Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

Category: Poetry

New poem

Banners

Tattered banners snapping in the breeze,
riddled and torn, shot through by musketry,
blackened and dyed with blood and powder smoke:
abandoned standards, flagging gonfalons,
pennons and streamers, sacred oriflammes
of death, their quarters flayed, fraying in strips,
unpicked into the wind and ravelling
in ripples, bunting beating from lost waifs,
borne aloft on poles before the hordes
criss-crossing Europe, cantons pocked by hurts,
vexed vexillology of frenzy past,
save our eagles, flown on stricken fields;
now threadbare honours, drooping at half-mast
in martial chapels, dipped in cobweb shrouds,
the faded shades of former colours, hung
over the skeleton armies of the dead.

Clan poet!

As of now, I’m formally the Mackintosh clan poet…

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New poem

This is part of the upside of becoming a commuter again:

Morning at Pazmaneum

In morning sun, a mandarin
fills the station platform with
its citrous perfume, particles
of juice suspended in chill air;
each half-transparent segment shines
as though lit up from within,
shot through with sunlight, lantern of
the east released from its frail peel.

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New poem

Now here is a genuinely new one, even though it was actually begun in November:

Crossing the Fields in Piliscsaba

November’s clean sun, sharper than the frost,
wefted gilt filaments across my way,
walking on fieldpaths to the peal of bells;
iced-over puddles crunching underfoot,
the first ice I had seen in these ten years.
I snapped off a transparent flint spearhead
knapped by the full moon on the water’s face
last frosty night, a sliver of pure cold,
and held it till it melted in a pool
on the steel supermarket counter top.
Writing this now on the red fire hydrant
under a spreading chestnut by the stream
near where the yellow willow shakes its locks
beside the Slovak village monument
with its totemic effigies, I know
I reached back over lost time to reclaim
what I had lost, a fragment of the past
keeping its shape as it dissolved away.

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Not so new poem

This is a second version of By The Tracks, with a few revisions and an additional verse. A couple of people thought the original one was fine and should be left untouched: I don’t agree that it was fine, but I’ve left it up as well for anyone who wants to to compare and contrast.

By the Tracks

I start this looking out into the dusk,
part-composed in a station waiting room,
leaning on the blue door’s peeling frame
in winter rains, bleak as it gets,
with headlit traffic swishing by
and half a dram of red for company.

The tracks are where infinity leaks in,
all sounds sound louder in the void between
each passing train, the emptiness extends
where lines converge to vanishing;
cigarette butts along the rails
thrown in the cinderbeds, extinguished stars.

Washed up alive, I have to start anew,
back on the streets in winter warm black chic:
Cyberdog Byron for these modern times
– pathetic getup for a man
who had his life implode on him
twice in twelve years, in his half century.

The background fades, the focus pulls up close,
a dolly zoom, to put me on the spot
in one catastrophe, one time, one place:
perverse incentives to remain
identified with holy sin
where I belong, the demonym of Hell.

Not that I could truly claim integrity;
I kept no faith: I tried hard to sell out,
but they weren’t buying; and now I get to be
the sacred monster of my dreams
for fools who have not bled enough
to ape and emulate, copycat ghouls.

Now time to move on, forgetting, forgiving
and leaving behind home, family, wife;
not, this is what I do for a living:
this is what I do for a life.

Necessity makes easy heroes, forced
to cleave to my one truth in what looks like
a martyrdom, I have no fucking choice
– medicine-show quack peddler of
assisted psychic suicide –
but anthumously live up to the myth.

God is my witness, as he was to all
of us, first martyr, testifying to
himself, the Son his Father’s holy ghost.
All you can say is that I stood
in the full light of what I did
for my arraignment at the final bar.

I owe so much to those women who showed
me finally that no way is too dark
if there’s one other heart to meet you there:
acceptance was all that it took
to draw all of it out of me,
freestanding now, never to be denied.

Seven times seven, my climacteric
freed all my latter days to pioneer
new possibilities of life and love
– if you’re the man to do it, do –
down the same road I always walked,
all whole once more, the integrated man.

God brought me love
in my darkest place:
I had no choice
but to follow it there.

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New poem

Here’s a Christmas poem with a difference for you all – finished on the kitchen table next to the turkey!

By the Tracks

I start this looking out into the dusk,
part-composed in a station waiting room,
leaning on the blue door’s peeling frame
in winter rains, bleak as it gets,
with headlit traffic swishing by
and half a dram of red for company.

The tracks are where infinity leaks in,
all sounds sound louder in the void between
each passing train, the emptiness extends
where lines converge to vanishing;
cigarette butts along the rails
thrown in the cinderbeds, extinguished stars.

Thrown back alive, I have to start anew,
loose on the streets in winter warm black chic:
Cyberdog Byron for these modern times
– pathetic getup for a man
who had his life implode on him
twice in twelve years, in his half century.

Not that I could pretend integrity;
I kept no faith: I tried hard to sell out,
but they weren’t buying; and now I get to be
the sacred monster of my dreams
for fools who have not bled enough
to ape and emulate, copycat ghouls.

Now time to move on, forgetting, forgiving
and leaving behind home, children, wife;
not, this is what I do for a living:
this is what I do for a life.

Necessity makes easy heroes, forced
to cleave to my one truth in what looks like
a martyrdom, I have no fucking choice
– medicine-show quack peddler of
assisted psychic suicide –
but anthumously live up to the myth.

God is my witness, as he was to all
of us, first martyr, testifying to
himself, the Son his Father’s holy ghost.
All you can say is that I stood
in the full light of what I did
for my arraignment at the final bar.

I owe so much to those women who showed
me finally that no way is too dark
if there’s one other heart to meet you there:
acceptance is all it took
to draw all of it out of me,
freestanding now, never to be denied.

Seven times seven, my climacteric
freed all my latter days to pioneer
new possibilities of life and love
– if you’re the man to do it, do –
down the same road I always walked,
all whole once more, the integrated man.

God brought me love
in my darkest place:
I had no choice
but to follow it there.

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New poem

Another poem written on-site:

Dernye Bistro

Where’s that rainbow coming from?
A spectrum on doorhandle brass
behind the cut glass just crept in
beside me where I sit alone,
keeping the window at my back;
wooden stool islands strewn across
black and white marble chequer floor;
white globes of light suspended hang
under revolving ceiling fans;
newspapers droop like sated bats,
coathooks await, with one lone hat,
a throwback trilby, on the rail.
Overhead spots obtrude top-down
on the period milieu
through the false ceiling; a volume
of Argentin’s ‘Reflections’
on the streetfront windowsill;
‘Cafe Depuis 1914’
inscribed below the countertop;
a lavender-filled ice bucket
by a bald patron on the bar:
immediate verbal portraiture
before the motif in real time:
who ever knew I could do this?

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New poem

Since I seem to be doing quite a few of these lately, here’s another painting poem – 90% finished just standing in front of the picture.

A Married Couple in the Szépmuvészeti Múzeum

A Van Dyck portrait all in black
– a married couple, starched and ruffed,
seated together, the chair back
backdropping their rich sombre stuff.

No special beauty in their faces,
but oh how tenderly each hand
is rendered against cuffs and laces:
clasped fingers, and the wedding band.

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New poem

And here’s the poem inspired by that picture – actually, the painting was in restauro, exactly as described:

Brera Pieta

Bellini’s Pieta behind sheet glass,
clamped to the gantry girders’ clean brushed steel
under white tube lights’ chill denatured glare,
suspended in a straddle carrier
and surrounded by all the instruments
of restoration, ladders, tongs and sponge.
Two huge fluorescent green extractor ducts –
articulated Ernst elephant trunks –
on either side, with goggling loups on stalks:
the hideous apparatus of remorse
striking cold attitudes in grim dumb show
of the lamenters’ outflung members, flanks
the limp form on the canvas stretcher frame
supported by a mother’s tenderness,
soft velvety reds and blues, ivory skin
so delicately rendered, collar bones
of a dead god upheld in the slack flesh
across the central axis that aligns
the nail holes that heal and make us whole.

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New poem

Hide and Raven

Follow the raven to the glade
down the trail
from the hide where it lurked
alert for carrion
– now silhouetted black
against sun-dappled foliage,
a miniature guard tower.
The rush of air under dark wings
as it backtracks
above the forest canopy
sounds like breathless fugitives
or panting hounds.
The ravens croak, each to each,
and all around, water drops
patter down through branches
and frosty air
that makes my exhalations smoke,
and, at the end of the forked path,
another mossed abandoned hide.

An unkindness of ravens flies
from the broken oak within
the Pauline convent’s ruins where
the blond wood cross shines in the sun.

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