Poems for Hazel was written over a period of five and a half years, certainly among the most intensely felt of my life. I think I have to give some biographical information to make clear what otherwise may be obscure references.
Hazel is a widow (hence no.ís 12, 15 & 16), her husband and father of her children, who I never met, died in hospital of cancer. She was very reluctant to get involved with me, (and who can blame her?), it took two or three years from our first meeting for me to get close to her, whereupon I promptly left to do a Ph.D. in Birmingham (hence no.ís 5, 7, 9, 13, Half, Other Half, etc.).
We had a stormy, passionate relationship, the ending of which (though I acknowledge it could not have continued), nevertheless causes me profound regret. We seemed to split up every couple of months, which was always the end of the world, but had many happy, exciting, wonderful times as well. If there is a concentration on the misery of things in the poems that is because when I was with her and we were happy there was neither any need to write anything, nor any time to do so.
Between sections two and three I had a car crash and fractured my spine (hence (a), and see Medical Notes and Hospital Poems) rendering me useless: unable to walk without sticks Ė even to sit Ė impotent, and dependent on others for simple things like shopping. There was never any thought in my mind that Hazel should have been made to nurse and look after me, a notion utterly unjust and impractical. Hazel herself must (I know) have suffered intensely from my condition, which, in a sense, has proved me unworthy of her: I am too reckless. To visit me in hospital must have been too reminiscent of visiting her lost husband. I felt so sorry for her (and myself!) and so guilty. It must have seemed that she was cursed, condemned to endless repetition.
I am making a gradual recovery from my broken back and broken heart. I hope Hazel cannot be identified from the details I have given, she is a respectable, professional and private woman, apart from her equally important secret life as the sexiest, most playful and passionate of beings.
I would like to arrange it
††††††††††††††††††††††††† - and feel it would please you -
that I should be one of the manifold pleasures
which life can afford you
and are yours to call upon
brought to your door
by the pull of your tide.
I too must subsist
in the world of desires and of mundane profanities
I need a life which supports such a luxury -
my life is ragged with glittering holes.
She seems as wild and gentle as the sea,
a woman soft and subtle,
†††††††††††††††††††††††† strong and sweet;
†††††††††††††††††††††††† poised above a puzzle,
somewhere in her something fugitive.
(she has the main road and the hidden track)
we skirt the precipice...........
I know we travel where there is no turning back.
Bound within unbounded contradictions,
a field of energies,
††††††††††††††††††††††† a net of nerves,
a consciousness that's conscious of its searching,
I feel so stretched,
there's no time left but time,
my life is winding into you
and is this coil clean, clean within the creature?
I'm a whore, but no, or something flattered,
tickled like a trout,
I am, I'm doubt;
I might be somehow faulty,
are you twisted?
No force ever pushes unresisted.
I found your note, which is of course
the sort of thing I would have said, for good or worse,
I almost fear for us who find such force
connecting us across the distances.
I laughed out loud, and in this attic now
there is a cloud of love around my head
which colours the faint greyness of the walls
and lets me squint at joy through my resistances.
A memory collapses space and time,
blossoming the light, unfolds within,
uniting what is separated, so
my laugh is love's lone consummation.
But this is all in me, were I in you
I'd need no memory, I'd need no thoughts
since there's no need of anything at all
but integration and disintegration.
LOVE† to see you
††††††††††††††††††† (woman like a dream)
I'd love to send you something marvellous
but there is nothing marvellous, my love
except you, and the feelings that I have.
Seems like nothing, as I offer it -
so why should nothing seem so perilous ?
It's personal, to open up and show
the intricate intensities below.
I offer me, whatever I might be;
the lurching tendencies, the tenderness,
this I tender in return for who
exceeds all measure and all balance :† you.
Of course I cannot cope, do not deserve,
deceive myself and others,† make a mess,
all this and worse I offer you, just so
that we may find how tenderness may grow.
I reach for words, but words are nothing like.
The secret of the moment's in a kiss, a smile, a gesture,
in your hair,
it's not in anything that I retain.
The secret in the movement of a kiss
that leads from under softness to desire
and then subsides in gentleness again
is only known in action and is gone.
Life's a flame,
its simple ruthlesness
bypasses and recycles everything
our memory is memory of living
now completely stilled
and thus of loss.
I think of you and wish that we could trace
the patterns that my memory's effaced
a passion which has dazzled with a taste
which cannot be remembered or erased.
I think of you and wish that we could trace/the patterns that my memory's effaced/a passion which has dazzled with a taste/which cannot be remembered or erased.
I could not recreate it from a paste, or manufacture it in cyberspace, or reconstruct it like a 'crimewatch' case, the evidence is HAZEL;† I'm displaced, my† recollection hazy, on the face of it my statement may be perjury or worse, it does not seem convincing in the least.† "ARREST THAT MAN"† (they cry),† "CALL THE POLICE."
Like a shipwreck,
wild storm on deep water,
the gasping elements together,
gathered in a rending tenderness.
Steer a course to now
on††††††††††††† out†††††††††††††† over
currents of disaster,
all beauty in an urge
the instant of unending.....
in a wave,
a boiling peak;
the land's unhinged,
pounding into sand
BURN ALL THE BOATS
now we are landed
lie still like fish
that clambered out the sea.
I wish I could still smell you, feel your back.
I wish that I could fall back on your bed.
You feel so good, like ice-cream, only warm,
"That's because I'm melting."† my love said.
charged past thought,
filled up with sympathy, burst with concern,
and terrible gentleness restraining some dark beast
which could not be regretted, if released.
Come, drink this well
- i think this well of you -
this swell of us, the well is within us,
is in us, in between us, is of us
is ours is ow is ow is in us,
is between us is in us
is in between us, is us, during us
and love smells of us
as Hazel makes amazement my new gaze.
I shall not forget
you in your green dress,
wild, but no wilderness;
you are the green hill
and the open hill
you are the door
the door that opens in the secret hill
†† - the light in the doorway -
the pale gold and the faint strain of strange music,
and yet more :
you are the wild light that will make me still,
the secret that I live towards.
You are the question I was looking for.
You place your life on hold.
You hold your life in care for other's lives,
with careful hands you cup the life you have,
protecting it in trust, you husband it.
but i have begged admittance to your loft;
but i have put my wishes at your feet;
and i have found some places you are soft;
and you have found some places i am sweet.
Does this stir up the spirits ?
In all senses;
††††† summoning the saddest memories,
burning us with elemental essences.
blurred with love i stumble into cloud,
a rock that would not roll for anyone,
i do not know what's real, or what's allowed,
i did not want control, now it is gone.
if there were such a door, i would walk through,
if there were such a place then it is here,
if there is such a hill then it is you,
and all the world but you will disappear.
but you will disappear, as blurred with love
i hazard up the road the devil drives
are my illusions true, or true enough
to witness separation and survive ?
A wilderness of tarmac, litter, loss,
a winter born in darkness, clothed in wind,
a city that just couldnít give a toss,
no pilgrim and no context and no sin.
My mind mists up with tears :
the thought of you
- as if there had not been enough -
tears are all I offer, and my life
could not redeem one touch of suffering.
The past's a burden we cannot ignore;
it shapes the future, wraps the present, holds
the threads from which our fabric looms
and all our lives unfurl from out its folds.
I offer nothing but the soul of me,
a brittle light that flickers and remains
that seems to burn more brightly in your air,
that gleams towards you
out across the ruins.
Enjoy for now the flowers of this hard earth
make breath come sudden in the frosted air
if we are born for nothing, still our birth
is not unvalued, we find value there.
No point outside time can weigh it up,
we have to cope; our duty and our fate,
our lives seem punctuated by full stops,
we don't know they are coming till too late.
Necessity is duty, all these words
have somehow bled together in the wash,
we seek a resting-place, like truth or beauty,
an Apple-Mac, an apple, or a mackintosh.
Truth's not beauty, beauty can be seen,
necessity's mere force, and guilt is duty,
a ministry of mirrors in the mind
is all we find, of course, is all we mean.
There's nothing left to cling to in this flood,
the blind onrushing to oblivion
the pitiless wide ocean, and the aimless blood;
all things turn to darkness in this vision.
We can't go forward without going back;
the things we did we have to do again,
but itís not empty which we fill with sparks;
we're justified if we survive our pain;
Where's our freedom, where's the joy, where's hope ?
(there's only words in poems, as we know)
I haven't got them on a bit of string,
you'd best make up your meanings as you go.
I can't help thinking (though I wish I'd stop)
I can't help feeling there is something here,
something nearly madness, nearly true,
something satisfying and unclear.
A game that has no winning, no replays,
just the darkness past all explanation
breached and lived, made momentarily
a perch, a place; a habitation.
Lives are what they make us, and our thoughts
are merely catalogues of our behaving.
Weíre already blessed, already doomed,
a sort of miracle past sense or craving.
Well?† So what's the point then?† Aimless sparks?
(you say it's an illusion, and it is,)
which as they burn illuminate the dark
and torture us with possibilities.
I wouldn't hurt you if I knew a way,
flowers wither, but they bud again,
we could enjoy the flowers for a day
were we not stopped by reason of our suffering.
I touch a wound that will not heal or scar
and offer suffering, it's all that I can do.
If so, enough; I hope for your recovery,
I would not stop for anyone but you.
You touch me in some tender inward place
that makes me shudder, squirm, and does all this to me
and yet you tell me that no warm embrace
could ever be a cure for your dark history.
I've nothing more, nor anything to give
and love's the only language I have access to
I'm asking you, my beauty, just to live,
which is the hardest option I could put to you.
I don't believe you: love's the only cure for it,
my guarantees are forged but I still honour them
if happiness is stolen, I'm a murderer :-
donít put that on me as another burden.
I touch a wound that neither heals nor scars,
if I bring only pain, then here's an end of it;
I threaten spring, I know I threaten everything,
I'm down at the deep end, depend on it.
back to front†††††††††