Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Broadstairs vs. Boulez (And Poems)

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Listening/Reading: Very cool new jazz group Thought-Fox; Just finished the superlative and immersive 'Wolf Hall'.
Hair Day: in need of pep and vim
What I can see from my window no. 18: see last poem below

In the last few weeks I have become a South London water-baby, with just an eyelash-flutter of sun being enough to send me down the hill to Brockwell Lido for a cold swim. It's a highly addictive, heart-thrumping pastime, wonderfully communal (eg wiggling into my dry things in full view of all other swimmers, all manner of bodies out on show, kids running around), and the water, less chlorinated than indoor pools, is a milky thing of wonder. So the hot autumn spell was a perfect excuse to avoid work and douse myself, and even better was the trip to sunny Broadstairs, where we visited Louise and Stone Bays and got some hearty sea-swimming in. So much did we gulp up the last summer rays that we missed the train to take us back to the South Bank's Boulez concert, and by the time we got there, they wouldn't admit us. Curses! So I forsook possibly my only chance to see the man in person conducting his own music, but, hell, I think I like outdoor swimming more than just about anything else, the master of Modernism included. We consoled ourselves briefly with watching a bit of 'Pli Selon Pli' on a screen, with none other than vocalist legend Linda Hirst, who'd also been waylaid; the music was given an - at times remarkably germane - extra layer of percussion by the barman on our floor crashing around sporadically with ice buckets and stacked glasses. Hur hur.

Two gigs of late: Metamorphic had a really lovely one at the Forge, reviewed ecstatically here. Juice introduced the newest group baby to Elisabeth Lutyens in rehearsal (much crying ensued) and gigged in Hexham Abbey, giving our 'Laid Bare: 10 Love Songs' songbook another welcome airing.

Here are some recent poems!

Thames Moon Swimming

With gasps that are more delight than shock,
we rush into a clamour of reeds.

As light crumbles towards the moon,
we swim between the patches that are left
- the boathouses, the single streetlamp -  
our heads polished like brassrubbings.

Walking back down the path
in light that is now more like a scent,
we are halflings among the hedges;
our sealsouls bobbing in the river.

Daylight Fox, Waterloo

Crossing in front of the cars and my bike,
he shocks like a burn on the skin.

A mulch of winter leaves, a dank sinew
reeking of urine and musk, and
capable of screams that brand the heart,
he is a brazen wildness amongst metalshine
and tarmac.

How long have they been here, waiting
by our feet at crossings, slipping past
on sidestreets, weaving through us
as if we were birch and elm?

Rosemary and Peter, Picking Blackberries

At separate points along the path,
they collect only the ripest, the ones
with the innocence of children
when you hold out your hand for them.

Her plastic rainhat upturned, she moves
with a dancer’s grace; she is first-snow and rubies,
sugar paper and bone, hands flitting
through the brambles like goldcrests.

He is a hero and charmer, idling in the bushes
with inkwell mouth and fingers.

In their second marriage, one that has lasted 40 years,
their eyes shine like the berries they can’t quite reach.

Brambles, bones, blackberries.

5th Floor (for Nicholas Hilliard)

over to the west
into light that is silvering
the edges of my ivy, mint and sage
starlings flock
rising from the far buildings
as if on the street below
a manuscript detailing
the colours of precious stones
their heaviness and their glitter
has been dropped
in the evening wind


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