Gordon Ramel writes: “I come to poetry as a scientist; my university degrees are in ecology; and although I won my first poetry prize at the age of 14, it was not until I was 43 that I really found the time to water the seeds of creativity that were waiting patiently in my soul.” He has a website, www.earthlife.net. His poetry collection, The Whispering of the Leaves, can be purchased at http://www.cafepress.com/TTMshop.418297269. Following are the poems that have appeared in The NeoVictorian/Cochlea and The Deronda Review over the years.
Ay, There Is Beauty, Lord On Swallows and Green Technology The Smell of Death Sardine Dear Poetry Hold Up Your Head Emblyona Heartache Shallow I Would Be Sad On Seeing Papa Doc’s Legacy in Haiti On Discovering That My Wetland Biodiversity Study Site in Northern Greece Had Been Bulldozed into Oblivion by the Local Town Council Again and Again Mediocracy Copenhagen (December 2009) Silent Words The Rose Chafer and the Rose Plato’s Olive Tree
THERE IS BEAUTY LORD.
The sun rises like a boiling kettle,
like a new born child, angry as molten metal,
then red fades into gold as the thrushes sing,
and celandines and the new sprung leaves of Spring;
Aye – there is beauty Lord.
Beneath the blue and white, beneath the trees
beneath my conscious thought, the tireless bees
hunt nectar; store their gold in fancy holes;
and Lion Tamarins and orioles and moles;
Aye – there is beauty Lord.
The sun descends with all its blessings sold,
and through the clouds bright struts of gold
rise up and up, majestic in the fields of pastel sky,
and a quiet thought that yields an apt reply;
Aye – there is beauty Lord.
Gold against black, floats on a distant lake,
a full moon sails and leaves gold shadows in its wake,
seen from a distant mountain’s height,
and the eyes of hawks and tigers in its light;
Aye – there is beauty Lord.
There is my gold,
more than any man can hold,
gold for the mind, gold for the soul;
Aye – there is beauty Lord.
ON SWALLOWS AND GREEN TECHNOLOGY
Hearing your cheerful chatter as you rest
with friends upon some wire, or a tree,
I am surprised how sombrely you’re dressed;
but oh, how it delights the eye to see
you split the air with razor, wing-tip turns,
or barrel-roll the balconies and eaves
like one whose inner spirit brightly burns
for the sweet taste only perfection leaves.
Industrious and adept you will build
yourself a home from water, mud and grass
in much the way our ancestors were skilled,
before they fell in love with steel and glass.
But you, like truth, once Winter’s dark is done
return to us the wisdom of the sun.
THE SMELL OF DEATH
Death has her smell and will not be denied
Her right to tell the world of those who died;
to boast in fact of all the work She's done.
She has no tact and talks of battles won
to all who pass, proud of her efforts and
her lack of class; she reigns in every land.
And who are we to say her love is bad,
the death we see quite often makes us sad,
but it might be, that were it not for her,
we would not see the beauty we inter.
How could we know the joy of being kissed
or watch love grow, if we did not exist?
What primal bug would learn to rearrange
its primal mug if it need never change
to live forever? Why bother growing strong,
or being clever, when life's most simple song/
is all you need for an eternal span;
Why then indeed should life require man?
Consider for a moment one small fish
that swam with countless others in the sea
before it was a meal upon your dish
divest of all its life and majesty.
Ask not, of all the men that it has fed,
who offered it one increment of praise,
thought much on what it looked like when not dead,
or strove to understand its living ways?
No engine made by man works half as well,
no work-of-art can so much beauty show,
no book has so much truth that it can tell
how such perfection came to live and grow.
And we, our soul’s wealth stolen by disdain
scratch blindly at an ache we can’t explain.
Dear poetry hold up your head,
for love of form is not yet dead.
The chaos lovers, oh so clever,
let them go and live together,
falling twisted and despoiled,
their DNA shall be uncoiled.
Poorer maybe, but more joyous,
I'll write for you my poems boyish.
Full of gentle rhyme and rhythm,
and the love that I've been given.
Thus form and function when unfurled,
show it’s our love that moves the world.
Who would have thought three moons could so reflect
the dark and sombre beauty of your eyes,
when seen in Autumn’s wild majestic skies,
yet here I am a slave to that effect.
The seasons pass like hours and I expect
no greater joy with each new day’s sunrise
than seeing you again as darkness flies
off to some future night. I would protect
you from Time’s gentle breath but you respect
the truth too well to ever live with lies.
To those who love, change comes as no surprise
and change is all the truth I can detect.
Love not the short lived mortals I was told
but life without such love to me seems cold.
When you lose in love beware
walking where you should not dare,
to purge the pain that pulses dark,
that seems much more than you can bare,
and of those anguished thoughts that ask,
“What is there in life that’s fair?”
- - - - -
In a forest far from here, in a woodland damp and drear
wandered one man lost and lonely with no other spirit near,
and he pondered as he wandered, “What is darker love or fear?”
So he went without a care, ever onward, unaware,
‘til he saw, in secret, hiding, in his heart, the beast despair,
and he asked it, hoping blindly, “What is there in life that’s fair?”
From it’s shadows quick and sear, flew foul my echoes to his ear,
and unholy lights delighted in presenting visions queer,
but they could not face the question; “What is darker love or fear?”
Slowly passed he from its lair, but in leaving found nowhere,
that he could, in goodness counting, wish with other souls to share,
and the forest echoed round him, “What is there in life that’s fair?”
Struggling, for no way seemed near, still he strove some path to steer
and he mumbled as he stumbled, should an angel chance to hear
of a pathway he could follow, “What is darker love or fear?”
With his soul in this repair, asked he upwardly in prayer,
of the Lord he still adored, “Where is the spirit who’ll declare
an answer to my question dire?” “What is there in life that’s fair?”
Though he listened long to hear, nothing heard he to give cheer
just the trees in silence sleeping whisper with a wicked leer
to the shattered light around him, “What is darker love or fear?”
Climbing then a rocky stair to a hill top dry and bare,
in the misty morning’s music rested he a moment rare,
and in sleeping quietly muttered, “What is there in life that’s fair?”
Dreaming deeply ‘til a seer with a light both pure and clear,
showed him beauty boldly beating in the loves he still held dear,
knew he then how life was fair, how darkness only was his fear
and with life in light returning shed in joy a happy tear.
But I am shallow now
and all my thoughts grow weak and frail somehow.
My mind a pauper’s grave
my consciousness a memory none can save.
A rainpool by the road
could float a deeper and more thoughtful load.
There are no depths within.
no need to worry that I cannot swim,
nor are there heights to scale,
I may as well have six legs and a tail
for this greyness of my mind
and all the sparks of wonder there I find.
I saw it once quite well
set within a vision cast by an angel’s spell.
I was a cup of tea,
upon a saucer, floating wild across the sea.
A miracle in space
and time, a smile that passed across some God-like face,
until I saw you wave
and sank, too soon, beneath the waters to my grave.
Or was I simply drunk,
and was it then, perhaps, illusions that were sunk.
Oh, I was shallow then,
and I suspect, in time, I shall be once again.
I WOULD BE SAD
If I should see my flesh,
I would be sad.
Its slack and shaking muscles grown too old,
its eyes that say the weather is too cold;
it would no longer fit the maker’s mold.
If I should see my mind,
I would be sad.
Its faded fantasies and fervid fears,
its tortured thoughts and cranky gears,
the badly mended memories of years,
the way my focus-of-attention disappears.
If I should see my soul,
I would be sad
Its sticky-tape, elastic bands and strings
its bleeding heart, its torn and broken wings;
its hypersensitivity to things;
those words that swarm with wasp-like stings,
and the shadows that seclusion brings.
But I see only You.
Your soils of brown, your skies of blue
with clouds lit by a pastel hue;
your rain and hail, your winds that blew
and all the gentle greens that grew.
The life that crawled, or ran, or flew;
your rainbows, dead, and living too,
I would be sad, you know it’s true,
if it were not for seeing you.
ON SEEING PAPA DOC’S LEGACY IN HAITI
The dominoes of cause stretch back through time;
there is no primal reason we can see
why some men’s minds are slaves while others free
themselves from darkness and the life of crime.
Yet still we must believe in human choice,
though it may not be clear exactly when
we first decide, or if we will again
be free to hear within that conscious voice.
But it is clear that those freeloaders who,
in grasping power, unleash a flood of pain
approximate a cause and must remain
accountable for what their victims do.
We live creative lives, this is our bane,
our blessing and our soul’s eternal gain.
ON DISCOVERING THAT MY WETLAND BIODIVERSITY STUDY SITE IN NORTHERN GREECE HAD BEEN BULLDOZED INTO OBLIVION BY THE LOCAL TOWN COUNCIL
Where lives the heart, oh Lord, what thoughts control
the will that with such wanton ease destroys,
as if it were last year’s forgotten toys,
the treasures that enrich our common soul.
What evil was it that snuck in and stole,
with dark-dreamt words and darker woven ploys
their spirit’s song, and in its place left noise,
obscuring all awareness of the role
such beauty plays in life. We are not whole
unless something within us still enjoys
the natural world, and for this love employs
a harmony of ways to reach its goal.
Our deeds reflect our heart, their beauty shows
in some small way all of the truth it knows.
AGAIN AND AGAIN
We thought that it was gone, that worst of fears
that those who share my age remember well.
That awful bane that chilled our brightest years
and left our souls nowhere to hide but hell.
We did not think that we would live so long,
we thought that politics would burn the world
and so we sang a dark, ironic song
and waited for the night to be unfurled.
Our rooms we painted black, to match our dreams,
we flew in drugs and tried to voice our will
to love and live beyond the nightmare themes
of those whose only answer was to kill.
And then we thought it gone, that we had won
and taught our kids to play beneath the sun.
But now the nightmare’s back, a furtive sound,
whining at the airport and the station.
It flows like fog along the underground
and gives the soul a bitter indigestion.
The maniacs all come with different names
and throw their bombs in somewhat different ways,
but we are still the victims of their games;
the sickness of their minds pollutes our days.
And underneath it all the fear returns.
“What if the terrorists should get a nuke?
“What if the city that I live in burns?”
We walk with fear and look for fear’s rebuke
remembering that our humanity
is stronger yet than their insanity.
The Media, though freedom’s proudest wings,
democracy’s much loved and precious voice
has, all too often been, through its own choice
of whose dull praise it seeks and blindly sings,
if not always a poison to our minds,
then at the least a weight around our necks,
dead to the truths it casually wrecks
and careless of the evil it unbinds.
Pollutants, manufactured on demand,
of word and thought, or imag’ry, produce
a darkness that assists death to traduce
our insight and our hope to understand.
Look up you troubled peoples and be dumb
to see in truth whose mouths they have become.
COPENHAGEN (DECEMBER 2009)
The 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit ran from December 7th to December 18th. and produced an accord which world “leaders” and their supporters are now trumpeting as a success. However it is a weak, febrile document pruned and diluted again and again until it offers the world very little at all.
And lo I saw a headless beast
that wandered mad and blind
and on its bare and questing neck
its parasites had set a feast
where fat and mindless faces dined
on all that they could not respect.
With spineless mewling, sounds uncouth,
like swine they took the pearls of truth
and trampled them into the ground,
and spread instead their lies around,
the poison of their ignorance,
in egoistic self-defence.
There was a hope, we had a dream,
that something good here was begun.
That we together, as a team,
could do what needed to be done.
But teamsmanship was not allowed,
while common-sense was shot on sight
and wisdom plainly disavowed
by those who somehow thought it right
to sacrifice our future need
for current pride present greed.
He said he’d heard it whispered in the dawn
that truth, in silence only, can be born
Our words display our ignorance and scorn.
Then let each mind the awful premise reach,
that silence sucks lies from us like a leach.
Lock up your words, what value now in speech,
The taste of poverty will teach the mind
the beauty of the quiet left behind;
once born to sight there is no being blind.
Yet poets know a few words wisely said
can earn you more than just your daily bread;
words washed in silence can be safely read.
THE ROSE CHAFER AND THE ROSE
Behold the shining Sybarite,
within whose mind desire flows,
ensconced in emerald-armour bright,
to kiss the beauty of the rose.
And ask the rose, as she is kissed,
while clasped in that small-spined embrace,
what has she lost that will be missed
when he retires, surfeit of grace.
Beauty lief on beauty feeds,
and beauty then from beauty grows,
as we observe that beauty needs
the Cetoniid and the Rose.
PLATO’S OLIVE TREE
The still slow life is mine, my days are years.
Tied to the soil, I reach towards the sky,
as men rush by, so driven by their fears,
and with their fears intact pass on and die.
When I was young my fruits fed Plato’s peers
and Roman legions blindly passed me by,
the Turks sat by my trunk and cleaned their spears
then Shelley came and held me in his eye.
I have grown old, though not as old as some,
who sit beneath my laden boughs for shade.
The hot dry summer’s still my first delight,
and in the Spring’s new days the men will come,
to gather up the miracles I’ve made
from water, air and soil, and good sunlight.