2-Minute Conversation about Jordan

What is it like?
From the king’s private jet –
The Water slithering
On the sand-coloured surface.

You saw them? Bedouins?
Goat herds, black tents
Made of camel hair.
From the plane. I see.

The climate?
Ok for 24h.
And Petra?
Yes, if you like that sort of thing.

Children bartering for shards of glass
In the shadow of a burnt-out jeep…
Oh yes, 2 minutes.
And where are you going tomorrow?

HARSH
Mother
Land
You nurture
Your child
By kicking
Dust
In her face

© jsmorgane (July 08)

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 12:31 am  Comments (4)  
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War poems

1. Hanging on

It’s easy to live like this:
Nobody cares,
What you think,
What you say,
No matter, really.
The monarchy, it’s grey and sleepy,
An old hound stretched out
In front of the dying fire,
Doesn’t bother to shoo the flies off.
Be hearty, be jolly.
Inexorable, this drifting into the past.

2. Barrel-Maker

My father would say:
Something’s got to give.
The union for the workers,
Strikes so he’d play with me
On a Saturday afternoon.

My mother replied:
Mouths to feed,
Work to be done.
You join the marchers,
You lose your job.

Protesting is for those who can afford it.
So I thought I could join the march.
Would the Emperor be there, too?
We only had a picture of the Virgin Mary but
Our neighbours had his picture in their parlour.

3. Just anything to eat

No food, no food,
So hungry, mother.
I know, I know
I’m sorry dear.

Let’s travel down the road
Which road, which road
It’s crumbling, crumbling
Into no man’s land.

What’s no man’s land
What is it father
Where does it lead
This crumbling street

No street, no road
It doesn’t lead to any man
To anyone with any food,
With any work, not anything.

Just anything would do,
I know, just any work,
Just anything to eat,
Just any man, on any street.

On any road
That leads to anything
That leads to any land
Where I can eat.

4. At any price

He came and gave us work,
He came and we had food.
He came, he fixed the roads,
He cleaned the town,
Cleaned out the house next door.

Don’t ask me where they’ve gone,
They’ve gone and I have work,
I’ve work and bring home food.
Don’t think, don’t ask,
Don’t say a word.

5. At the station

The train is not on time.
There is no time
For those who have to leave.

They’ve stopped their clocks.
They’ve stopped their lives.
They never stopped to say goodbye.

Why are your people leaving?
Why would you leave this place?
The only answer is a bitter, stony face.

Gunnysacks so heavy,
Leather cases too.
Let me help you, Madam,
Help you bear the load.

Don’t forget the dolly,
Little girl in tears,
Wave God speed and
Watch the small face disappear.

Where is my friend going?
Why can’t I go too?
I could take the next train,
Catch up with her soon.

6. On the doorstep

I said Goodbye.
My mother cried and said
My dear, don’t go.
I said I know.
I know, she said,
You have to go.

I’ll think of you,
I’ll write, I said.
Take care, said she
Stay well, come back to me.
I turned, and left,
And left her standing there.

Our neighbour came,
Our neighbour said
Don’t cry, my dear, don’t cry.
I cry, I cry, my mother said,
For I may lose this child.
At least you’re spared this sad farewell.

I may be spared the tears,
The good old soul replied.
But ne’er to welcome back
Have I a child,
To hold, embrace,
Restored to me, restored to life.

7. The Weather

The weather is a fascinating thing.
I remember once I saw lightning
So distant I didn’t hear the thunder yet.
The sky was blazing bright,
With silvery sparks shining on the horizon.

The fiery dots came closer,
I would see them clearly
In a moment, they’d be here.
Then lightning again,
And, finally, the thunder.

It even shook the ground,
But Princie, wiry grey pointer,
Didn’t think this particularly funny.
Then I heard the droning too,
Like the wind was crying.

Just then, the miracle occurred.
From high above, out of the sky,
Came Christmas trees, candles alight,
Burning, glowing, glittering,
Silently gliding towards Earth.

There seemed to be a tune
That someone whistled,
Right cheerful, but monotonous,
And shrill, and loud, and coming
Down, down straight at us.

8. Looking at Desolation

War is gone.
The bitter beast has turned its back
But left its tracks all over me.
My legs criss-crossed with scars,
Entangled in the fields gone wild.
My shoulders bent from what I’ve seen,
Head torn by all I did or did not do.

The house next door a burned out shell,
The puppy’s bark gone silent like its owners.
Numb fingers pulling from its frame
The last piece of the window pane.
My face reflected, no wrinkles tell how old I feel
When meeting Mother’s vacant smile:
I told her yesterday he wasn’t coming back.

9. Not quite

It feels like yesterday.
It’s been a while –
Not quite.

Still fighting battles.
The war is over –
Not quite.

My brother is still 21.
I have survived –
Not quite.

My hunger is stilled.
I never had enough –
Not quite.

Have you forgotten?
Well, not quite yet.
Your old self again?
Surely never that.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 25, 2010 at 12:19 am  Comments (5)  
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Soil

Dark as a shade of night,
Moist to squeeze the wetness out.
My fingers a sieve –
Splinters of wood, perchance a mighty tree.
Glinting pebbles, a mountain long ago.
Tiny bones, gossamer wings,
A frog, a firefly perhaps.
Ages of life running through my fingers.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 3:00 am  Comments (4)  
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Clay

Scarlet, heavy, soggy
I dry it on my window sill.
Brick-coloured powder I fill into
A test glass, putting a stopper in.

Turn the tube tentatively:
Landslide on the inside,
Crags on the landscape’s surface,
Coastlines crashing into the sea.

Give it a shake:
A sandstorm in the desert,
Hot winds make the clouds
Blush, obscuring my tracks.

With water I shape it,
With fire I burn it,
A breeze just blows the dust away.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm  Comments (4)  
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Sweat Bath

From the fire without end
The white limestone rocks travel
Over Grandmother Unci’s path
Into Our Mother’s womb.
Dark, warm, damp,
With the smell of cedar,
Sage crunching underfoot.

In the centre within
Glowing stones pile up high.
Tunka stirs in his sleep
When cool water pours
Onto his shoulders, and, hissing,
Grandfather’s fiery white breath
Kisses our skin.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 12:58 am  Comments (3)  
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A Taste of Stone

Taste the stone
You are holding
In your hand.

It smells of rains,
Like the waterfall
Gushing down your throat.

It smells of winter wind,
When you throw it
High into the crystal sky.

It smells of blood
Which its sharp edges
Cut into your tender skin.

It tastes of salt
Like the balms
Cradling it.

© jsmorgane (Jan10)

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Grating away

Heater working noisily against
The howling wind outside.
It’s ripping at the edges,
It’s crawling in over the window pane,
Sliding between wood and glass
Into the overheated room.

The snowflakes horizontal –
Like a train streaming by
Too quickly to wave a welcome
To the passengers inside.
No tracks visible to follow
Their way into the distance.

The New York Times yield no result,
The search engine neither.
The review, bitter cold,
Was lost on the way.
The one I’m reading now is overheated,
My cheeks burn red, and I shiver.

© jsmorgane (Jan 10)

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 3:31 am  Comments (2)  
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