On Two-hours of Quiet in Sandplace Woods, near Looe With DHN

Slow, friendly stream –
Moving with August warmth –
Your water calm and lazy
Beneath an archway
Instructed to become a bridge –

Natural and lovely –
Your soothing sounds
Your swayed grasses
And arrangement of stones
Your certain promise
Of becoming increased
And important

When with measured fl ow
Your knowing power,
Becomes a river.

Exchanging this quiet wood
Which you with economic strength
Travel, along narrow banks –
Covered with hazel-nut and sycamore
Bramble and nettle and peat –
Offerings from summer’s growth –

As geese shelter and birds sing
As sparrow-hawks in pairs
Have as their purpose
Another bird’s despair.
You, gentle stream without
Diffi culty wander on.

Only in this moment,
As the fl ies buzz above you
And your little bridge
Is warm to touch, when the
Sun a mere fi ltered beam
Through a dozen trees has an
Affi nity with your moving soul,
Can you exercise such
Beauty that all the air
Is suddenly possessed
Of purity –

Your purpose to move on
Not to stay –
To develop, even to bring
Drama when least expected –
Your moment is here –
Now you give pleasure for today
Pain is not your meaning.
In this bedrock wood
Your youth fresh and cool
Almost identical with love –
Closes upon the seconds
Striking them better than a clock –
Your culture is eternal
For as long as rivers are –
Your language spoken
By the flowing waters –
Your simple sounds –
Higher than intellect’s
Damaged voice –
You are the principle force
Of seas –
Surrounded by no doubts –

Advance sweet stream,
Slowly, without haste –
Deeper is the river
But, your shallow waters
Bring content.

Shanne Sands

The Dark Island

(For Anthony)

When we go dearest
To the faraway-land –
Soft music will sing us
Along the shores of the dark island –
We’ll call the island home or love
Or God – no devils there, only you
Stroking my hair and me kissing
Your fingers –
Our poems will be songs for the gulls –
Heather will bind our lips with mountain-air
And cares will drop into the sea –
Lost forever – we’ll dance – skip
To our tune and a haze of gold
Will circle our island days –
When we go to the faraway-land –
Your black-thoughts will turn
To silver-bells, that you can hang
Around my ears –
I’ll sport your ring
And love you till death –
Ride to the dark island with me –
Where wild passions will
Rule our nights –
And sleep is but to wake to love
Near all that’s free –
All the gods allow on Earth –
Fresh, pure wind –
And rain across our skins –
Above us a sky of stars
With our love its sun –
Come my dearest to
The faraway-land – come.

Shänne Sands, Moonlight on Words. FootSteps Press 2011

Human Personalities

I know some people who are very accurate when defining the character of the people they meet. My mother was brilliant at it, down to explaining how they would react in a given situation that was approaching to choosing which disc of their eight on Desert Island Discs they would take as their one disc. In forty years I never knew her to be wrong.

For the rest of us trying to discern how people think is a hit-and-miss affair but I take comfort in the fact there are people out there who are very good at it; one of them is my friend in America, and I feel safe in her opinions.

Success

You know how I love to talk
About myself –
My ego is ulcer-ridden,
But I have organised my
Conversation to suit my moods –
I’ve worked for years to get
Where I am –
Many caught my kick on the way up!
I live now in the twilight of
Half-truth daring to tell no-one
Too much in-case I lose my mystery
And become like everyone else –
I am ruthless –
Well, you know that’s how one must be –
Nothing must stand in my way –
I have no compassion
For king or beggar –
I put puppies out in the coldest rain –
And watch tears fall down
Lovely cheeks without wiping
One away –
I am skin deep –
I last only for today –
If I stop for one, brief moment
And take a rest,
They will forget my quest
And my ego will become obsolete –
So I must rush, must haste,
Must pack my case and flee –
Towards the winds that beckon me –
But I see a threatening, impending doom –
Standing silent in my room –
And I struggle with my laces
To make my get-away –
Without looking back –
I hurry, hurry to any convenient station
To catch the eternal train
Back to where I started from –
There was the same doom –
And the train had gone!

Shanne Sands, extract from ‘Shadows and Realities’.

Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Being in Love

A touch of skin, the smell of shampoo’d hair –
Teeth and toes, nails, soft backs even shadows –
The laughter in bed,
Just being there –
The big rows, little fights, tears and smiles
Desolate parting –
Endless longing –
Every breathing second thinking of him –
The passion blind –
The passion strong –
Dozens of kisses caught between dreams –
Always right –
Never wrong –
Heaven for the young –
A glow of youth for age,
Letters, gifts, poems, songs –
Music, wine and dance –
Never too late or too soon –
Always adored like spring sunshine –
And a long stemmed-rose in a sweet girl’s room –
The broken-heart dying in a diamond cage –
As memories throb –
One emotion shared by rich and poor –
Lovers cuff-links –
His words –
The loving of another –
Giving of yourself –
The soul’s jacket amid yellow roses –
A now and always of perfect wealth

Shänne Sands, from Night Song published by FootSteps Press

You Are My Oasis

You are my oasis
The fertile spot
In the desert of
My life –

From you and only you
Words will flow like water
From the underground-well –
The spiritual oath
Needed by poets
Will always be sacred –

You are my illustration –
More than my ideal –
My symbol of victory
Like the leaf of a palm-tree –
But you are also my pannier –
A kind of beast of burden
Carrying all the mistakes
I must never make –

And in the end as in the beginning
You are my love –
Where all poetry
Becomes leopards
Wild, untamed and free –

Where panic ends in sleep –
And muddy years have moved away –
No rust will settle on your panoply –
No brittle speech
Will rot your poems
Or mine –

You are my open respect
For bits of typewriters
And pieces of white paper –
Although the pain is
Terrible at times –
You are my altar
For a thousand dancing words –

 

Shänne Sands, Fragments of Desire

I am a Collector of Useless Things

I am a collector of useless things
Christmas-cracker rings, paper dots –
Coloured string – hidden in drawers –
Behind oak doors – in boxes –
Tucked into books –
Small pieces of treasure –
Gathered together –
Where I always forget
To look –
Empty perfume bottles –
Silk scarves never worn –
Torn little pictures –
My children’s first teeth –
Beneath buttons of pearl –
Surrounded by ribbons
Bought for a penny
From a gipsy in Kent, where
We all went one summer
For apples – for flowers –
For hours made of melon-seeds
Left in a vase on top of my brother’s
Old dinky-cars –
Victoriana, souvenirs from the past –
Before I was born – green shiny glass
White-pretty china – a fat, ugly cat,
A crinoline-lady – a black-evil bat –
Hundreds of marbles – bundles of fans –
All lacy – all Spanish – all second-hand –
Broken bangles, a brooch of real gold –
A pack of cards with most of them missing
A drawing-pin with a top of brass –
A shell from World War I, also begun
Before I was born –
Left lying near some Gaelic corn –
Dried sticks of spice from miles away –
A basket of sweets – near some bright
Orange straws – notes about butterflies,
Last year’s hat – shopping-lists, old bills,
Cotton reels – a skein of pink wool –
Tied around my son’s first shoes –
Lipsticks I don’t use –
17
A small stuffed bird – a clockwork mouse,
Left in a corner of my favourite house –
Fragments of chains – a match-box from France
A St. Christopher rusty with age –
Other charms all tangled with hair –
A doll with one arm
Sitting in a miniature chair –
Left by the side of a rusty bird-cage –
Being a collector of useless things –
I also keep weeping-willow leaves –
Feathers from sparrows left in the snow –
Brown-beans that forgot how to grow –
Tomato-plants for some future spring –
A 78” record cracked down the middle –
Also a jug in the shape of a fiddle –
A musical toy made in Japan –
Some Cornish violets – dried in the sun –
A soup-bowl from a special occasion –
One cushion nobody likes –
A few scented joss-sticks –
A candle from Rome – broken earrings
An Indian flute – some of that shiny –
Plastic pretend fruit –
Theatre programmes just had to be there
An underground ticket, letters, brown rice,
Packets of foreign stamps;
Never been opened –
Along with my toothpicks, my brushes,
My combs – in dozens of places –
Drawers, grey suitcases, trunks
From big ships- little zip bags –
Biscuit-tins – my daughter’s tatty –
School satchel –
Left alone on a windy March day –
I’ll dust them, count them –
Call them quite silly – put them away –
But know with my collection of
Useless things left on a shelf –
I’ve dusted and collected parts of myself.

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves.

Love

Do I dare speak?
How shall I begin?
Soaring from some great height
An exalted fl ight –
Sweeping you off your feet
As I usually do.
Or shall I begin softly
With tenderness, on tiptoe
With my head covered in white silk –
Shall I come tall as an Alpine day
With huge mountains blocking
My way to your heart –
Or shall I be small
And perfectly untouchable
In my beauty –
Or shall I stumble,
Lurch into mistakes and fright –
Leaving you to weep
Such sad weepings –
Shall I be buoyant
And fl oat into you
Like an ocean would –
Filling your being with enough
Power to surmount every problem
Trying to force me out –
Or shall I not come at all –
And leave you free to cast yourselves
Into the seas of circumstance,
Where you will sink
And never know about me –
Would that be fair?
For although I do not offer fi delity
Only a promise of a kiss –
You should not miss my lottery tickets
Five for two-shillings on a hot day
For you might win.
I have always been a gamble –
But you might win!

Shänne Sands, Grass (extract) ‘Fragments of Desire’ – FootSteps Press

 

Innocence

Our innocence was kept in a blue vase –
Holding chrysanthemums with heavy heads –
Or over gas fires making toast and reading Flecker
Or lying on narrow beds comfortable with happiness –
Books littered with petals and ‘notes’
About coming ‘home’ late –
Piping a recorder in the dusk of that autumn,
When words spun to the ground with united pleasure –
Only the flowers fell one by one –
The words were never weak –
Only the autumn’s changed from then till now;
As vases hold other flowers and our innocence
Is no longer found within their blueness
On a high mantelpiece,
But is a piece of jagged glass
Broken yet still beautiful –

Shänne Sands, from Night Song published by FootSteps Press

Sign Here or Make Your Mark

The sky is blue its summer-time
Sign here or make your mark.

The sky is grey the following week
Sign here or make your mark.

The benefit book all dates and stamps
The post-office queue all sour and damp
Sign here or make your mark.

Over the road the Co-op waits
To take your benefit for food
The sky above the traffic-fumes
Is poisoned with a deadly glare

Don’t moan, don’t stare, just wait
Sign here or make your mark.

The shoes are pieces of old scruff –
The sweat-shirt loose and stained –
Benefit day has come once more –
In spite of sun or rain –

Just before you die
A tin like voice will say –
Sign here or make your mark
Then take the book away.

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves published by FootSteps Press

For My Poor Sick Brother Allan Edwin

I have not seen an angel
Or heard an holy voice –
Or witnessed a miracle –

Nor seen a saint –
But I have felt a peace –
A tenderness –

A token-wind of faith –
I have known a place –
Where a spirit played
Deep on my heart –
Played in my brain –

A touch of joy sped me along –
A path leading upward to His Cross –
And on my knees or standing
Near his church – I have felt
The nearness of a truth –
Confl ict is banished into ash –
And high above reason, time or year
His precious call repeats
The message of a world to come –
‘My people hear, oh! Hear’

Shänne Sands, Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Allen Edwin had a schizophrenic episode in his thirties and, when on his medication, became a devout missionary. He died in his early seventies, alone in Cheltenham, England.

So Many Lies

A new proxy war between Russia and America in Syria, the first major one we know about since Afghanistan – and that one turned out brilliantly for the Americans. Another mass shooting in a school which proves, obviously, that teenagers should not have easy access to guns as they get frustrated and angry way too easily. And Johnson, who learned to speak in front of boys at Eton, where majority opinion is always Conservative, telling everyone how to save his political career for another fifteen years until he can retire and tell the news programmes of the world how he steered the UK brilliantly in to the 1950s.

Elon sends a car into space, a man who really needs publicity? A space already filled with junk. I hope he brings it and some of that, back. Or is he trying to get to a geodesic on Mars where the billionaires will hang out in 80 years time when the Earth is uninhabitable if you want to sun yourself in the Pacific and whore in the Mediterranean.

Somewhere in all this, a blog carries the words of a poet. Shänne Sands, a rare voice of truth.

Somebody Asked Me

Somebody asked me
The other day about you, saying
With that knowing look in their dim eyes,
‘You can’t still love him
After everything that’s happened’
My thoughts left the conversation and went ahead –
Could they really know ‘everything’ that happened –
Oh not the quick insult
Or the vapid lie –
Or the ‘others’’ taken in a fit of sex –
Or the endless separation built
On my calendar like huge ugly steps
Higher and higher into my life –
No they didn’t have a clue
About what really happened –
How one day in April ‘61 in England –
By the Thames –
From some obscure patch of darkness
You came into my life –
A torch flared not easy to put out –
When our bodies touched
That same torch, became
A dazzle cast about our bed –
How the back of your head slightly bent
Moved me beyond words –
Or how your sour face
Cross or tired suddenly made me chuckle –
How in a fit of white-hot love
You’d strip me bare and throw
My body across a fitted carpet –
Better than any mattress on the pretty bed.
Could they know how we laughed
At life’s grim ‘handouts’, because our
Love was massive in a small untidy
World of petty shadows –
And that my heart could carry
Your soul along every problem,
Every sad mistake –
Because we had sung a song my love,
Across a wooden table; piled with
Plates and flowers turned to a fable
That was us.
And when they ask me silly questions
I want to yell,
‘What do you know of love?’
But I turn my head away
And slowly think of you –
And wonder in this rather lonely minute
If you remember April ‘61 and that river too!

 

Shänne Sands, from Night Song, a selection of her poems published by FootSteps Press

Whispers

Whispers my inner-self
To all I have become,
Where did you find the shelf
To hide from the one
Who you loved most?
Through ages of my heart’s
Calling, calling to a ghost –
How weary, tired, cross love departs –
Leaving nothing, but a wrinkled brow –
Leaving nothing, but a falling tear –
Nobody ever tells me how
Or why true love must disappear –
Yet I suppose there is a place
Where my inner-self will find your face –

Shänne Sands, ‘Moonlight on Words’. FootSteps Press 2010.

You Would Understand Why

You would understand why –
Why lilac and Chopin go together –
Just before spring or after winter’s
Retreat back into the earth –
Our beginning and our end –

You would understand this –
This sudden sadness and lack of will –
When my body feels full-up with stones –
The bricks and mortar of a soul
Heavy with old places and faces
Not to be loved again –

You would understand how –
How to fly across the rain
To a burning sun –
How to laugh wine out of green bottles
And break glasses into thousands
And thousands of happy pieces.

You would understand now –
All you refused to need before –
Before the floors were swept
With new bright brooms and our rooms
Were changed, our furniture sold
And out hearts broken because hearts
Always break –
Now it’s almost lilac time
The pubs are closed till ‘opening time’ –
‘Our’ books are waiting to be written –
Beneath this smile there’s a scar –

You would understand – the importance,
The importance of ‘emotional pens’
Lilac and Chopin before love-making
Or after a long journey and sleep –
Quick as a flash a fast car
Passes the window
Quick as a flash time leaves us old –

 

Shänne Sands. ‘The Silver Hooves’ selection of poems published by FootSteps Press

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