Mike Absalom

“Scorpion Month”
This is my month of power.
The month of spells and necromancers!
The month of black moons and milk-pale skies!
The month when sunsets smolder slowly
like joss sticks in a temple courtyard,
and the air is dusty with the fragrance of ashes and burning prayers.
This is the Scorpion Month,
when dawn, white as dandelion sap, leaks
out of the bruised darkness of night
and clings like a new-hatched dragonfly for long moments to the thin stem of day,
as it hardens for action.
And in the quiet before morning speaks each day,
the wind tiptoes in on velvet boots carrying an iron hammer in a bag,
and whispers in a cold, cold voice: “Strike now! But be careful”

“Return to Sender”

In the old shack in the apple garden
the spiders lie dead,
not dormant,
in their silver webs,
like last year’s postage stamps.
No longer valid.
Not going anywhere.
Return to sender.

The webs remain
like silk bedspreads on abandoned beds,
empty and cold,
a week after the leave-taking.
Old age comes young to some.
Particularly spiders.
And us, of course.

“Red Eye”.

The music of the wind follows me,
ground swell from the first garden,
sibilant whistles in the potato patch,
and the raspberry canes twitch and bow
displaying a few new wares at last.

A lone ruby, a Kuh-i-Noor,
a mountain of compressed light,
a red eye staring, staring, staring.
You see me.
I see you.
.
Ruby, glow red in the green of greenest!

But water clings to the globe
and dulls its sparkle.
It is mortal food.
Only food.
I place it in my mouth.
There is the taste of mould and mildew

I am not alone in the Garden.
Chew on microbes!
And the unseen world is constantly shitten!
.

And now without warning
the sword of the sun smites the Universe
and one great sweeping blow lands on Curryane.
I stagger into the daylight with a cough,
Born into another day,
a Newborn,
A New Year

“I Held You Once”

In Warsaw
among the Prussian tenements
beneath spiky ironwork
and golden pediments of brick tossed heavenwards like choirs of angels
fixed in mid-flight,
their song kiln-baked
into history,
there,
among the binding chords of a recent and tragic opera, I held you.

A girl hugging a dead tree.
I saw it as old.
Not in this plastic world,
but in a world of stone and iron
and rules that break like rigid metal in the frost, and age-old shapes resting on their pedestals, the way age and love and heart-felt promises do usually rest
before they rust.
Before they crumble into dust.
I saw you,
crumbling.
I said: “Always beware of rhyme in poetry! It is the falsest of indicators!”

Under your coat!!
Nobody is there.
The wind is cold in March. The lamplight flickers!
Black branches in the trees whisper
in a language I do not speak.
History around us falling,
like burnt pages from a rejected manuscript.
I tell you: “Your cheek is warm against my forehead”.
I smell you!

But always beware of rhyme in poetry.
I have to tell you.
It cannot be trusted!

In Warsaw
among the Prussian tenements
beneath spiky ironwork
and golden pediments of brick tossed heavenwards like choirs of angels
fixed in mid-flight,
their song kiln-baked
into history,
there,
among the binding chords of a recent and tragic opera, I once held you.

In Warsaw
among the Prussian tenements,
after the blinding tears of the sweetest of operas,
a warm kiss under a cold lamppost in winter.
I once held you.
I held you once.
In Warsaw.

“Carnival of the Animal”
After the breakup of our Carnival of the Animal
my plans lay for a while gathering dust
at the bottom of the press
like good time memories in a bunch of silk flowers.
Have you noticed how the gravity of lust
when rubbed up the wrong way
bends time and space in quarky modes?
When I was green and lovelorn
a straight line was the shortest distance between two pints.
In my sad and grizzled anecdotage
it registers only as a flat line on my heart monitor.

Mike Absalom, an Irish poet, painter and printmaker, was born in Devon inab2 1940. His mother was Irish. His father was Welsh. Educated in Quebec, Sweden, Iran and England, he majored in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Farsi) at Oxford and Gothenburg Universities before embarking on a career as a singer/songwriter during the 1960s and 70s. From 1980 to 2000 he lectured on satire, using his own verse as a template and worked as a harpist, fiddler, children’s entertainer and puppeteer across Canada and in the USA and South America. He returned to Ireland in 2002 to paint and write poetry. (www.mikeabsalom.com)