GARDEN OF CLOUDS
(To Dylan Thomas)
Your life had become
A speeded-up film,
Moving too fast, sickly,
Each frame flashed by,
Too quickly, not settling
At all in the scrapbook
Of your mind. Your voice
Was left behind, in rooms
Of strangers sipping wine,
Their politeness like fresh paint
Drying on walls.
You were always traveling,
In a plane, a bus or a car,
Yesterday was always lost
Above a garden of clouds,
In a station of tired faces,
On a table in a café
On a never-ending road.
You felt so alone, your past
Blocked off by each city’s dream
Of sky-threatening stone.
Your dramas drowned in each smile.
The ash of your words
Smouldered in the books
That they bought and shelved
In their unknown lives.
You were losing yourself.
Your emotions rode
The conveyor-belts of their eyes.
You got as close as a lover
With your pockets of songs.
You wore the garments of death
With the laughter of a clown.
At night, when sleep played
Games with your soul
And the traffic smothered
Your slow pictures of love,
New poems dripped into
The wounds of your life
Below the garden of clouds.
Peter Thabit Jones
Their swan song rang out from the start…
Enticing with sweet words
He conducts the feverish symphony
His golden baton laden with honey
Luring the graceful swan
Who until then had been drifting
Lost in her own music,
In her own pond – her own world
Of melody and peace.
But the conductor wields his slathered baton
The swan song rings true.
The harmony is pleasing, unceasing
Like a siren – a male siren
Calling out to her, the swan
With the supple curve of her long neck,
Proud in her domain
In her beloved realm,
Shifting the smooth surface of her pond
The calm waters of trust and satisfaction
Storms and wild swells she must navigate now
But the music promises secrets uncharted
Untasted pleasures to partake in
The conductor – inscrutable and wise,
Sings his song and insists, comforts
The swan’s every qualm and question.
The maestro wields his glistening baton
The swan song resonates.
The waves lull her
The song seduces her
Never mind the churning waters
Or his smile scored on empty bars.
The time comes for the swan to hold the baton
The time comes for the swan to taste the sweet nectar.
She forgets that honey is thicker than water
Greedily – she’s drunk all that he has offered
Luscious. Sensuous. Sultry. Succulent.
Every drop – a hot wax seal
Suffocating but so very tempting.
Unknowingly, the swan has started to sink
And the music has begun to lose its sweetness –
The baton so fierce and final without the honey
Still, the swan song carries.
Too close to the depths now
Sinking deeper – she looks for their silhouette
But the swan can see only the shadow of herself,
In panic she searches – but he cannot be found
The meter, the melody – a relentless refrain
She cries for calm waters
For peace, tranquility and solitude
The swan song recedes
The conductor is gone.
The quiet dreadful and heavy
The once-flowing honey now all consumed.
Who has been the siren?
Who has been the listener?
What has been gained?
What has been lost?
The music has stopped.