Sunday, 19 May 2019

21st Century Poetry: What the Wall Said and other Poems by J. Albert Barr

This is my third selection of poems written by me over the course of twenty-plus years that I've posted here on my blog. Be sure to check out the other two selections found in my "older posts", the first from 2013 and the second from 2015, if you haven't already. And I want to thank you for taking the time to read them, and perhaps even thinking about them afterwards.

I'll begin with a brand-new poem composed earlier this year:


Maybe I need quiet.
Maybe a blunt silence.
Perhaps especially from within
as opposed to the usual without.
Fortuity would then perhaps invite
a reticent ether hiding behind air;
an aura filled with secrets,
latched inside a broken liaison,
culled from a foreign source,
distilled in a familiar fragrance.
Maybe and then maybe again.
Perhaps a knowing sigh that echoes from an old wind.

The quiet has my ear.
The ear sustains this silence.
Perhaps according to a sound
so imposed by a strange decimal.
It's the sort that alerts the owl
in a night's raw stillness
that freezes the hapless mouse,
save its wide, throbbing eyes.
A thought may then take flight,
expanding its plume-filled ideas over unexpected chance.
Maybe and then never again.
Perhaps a song that quavers aloud, atop a mountain deep.


Darkness peers behind a jaded tear,
unabashed at its willingness to evoke despair:
A meek and meagre hovel for a heart indeed,
to only beat in silence, aloof from optimism's flame.
The daily mirror reflects a venom of contempt,
where a new gash degenerates into an indefinite scar.
The transitory days rupture the soul - fade out.

           ...fade in...

This elevation has a butterfly wingspread,
beautiful and meticulous,
like a lover in a still-frame, locked and eternal.
There's a fond repulsion from storybook complacency.
Hug a horror from the past, letting it go at last,
biding its time in oblivion,
as far away from me as existentially possible.

A wayward child applies an ointment of innocence,
     and vision is now widescreen,
        and the senses bite, they gnaw
           and tear:....Awakening!


Aluminum heart speckled with rust;
unheralded sorrow,
radiating from the central stem,
with an arrow-shaped reply
into the albino seas,
attaining stately proportions of time;
dark-green markings on a silver-grey
Spined margins and undersides;
midribs of creeping senses:
my eucalyptus serenade;
a further attraction of your rough
Like a praying-mantis cloaked
in the exotic maranta,
I'm caught in your elegant glue,
the never found reasons behind.


for Ashli Taylor

The trees drink my eyes.
On bended knees, searing songs
from a local robin bleed
in my drums,
pounding out mystified sighs
that echo deep inside the
hemispheres of my bedraggled brain.
Westward winds streamline my geometry,
probing the contours and cooling
the flesh standing upright
for the descending sun, cooing the
clouds to sleep; stars break
for the centre of the sky,
bursting with fervour, enveloping the
unfettered visions beheld by souls
thirsting for sensations as a
cosmos lays its universal kiss.
I give, and it gives, and we become
one majestic symbiosis:
An infinite expansion of energy, matter, spirit:
A melancholic joy eclipsing
any destructive inkling beside the fire.


I knew thee truly when
Winter stumbled backwards into the arms of the sun.
I knew thee truly when
Spring dug itself a burrow to shy away from rain.
I knew thee truly when
Summer hiked on the shoulders of a cloud to provoke winter.
I knew thee truly when
Fall administered an all-green proviso to the leaves.

And you jousted with kangaroos and foxes,
And traded secrets with pandas by proxy.

Yes! I knew thee truly when
Day held a masquerade for unwanted hours.
I knew thee truly when
Night spread-eagle for sunlit bolts of dawn.
I knew thee truly when
Yesterday lamented like a child for its past days.
I knew the truly when
Tomorrow disguised itself as present, fooling all.

And you shed your feathers upon a divested rose,
And dangled love where heart and mind are in repose.


In the mirror, I face a foreign smile
And wait for my eyes to open the day.
This day is wan and grey.
I gather the sense to probe through
A minute beneath the moist soil,
Under my worn soles, catching
The tattered laces (second pair).
My fingers enjoy the absorption of
Tactile bliss. They haven't anything
Better to do, anything constructive, practical;
Only to feel is good enough for them, for me.
Time is neglected, pushed to the margins,
Or the peripherals of consciousness, but
Time remains refractory and vigilant.
The bugle charge of the autumn wind
Blows an army of red leaves away,
Across my path and onto, and over
A wide carless road; no other witnesses;
Just me, in the early hour, under darkness,
Under streetlights, under duress to remain
Breathing, and to remain here...


Besides the societal conditioning of averting one's eyes
When passing a so-called stranger on the street,
I have increasingly sensed nowadays a more intense
Glare, however brief and subtle, deflected back from an
Innocent look that has apparently been perceived as:
            an unwarranted invasion
            when the eyes meet
            like two particles colliding.

Will there come a time when fields-of-vision are policed?

A voyeuristic culture obsessed with other lives
Are conversely rendered paranoid in their own,
Playing the dual role with inevitable conflict
Evoking the Ouroboros of the mind with unwitting
Precision to swallow the self whole from within:
             an inhuman shell
             will be all to leave
             these streets barren.

Has there come a time for souls to bury themselves?


In appealing to the white wall before me,
I could only ask "why"?
Though knowing full-well, trusting the reliability
of my inference, the man-made source of its origin.
My query had no issue with its colour - I, acknowledging
white as such, in comparison to official hues and shades,
wished not to debate legitimacy on these visual grounds.
Contingent black - its binary opposite - brown, green,
orange, red, yellow or blue made no difference; well
I would surmise blue composed by the moody sort, if
my wry reference to popular psychological investigations
were valid and sound - sound, that is, to those who favour
uniformity in professional opinion.
Little difference, I suppose, prevailed, reluctantly.

No, I simply wanted to know why the wall existed at all;
expecting no answer, of course, directed to me from it!
And a jolting confirmation of madness was not my goal!

Religion sat me on its knee as a boy; I, naive and incognizant, was
told it was God's work, even the walls of the non-Christian.
Science held my shoulders as a youth; I, eager to learn and know, was
told it was atoms and molecules, excluding the walls of the mind.

Finding these answers, ultimately, inadequate, despite their
equally self-assuring hubris, I have come to realise now
that my grappling with this inexplicable question is firmly
rooted in the ontological: so I have my particular being, and
the wall has its: mine, animate; its, inanimate. But still being!
Until we both come, inevitably, to non-being. What then?

The wall said nothing.

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