Friday 8 April 2022

Five Poems by Jack D. Harvey




A whale, his spiralling

tail whacks waves

to white spritz;

slowly he moves and feeds;

plangent down he weaves,

comes up like a gentle reef;

water breaks around

before behind

his glorious weight;

his eyes yard upon yard apart

across his bulk turn and look,

his enormous flippers folding,

opening, abaft his massive head.

Majestic mammal,

fish you will never be.

Like some overgrown living fuselage of flesh

you move your ponderous blood-warm body

through lonely seas;

tropics to the pole

the ghastly cold,

the fostering warmth

make no difference to you.


Your blood, our blood circles,

loops endlessly;

you're with us in this; your heart

pumping heat and life

against the immortal unforgiving sea.


Waving slow and steady,

your great flukes send you below;

the waters part, down you drive,

shining, disappearing

in the safety of

the dark and bitter sea;

for you the better home,

the deep made bright

by your gentle presence.     





By the blue Bakelite clock

on the wall

midnight posted.


I wait for Dream,

my pale horse,

to come carry me off,

his broad back where I ride,

has a white saddle

hard and smooth

as Athena's hand.


Horse, we shall fly tonight

to realms beyond

the shells of dead worlds,

beyond the pea-green seas

of pink-eared mermaids,

past trees and spines

on which birds may be spiked

or an isotope of helium

caught and held;

past strange fruit

like small luscious balloons,

amber and gold bladders,

inflating at dusk, drifting aloft,

spar-high, then higher,

seeming bound

for the starry heavens.


Horse, I wait for you in bed

with my hands on the reins,

for yesterday venturing into

the rain looking for you

and you came breathing snorting

cold blue fire,

your mane awned and stiff

as the shoots of an iron vine.


Dream, I touched your forehead,

traced with purple veins

and you wandered off,

your shiny hide

steaming like a pond

on a cool autumn morning.


Even if I got on you, Dream,

got my chance,

I know you would throw me off,

throw me off like offal,

like one not meant to ride,

one whose destiny was decided

and like that king of Babylon

weighed and found wanting;

one whose time to ride,

to abide in the pastures

of the fortunate and the blessed

had come and gone.  



Guernica at the Prado


For a year or more

I looked and looked at it,

in my soul,

lived under the spell

of Picasso's baleful

grey and black fandango

of a bombed town,

a farrago of agonies

of bull and horse,

parts of people

caught and displayed

in sharp outline;

then it became too fine,

too perfect in its kind,

too much to take

and I had to turn away,

turn my mind and eye,

try to isolate and

banish the pieces,

try to burn away the vision

of that monstrous canvas,

bury a pretence, a practice,

a sacrifice of time;


none of it worked.


Never forgotten,

that huge ghastly swipe

of paint haunts me still,

hurts me and will

until the end of its world,

ending as it did,

and the end of mine.  


Out In the Country


All my fantasies

have fled the old homestead;

the hacienda’s as empty of heat

as winter’s candles.

Still as a painting

the moon hangs

in the snoring night;

twice-pale she looks,


surprised by the hunter.

Hounds skate down moonbeams

like avenging furies;

the stag, a shadow, a ghost,

runs over the meadows.


Running far from my native shores

I let the wonderful cooler native women

play with me, titillate me, adulate me,

until my weary head

rests at last

on the anvil.

At night,

satiate and subdued,

I walk on the beach,

lonely stars above

the encompassing sea.

Lonely, I look at the night;

to my fallible mirror of self

Prince Hamlet or Nial

at the least,

stalking, brooding on the strand;

to rutting teens,

more like an apparition,

an old fool

doddering in the moonlight.


Well, even Athens looked

like a heap of stone

to a seagull flying


as Hitler’s arm once was;

we souls below

swoop close,

try to embrace

in tortures measured

to the goose-stepping firmament.


Saint Lawrence,

well done over the coals,

put up a reckless good front


passus est or assus est,

died or fried,

it was over;

this fire, his life,

burnt out.


For us a lesson;

a thousand enemies gnaw at

brains and bones alike,

defy them all,

at the crack of doom defy;

it’s soon enough

the stinting grass

grows over our heads.


Give and Forget


Are there more starving

than the stars?

At night

the sick child’s heart

runs down

like a clock unwound;

in the morn

Aurora weeps

on a crooked elbow.


More starving

it seems

more empty bellies

than the teeming

galaxies of space,

than the waves in the sea;


infinity hardly holds them.


Our foolish hearts melt

like ice

in the sunlight

before pictures of sticks

and stones,


with an ex-wife,

the dead puppy.


But there, in

the wastelands of

Afric and Ind,

Rio and Lisbon,

where the Tagus,

good as gold,

is a fancy name

for nothing;


there, in odds and ends,

in nooks and crannies,

in darkness,


they go on starving.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

Cetacean first appeared in Ramingo's Porch, Guernica in Scarlet Leaf Review (magazine may be kaput), Dream in Duanes Poetree (magazine kaput), Out in the Country in Indiana Voice (believe this magazine is kaput); Give and Forget in The Prairie Light Review.


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