Days of Innocence and Eternity

beach

Summer is not far away, fickle though it may be in England’s northerly reaches.

To us as children the good days were glorious; down at the beach the sun was our friend, the sea and sand our playmates through the days which would last forever. Eternity was within our reach – then.

In reality nothing much has changed, only our perception of reality.

cropped-beachheader1.jpg

paintings by Francis Barker

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Poem: Summer Coming In

spring summer

Spring finally comes, like your
warm breath on my
desiccate skin. So then
sing to me of careless summers,
your smile, where
love begins

© copyright David F. Barker 2013

Poem: ‘Clothes’

clothes

These are my favourite clothes, I
wear them for days on end.
See?
They retain their shape,
my shape,
even when I toss them
into wardrobes, or hang them from
skeletal frames, dis-
assembled, waiting for warm
odours of my living
return.

So say you’ll never throw them
out, and resist all
temptation to wash. Simply
lay them on a chair or bed – though
mark the creases,
the bulges of cotton limbs, fleshy
legs which have moulded denim,
now hanging in threads. And make sure
to study the greasy collars, precious
oils of my skin. Then take
hold of this shirt, stretch the faded
fabric in your hands and breathe in
the smell of years. Remember
the walks and our talks, when
there was only time to kill. For these
things, which may be nothing now, are
still worthy of note, the relics of
a single life
and not without right

image and poem © copyright David F. Barker 2013

Poem: A Walk by the Sea

a walk by the sea

Without too much thought I took
to the beach,
followed the white lines of
breakers
leading me due north along that
fractured shore.

in no time at all the beach huts were
behind me,
removed by dunes and blurring
summer haze.

then suddenly
she was there
right in front of me, as if she’d
dropped
right out of the ether.

she was squatting down,
blonde haired and
quite young,
her blue-green dress hitched up a touch
showing small bare feet
half buried,
where the dry white sand
gave way to shingle.

I stopped
said hi
but she didn’t even look!
staring into that wide expanse
she could see
clear across the ocean.

looking down I admired her
gold-embroidered dress,
the delicate amber jewellery on
slim fingers,
her long hair matted by
the keen breeze.

then she looked up,
her eyes like cyan gems
and pointed to herself–
‘Elfhild’ I thought she said
sounding sort of German
or Dutch or maybe something
in between
but I didn’t speak a word.

not then.

she didn’t seem lost or in any distress
so I moved on,
giving her a faint wave,
after all, what business was it
of mine?
I carried on steadily
maybe half a mile or so,
felt the wind move round
south to south east.
I could’ve done with a jumper so I
turned back,
got up quite a pace in the end.
frankly I wanted to return
to see if she was alright –
but I saw only footprints
where she had been, where the shingle
gave way to sand.

walking to the shoreline something
caught my eye, a piece of amber
wet and shining.
I picked it up, held it
to the light
and smiled, looking out
to where the waves
were rolling in by the edge of
that German sea

poem and image © copyright Dave Barker 2012

Poem ‘Floss’

Floss

And I followed you,
holding desperately your trailing hand.
From dodgem screams in head-on collision,
to long kisses on carousels,
sitting the wrong way—
facing you,
holding you—
Yes, I was daring you!
That smile behind your eyes like a loving sun
which I met devouring candy floss,
sugar highs spinning lips together,
meeting and melting our cares;
suspended in ghost trains,
scaring you, opportune for me.
And later, strolling slick sands,
the far bass thuds
tripping our hearts,
setting off our lives:
Still in motion

poem © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Beachcombing’

Beachcombing

We set out one morning
after the rain had cleared.
Not a breath of wind,
loose clothes sticking to my skin.
Our intention was to search
the shallow beach,
stretching so far ahead of us
towards lights on low, murky cliffs—
baleful beacons through the mist.
“Stop there!” you said
and took that picture of me,
my trousers rolled up;
never the most fetching sight.
“Walking on water,” that’s
what you called it right away:
Maybe this was the closest
we ever got to heaven

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

Poem ‘Mare Incognito’ (for J)

Mare Incognito (for J)

Somewhere between
Southwold and Saltfleet,
that’s all I’m prepared to say.

Where eastern seaboards
lose out each year,
glacial moraines fall away

with no answer to tides
that even kings couldn’t resist.
England crumbling in eye and mind.

Cliffs.
Now that could be a clue
but they’re not too high,

though high enough to sit on
and savour the grey seas,
the view, such as it is.

Does it matter?
Fine days won’t do, not to this mind.
Sea mists, fogs, or battleship skies

which leave enough to be imagined,
whose easterlies cut me into me
whatever I wear—they’re best—

when the only way to keep warm
is to keep moving, jogging
below the sleek aerobatics of herring-

and black-backed gulls,
super-marine harbingers of storm
doing their best to bring life to

Mitchell’s drawings of seaplanes—
and the spitfire.
Such an elegance in death.

But I’m here to forget about war,
about politics which can only
divide and kill.

Grey days mean I’m alone
in a moody make-believe.
I turn my back on all that was,

think about what might be,
where nightmares a few miles away,
that lost world within my right hand,

might just be gone when I return
or answer the bleep which says
I’m connected, branded for life.

Leave me now.
For a little while longer
let me say I’m free

image and poem © copyright df barker 2012