Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dick Jones - 3 Poems


On the night
that I was born,
the bells rang out
across the world.

In Coventry, in Dresden,
the cathedral bones sheltered
worshippers with candles,
witnessing the ruins.

In Auschwitz-Birkenau,
the story goes,
the death’s-head guards
sang, “Stille nacht,

heilige nacht”.  Their voices
slid across the Polish snow.
The sweetest tenor was Ukrainian,
the man they called Peter the Silent. 

He never spoke and he killed
with a lead-filled stick.
In the Union Factory, packing shells,
they dreamed of Moses.


In Horton Kirby, fields froze
and ice deadlocked the lanes.
My father rose in the cold
blue-before-dawn light

and cycled sideways,
wreathed in silver mist,
to the hospital.  Each turn
of the track betrayed him 

and scarred by thorns and gravel,
he bled by our bedside.
My mother laughed, she remembers,
as the nurse administered.

“Been in the wars?” she asked.
Outside, across the Weald,
from out of a cloudless dawn
the buzz bombs crumpled London.

Outside a town in the Ardennes
Private Taunitz hung
like a crippled kite
high in a tree.

A cruciform against the sky,
he seemed to run forever
through the branches,
running home for the new year.

Outside Budapest three men
diced for roubles
in the shelter of a tank.
Fitful rain, a moonless night.

Sasha struck a match
across the red star
on his helmet, the red star
that led them to this place.

Extra vodka, extra cigarettes,
a rabbit stewed,
the tolling of artillery
to celebrate the day.


The blackouts drawn,
December light invaded.
We awoke, slapped hard
by the early world.

Our siren voices
climbed into the morning,
a choir of outrage,
insect-thin but passionate.

Through tears our parents
smiled: within the song
of our despair they heard
a different tune.

And as our voices
sucked the air, swallowing
the grumble of the bombs,
only the bells survived.



Some mornings I lie half awake
waiting for the slow secret
of light to be revealed.

From rumour
into palpable fact,
the proposition of light

is merciless: the great affirmative
blades its arrival
into walls and ceiling.

Light like a voice
talks in corners,
disputes with darkness.

Light besieges the house;
a million photon breaths
liberate the windows.

In love with light,
called out of black sleep,
I rise into its clamour.



Night falls. It bellies up
to windows, crowds the house.
Da capo – dancing blind again:

stuck in a lift, trapped
in a mineshaft, premature
burial. A hood, a mask,

a carbon lens across the eyes.
A brush with oblivion, I mutter,
cottonmouthed and bitter. Sleep

is a secret whispered 
to everyone else;
I’m kept in the dark.

Then cries from your cradle:
birdsong, catcalls – you have
a menagerie in your throat.

I climb the stairs in twos
and find you caught
between solstice and equinox

with a pulse beating behind
your eyes. I hold you tight
and draw your dream

in a heartbeat. You smile
and, turning in my arms once,
you spill sleep like a benediction. 

The cipher cracks. Darkness
has no name. I slide
between its sheets.

Dick Jones
© 2010


  1. Fine work! I enjoyed all these very much.Lovely language throughout.. ' you spill sleep like a benediction'.... beautiful!

  2. Who dares not publish such as this? (Sorry - morning coffee makes me bold.)

    Every word and sound and image is so carefully selected to the greatest effect.

    The highest compliment I can give is to say that I am now shutting off my computer to write.