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

 

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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:

Farewell, Old Long Since

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Farewell, Old Long Since

The final minutes of the year

kiss furtively in a back alley of good intentions

The clocks call it a day

before winding up the night, the fireworks

wrote my name in the sky, briefly

And if you weren’t in a party you were no-one.

But Auld Lang Syne marched in time with the times

and carried our new found best friends

into our best remembered memories

even if the memories were left crying outside

before their cue at midnight

when the legends of the dancefloor

  become legless and the wallflowers wilt,

the high resolutions become low

and the turntable revolutions spin more slowly.

The herd of words that were heard all year spill to the floor

The Châteauneuf-du-Pape language jars and refills

as shapes and sizes and faces and guises

threaten comebacks in the new year

that haunt rather than revive

Like televised fireworks

and 70% proof good intentions

that slur sloth-like across the mouths

of the carelessly happy

tripping over the light fandangos

showing off their moves in slow motion

as fast as they can remember them

like Pinkerton remembered his Butterfly

as the knife fell

and the night began, all over again.

So farewell to the old, we were uncomfortable

with its long since lines and wisdom

and the way it shuffle-danced

and kissed everyone tremulously

like a tipsy iron maiden aunt.

It was a year that started with can’t and ended up in the can

It was a year of just missing the bus

and falling in love

In the queue for the next one

It was a year that didn’t stop for anyone

but there will be another one along in a minute.

Roy Stannard 1.1.14

Listen to a live recording of Roy performing this on The Whole Nine Yards 2.1.14

https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-farewell-old-long

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

Mean Time

Shadows Mingle

 

Mean Time

 

Where the sea kisses the horizon

Someone once drew a line

and now we see the boundary when before there was just a deeper blue.

In the beginning there were days when I drew you with words

that turned into sentences.

Why is it when we see a gate

we want to close it?

Even if there is nothing either side?

And when there is grass

We long to shorten it.

The long misty country trails turn into infinity

not destinations

as far as the eye can see.

When we walk together and our shadows mingle

There is no point where one person ends and another begins

Perhaps there isn’t meant to be.

When you fully discover another

and the soft edges become a little harder

the temptation to repaint the masterpiece

pouring trouble onto oily waters

doesn’t lead to change, only the desire to change the very thing

that was autographed by the Creator.

From here

in the deep, uncharted sun-chipped pools

On the endless shore of being

Where the you meets the me

Someone has drawn a line

Like a monstrous meridian

Snatching mean time

from a perfect eternity.

 

Roy Stannard. 17th May 2011

 

The Trouble with Rock Pools

 

 

A life in the shallows (c) Callum Stannard Photography

The Trouble with Rock Pools

The trouble with rock pools

Lies in their ability to amuse for hours

Within the umbilical of the shore

Brand new worlds in a bucket

Full of small, perfectly formed life

Not going very far.

Toe-dipping experience, warm, comfortable

Filled with tiny creatures of no moment

Inching their way around pebbles

Winking at you with their baby claws

Raised in small battlefield surrender

Our shadows fly over the surface, somehow

More courageous, yet not immersed

The seaweed is a figleaf not a forest,

Easy to look beneath and the silver shadows

darting hint at more but we always get less.

The sun shines on the familiar, warming and dispersing

A step away from condensation, the tide runs half a lap

The seagulls move in different circles

The first wind never quite gets its second

We are safe where we can see, sure

That we will never be out of our depth

We paddle, not plunge

The trails of our life idle on the surface

Too small even for horizons

Learned in an instant, available the same time tomorrow

Same time, same place, same me

Asking is this a small break in the beach

Or a taste of the ocean?

The trouble with rock pools

Lies with our fascination with life in the shallows

Instead of the land out to sea.

 

 

Roy Stannard

7th October 2010

 

Life and depth (c) Callum Stannard photography