Peter Jukes

Stolen Moments
Poems 1976-2006

A private publication For friends and family

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

C ONTENTS
DESIRE ......................................................................................4 WORK IN PROGRESS.............................................................4 FRAGMENT ..............................................................................5 THE GOOD SEED....................................................................6 BACKTRACKS ..........................................................................7 NIGHTFALL..............................................................................8 REVISION .................................................................................9 PROLOGUE TO JONSON .................................................... 10 JONSON’S SOLILOQUY ...................................................... 10 THE BETRAYAL .................................................................... 11 WRITER'S BLOCK ................................................................ 12 SONGS OF THE AUVERGNE ............................................. 12 TO THE MOON .................................................................... 13 THE GREEN BELT BOY....................................................... 13 THE ASTRONAUT'S GIRL BEMOANS HIS GOING........ 14 CHAOS ................................................................................... 18 THE GREEN BELT BOY COMES HOME .......................... 18 THE PASSION ....................................................................... 20 MAKE ROOM ........................................................................ 20 A NEW LIFE........................................................................... 22 ENOUGH ............................................................................... 26 ABUSED AND DISABUSED................................................ 27 MY ACHIEVEMENTS .......................................................... 28

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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THE BLACK CAT OF FANTASY ......................................... 28 THE HUNGRY FISHERMAN .............................................. 29 THE HUMBLE COMPANY MOTTO .................................. 29 ICE........................................................................................... 30 THE OPEN WINDOW ......................................................... 31 LENNON IN CENTRAL PARK ............................................ 32 SATANIC VERSE .................................................................. 32 NOT COLD ENOUGH ......................................................... 33 DRIVING LESSONS ............................................................. 34 THE HIGHWAY CODE........................................................ 35 THE GARDEN ....................................................................... 35 POOLE HARBOUR................................................................ 37 WHEN HE LAUGHS ............................................................ 38 THE SMELL OF THE COAST.............................................. 39 LULLABY................................................................................ 41 YOUTH................................................................................... 41 MY STRONG DAUGHTER .................................................. 42 A TRIBUTE TO DENNIS POTTER ..................................... 43 HEART SURGEON ............................................................... 45 A POEM BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP .............................. 46 THE BORDER........................................................................ 47 BLACK WATER: WHITE OAK............................................ 48 The Bridge............................................................................... 48 Time Zones ............................................................................. 49 Their Spheres .......................................................................... 49 In Step..................................................................................... 50

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

Her Question........................................................................... 50 Waves ...................................................................................... 51 The Last Song ......................................................................... 52 Another Answer ...................................................................... 53 New Tortures .......................................................................... 53 The Inner Circle...................................................................... 53 THE LIE .................................................................................. 54 ON THE SHORE ................................................................... 55 IN BETWEEN ........................................................................ 56 TOGETHER OR APART ....................................................... 58 THE COST OF FLYING........................................................ 60 DESIRE REPRIEVED ............................................................ 62 YOUR LITTLE BOOK ........................................................... 63 LEARNING TO DIE .............................................................. 64 SONG LYRIC: STOLEN MOMENTS.................................. 65

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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DESIRE

D

esire is the asp Is the twisting In my breast She changes, Time and Space, or else Not here to change Love was always reaching: Chubby hands that grasped An apron as it passes. And when the fingers were strong Brown lined, agile Around the pillow and your head The eyes eluded me. The appeal of appealing Eyes, that vacuous Kiss of fire, desire Is not there or Then, but in Remembering. 1977

WORK IN PROGRESS

T

he sun does its business as before: Paths and terraces gape With lank green tongues.

The sun does its business as before. There is work in progress. My work undone.

1978

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

FRAGMENT

“L

ove can never die”, You said before you entered And left me, empty Averting your eyes But I keep all your letters. Sometimes their manner recalls your voice Promising, apologising, Struggling to explain the Gap between what you could conceive and Recreate. This paper yellows and curls Yet while the flickering hand feeds the fire In time, These words are only cinders But I have made a place for them

1978

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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THE GOOD SEED
eeded not he ploughs Soil a year returned For generation, the fall ensures His sustenance is earned He will plough the earth For the sheaf upon the altar Wind the dry stone path For the fig the peach the pear But autumn in the orchard Apples fed and watered Leaves dropping Like scales Lost among the trees A boy, recumbent Bends his gaze Upon a pendant nut The spur of flint Split the shell’s seam wide Bone white insides He looked up and sensed thunder Thunder? Or heard birds scattered from the trees Fleeting wings in a dry white sky And lost among the leaves Exposed Unsown The good seed

H

1978

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

BACKTRACKS

T

hey tramped across the fields behind the church On a damp day - the wind blowing north-east Played on patches of snow left in the ditches And on the banks of the old canal In the shadow of the big hill Embraced. Desperately he said: ‘I love you More than I love myself’. And her eyes Widened Incredulous He wasn't lying. What love could you expect From this tender adolescent who barely Liked himself? But green eyes Opened So wide. Overhead, clouds gathered, winds veered It was late. And having gone too far to turn back now They heard Hemispheres mutter and gyrate They knew they would not wait And now there's nothing left And nothing's Changed 1979

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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NIGHTFALL

O

ften, at dusk, Leaving the lights unlit When every object starts moving in the darkness And I am still It’s strange Things change but all the same With the whole world revolving round me I am still And when I see the sun sink westward Drawing all the colours in their order Drained in succession Washed in the day's wake Or behind shrouded hulking clouds Compiled with the mass of nightfall Fringes burning I'm possessed with a desire to take up my pen To grasp it, shape it, set It down And either I turn the lights on and am blinded and can't remember That perfect sense of waiting, Not for anything in particular But waiting Still Or I wait And night comes And it is too dark to write

1979

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

SONNET FROM ABROAD

W

ill our long bated union begin To match my mind? When I, to cover loss Inhale again the fragrance of your skin In darkest pleasure; when hands, unconscious To sculpt your supple arches, rise, descend In tremors as my senses fill and expire And thought is cleansed of action; will we end Exchanging all but counterfeit desire? I beg each day’s disclosure (though each Bequeaths it will unto the next) and pursue A vague consummation beyond my reach Leaving me nothing to look forward to. These, your images, never satisfy. No matter now, love’s idea must suffice.

Boston 1980

REVISION
ecause I keep my thoughts returning Turn to poetry and then turn to go, I hover on the margins, vague, uncertain Torn between this bare ground and that formless flow Still I print these waverings on the sand For the tide to lend a corrective amending hand

B

1980 and 1990

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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PROLOGUE TO JONSON
J onson, who thought the world his special toy, O r the willing playmate of a wanton boy, N or doubted words could move, strike, entertain, S urpassed the great distended globe of fame, O nce greater, more than dreams might circumscribe, N ow smaller than his strange eventful mind.

JONSON’S SOLILOQUY

C

hildren of the gods, witnesses of time, Humour poets as you do your parents, We do not as we say. Disdain, if not the mouth, Then the bulk which moves so much more sluggishly To effect the virtues it pronounced. I do not act, but I hear my actions, Lubric on my tongue, patronised in table talk and anecdote; While inflated with capons and canary wine I bring up tales, deformed in my tracts, Whose reality must have wasted since – And the hopes that they once nourished – While the giddy evening reels from rising glasses. These were my occasions, my events, And when I have mouthed dismissal to my company Thoughts fumed, eyes flickering, they entertain The grossing spectacle of me.

From the play ‘Jonson’ performed in 1981

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE BETRAYAL

I

am not there

While she waits curled Under covers, tense In semi-darkness Hair splayed back And I am not here When he came submissive To tenderness and giving Into her wishes The present unsaid And I am not There I saw her Taut and imploring Where he presses she Responds releasing 'Are you with me?' And to that urgent Asking of desire I heard the other partner Wordlessly reply 'This is the body's dialogue Let the covers of language fall Whoever needs to speak of it Cannot talk at all' 'I am here I am here I am here' Are you with me?

1981

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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WRITER'S BLOCK

M

y Love said my Muse was faithless And her fair words, being but a sham Would turn in time to bitter fruitlessness Leaving me no better off than I am My Love said my Muse would desert me And now my fate has confirmed her fears Far away my Love can weep Clear, exonerating, righteous tears But since her predictions have proved so just I hope all her maybes also turn to must

1982

SONGS OF THE AUVERGNE

N

o oboe rang through the city Except on walkmen or in rush-hour cars, And pedestrians milling to a morning's work Past blood-shot headlights, slashing through the rain Are drowned out - volumes of traffic reduced To the smooth envelope of stereo-sound. But no oboe rang in reality Through the city We have come so far So far out of our way But whatever we've lost At least We have found a place At last Look around again

Brussels 1982

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

TO THE MOON

A

nd did she look across the distance with dismay When banished to the heatless edge of space? And would the jealous earth not let her turn away Or hide that cry still frozen on her face? Behold her now, cheeks cracked, mouth wide with pain Trying to bury herself in the dark again.

1982

THE GREEN BELT BOY

H

e came from nowhere The Green Belt boy Sitting in his little room In his little house Watching the sun set Over his own small world Him and his Big Ideas

1982

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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THE ASTRONAUT'S GIRL BEMOANS HIS GOING

S

he fancied him he fancied himself a bit But strung her along enough before he left She fell head over heels in love with him And landed up right there in bed Six minutes ten and counting... He buckled, fudged, asked 'How was it?' 'Fantastic' she said but thought 'ter-rif-fic A minute ago he's all over me. The next, it's all over. Is that it?' Five minutes thirty and she's looking good She remembers how sudden he'd given in Gasped, gasps, is gasping Her eyes turn round unmoved To gaze at the empty moon Three minutes fifteen all systems go 'Don't be like that. What's got into you?' 'Oh nothing' she mutters 'nothing at all' 'Well you knew my position when we started it' 'I only wish' she quips 'I could say you did' Two minutes ten seconds two minutes five Shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh Bolder and bolder but never Eye to eye Twenty seconds nineteen seconds eighteen

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

'Think of it this way, I'm doing it for you' 'Oh thanks' she retorted 'I'm over the moon' Nine eight seven 'I once thought lovers couldn't love too much' 'Be sensible' he said 'we'll stay in touch' And then Lift off * As he blasted up through the stratosphere A nation gasped and a nation cheered And then a computer failed on the flightboard deck A nation gasped and held its breath And for eight weeks he was marooned in space As a nation yawned and turned away But spinning Thirty miles above his girlfriend's head This is the message the astronaut sent “Now that the moon beams Upon my dreams And nothing is amiss For nothing ever is But seems The universe comprises Two sheets of white silk On which gravity dances With big black boots And comets are just satellites Refusing to grow old And moons are only meteors

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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Who never leave home Like one of those captive satellites I've gone so far now I can't turn back Too long in zero gravity Bones brittle, muscles slack Exiled by my adventure I must circle endlessly in space Held in geostationary orbit Unable to return, unable to escape When I was young one planet was enough And I never had the urge to roam But as I grew older I began to wonder If the whole universe couldn't be my home I've been here and I've been there And now I'm a stranger everywhere...” During this broadcast, solar power stopped His beacon disappeared, radio contact lost, And spinning At the speed of light his words revert To the background static of the universe * Once upon a time they say The heavens were filled with gods But they took them down one day And in their place put stars Film stars TV stars rock stars Superstars And every night the people come out to watch They watch and they wait and they wish And if they're very very lucky They might just see one star fall

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

Seeing the streaming stars, while others sleep Staring out of the black of a winter's night Over frozen rivers She can see each point of light Shining so specifically That like a probe or beacon of distress the thought Flashes across her mind That this is none other than the remains of her lover Burning up on re-entry 'No doubt I'm only seeing things And it's all just in the mind It's no wonder what with the state I'm in A trick of the light The water in my eye No doubt no No wonder And that's neither here nor there No no no far be it from me So here I am getting carried away But will you tell me please where is he?' Astronomers made observations, collated data, Compiled reports, But she only registered one passing remark That the space between bodies is so Astronomically vast Should a star question a star it might Die before it was answered

1983

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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CHAOS

N

ow a windless haze suppresses The accolade of the streets Sacred cows graze in traffic Battered buses, rickshaws, bikes An elephant lit up with electric bulbs A man balancing aluminium chairs on his head In the fields the chorus of mud-frogs never cease The ears are filled but not with noise

India 1983

THE GREEN BELT BOY COMES HOME

E

ngland is anxious as an airport When weather delays all flights. Passengers grin, but their smiles Are as forced as an air hostess. Truculent husbands, worried wives Count the minutes eating crisps. This is his land, these are his people This is just his luck. On the train back through the suburbs Brambles purple, green and black Even the railway verge is maudlin And he wishes he hadn't come back. To think he missed it in the tropics Dreamt of rain and Sunday roast Condensation on the windows Food that tastes like boiled fog

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

Starting school, the Green belt boy Black-haired, brown-eyed, aged five Asked by his schoolmates if he was Indian, Thought a moment, lied. Said yes when they asked if he was a Prince If he rode on an elephant said yes. Eighteen years later, he arrives in India Still apologizing for his provenance And in Delhi he joins other travellers Selling their clothes on the street. In Benares, hiding under a turban He still can't change the colour of his face. And in Darjeeling, delirious with dysentery, Three goddesses dance around him and say See how we change, see how we change The English boy into an Indian shape Until he finally finds himself Lying on a luggage rack In a compartment filled with strangers Lulled by the rattle on the track Of a train bound through the night Over a continent, alien and vast And he like a spark burning Going nowhere going there fast And now he's alighting at the platform Taking the quiet backstreets home, Neighbours windows on a winters night Like tropical aquariums: A dog with eyes like saucers, Pot-plants crying out for water, This is his land, from which he's made So foreign and exotic and strange

1984

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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THE PASSION

S

o God was man in Palestine And lived a while on bread and wine

But priests watered down the poor man's drink So instead of laughing he would think And clerks refined the poor man's food Till instead of dancing he would brood Until they had made that wine and bread As thin as he was - and as dead 1984

MAKE ROOM

M

ake room for me For a moment or two. Let me just be beneath The sheets above you. With the weight on your shoulders And the load on my mind, Under pressure we have been known To get on top of each other sometimes. But bear with me a little While we get to grips with this And shedding our inhibitions we'll Make light of this heavy flesh. But whatever we happen to do I promise I'll not intrude If you'll just For a moment Make room.

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

It’s not much to ask Just a small request All I want is everything And nothing less. Why worry about repercussions When we can safely stay Here in each others arms Out of harm's way? Forget the past forget the future Now at our fingertips Henceforward, hitherto, Are held - herewith. This is our one occasion Should be our great event So occasionally, Eventually, Relent. But if, after work, you need your space, I'm just getting in the way, Or all my advances seem out of place And go against the grain, I'll not press you further Or make my presence felt. After all, I'd much rather Your rolled over and fell asleep. Rolled right over even though I'm left lying here on my own. Rolled over, though you know Revolving like two worlds Around our poles of loneliness We could come together And come to rest, Entire, intact and whole And separate

1984

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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A NEW LIFE

T

he clouds slipped over the houses Her skirt slipped from the chair I heard her breathing next to me

What are we both doing here? * Pushing my way down Oxford Street Traffic jams and adverts hurt No bandages available For this hole in my heart While couples hug in front of me Deliberately Can’t eat because of the meals we ate together Can’t walk because of the trips we took together Can’t wash can't sleep And this grievance I'm feeling I don't know what it's for Grief when she met me More since she left me Trouble seems to follow me All along the road

*

The sun drops Down Over the town It was getting to the point when it used to be Not happy to see you but Where have you been?

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

The sun drops down Behind A house But it’s gone so far now you know I wouldn't say What took you so long? But thank god you came The sun drops down So unproblematically So why the hell don't you Drop in on me? * You said your body Was singing for me And hummed like a Ringing bell And my response Was the hollow sound Of a cracked and Empty vessel Teach me how to sing again Strike me that I may Ring again * I battered myself the other night I battered myself with doubt She told me that she loved me And I replied - You don't!

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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And like a child denied some favour Screaming 'it isn't fair' In spite of all wrecking everything And saying 'but you don't care' But you did care and every blow I aimed at myself also fell on you. You were there and each time I tried To kill our love you died a little too I battered myself the other night I battered myself with doubt I told her she didn't love me And after that, she won't * Twelve o'clock. All is not well. Seems I've finally run out of luck. Too late for you to come round now Too late to patch it up. I see you, bruised and battered Sloping up to your bedroom flat And know now whatever happens you Just can't let yourself turn back. Resolve was something I loved you for And it's my indecision's brought me down And yet, when the wind rattles the door Or hovers like your car would on the ground Up springs my heart and down the hall Still hoping you might come round *

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

I've spent all night Thinking about it Writing I should have been out there Bringing her round Fighting * And love is no solution It’s the problem I should know Trouble seems to follow me All along the road

1985

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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ENOUGH

G
Spilling

ive me neither too little nor too much But enough to Fill my cup without

Just give me a window that looks out on the world Just a door that I can close And when a friend comes Open One roof is enough, one friend is enough, one life Is enough For the man who's walked all day long is Happy to hitch a ride And someone who's ridden all day long is Happy enough to fly But a man who’s flown all day long Would be happy enough to walk So give me neither more nor less than this And when I grow old All I'll require Is a place round the fire And to go Without casting A shadow

Nepal 1985

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

ABUSED AND DISABUSED

A

bused and disabused Like Lazarus in his rags Into your mind I come

I'm the man who stood on the corner when you Walked by the other side The voice nagging in the back of your head The face at the window at night And when I was cold and hungry and you would not let me in Though you turn your back upon me Still I keep on knocking I point to my mouth – you point to the door You show your empty pockets – I show you my empty arms I hold out my hand in friendship and you Palm me off with coins So now I'm not going to let you go Look in my begging bowl (Here's all the wisdom of the world) Look deep in my begging bowl When I turn it upside down Nothing at all comes out And if you turn your life Upside down Nothing at all comes out Abused and disabused Like Lazarus in his rags Into your mind I come

India 1985

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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MY ACHIEVEMENTS

I

look on my achievements Like an upturned boat

Round these parts The sharks are masters

1985

THE BLACK CAT OF FANTASY

W

ithout batting an eyelid At the squabbling birds The black cat of fantasy Crouches on the lawn Undistracted by the traffic He shuns indignant bees His head a radar dish directed To a movement in the leaves With ears as sharp as pencils He draws the hidden prey Till his whiskers' electricity ignites The firework of his tail And the whole world seems to be rushing Into the blackness of his eye And he's wound his shiny body Into a tense and shiny wire Spine arched, legs bowed back Shooting like an arrow The black cat of fantasy Chases its own shadow 1986

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE HUNGRY FISHERMAN

R

ocking in his yellow boat In the watercolour sea The hungry fisherman sang so sad And sang so hungrily 'Fish in the sea fetch no price. I will have no supper tonight' Till all around the yellow boat The fishes swim up to see The hungry fisherman that sings so sad And sings so hungrily 'Fish in the sea fetch no price I will have no supper tonight' And rocking in his yellow boat In the watercolour sea The hungry fisherman sings so sad And sings so hungrily He never reaches out to catch The fishes from the deep

1986

THE HUMBLE COMPANY MOTTO

W

e don't want to change the world Change the world Change the world

All we do is entertain Yes entertain The hope

1986

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ICE

I

was happy Playing My part

She fired A sliver Of ice into my heart I shrugged it off I danced I laughed The ice went deeper Into my heart I worried at it I picked I squeezed My punctured heart Began to bleed So I ran away And ran so fast It stabbed me every Beat of my heart I went to sleep And overnight My heart had hardened Into ice So now I'm famous For my emptiness I am a suitor Of the ice empress

1987

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE OPEN WINDOW

A

window open Onto the blue Wide as an ocean Far as a moon Through the window Into the sky In the urge to fall is The wish to fly On perfunctory lovers Fumbling in the night The open window Sheds its light Into atmospheres stifled With suppressed despair The open window Releases air Through silences so laden They drop like weights The open window Reverberates When walls close in Without a sound When feet feel unbearably Anchored to the ground The open window is One way out A window open Onto the blue Wide as an ocean Far as a moon

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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Through the window Into the sky In the urge to fall The wish to fly

1987

LENNON IN CENTRAL PARK

L

ooking down the barrel of Chapman's gun Lennon was unaccountably struck By a surge of happiness for this world No two moments the same no two things The hydrants outside the Plaza, pigeons In Central Park, the magnificence Lost, found or made, the way Two guitars can sing together and alone. Life. Beauty. Music. The tracks he had to cut. Lennon was in love with all of it. And then the bullet hit.

1988

SATANIC VERSE

T

he God of the Unbelievers Is stronger than other gods Because they never dare Invoke his name And the Unbelievers' God is More sacred than other gods They don't petition him For favours And his wisdom and his justice Are great beyond compare Because his goodness and his justice Are not found anywhere

1989

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

NOT COLD ENOUGH

H

e's grown cold. Our eyes don't meet. The restaurant table is strangely exposed. I laugh without conviction. We once knew each other well once - now Nothing’s revealed except our teeth Biting through hot biryani Which brings no warmth. He asks Me what I'm doing - I cavil, demur Apologise for everything And begin to wonder too. But it doesn't matter. The interview's over. He's got what he wants. I'm still No threat. We split the bill, go. Outside it's cold enough for rain But not cold enough for snow Then for a brief moment He’s the friend I knew As with a light finger he smoothes his car Warm, solicitous, he's in love And as he pulls off I think I hear The clunk Of doors closing Everywhere

1989

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DRIVING LESSONS
riving along under an open sky In our own sweet special way The air is free The world is wide Till we hit homebound traffic of a Sunday They flash in the rear view mirror Those bastards trying to overtake Ahead a swarm of red brake-lights flares Round tail backs and delays. So our leisure begins to wear us out Just as a press on the peddle pushed us back Over what we’ve covered and yet to cover Acres of implacable tarmac. So much for progress. Why don't we sell up? There are houses I've seen from the car or the train, Tranquil, secluded. We could retreat From this bumper to bumper rat-race… And so I go on, till you point out That all my supposed vistas of escape Are next to a rail track or motorway. I put on the indicator, Push into third and pull Into the fast lane What's known is over. What gained is lost. Ahead of us it's only hearsay.

D

1989

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE HIGHWAY CODE

D

on’t try to read too much in them Elisions, collisions, signs Scribbled on the tarmac In burnt rubber and tyres

There’s the looping longhand Elegant expressive wide Swerving over the lane markings Bleeding into the margins Or the felt pen strokes Thick, straight and black Boldly running out Of ink, road, and luck Then a shared signature Two panicked staccato hands Culminating in a flourish Of oil and shattered glass. But don’t try to read too much in them Or you will quickly learn How disaster overtakes you On the inside lane 1989

THE GARDEN

W

henever a hurricane hit the house And Mum went spare At something we had or hadn't done Whenever the ill wind got to her Made joints twinge and saucepans rattle

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And us to hide our wings Like butterflies in a gale By clinging to the furniture (which made her more angry) And Dad sat like some Suburban Buddha Placid while she raved (Which made her more angry still) She’d do the only sensible thing Go out and bury her anger with a spade She bedded it down with other unpromising things Dead cats, worries, work From all the stuff dug into that ground You might expect an ulcerous waste Rank with nettles of resentment Sly calculating aphids, grey clays of despair At best the disenchantment Of strimmed borders, clipped privet Bedding plants regimented To unfurl their banners the same time every year Rigid order to rectify the lack A back yard querulous and pale As a net curtain in a cul-de-sac But Mum's garden is a lesson Not to keep your bitterness in (Don’t store it in a loft Till the ceiling beams creak The nightmare of the past ready to fall on your head) Rather take your frustrations Cuttings, potato peel, dregs, Build them up in a heap Near the bottom of the fence Stew a few months And allow to breathe Till you've a compost to make your soil Light, friable, and sweet

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

Like Mum's garden in summer Where the frosts have weathered Even the hardest stones And the long fuse of anger Explodes In colour And swifts overhead trawl the ample air And could you buy a timeshare in heaven You would spend it there.

1991

POOLE HARBOUR

I

hate the sea Not for its salt or violence But for its quiet desperation It’s terrible monotony. Dad took us out from the harbour years ago Cadging for mackerel on nylon lines: When almost by mistake we hauled one in It just wouldn't die Thrashing in the boughs Like a slice of battered aluminium. Dad just laughed the more I cried. He said he'd felt exactly the same When he was my age and that One day I'd be telling my son The same thing he was telling me, As we lost sight of land The mackerel thrashing in the boughs Like a slice of battered aluminium. And that's why I hate the sea Not for its salt or violence But for its quiet desperation Its terrible monotony

1991

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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WHEN HE LAUGHS
For Alexander

W

hen he laughs It’s like a waterfall A torrent So vivid and clear it washes you back To apples so big they have to be held In both hands To running with only the breeze on your skin Clapping yourself on each new word you form Biting your hands with excitement Lying down rolling over With excitement To being fearful of poppies and knots in the wood Sure there's a spider hid in each blade of grass Seeing the moon begging to be lifted up up up Knowing we are always here to catch you When I was a child I played with childish things Now I am a man I play with my children

1992

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE SMELL OF THE COAST
For Jackie

A

fter our games had ended In squabbles and in kicks, Our mouths raw and garish From too many boiled sweets, Once we'd spied A to Z On registration plates Shimmering Over the blistered tarmac, Then up we would pipe From the back seat: When shall we see the sea, Daddy When shall we see the sea? Through by-passes, fields, industrial estates Lay-bys where we'd stop to pee, stretch legs, And sip a thermos of milky plastic, We’d hark for the cries Of gulls overhead, Desolate for the smell of the coast And though they only wheeled Over rubbish tips Not five minutes passed Before we begged: When shall we reach the sea, Mummy? How far is it to the sea? Hardly any closer, she'd say, Since last time you asked. Or Dad: The more you look forward The longer it'll take. So we'd pipe down, tune to the radio news Bulletins unchanged all afternoon, Stare out the window Unable to credit or count

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

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How many seconds make up an hour How many waysigns between here and there And if it isn't ages until we arrive It won't be forever until we leave. But over every ridge Behind the tree silhouettes The sky seemed to ripple, brighten With a marine light. And soon there'd be bungalows With portholes instead of windows, Yachts on the curtains, toothpaste blue, Shells in the pebbledash. The street Would dip away And between b&b's, candy-floss, tar, I see the sea. I see the sea. There it is. Here we are. What was it all about? Two weeks to scour up and down the beach Dodge turds bobbing by the outflow pipe Lick sand off a molten ice-cream. But nothing could defeat us, Even at night Sunburnt between the cool white sheets We’d cup the shell Of our ears to our heads And drift off To the waves milling the shingle Tide rummaging the shore Sounding like the ocean sounds But louder.

1992

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

LULLABY

H

ush now my little one Why all this fuss?

The television is sleepy, surely You have had enough Outside you can scarcely hear The streetlights buzz Even the planes are sleeping Under the moon And you will be awake again All too soon 1992

YOUTH

O

ur youth is like an ever open door To a future we cannot follow

Our youth is like a long lost track Down through the woods to the meadow (How quickly it is overgrown With no feet to clear the furrow!) Our youth is like a shiny bright key That opens the gates of sorrow

1993

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 42

MY STRONG DAUGHTER
For Katy

M

y daughter's getting stronger, More surely holds herself Day by day She takes a few more steps Before collapsing In heaps of laughter At her own success My daughter's getting stronger, Knows where she is Smiles to see us, Yells when we leave She's grasped that things can both be and not. She's learned how to hold things and Let them drop. My daughter's getting older. Taking a finger she Leads us slowly around the world, Practising how to be free and tall, While we learn to bend to stoop to crawl. Newton would be proud. Refuting the laws of gravity My daughter shakes her head with the trees, Falls backwards down stone stairs and cries, Picks herself up off the floor again and flies Every hour passing faster never coming back

1993

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

A TRIBUTE TO DENNIS POTTER

B

eyond this there is nothing that we know. The choir at St James’, gilded angels on beams, An actress singing ‘Roses in Picardy’, These are pennies from heaven but we cannot guess What goes on behind when the screen goes blank. No more illusions. No more regrets. So we must finally let go of your hand Clawed and stained by cigarettes To face the big world on our own. I still expect to meet you. (Though I never did) Your absence is the strangest fiction now, For in your work, your presence is so intense, Sometimes you get so close I can smell your breath Too passionate to be polite You broke the rules of ugliness Your story was your own. Of all people, you, through those years of pain Your skin flaking away, on your Lazarus bed Swearing at that box in the corner, You knew that truth is not something easy or received, But extending meaning to where no meaning has been, As you did with ‘idle’ ‘crass’ TV And proved to crass And idle kids like me; Whatever mars our youth and beauty Spurs us to creative duty But that which plots to stop the heart Is the enemy of our art

St James’, Piccadilly, 1994

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 44

SO VIVID

Blade of glass This Rash of adjectives This bullet of gold For nine whole nights I swung on the empty winds Saw symbols on the walls I could not decipher So I dedicate them to myself: The poems I won’t write for lovers The letters I will never send my dad The stories I can’t tell my kids Look at them So vivid So bright Like fish scales on a knife The words I do not write

T

ake from me this

1997

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

HEART SURGEON

S

he’s taking back her life And only now it’s starting to hurt Every smile has to be paid for

Every touch, every word Every molecule removed And all her strengths must be turned against me All her acuity and edge Her silence and her deliberation Honed like a knife I see her take that knife Heartsurgeon neurosurgeon Without anaesthetic She cuts her eyes out of my eyes Her face out of my face It’s really beginning to hurt Cuts her chest out of my chest Memory by memory She takes back her life. She performs the operation perfectly. She’s practised it on herself. And when I look in the mirror All I see is the shape of her vanished face The darkness where her eyes were The old heart pumping failing Gushing useless blood... Look at it all. Here it is... Out through those arteries Which no longer are attached. She doesn’t leave scars. She doesn’t leave fingerprints She doesn’t leave anything.

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 46

She’s a good surgeon, the best. She’s practised on herself. 1998

A POEM BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP

I

f words Could keep You warm

If thoughts Could take Form If letters Could be hands Figures Turn to flesh This poem would have Unbuttoned your blouse And be half way Up your dress

1998

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE BORDER

W

ho recognises this border?

A torn strip of shirt Hanging on razor wire In the spotlight of a searchtower Fledglings feed and hush Grass gapes through the broken concrete of a checkpoint Do you recognise this border? I'm standing by the bridge Looking at the river Imagining what line I've crossed What lines I've yet to cross Will she search me Refuse my excess baggage Grant me temporary visa When does my exile begin? Writing on the water Drawing on it After floods in Honduras The roads were washed away But a bridge was left behind The river flowed around it Blood flows now Where it shouldn't flow The Atlantic Ocean grows At the same pace as Our fingernails There is no border

1998

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/PAGE 48

BLACK WATER: WHITE OAK
Black water still Tidal and deep Surface emulsion Iridescent as oil Cupped in your hand Stained like whisky or tea With tannin from the soil Your hand in the water Watch it disappear Deeper and deeper Sepia to blackout Just like Just like my memories

THE BRIDGE
Waiting by the bridge Black water White oak With my head in my hands To focus, for I knew This was a border, watershed, No maps for what lay ahead If I went any further There'd be no point turning back Then you arrived Your flashing smile And without even noticing I had already gone Totally gone Water under the bridge.

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

TIME ZONES
So late in her night So early in my morning A whole hemisphere is dark In a pool of silence Of pagelight and silence she waits Darkening the screen. She may be all alone But what does she want With any Orpheus? While I write She sleeps And when I sleep She writes And the night cannot be subdivided

THEIR SPHERES
He lived in two spheres, Like day and night Both full and integral You could say he had everything But caught in their contradiction Everything to lose in both She lives in one sphere She does not contradict She has nothing to lose She does not wear perfume Doesn't send him gifts Doesn't meet his friends Does not exist

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 50

IN STEP
And one time he was leading her through the darkness And then another time she was leading him The first time he reached out to touch her She withdrew but searched for his hand Through the certainty of never To the uncertainty of now Through the certainty of pain To the uncertainty of joy Not Orpheus and his muse But two lost children Like Hansel and Gretel Walking through the dark Their hands only parting Searching on the path For whatever breadcrumbs The birds might have ignored

HER QUESTION
“Where are you?” she asked The misty square at night Dark brick walls Seemed to echo back her voice Might have beens like ice haloes Around the lamp lights Every particle can take a different course Each collision lead to a different world And we scatter in the air And never can cohere Till a voice says; “I am here.”

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

WAVES
Like the quiet of a tube station broken By lightning bolts running Along the steel track You turn to your fate A subterranean gale Blowing on your face And then someone wonders Why you were looking? Or as the impact of a comet Darkens the whole planet There is no time to panic Her energy comes in waves And following in their wake Everything is changed And then she politely asks: Do you want your old life back? When I didn’t have her body I still had her voice And though her voice may fade Whatever I may say Everything has changed She comes in waves Around me Like a tidal wave Sounding Deep down here In the underground

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 52

THE LAST SONG
I was waiting in the restaurant One cold December day She came down and sat with me (No-one noticed) but when she left I saw her place was empty Then I knew she'd been there. And she is here at this moment In this room, she leans over Finishes these lines But the moment I look up She's gone. It's just me reading. That's how I know she's been here I see her long brown hair Trailing on the underground in dreams I would ask what she's doing Haunting me here In semicolons and silences But she would only shrug Unable to say She cannot speak When I am listening. While I sit in the rain Imagining missing her forever She sits under the sun Half hoping I will find her But I won't. She hides so well. At her best When no one listens

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

ANOTHER ANSWER
Maybe that is How he gets her back Maybe she’s the one who has to sing To rescue him from daylight.

NEW TORTURES
When reality bites And the knives are out The greater the love The more to suffer

THE INNER CIRCLE
This is the inner circle Drawn By his own voice He stands there, unable to move He cannot be drawn one way Forced into his future The past still calls him It has an equal sway Only the night is undivided Black water White Oak His past a dark river His future a blank sheet 1999

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 54

THE LIE

T

he scalpel flashes across your mind Lie Lie Or tell the truth and die. Relieve her of her madness Light up her seeming darkness Her confusion is so clear Only loss on either side Whatever you do you are divided The parting has already happened Though you cannot get her back She was always right See her standing on the other shore On the side of light But before you disappear Into your darkness Feel the keen edge of The razor blade of insight Lie Lie Or tell the truth and die The scalpel flashes Across your mind.

1999

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

ON THE SHORE

H

it By the big saline wave Of sleep

Caught In the electric fizz Of its foam Then washed Deep into sleep Drawn under the sheets Spun by the currents and turned on the tide Till some storm Tosses us back Here on the dry shore of the morning Naked and raw Time to wake up! Get in the shower Sand in our eyes Wash the salt from your back The sound of the waves is receding But here On our mattress of sand Our imprint is left The curvature of your body The restlessness of mine Like a plaster cast Of desire Which these little words Can't fill 1999

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 56

IN BETWEEN

E

verything entwined Our limbs toes our Dreams and dissertations Open eyed Our skins are indistinguishable Everything makes sense Then the phone rings Or we row about the past And the flight is already boarding At gate six On your arm I remember A childhood scar Our fingertips touch Plate glass Now miles of empty air Separate us It doesn’t make sense Useless empty air In between My hands reach out for meaning But nothing is worth touching anymore

1999

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

THE PALACE OF TEARS

T

here are no more border guards In the palace of tears No bugging devices No eavesdropping spies Trying to find out if you're defecting To the decadent West. Now you can rent a car Drive it to Moscow or Milan Buy gift wrapped chocolate Tread on marble floors Extract your cash from a swift machine In the palace of tears Bodies which together Seemed so light Floating above each other Here take flight Hearts unravelling like barbed wire In the palace of tears I could say to myself Time spent together goes so fast Before we know it So will the time apart Me waiting in arrivals You coming through the gate But the airline soap removes your smell I can't remember the last few days at all Like dipping my pen in frozen ink Or touching fingers Through frosted glass In the palace of tears Berlin 1999

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 58

TOGETHER OR APART

T

ogether Or Apart

Much easier to see Just one dilemma In the frame of forever See it now Together Or Apart But unpick the words Suspect the simplicity Apart could be Communing despite miles A constant presence Like a subtitle in your life Apart could be The meaning you hold Like two strings vibrating To the same note Unpick the words Together might mean Cleaving down the middle Inseparable as a wound Dependent as enemies Demanding as A beggar's bowl Imploring the pennies That make you poor

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

Unpick the meaning, unpack the words Go beyond the dilemma See us both Standing here And listen to the world Beneath the footsteps And murmur of voices And the passing cars The world is so quiet So quiet And we have to keep Ourselves Together And stop Being A part

1999

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 60

THE COST OF FLYING

T

he sheets are all clean now Tumble-dried pressed Still warm I put them Back on the bed But there’s no trace left Of your volatile body Like partners in a perfect crime We managed to get away With no evidence. Except these images burning in my head.... II. In the Met Museum Aphrodite Half naked. In a club downtown Your underwear In my pocket III. Your voice comes from the clouds Like rain falling on grass By the edge of a forest When the dogs are quiet There, near the lake. The moon is rising and the wind Seems to shake the birches.

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

But it's not a breeze - it's me. Perched on the telephone wires Unable to come back down to earth IV. Olive oil dripping Between your breasts Naked skin slipping Into a lake. Magnesium calming Jangled nerves A butterfly unfurling Inside your heart A horizon of mountains That are actually clouds Cool vodka On a dry tongue V. It wasn't hard One look in your eyes And I was already weightless As soon as you touched me I grew wings. It wasn't hard Taking off with you Circling the earth Eight times in one day Flying all night Wing to wing

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 62

And on the second day Breaking the sound barrier The boom rolled across the horizon for ages None of this was hard Our only rule was Breaking all rules Breaking all records No expectations no promises No limits. Flying is easy The hard part is landing. 2003

DESIRE REPRIEVED

D
Healing

esire is the Wound is Also the

Scar next to Scar Me begging Her Kneeling

2003

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

YOUR LITTLE BOOK

S

he’s sitting on her cloud Reading a book

Wish I had written that book Wish I WAS that book She could turn my pages over Slowly, then fast, getting Lost in the plot, rifling Her way to the climax She could peruse me anytime, Lift me up, put me down, And from cover to cover Read between my lines She could keep me in her pocket On her pillow at night Under her shirt on the subway On her legs or on her lap Only she can comprehend me Many times she’s picked me up And then carefully bent me back Without damaging my spine So here I am again Your little book Open at the page Where you left me

2003

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 64

LEARNING TO DIE
Jean Jukes 1926-2004

W

isdom has been called Learning how to die

But death is stupid Forgetting everything Unlearning all those lessons How to eat How to wash yourself How to defecate How to breathe Like an orchestra in reverse Losing tempo, expression Measure by measure Detuning the instruments Breaking the strings Until the meaning is lost Vague, inarticulate Half formed on your lips Something... no it's gone O death is so stupid Forgetting who you are You who taught me Everything

March 17th 2004

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

SONG LYRIC: STOLEN MOMENTS

T

here’s a moon in the sky There’s a light in your eye As we walk through the mist Without talking The chill in the air The thrill that you’re here All the best moments Are stolen Promises expectations They always fail Only the honesty of this moment stays And though the winter’s coming We don’t seem to mind And though the leaves are falling They don’t touch the ground The leaves don’t touch the ground My plane’s gotta go Your coffee’s getting cold All the best moments Are stolen I could change my face Change this time change this place But the song on my lips Isn’t changing Promises expectations They always fail Only the honesty of this moment Stays

SELECTED POEMS: 1976-2006

/PAGE 66

And though the moment’s fading It never leaves my mind And though your tears are falling Your tears don’t touch the ground I won’t let them Touch the ground.

2006

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STOLEN MOMENTS: PETER JUKES

© Peter Jukes 1976-2006

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