For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year


New Year

Poised between past and future
Between alpha and omega
Between failure and fear of failure


I rub the almond that we’d picked,
Unripe, in Agrigento, Sicily. Once plucked
It could not ripen. Hard in my hand

It lodges: a furred, green pebble
Now blemished black. The nutcracker
Had skidded off its hull.

My mind goes back
To that low ridge of broken temples,
Tumbled blocks of stone,

Lintels at crazy angles,
Weeds creviced in the rock,
Wine-dark caverns, olive groves.

At one cave wall we whispered and,
Incredibly, the echo boomed like thunder.
Were the gods displeased?

Or had the gods fled long ago
The lemon gardens of Agrigento,
Lizards flicking the hot stones?

We are not strangers, yet we were
Half-strangers to each other then,
Lovers lost in a stricken city

Of split columns, cracked entablatures.
Just like empires, we decline and fall.
Our glories fade like jasmine flowers,

Our dreams die with the gods,
Our empty promises
Useless as unripe amandolas.


8 comments:

Grizz………… said...

What a wonderful poem! One of your best—and that's saying something because I admire so many of your poems. You are a gifted writer, Robert, and I can't begin to tell you how much I've enjoyed reading your posts and (too infrequent) emails.

I hope the year ahead—like all unknown trails winding off into the misty distance—carry you to the best adventures of your life…and that you share at least a few of them here on these pages.

Happy New Year!

George said...

An absolutely fabulous poem, Robert. I could not agree more with Grizz; you are, indeed, a very, gifted writer. This poem is beautifully crafted, and it seems to speak to a part of the human condition that is timeless. What I like most about your poems, however, is your courageous and heartfelt honesty. You lay things on the line, and in doing so, you leave them in the hearts of your readers.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

A brilliant poem, SW, and very powerful.

May your 2011 be tilted towards dreams and like a fruitful orchard echoing with song.

Arija said...

Such an evocative poem! A real delight.

Sometimes they just well up in one.

Have a most Wonderful New Year!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love this Robert - and it reminded me of my time with David in Agrigento - lovely place.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

A beautiful poem, Robert. Its effect in me is lke that whisper in the well that becomes an echo boom of thunder.

Happy new year.

Ruth said...

What a round and beautiful poem this is, Robert. There is much here, but it is also tight, focused. Broken temples and broken promises mix with the ruins of memory. I find hope in those timeless lemon gardens.

What a reverie you have sent me into . . .

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks everyone for your generous comments on my poem.