Sunday, 18 November 2018

More than

Across the summer grasses' fattened heads,
the wild herbs' yellow blooms -
two pigeons at the bird-bath,
sipping in turn.

They spot me pretending
not to be watching. I can see
they don't totally mistrust, nor do they trust me.

It's a healthy state of being
for pigeons and humans - that state
of being neither one
nor the other, but between,
between two poles of feeling.

Are we the only species on two legs -
obliged to hold those poles
in balance? It could be.

It could be some humans
are birds more than mammals,
and Darwin and Linnaeus' wondrous achievements
perhaps need updating.

Anyway. So across the big-headed grasses and blooms
I sit, noting the segments of cloud
in the sky, and how they resemble
an insect's belly. Remember Foucault
and his 'Age of Similitude'.
Is my thinking that archaic?

For those of you suckling babes,
or welding gates, or taking bookings
from holidaymakers - the Age of Similitude
refers to the Renaissance, when people found
resemblances, connections between things.

Whereas Darwin-and-them thought
in categories, you know - like lists,
and generally linear systems.

It's all of it useful
to us, more or less.

Anyway, the fat-headed grasses.
The birds so full of summer
they can't stop twittering.
All that
is so much older
than the baby humanity -
Nature's most recent invention,
God's last contribution.

Suddenly a pigeon hurtles
gurglingly out of the Dogwoods
and, like a flustered arrow,
shoots by at the level of my ear,

soon followed by his partner,
equally absurd: a metre off the ground,
wings spread, chest out -

as if she were some joke
on Virgin Mary
finally beyond the blues.

I cannot help but laugh.
I laugh as if I were
in company, with fellows
of my ilk.

And I am that: yellow flowers,
seed-plump stalks; the Robin practising.

Nature talks more than I can say
in one poem
at the end
of a day.

- Silke Heiss, 16th November 2018

Thursday, 15 November 2018

An extract from what is at this stage the opening poem of Section 6, 'Shaman', of Greater Matter


Bumbling through the house
looking for
my next task

I turn
a corner
at a door, and almost

fall –
find my face just short of stuck in the paunch
of a giant –

the ogre
my Experience!

He glowers down at me.
Lucky the house
has such a high ceiling

(you can’t reach the spider webs
even with the longest
feather duster).

My heart is in my throat
and his huge, rough hand
is round my throat

squeezing tight –
what to do?
But before he squashes me completely

he says
I want your attention,
where do you have your dreams?

I point him to the bedroom
and nimble as a baboon
he ducks, moves slowly through the doors,

lumbers around all the corners
and then drops me,
sits beside me,

heavies my eyes
with his rough palm
and all

is darkness.
Days, weeks, months
the monster holds me hostage

his dreams,
and when I blink sometimes between his fingers when they shift

I see him changing –
blue and horned,
gold and maned, black and sleek

he myths the creatures
who once populated places
preceding Eden, even;

but again, again
he makes me
sleep ...


- Silke Heiss

Monday, 12 November 2018

Perfectly Present - title poem from Section 5 of Greater Matter

The tortoise of me is making slow, but steady progress. Here's the title poem from the fifth section of Greater Matter.

Perfectly Present

I spent time with fellow-widow Gwyneth
our regular weekly keeping tabs
on our days, work,
thoughts, experiences –

she too’d been mugged
by the mugginess dragging down the sky;
that it wasn’t only me who was dof  was reassuring.

Over tea and cake and talk
there was a cooling,
we discussed the blessing of thoughts that appear as beings,
intentions that catch you in motion
before you’ve thought –

our obedience to intuition
makes us a port

I came home to the sunflung polka dots of white roses dancing
in the hedge beside the garage door;

and writing this now

not in the obligatory present tense
(which many modern writers use for no better reason than to hog an effect)
but in the elegiac mood
of reverence that holds in faith
that which we can’t
grasp –

I am certain
that what is past
is perfectly present.

- Silke Heiss

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Nothing at all

Nothing at all

The cry for help goes out -
you sms a friend about your struggles -
she returns it with a prayer or something,
something that mantles your shoulders,
soothes your heart,
relaxes your belly -

you feel-think Thank you's,
hope you're right
about them being received.

Still, you weep all day.
Manage to get up, bath, dress, but
weep, sleep, weep -
on it goes.

You write yourself off sick,
can't be anything but horizontal
on cushions

beneath the clay filigree
lantern of words
you created for your wedding
to your
late husband.

It keeps popping phrases
into your line of vision,
'carving each letter',
and so on.

Then another friend arrives
with a book about the dead,
you talk
about love and desire,
pour some wine,
lend him
your husband's corduroy jacket
to see him home
in the chilly dusk.

- whether it's the wine,
the friend, the book, the weeping, or
the prayers -

you're back inside yourself,
write the mails you must,
declare your limits,
sluicegate your grief
(thank your brother-in-law under your breath
for showing you at Scottish Waterways
how sluice gates work)

so you can barge
elegantly on
this course
of free water, while reclining

on the couch
as if nothing had happened
at all.

- Silke Heiss, 23rd October 2018

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Philosophy in loins

Philosophy in loins

My letters, these days, step
at times not in terrain
I've been -

barefoot, plain
they point
almost away from poetry -

take a train of thought
beyond space-time,

capsuled into stillness

- like a liner on the horizon,
suspended on eternity's curve,
steadily joins the dots
plotting her journey
into wisdom's harbour:

where brown and blue eyes meet
by a philosophy in loins
of sky and earth
and all the forms of water -
wild, and sweetly bowered.

- Silke Heiss, October 2018

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Chalice (a hitherto unpublished poem by Norman Morrissey)

With the days so suddenly summery, hammocking in the cool Green Nook is possible again. And then, by some idle chance I happened upon this moving poem, more crystalline than any photograph could muster for the moment it captures; a poem I don't remember hearing or reading before, utterly humbling for the love my husband felt for me; and archetypal in the pure man-love it conveys towards a chosen woman -


To see you rocking in your hammock
in the old place
(that once was a sylvan nook in the formal, dressed-stone

garden I had
before my heart broke
and the wilderness tangled in

like the jungle over a Mayan temple
but now has been
trimmed back into My-Lady's-Bower's sweet symmetries)

was to see an elvish thing
bobbing in a curled leaf
on a gentle stream;

it was to feel my dream of these past years
- you finding a haven
where your own heart's time

can brim over
to make this new home I offer you
with both hands on bended knee

fit chalice
for your heart's
welling abundancies

drunk from.

- Norman Morrissey

Us in the "sylvan nook". Photo taken by my mom.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Norman's birthday. A king-sized quilt of a blogpost with a hitherto unpublished poem by him.

Today would have been Norman's 69th birthday. I have put together this blog post for the sake of all who appreciated him and who wish to continue to honour his memory - hopefully smiles will break through any tears on your faces.
I loved to spoil him, I loved to be his wife, it was one of the most fulfilling tasks life ever asked of me.
I am sad not to be able to be his wife anymore, but I am grateful for the few years we were given.
He treated me well; he always put my and others' well-being before his own - to a fault; he shouldered the loads life and, indeed, others unfairly put on him; he never blamed me or others for his faults; his dearest wish was to be a decent human being. He showed me, by living them, the qualities it takes to make a true man. I am so very lucky that he shared himself with me to the extent that he did.

All photos are taken by me, with the exception of the photo of Norman at the Ecca reading, which was taken by Lara Kirsten.

3.10.2012 Norman on his 63rd birthday. Picnic in the Arboretum, Hogsback.

3.10.2012 At The Bluff, The Edge, Hogsback, with his friend John van Wyngaard 

3.10.213 Norman at 64, a wild joyride with me on the back of 'The Red Devil' on the contour path of Hog 1.
As far as I know, this was his favourite photo of himself.

A deeply unspoiled man suspicious of too much comfort, Norman enjoyed the cultural wealth I brought into his life. 

3.10.2014 Norman reads from 'This Questioning Terrain', the then newest Ecca Poets book. The Rose Theatre, Hogsback.
3.10.2015 Norman on his 66th birthday

3.10.2015 He loves his shirt. Birthday dinner at The Edge Restaurant, Hogsback.
The following poem demonstrates the kind of man Norman was - please read it not so much for what he is saying about me, but for what it shows you about him - how he enjoys my wifely fuss and giving, because he sees it gives me joy!

To be herself

You painted a splendid Sunbird
on a shirt
for me

- made me cakes,
laid out a sumptuous picnic under a tree;

you're standing me dinner
with fine champagne and crisp beer:
my birthday

- that you celebrate
with all the radiance of giving
your joyous heart

to be

- Norman Morrissey, 3/10/2015

Norman on his 67th with the shirt that marked the launch of the Ecca book that year, 'Gold in Spring'.