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1968 Poem

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 at 10:14

No Text





  















IMMIGRANT


Came off mountains with memories
of woodsmoke and sharp thunder
into city smog which hurt my lungs.
You laughed, dubbing me bizarre
and kept me as a wonder.

Arrived one early morning to present
a honeycomb with bees still buzzing
in my words; imagined you would not resent
stinging with the sweetness. You asserted
I was mad and called the janitor
to throw me out.

Should realise
the city hands out nothing I could want.
But you hold the promise of fresh rain,
cool umber of the mountains in your eyes.
Expect me at eight in evening dress
bearing a box of chocolates.

1968


Ronnie Sullivan told me it had the quality of a telegram, I suppose because of the pronoun drop characteristic of early Auden. Yes, of course, I accept that my vision of the immigrant being truer to the natural world is sentimental.





A poem for every year I've written 1

Monday, 1 August 2022 at 14:35

Harmattan












HARMATTAN


I am a dry wind,
conceived in the womb of the Red Sea,
blowing from burning libraries at Alexandria,
searching for knowledge lost at my birth.

Men call me arid,
but I purify my desert
drying any pools of polluted feeling.
And in that pebbled, heated land where no men live
their forgotten temples lie buried in my sands of thought.

I cannot move forever.
My impetus dies in the humid lands,
a southern end of my existence.
Instead of purifying I become defiled.
From a Mediterranean birth to an Atlantic death,
a dying breeze off the Accra shore
and I weep.

1967


My first poem anyone thought fit to print. Ronnie Sullivan, the editor of Poetry and Audience told me he thought of it as a metaphor for history. In terms of meteorology it’s a bit of a stretch to have the wind beginning in the Red Sea and blowing across the Sahara to West Africa, but poetic licence was given to me by this poem.





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