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Jun 2021 · 557
Paul Hansford Jun 2021
Your ashes
dispersed in the sea
dissolved in salt water
mixed with sand
find a quicker way
to nature's recycling.
You are not gone
simply absent from life
and I cannot pull you back.
I can only wait
helpless as you are.
I'd appreciate any comments or edits on this, please.  It's not really finished.
Jun 2021 · 270
Paul Hansford Jun 2021
These landscapes I have seen;
- green hills, a winding river, and beyond,
another hill crowned with trees;
- a lake among pines where blue jays clamour
and a lone gull cries;
- the sudden view of a city of golden stone
and domes gleaming in the afternoon sun;
- an iron bridge in the mist
and a train crossing between mountains
veiled in layers of pure tones
like a Chinese watercolour;
- a shore where pelicans dive
into ocean rollers before they break,
releasing twelve thousand miles of energy;
- palaces shimmering in the air as their reflections
shimmer in the water they rise from.

But in my mind are other landscapes,
unseen, hardly even imagined.
Come and explore them with me.
Who knows what we will find?
These images are all from photos I have taken in various countries. If you are interested, message me and I'll tell you where those places were.
Mar 2021 · 321
Sleepless Night
Paul Hansford Mar 2021
(a "last words" sonnet)

I cannot sleep tonight, and you know why.
You know how many weary hours I've lain
upon my bed and listened to the rain
lashing the window, and the mournful sigh
the wind makes. You have heard mine in reply.
I know you know the reason for my pain.
I know you know why, over and again,
I've wept out loud. I know you saw me cry
as I remembered carving on that tree
your name and mine. You were the only one
I needed then. You know, just as before,
how much I need you yet, but you have gone.
Only your spirit now still lives in me,
and I can never hope for any more.
The last word from each line of a published poem is used here as the last word in the corresponding line of a new one.  This one is based on a well-known sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
Oct 2020 · 229
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
There are journeys from which for all practical purposes
it is not possible to arrive anywhere
except perhaps, after considerable stress,
the place where you started from.
The value of such journeys is not related
to their length, nor even to their difficulty,
though they can be very long and extraordinarily difficult.
It lies rather in the fact of having set out
in the hopeless hope of discovering
but most of all in what we find on the way,
even if it is on the way to nowhere.
Oct 2020 · 230
Future Perfect
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
Shall these trees stand forever?
and the fields,
brown, green, gold, according to the season,
shall they remain?

But the hills,
the hills,
they shall be there.
No not even those.
What then shall stay?
Their having been is what shall be left.

And when you are gone,
and I am no longer here,
we too shall have been,
and nothing can be quite the same again.
The title does not mean that the future will be perfect - it's about a future where what we know now will not exist.  It was a long time before I realised "we too shall have been" could sound like "we two shall have been," but that was not what I intended, and it would suggest a different story.
Oct 2020 · 258
On a child leaving home
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
Free spirit, you were never really "my" child,
though it pleased me to think of you so.
Only for a time you allowed me
to be familiar with you, share some of your life,
some of your feelings.
Now it is time for you to leave,
and I must not regret your going, although I love you,
not regret the letting go, because I love you.
Then the part of you that once, long ago,
imperceptibly grew inside my heart will stay forever,
and you can always be,
in any sense that you ever were,
Oct 2020 · 180
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
There was so much more
     that we could have said and done,
          but we said goodbye.
This is not a haiku, though it does have 5, 7, 5 syllables, because it doesn't relate to nature or any season. It has the same syllables, but is more correctly a senryu, related to human nature.
Oct 2020 · 126
Looking into the sun
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
Just as when looking into the sun
I am dazzled by pure light, which is invisible,
and I only see what is lit by the paler reflections of its rays -
or when my mind, refusing to hear a perfect silence,
creates its own thundering echo of that silence,
so that I may more nearly understand the incomprehensible -
your absence also is absolute, and leaves
a void in me I cannot come to terms with
until it is filled by a memory.
Oct 2020 · 110
Victims (mk. 2) - a triolet
Paul Hansford Oct 2020
A body on the line at Basingstoke
has caused an inconvenient delay.
(Unless it’s just a rather tasteless joke
- a body on the line at Basingstoke?)
What pain could make an ordinary bloke
do himself in? It’s just another day.
A body on the line at Basingstoke
has caused an inconvenient delay.
see also the original version of Victims.
Sep 2020 · 102
Would it be possible?
Paul Hansford Sep 2020
Would it be possible for me to feel friendship
for one I had never seen,
except in a blurred photo?
one whose voice I had never heard,
not even a phone-call,
not even a recording?

Would it be possible for me to love
one who had been a true friend,
who used to say she loved me,
but now felt nothing for me
but bitterness and anger?

Would it be possible for me to have confidence
in one who didn't write to me any more,
who would never read
what I had written?
who never let me read
what she had written?

Would it be possible for me to trust again
one who had told me very firmly
that she never lied,
but later admitted
without shame
that she had deceived me,
broken that trust,
almost as if she were proud of it?

Would it be possible for me to understand
how she could feel as she did,
when she refused to tell me?

Would it be possible for me to understand
if she did tell me?

The answers are

But which answer
might go with which question
I have no way of knowing.
Paul Hansford Sep 2020
So quiet now, the ripples
    lapping on the shore
scarcely disturb the silence:
    a whisper, no more.
    But who knows the power
the growing breakers may have
    in another hour?
Aug 2020 · 92
Unanswerable Questions *
Paul Hansford Aug 2020
Have we known each other forever?
Or might we simply have met in another life?
But where and when,
or how it might have happened,
I cannot know.
And in that possible world
did we know each other
in good times and bad?

Were we friends?
Good friends?
Possibly lovers?
Or just strangers,
occupying the same universe,
not knowing each other at all,
but destined to meet again
in different circumstances?

Shall we go on through time,
meeting and parting
again and again,
with pleasure or regret,
or, most likely, a mixture of the two?

I only know that your eyes,
your smile,
speak to me in a language of their own,
which I hope will continue
while we both exist,
in this world or another.
Paul Hansford Jun 2020
A while ago, I posted a number of poems with links to Youtube "videos" - except they are in fact still pictures with a recording of me reading. Because I posted them to another site they aren't available any more without going to YouTube.  I'd be interested if anyone would like to comment here.

  1/ Reflection --
  2/ Guard of Honour --
  3/ Golden Wedding --
  4/ Varanasi --
  5/ Questions --
  6/ Remnants - Auschwitz --
  7/ Restless day --
  8/ Invitation --
  9/ Insides --
10/ Sleepless Night --
11/ Unknown River --
12/ The First Time --
13/ Word Game --
May 2020 · 103
Homage to Ogden Nash
Paul Hansford May 2020
People who indulge in tittle-tattle and rumour
put me in a bad humour.
Without wishing to be unduly formal
I can state that as a rule reality is pretty normal,
which I suppose explains the fun to be had
by folk who reckon they can add
two and two, but almost invariably make it more
than what it should be, viz., i.e., or to wit, four.
Call me cynical,
but too many people's approach to the truth is far from clinical.
So it no longer gives me any surprise to
know the conjectures that the simplest remark can give rise to.
A ****** of overheard conversation
in all likelihood has a very mundane explanation,
on account of (as I said before) reality
for most of us being of a mind-numbing banality.
The interest that rumour-mongers can find,
in the further imaginative reaches of the mind,
however, is considerably higher.
But then they have the effrontery to attempt to justify
     their outrageous speculations by claiming that there's
     no smoke without fire,
"The breathless jumble of words would not be so funny if we did  not hear in the background the tetrameter or pentameter line that our poetry-attuned ears have been trained on and that Nash is writing against." (Billy Collins)
May 2020 · 107
Paul Hansford May 2020
(Things aren't always what they seem,
and the same goes for people.)

It's a commonly held belief,
a theory by many supposed,
that inside every fat person
a thin person's enclosed.

And it's often been said before
(though that doesn't make it less truth)
that inside many a middle-aged man
beats the heart of a passionate youth.

A girl who appears just a butterfly
may deep down be a slave to her duty;
and one with the plainest exterior
may be blessed with a soul full of beauty.

But here is another hypothesis
I'd respectfully like to suggest
- if no-one has any objection -
that might take up its place with the rest.

If I'd courage to match my conviction
I might stand on the table and shout,
but it's this. . . . Inside every introvert
there's an extrovert trying to get out.
May 2020 · 102
Might we have met . . . ? *
Paul Hansford May 2020
Have we known each other forever?
Might we have met before,
in another life?  
But where and when,
or how it might have happened,
I cannot know.
And in that other possible world
did we know each other
in good times and bad?

Were we friends?
Good friends?
Possibly lovers?
Or simply strangers,
occupying the same universe,
not knowing each other,
but destined to meet again
in different circumstances?

And shall we go on through time,
meeting and parting
again and again,
with pleasure or regret,
or, most likely, a mixture of the two?

I only know that your eyes,
your smile,
speak to me in a language of their own,
which I hope will continue
while we both exist,
in this world or another.
Mar 2020 · 143
Timeless *
Paul Hansford Mar 2020
Of all the seasons, summer
is timeless.
The summerblown cornfield,
windwaving sunbleached white gold,
is forever,
and the time of wild strawberries,
small and freely given,
is outside time.

Happy dreams too
are timeless.
On waking I am filled
with an oceangrey
that the dream was not reality.
Yet I am glad to have felt joy,
and the beauty overcomes the sadness,
as the sweet wild sound of the pibroch
transcends the lament
that gave it birth.
Pibroch: a form of music for the Scottish bagpipes involving elaborate variations on a theme, typically of a martial or funerary character.
Mar 2020 · 103
I wanted to write . . . . *
Paul Hansford Mar 2020
I wanted to write a poem with its own
self-contained harmonies, like the counterpoint of Bach,
half a dozen instruments playing at once,
each one retaining its own
purity while contributing to a pure whole;

or one that should summon up Provence,
with its olive trees, cypresses, and sunflowers
(after van Gogh), and somehow convey the heat
and the perfumed air and the sound
of cicadas;

or one that, like a jewel,
small but perfectly formed,
refracting the light of experience
through each cunningly crafted facet,
might return it in flash after dazzling flash
of inspiration.

I have no ambition to write
the poetical equivalent of the Sistine Chapel,
but I have envied Michelangelo
(Superman of the Renaissance)
his X-ray vision.  He could see
the statue inside the stone.
Why must I so often fail to see
the poem for the words?
Jan 2020 · 142
Together (sonnet) *
Paul Hansford Jan 2020
So many years, so many miles go by.
In smiles and tears the storms of life we've passed
and made our home together, you and I,
through thick and thin, together to the last.

Well, not the last maybe - we're not there yet.
However many years behind us lie,
we're still prepared, however old we get,
to sail the seas or fly up in the sky.

We've seen so much, in all those far-off places,
we've shared so many moments in our life,
the years have etched their lines upon our faces.
We've been through such a lot as man and wife,

but still we'll go, forever hand in hand,
together till we find our promised land.
Nov 2019 · 152
What does love mean?
Paul Hansford Nov 2019
The love of a mother for her child
is not the same as the child's love for his mother.
The love of a man for a woman changes
after they are married
from what it was before,
and her love does not correspond in all points with his.
Love between man and woman
is different from the love of boy and girl.

Love can be permanent as the tides, regular, unquestioned,
with no end and no recognisable beginning.
It can come suddenly,
as a thunderstorm in summer breaks
upon the thirsty earth,
except in the memory.

But under any one of these emotions,
what is there for us to say?
Only, I love you.

Thoughts can be subdivided, classified, clothed with words.
Words fit feelings only approximately,
and our deepest feelings must often go unclothed.
So when I say I love you
I cannot analyse what I mean.
I only know that I do love you
and hope you understand.
Published in a university magazine in 1968, and only now added to Hello Poetry.
Oct 2019 · 352
Two loves?
Paul Hansford Oct 2019
Long ago a king of France
-I don't remember his name -
when asked was it possible
to love two women
at the same time,
replied that he loved,
equally but in a different way,
burgundy and beaujolais,
and if he could love
two different wines
how could he not love
two different women?

For me, an inexperienced wine-taster,
I could not tell the difference,
but give me elderflower champagne
fermented from sugar, lemon and hand-picked blossom,
fresh, golden and sparkling,
or home-‌infused sloe gin,
rich, fruity, purple and mature,
and I would say I love them both,
equally but in a different way.

Yes, but does this mean I could love
two women at the same time?
Ah, that is a question
that I must decline to answer.
You see, I might tend
to incriminate myself.
Aug 2019 · 241
my offering *
Paul Hansford Aug 2019
today I bring you
no secondhand poem
no recycled emotion
only a very special offer
you cant refuse
(I wont let you)
a part used bargain
from the hearts department
not quite perfect
but its yours for nothing
do with it as you will
pause before you throw it away
(please don't throw it away)
if you don't want it now
save it for later
keep it like a lucky penny
press it with rose petals in a book
put it at the back of a drawer
take it out from time to time
and remember
or find it maybe when youre looking
for something else
and think of me and smile
(I hope youll smile)
but please don't throw it away
its bound to come in handy
even if you never use it
Aug 2019 · 182
Testing a Theory *
Paul Hansford Aug 2019
Take a group of chimpanzees
used to swinging through the trees,
and sit them down at keyboards in a row;
lots of paper, lots of ink,
lots and lots of time, I think,
and what the theory says, I'm sure you know.

Yes, along with all the junk,
all the gibberish and bunk,
somewhere there'd be the full works of the Bard:
As You Like It, Cymbeline,
Richards 2 and 3, the Dream,
though Hamlet, Prince of Denmark might be hard.

But I'm sure the little blighters
would get on fine with Titus
, The Taming of  the Shrew,
The Moor of Venice (that's Othello),
the other Merchant fellow,
and Antony and Cleopatra too.

The Winter's Tale would hold no terrors,
nor The Comedy of Errors,
and Verona's Gentlemen would turn out right;
Love's Labours might be Lost,
or even Tempest-tossed,
but All's Well That Ends Well, even on Twelfth Night.

Lear, King John, and Much Ado,
Henry 4, parts 1 and 2,
Henry 5, and 6 (in three parts!), Henry 8,
Troilus, Timon, Measure for Measure,
Pericles (a neglected treasure),
and how Romeo and Juliet met their fate.

All the Sonnets and the ****
of Lucrece
(typed by an ape!),
and if they worked for ever and a day
they could fit in Julius Caesar,
that Coriolanus geezer,
the Wives of Windsor and the Scottish play.

I grew more and more excited ‒
even thought I might be knighted
if I could be the one to make it work.
But to realise my dream
I had to try a pilot scheme,
to prove I wasn't just a reckless berk.

I bought one chimp from the zoo
‒ didn't have the cash for two ‒
and gave him a typewriter, just to try
for a short while.  Well, a fortnight
was the time-scale that I thought right.
You see, I'm quite an optimistic guy.

Now, everyone who heard
of my project said, "Absurd!"
when I told them of my striking new departure.
"Teach a chimpanzee to type?
"Why, I never heard such tripe!"
Still . . . he did produce the works of Jeffrey Archer.
This is an old one of mine, which somehow strayed away from HelloPoetry. If it sounds familiar to you, you'll probably have read it before.  If it's new to you, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Feb 2019 · 1.2k
Paul Hansford Feb 2019
We named you Daisy
for your white fur, because
we liked to name our cats after flowers.
But you were not only a white cat;
you were "odd-eyed white",
one orange and one blue.
Everyone loved your beautiful quirkiness.

You lived as our other cats did,
tame house-cat in the day,
but free to come and go;
half-wild at night,
following your instincts,
even if they were dangerous at times.

Then, one sunny morning,
I saw you from the bedroom window,
running back home, across the road,
and that time it really was dangerous,
as a car came past, exceeding the speed limit,
because in a race between speeding car
and running cat,
in the event of a tie,
the cat loses.

I ran downstairs and found you
by the gate,
warm, unmarked,
but unmoving, unbreathing

Carrying you gently to the back garden,
I laid you on the ground,
preparing to dig your grave,
as Marmaduke, our tomcat, came by.
Not the father of any kittens,
but surrogate to all our females.
After a birth
he knew what to do.
He would visit briefly,
sniff the mother, sniff the kittens,
walk off, apparently unconcerned,
and a day or two later
return with a mouse for mother.
That’s what father cats do,
even surrogates.

Only that day there was no birth,
no kittens,
and this time
he sniffed at you,
sniffed at the hole I had started digging,
and walked off
in complete puzzlement.
This time he did not know what to do.
If you're interested, you could try another, rather similar, one of mine -
Oct 2018 · 1.9k
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
I’ve done it,
A new kind of verse,
All by counting syllables.
The lines all have odd numbers of them.
One, three, five, seven and nine,
Then back down to one.
Just like this,

Paul Verlaine,
Famous French poet,
Claimed there was more music in
Lines with odd numbers of syllables.
I can’t say if he was right.
Is there music in
This simple

Number three
In my collection
Of syllable-counted verse.
They are not really too difficult.
So now what shall I call them?
That is the question,
As Hamlet

Make it a Greek word.
Now what’s Greek for forty-one?
E n a k a i s a r a n d a s y l l a b i c s.
That is what I can call them.
Such an easy name,
Don’t you think?

I’ll tell you.
Why don’t you try it?
Not so easy now, is it?
Can’t you think of anything at all?
Are you ready to give up?
Can’t say I blame you.
That’s all now.
As far as I know, I really invented this form, and anyone who wants to try it is welcome to have a go. I'd be pleased if you'd comment here to tell me, or message me.
Btw, enakaisaranda is Greek for forty-one, and with it having six syllables just by itself, how could I resist it?
Oct 2018 · 922
Laterality *
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
Why does the right hand get all the good jobs,
like greeting visiting dignitaries
(such a pleasure) ,
or blowing farewell kisses to the one you love
(such sweet sorrow) ,
or playing the melody while the left
has to oompah along in the bass?
Right-handers get the best adjectives too.
I mean, we’d all like to be
adroit (as the French have it) .
So why do we poor southpaws have to be
gauche or, while we’re about it, gawky?
Tactless, without grace, ungainly, awkward,
physically and socially inept, that’s us.
And Latin’s no better.
We’d like to be dextrous too.
What makes us
sinister? Was Dracula
left-handed, or something?

Even when we can hammer
or saw or paint or drive a *****
with either hand equally,
or cut the nails on both sets of fingers,
they only say we are ambi-
dextrous, which is a bit of a left-handed
compliment, treating the left
as if it were an honorary right,
as if it had no right
to be skilful
in its own right.

I suppose my left hand ought to be grateful
(in this respect) that I was not born
into a tradition where it is laid down
what each hand can do. It could have been
condemned to a lifetime
of bottom-wiping and not much else,
and becoming cack-
handed in more ways than one.
Oct 2018 · 4.5k
Meeting in Jerusalem *
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
We didn’t go to Mea-She’arim on Saturday
because they throw stones at cars there on the Sabbath.
We wanted to see the locals, certainly,
but only to look in a respectful way. We had not expected
to make contact. But crossing the road you didn’t notice
that you had dropped your book.
I picked it up, ran after you.
Not knowing how to address you, I touched your sleeve.
You turned to me, took the proffered book
without a word, and looked at me. Your eyes,
beneath your strange hat, between your side-curls,
showed no expression. You turned away.
Was your garment unclean now? Did the volume
need to be purified? I was only
returning your book. We had not expected
to make contact.
Oct 2018 · 588
Pink Cheeks, Green Apples
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
My mother was the tenth
of eleven children,
all born, on average,
two years apart.
So her mother,
- my grandmother -
was, as far as I was concerned,
always old.

She had pink, wrinkly cheeks,
like an apple that’s been kept too long,
and, to go with the apple cheeks,
she smiled a lot.

I had heard of Granny Smith apples,
and assumed they were like my gran,
pink and wrinkled,
but when I found out
they were shiny
and green,
I was deeply shocked.

Fair enough,
green was her favourite colour,
so that wasn't too bad,
but . . . shiny!
I never really got over the shock,
and, however long ago it was,
I still can't quite forgive them for that.
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
Consider the Paradoxical Frog,
so named because it is several times smaller
than its p h e n o m e n a l l y huge tadpole.
(But then, look at people,
whose achievements often fail to match
the promise they once showed.)

The Second law of Thermodynamics
Out of winter, spring,
out of spring, summer,
then autumn, winter,
and out of winter, spring,
always the same.
Out of the bud, growth,
out of the flower, seed,
out of death, life.
Entropy always increases.

Once you were within my reach.
Suddenly you became a
g l i t
  t e r
    i n g

Just wait, I thought, I can change too.
Why did I have to turn into a frog?
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
Born on Boxing Day
she lived a hundred and one years
- all through the Great War
that failed to end all wars,
the social revolution of the twenties,
and the great depression,
before marrying at the age of twenty-five.
And even then she had to declare
her father’s occupation
on the marriage certificate
as if "father : ostler" defined her.
The marriage took place on Christmas Day
to save the expense of another family gathering.
She never went out to work after that,
no longer just her father’s daughter
but proud to be a wife and mother,
first in rented rooms with a shared outside privy,
then to a modern house “like a palace”
with a refrigerator
and a washing machine
and a garden
where her husband could grow things.
She always loved babies and children
and even at the last,
after years of advancing dementia,
with eyesight, hearing, mobility, and memory failing,
she would always come to life
in their company,
everything forgotten except how much she loved them.
We finally said goodbye, knowing
that although she had little to give
except love,
she gave it to the end.
My lovely mother-in-law.
Boxing Day is December 26, named for tradespeople who received a gift, usually cash, as a Christmas Box.
Oct 2018 · 276
What not to say
Paul Hansford Oct 2018
Say not it was by the ocean,
in the country or the town.
Say not if the sun was shining
or the rain was beating down.

Say not it was morning or evening,
or the high noonday or night.
Say not it was summer or winter,
or springtime, or autumn bright.

Say not what she was wearing.
Say not what colour her hair.
Say not how magical her smile.
Say only: She was there.
This is one of many that I lost when Poetfreak collapsed under the weight of malicious spammers. I'm glad to say that a proportion of those have been recovered by the new owners of the site, and I hope that other writers here who suffered similarly may be able to renew their collections.
Sep 2018 · 2.7k
My photograph album *
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
I have an album
where I keep photos
of places I have lived
places I have visited
people I have known
people I have loved
I keep films
of things I have done
things I have seen
things I even think I have forgotten
but they are all there

you who read this
may not have known the people
not been to the places
not seen what happened
but I can tell you about them

those photos
those films
are not in a book
not in a computer
not even on a memory stick
I keep them wirelessly
in my mind
and I call them up at will
or they come to me
happy or sad
without my wishing it

but the difficult part is
that the drive can be corrupted
memories can be lost
and the day will come
when they will all be erased
unless I can recreate the photos
in your mind
remake the films
by telling you about them

then if you read what I have written
you may make your own pictures
from my thoughts
my words
my memories
and maybe some of them
can live on

I hope they will
Sep 2018 · 458
The First Time *
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
I was only seventeen, and you were about the same,
and I knew nothing about you – I barely knew your name.
But I looked at you, and you looked at me, and we looked at each other, and then…
I knew, the first time you smiled at me, I wanted to see you again.

So I went where I knew I could find you, and asked you to go on a date,
and you looked quite shy, but you said you would, and I knew it must be fate.
And I looked at you, and you looked at me, and we looked at each other, and then…
I knew, the first time I held your hand, I wanted to hold you again.

We were crossing the river. The sky was grey, but the sun came bursting through,
and lit up your hair like a coppery flame, and I couldn’t stop looking at you.
Yes, I looked at you, and you looked at me, and we looked at each other, and then…
I knew, the first time I stroked your hair, I wanted to touch you again.

We walked in the park and sat on a bench -- I still see it all so clear.
my arm was round your shoulder, and your face was oh, so near.
And I looked at you, and you looked at me, and we looked at each other, and then…
I knew, the first time I kissed you, I wanted to kiss you again.

You were everything I wanted – well, that’s the way it seemed –
everything I wanted and all that I’d ever dreamed.
For we met again, and I held you again, and we kissed again and again,
and I’d never known a feeling like the happiness I felt then.

But life doesn’t stay that perfect, and dreams don‘t always come true,
and there came the day that you told me you had found somebody new.
And I looked at you, and you looked at me, and we looked at each other, and then…
I knew, the one time you broke my heart, I could never be happy again.

But, though young hearts are easily broken, it’s surprising how soon they can mend.
So after you there were other girls, and now I have more than a friend.
But I still think of you with affection (even if it is just now and then)
for the one you remember as first love is never forgotten again.
Sep 2018 · 558
Noche de San Juan
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
Aquella noche
la playa era llena de hogueras,
y las olas entraban misteriosas,
cargadas de espuma,
de los paísos antiguos.
Y en la playa
llena de hogueras y magia
quemamos nuestros deseos de papel,
porque esta noche tal vez se podrían realizar.
Entonces, poco dispuestos a esperar, corrimos
unos minutos antes de la medianoche
en la mar misteriosa, antigua, pagana,
y nos sumergimos en la espuma.
Surgisteis vosotras,
gritando en las olas
con la alegría de esta noche.
Cuando subieron fuegos en el cielo,
y algunos, cayendo en la mar,
estallaron de nuevo allí,
entre las olas mismas,
saltasteis tambien, gritando
con la energía de esta noche mágica.
Y más tarde, cuando éramos casi
los últimos quedando en la mar,
salimos a la playa
llena de hogueras y amor.
Spanish version of San Juan Night.
Both versions written at the same time, a more effective way of writing in two languages than to write one and then translate it.  So there are a few subtle differences.
Sep 2018 · 561
San Juan Night *
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
That night
the beach was full of fires,
and the waves rolled in mysterious,
from the ancient lands.
And on the beach
full of fires and magic
we burned our paper wishes,
for that night they might even come true.
Then, because we were unwilling to wait
the last few minutes, we ran
a little before midnight
into the mysterious, ancient, pagan sea
and submerged ourselves in the foam.
You rose up,
shouting amid the waves
with the joy of that night.
When fireworks shot into the sky,
and some, falling to the sea,
exploded there again
to shoot from the very waves,
you also leapt up, shouting
with the energy of that magic night.
And later, when we were almost
the last remaining in the sea,
we went up onto the beach
full of fires and love.
Noche de San Juan, 23 June, a celebration of midsummer, made into a Christian festival.
The best way to write a piece in two languages is to do both versions at the same time, so there are a couple of places where the Spanish is not a literal translation of the English.
Note: the "you" who leapt up in the sea is plural and female, as the Spanish version makes clear, and the "love" in the last line is of a general nature, not romantic at all.
Sep 2018 · 1.7k
Hiroshima (senryu) *
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
eight sixteen a.m.
    a light explodes in the sky
        time stops forever
I thought the well-known 5-7-5 syllable format would suit the theme, short, sharp and sudden, as well as originally being a Japanese format.  There is one detail that doesn't suit the form, however, as these poems are not meant to have a title.
Sep 2018 · 26.0k
Bucket List? -- Not Me!
Paul Hansford Sep 2018
Many people write a "bucket list" of things they want to do before they die.  Now in my 80th year, I don't have the time or the energy to do things that others might aim for, but I have during my life visited many places, seen many things, and enjoyed many experiences that I would have been sorry to miss. There have also been some events that I would have preferred not to experience, but which have enriched my life in different ways, and which I remember with a kind of sad affection.  
Some of these are very personal to me, and would not be interesting to most people, but read the note if you wonder why I chose them.

Here then is what I might call  
                                                My Reverse Bucket List

Towns and cities – architecture & atmosphere
   Barcelona, Spain
   Venice, Italy
   Oxford, England
   Jerusalem, Israel
   Luxor, Egypt
   Varanasi, India
   Hiroshima, Japan
   Pompeii, Italy

Other locations
   Galápagos islands, Ecuador
   Great Barrier Reef, Australia
   North Woolwich, London

   St Paul's Cathedral, London
   Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
   Coventry Cathedral
   Córdoba Cathedral, Spain
   Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Other structures
   Taj Mahal, Agra
   Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland
   Royal Festival Hall, London
   London underground system (because it was the first, and I rode it for a long time).  Also the more splendid underground railways of Mexico City and Moscow.
   Avebury Ring, Wiltshire, England (the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world, and much more primitive than Stonehenge)
   Bayeux Tapestry 
   "Angel of the North" statue, Gateshead, England
   "Christ the Redeemer" statue, Rio, Brazil

   Messiah at Royal Festival Hall, Feb 1959, with the girl later to be my wife
   St John's night, Spain, early 1990s (?)
   Death and funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug 1997
   Oberammergau passion play, 2010
   Destruction of World Trade Centre, Sept 2001
I haven't added explanatory notes, but a lot of them are easy enough to look up, and if you message me about any mysterious items, I'll answer as best I can. There are poems in my stream connected with some things on the list, though not all are obvious.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
1 - Limerick

If you wanted to go to the moon
you wouldn’t go in a balloon.
    The hot air inside
    gives a nice quiet ride,
but you'd come back to earth much too soon.

2 - Senryu

With all that puffing
    his cheeks, so round, so scarlet
         – just like the balloon.

3 - Diamond poem

           puff hard.
        That’s better,
      getting  bigger,
balloon’s fat and round.
     No more blowing,
       that’s enough.
          Look out.
Any offers for another? Anyone?
Aug 2018 · 2.9k
Golden Wedding -- sonnet *
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
When we first stood, those fifty years ago,
outside the church together, man and wife,
we had no way of knowing if our life
was bound for sun and smiles or tears and snow.
In the event, we had our share of each.
When children came, as we continued longer,
the highs and lows made our love all the stronger,
and happiness was never out of reach.
Together, then, we've weathered many a storm,
and having lasted now for half a century
I think we're justified to call it victory
to know our love continues just as warm.
(Although age may reduce youth's fiery passion,
a long, slow smoulder's never out of fashion.)
Aug 2018 · 10.4k
Inconsequential Syllables **
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
The first cold letters, alone on the page.
A quick pencil found them,
and the lively and beautiful syllables blossomed.
The pale book felt the pencil,
and the terrifying, hot words entered.
The lines grew, living and sensitive,
gleaming as never before,
and I knew the unheard lines!

First, a tiny and unselfconscious sound.
A noun struggled to appear among overpowering words.
A strong, golden adjective ran out,
a short, fragrant adjective, beautiful in the early spring.
A young verb grew among tiny blue conjunctions,
and a fortuitous adverb understood, instinctively.

The first sentence dreamed of trees, and a sad cloud.
It dreamed a grey rain,
and the tall trees felt the rain.
There was a first and unknown river,
imagined, inconsequential, like snow in summer.
A red bird glided beyond reach,
as if it had never happened.
The soft sounds fitted the lines,
and the quick bird cried,
Remember the short rain!
Remember the sad poem!
This one was a "collaboration" between myself and an app that I imported to my computer. First I entered lists of nouns, adjectives and adverbs (including adverbial phrases), then clicked to start the process.  The computer didn't "compose" the lines that you see here, but it gave me lots of ideas, and I had to work quite a lot on them. Streams of sentences poured out onto my printer, most of them complete nonsense, and when I had enough I pressed Stop, and started the process of weeding out the *******, editing the more promising lines, and re-arranging the order. My favourite line is "There was a first and unknown river," which I could never have dreamed up by myself.
Aug 2018 · 610
Beginning Again *
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
There are journeys from which (for all practical purposes)
it is not possible to arrive anywhere,
except perhaps, after considerable stress,
the place that you started from.
Come with me. It is only
the setting out that is difficult.
Put your hand in mine and we will begin
our journey together. It may be long,
it may be hazardous, but the value of the journey
is not related to its length,
nor to the hazards overcome,
nor to the places we may visit, though they be many.
It lies rather in the fact of having set out
in the hopeless hope of discovering
something at the end of it all.
At least we can try - the value is in the trying.
Put your hand in mine. It is only
the setting out that is difficult.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
This lived-in face has seen the years go by
at such a wild and unforgiving pace.
My powers are weak, though my aims may be high,
and troubles are all bound to leave their trace.

And while I always feel the need to brace
myself against life's storms, I know that I
can never win. Death always plays his ace.
This lived-in face has seen the years go by.

It's little help to know the rules apply
to every member of the human race.
Dark clouds are growing in my evening sky
at such a wild and unforgiving pace.

In this vast universe I have my place,
but can my thoughts outlast me when I die?
or speak to those in other time or space?
My powers are weak, though my aims may be high.

Yet while dark thoughts of gloom may multiply,
to let them win would be a sad disgrace,
though many things may make me want to cry,
and troubles are all bound to leave their trace.

Yes, my mortality I must embrace,
not waste my time in always asking why,
or fearing not to do things just in case."
I'll dry those tears. There's no point to deny
this lived-in face.
If you looked up the rules for this form, you wouldn't find them telling you to repeat the first half-line in a way that rhymes with anything, but since my first one, where it came out that way by accident, I do them like this, and it's only a little more difficult.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
The setting sun shone on the lapping tide
as pensively I walked along the sand.
Above my head the soaring seabirds cried
their wild, sad cry from some forgotten land.
That golden evening, there among the rocks,
far from the noisy city's roar and rush,
I saw him sitting, on his knee a box
of watercolours, in his hand a brush.

Oh, had I but the skill, the painter's art,
to fix the scene in colours like that man.
I went towards him, stood a step apart,
over his shoulder tried his work to scan.
A masterpiece . . . . . or was it? No such luck!
Just filling in cartoons of Donald Duck.
A true story from a beach in Spain.
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
I cannot sleep tonight, and you know why.
You know how many weary hours I've lain
upon my bed and listened to the rain
lashing the window, and the mournful sigh
the wind makes. You have heard mine in reply.
I know you know the reason for my pain.
I know you know why, over and again,
I've wept out loud. I know you saw me cry
as I remembered carving on that tree
your name and mine. You were the only one
I needed then. You know, just as before,
how much I need you yet, but you have gone.
Only your spirit now still lives in me,
and I can never hope for any more.
A "last words" sonnet uses the last word from each line of a published poem as the last word in the corresponding line of a new one. This one is based on a well-known sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
Aug 2018 · 254
Spring -- sonnet/acrostic
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
S pring always comes, however slow it seems,
A nd on the trees at last from sleeping wood
N ew growth sprouts green where black twigs starkly stood.
D istant the winter now; like far-off dreams
R ecalling snow, white blossom-petals fall
A nd throw confetti down on warming earth.
H ere after months of sleep the signs of birth
A s daffodils ****** up and songbirds call.
N ow the breeze blows more gently on fresh grass,
S un gives its blessing, sky's a softer blue.
F rom greener woods then pipes the bold cuckoo.
O ur thoughts move on to summer. Spring will pass,
R ipe summer turn to fall, and winter, then,
D epend upon it, spring will come again.
Dedicated to my dear wife.
Aug 2018 · 1.3k
Almost a Poem *
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
By any normally accepted standard
three words are scarcely sufficient
to be considered a poem.
The Japanese, who have a gift for conciseness,
might be sympathetic.
(Haiku, after all,
    at seventeen syllables,
       are pretty compact.)
But three words! It's not so much concise as,
to put it bluntly, short.
If I say that, when I try to write a poem for you,
"I love you" is all I can think of,
that is no excuse.
And the fact that my meaning is new and unique
(for me and for you)
makes no difference either.
If only there were some way out of my difficulty.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
There, that's nine words.
Will that do?
Written in 1984 and only just re-discovered in the booklet of the competition it was written for.
Aug 2018 · 1.3k
Growing up (sonnet)
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
"Write fourteen lines on Growing Up, a sonnet,"
the teacher told us. "Don't forget, the rhymes
must make a pattern; I've told you several times.
The subject's easy. You've all got ideas on it."

Who does he think I am? Some second Milton?
Another Shakespeare? An Eliot? A Tennyson?
Compared to theirs, my mind's as dead as venison,
slightly less fresh than over-ripened Stilton.

"A poem's the equivalent in words
of something I once felt," the poet said.
Clues to another's feelings, like the sherds

of ancient pots, or jigsaws in the head.
A few curt words my feelings clearly tell,
one simple sentence: Growing Up is hell.
The subject of this poem was set as homework for my 15-year-old son, Jonathan, but I thought I might do one for myself.  It was written in 1984. The poet I mention in verse 4 was T.S. Eliot
Aug 2018 · 314
All Chinese to me
Paul Hansford Aug 2018
I could say
   “Ni hao”
for “Good morning,”
and it was only polite to say
    “Xie xie”
for “Thank you.”

That was my limit
until, in a babble of unfamiliar sounds,
I heard the word, “**-murr,”
and then again, “**-murr.”
**-murr? I thought.
Do they have The Simpsons in China?
But it was only “back door.”

Later, struggling to board a bus by the middle door,
I heard the conductor say,
– and I could even hear the exclamation mark –
I knew this time he wasn’t talking about The Simpsons,
and I had a pretty good idea
he wasn’t a fan of classical Greek poetry either.

But I didn’t want to be left on the pavement
when he closed all the doors and drove off.
So I just squeezed in by the middle door,
as if it was all Chinese to me.
I just re-discovered this on a memory stick I had completely forgotten.  It dates from a trip we made to China several years ago - no, make that "many years ago."  Unfortunately, My computer doesn't recognise the Chinese characters, so I have to rely on the phonetic version.
May 2018 · 348
I blew you up
Paul Hansford May 2018
I admit it.
I blew you up.
No ill-feeling,
I just had to do it.

There you were,
so small,
so young,
so innocent,
and I blew you up.

I had nothing against you.
In fact I rather liked you.
I still do like you,
quite a lot,
but it had to be done.

You need to understand,
that photo of you was so tiny
I couldn’t even tell
if it was you or not.

So I blew you up
until you filled the screen,
and I could see that it really was you.
You looked so much better like that,
much younger,
but still you.

So I checked the colours
and saved it.
Oh yes, I kept the original too,
so that I still had what you had sent me.

But you must agree.
You were so small,
I just had to blow you up.

I hope you don’t mind.
May 2018 · 492
Poem in Autumn *
Paul Hansford May 2018
As autumn weaves its spell and colours change,
long days of summer fade into the past
and spring's soft green is but a memory.
The leaves, so lately fallen from the trees,
shrivelled and brown, now lie upon the earth.
The morning chill brings hint of frosts to come
while pale sun weakly shines, and sets too soon.
As weeks go by and days grow shorter yet
winter moves on. Then slowly fails the light,
and soon enough will come the longest night.
I wrote this (or at least posted it to another site) in October 2014, and thought it had been lost, but it had been saved to a memory stick, and I've just found it again.  I remember that when I first posted it I had no inkling that there was another meaning to it, and only recently, as I age more, do I understand what it was really about.
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