Poems by John Bart

The shape of the baby’s head

Reminds me of the curve we made in bed

While making love,

Her smile, our pleasure after.

Captured in her,

displayed for all to see,

My love, my desire, my need for thee.

The Astronomer’s Prayer
At the periphery of vision lie other worlds
barely perceived, hardly surmised.
Rules and constraints are different there,
light is seen to bend.
As you traverse the universe of your understanding
exploded into life, scudding towards a limitless edge
to blend with the unknown…
Your presentiment of the myriads
emphasises the godsend
that extinction is not, and never will be
The end.
A night world the colour of attenuated fire, a pastiche of the Greeks’ “rosy-fingered dawn” come hours early… Low candelas of hot light burn the eyes together with the smoke that rises from the smouldering ruins of houses. In places there is so much of it that it resembles ice dissolving into the air after a ground frost… Whistling death, people hurrying to tunnels to huddle together, concerned, Buddhist-like as never before, with only the present, forgetting past and future… The earth shaking as it absorbs the blows, the houses dancing a mad gavotte to music absent but for the percussion, flames cavorting everywhere behind a world of sudden damning sounds... In this time, more than ever, uncertainty is the ambassador of oblivion...the formalities of final departure are sparser, more careless, though more care-worn. Life's fragility is a force to remember, for though ephemeral it carries weight in that it threatens eternal weightlessness...

Pink death’s trajectory traverses a mathematically derived, serpentine course. It runs along the common tangent plane that exists between a hyperbolic paraboloid (the path of the bombs released from above) and a cylinder of revolution (our segment of the earth cut open by explosives.) And at the end of this well-considered serpentine we lie in wait, futureless, pinned by gravity, pinioned by fear, pining for surcease.

The candela is a unit of light based on the behaviour of platinum when heated. What would be an appropriate name for the unit of light emitted when buildings are heated to destruction? What unit measures the light emitted during the incineration of a living creature, such as a dog, or cat, or human being? Is it encompassed in the rainbow of regret?
The Devil's Throat
Los Cataras, the waterfalls at Iguacu,
Sing, sing,
Lie across the rivers that feed them, a green-tufted, winding horseshoe,
Construe, construe,
A curtain of water that resplendents the view,
Love rings, love rings,
Through which swooping swifts to their nests fly through.
Sometimes not true, sometimes not true.

They perch on the rocks, hidden from all,
Sing, sing,
Your disbelief is held in thrall.
Construe, construe,
They’ve pierced the Devil’s Throat, that tumbling, powerful, breathtaking pall,
What you see, what you want,
Its beauty and grace like Love’s waterfall.
May make you rue, may make you rue

The waters could kill as surely as love,
Sing, sing,
As the swifts fly through them, wheeling and diving, coursing in from above.
Construe, construe,
But since they fly and pierce and dare it all
Risk like the swifts for love that’s true,
Then down the Throat they rarely fall.
Risk like the swifts, don’t live to rue
The Rhinoceros
In the paper today, for light relief,
was a picture of a truck impaled on the horns of a rhinoceros.
The prehistoric and the present had both died
locked together, overturned on their side.
A perfect example of the practical brought down by the preposterous.

For a little while it was my belief
that love is just like that: an emotional blast
which forces good sense straight into the past.
But I was wrong.
To pass from hidden, normal and slow
to love’s delirium, forefront and fast,
you have to be ready to chance and to go.

And yes, we anthropomorphists of considerable heft,
think of the rhino as dumb and bereft!

But consider:

Timing, or station, or insight surpassed,
or boredom, or loneliness, or pity carelessly cast,
poison well-being and damage our pride.
Which reveals, as it has in the past,
that despite our bravado, never denied,
We do not possess a rhino’s hide.

The rhino runs in dead straight lines,
he never curves as he proceeds through the mire.
All too often, we thinkers refined,
backtrack or swerve from our stated desire,
to end on the horns of a dilemma.
But the rhino, who never thinks as he runs,
…. hardly ever.

And so we, pompous and clever,
Fall often from grace,
Believing, as we pitch into space,
That we are the centre of Creation's endeavour.
Your photograph is so still
as if life were a momentary issue
and not the result of an effort of will
over the passage of time.

It looks as if you could never bleed.

The painting captures your spirit
freed of the fleshy, substantial tissue
that in the other's silvered lines
is so unimpeachably mimed.

It looks as if you are about to breathe.

But encased between them, you are hidden,
as I ever rue.
For a lover who runs where he is bidden,
dreams that they tell of you
through the parallax view.
She rode me, I pierced her
and fell into love as a man falls through
the skylight of a house he is robbing.

Lacerated, I saw the world in a different way,
impaled as I was by the shards of her altering prism,
the sharp, accurate, barbs of my personal cataclysm.

The revelations of passion
are so keen they mean
we are no longer the same,
we are shaken to our frame.

replace, don't repair broken glass
nor recreate the world before love
the view will not be as it was.

Of necessity…
cut yourself free from the past
and steal away with your prize.
To make its gains hold fast
stop your wondering sighs.

What has been will never be
once memory has lost the key.