Four Winter Poems by Owen Clayborn
I am kept from you
only by her thin hair,
her small head on my chest,
and her smile I would miss
Slaving Pain to Bones
Slaving pain to bones
Our cruel feet
Cannot evolve the promiscuous dark
And hands slip from hands
that once depression slaked.
(With thanks to William Blake)
I used to have a cigarette every morning,
and lie smoking, ignoring the birds;
The traffic on the dual carriageway,
And the trucks would smoke with me:
A miserable fellowship.
But when the bus turned up in May —
God, what depression.
Watched by a tired old fool,
We would sit there
Butterflies in my gut;
Getting nothing from the textbook,
Hardly held by their teaching,
Exhausted by the rain.
I never got how a human spirit
Could be trapped like that.
A monkey-soul, full of anxiety,
Losing the elasticity of youth,
Shedding every happy thought!
One dealt hash under the desk,
Another retold last night’s fingering;
All these buds and sprouts
Growing cramped in the dark,
When there should have been light and space, —
But if this was summer,
Then what strange blooms would grow,
And what shapes form in the smoke,
And questing fingers unearth,
In the harsh frost of the year’s end?
Dusk, the Thirteenth
Pale blue and pale brown, living latticework
of sticks and clouds, blowing, booming, bending
in the mild gale, seen from my table.
The rattle of the magpie in the oak,
the automatic gunshot from the fields
scaring rooks from God knows what. Pointless noise.
Snaps of hail are wintering up the windows,
a warning of the cold to come, how hard
a frost the world could get. I sip my wine:
the day is ended by the blood of France,
of many nations.
I hear children
crying in the wind,
the sigh of sand drifting
on dead shores over
tracing Europe’s bones.
Over the airwaves, the crack
of jets; the plume
of war being written large
for the third time.
***Owen Clayborn is a British-American writer of poetry, full-length fiction, and short stories. His work usually features roguish characters in unusual situations. Owen is currently working on a picaresque novel. Follow Owen on Twitter at:https://twitter.com/claybornwrites ***