wilf jones poems 2

                    the heft and the edge                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     10/6/2020







          VERSE                                           time and place


Lendal May and Dulcimer have recently been published in the book:

My Daughter was an Astronaut


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    The Midnight Leviathan    -    Troms° 2010  

    The midnight leviathan
    calls to souls
    bereft on the quay;

    my open window admits the aching sound.
    The promised-snow freshness of the air,
    enfolds the guilty snuggle of my bed,
    here at the end of the world.

    Below, three late-night philosophers
    at the water’s edge
    launch ragged jokes upon the tide;
    often there is silence
    as the smoke of their thought
    drifts out and up
    to meet the moon.

    At some distance I hear
    a party like any other:
    the throb of bass, the rattle
    of wasted bottles overlain
    by shrieks - indignant delight -
    and the too-ready chorus
    of male laughter;

                    but echoes sit them high
    on the barren ice of Tromsdalstinden,
    or dancing precariously on the sharp-
    cut white cathedral roof,
    or captured by the conga line
    of the car-jewelled skeleton bridge.
    All of them points of light
    I leave in the black waters.

    When I return snow
    will be everywhere and still;
    dancers may move inside, seeking warmth,
    but the careless philosophers’ filtered thoughts
    must keep their watch.

    Beckoning those ready to depart,
    the call of the midnight leviathan
    will shiver the town
    and carry me away.







    Behind Beachy Head           Eastbourne 1996

    This downland scene,
    Toothed into the sea,
    Awash with the rolling
    Tide of cloud shadow,
    Open to the changing sky,
    Hides its secrets well.

    A herd of cattle is mysteriously halved;
    Rooks, jackdaws and larks fill the air
    With noise, yet remain invisible;
    Distant rolling-stock catches the sun
    To mark a route where none can be seen;
    The dwellings of men appear deserted.

    Stone was cut for those walls:
    Greened by distant trees
    The memory of trauma is obscured,
    But there it is: a white-blocked scar
    Curved in from the swell of land
    And cut back;
    A barren crescent on the yielding
    But confident grass.
    Scars become less defined with the years.



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    LENDAL MAY        York 1994

    Where peacocks prowl
    The roofs and empty streets
    And crack the morning
    With impatient cry;
    make early birds of those
    who slept with windows wide
    this Spring-cum-Summer night by;

    Where the dreaming and the waking
    Meet between the sheets;
    Where peals pre-matins joyous bell
    And make the air expectant, full:
    they ring the River's swell;

    Where swifts outrace the currents
    Shrieking their delight;
    Where soon behind the gap-tooth walls
    The paying guest will stir,
    while tight within them
    those with wings make squabble;

    All these to the rousing peacock cries
    will bring a flood of sound,
    a company in sound,
    full echo to the eye:

    Dawn to the Minster
    Sings the Glory!


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    The dining-car where nothing significant happened.           Finland 2005

    I chased the woman with inconsequential gaze.
    Though she travelled in reverse and I had advantage
    in forward facing motion,
    I could not catch her.

    I was prepared, eager for everything that approached
    with terrifying increase;
    she could see, beyond my radius,
    only what was passed,
    and diminishing rapidly.

    Ignoring, for a period, windows,
    I could see that she
    had already been
    where I was to go,
    wilfully forwards or backwards,
    our direction mutual, inevitable,
    and yet I will never see what she has seen.

    In the turbulence of invisible forces
    a flurry of thistledown,
    captured by velocity and opportunity,
    showed false signs of individual progress;
    weightier presences came in, moved about,~
    did things and then left – as I will, and she,
    at some undetermined moment.

    We all are bound for the same destination
    by limited time and space;
    on either side the view changes constantly
    but it is all around only landscape.

    Not perspective, nor understanding, nor
    will can alter that
    or change the outcome.




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    DULCIMER          Cambridge 1996

    By the cold black rails of All Saint’s he plays
    And hails the city with his song:

    The ancient walls, echoing round
    The golden notes,
    In joy resound.
    All magic struck
    The delicate, dancing motes abound,
    Bring sunlit warmth
    To Winter streets,
    Bring to all a dream unfound
    In life; will change this drab,
    This cold, this weary college town,
    As if the heart of Raphael
    Came down
    And blessed with skill
    The busker's ageing hand,
    And blessÚd music, pure,
    Poured like molten silver through,
    And up, and all around,
    And chased the streets with beauty.
    And weary ears of Town and Gown,
    Battered by their day,
    Wake now! Wake now!
    Wake now as the song,
    Reclaims this frozen ground,
    With flowers bright as Springtime air;
    Now all who hear must praise the sound
    Of Heaven's Dolcimelo.





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    Thought for Today                     1998

    This morning, one after
    National Poetry Day,
    I wake with a sense of foreboding.

    Where only hours past
    The mood was all joy
    That once in the year
    Fine words were King:

         a poet in the cabbages
         barracking the market place;
         chalk for the public to
         expound upon flags;
         comment on the radio
         (nothing self-obsessed);
         pages in the journals,
         a giggle in the press;

    Today the sky is gloomy,
    The rain pours down;
    The street is full of papers
    Scattered by the wind;
    Peeling from the windows,
    Moulded to the branches,
    Gathering in the gutters,
    Slipping down the drain.

    As I stoop to recover
    These thoughts for a day,
    My hand meets no resistance:
    The meanings melt away.


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