Welcome to Gratia
(Gratia: noun – grace, thankfulness, sake, pleasure. Etymology – from gratus, to praise to welcome). Since my last collection “Last Lick” I have returned to my home city of Newcastle. I have chosen Gratia for the title of my latest collection for it’s meaning and more pertinently the word is inscribed on the capstone above the spring at St Mary’s Well in Jesmond close to where I live.
Gratia is my 6th collection of poems, and my 4th specific to this website.. There will be new poems from me, interspersed with some from my favourite poets This is a FREE to READ, FREE to COMMENT website. All comments are welcome and should be posted at the bottom of the page.
Titles: New poetry: Gratia. Skirts. Mirror. West Wind (1). Sand.
Other titles: When You Are Old by W.B. Yeats. West Wind (2) by Mary Oliver.
The longshore drift,
shards of rock and glass and shell.
Whirling, dancing shape shifting:
And in the shifting sands crab like lines of schoolchildren,
full of mad, innocent laughter, anima awakening.
Inquisitive beach detectives levering algae covered rocks,
staring into rocks, net in hand.
Beneath the rocks, beneath the sand,
beneath the waves that lap the land,
love pulls slow, pulls tight, hardly dares to breathe.
rising, rising, like the unknown artist in poverty
emerging from the canvass in joy and delight,
taking lovers with vain promises;
the writer, the dancer, the fisherman’s daughter.
But a vengeful goddess, with a mighty mighty thirst,
is laughing behind your eyes,
and leads you to a sand bank, rippled in regret;
where you write with pointed stick your circles of compromise.
And under the valley, made by her mark,
anima falling, as the dark sky rushes in,
fading fading fading
beyond the blue horizon.
West Wind #1
There is a part of us tempted to leap, take the headlong fall, pile into the sea. While under the rocks, love pulls slow, with certainty, hardly dares to breathe. But uncertainty tugs more vigorously at every passing extravagance. How ticks the world at your impulsive heart as it gathers honey in the dark. That unmistakable pounding, the worldly whispers, and yet in that moment when full of the rush, hold back I say, hold back, hold back, hold back. Question the invisible thread that tugs without witness, listen to the quiet, listen to the madness. Listen to the caution in your soul. Wake up before you wake up with sorrow.
West Wind #2
by Mary Oliver
You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and your heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it.
He can’t change the locks and stop history,
he looks in the mirror, one of several that surround him…
Oh cruel world.
All that pride, all that humility
in his world of snuffed out ghosts.
Vanish forever, or reflect, the way one looks at distant things.
The mirror feeds him tall tales:
Can the dream monster be slain?
Gliding its way through the soft underbelly of his sleeping house,
a veil that obscures truth.
Can he be tempted by an alluring smile?
She spoke in sentences of six and seven
and charmed the artist to his knees.
Though that story was never proven.
With the camera’s packed away and a full stop in place,
he is alone with his dry mouth, toying with chance;
“why can’t old men be happy and crazy
and learn to know the dancer not the dance”
A day spent drinking the salt breath of the sea,
Surprise. My long word silence kick starts in my head,
as we toil over the stations wooden bridge.
A crumb of comfort,
if comfort comes in crumbs.
Time may make sense of this, but I doubt it.
A line may take an hour or more,
then labour on the page as if positioned with little thought.
It should have motion, be animate, so with that in mind
we lift up our skirts and run. Sliding doors clack and click,
Our carriage pulls away like a weary child
rattling a fence with an errant stick.
The sunlight crashes through the dirt flecked windows;
an old boy, stripped to the waist,
mumbles and sips beer from a tin.
Lovers sit opposite like opposites attract;
a patient woman with a patient face,
book in hand and summer in her gaze,
smiles behind her pages. An idle trade
in all kinds of weather.
I may be weary hearted but I have words for your ears,
not poetry, not love in the old ways of love.
But we have witnessed the marriage of the sea and the sky,
the last embers of daylight, a hollow moon.
As if on queue thunder from an angry cloud cries,
At last, awaken the ghosts that left their mark.
When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
and nodding by the fire, take down this book,
and slowly read, and dream of the soft look
your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
how many loved your moments of glad grace,
and loved your beauty with love false or true,
but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
and loved the sorrows of your changing face;
and bending down beside the glowing bars,
murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
and paced upon the mountains overhead
and hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
A farewell to the cobbles and the conservatives,
Friday night bipartisanship in The Bay,
adieu to the hard and soft blue lines of the river,
from old Peg Powler’s needled teeth to the willow kiss, farewell.
The manicured rape seed fields, the billowing stacks, farewell.
Rusting men of steel, low lying slack, farewell, farewell.
The shaven headed school boys, unseen wire, a sky on fire;
farewell, farewell, farewell.
A pilgrim’s return: Gese Muth, Jesus Mound.
To St. Mary’s Well, gratia inscribed in reformation stone,
to bathe in homecoming, to praise, to welcome.
To the land of Armstrong, Wittgenstein and Higgs.
Did they dream of guns, and logic and subatomic particles.