
You were with me now,
On this west bound train.
Your head nestled on my scarf shrouded shoulder,
As hills, estuary and city-scapes slide by.
Seeing occasional bouldered tops, and
Winter scarred fields, with
Cows and sheep reddened in December, shadow sharpened sunlight.
The train roars by, and
Crows scatter, shocked but unruffled.
And the tinnyness of maddening music
Moleing in someone’s headphones
Is suddenly stifled.
How I wish I was with you
In Oxford Circus sunshine.
Salvation Army songed,
Peacock motif light strung
And subdued Swiss shopped.
Walking wok wards
Or sipping our piping hot coffee
In the Photographers Gallery.
After viewing wind chilled,
Snowbound and desolate Finnished landscapes.
The portraiture of Martina Lindqvist,
Startling and sublime;
Living and loving, on
best borrowed, London time.
How I wish I was with you in an Uber car,
Being teased and cosseted all in one go.
The South Circular,
Wedding party bound and perilous slow.
The paper lights
Small globes in a sun boundaried marquee.
The confetti, floating ghost petalled toward the uneven floor.
The rusted statues gaping at a glitter of guests,
Speeches, stumbles, extracts and jests,
Celebrating this days marriage –
And other such states of union.
Past, present, the family bond,
Wherein New Zealand Eritrea, South Africa
Wales and well beyond,
Played their part,
In sumptuously stated affairs of the heart.
I’m here, and the glass raised is in genuine spirit, but
In my mind I’m on a Lizard Mountain
Canadian roof topped once more.
My word is forged, feather breathed,
To cherish, to adore.
How I wish I could be with you,
Italy is – or, Carpe (enjoy) Capena – a poem reflecting our recent holiday in Capena,near Rome (www.casacapena.com) Helen researched for her upcoming WW2 novel and I, well I tried to capture the spirit of the visit, including the huge contrast of ancient and modern. Hope you like it.Posted: April 15, 2013
Sunlight slicing the morning apartment
Gracing the piazza too,
Streaming over the crimson and cream banners.
Caressing cappuccino coffee cups,
And lighting the way for the young baristas to be
Who are hawking cups of rosemary water,
Whilst bric a brac trembles in the spring wind.
It’s Antonella’s pasta with fennel
And basking in her salted, amber glowing cellar,
Graced by Roberto’s gentle, courteous conversation
It’s Crodino, Americano, cat motifs, cornettos,
And Enrica’s charming welcome.
It is you and I dozing alongside the Tiber
As it flows greenly by,
A chestnut cob rolling in a dust bath
Amidst the sylvan spring countryside.
Smoke whisping through the olive groves,
And a farmer raking fresh mown grass.
It is forcing ourselves up vertical cobbled streets.
Sipping lemon soda on a tiny terrace.
Being amazed at the crazed musings and meandering
Of medieval planning.
A Moroccan lamp catching the sunlight
Above a dusty wood bandaged and padlocked door.
Madonnas and St Francis sitting serenely in relief
Above ancient archways.
And it is pistachios purchased in the lee of history.
Italy is lakes and splendour
Fettuccine and ravioli consumed
High above the water,
Local white wine honeyed and soft.
The Italian Airforce museum, and
Planes hurled aloft.
It is gambling with hectic traffic in Tivoli.
The mossed water delights of the Villa d’Este,
Intense, green chiselled pleasure gardens.
A bride, beside the Cypress pencilled skyline.
Wild cyclamen, purple flag irises,
Gargoyles, monumental architecture,
Dwarfing statues and confusing the gods.
It is Hadrian’s Villa
The insistent clamour of modernity,
The silenced weight of the ages,
Muffling the shadow stained ruins.
Pierced by the delight of children, untroubled by time,
Yet to become their own slight slice of history.
The might of erstwhile empire
Captured by omnipresent electronic aids.
A terrapin floating serenely in the great pool
No carping about the past there.
Italy is an ice cream diet.
Being woken by words at 5 in the morning,
Grappa fuelled brain stumbling.
An early evening promenade,
A carousel in the park,
Evening’s silky silence, punctuated by footballing children
The gossip and smoke of their elders.
The riot of oranges, artichokes, tomatoes
Pastries, flatbreads, pizza slices and olives.
Wine stained plastic bottles
Peroni filled shelves.
Hustling bustling restaurants,
And a woman gently selling Chinese novelties.
The curling call of the hoopoe,
Pining in Farnese woodland.
The sonorous symphony of church bells,
And the threading road
That laces up to the Palazzo Farnese,
Cluttered and steeped with mourners,
Gathered, sombre coated and 10 rows thick
Though not for that, once great family,
Who left us frescoes and blue gold maps of the world –
The impressions of exploration –
The vulgarity of GPS yet to be discovered.
It’s you in new Ray Bans,
Gracing my movie,
As only you know how,
La Dolce Vita.
It’s life, vigour, the weight of history
For this one week
It’s the street where we live
Pot planted and balconied,
Lamplit and almond blossomed,
Monastic, mosaiced and modern.
It’s the joy of today,
Of spring and of sunshine
Balanced, cushioned and unclouded.
Italy is – a holiday.
Find out more about the wonderful novels of Helen Carey – http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk