Archive for the My Poems Category

VIII of Cups

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , , , on October 17, 2017 by James Munro

You have a wife?
Children, maybe? A home? A job?
Yet like a summer lunatic
one night in June
you turn your back on love
and cross the Mountains of the Moon
in search of something lacking in your life.

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Do I know what love means, you ask

Posted in My Poems with tags , on March 2, 2017 by James Munro

It means
that a smile of pleasure from you, a word of praise,
makes my day,
makes the sun shine,
the sky blue,

that a frown, an angry word, a hint of coldness,
brings cloud,
brings rain,
brings winter,

that when I am with you I am happy, at ease,
but when you’re not here, part of me is missing,
like a missing limb,
a missing heart,
a missing soul.

VIII of Swords

Posted in Esoterica, My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on February 25, 2017 by James Munro

It doesn’t have to be this way.
Bound, blindfolded
and penned in by the hard,
the phallic and metallic.
You don’t have to kneel.
You don’t have to obey.

The ground, the earth, is soft beneath
your bare feet. Feel it.
Where water flows and flowers grow
you, too, can go and flourish and be free.
Things don’t have to be this way.

Or is that, perhaps, the sea?
Is the tide on the turn, about to sweep in, swirling
about your legs, your waist, your breast,
your face, and you a virgin, a sacrifice
to the Stoor Worm, the great sea serpent?
Wriggle out of those bonds and run!
You don’t have to do what they say!

Or are you “an adulteress”,
condemned to pay for some man’s “sin”?
Wriggle, quick! Wiggle out of
that ugly brown robe, and run –
or swim! – be a mermaid! – but
do something! – and be free!

You don’t have to stay.
It doesn’t have to be this way.

Apollo’s Woman

Posted in My Poems, Verse Plays with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by James Munro

apswcover

Apollo’s Woman is a one-act verse-play depicting the home-coming of Agamemnon at the end of the Trojan War with all the looted treasure he has managed to pack into his ship, and his special prize, the captive princess Cassandra of Troy.

His wife Clytemnestra, the sister of Helen, has a nasty surprise in store for him. Only it is no surprise to Cassandra, for she is Apollo’s Woman, the seeress, the famous soothsayer whom no one believes. She knows what is about to happen to Agamemnon, just as she knows what is about to happen to her – and what will eventually happen to Clytemnestra.

A dramatic scene out of the distant past as extraordinary people come face to face with death.

Sorry, but it is not available as an eBook, only as a paperback. You can find it here:
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Here is a taster:

CLYTEMNESTRA

Show me, then. Show me how you do it. Your system.
Your method. Then I will decide if you are crazed. 

CASSANDRA

I don’t rave and scream, if that is what you are wondering.
I go out by myself, up on the hill sometimes,
or down by the sea. There is a sunless cove
much favoured by seals for it faces north
and is surrounded by cliffs. There, Apollo
cannot spy on me. I clamber down
at sunset when I am free – no noble Trojans
whose lust to worship the Goddess in me
may not be denied, no important guests from the east –
a Mede or a Babylonian, a prince of Egypt –
or a rich trader from the west – from the furthermost
reaches of the west, it may be – I had one
once who had sailed beyond the pillars of Hercules
and the mountains of Atlas where, he said, the sea
that encircles the world swirls and rolls for ever
in great green breakers. Such travellers I love,
but wherever they come from, whatever colour they are,
whatever language they speak, we at the Temple
must show them hospitality. 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                                 Of course.
And in that sunless cove much favoured by seals …? 

CASSANDRA

I spend the night on the beach in a trance.
And at dawn, when the first gull calls and the sea turns grey,
dreams – visions – come. 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                            Something trivial,
something foolish, it may be – sometimes? 

CASSANDRA

                                                                       Oh, very often.

CLYTEMNESTRA

And sometimes not the future, not our world at all,
but another world, another time? 

CASSANDRA

                                                         Oh, yes.
But sometimes it is our world, our future.
And then it is always bad. 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                               And that is why
they call you crazed? For I see no madness in
your method. You do not wail and prophesy
and tear your hair out.

CASSANDRA

                                       Oh, but I do. Or I seemed to,
when I cried out to the passing crowds at the door of the Temple
the fate the goddesses had in store for them.

CLYTEMNESTRA

The goddesses? Moira?

CASSANDRA

                                         Hera. Athena.

CASSANDRA

                                                                     Athena?
But you are her priestess!

CASSANDRA                        

                                             So far as Athena’s concerned,
I am Apollo’s woman. That is what all of them
believe – apart from Artemis, the huntress.
Apollo’s sister. She has hunted me
relentlessly. Now I am finished. I can
flee no further. Here, the sun will shine on
my dead body, and Artemis will laugh.
Paris should never have been exposed! He should have
been chopped into gobbets, and each bleeding gobbet
sent to some different island resting place.
Or burnt to ashes.

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                   You cannot fight fate.
They would have found some other pretty boy
to award the Apple of Discord and claim Helen.
Troilus, perhaps. 

CASSANDRA

                              Or Orestes. 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                                   Orestes? My son?

Clytemnestra stares at Cassandra for a long moment, suddenly filled with suspicion.

CLYTEMNESTRA

What do you know of my son? … Tell me, you whore!
What have you seen? 

CASSANDRA

                                      On board the ship, your husband – 

CLYTEMNESTRA

He is not my husband!

CASSANDRA

                                        – kept me chained to the mast
for fear I might jump overboard. I would have.
And there each night while the sailors slept and
Agamemnon snored – 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                       He doesn’t snore. 

CASSANDRA

He does now. He is ten years older, and –
oh, what does it matter? The whole ship silent –
apart from Agamemnon –  
and the lap, flap, slap of the waves against
the hull, I would go into a trance. And last night –
if only we had arrived here yesterday! –
at dawn today, when I was woken by
the look-out’s cry, still far out to sea but with
the hills – your dark hills – these hills – his hills –
spread out along the horizon from north to south,
and everyone started shouting and laughing and patting
each other on the back, I saw your son
avenge his father. 

CLYTEMNESTRA

                                Avenge his father? You mean – ?
Oh, don’t be silly. The boy adores me  –

There is a roar of fury from somewhere nearby. 

I must go! – and he hardly remembers his father.
That net was meant to hold a wild boar
but he will tear it open! 

She hurries out, knife in hand.

Agamamnon’s raging suddenly increases in volume.

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III of CUPS

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on February 18, 2017 by James Munro

3cups-tnl

Raise the cup on the barren hills,
Daughters of Bacchus! Drink your fill,
three generations dancing as one
beneath the moon, beneath the sun.

Soon, too soon, tomorrow will come
and descent to the city and homes and men
and a life of barren propriety.

The JUDY Poems

Posted in My Poems with tags , , , on February 15, 2017 by James Munro

More than forty years passed between the writing of the first and last of these poems … and as I tend to collect my poems chronologically, it has never occurred to me to put them together before. But here they are, the Judy poems.

AUTUMN

To J.A.

Do you ever remember
Those long hot summer days
That lay on us like a welcome
To the world of adult ways,

That lay on us like a blessing
Lest that world and our own fear
Obstruct initiation into
Mysteries drawn near?

Do you ever remember
Those last two stolen days
When autumn came and ‘grown-up’
We had gone our separate ways?

*

Autumn comes, and falling
Each leaf for summer pays,
And the naked tree in winter
Survives, but cannot praise,

Survives in aching silence
The birth of the new year:
But if the tree itself is felled
And left to rot, my dear?

(The last two stanzas were added some years later. JM)

To J.A.

The trees do not change
the whispering limes
though they rearrange
all else we knew

The times
we walked along
this avenue
and kicked that stone
and I turned to smile
at you

Strange
how for a while
at times we dream
and even time
seems rearranged

I turn alone
back down the aisle
of limes

To J.A.  (Bosnia, August, 1983)

Then we lay together in the grass
murmuring Ifs and One days and I’d likes,
long English meadow grass
and buttercups
(You would not let me test your taste for butter,
Said yellow did not suit you). Now
I lie alone gazing through the pines
at blue sky
and wonder drenched in my own sweat
where the years
where you
went, where I.
Twenty-seven years ago this month
I saw you last, in Maldon.
In Maldon, we kissed goodbye and
you rode off upon your bike.

The people on the camp site here beside the beach
are from all parts of the Eastern Bloc and wear
nothing at all, or occasionally tiny briefs that only serve
to emphasise the perfect bodies,
the body beautiful
but glum.
They gaze incuriously like
children deprived,
repressed, like
puritans, thighs, breasts and chests
all gleaming, eyes
dead.

Clouds rumble round the barren hills.

They sunbathe carefully, they wade and wash,
and lick their little ones.
They have not been told that they can swim.

We were not puritans, could not be communists,
nor were we libertines.
We laughed and loved and played
and did our thing
in anarchy and innocence.

I am let back in now sometimes on parole
but all in all
prefer Siberia, my attempts at
rehabilitation
have all been Chaplin/Hitler in performance,
Sydney Carton/Van Gogh in prognosis:
the spectators wooden, inured,
the spectacle me
performing live for a canned audience.

I don’t think India will make
a Good Communist State:
in fact I think India
is in Siberia.
I shall go there, and I shall stay.

Do you remember Laurence Applegate?
I wet myself on stage in the last long monologue,
Camouflaged it down my tights with wine (i.e. water).
It’s always been the same.
I want to die alone upon the sea
or high up on the hill
or in a forest, like this. Pass away
sans camouflage, in peace.

The sun is setting now. The pines above
my face are pale green, moving
a little. Time to go.
Time to eat again. Time. And you?
On holiday? About to give
Supper to your children? Show
Your suntan off?
Go to confession? Laugh?
Have another secret drink?
Lie down and cry again
for someone you have loved?
Or in the village churchyard evening
weep? Or lie forgotten?

To J.A.

I have had no news of you
for more than forty years.

If things were different I would come
in search of you before it was too late …

It is too late.

IX of Pentacles

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on January 10, 2016 by James Munro

9Pentacles

The chatterers used to say your cup
was all but empty, you would never amount to anything.
You didn’t see it that way.

Now they would say of your garden:
Where are the big shops,
the clubs, the theatres? Get a life!

But you have fulfilled your dreams,
no longer feel the need for chatter and novelty.
Your life is half full. The half that counts.

Justice

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on December 1, 2015 by James Munro

XI - Justice

Looks good. But what is it?
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?
A life for a life? Jesus said ‘No’ to that,
‘that’s part of our brutal past,’
and he spoke the truth,
but was he perhaps

a Fool in some ways,
a Fool with his head in the clouds,
talking about what should be
rather than what is?

Sounds good, too. Half the cake
for little Johnny, half for Jane.
One slap for one slap,
two slaps for two. But that way
they will never learn
that life is full of pain
and justice a fairy tale.

A fairy tale,
like Larry the Lamb and Peter Pig
in little Johnny’s book.
Peter Porker and the Larry the Lamb
Chop more like.

Justice? … In
another life perhaps.

In another universe.

Twin-Pack

Posted in My Poems on November 17, 2015 by James Munro

Gemini

Today I’m me. At least, I think I am.
I’m him, anyway, not her.
I never feel quite as comfortable,
quite as – at home – as her. Lee
tells me that the same is true of her.

Once when I was her and she was me –
Jo – and we made love we switched mid-orgasm
(we’re only kids, but he’s – I’m – pretty good):
that must say, must show, something. Mum, though,
is happier with me as Lee –
she doesn’t know, of course, but sometimes
she senses something, almost guesses; you can tell.

Lee doesn’t make a very good girl.
I mean Jo doesn’t – he doesn’t. A bit too
like Xena – beautiful, but strong – and bossy –
whereas I – who am sure I was born the boy –
make a lovely girl. Sweet. They never say
sweet when Lee – Jo – is in her body.

She says it isn’t true, we used to swap
even in the womb. I don’t remember.
But nor does she. And I don’t care.
What worries me is what will happen later
when we grow up, get married,
each have our own home?

When Jo is Lee she has an on-off boyfriend,
George (I found him kissing me, once.
If I ever find him fucking me … )
and when I’m Jo I have a girlfriend, Sally –  
so does Lee, when she is me,
and from what he says, she likes him better,
has more fun, with him than me.

What would happen if I killed him?
I’m pretty sure I’d wake up – no, be – dead.
Because I am him. He is me. Really.

We switched once just before a football match.
We lost of course, his team. He blamed me.
She was watching from the stands. I would rather
play football in the rain and mud than share
a soggy hotdog and a dribbled-in coke with George.

You see, I’ve started meditating. Visualising.
I find I can control the switches now
to some extent. She can’t. Should I tell her?
Tell him? “Help you with the cooking?
Yes, of course, Mum. What’s that?
Sometimes I’m so nice, sometimes not so?
No one’s perfect, Mum. Not even Lee.
Trust me. I know.”

KNIGHT of SWORDS

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on October 17, 2015 by James Munro

KnightSwords
Grim, the prospect.
No love, no loyalty, left,
no present without strings attached.

But somewhere in the pack
“a verray, parfit, gentil knight”
rides out, a Fool on horseback,
a Fool trained in the arts of war
and chivalry. If anyone
can build Jerusalem in England’s
once green and pleasant land, it is him.
Or her.

II of PENTACLES

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems on October 6, 2015 by James Munro

2Pentacles

Like the sea
my soul is in turmoil,
yet I keep dancing,
prancing around on this earth.

I cannot break free,
cannot throw off even one,
let alone both.

The King and Queen of Wands

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , , on September 22, 2015 by James Munro

King of Wands

The Lion King,
humane and wise.
Old Soul;
Sun King in the Land of Faerie.

His only failing?
Being oblivious
to petty jealousies,
smiling lies
and infidelities.

Overconfidence:
Arthur’s bane.

Queen of Wands

If the King is Arthur,
this is Guinevere, Sun Queen,
femme fatale.

She walks by and flowers open,
sunflowers follow her
with their great black and yellow eye.

Once seen
never forgotten:
yours until you die.

That red hair.
That black familiar.

The WillyBs

Posted in My Poems on September 18, 2015 by James Munro

clones

One should clearly keep clones caged. Not easy to say.
Not easy to do. They have a way of growing up,
becoming indistinguishable from oneself
at that age. Which of course is their point. You may

love them. Don’t. If you give them an hour, they’ll take over
your life. It won’t be just your heart, your eyes,
your hips that will be replaced. It will be you.

Temper mercy with sense. It was not as replacements
that they were created, brought into the world,
it was as spare parts. Parts. To be used as needed.

But will they understand that? WillyB-3 is
resentful still about his eye. His eye,
I ask you. I said, Willy, it was never your eye,
it is my eye; that eye you still have
is my eye: you are all me, all mine.

WillyB-4, who is minus most of his teeth
from my dental op and can’t talk properly –
and will probably provide me with my new liver
which will be the end of him, said – “I shink Mary’sh
right.” “Mary?” “Mary. She shaysh we are
people, shame ash her, shame ash you.”

“Listen, Willy. You know you are not people.
You have no name, no parents, no passport,
all you have is the codeword WillyB
linking you to me, and a number, you are
a clone, my fourth, like WillyB-1 and WillyB-
2 were, and these others are. That liver
is as much part of my body as this liver here is,
the body you think of as yours is as much
my body as this one I am at present using.

“What will happen when I need a brain?
That brain will be programmed with all my knowledge,
all my memories, all my feelings – your
few little thoughts – if they are your thoughts – will cease
to be like a ripple on a pond – my pond.”

IV of SWORDS

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 12, 2015 by James Munro

4Swords

In silence think on death. And life.
Is that his wife and child pictured in
the window? 
Did he do what he came to do?
Did they?

And you. Have you done, are you doing,
what you 
came to do? Soon you too
will be dust, a memory, 
an inspiration to others.

Or an awful warning.

Page of Swords

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 8, 2015 by James Munro

Page Swords tnl

Winter is coming.
The winds are blowing.
The swallows are gone.

I cannot be staying
with the grey goose going,
and the wild swan.

My First Guru Said (from BETTER THAN SLEEP)

Posted in My Poems with tags on September 6, 2015 by James Munro

dolphin grinning

My first guru said:
Seek for a second I behind
The you you know,
You who know.
I sought and found –
Grinning like a dolphin –
I who watch myself and laugh.

My next guru said:
Seek now the third I.
I sought and found
I who do not laugh.

My last guru said:
Seek out The Eagle,
I Who Stand Aloof,
Who Soar And Fly:
The Final I.

I found another I and then
Another I, another I, another – I found
And sought beyond some final I,
Found nothing there
Save I who sought
Alone and wandering,

Between the bins,
Among the stars.

The Hermit

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 5, 2015 by James Munro

IX - The Hermit

Perhaps he is setting out in the dark
for an unknown land,
following his heart, it may be,
following the wild wind,
but going –
going where the road goes.

Or perhaps he has lost that spark.
His heart, too, has grown old,
and all he can do now is cling to what he has,
what he knows.

Or perhaps, undecided,
he simply stood still in the snow
and froze.

Ace of Pentacles

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 3, 2015 by James Munro

AcePentacles

Time to leave the garden,
waiting for the sun to rise,
the moon to rise,
spring to come, summer, autumn,
winter, frost, snow …
spring again.
Time to go.

Your mountains climbed,
that same path will bring you  
back into the garden
undefiled.

Queen of Cups

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 2, 2015 by James Munro

Queen of Cups

The perfect wife,
perfect lover, perfect mother,
yet always dreaming of the sea,
always longing to be free.

Was she a mermaid in another life?

The Lovers

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 1, 2015 by James Munro

VI - The Lovers

Two young people
each to each unknown, but wishing.

Can they reach each other?
They are so different. And can they
survive the reaching?

Raphael, knowing he cannot hold them back,
raises his wings to protect,
his hands in blessing …

Two young people
meet and touch and fall in love
and now go out to face the world alone.