Here is the sixteenth poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
The crescent moon rises
above the white bone town
the evening sighs
the listless waves caress the shore
as so begins again
the endless ritual;
the nights of a thousand eyes
the new flesh
the aching streets
swelling into loud displays
words thrown like sparks
across the chasms of our loneliness
the fatal imperfections
our flawed desires
like cracked mirrors of ourselves
only occasionally healed, wiped clean
at the shuddering of the climax
the short-circuits of intimacy
moral armour shattering
like futile glass
towards the wreckage
the first hard light of truth
blood-red over the bay
the sun’s long merciless stare
like the opening of an unblinking eye
the painful morning after.
-Hersonissos, Crete, June 1992.
A welcome holiday in the sun, eh? –and a much needed escape from the Thatcher-funeral madness currently enveloping our country. Unusually, this poem actually has a date and a place attached to it. Crete is a beautiful island, but like all “resorts” swamped by foreign tourists in their twenties, it can be the closest thing to hell on earth at the height of the season. The vacuity of a scenario in which people are looking for amorous liason based mostly on each other’s physical appearance, can scarcely be overstated. Into this I attempted to bring (what the Divine Comedy call) ‘the lost art of conversation’, with mixed success. I remained in touch with a Dublin girl I met there for some years afterwards, and enjoyed meeting people from just about every European nation in the two weeks I was there. But really, let’s face it. Compared to African tribes and the like with elaborate mating and coming-of-age rituals, ours is really a grotesquely dysfunctional society that resorts to deafening music, blinding lights, and debilitating alcohol in order to create an atmosphere supposedly conducive to friendly meetings between members of the opposite sex.
I was on holiday with my old childhood friend H, and two more different people one could not hope to meet. This made for much humour and horror, which next week’s poem shall explore further with reference to the archetypes of Icarus and Daedalus, a Greek myth which has always fascinated me. Guess which one of us was flying too near the sun? I had hoped to find some of my old photographs from the time to scan in for this post, such as the one with me streaked in blood after the moped accident, but they seem to have been reclaimed by the forces of darkness or tidied into oblivion by the wife, which comes to pretty much the same thing from a practical perspective. So it’s a public-usage photo from Wikipedia of the resort in question we’ll have to make do with.