Collects for Lent

rise from the narrow couch
and descend
barefoot on the stone floor
 
to Lenten fair, the daily reading
picked up, laid down,
meditation,
 
words like discipline
and rebirth
the bitter changes
 
the sloughing off,
a fresh encounter
with solitude, old friend
 
            *
 
a concussed bluetit in the gloved hand
no self-pity, those out there
surviving, those out there
 
the measure of our impurity
our complacency
our sloth
 
the channel black granite
interim between worlds
en bateau, there also I pledged
 
where the herring gulls
crossed, no slack on them
over the wrinkled acres
 
            *
 
Sealed in
the reddened sallows
burnish
the sand and the snow
 
hackles of ice
raised on her back
sluggish Loire
charrie son troupeau
 
but even here
in the sallows, underwater,
there is warmth,
goldblock, terracotta,
 
her hand in mine
the current running
purity of life
henceforth and hereafter
 
            *
 
fureur contre l’informe
 
again I must ask
for a heart as constant
as the throbbing
of this ship
 
and strong
for each new sickening
of the sea
this need in me
 
being purposeless
and necessary
the starry heavens
the moral law
 
            *
 
eternity is the sea
with the sun gone away
leaving the world
slategray
 
on this deep evening
when loneliness
is formidable
and the effort is
 
to fork myself out
with a hellfork
from warmth
and forgetfulness
 
to stand on deck
in the crosswinds
to plight my troth
to make amends
 
            *
 
silence the voices
(they return)
break the images
(they return)
 
but in the silence
and the blankness
 
inklings come back
over the frost
memories of purpose
shocks of honesty
 
they were covered over
they were styed
 
            *
 
more visible in winter
the tenacity of small birds
the blushful darling
still delights
 
other men’s phrases
lie strewn about
 
the purification
of the motive
inescapable
endurance
 
the light is yellow
on the rough wall
and tender
the blue haze
 
guard her well
o january rose

unpublished poem, © Stephen Romer 2014, used by permission of the author

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Stephen Romer

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1Sea Changes

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2An Afternoon in the Parc Monceau

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3Remedies

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4Grammar

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5Higher Things

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6News of Her

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7Resolve

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8South

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9Aspects of this Sickness

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10This Poem for Burning

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11Coming Back

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12Magpies

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13Colours for Thomas

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14Adult Single

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15Work

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16The Work

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17Painter

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18Plato’s Ladder

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19Prophecy

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20St Stephen

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21At a Glimpse

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22The Satrap Exchange

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23On the Golden Isle, Amboise

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24A Thought from Petronius

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25A Small Field

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26Alba

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27Primavera

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28Santa Maria della Vittoria

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29Tenacious Angel

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30The Premise

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31Chakra

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32Abruptly a wing

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33May-Time

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34Picardy

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35Last Weekend

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36Young Man

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37Die Heimkuft

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38Yellow Studio

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39An Enthusiast

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40Corporal Contact

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41Brahms

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42No Interruptions

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43Rare Visitor

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44After Fifty-Four Years

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45This Knowledge

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46Collects for Lent

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