Poems come to me in different ways. Seeing something; at midnight from my garden; ‘a badger ghosts up the lane’, or hearing; ‘the magpies haranguing the world’. Spending time sitting or walking in nature…finding my edge…experiencing my response. Trying to capture with words the soul’s promptng. I write about my life, my experience. A poem will often come quickly. My intention is to catch it and work as little as possible on it, to not capture the intimation too completely.
The last days
You are dying.
Grey ash settling on our bed.
Your once lithelimbs, limp.
I haul you up and out.
Your head flops onto my shoulder.
You kiss me twice on my neck so sweetly.
You are nearly dead and you kiss me so sweetly
that some old, much-loved, resentment dies.
Leaves form your lips to speak to me. Soundless words that I cannot understand. The wind in the valley kisses you but I cannot. …I see you in the rose on the arch, the last rose that has no business being here in December (what do I know!)….there it is…..impudently stubbornly livingstill…..on my way back from the woods I see only four petals…after another few dayweekyears, three..now two, still two!.now a single browning petal and, after several frostfrozen days,……..oh……..
Eulogy for my Father’s body
Massive, arcing, dun-daubed, the beach grinds away.
Close to the shore, in the lea of the bay, the waves whip and pout.
At the limit of my sight, beyond the reach of the bay, I shudder at the coldpress of that world and
wonder if anything in me could live at such depth.
Back on land;
we cling on, and turn back.
The squall tears at the beach, ice and sand rend your face.
I shout into the wind, ‘Use My Body To Shelter………’ as my father once called to me
in a howling on the dead raw stone of Skiddaw…….his body given to me…….
my body now yours.
How neat and contained you look before allowing me to undo you.
How composed, perfectly closed before, how jagged and salty after.
High in La Macchia the Mother trickles,
running, falling, plunging ever downward making Gorgon Buio in the valley below.
Serpi d’aqua nuotano dentro di te senza sforzo.
Fucking with Circe
Black Birds swirl in the cold sky.
Swoop, land, take off, swirl once more.
It looks like we are parting.
The owl sees all but offers no hope.
From the fools quiver, a glimmer perhaps.
Without you I am left to be torn at by the glassy wind.
Rocksolidsilence leans into me; dulling my mind, sharpening my quill.
I may be nothing without you.
Then words swoop, land, take off and swirl,
As I set sail reeking of Circe!
Roma to Terontala
The light is fading.
Black Birds etch the grey-blue Roman sky.
Later we lie together listening to the sea, tasting the salt in the still airless night.
I will die.
You will die.
Our salt will remain…….
The Guest is in the Garden
The shack whirrs and whirrrs and whirrrrs
The guest cannot enter
Inside all is still
The door locked from the inside
One lover remains liminallylost; Lilith’s wedding ring still gripping his middle finger
He searches frantically for his love but finds only the husks of black scorpions
One hundred years later the door opens
The flowers have been watered
Today I moved my seat on the terrace to look up the valley.
A seemingly innocent, inconsequential move.
I steal a backwards look to the familiar line of poplars, the fields of gold, the path leading to the sea.
Despite the sun now warming my back, chilly clouds of disquiet hove in.
A snaking grey hair appears on the pitchpinetarblack table,
(I’ve been twiddling my beard like Freud again),
and distracts me from my sleepysouthernsojourn,
before delivering me, with a jolt, Northward again
The almostdeadoak shrieks into view, screaming-greyly into the air around.
More muted, scrub-oak grub around below like a herd of boar of biblical proportion.
The brightergreennewgrowth counterpointing darkergreenandbrownoldgrowth.
The scrub oak forest leading upward, scarred and leeched like an aboriginal torso.
The mountain bullies down at me courting both courage and cowardice.
I am close to an edge now….terrified yet facing the black peak, where once I struck for the bank.
In an otherthanhuman coda, to a centuries old life, the mistletoe and ivy suckle the oak to death.
To the South; the returning swifts warm the still chilly Eastre air.
David Slattery is a poet, psychotherapist and teacher. Profound experiences of death and new life, in the last two years, have brought about an outpouring of work, and a change in identity; moving from ‘a psychotherapist who writes poetry’, towards ‘a poet-psychotherapist’.