Chimney Blues

When the wind plays flute 
with the chimney 
it sounds mournful

like keening. In this country 
of charcoal and crows
it sounds appropriate. 

But the rain 
beats its percussion onto soil 
and things grow. 

I hear a bird that I don’t recognise and I rejoice. 
Another bird is here in the burnt lands!
Slowly things grow and animals come back. 

Our human hearts grow new flesh 
over old wounds and 
we stop picking at the scabs.

But everyone loves a sad song
and Blues are the only tunes 
the chimney knows.

Apparently it moans because it is so long. No I don’t have roses growing at this time of year. This was taken not long after the chimney was installed in January.

Crow’s Nest

This house is build on the footprint of one 
that burnt when all this country burnt. 
Oh Crow, we humans were different 
before. We were innocent like animals,
waking each morning to sunshine 
or no sunshine. The only complication 
was the mind playing with its abacus. 

Well, we are still simple, sound of body, 
but with burnt edges, the mind a chaos
of new growth and charred wood. 
But Crow, what we were before, we’re not. 
Is that why you surround this new house 
with your songs of life? Yours is a dark beauty
but your vision of life springing from death 
is as true the magpies’ who melody about love 
in the skeleton trees on the ridge.

. . . . . . .

Another crow poem. There may be more from now on because:

Before the fires Ervin fed magpies. We watched generations grow up, witnessed the shifting power structures when a dominant pair died, were entertained and delighted. One year we even raised a baby. We were magpie people.

Since coming home (and it does now feel like home) no magpies come. Crows have taken the space, they come for the meat morsels, they sit on the railings of the deck and drink from the birdbath. So far, and surprisingly, they have not crapped there.

Magpies fly by with indifference. 

I don’t understand much, but, for the want of better words, it is like the totem of the land has changed. 

We have changed. Perhaps when you traverse the threshold of trauma something essential changes. For some unknown reason it seems apt that crows would be the dark messengers of growth for me at this time.

Edges

The performance poem I wrote for the exhibition, Solastalgia, at Fabrik, in Lobethal. More details about this series of exhibitions, here.

The drawing is mine, drawn with charcoal from my burnt home. It ended up being about 13 metres long on the beautiful wall of this gallery. It is as ephemeral as my home apparently was, and will be washed off that wall eventually. But all kudos to Melinda Rankin (director of Fabrik) for facilitating it.

Also kudos to all of the people involved in the exhibition, especially Jo Wilmot (creator of Solastalgia, The Exhibition) and Evette Sunset who said I mentored her when it was the other way around. We all learn from each other anyway, so who needs labels.

Thanks to my good friend David Salomon of Simply Splendid Productions for recording and creating this movie.

Charcoal Drawing With No Name (detail)

Unexpected Lecture on Global Warming from a Bird

This morning a Brown Treecreeper 
tapped on the window. 
‘Wake up!’ he said. 
But I was already awake because 
he’d been tapping on the mirror 
of the van in which I’d been sleeping 
since it was light enough to see.

Perhaps you don’t know the Brown Treecreeper.
He hops around on the ground,
quite game, pecking at goodness knows what,
tiny things, insects, ants.
And he shimmies up tree trunks with his weird legs
as if there was no such thing as gravity.

Anyhow, when he tapped on the window beside my face,
he said, ’Wake up! It’s time to wake up.’
And added, as if it was unimportant,
‘Wake up to this beautiful world.
Save it. Save us. Save yourself.’

Woman Playing Fife (poem)

Emerging from brooding sea
seal-like
she has grown feet and is dancing.

What are feet for if not dancing?
She is like a child who cannot just walk
but must skip or run.

Such lightness of being,
it is not yet time for sorrows.
It is not yet time for cares.

She has not been betrayed
nor yet betrayed herself
and so she twirls

twirls faster and faster
faster and faster
until she flies.

Image by Ervin Janek, the poem was written for the image as part of our ongoing collaboration. More of his extraordinary work can be seen here

A Silkie is a mermaid-like creature who, according to Norse myths, can take off her seal costume to walk/dance on land. Best if she doesn’t stay on land too long though, because she will dry out, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have written about them before and you can read that poem here.

SaveSave

Autumn Willow

The willow does not ask what it is.
It does not lament things not done
nor worry about what it should do.

It stands in brilliant autumn yellow
tinged orange by the darkening of the world.

Soon night will come
and the willow will be
a darkness in darkness.

It will go about its business of oxygen and owls
and the slowing of its rhythms towards winter.
And then, all winter long, it will do nothing.

It will not mourn summer.
It will not desire spring.

It will be
in the being of itself,
a willow.

 

P1040943e

where he isn’t

There’s a space
where he isn’t.
It’s enormous and keeps
following me around
now here, now here.

The space used to be
full of laughter
and fun, compassion
and encouragement.

With him I could
be my self.
When I lost him
I lost a true friend

Ervin Janek Mother and Son

The photo is by my husband Ervin Janek. It is called ‘Mother and Son’. I find it very touching, especially in the context of this poem. It was done a long time before our son died, but it seems perfect.

The poem reminds me of some of the old Chinese poets, Li Po etc. What do you think?

If you want to see more of Ervin’s images here is his shop and here is his amazing changing facebook collection.

wrapping sunlight

mother folds the sheet
wraps sunlight
in cloth
later
she shakes it out
over the bed
smooths it with her ….
The rest here...

Sorry about the recurring plugs for my blog, it ain’t likely to get better any time soon!