Who Is Like God?

 

a-boy-looking-out-to-sea

Who is like God?

Love was the father and love the mother.

You arrived in December, anticipating another Christmas

A reward in yourself rather than a present

A pilgrimage more than a journey

Because we cannot find love in ourselves

Only with another

And you were the purest love

The world of love in a moment

To complete the place that was prepared for you

A place shaped, breathed into, palpitating, anticipated for you

And you arrived linking Winter with Spring

A week after Mandela died and two days before his burying

You arrived, your hair already hinting of gold

Woven like the wealth of the Transvaal on the South African flag

You arrived to separate the before from the after

The Anno Domini

Dividing the past from the future

You arrived to say that there was no going back

As the Ukraine edged westwards

After the charge of the dark brigade in Crimea

And your mother wrote the gospel of your life

Like a scream of joy

As the Scribes and the Pharisees fled back to the Old Testament

Making way for the new covenant of love

Turning over and seeding the soil of hope

Too big an enterprise now for the old scythes and hoes

‘We need a tractor’ you said in almost your first words

And we realised that the lines and the furrows

Could mean happiness after all.

Roy Stannard for Michael’s Naming Day 21.8.16

For a version of this mixed with music please visit Soundcloud at:

The Language of Us

 

IMG_1717

The Language of Us

Before you, I walked at the edge of the group

A straggler in strangers

My life didn’t fit, held together with an unsafety pin

I was made not to measure

A bird not of a feather

And my hesitant shadow held back

Expecting never to be expectant, half a step behind

Like a skittish kitten, playing with fear

And then, amongst the bubble wrap multitude

Issuing and popping with importance

Was a face that emptied the page, cleared the stage

And invited me into your dressing room

Shutting out the mob that scratched and mewled against the door

And said sit down, I have a place for you

In my heart

Come and try it on

And I tried it on

Inviting you to lunch without waiting for an answer

Knowing that the glistening still water waves of the Marina

Would caress our conversation

And lap at our bruised emotions

As we refused everything on the menu except love

We had been things to other people

We had appeared as guests in others memories

We were both in a foreign country

But as the first twitch of feeling shivered between us

We found we had the language of us

That said yes whenever we touched.

Roy Stannard for Natasha

20.8.16

For a recorded version with music on Soundcloud please click here:

Scarecrows

Image

Scarecrows

On days like these

When we check the condition of our hearts

And look back across our scarecrow lives

At nervous futures scattered in fright,

It would have been so easy to be lonely,

Miming to the multiple images of ourselves

In the infinity of mirrors

To hide in the nearest designer crowd collection

Turn pages in a corner, flock to a hidden place

and narrate our tales of what might have been

to an audience heading for the doors.

But today, of all days, we celebrate

The accident of intersection

When two lives crossed paths and connected

When sentences starting apart end together

Where thoughts form in each other’s imaginings

And become real

No longer ragmen to scare the birds

Our eyes light up

When everyone else is looking down

Sentinel in the barren fields of the everyday

Whilst the sensual blood-reared touch of our hands

Transform the ragamuffin tatters of the past.

We have ploughed our disappointments into the fields

And scattered regret to the winds

The blackbirds and the crows now peck in other places

As we pulse to the beat of this heart-felt, heart longed-for day

and the flotsam, jetsam, floaters, jokers and pieces of hope

that used to adhere to our detritus dreams

and hodgepodge passions

No longer see straw men

But the beauty of lovers

Making hay while the sun shines.

 

Roy Stannard 14.2.13

The End of Failing

The End of Failing

 

The Winter tide nibbles at a toe-dipped shoreline,

Above, the lowering sky grumbles at the lack of light

smudging a moleskin horizon.

A couple embroider loose stitches along the waveline

emerging like creation from the waters

half-way between the depths and the heights,

not quite fact or fiction

holding hands, in comfort as well as exploration.

Your heart asked God to place a pound in your path

if it was meant to be

and he said yes by giving you two.

On the Adur estuary skimming dreams across the surface

counting them as they bounce

not sinking or needing to come up for breath

In the perfect frozen stillness

we watch a lonely cormorant float across the sky

The sun is still a distant promise

but we feel the warmth of future fires igniting

And later in a wind-whipped harbour we watch

the sailing fantasies of absent mariners

moored together for warmth, as the north-east trades

blow us together, forging our shared heart as it shivers into being.

We take photographs, as if present at the birth of a great event

and we follow the currents to Bosham,

reading the runes in the seaweed signatures,

seeing etched

on the gulls-egg horizon

a tale we would not have dared to write

in the oblivion of yesterday

the hope, the honouring of a promise and the end of failing.

Roy Stannard 7.2.12

Alfriston

Alfriston - St Andrews in the Tye, raised mount and flint walls

Alfriston

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I still hear your sea winds blowing

I was 21 the last time I smuggled myself into your secret passages

It was sunny then too, with the light dappling at windows

like an impressionist painter with an endless palette of time.

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I can still hear your sea waves crashing

At the end of the Cuckmere where Eleanor Farjeon’s morning was broken

Sea trout, dace and perch open their gills

as the anglers brace their lines.

I lock my car and recall an Anglia owned by a brave young student

abandoned beneath the tree in the village square,

its straight 4 engine glowing with the exertion of the trek from Falmer.

Tucked under my confidence then was the contraband of hope

And today there’s an Inn called the Smugglers, a kind of memorial.

 

Alfriston, oh Alfriston

I still see her standing by the stream on the east of the village

Looking over the valley of lows and highs

We unfolded our plans on precious parchment, wondering

where this unmapped love would take us.

Today I look at the steeple on the Tye and can still see the tears

That watered my memory, my crying shame.

And the raised mount of St Andrews and its flint wall

express the dialectic of the place, the uplifts and falls

like a gull wheeling in the small eddies and minor currents

and a man down, below.

 

 Roy Stannard 6.10.11

 

On National Poetry Day – with apologies to Jim Webb and Glen Campbell

Seagulls by Roy Stannard

Littlehampton (edited)

 

Seagulls

There must always be seagulls

Just as there were

When I struck  lucky

And met you

Offering you a lift

In a quiet seaside town

Where nothing happens, except us.

That was ten years

And many seagulls ago

But the same sense

That anything could happen

Happens again

As I look into those eyes

Looking at me now

Blue like the sea in July

Always flowing back in my direction

Seeking the next horizon.

We need the seagulls

To remind us

That there is a world beyond

The trampled square we occupy

Where our dreams can take wing

Our children fly

And the people we always were

Will always be.

 

Roy Stannard

The Woman who stopped burning inside by Roy Stannard (Secret psychology Pt 2)

The Fire Dragon

Here is a story to help you give up.

One day, a long time ago when this beautiful young girl was a teenager and everyone around her seemed so much more grown up and sophisticated than her, she decided that she needed an adult magic wand – something to help her fit in with the grown up world of smoky bars and mysterious clubs.

Someone offered her a cigarette and this beautiful young woman, not knowing that the real reason for the person offering her the cigarette was jealousy, innocently accepted the cigarette and lit it. The acrid smoke filled her lungs and almost choked her. How could anyone enjoy this experience?

However, because she desperately needed to fit in and win the approval of her peers she persisted with this terrible burning sensation and eventually the horrible side effects started to disappear – not that they left, just that the beautiful young girl didn’t notice them any more.

After a while the lovely young woman subtly changed, she didn’t look so young any more. Whenever, she wanted to look cool and sophisticated she fired up a cigarette and puffed at it reflectively, looking mysterious and artistic. However, her close friends and family didn’t know how to tell her that the smoke from the cigarette was coming from both ends of her body. As she inhaled and exhaled, the smoke poured, a trickle at first and then a torrent, escaping from other parts of her body. She was slowly burning away inside.

By now, there was no pretence that the cigarette was making her look cool and sophisticated. The evil stick of poison that lurked in her handbag sniggered horribly to itself, knowing that its owner would not be able to resist taking it out and applying a light to it, enabling it to further its mission of burning her away inside.

After a few more years had passed, the beautiful young woman was beautiful no more. She was now known as the dragon lady, because fire and smoke blew from her as she walked. Children cowered in front of her, avoiding her flaming breath, which was noxious and foul smelling.

The evil little stick in her bag whispered to her, telling her that she would never be able to give him up, for she depended on him for her very life – and the pain of rejecting him would be too great. This was a lie, as others had told the evil midget stick to begone – and he had to obey because all human beings control their destinies, whatever the doubters think.

One day the beautiful woman’s children approached her with masks over their faces, to protect themselves from her raging, flaming anger and issued an ultimatum. ‘The evil white stick – or us Mummy’, they cried, with tears falling softly to the ground, hissing on the heat and smoke that surrounded the woman.

The woman had heard a wise old man in the cave on the mountain had the answer to stopping the dominion of the evil white stick. She went to see him. He laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. ‘Indeed yes, there is an answer’, he said. ‘You must remember this one thing. The human being is not what it does. You are not a smoker, you are a human being who smokes. The choice is yours. Choose to stop. It is your destiny.’

The beautiful woman realized that she was not a slowly evaporating puff of smoke, but a unique human being who makes a decision every time she puts an evil white stick in her mouth. If she could choose to do this, she could choose not to do it. The sun rose, the clouds parted, the air on the mountain side smelled sweet. She was a free woman. The evil white stick in her hand looked frightened and then turned to dust. She was no longer a smoker, but a woman who chose not to smoke. A woman who chose beauty and family, life and hope. A woman with a future.

Roy Stannard 13.7.09