While I was digging around on archive.org to try to discover when I'd started out with my personal website, I found this page of poems, all dating back to the late eighties and early nineties. Not deathless literature, perhaps, but if they are going to carry on a zombie existence on archive.org, I might as well acknowledge their existence.



The Gardener of the Plaspoelpolder


He has been there always, I believe,  
bald, boiler-suited, fiftyish and lanky. 
Mornings, as the cars pour angry from the highway,  
he creates a little sphere of peace;  
From bed to bed he wheels his barrow  
as they pour back fretfully at night.  
And the buildings come and go around him. 
He was here before they drained the polder,  
His father showed him how to fish for eels;  
To shoot duck, in winters so hard that for weeks  
you could skate from here to Haarlem  
(and people did: there was time for such things then). 

He knows the times of mowing, pruning, planting out;  
Pursues the cycle of seasons while the traffic fumes around him;  
improves on nature with his mower, spade and secateurs.  
And meanwhile time runs faster; money’s more expensive;  
The nations and their little wars whirl by,  
newspaper headlines in the wind, are caught in bushes,  
speared (to save his back), and bagged for burning.  



Letter to a Prominent Nationalist  


I think it's such a very good idea  
to send us all back home -  
I've had about as much as I can take   
of living in this moist and draughty isle  
and so, I'd like to volunteer to head your list  
for quick repatriation. 
 I should be first -  
 I've such a lot of journeyin' to do... 

I want to go back, to where my people are: 

 I want to go back  
to find my roots  
on Grandma's farm in Eastern Prussia  
(it's moved through Poland into Russia); 


 I want to go back  
to trace the threads of personal history  
in Grandpa's weaving sheds in old Silesia;  
or take my chances on the steppes of Central Asia  
where our ex-cousins keep alive their culture  
at both ends of Kalashnikovs; 


 I want to go back  
to catching fishes off the coast of Jutland;  
to making camenbert in William's Normandy;  
I'd like to cultivate the vines in Southern Gaul  
that great-great-Grandpa left  
to go to fight in Caesar's legions; 

 I want to go back  
into the Land of Egypt -   
if you'll just hold the Red Sea back a moment; 

 I want to go back  
to cereal-breeding by the Tigris;  
and, in the Great Rift Valley, put the bones   
of great-great-great-great-Grandmama  
back where the Leakeys found them; 

 I want to go back  
and slot the plates back into place  
for my home country, Gondwanaland; 

 I want to go back  
to the Big Bang (a Man and Woman  
arguing about an Apple). 


 I want to go back...  
but, most of all, I'd like to leave you here.  




I brushed your lips, I touched your milky teeth,  
I dived into your clear-set lake-blue eyes  
and swam to safety on a shaven cheek.  
I swallowed all of you in one sweet gulp,  
I drained the salty oceans of your tears;  
explored the deepest pockets of your lungs  
and hunted in the forests of your hair; 
I took you in and squeezed you through  
my ventricles and atria,   
and pushed you down capillaries,  
to tingle furthest fingertips;  
Your soft electrons carried charge  
along the fibres of my nerves:  
I knew you in my synapses; 

I fought a playful fight with lymphocytes,  
I looked for entry at your T-cell walls:  
Come, let me in, I want to know your code,  
to nestle in your defining double coils,  
and squeeze a segment of myself between  
your adenine and guanine.  

(Oh, cytosine, oh thymine!) 

You brushed my lips, you touched my teeth,  
you dived into my lake blue eyes  
and swam to safety on a shaven cheek.  




Your mystery reins my leaping verses in -  
However hard I ride, I can’t get past  
How beautiful you are, and yet how thin. 

When, in the promise of your smile, the Spring  
Excites my metaphors, you tie them fast -  
Your mystery reins my leaping verses in. 

Then, moderated by your Summer mien,  
My subtly modulated rhyme-schemes say at last:  
‘How beautiful you are, and yet how thin.’ 

Your stormy Autumn hair escapes its pin  
And now, as ever, though my heart beats fast,  
Your mystery reins my leaping verses in. 

As Winter’s blushes gently rose your skin,  
My chilly fingers jot down one contrast -  
How beautiful you are, and yet how thin. 

I’ll try again: one desperate last quatrain!  
But no, I can’t - the die, it seems, is cast -  
Your mystery reins my leaping verses in.  
How beautiful you are, and yet how thin.  

© Mark Hodson (1989-1998)