Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cafe in Cromer

I wrote this poem after seeing a small b&w photo of an old lady drinking tea in a cafe in Cromer, in the guardian's excellent Guide to Photography. In a way, I suppose I'm imitating Edwin Morgan's Instamatic Poems, but at the time I didn't think about that. Rather, I was overcome by memories and a sense of pathos - and those memories were in colour. I deliberately refrained from reproducing the photo - the poem should after all be able to stand alone.
Anyone who remembers my previous struggles with line layouts in html will note that I seem to have solved the problem!


On a bleak sea promenade
where the seagulls soar and scream
lights behind a steamed window
promise warmth and refuge from the
grey wind that carries rain.
People hunch among the dark tables
and smeared vinyl of the floor.
Pleasure? Do we visit
such places for pleasure or
need? A thick white cup
half-full of pale brown
- the tint of which says tea, tea
babied by over-milking –
and that nameless lump
yellow on the plate, a thin
line of red promising sweetness:
will these items sustain
or please?
               The grim posture, the
downturn of an old woman’s mouth
defy speculation. Who can know
what need brings her here,
what loneliness in a tidy flat
over a dust-flecked hearth?


Friday, November 23, 2007

Amtrak: Williamsburg - New York

Train arriving
Originally uploaded by goforchris
A tall train, necessitating
two small steps for us
to board. The announcements
begin with the first
halt: We will be continuing
momentarily. We do
Thank you for your patience.
We flash past Quantico –
a marine base on a river –
where the Presidential helicopters
crouch beside the track.
Potomac river is frozen over
before the Washington icons
glimpsed through gaps
in nondescript structures.
An iceberg forms beneath
a tap left running
on the platform where
the workers wear
padded red tartan shirts.
The temperature is
significantly lower than
when you boarded – and
we feel tended, somehow,
as we glide past
Baltimore slums towards
the wolf-howl sirens
and crawling yellow cabs
like beetles in the snow
and the brown-sugar slush
and the tireless heroisms
of the men who clear the streets day and night in
New York City.

© C.M.M.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mobile Bay

Sunset 1
Originally uploaded by goforchris
Ice falls in the freezer with a
sound of distant guns.
A pelican sits hunched above
the private fishing pier
and the pampas grass is rustling
in the wind across the bay.
The towers on the blue line
where water meets the sky
give two fingers to the wind’s threat
of destruction held at bay
and the duskless shadows lengthen
as the sun drops to the sea
in the amber of the evening
and the log-fired cocktail hour.

© C.M.M. 11/07

Sunday, November 11, 2007


In the dust-laden ochre
Where our fear is embodied
Storms death sent from heaven, and
Here on our quiet hills
Rain falls, gently.

In the wind a wild keening
Binds victim to victim through
Stone-broken desert while
Quiet in my garden a
Bird sings, alone.

High above a grey shadow,
Its long wings extended,
Brings the end of all loving as
Over our altars the
Spirit drifts, weeping.