Friday, 28 February 2014

Aurora Borealis

The Goddess of the Dawn in green light shows;
Aurora, the pleated chiffon curtain,
so rare beyond the Arctic circle.
We are transfixed by light which moves and glows
ethereal; these displays leave us uncertain.
this solar activity,
part of a cycle,
this plasma of charged particles,
whose effects we can't predict,
photons from nitrogen, ionic,
regaining electrons,
excited or grounded  by collision
of molecules magnetospheric
with solar wind,
funnelled, accelerated
in the heliospheric bubble.
Driven by currents, electric, erratic
each born from an eruption,
fast and furious,
leaping from the surface of the sun;
space weather, anything but static.
And yet we are ignorant, incurious,
mostly moved to 'Oh Wow!' We restrict
ourselves to quasi religious sentiment,
are lazy, even in the midst of knowledge.
For each person who'd know, there's another one,
no, perhaps a whole regiment,
satisfied with the linguistic limitation
of mere visual description.

Thursday, 27 February 2014


Not much,
just short
of no breath.
A lack
of depth,
so air feels
now and then,
like a treat.
The lungs
not on strike,
but working to rule.
The chest
still goes up and down
but I yawn.
The room
seems to lack air.
I need sleep,
my eyes close.
I think
I might die
like this,
just cease;
sink into

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hellebore (Rondeau)

The lenten rose with drooping head,
looks sadly at the flower bed
and sees the autumn debris there
and droops yet further in despair.
Her creamy face with speckles spread
of deep and damson purple red,
regarding death with fear and dread,
she represents the seasons care.
The lenten rose,
is simple, freckled and instead
of piercing thorns has palms widespread
and sometimes brown stigmata where
small punctures in her leather are.

More beautiful when highly bred:
The lenten rose.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Quiet Evening

The room is still
The gently snoring dog lies
where he should be, over by the door,
his body long in relaxation,
his pale pink nose beside his blackened paw.
The fire coals are glowing low
within the basket
and the common cat curls
purring in a chair.
The neighbours on the cantilever staircase
run up and down behind the plaster wall.
The old brass chandeliers are dully gleaming,
reflecting light from silken amber shades,
the candles slope lopsided in the sconces,
the wonky wirey arms of girandoles.
The feather cushions sag in resignation,
the bolsters snuggle down half out of sight,
the long case clock
adds pleasing punctuation,
to the slowly passing minutes
and my eyes
grow sandy, droop and sag
with concentration,
as I cast about in jaded observation
and view the room but do not turn around,
as I try and write about the silence,
made up of tiny, happy, unimportant sound.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Maggie Teyte

I love you Maggie Teyte:
I love your old-fashioned face,
designed to reverberate,
I love your beautiful voice,
which seems to resonate
with something in me,
that feels beyond desolate,
a strange and far away sadness,
from a time of innocence,
a gentle, lovely madness,
a thing to celebrate.
I love you Maggie Teyte:
your phrases with such tapering grace,
the way you seem to demonstrate
that life is beautiful in its transience.
Yet I don't want you to leave me,
not in this real place.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Reunion Dinner (Rondeau Redouble)

"God! They all looked so old,
pecking order hadn't changed,
creaking old bores, stagnant minds, growing mould,
Birkenshawe was almost gibbering, quite deranged.
Lord knows why the damned thing was arranged.
We none of us could really stand each other, I was told
it was fifty years since Monte was ordained.
God! They all looked so old,
Monte wasn't one of us, but we were shepherded into his fold,
probably his wife's idea, though she had feigned
a migraine, wasn't there.  I sat next to Leon Gold,
pecking order hadn't changed,
Beauchamp barely deigned
to speak to me, then he hit the brandy and grew bold,
asked me if I ever saw David, looked quite pained.
Creaking old bores, stagnant minds, growing mould,
David died in '83, I'm sure he knew.  Thompson had sold
his family estate, showed me a photo old and grained
of us all at some do.  Potter had an awful cold,
Birkenshawe was almost gibbering, quite deranged.
Don't know why they turned up. Smythe's suit was stained,
can't think why he'd crawled out of the woodwork. Strolled
round the grounds, beautiful! Thought of what remained,
of what we had been once, sobbed, quite uncontrolled;
God! They all looked so old."

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A Pentameter of Questions About Infinity

I wrote this after hearing a programme on radio 4 about Georg Cantor, and looking up his Wikipedia entry.

An infinity of infinities,
how can we best describe uncertain kinds?
Transcendental numbers uncountable,
unimaginable to human minds.
Can logicians, too, feel the numinous?
Does mathematics mix with divinity,
for God is absolute infinity?
Infinite sets, nondenumerable,
infinity nonequinumerous.
There are more decimal numbers than whole
and so they are both innumerable,
but not equally so?  Might we know the rôle
that infinity plays in consciousness,
one day?  And will anyone find a simple way
to tell us? Why was it unorthodox
to accept 'actual infinity'
as the set of infinite entities?
Did it open the door to paradox,
or infinite sets of paradoxes?
Would you open the door to paradoxes?
How would you know their true identities,
if they were sealed up in cardboard boxes?

Wikipedia - Georg Cantor

BBC - A Brief History of Mathematics

Playing Khachaturian in the Kitchen (sonnet)

The score, downloaded from the internet
and Sellotaped together in a train,
propped up by lentil jars, lest I forget
this tune I've loved so long, which might remain
with me in my head, but has a tendency
to elude my fingers, is slightly pink
in artificial light.  A redundancy
of rain has kept me in. I like to think
that this is why the dog decides to sing,
in order to express his gloominess,
to voice his soul's stirrings; my violin
speaks Russian rather well, with tenderness
(Appealing to all those who are discerning),
but the dog speaks with the greatest yearning.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Music Lesson, Jan Vermeer, Rondeau Redoublé

Light falls through transomed mullions at the side,
the leaded panes, slightly opaque, subdue,
giving chalky lime wash on the walls, pale and wide,
a soft and subtle texture, as we regard the view:
the music room. A block and baluster walnut chair upholstered in blue
lapis lazuli or Delft (denim)let down with white, placed at the divide,
the third, provides a break and contrasts with a bright vermilion hue.
Light falls through transomed mullions at the side
and sets the orange red on fire, and as our eyes slide
to the right, we see it echoed in the flush of a man's hands who
stands, waiting to sing, observing his bride?
The leaded panes slightly opaque, subdue
the colours of the virginals, who's fancy pen work is given a true
account, the painstaking detail miraculous, though only implied
on the lower lid.  The shine of mercury mirror glass, quite new,
giving chalky lime wash on the walls, pale and wide
extra authenticity, lifts our attention from the virginals'. Inside
the cushioned ebony frame, reflected, is a woman's face, we try to construe
its expression, concentration? Her blouse is silk, Vermeer has applied,
a soft and subtle texture. As we regard the view,
the interior scene, we wonder at the violone on the floor, who
has abandoned it?  Are we to be denied
the pleasure of hearing the bass line? The Persian carpet on the table is one of the few
real miracles of subtle detail, folds, fringing, pattern, the other, as I have implied:
the light.