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Iconic Rose

A work in progress

About 'Iconic Rose' The Poet and the Rose Other poems

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About 'Iconic Rose'

When there is a change of Muse, there is a change of poetry. 'Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree' concluded with the loss of the first Muse; 'Iconic Rose' begins with the arrival of the second. From the time I met her online, I began writing poetry 'as' her, not just 'about' her, as a way to help her express herself during a difficult time, changing her situation from 'time of trial' into art. Having succeeded in both art and emotional support, I then continued in that vein with other people, telling their stories from their own perspective.

Following the second Muse's life in 2007 was a breathtaking experience which caused a revolution in my writing. I then felt the need to go back and revise all the poetry I had written so far. Thus the first of my poetry to feature her as subject is in 'Iconic Rose', but 'Portrait' and 'Aurorielle' also owe much to her, even though I had never met her when their contents were first written.

I am considering working the poetry inspired by the second Muse into a tale of mixed prose and poetry, describing the struggles of a Poet to support and encourage his distant Muse during a pivotal period. 'The Poet and the Rose' seems a suitable title. As for where the story ends, events have yet to decide.

There is plenty of other poetry from the same period that could be included. 'The Badger and the Mongoose', though written in the same period, makes a nice little book on its own. I think it should be left separate. The opening work on the 'Gawain' material (see the 'Arthurian' page) might be included, as it forms a good introduction to what is to come. There is also a broad miscellany of other short poetry that would best be included in 'Iconic Rose' together with the longer poems, or poem cycles.

Forming all this content into a book is some way off, as no-one yet knows how the story of the second Muse will end. I include some selections below.

The Poet and the Rose


Photo: E. Glas Durboraw

Money is lovely; love succumbs to money.
What in the world shall tell us where to go
but words of love, and money? Say it's so,
say stay, a little longer drink my honey.
I am the earth, and you the wind; I wonder
where shall the strong wind blow, for I must stay -
my feet so deeply rooted in the clay.
Love, and not money, tears my earth asunder.
Your words are what I wait for; hope most dear,
this hope that lingers, fingering my soul,
will always overcome my self control.
For though I wail a week, or heal a year,
nothing could hurt me hard as not to know
if words are love; or loving money, will you go?


The wild island

Photo: Marisa Franks

The thunder-love is running through my heart -
deep are the beats that sweep beneath my skin.
Is love itself alive, down deep within?
Oh, will its beating tear my soul apart?
Terrible tremors rend me when we part,
and put my lone emotions in a spin;
my spirit ever felt itself your twin -
nothing can succour me, if you depart.
Didn't you know, when first you took my love,
no dam can stem the passions that I feel,
or cold decisions rule my aching soul?
If you were made of clay by hands above,
wouldn't you think to give, and not to steal
some corner of my heart, but take the whole?

Wild as an island tossed in winter's waves
so still I stand, to cup a living flame -
in solitude to keep my heart still warm.
I will abide here, lonely in the storm,
until some other one of passion's slaves
will wake from sleep to shatter all my shame,
and take with me one sole and only form.


Passion in action

Photo: Ed Cunningham

You who follow love, follow me;
all the earth around's not so far.
Though it should be drowned by the sea,
still I will be found where you are.
You are in the mist on the hills,
I am in the songs of the sand;
when we have united our wills,
ours will be a beautiful land.


AlexaNdrine #5 - Angel of Spring

Photo: Rachel Hutchinson

I am a wild heart; yet no wilderness.
Love lives in me as rivers in the earth,
flowing through fields in force or gentleness,
and has since ever Love first gave me birth.
In being who I am I bring you blessing;
mine is to bring new life to dreary plains,
wandering in courses new beyond your guessing,
sometimes in flood whenever heaven rains.
This is my life; my course may often wander.
Others may cling to comfort found in peace,
but when my feelings falter as I ponder,
change is the way to bring my soul release.
Angel of Spring or summer's flood in season,
whatever I appear, from love arose my reason.


Iconic Rose

Photo: Marisa Franks

Mirror, mirror, show me the lonely muse
who doesn't know the power of her heart,
and wonders why a poet sings and strews
his churning words before her - to impart
some solace for her sentimental soul,
which flares unbearably from time to time,
because she dares to live emotions whole
while others merely mimic them in mime.

Yet if you knew how beautiful you are,
then vanity could take it all away,
and form you haughty, high and peril-proud -
as bright and bitter as the farthest star;
a cool and comely comet for a day -
a minute's marvel, darling of the crowd.

Instead, I'm just a jester at your court,
rhyming the lines with which your ears are kissed,
seeking to feel the beating of your heart,
and celebrate a soul without a chain.
Heed for a season verses that I wrought,
while still the blissful memories persist
of love's first flame awaking at the start,
and one iconic rose amidst the rain.


For the Passionate Woman

Photo: E. Glas Durboraw

I want to mesh the sky within your hair,
your breasts like rolling hills that hold the streams
'neath wistful clouds that issue from your dreams,
your sanctuary-arms shall form my lair.
Let all of nature play before your feet
lit by the lovely colour of your eyes,
your voice the source that sounds the wind with sighs
and sun shall shine to sing your curves complete.
Bother tomorrow troubling today,
trying to take the time away from truth -
indiffer'nt to the thrilling tide of youth,
setting the trap of caution in your way.
Mad passion sparks no poems if the sun
rides rings round years until your summer's done.


Far away

Photo: Chris Gray

Straight ways and broader boulevards of life
await you in the city far and fair,
but sad to say, in spite of all my strife,
I'll never see the sunlight on your hair.
You live as if the serpent never sinned,
and sail the crowds around you all a-thronging -
but I will be a whisper on the wind
that wanders the apocalypse of longing.


Game of love

Carved in my heart are ten cold stepping stones,
each lettered with a name remembered well,
and uttered with such deep and grievous groans
as might announce some hell.

But such sweet griefs as these a man may climb,
who longs to reach the summits of his love,
and suffers yet no lesser paradigm
than setting free his dove.

And if to keep her I must make a cage,
although it be of gold with beauteous bells,
instead I'll simply shuffle from the stage,
and make no jealous hells.

What does it profit man to have his will?
To enter into emptiness and shame,
still drinking deep of what can never fill,
by making love a game.



Photo: Dean Ansley

Some eyes are mirrors, yet a window still,
to those who know the way within the smile -
where all the wonder of a woman's will
reflects her style.

And when the mirrors rise to save what's soft,
most gentle, tender, delicate of soul,
but windows still to me are open oft,
you make me whole.


AlexaNdrine #3

Photo: Dean Ansley

Some days the sun won't shine, or smile on dreams,
and being very weary since it shone -
shone on a different life long years ago,
and all too soon indifferent sought the clouds -
often it's all too easy, so it seems,
to think that all my hopes in life have gone
and left me in this wilderness I know
estranged from lost and long forgotten crowds -
You are the thought my mind returns to hold;
yours is the court in which I sing my songs;
yours is a mystery pow'r that I can see,
when in your absence bitter winds blow cold,
your voice the sound for which my spirit longs -
then I remember most that you believed in me.


Other poems

For the lonely

To Alana Ingle.
Photo by Alana Ingle.

Hunched at a keyboard, deep in thought,
the quiet girl who's lost at home -
she's past all care for what she's taught;
tonight, around the world she'll roam
where people she will never meet
write funny things; or if they hate
it's easy enough to click 'delete',
and make their words abate.

But every now and then she'll find
a caring heart who'll listen long,
that tells her something warm and kind
which thrills her like a distant song.
In days they come, in weeks they go,
adding, deleting, losing care,
one minute, friends you really know,
another, no one's there.

The internet is not so hot;
here for a moment, next thing, gone.
But if that's all the friends you've got,
it's better far than none.


For Maja Rogic

Photo by Maja Rogic

Lost in the silence of a Friday night,
I dream; far, far away on wistful walls
you sit above the place the river falls,
below the bitter sunshine burning bright
where dancing girls once wanted dancing guys
to stay within their inner mind a while -
not caring for the flaring of the fires
their ancestors spun wildly into gyres.
Instead, you spend life waiting for a smile,
and better men than those that sold you lies.


Summer of seven

In 2007, unprecedented rain in Sheffield was awesome to behold. There were floods where none were known before; one of the dams only just held.

So silent sky, where whistling winds let fly
the countenance of clouds on little hills,
the roads run dry; the rushing rivers sigh,
and all around mud covers empty mills.
This English June, July is creeping nigh -
we frown and cry, but heaven never stills
the rain full flooding from the gloomy sky;
we cannot bend the weather to our wills.
The summer came in April. We rely
on nature for our needs; we use our skills
to smooth the seasons' evils, and we try
to hold the winter water till it fills
our reservoirs. But now we fear they'll fall
from Ulley to the valley 'neath the wall.


The empty lands

Watch the cold waves crashing on the ashen sands,
hear the babbling blackbird in forgotten fields,
sniff the spring, all incense in the empty lands,
and feel the endless power nature wields;
midst the hilltops hugging as the clouds go by
round the water falling down a rocky slope,
'neath the sunset sailing through the stricken sky
is the home I hallow with this song of hope.


The blue-grey hills

Revisiting Kinder Scout

I can sail over seas of blue-grey hills,
while the rhythm plays in my car;
I can rise to the roof of the satin sky,
where the pale-gold memories are;
but the bone-old hills are now older still,
as old as the long-gone power
that struck for the straight with an urgent pace
in a surging youthful hour.
No hill is a home for the lonely heart,
unless it has made its way
to the top of the rise with its breath and brawn,
in the grace of a fated day.


Samson agonistes

I began reading Milton, and thought him over-long.

They say that Dagon has me in his hands -
mere women have deceived me once again.
And so I serve a slave in foreign lands,
treated as though a beast by angry men.
She took away my hair; they gouged my eyes,
then bound with bronze they shackled me to grind,
rememb'ring every day one woman's lies -
her hated face the picture in my mind.
They make me dance; delighted to be cruel
as long as they are safely out of reach;
they make me do them service like a mule -
but God, allow me one last chance to teach
these people who it was made Samson strong,
let them begin to sing another song
crying to idols, cause of all their crime -
if I can ride your lightning one last time.


Infant bliss

We file around rhinoceros,
and tiptoe past the sleeping bear,
the lion and the antelope,
and glad giraffes, without a care;
then finally, your little face
beholds a creature known to you;
you point your finger t'wards the horse,
and gravely utter, "moo!"

Your four-wheeled chair is empty now,
and many years have passed us by.
You've just begun your thrilling teens,
and yet, you still must wonder why
a parent looks with happy smiles
on memories of infant bliss,
and loves far more than words can tell
to think of such as this.


The forgotten doll

The doll she clutched was given her in case
jealousy made her hate our newborn son.
Her mother said she might; I knew my place,
and let them dream of Barbie till they'd done.
Joshua was a baby full of peace,
a little lordling laid in stately joy
in special care because of complications;
Jessica's breathless efforts knew no cease,
for once she saw the lovely little boy,
she tried to climb beside for conversations.
A baby boy could know no better sister;
I picked my infant up, and gladly kissed her.
What doll could ever give what she was missing -
a brother born for love, and care, and kissing.


The Promised Land

No promises are in the Promised Land -
no hopeful notes of nothing cast in sand.
No waiting with the patience of the poor,
nor awful expectations taught of yore.
For promises are not the promised thing -
they trade on hopes of faithfulness and trust;
you live a little longer on a string,
and tell yourself that adulthood is just.
But after years, the fearing sets in stone
that nothing more than 'nuisance' is your name;
your hopes and dreams are soaked in scorn and shame,
and nothing makes you feel quite so alone
as learning each 'perhaps' they ever vow
is never 'yes', and 'soon' is never 'now'.


For the lost

Photo by permission of Melinda Faith Spanier
For Melinda Faith Spanier; sometimes it would be easier to cry for others than to write, but tears won't come.

For the lost

I came to see you once, but you weren't there;
I called a little longer than I should.
I watched you from the bottom of the stair,
wondering if you'd be the way you could -
but no, another stays, and steals your mind,
taking away the things I fought to hold,
making the visit fiction so unkind,
and all the hope I held is ashen-cold;
burnt in the fitful wind that blew us down.
Lost in the aching void of being there;
watching a woman slowly droop and drown,
not with a shout or scowl, but just a stare
looking on life denied, not worth the fight -
when robbed of what was once a shining light.

Once there was love and laughter every day -
not much to eat, but love; love fed my mind;
and when at last you lost your lonely way,
and knew that cruellest of all was kind,
yours were the tears; I stayed them so you'd smile,
thinking that I would eat, and grow, and learn -
but tears were locked inside me all the while,
and there was never anywhere to turn.
I tried the law, when tall enough to hold
the hand the courts supplied to plead my case;
but then the lawyers quickly made me old,
and all the while the threat I had to face
was prying eyes and cold contempt from he
who shouted in my face, to cower me.

Well after all the lies and pompous talk,
at least they said I'd see you; just a bit.
How I desired once again to walk
through life with joy, where once I had to sit
through years of doleful desolation days
not seeing you; not knowing how you were.
I longed to love you ever in the ways
we'd known; but what came next could not occur
to little minds in single digit years.
Finding another lover you could hold,
he turned out worse than all your previous fears -
and now you lived your life as if you'd sold
your soul, to one who held it whole in chains,
as if such things as captive souls, were gains.

I came to see you once, but you weren't there.
And now I cannot find me anywhere.


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