Read sample poems and listen to audio recordings (*) of Sean Haldane reading.
Something Like Love
Lake Monroe, Indiana
The grass is worn and beaten down
By snow just gone,
Each tree in the wood alone.
We sit, us two,
On a fallen log above a view
Of ice sheets fraying into water.
And crows cry out in desperation.
A pair of cardinals flit in a naked oak.
A blue jay picks at the ground,
A party of scuttling killdeers call their names,
A dove goes ‘tink tink’ like a muted bell.
A long ago hell
Comes to mind, a Spring without promise.
Now there is nothing to miss.
Is this perfection?
Expectation, the ice melting.
Is our long time of despair really over?
Something like love before we fall asleep
And as we awake.
Will this hush
Of nothing happening before the Spring
Tempt these New World birds to sing?
Buds will burst and shoots like arrows leap.
Melting will push
Volumes of sap up through the waiting bush.
We shall make
Something like love again by the shimmering lake.
From Chair to Chair *
I sit in your chair and I look at my chair and despair
At the lack of a view of us both, as above in the air
A vee of geese honking veers down to the park and its lake
And I don’t know if ever I’ll love you without a mistake.
You know what I am but whatever I am is not clear.
All I know in your chair is I wish me in mine and you here.
Chair is flesh in your language ma Chère, I am able
To envision my body, to see me from you across the table.
But this is taboo to my mind. I would usually think
It schizoid in a void to see me through your eyes, in a blink.
(What pain will he cause the next time he moves off and comes back?)
When I look at my chair opposite its pressed back is a rack
Where my body is stretched – seen from you – or (another view)
I am back in my own self there in that chair and see you
Bleeding slowly for me – as I bleed for you now: face to face,
I don’t know which way the directions of time or of space.
As I look at you in my mind are you looking at me?
In a warp of the universe not here or there we
Are two knobs – a tube in between – a dumb-bell
Tumbling over and over it seems between heaven and hell.
Your email: I love you very much. But here in your chair
With nobody there in my chair my existence is bare
As if I’m alone in a pew in a dusty old church,
Ready to pray you won’t stay far off and leave me in the lurch.
Where is our azimuth? When can we stop
The tumbling? – and still stay connected and drop
As one down to earth and just be you and me
Each in our chair sitting here with the locust tree
And the usual Constable clouds to look at, and we
Both North both South, each an alternating pole
Of a vast rolling world we don’t need to control.
Rogues and Whores
Where on earth is Hand Trough Creek?
Where are Cuckold’s Haven,
Clap’s Gate Lane and Gallions Reach?
Names on a map of Dockland,
To you, a rogue, they promise heaven.
Outside St Paul’s, gaze
At this puddle in the lap
Of a black marble woman
Reclining. The water glistens.
Let John Donne speak:
Not a minute left to do it
(Repent, he means, not love –
The Dean is not a poet).
Not a minute’s sand.
(An hour glass on his pulpit).
His shrouded death-mask listens.
The hour glass
Is just a frozen shape
In a quantum landscape:
Time doesn’t pass.
The sermon doesn’t teach,
But endures like the walls
Of old St Paul’s
And blitzed houses ablaze.
All that moves is mind.
Here, rogue, stand
By the black woman,
Share her daze,
Frozen in the East wind
From Cannon Street.
Out at Cuckold’s Haven
Wives spread their legs
To take on the dregs
Of Gallions Reach
And pass on the clap.
Spend all the coins
From a pocket without holes,
Lie in their loins
And on their breasts blubber
In convulsive emotion:
In the life of dove-tailing souls,
A quiver if not of matter
Of, yes, love.
That can prove
White and black, rogues and whores move.
When you cracked open the Mumm’s champagne
To celebrate our first whole night –
In the new sheets you had bought, striped blue and white –
You didn’t know how much pain
Would follow from being together.
But our love has not turned vinegar,
Though it’s no longer bubbly – a blood red wine
Pressed from the last grapes of two ageing vines
Whose limbs would have to be snapped
To get them apart.
We have grown around each other, and here
Are the same sheets, the stripes faded and worn,
And a bottle of something more modest than Mumm’s.
The champagne spurts
And though we forget nothing, nothing hurts.