Mike Absalom

4th Vol, No1  (April 2017)

The poems are illustrated by the paintings that directly inspired by poet’s thoughts.

“Croissants and Language on the Tongue

Painting by Mike Absalom

I am sat in the Troubadour garden beneath rusty lilacs.
After the death and resurrection of the dandelions
a first autumn breeze came nosing in and swept the seeds away into another dimension.
This breeze now lingers and eavesdrops on the café conversation.
I can hardly blame it, for there are poets a plenty here,
seeding the space left by the departing piss-a-beds
and replacing the vacuum-pack chatter of the long gone swallows
with their own Morse code, both literary and pheremonal.
The coffee smells good here too! And it is!
The breeze is in no hurry, for every zephyr needs a little cash-and-carry gossip to trade with the African birds.

That breeze had slipped through the lilacs on uneasy reconnaissance,
and now, beneath the buzz of café conversation I can hear it probing the dead leaves under the bushes, scrabbling about like an old man’s hands round a young woman’s waist.
An hourglass, in whatever incarnation, always incites different kinds of desperation.
Around the marble tabletops and beneath the rustic decorations
of superannuated farm implements and broken bits of iron we sit
like a funeral committee discussing the preparations for a spectacular burial.
That of language, most probably.

With a mouthful of buttered croissant my neighbour starts to speak to me.
Smiling a smile of arch obscurity and spitting small flakes of pastry like a tropical plant disgorging seeds he says: “the bulimic day creeps full bellied over the horizon and vomits out of sight!”
I think his management of both tongue and vocabulary in the same mouth is masterly!
Not to be outdone I reply: “within this limpet pool called time, clinging to the present moment, I drink my coffee, going nowhere.”
Across the table his wife tries to smile as she slowly withers
like a plum alone in a fruit bowl when the family has gone on holiday.

Aah! 1968 was a good year for me!

 

 

”Wurra Wurra: The Night of the Long Brooms” 

Painting by Mike Absalom

In the press there are days folded like clean linen
waiting for the dirt.
Inside the press a clock keeps ticking
and they say it is only a matter of time.

Broomsticks I saw first.
Glowing like iron rods under a blacksmith’s bellows,
red as the geraniums in my window alcove
they moved towards me out of the darkness.

And then three women, naked and wild as the storm driven wind in the chimney’s breast,
Stepping in on this Night of the Dead and of all the Holy Saints stealthily,
rag-haired, broom-clad, besom-handed, bucket-swinging, brush-proud.

From the black shadows they drove the ciarógs and the clocks
and the millipedes and the wood lice and the silverfish
and the daddy long legs and the black spiders,
herding them silently out of this sad and dusty bachelor gaff
and off its surface of unswept regret.

For this is the echoless hole of entropy that a connubial extraction leaves behind.

Since our separation it has been mine.

Broomsticks I saw first.
Glowing like iron rods under a blacksmith’s bellows,
red as the geraniums in my window alcove
they moved towards me out of the darkness.

In the press there are days folded like clean linen
waiting for the dirt.
In the closet a clock keeps ticking
and they say it is only a matter of time.

Broomsticks I saw first.
Glowing like iron rods under a blacksmith’s bellows,
red as the geraniums in my window alcove
they moved towards me out of the darkness.

 

 

“I am Depression – Give me a Drink”! 

Painting by Mike Absalom

The dried up geranium in a terracotta pot on the windowsill
mutters when I come into the room late at night.
I suspect it is some kind of curse.
Perhaps because I have given it no water for a month.
I didn’t sing to it either.
I am away often, occupying myself with matters crucial to my sanity.
I do not expect a geranium to understand this.
This one has many incarnations to go
before it can even think of being a rose,
let alone an evolved and sentient plant. I think.
Although I am not too au fait with karmic hierarchies.

As I watch I see it grows a little.
I am sure that that slight movement could have been growth!
Although it might have been a quiet sigh.
It is hard to tell with a plant so over-cultivated it has never known seed.
This poor dear was raised from a cutting.
As a shoot it was certainly underprivileged in the root department!
But it should have got over that by now.
I notice that it has started to move like a crab,
sidling sideways towards the floral curtain. That is not a good sign.

Still I know there is very little satisfaction around for geraniums these days, particularly not for pink ones.
And certainly not for brown dried up wizened ones
that look like a jar full of fortune teller’s old yarrow stalks.

I bend down and tell it-Forget the floral curtain! It is an illusion!
And there is no reason for depression!
It is something that has soaked in from elsewhere,
perhaps from the old stones the house is made of,
or maybe it was mixed into the wet plaster centuries ago
and it has leaked out into you.
Or from strangers, sidling up, taking you by osmosis, seeping into you,
rotting you with other people’s misery. This is not yours. It’s just vrittis!
Stand up and shake it off! Look through it!
It is mud splattered by passers by! Or even your own family perhaps!
You only own it by association, this unease.
I’m sure that made it feel better.
I fetched a bottle of schnapps and emptied it into the pot.

 

 

“A Finely Chewed Ear”

Painting by Mike Absalom

Keeping a love affair moving
Is like playing a difficult melody on a saw:
It needs a huge amount of muscle
Matched with a finely tuned ear.

Cursing the wet sycamore leaves on the road,
I slip and slide miserably back home.
Your words have bitten me like a mouthful of iron teeth!
Lust can teach a lover very quickly
That there is not much difference
Between the Breath of the Morning
And Morning Breath.

 

Mike Absalom, an Irish poet, painter and print- maker, was born in Devon in 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)