Joel Hayward Jul 17

Of all the
damned places
to be within this
expanding barrenness

today I sat shrunken
outside the office
of that false prophet
tucked tightly
in his white coat

who had
two years past
given you
half that time

and I fell upon the mercy
of another doctor
who couldn't know
that my worn-out
shoulder was not
my worst pain

You had cried
and so had I
in the car
where now
I parked
in silence

Joel Hayward Jul 17

Life slithers among
the dry bones of
hopes struck down

One cannot be lower
that the living
trampled underfoot

while the dead wear the
garments of glory the nakedness
of the garden

How I fear what I desire:
slipping through the ice
into the hidden lake beneath

I fear it O Lord but I want at least to
stretch my hand down

hoping to feel warm hands reaching up

O the dead beneath have it all while we
must wait scarred by a scouring wind
at the bus stop

Joel Hayward Jul 16

If I squeezed
time out of a
dishcloth

would I see
a stream of
memories
fall with
the sound
of sobbing

or laughing

or the soft
and quiet
words of
friendship

maybe prayers
falling like
a summer
rain

or the girls
playing on
the swings
before they
realised that
they did not
even like
each other

or trickling
glimpses of
the years
hunched over
books that
reveal
every
secret

except why
we must suffer

and would
my heart sink
at the sight
of my
inadequate
love
barely
dripping

But I know
that I would
reach my
left hand in
to catch
at least
a few drops
and touch them
to my lips

as a kiss

from fingers
already wet
from tears

then let them
disappear
forever
down
a drain

Joel Hayward Jul 16

Questions the size of cathedrals from which confidence has been swept
by a stiff broom

questions that curl like cunning clouds over snow peaks and spill as rain upon
unready beliefs

doubts that dig ditches and then gun down certainties in long and innocent lines

that step with jackboots on the necks of every uttered prayer and twist the heels down

scatter when the fingers of a fond dawn emerge from a black glove
and reach to hold tight

scatter as an army broken in battle and stream away in fear of the vengeful pursuit

Pains that tore holes in every hope loosen like the saddle of a stallion that has
galloped in heat

and the blueness of the bruises on the cheekbone of faith yellows then fades while my eyes old and finally tearless open anew

Joel Hayward Jul 14

So alone on a blood red carpet
in a mosque as vast as an old asylum

haunted and empty

with a thousand angels
on my right and as many
on my left

the only sound the
heavy hum of their
silent prayers

and water running
over impure hands
somewhere far

I miss her
and wish
I could have
led her all
the way

her imam

God's ninety-nine
names hang in gold
on the wall that
marks the end of
our journey together
and the beginning
of hers

alone

Joel Hayward Jul 13

Is the language
of the Living God the
Hebrew of ugly
ingratitude

and David's giant genius

Aramaic invocations
over loaves and fish

the Arabic poetry
of the final poet who
said he never was

the tongues of
Pentecostal pleas

maybe the slow and growing
song of sunrise

maybe the thrown open pride
of a peacock

the fall of a single feather

or the painful twists of
cancer's screwdriver

He talked with her in
that winding whisper
and she replied in
tightening gasps

Maybe now they speak
sweetly in the easy shade of
salvation somewhere

while I sit beside a tired
and yawning shore writing poems
listening to the Arabic of
some strange silence

Joel Hayward Jul 13

You became a
jewellery box
as empty as
all that talk of
healing

and those
bedside books
on positive
thinking

The jeweller
wanted
back that
bloodstone
he'd cut

and polished
with pain
upon pain
upon pain

and its glint
upon his
open hand
lights brightly
in his smiling sky

for navigation
should I ever
sail at night

Next page