A selection of poems from HQ issue 26, by John Andrews, Yannis Goumas, Victoria Field, Michael Longley, Ian Caws and Graham High.
This issue also includes poems by Alan Brownjohn, Francis Attard, Rebecca Lilly, Fiona Owen, John Grillo and Sam Trainor, among others.
Copyright © 2002. Copyright remains with the authors.
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from Twelve Composers
4 John Tavener
Silence is not just the absence of sound;
Light is not just the absence of dark.
Space is not just the absence of form;
Good is not just the absence of evil.
Death is not just the absence of life;
Love is what fills the space in the void.
6 Hildegard of Bingen
From the marriage of prism and light
Came a family of colours.
We know that they are here
When a bridge forms in the sky,
When the sun shines through a stained glass window.
Their voices are like pebbles,
Washed by the rain,
Polished by the sun,
Smoothed by the centuries.
7 Toru Takemitsu
Butterflies in a Japanese garden,
The rain softly falling;
Doves rest on a lacquered screen.
Far away, on the sea shore,
A woman walks barefoot in the dunes.
She finds five shells. Out at sea,
A blue sailboat comes silently home.
Balance of Interest
In the darkness of the wardrobe
hang a pair of jeans, a shirt and a belt.
Nothing much for a social life,
enough for a poem.
Save for my eyes
what other heaven
do paperclips have?
The hospital smell
Follows me into the bus
It sits on my hair
Like a sad ghost
It smells like something
I must have lost
I count my fingers
Belfast, Northern Ireland
At the last restaurant on the road to Pisa airport
The only thing under the pergola to distract me
From gnocchi stuffed with walnuts in porcini sauce
Was a greeny lizard curving her belly like a bowl
So that when she tucked her hind legs behind her
In philosophical fashion and lifted up her hands
As though at prayer or in heated conversazione,
She wouldn’t scorch her elegant fingers or toes
On the baking concrete and would feel the noon
As no more than a hot buckle securing her eggs.
We left the restaurant on the road to Pisa airport
And flew between Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
His lady co-pilot, the captain of our Boeing
Coyly let us know, specialised in smooth landings.
Rustington, West Sussex
In fever, the images inflated
But they shrivel here in the black water.
And lives like wishes get gently floated
Between diesel oil and a hoarse motor.
Defiant letters on the warehouses
Insist on names that felt the times renege
But sent their cargoes to hazy places
And heard stories not mentioned in the log.
They kept fevers and images quiet,
Watched the silent lock water rise and fall,
Stayed working in their offices till late
And felt youth’s certainties start to fail.
Torn Skirt (from ‘Wolf on the Third Floor’)
A drunken evening at your sister’s,
and now, returned, the two of us,
to your home. Outside – a storm –
and I am standing transfixed
by the strangeness of a simple thing –
your Russian sewing machine,
at which you sit, naked up to the waist,
running your hem under the needle’s
downpour, your bare foot at the treadle
lashing the fabric in gusts. And I remember
the thrum of my mother’s Singer
and feel – not at home.
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This page last updated 7th December 2003