Does Anyone Know?

Does Anyone Know?

Does anyone know what it is like?
To have a full heart in a free world
With the cares of children who never cry
Never knowing hunger or loneliness

Does anyone know what it is like?
To have a free heart in a free world
To be spiritually rich and loved
With the care of a child who will never cry

Does anyone know what it is like?
To live a life free from any fear
To be like Peter walking on the sea
And to trust in God that you’ll never die

Does any one even dare to think?
What life would be like when provided for
By the God of heaven in his success
When never a true love will be heard to sigh

I look out of my window at the wind
I look out of my window at the cloud
And there I see in my heart of hope
A better future world under the sky

Words About Death and Dying

Words about death and dying
Will die with the dead
Poems about life and living
Will live on instead

The magic of life and living
Will grow and be more alive
The wonder of love and loving
Will fill each and everyone’s eyes

The Lombardy Poplars

I’m reading about how this wet April month
Has inspired the bluebell to burst out in effusion.
I think about the woods on Winter Hill
And the view across the winding river.

This depression deepens like a newly dug mineshaft
How deep are they dug into the earth?
Before the crop of darkness overwhelms
And the coal board closes it down.

Now you must be making a Sunday dinner
For friends from far and wide to descend on
While it pours with rain on Richmond Hill
And Canary Wharf Tower hides in the clouds.

If I had the eye of a simple pigeon
Could I focus on the coming sunset?
Could I flap two wings and fly away?
With nothing in my heart but tranquility.

There is Carolyn with those Lombardy Poplars
Her little blue eyes looking you straight in the face
Standing by the seven stumps left by developers
Who do they think they are that they buy and uproot?

I am down amongst their agonised roots
Those roots are like a mother to me
A mother who can no longer smell nice
A mother who will grow no taller.

The sky draws me up and out
The last of my spirit dances there
Above the seven stumps of the Lombardy Poplars
That are left for dead in Viaduct Street.

While Carolyn walks to the Reference Library
And in her Pennsylvanian accent asks for her books
Alone she asks for council records
As her eyes dig down into the foundations of government.

And Sean standing at his very own doorstep
Where a battle had raged for years
Over the names on his tenancy agreement
Finally won the right to stand there.

And Sean on his very own doorstep
How he kept the front door wide open that day
As if phantoms were there as his doorman
Looking down on the graveyard outside.

With his floor strewn with photocopies
That he highlighted in yellow ink
How serious he has become about their policies
That nearly made him homeless.

Then there’s Nick in his new flat
He’s got so many friends in to see him
Talking about music and making his films
And about his brother who breaks things.

While I walked across Weavers Fields
Alone with just a crumb of truth in me
How I felt that I was inside an ocean
Or with an ocean on the inside of me.

Bethnal Green 2000

I can smell my mother’s perfume

I can smell my mother’s perfume
It’s a memory from long ago
Tears try to well up inside me
But the pain develops too slow.

A memory mixed with anger
For her hard life like a tomb.
I can remember her in her best dress
And I can smell my mothers perfume.

A working class woman from Marlow
Crippled by the poverty trap
Crippled by a lack of affection
By the bad luck that fell on her lap.

She died wanting to know who loved her
It was the last words I heard her say
Her words were like the smell of her perfume
That I remember down to this day.

I can remember my mother’s perfume
A two-shilling bottle of scent
That I brought for her on her birthday
With the pocket money I spent.

When I was only an eight-year-old
She kept it as a special keepsake.
Now I have that little bottle of scent
Only half used up to this date.

I remember it in her cabinet
By the wall of the old spare room
And I’m taken back to my childhood
By the memory of my mothers perfume.

perfume
my mothers perfume bottle

A reprimand from the absent guest at the A.G.M

You invited yourself along and all that you do came too. Carolyn’s shrub, wet with pain, you passed by as if you wore the night like a fairy tale. Now what have you done with the oyster of your mouth? Counting the steps of my vertebrae up to the moon that rattles in my brain amongst the deadwood of words; A white lie in the dream of corridors echoed through the old building like a rampant albino nettle. The piano played like a skeleton in the hunger of my heart; the music was a dark closeted room of loneliness; Despairing in the maze of rooms in my identity of ice and fire. A spoil of war put at your feet by the red ghost of love.

How often unfairness drags me through prison walls laughing
How often has unfairness blunted my own words in my own heart?

Tired alone and defeated by the stress of cats mewing in my brain
I left you to the spoils of war fashioned out of the ivories of my bones.

Now you have formed a mystery with me
Your inbred arrogance slips through the closed door like bath water.

I can hear the voices of the roses inside
But all I’m given are the pledges of distant voices.

My imagination is plastic and it is clay
It is formed into whatever you want it to from.

If I were a man made of glass windows
The world would see the fool inside in his red fur coat.

But it seemed like a normal day to Jehovah
And I seemed like a grain of sand in a fire.

 

2000

Life surrounds you, hems you in

Life surrounds you and hems you in
People like antibodies congeal on you
Drag you down to the ground
Pin you to the floor so you cannot travel

The place where you grew is far away
Those you grew up with are trapped
By life congealing around them

A force for life or a force for death
Loved ones are separated from you
the power of strangers crowds around them

And each man, woman and child
Is helpless in the sea of humanity
Is sown into the fabric of life
Absorbed into the quicksand of society

Freedom is a level 10 in the heart
So many of us barely reach a level 2
We sit into the tapestry of life around us
Like birds without homes flying forever

2002

Spitalfields Music Festival 1996

TO CATHY, STUDENT OF THE CLARINET.

You have the same voice now
As when you were a girl
You are the same person now
As when you were a girl
Your new found beauty of form and face
Makes you want to search for love
With the urgency of a swelling ocean
As if that vast emptiness
Is the emptiness your heart has found

You see a reflection in the calm sea
You dance sweetly in high heels
Across the glassy waters surface
Joyful in your new maturity
Innocent as gentle snowflakes
Melting in the warm sea
Where armies of fish swim
To the lands of dreams
To war with the surging rivers

Then you fall in love
You grasp at shadows
That weave and fly
You dart like a sea bird
To capture those fish
But who is he
What does he think?
As he swims with armies
To the land of dreams
With young girls following

12 June

TO HONEY THE GUIDEDOG

LOCKED OUT OF HAWKSMOORS CHURCH

The evening was a lantern
Where a weak light let a thousand
Shadows dance, a bodiless dance
To the harpsichords silver tone.

Under the churches portico I sat
Caring for a blindman’s guide dog
Who’d gone through the door
Into the concert inside.

The setting was theatrical
Thistle light burnt through the darkness
The essence of music falling
Into the empty sanctuary.

The churches disrepair
As a million hungry memories
Of Dickens destitute and poor
Filled mahogany gallery

Thirsting for a spiritual drink
The strong smelling breath
Of fallen unrepentant men
Filled the soup rooms in the crypt

Turning their backs upon the scores
Of recital and of cantata
While the blind man’s guide dog whimpered
Waiting for his masters return

The guide-dogs loyal love
Hotter then Hawksmoor’s architecture
More dependable then the human spirit
That let these walls crumble

12 June

YELLOW UNDERWING

What if the moth
Never sees the moon?
It’s not your time
Born in the month of June.
Yellow Underwing
Dead upon the pavement
The moon is due soon
In the summer night sky.
Will it send you spiralling?
Soaked in silver light
Tongue curled like a dragons
Eyes like satellite eyes.
Yellow Underwing
To you the blackbirds sing.
Where did your spirit go?
Where did your spirit drift?
To leave those Yellow Underwings
To startle the street,
Made of tissue paper
Made of talcum powder.

Children much like you
Have been casualties too
Fallen under the scythe
Of rush-hour blindness.
Yellow Underwing
Where does your spirit drift?
Let me open my palm
Let me catch it upon my palm
Let me take it back home
Let it flutter there
Around the light-bulb
With wings all aquiver
Made of coloured silks
Dusted with scented talcum powder
A lover in the night
Sending signals to the moon
Restless for some tender care
Restless for delight.

Yellow Underwing
Pretty Underwing
To you the berry filled blackbird
Sings a song in passing
That saw you born;
That saw you fall
Clumsy from your sleep
Under the scythe
Of rush-hour blindness;
Smaller then a tiny flower
Your spirit circled and went away
To leave your painted body
To fade from natures gallery;
And does your tiny spirit
Fade away like a flower?
Or like a seed is it saved?
To sleep beneath the earth
Yellow Underwing
To sleep beneath the earth.

12/6/96

Evening light was fading

Evening light was fading
Violins played endlessly
Tension grew continuously
Isolation grew a lucid dream

Evening faded, violins played
Tension grew in fading light
In elongated stretched chords
Church vibrated continuously

Violins threw gladiatorial nets
A stampede of tension, rapid of sound
Loneliness blossomed like Bittersweet
Hung in the isles like repentant dead

Violins played continuously
Evening light faded endlessly
Tension grew, a public execution
The lucid dream engulfed the church

Muscles vibrated like steel strings
Flesh quivered like sound boxes
Air was strewn with molecular graffiti
Pins of sound like arrows of battle

Violins played endlessly
Tension grew continuously
Breathless out of control
Then they ended suddenly

June

Song: She’s just the Girl in the Adverts

Once again I’m asked – who’s that by your side?
Who is that girl I saw you with? Are they being paranoid?
She’s is just a friend of mine we’re sharing the same hurt
I’m the boy from the looking glass crowd, and she’s the girl in the advert

Look and you will see her on posters everywhere
don’t ask me who she is now, you must surely know
She’s the lonely girl in the adverts at every port of call
The lonely girl in the adverts who looks from every wall

They wonder whom I’m seeing, they must not use their eyes
I’m the boy in the looking glass, She’s the girl on wall
She’s the girl in the adverts who’s walking by my side
She’s the girl from the adverts So don’t be paranoid

She’s the girl in the adverts Selling the thing you like to eat
Please don’t be so paranoid When you see her walking with me
She’s the girl in the adverts the girl in the camera lens
She’s the girl in the adverts and we’re just very good friends

She’s just from the advert There’s nothing going on
She’s just the girl from the adverts She’s just the girl in my song
You see her on the billboards at every port of call
You see her in the bus stop she’s posted on the wall

She’s just the girl in the advert Please just use your eyes
She’s just the girl in the adverts So don’t be paranoid
She’s in the ice cream advert The chocolate bar one too
She’s just the girl in the adverts Those advertise to you

Chocolate bars and ice cream in a tropical paradise
She’s just the girl in the advert The one who always looks nice
Surely you have seen her Why don’t you use your eyes?
She’s just the girl in the adverts So don’t be paranoid

And if you see her out with me don’t be so surprised
She’s just the girl in the adverts So don’t be paranoid
Surely you must know her By now she’s everywhere
She’s just the girl in the adverts The one with the long straight hair

She’s the girl in the adverts who never speaks aloud
She’s just the girl in the adverts And I’m the boy from the looking glass crowd
She’s the girl in the adverts She doesn’t want to offend
She’s just the girl in the adverts And she’s really  my friend

You don’t know who she is This girl who’s by my side
Now you think what you want to think and you being paranoid
She’s just the girl in the advert Why don’t you use your eyes?
She’s just the girl in the advert that here by my side

She’s advertising ice cream and of chocolate too
She’s the girl with the long straight hair Who advertises to you
She’s the girl in the advert there’s no beginning, there’s no end
She’s just the girl in the advert And she really is my friend

2002

© Michael Aitken 2019

the girl in the adverts

Please click to see a PDF of the music

 

 

From the unloved country I came to you

From the unloved country I came to you
From the land of the crushed chrysalis
Where the deformed butterflies cry
At their images in the cool water
Who never could fly and fill the deserts
Crawling from one edge to the other and back again

This unloved country where all of mankind’s hate goes
Where it rains hate from around the world continually
Upon the butterfly people crushed
Like lovers caught in a holocaust
Blackened they emerge like surrealist sculptures
Hollow of anger, hollow of hate

Having had the love sucked out of their bones
I come to you on their behalf just to tell you this

My father’s time

My father’s time
Was tyrannosaurus Rex
That terrorized his earth
Was the empty eye sockets
Of a skull
That he alone saw into

It was an ultra precious
Mercurial metal locked into a box that he alone owned the key to
It was a very special venerated god
That he would never talk about

Time in his eyes
Was a hard thing to own
And a hard thing to give
It was hoarded like Inca gold
In a blood soaked room beneath the altar

His eyes, the eyes of one who was a rebel
A fighters eyes
He fought against time all his life
In a ring surrounded by death clapping and cheering him on

He never won a fight against it
He saved what was not won
As if it were the inanimate object
That broke all the bones in his body
He saved it like the memory of a precious enemy he wanted to conquer
He saved it as if it were arrows and fountain pens standing in the pools of his blood

His eyes, his eyes said
His eyes said of time
His eyes, his ferocious eyes said to me of time
Beware of it and treat it with respect
It is the unconquered enemy
It is nothing

It’s as if his own farther
Were time itself
As if it were the fists of his own father
Beating up on him

It’s as if time itself has replaced love
And was coming for him
From a long distance away
To fight another round with him

But out of all that conflict
Out of the scraps of it left behind
He fashioned a timepiece
Hammered and tooled by experts
And he gave it to me as the only gift

And some days it eludes me
For days on end time eludes me
But, occasionally, I can grab it by the tail
And I will work it like a mule

There is a River to Life

There is a river to life
With many streams.
You should look out for them
Keep their paths clear.

When I open a south facing door
Onto my sunny buzzing garden
I must open a north facing window
Under a shaded balcony.

If there is no through way
The insects get trapped inside the room
They bombard the north facing windows
Like angry suicide pilots.

The direction all things travel in
The flow of the stream
And of how all the rivers of life
Will flow down to a sea.

In the morning

The morning
Seems to be the best time
To throw out your net.

You pull it back in
With one or two
Bloggers trapped inside
Who like you.

The Priests Woman

Love, you hold out your hand to me
Suddenly the world is blanketed in snow
Icicles hang from your fingertips and I feel cold

Love, you hold out your lips to me
Suddenly everywhere is cold and blue
Your long white dress clinks like ice
The wood of your bones creaks in the wind

Love, you look at me with your eyes
Ice frozen cages that capture the past
Eyes as hard as memorial stones
Bright as the blinding sun upon the snowfield

My heart like a tulip bulb aching to flower
Wrapped in the chains of your winter

Love, your body like a pillow of snow and ice
Love, why do you look back into the blizzard

Will you lead the world to the edge of darkness?
With words as bright as torches
When your foot steps into the night
It’s the earth the fire wind scorches

Your face shines like a crusader’s shield
And you think you stand on Mt Sinai
As your chiefs prepare the battle fields
Where eagles circle in the smoky sky

As you drive your knife into madness itself
And you shoot your gun at insanity
Like a shadow it moves with bodiless stealth
A bloodless thing you can’t see

When love is covered in blood and tears
Wrapped up in the shawls of revenge
How will you calm your animal fears?
Or stop its sacrifice at this Stonehenge

I want yesterday

I want yesterday
To happen again
laid out like cling film
across the earth

I know yesterday
where it sleeps
how to tuck it in
how to dream it

I can see its performance
its field of sweat
its goal posts
its overcoats of blood

I can slip my hands into its pockets
I can use its shoes
I know where to find my home there
Between the ruins

Tomorrow I do not know
If history has any say there
If knowledge will be of any help
(Between the wreck of the Belgrano and the ruins of Bagdad)

Tomorrow may be changed beyond recognition
Between the tank tracks and the Euro economy
Between the vandals and the terrorists
Between the rich people and the new technology

Bring back the yesterday
let me stand on its hill of garbage
in contrast to which
I seem to shine like a star