Monday, August 27, 2012

David Howard

Always Almost, Never Quite


                 at home in the interpreted world
                           -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies I

The tree on the slope is contingent upon your voice.
I hear nothing so the tree won’t bend –
I need that tree to bend.

The horizon does not want poetry to keep going.
Intention? No star meant to be admired and yet...
Praise is impossible without doubt, ask a teenager.

The beautiful people hear a mirror’s echo;
What they know is special
Pleading. As if poetry needed their vanishing lines!

Always almost, never quite –
Laureates talking up a void rather than a storm.
Whatever, sorrow outlasts wonder.

For most of us it will be winter
Three seasons out of four. Ever had the feeling of feeling
            Parmenides had it too; he knew
Nothing comes from nothing,
The universe is eternal, like first love.
It is hungry work, returning.


Because language is the history of being human
A cannibal is somebody who eats his words
As if they were fire.

Embers then ash are what comes of desire.
A food basket made from hope holds the lovers.
Like them, it ignites easily.
                                             Saying is only one way of doing, it is
A narrow cloth for a long table.
However hungry, everyone must leave table
Without much thought for the stained cloth.


Anyway, songbirds are followed by birds of prey.
Both balance on top of the ballroom
At the end of the harbour pier.

The rowboat waits – that is what it was made to do
So it won’t get impatient, it won’t
Chafe the rope that will soon be thrown

Over. Hear the soulful violin, out of time;
Feel shoes moving in unison
Towards the edge of what was always known.

Why do we hold on
To the belief that infinite growth is possible
In a finite world? (Brian Turner)

At sunset my daughter gets a red cheek.
Her head separates earth from heaven, now from then
With a wall of fire. She will dance

On that wall, calling for the boy
Who tastes of juniper. His juice will keep her
Free from disease...
                                  I smile through three decades
At this innocence. Always almost, never quite
A bullock hauls itself out of estuary mud
To shuffle through the Milky Way.


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