I was a small boy;
perhaps I was twelve.
“Me an’ me mates
were over on ‘ayling Island.
Trev – ‘e’s me best mate –
‘e went back to the mainland on the ferry
but I couldn’t go, ‘cos I didn’t ‘ave
enough money. So Trev went over and
said he’d come back for me.”
I stood on the island shore
watching the tide pour through
the narrow channel between the islands
in a churning current.
Watching the figures on the mainland shore
hoping that one of them would come back for me.
I stood there alone, penniless…
…with a strange feeling deep inside me…
of being utterly alone
stranded, in a strange place,
far from home.
I was not afraid
even as the tears
momentarily blurred my vision.
I felt challenged to survive.
With a strange feeling,
an odd sensation deep inside me.
Stranded on an island far from home.
Across the raging water,
just three hundred yards away,
there was my friend.
I did not know
what that strange feeling was
but I called it
Since then I have
felt it again.
At times it creeps back;
when I am faced with
when I have to make important plan
when I end a love affair.
On my island of life
I look across at the world.
I feel alone.
I am far from home.
But the challenge is to survive.
That dispels the blurring of my desolation.
I did get back all right.
I did get home.
But now home is
eighty miles away.
I am an adult.
But I am still alone.
Room with a view
and a gas ring
a hot and cold sink
a hot and cold bed
Bare walls distempered blue
and carpets fitted – more or less.
Heavy lorries roar
in Cromwell Road.
The gas fire hisses
at the coldness of my feet;
drafts carry away
the precious little heat.
I am here.
They are there,
all around me
boxed in little rooms
Roar, roar thou winter lorry;¹
thou art not so unkind
as Georgian architecture.
¹ a play on words from Shakespeare, As You Like It (II, vii)
My mind, 1969
My strange existence:
it is heavy like a rock
it is shallow like a stream
it is clear like a loch
it is false like a dream
From bubbles to butterflies
it changes, like passing clouds,
and winds that blow away
leaving the air to be still
I seek it with searching eyes
I seek it with straining ears
I seek it with with groping fingers
I seek it with quivering heart
quivering with frustration
I reach, at last, the truth:
Alas! The bubble bursts
the butterfly flutters away.
The Wind, 1969
I feel it blowing through my mind,
this wind of evening, warmed by the setting sun,
as light as the fleecy clouds, high in the radiant sky.
I feel this wind: breathing, gentle, ponderous,
softly in my heart, living in sentiments.
It blows faintly through deep bones and organs,
whistling in hot blood, collecting in the clear eye,
whirling around in the darkness of the brain.
My life is a wind of change, eternal transience,
but I, always ineffable, say
“I am I, for ever, come what may.”
Though I may suffer much, I never cry
from the bleeding rack of bloodied time
and unavoidable age. I never cry:
the wind will dry my tears before they fall.
I never cry. But, do I ever laugh?
My inner wind is never calm. From gales,
to fairest whispers, I am beaten down
by the movement of feelings,
emotions, sentiments, stinks and essences
of my life, my destiny, my death.
I never cry? I laugh, only to die, for a time
and I have parted friendless from enemies.
Be brave, for courage is
one’s only untaxed asset.
And tears fall in the drying wind of change.
Poor, sad eyes: dark pools within
the face’s wan virginity.
Dear wind: blow! blow!
My tears are drops of dew
in your desiccating kisses.