Lychgates – Signs and Symbols

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Lychgates, also sometimes called resurrection gates, are a curious English (though not exclusively) phenomenon.

The name derives from the Old English word lych, or lich, meaning body, referring to entrance to the churchyard though which the body of the deceased was carried. This was seen as the beginning of the path towards resurrection by being buried in holy ground.

In medieval times, signs and symbols carried a lot of weight as most of the population were illiterate. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that signs and symbols don’t carry as much weight today. We just have to read and understand them.

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Poem: Your Kiss

English: A young girl kisses a baby on the cheek.

English: A young girl kisses a baby on the cheek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I was unaware

 

I was unaware

of your kiss at first, on forehead

and cheek, maybe even on

my foot – you know, when babies’

feet are cute and pristine, before life

gets too serious and rinds the soul?

Then later, and with equal ignorance, I

noticed your lips, though they’d always

been there. Now the way you walked

and talked

and brushed your hair – suddenly

you were magic! A vision! My lips

against yours, the most natural

avenue in life and love. Then

all too soon, you gave me air

kisses at weddings

and christenings

and funerals, the social graces

that count, their passion sucked

out by convention. And right now

I’m all too aware of

your kiss, on my forehead,

my cheek once more, though you stay

clear of my foot. You realise

that I am slowly leaving, retreating

into soft make-beliefs

of self, sheaths which soothe

the cool airs of emptiness

 

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2013

Poem: The Creative

Enkidu

Enkidu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inspiration is a leech on the
creature of conflict. How much
better it would be if our lives were
merely plain and ordinary, transcending
this light and shade, our existence
reliant only on plucking fruit
from a tree, cupping clean
water from a stream; and that
all my words and lines,
such as they are,
derived solely from love and light.

But we’ve seen to it, you
and me, have decided
to find out and exaggerate
every little nuance we have, to look across
at each other from these
dubious divides with poison eyes, our fixed
minds like two scorpions in a bottle.
And what we can’t steal or bribe or starve
from each other, we will fight for
to the end, till every last
sap of strength and all our blood is gone –
for that sweet taste of victory.

We’ve all spoken these platitudes,
though only seldom act
or relent. Even in our shadowy beginnings
the weary Gilgamesh knew; primeval
battles between dark
and light still raging on inside.
His remorse and grief leap out
at us from figures in dried clay like
they were made today, a reflection
of ourselves, our tears,
the lessons never learned. So,
if you must – go ahead.
Do your worst! Though please
make it your best
and I will write, endlessly

poem © copyright David F. Barker 2013

Poem: Girl with a Cello

cello

In a diamond city night we’re
taxied through floodlit streets

angled snow alabasters old facades
medieval histories beyond all guessing

Flanders is frozen outside this misted glass
the two of us sitting nose to nose

our tongues loosening aperitif smiles
white burgundy cutting through brie

making heads light and cheeks flush
and toe touch toe

Our eyes meet when bare soul strokes calf
kissing slim fingers one by one

plied each day to taut cello strings
sneak previews to plots and suites of night

image and poem © copyright David F. Barker

* sorry, but this is an oldie!

http://millyreynolds.co.uk

Maverick

English: The Milky Way arch emerging from the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At what point do you realise you’re
not alive? I’ve watched
pedestrian slow to
moribund, the colour
drain away like a leaching wound. Life
without verve is no life at all
and my verve shot away years ago. He left
on this tangental course, a maverick
fired like some devil who may care. Oh,
he’s fine by the way and living it up
in a lush valley somewhere, high
on peyote and painting the tall
arid peaks where
the air is clear and the milky way
whispers sweet nothings
in his ear, the shining girl who
once curved my night sky

poem © copyright Dave Barker 2012

Two Guitars

2guitars

How far could we have pushed it? How far did we
dare? The cold didn’t
hit us so much then and our bones weren’t

the barometers they are now – not
so plainly breaking
down. And time, he was our slow

playground friend casting his long spell,
fooling us to think that
what we had was real.

But a new chord
could send our minds off in tangents to those
places of colour, much better imagined

than experienced. Two guitars, two
minds playing like John
and Paul, though minus their gifts, their

backgrounds; all still ideas
in the ether surrounding, mingling even with
Alexander’s breath, the vapours of many

great men – and
where are they? Great only
in books, and how much

lesser are we?

© poem and image copyright Dave Barker 2012

Poem ‘October’

English: Pumpkins

English: Pumpkins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October comes and suddenly
there’s too much change.
Enough already with trees going bare,

without having to alter clocks
to appease the North
which might not even care.

While some see beauty in decay,
all I find is a reckoning, revenge
in Hallowe’en’s red-eyed stare,

where we fare no better than pigs
fattened and slaughtered,
sentenced for nothing

by callous clowns in wigs.
So I will kick through the leaves,
as is the custom

in my search for a soul,
or a silver-lining in death,
wrapped up like a sausage

against the first icy blast
which blows away all joy
and steals the breath.

© copyright David F. Barker 2012
*First published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, Night Publishing, available at amazon.