of Literature, Love and Music

Mark Liston
After W.S. Merwin

We are Resident Visitors, meant to be here yet only here by chance
allowed in a thousand ways to live and say love—
though some have fluffed out their life and cuffed
their breath, when we heard each word stroking the page,
our eyes, that could not let a phrase go,
remembered where we were when
we found poetry and music in sync, and sang, sang, sang along
with Joni’s butterflies and Lennon’s Strawberry Field, as
Bukowski dripped it down, Sylvia lived it and Emily’s lamented the joys of it.
We learnt from others’ courage, struggles and strength, from their hugs
and softness in their eyes.
And I give more to you, my dear, who finally found me
with your gift of love: all of me without condition
and to you I say a thousand times, I love you till my thousands of heart beats end.
We read the writings in books that filled the shelves of Millennial Libraries,
all sated full of wonder, a literature of phrases and phases, of a mind’s heart
as Shakespeare (rhetoric and body), and cried between lines of Angelou’s pages:
the viscera of recited poetry at home on stage in a cage,
and found the Harold Bloom Canon boom
found it all: the muse in Oliver Twist wanting more.
We could have found a home inside a hearth, a place to meditate
on days left adrift as clouds—painting and un-painting horizons.
Gulped sky air into our lungs so to walk and walk
the miles and miles past times of lonely regret,
onto thanksgivings of open doors and waterfalls
gathering as pools of eyes, that tend the little clinging crystals.
To travel in a thousand towns in countries new and old
listen and recite the Villanelles of orange scarf times
and cities where A-Z directories down alleys and roads onto tracks
and no-tracks (the secret gifts of wilderness the sounds of raindrops
playing paradiddles on broad leaf plants) and wished
the Amazon, Sahara, and Everest: the sorrows and joys of beauty.
And I should have spent my lost years uplifting
being a patient of happiness on constant drip feed of soma
filled time better spent to write my own letters of hope
and not “missed the starting gun” and stood “as all things must pass”,
We have taught children to try love, not the grown-up self-loathing of hate filled adults
and not to drown in our own absent parent syndrome,
we smelt the flowers by sunny rivers that meander
to another valley of native forest
and were better parents than our own—though I think of mine, most days. 

Mark’s poems appear in many Anthologies: Famous Reporter, Newcastle Prize and Roland Robinson, Australian Poetry Anthology, Rochford St Review and Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, Wet Ink, Burrow and Verve. He has won three prizes incl. All Poetry, Australian Poetry Poem of the Year 2014, was Newcastle Café Poet in Residence 2011-2113and shortlisted for the 2021 International Poetry Prize UK.



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