Saturday, June 28, 2014

the decision I made...


It's true,
I could have stayed.

It wasn't easy,
but I stand by
the decision I made.

Yes, it's true,
I'm scared

(just like everyone else).

But I'm not afraid.


I never meant to 
hurt you, break your heart, make you cry.

If one day,
you meet another gentle (yet strong) man
such as I.

Try not to be so hard on him
if at times he's terribly shy.

At least you never insulted me
by calling me a nice guy.

I'm a good man, mostly
or (at the very least):
I try.

One part gentle man,
one part wasp,
one part butterfly.


It is hard to stay in touch,
remain friends;
When I'm not sure
if we were even
really friends to begin with.


(c) Brent M Harpur, 2014.
"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." (Ernest Hemingway)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

icarus revisited (making the sirens blush)...

 
 
All that you have left behind,
family, friends, love.
Was it really worth the sacrifice?
 
Maybe it has come the time
to trade it all in
for a mid-life crisis.
 
 
 
i.
 
If I were to
fall in love with a bird,
it would not be for
her feat of flying
or the pretty colour
on the underside of her wings.
 
These things will never
win me over half as much
as the bird
(who, just for me):
 
She sings.
 
 
ii.
 
For as many nights
that I've now missed her /
the stars,
they have given me
blisters.
 
I have (once again)
third degree burns
in places she'll never
think to look
or even see.
 
And this wax, it makes me itch
and these feathers, they make me sneeze /
 
And you know, falling
kind of feels like flying,
 
and I'm enjoying the cool breeze.
 
 
iii)
 
Why, oh why, oh why?
Must I keep
(even now, especially now)
 
confusing
 these sunspots
  for angels?
 
I have forgotten
my sunhat, dark glasses & sunscreen.
 
And I still have not
learnt to swim.
 
But up here in the clouds,
I can finally see
the birds.
 
And even if I cannot conquer
these blue heavens
as gracefully & eloquently
as they,
 
I can still sing!
 
And as those
cool, inviting waves,
they race up to greet me;
 
My last bitter-sweet
serenade
will make
the Sirens blush
and a far-off Minotaur weep.
 
 
iv)
 
You,
you know the ancient words,
ripped from
the feathered throats of birds...
 
"Curse & rejoice
this thing called love,
I am once again
left such a beautiful,
yet wretched mess /
 
We may not be lovers
anymore
or even friends,
 
but (like the fullest of moon)
I still loved you,
 
none the less."
 
 
And it needs repeating:
 
For as many nights
that I've now missed her /
these beautiful, beautiful stars,
 
they have given me
blisters.
 
 
(c) Brent M Harpur, 2014.
 
"The stars we are given. The constellations we make." (Rebecca Solnit)
 
"For each star above me / Ten more have loved me." (Declan O'Rourke)
 



Thursday, May 15, 2014

looking for love amongst falling leaves...


 
 
 
This lone leaf
on the ground;
when it fell,
never made a sound.
 
Like all the other leaves,
no more (or less)
profound.
 
But to this
blurry, romantic eye,
make no mistake:
A lonely
yet perfect heart
it did make.
 
I only hope
that when it fell,
it did not break.
 
 
 
(c) Brent M Harpur, 2014.
 
 
"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to discover, through the detours of art, those two or three great & simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. (Albert Camus)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a long way from home (for Jan)...


"Do you know what happens to scar tissue?
It's the strongest part of the skin."
(Michael R Mantell)


I held my breath,
you taught me how to breathe.
And when there's nothing left,
That's my cue to leave.

I held my breath,
you taught me how to breathe;
there's always something left,
That I now believe. (1993)



This morning,
after so much pain,
you have slipped away from this world.

Tonight, I read in a book
that scar tissue
becomes
the strongest part of the skin.

Turning out the light,
lying still in the dark
I wonder,

what of the heart?

In forty five short years,
this tiny, fragile heart of mine,
it is covered in so many scars.

Does this loss indeed
make me stronger?

Oh,
Te Maunga (the mountain),
should Moana (the sea)
threaten once more

to swallow you up!!

I promise,
Jan Marie...
I will always remember you.

I woke this morning,
you're gone,
but the world still turns /

I take an extra breath (for you),
my dear.
Because even in death,
my dear:

Your fire still burns.

Our bodies,
they are merely cages.
And Moana, she still rages,

with perhaps a little less foam.

Memories can bind,
leaving us blind;

Tonight, in a cafe
a stranger, a Kiwi, reminds me:

I am a long way from home.

Through your touch, you touched so many.
You gave new meaning
to;

Safe sex.

Sanctuary for so many healing souls.

The guilty shall be named.
The innocent unshamed.

I still remember your long, flowing hair,
orange flamed.

You took this broken man
and taught him how to dance.

This man I chose to be,
not an easy choice. Even now.

You got it, and more than that:
You appreciated it.
The biggest gift you ever gave me.
Thank you.

And here now,
far away, in a land of red soil,

I think of your long flowing hair still;

And how it now joins
the blood
pumping unseen
inside the very heart of Te Maunga.

So much I want to say,
but I have lost the words.
These are the only ones
that come to me
the morning I hear of your passing:

"And long after you have left,
the truth has remained...
That (even in death)

You could never be tamed."

Red!
Your big, pure, beautiful heart
and unfailing, safe arms,

they will remain for me
(and so many fortunate others):

A work of enduring beauty,
best left

unframed.

In your lifetime, my dear...

You carried
more
heartache & pain
than a thousand men

could ever bear.

But I still hear your laughter,
and I will always see your face
in the face of Mt. Taranaki.

No one can ever
take that away from me.

Thank you for flying me home
for one last dance.

I am a long way from home.
I am a long way from home.
I am a long way from home.

I held my breath,
you taught me how to breathe:
There's always something left,
that I now believe.


(c) Brent Harpur, 2014.

- For Dr. Jan Marie, RIP.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Merida, 2013 / could you learn to trust a man...?



i.

At eleven,
God he took my eyes.
And in return,
the Devil he gave me words /

I've secretly spent
three quarters of this life
(my dear):

Trying
(with limited success)
to decipher in fickle human tongue

the sacred,
secret song

of birds.


ii.

And tonight,
here in foreign land,

all I ask is for these
twenty-six scrambled letters
to glide
across deepest waters,

like tiny, fragile boats /

To fly,
 to soar

like birdsong's
final twilight rapture,

torn from unseen beak
and tired,
feathered throats.


iii.

Could you learn to trust a man
who cannot see the stars?

And could you learn again to love him
when he merely pretends
to see the constellations
you trace for him
with your fingertips?

And it could be true,
that once they have taken flight,
that he too cannot
see birds.

But together,
you have seen (up close in a tiny boat)
the flamingoes.

And you (both)
now know their secret,
it was always simpler than you think /

Their feathers, when mere feet away
are much more orange

than they were ever pink.


iv.

Last night, in dream
a man from Progresso Beach
he visits me again.

His message,
the same as before:

"The hand that gives is never empty."

I awake with a start /

Yes,
the hand that gives is never empty.
But what can be said...

For a giving heart?


(c) Brent M Harpur, 2014.




Sunday, January 12, 2014

Times Square, 2013...

Photo (c) Amy Hoogenboom, 2013.

And I
am finally here,

here
in Times Square,

my dear!!

The angels,
they have dirty faces
and empty pockets,

and they can't always afford to tip.

And it is true:
You cannot always see their wings
in the neon glare of Broadway.

Even in daylight, it has a knack of
seeping into your very soul,
cracking you open
from the inside out,
setting your eyeballs on fire.

They sometimes find it hard 
taking flight,
those dirty-faced angels,

'cause all those damn tourists
never look where they're walking!!

I must learn to get into the flow,
the natural Big Apple rhythm...
Within moments,
I learn to eyeball people, 

even though I can't see their eyeballs.

I learnt this technique
many years before;
when crossing busy roads,

pretending to see drivers 
behind the steering wheels & the windscreens
of their high speed, moving metal boxes.  

In the bustle of a New York street,
when all the ants just want to get home
to their nest, to their loved ones...

Send out this psychic message:

"Get out of the way!!"

Sure enough,
like Moses parting a human Red Sea,
thinking you can see them
(and are not prepared to move)

they will get out of your way.

But in the bustle,
look a little closer.

Deep inside the eyes
of the masses
and the occasional 
angel's dirty face,

you will see something more.

Something...
Frank, but friendly.

Starlight amongst the neon,
diamonds in these dirty streets.

More than that,
something familiar.

A symbiosis 
between city and human.
One lending itself to the other.

A mutual inspiration & respect,
of
urban & human,
tarmac & heart.

Is this the fire that
Lou, Andy, John & Keith all learnt
to control,

to hold boldly in their hands
and fashion into wings

of art,
of music,
of words?

Such a big place,
but so much slower than you ever expect.

And nothing,

nothing can quite prepare you
(not even forty-five years of popular culture)...

For so, so much heart,
so much dignity
and generosity...

...all of it hiding (if only you look)
amongst the shimmering neon
or in the smile of a Diner waitress.

I am finally here.
And dreams do come true,

if you have the patience to
work hard & wait half a lifetime or more for them.

Nearly twenty five years...

Was it worth the wait?

Every.
Damn.
Second.


And I am finally here,

here in Times Square,
my dear!!

In my mind I write you a postcard...

Wish you were here.








If I close my eyes,
I am right back there again...
From out of the window of my speeding Courtesy Car,
I can still see that first heart-stopping glimpse
of the Empire State & Chrysler Buildings
aglow on the Big Apple late-night horizon.
The car stereo is screaming.
The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" fills my ears.
I am here! This is it!! I am so alive!!!
And I will never, ever be the same again.


(c) Brent M Harpur, 2014.

-For A & R and Lou Reed.

Perhaps, when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing." (Sylvia Plath)

"There's some magic in everything. And some loss to even things out." (Lou Reed)

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." (Ernest Hemingway)





Sunday, September 22, 2013

in the heart of the nautilus...



i.

and in a dream
(but perhaps,
 not a dream)

you take me tenderly by the hand...

And you gently lead me
(without leading)

into the entrance

of the spiralling shell
of the nautilus...

Down...
down...
down...

we slowly descend
in an ever-decreasing circle,

working our way ever-inward.

The outside world is still visible
but at the same time,

as if by magic,

it has
been left far behind.

Step by careful, deliberate step,
we giggle, filled with
child-like

wonder & abandon...

We continue further inward
until at long last 

(minutes, or perhaps
centuries later)

we find ourselves at the centre:

The Heart of the Nautilus!!

There, before us
in the dimming light

lies a large pearl-like rock.

I remove my overcoat,
throw it over
the rock's hard surface...

And we carefully help
each other
climb up on top.

We hold each other for balance.

From my bag
I produce fresh strawberries.

Like naughty children
raiding orchards,
we feast
on our late night dessert.

The redness of the berries
stains our fingertips,
their strong perfume
makes our noses tingle.

Outside, the world continues around us,
possibly hasn't even noticed our absence.

But deep down
inside the depths of the nautilus,
in our own world, anew

we are alone,

together.

Alive,
filled with reverence.
no longer afraid.

You feed me a strawberry.
I bite into its soft flesh.
My mouth is filled with joy.

I carefully feed you one back.

My ears are filled with the
sounds of our breathing.

I clumsily lean into you,
against you,

so as not to topple
from the stone pearl
we are perched upon.

I touch your soft blonde hair,
I press my nose into
its soft tangles.

It smells of honey & vanilla.

I breathe in deeply,
all of my senses in rapture.

Somewhere,
off in the distance
(perhaps from another world),
we can hear a Latin band playing...

In our dream (but perhaps, not a dream)
this all feels so perfect,

so familiar, yet not. But so right.

I am not afraid.
I rest my hand
upon your hand.

I try to kiss you,
but our glasses

get in the way.

If I were to remove them
(yours or mine),
there is nowhere

to safely store them...

Instead,
I push my head gently
into your hair again,

and this time I press
my strawberry-stained lips
upon your

soft, white neck.

You taste faintly of salt.

It tingles on my
strawberry-stained tongue...

Perfection.

And for the second time tonight,
my mouth is filled with joy.

And your sighs /
they give this blind man

back his eyes.

Braver now

(but strangely, I have been so brave
since the moment we met):

I carefully navigate around your eyewear.

My lips find your lips.
We kiss, gently.

One of my hands is on your neck,
and the other

is tangled in your hair.

All of my worldly cares drop away.
I sigh now, too.
I am giddy. Lightheaded.

You hold me,
stop me from toppling
but I still feel like I have fallen.

I kiss your neck again.
And you, mine.

You sigh, and giggle.

I catch a glimmer
of your nose ring. I touch it,
and you smile,

& we kiss some more.

You sing to me, then
and I shed my skin.

You sing to me, then
and I sense

my life will never
quite be the same ever again.


ii.

Nearly a week has passed.
But I wanted you to know

that (since that song)...

I am still down there.

Deep down
in the Heart of the Nautilus.

Where, perhaps
I even shared
your sacred, perfect

Cancerian shell.

You sang to me.
You sang to me.
You sang to me,

and my heart:

  (for the first time
  in such a long time)

...perhaps the first time?

it opened, like a flower.


iii.

Faraway, or close /

I still feel her waves
against my coast.

I am lost, yet found
somewhere underground...

deep in the
Heart of the Nautilus.




(c) Brent M Harpur, 2013.

"Let me in, unlock the door. I've never felt this way before." (Chris Martin)

"I'm watching the water, watching the coast, suddenly I know what I want the most. And I want to tell you, still I hold back, I need some time to get my life on track. I know that look on your face, but there's something lucky about this place. And there's something good coming for you & me, something good coming, there has to be." (Tom Petty)