TS ReligionPosted by Graham Thompson Sat, August 11, 2018 11:05:25
Teacher, you are so arrogant,
So omnisciently powerful,
So blind, so prejudiced,
You teach the opposite of what you preach
To all us young initiates
You teach us to undo
All that we were taught
By lesser teachers
And even what you once preached
Until the final lesson in darkness
TS ReligionPosted by Graham Thompson Sat, August 11, 2018 11:01:20
The blind flute player
whistles in the dark
And the dark sings back
Covered in shadows, the narrow entrance
Of the maze responds
to the travellers words,
And open mouthed admits
All the poets and the
Of that stealthy world
Anyone who claims he
knows the way.
Yes! True performers do
The future but follow
only their wicked
Inspiration and the
Of Dædulus – they
But never lead, to find
The minotaur of their
In glad surrender
Tommys 70th Birthday PoemsPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, August 06, 2018 13:46:26
The cocks crow at 3pm,
they don't crow for anything.
A guest has come
but the host has gone out with his cows.
The guest sits outside waiting
never knowing if the host will come,
and observing the women doubled-up
like caterpillars, hoeing in their fields.
The ragged scissors of banana fronds
rustle and stir in the mountain wind.
Far below the plains seem close,
& above the clouds -
like a quarter-opened book whose binding
is uncertain, but whose pages can mirror
the scattered glyphs of clouds,
dark duplicates that run across
the alien mountain bush.
A child's cry is carried on the wind, the bati* groans
upon the fractured mud of walls,
and everywhere the same dank stink of piss,
human and animal, drenching both homes and earth.
And the blood red soil nurtures less and less
of these people and their religion:
untended ancestral shrines open to the rain, a home
only for rats, not spiritual sacrifice.
No birds sing here now, not even any woman's song.
It's half past three and I'm still waiting
For the host to come.
Note: Usambara Mountains are in north-east Tanzania.
*bati is the corrugated metal roofs on adobe houses.
angular bony hands
fingers creating form out of nothing
if even in moments of self-forgetfulness
had still to be fulfilled.
destroys the human form with the vicious strokes of a pencil
to recreate it again in his own spritual image.
love, affection - all our killed
a lust, a meaningless sexuality
makes even the hesitant touch
one individual and another
act of sabotage.
all there is left is a perverse adulation
constant masturbation both of art
his own body.
yet an innocence steals in
dream of attachment to one other
forever in a fixture
corrosion of feelings and sad time:
if the woman is elsewhere in her dreams
man is complete in his taking.
have broken the seal on the manuscript. I am writing across the
river unwinds its grief in huge meanders. The sky waits to appoint
is a three cornered hat: you me him. A crucifix around my neck. Never
stop leaving me.
bed is surprisingly empty, but my imagination is more than full now
you’ve gone. I have spent the night sober, alone, and in my room. I
was too happy to get drunk, too full of you to see another, and too,
too mad to be allowed out alone. But I’m so glad the only thing I
lost was my mind!
to think that men do all these strange and fierce things all for the
sake of that small hole in the wall of femininity.
need for you can never be quenched by your presence. It’s a need
that waters the deserts of your absence. Parts of me were healed by
you, other parts torn open revealing many unsolved mysteries and the
ulcers of my unfulfilled dreams. You were like an anarchist maid:
dusting and cleaning everything, but refusing to replace the
furniture in its accustomed place. My bed is now on the floor and no
longer in the air. My new clothes have all been sent to the jumble.
And my heart has a new pair of socks.
are only as painful as the original was beautiful.
are some moments in the brief and slim novels of our lives which make
us feel more than fictional characters, and only just less than gods.
are not on the credits, but I swear I hear your voice on the record.
How come? Is this some strange kind of doppler effect or are you
really singing behind me as I write?
are all the double agents of the heart. We are never sure at any one
time whom we are betraying, and who we are being betrayed by.
long to be eternally jealous and yet never possess you.
has stopped leaving me.
is it love always transforms me into a poor imitation of the loved
one? She is still in my voice, still in my movements. Surely the
whole world can see my falsity. Irony walks the corridors of these
worn out days. Everyday I wake and pretend again you are reassembling
me from the broken pieces.
it a smile or a grimace on the lips that wait for my kiss?
it laughter or tears that wait behind those envied lids.
photograph of your voice.
broker of broken dreams.
am writing to the ghost of my fiction.
Graubolle Man – dug
from the side of the
turf covered earth
your twisted arrow body
to the depths where you
in a thousand year old
What is it now that you
are digging up in us?
This need for public
eats away at your
leather thin sides
your body is sucked dry
by the latter day
from a future you never
agreed to share
To be hung upside down
was once an honour for
and a sacrifice to your
To be hung a second
in the museum of our
is a slow death for us
unless the lightning
in our bare modern
There is a Song
is a song below growing old
master lyric that has not been told
dread of dying cannot stifle its voice
love of living its altar place
this poor body is near massacred
aches and fevers are all that fascinates
to the love that makes it all worthwhile
it close to light the very last smile
if the good ashes scatter on an offshore wind
the tunes then that we always planned
never quite succeeded to usher in
our songs and let the Host this truth confirm:
godless men this ball of dirt do own
spirits will cleanse it finally from
waste of time, the greater waste of love
silence the tongues that twist my every last line
The Ballad of Jay & MagdalenaPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, July 31, 2018 12:31:11
I was unable to post the long ballad (150 pages) on this site for technical reasons. One can find it on:
Tommys 70th Birthday PoemsPosted by Graham Thompson Thu, July 26, 2018 02:04:03
All that we
We now give
And place it
not lightly on the world
A child, a
name, a star,
first real metaphor
From love to
That same winter the walls
Glistened, the slow globes
Were mapped by lamp and stove
The dampwood sang sad songs
And your hair did not laugh anymore.
And folded in amongst yourselves
In spheres of pure preflection
Her cells grew to that song
In the key of change and sacrifice.
Lines hover between the seasons
The ring of summers in axed-felled wood
Are thinner than the ripening fruit
The child dreams more dreams than lives
The poet pens
The lifelines meet
The fire circumscribes.
In the Voices of Children Waking
are waking now
of my thoughts
taste of bitter dreams drunk
all their wild youthful sleep.
splashing on a face
removed from its rightful place
the voices of children waking
is a song below growing old:
world is a toy for these thoughts of yet and never.
Irish Chant for Naomi
rain and sleet rattle at our window,
same rattle in the child's throat,
so human shaking at death's door,
light of a life hardly spent.
tonight is your face grown old?
the skin so hot and the room so cold?
very earth seems to move, or is it just this cabin floor
in the last north wind of winter?
if all there is to death is a past
future can mend the bones of today,
hope can seal the fevers of tomorrow?
of darkness, child in this hour,
on this candlelight, recover this power:
us your deliverance through your suffering gaze,
the strength that is stolen from this page.
Tommys 70th Birthday PoemsPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, July 16, 2018 03:58:34They Have Cut the Wheat
They have cut
the wheat I lay in.
We lay there
tucked close by wheat and thunder.
rains will crumble
soils which bore the grain.
burnt the willow I sat on.
We sat there
haunched to steal the sun
fires have spread
stalks – we had to run.
cleared the copse I loved in.
We loved in
greying skies with bodies burning.
blades have turned
The leaves to
filled the towns with people.
noticed them before.
filled their cups with flesh,
which tendered every grain.
17 years old
Promenade des Anglais
stroke my tinsel hair
and whisper all day
on sun-warmed pebbles
The singer raises
to the opal blue med-sky
in a rhyme
And we all listen
The brown skin pulls me
& asks me
“Baby in Black?”
(My strange smelling
it is you
I long for
but you are not
The guitar is passed
hand to hand
around the circle
My thoughts are much
to share so
“Babeee's in Black!”
Those young firm
I'll never fondle
except in my dreams
stacattoes past my
Hans ze aktor
En plus, en plus
o'er the railing
jealous of our
I´m tired of foreign
even my own
Night pulls its sensual body
over our small bright
& finds us harboured
on the port's walls
Everday we are begging
like lost children
bandana necked &
for lilly-rich ladies
in Paris mode
our cold stone bed
will wrap us
in its own white warmth
and the sea
will swing and call
in the moments of our
Great Poetry EuropeanPosted by Graham Thompson Thu, July 12, 2018 06:13:58
The midwinter sun fell
that you could see
under all the gates of
The sawmill over the
valley drew to a halt
like the tearing of
the brittle wallpaper
in a childhood room
I entered the pine
like a person I have
and could just as
A falling raindrop lit
up the dark
and burnt a hole in the
sounding like a
footfall in the sacristy
just before a baptism
love affairs, over so
sometimes you meet them
in the street
sometimes you meets
them in dreams,
when you meet them in
the street, it looks like a dream
when you meet them in a
dream, it looks like the streets
streets, where half the
houses stand empty
because you don't
remember whose faces appear
in the dark behind the
at the ready
trains stand still
people stand still
the blood stands still
will we make it?
trapped in metal
death lurks in the
can we get it going
with a move of the
does it want in that
to get back at us
as a complete
of broken connections
I have become old since
and my room will no
let me go. The worn
and things we collected
in common, torment me
poisoned by September's
simply bind me tighter
if I turn after you
or try to free myself
When a person dies
When a person dies
The mountains in the
the houses of the
and the road, as on a
that goes over a wooden
just before it leads
out of town.
And the spring sunshine
peeping out in the
reaches a shelf with
and magazines, which no
were once new.
It's not strange at
But all the same, it
often surprised me.
When we leave one
When we leave one
another, at the same time we leave
all of the places we've
That deserted suburb
with the houses blackened by smoke
where we lived for a
month, nocturnal cities
whose name we have
forgotten, or stinking Asiatic hotels
where we now and then
woke in the mid-day heat
with a feeling of
having slept a thousand and one years.
And all those small
hard to reach mountain chapels
along the way between
Athens and Delphi
where the oil-lamps
burn through the summer nights
these we leave at the
same time we leave one another.
All translated from the Danish by Tommy Stroller & Anna Birkbøll Jensen February 2018
Henrik Norbrandt was born in 1945 and is one of the best of modern Danish poets, with a very European, and even Mediterranean outlook in his poems, totally different from other Scandinavian writers. He spent most of his life since the late 1960s in the south of Europe, and Turkey - a country he fell in love with early in his career and made his home until very recently. He has written a great travel book on his journeys in Turkey, which as far as I know has not been translated into English, but it should be as it compares well with the great travel writing of people such as Chatwin, and certainly Durell or Theroux. But it is more down to earth, closer to the people, and his descriptions of nature rivals D.H. Lawrence in poetic detail.
His poetry is always highly personal, unlike most of the British tradition, he lets you see the world, especially the Turkish and Greek world, through his own eyes. It is again very un-English and Mediterranean in its unashamed romanticism, but there is always an underlying Danish coolness and irony. I hesitate to speak of forbears, but it can be said that he is close to both the American beat poets, and at the same time Eliot and Auden. Eliot in that he uses poetry to hold the world at a certain ironic distance, Auden because he too is concerned with human morality, particularly in relation to his love affairs, of which he has had many. He is also influenced by the Swedish writer Gunnar Ekelöf, but I think his strongest influence goes back to the Greek and Latin-based language poets, such as Cavafy, Machado, Kantzanzakis and Seferis. From them he gets that very personal feeling in his poetry, even when he is describing landscape and travels. Thus he is a true hybrid of Northern and Southern European poetry, and should be much more widely recognised. He is unfortunate in that he writes in mostly Danish, and also Turkish, two languages almost untranslatable to other European languages. However, luckily for me, his language is not complex, nor is it full of difficult metaphors, Dylanesque (Thomas,not Bob) sound poetry or imagery - it is closest in style to the direct speech of Lawrence's poetry, and never as flowery as the Latins. So it is not too difficult to translate.
Because of illness Norbrandt returned to Denmark quite recently, but has written in various newspapers that it was because of poor health, and he finds Denmark of the post-millenium to be utterly different from his childhood, and even more alien to his spirit. The poems above are all taken from his 1998 "Drømmebroen" collection, which roughly translates as "Dream bridges". This is because they are often stream of consciousness productions with an underlying dreamlike quality. But they are also as real and acute in their perceptions as a Wordsworth. Enjoy! Perhaps more Danish poetry will be coming to yet another blog of Great Poetry, mostly from poets unrecognised in the English-speaking world.
Tommy Strollers Poetry GeneralPosted by G. Thompson Tue, July 10, 2018 04:35:42
males you shake
makes you rock and roll
wakes up your soul
makes you cry
makes you wanna die
music-master knows the tunes to play
either up or down
In love or
broken hearted, free and outta town.
for the highway, the church and the
apartment just down the block
always there when you need it
stereoed, or spottified
there when you unlock
and get turned on or tuned out.
still get your glass of music
bar and passing cafe.
you hear your favourite singer
out from a passing car stereo
that heaven is literally