Bees Know

Bees know

No-one told the bees to make honey
but they do.
No-one needs to know how the grass grows
but it does.
When the tree falls in the forest we do not hear
but fungi flourish
We have not asked the sun to rise and shine every time
Morning comes
In a darkened night we lift our eyes to the stars, or sleep
and dream.
Did you hear the rain pitter patter your window, or the wind’s rattle?
Planning permission not required.

Did you hear about the bananas? Dole’d to consumers faffing and Fyffing
Wanting golden skinned
Nations unfed while consumers led to love the bananas
not too soft or black
tons crated from plantations and tonnage tossing over seas,
Hands harvest the hands.
Fair trade or agribusiness. How do you know there are bananas
in your fridge?
Are you bananas? You forget the world will touch you with its gifts
Let your skin take it in
While the bees buzz on busy honey making.

No-one told you: you will get something for nothing every day
No-one told you: you will be born and grow
No-one told you love, or hate or fear or pride or joy
Let them come, as they will, as surely as the sun shines.
See what honey comes.

Inspired in part by ARTIST ROOMS, Joseph Beuys, A Language of Drawing, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 30th July − 30th October 2016

From the Life of the Bees, Joseph Beuys.







The Artist’s Room

It is infuriating, I can’t find the image of the picture that prompted this poem – it was a trompe l’oeil picture within a picture, and I can’t remember the name of the artist either. The artist had put himself within the picture, looking out, and most of the room lay behind him.

Feast the eye, or fool it. Trompe l’oeil.
I saw a window at the gable end of a house
A white painted house.
There was a woman leaning over the sill.
And then, and then, still
She leaned from her painted window.

Eyes see fleetingly, thoughts gather,
From fleeting feeling maybe never reaching thought.
This artist raises eyes with such apprehension,
Query, will you believe this story?
Will you believe this space stays, still,
this way I paint it, for your perception?

Disbelief and skepticism mount.
An artist’s room that never changes,
Ha! Who are you kidding?
He never dropped red madder on that floor
Never stood on a tube of burnt orange
Never threw his brush in unrestrained frustration.

The still life looks too still.
He watches me looking, watches me
Seeing the still studio he stands in
Dares ask us future watchers
Do you know how it is that I am? Still,
Here painting the room that is behind me?

I think this artist knew, as well as anyone,
at least as well as a poet,
that once you start the art, it takes your pen
your brush, your tongue, your heart and skill.
It follows its own theme, until
It comes with truth or lies, crystallized, forever still.


A picture of my own room. Not quite the same. But I am sitting on that sofa as I write.





A Freezing Sun

Light from the sun is free
It falls regardless of heed or gratitude
Finding its way to wood that once it grew.
Taking a pit-stop aloft on a cloud-driven day
As though alive, knowing, feeling
For once the earth needed its shaft rejected.

Don’t think that Earth replies.
Can’t you see me turning turning?
Daily means diurnal rise.
Not that I spin here yearning for your touch,
You are too hot. Intense. Too much.
I have another side that you can’t see
Called Dark. That too is free.
Within the dark black night away from sun
I dream. Time flies.

Quiet says sun.
Shooting a sunspot glare through upper atmosphere.
I dream too. Dreaming is not just for you.
Timeturned dull Earth, grounded Earth.
Revealing thoughts of deep dark zones I can’t conceive.
Setting, solidity, crystal, flint and quartz
Not here where plasma rules.
All roils. I dream of freezing.
Ice. Frost. The many million shapes of snowflakes
Slipping sideways in my morning rise.


A prompt: “It never reaches earth except as ashes” from Robert Frost’s A Loose Mountain.

Icarus aimed high
A modern sort of man, filled with ambition
Intent, calculating, planning,
most definitely achieving.
If they had had a Wall Street, he would have fitted right in.

But, no Wall Street,
And Hercules already had the strong market cornered
Apollo clearly understood grooming,
In its many senses.
So there with not a lot left, he dreamed of the sun.

Maybe not a financier go-getter
Maybe lying on sun-warmed grass
Idly scratching where the hay had got under his chiton
Hearing chirps and chitterings.
He dreamed about flying sky high, beyond the chattering.

A watching blue-jay startled from its pecking
A gull wheeled and yawed on a drift of wind
A goose  whonk-ed, quark-ed, beating easy elegant wings
Icarus too, flew, beyond his care.
Beyond reality. Dreams never reach the earth except as ashes.


Ghost in a White Dress

Hurray for Molly who has re-started the writers group. We met last night and one of the prompts – a line from opening a book: “Imperceptibly the world became haunted by her white dress”

Ghost in a White Dress

Ghost living here knows how egg yolk and coffee drops drip.
She wears a scarf, delicately ingeniously twisted
in casual arrangement, display of sophistication
elegant poised stillness, sophistry covers reality, paralysis.
Threatening thoughts trip and slip.

Possessed in a dress with the ooh and aaah
Shop assistant sly smile warm eyes casual stranger
Shopper passing with a Wow that’s you
Hemmed in a mirrored world, haunted, visible
This person wears white.

This person flowing draped covering unseen promises
Listened to a shop-girl and a passing stranger
Thought I will be that kind of person
Just once. Just now. Just a while. Wow.
This person here. In a white dress.


Swoops from roof to branch

Hurray for Jane who has started up the ‘writers’ group again – open a book – read a phrase and write for 8 minutes. 3 offerings from an hour yesterday evening [the titles are the prompts, and they all came from Lisa Starr’s “Mad With Yellow”.]

3. Swoops from roof to branch

 What appears
swoops into vision,
wholeness shifts
blueness cleaved in perception
Not where I was
Not what I was thinking, feeling
in the bubble of myself.

With suddenness
Every day in every way
Some part of other, another,
a piece of world just comes
and then existence
shrieks a confirmation
See, we are, you are, they are.

Outside my window
on bright mornings
They come, the sparrows, the waxwings
the friends whose names I do not know.
They tell me how joyous it is
to live and swoop through a slice of air.
Unwitting witnesses to our being.

Why don’t you just go home now?

The title is a prompt from Lisa Starr’s “Mad With Yellow”.

Why don’t you just go home now?

That has to be a silent thought and it is horrible to remember that it was in my head just immediately when an unexpected visitor dropped in just after I had put food in the oven I wondered if there would have been another time when the visit would have been welcome I doubt it but at least at other times I might have been spared the popping into mind repetition for the whole half-hour of exchange.

I regret to say that although I did not speak it I doubt I controlled the non-verbals very well. It is hard to get a grip on those without a mindset transplant. They are not offered on any plan I know of. That person dropping in makes mean me and not the necessary pre-prepared me. Unsolved resolved hurts drop in for attention. I can’t get interested in subjugation necessary for civility.

This makes me wonder about politics where several elections in different countries have brought surprising results. Could the end of career pre-prepared politicians be happening? Public Relations groomed clotheshorses offering banalities OK generalities papering the inequalities and realities of us. Why don’t you just go home?