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Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.

(Thomas Hardy, The Voice, December 1912)

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Once more the cauldron of the sun
Smears the bookcase with winy red,
And here my page is, and there my bed,
And the apple-tree shadows travel along.
Soon their intangible track will be run,
And dusk grows strong
And they have fled.

Yes: now the boiling ball is gone,
And I have wasted another day …
But wasted – wasted, do I say?
Is it a waste to have imaged one
Beyond the hills there, who, anon,
My great deeds done,
Will be mine alway?

(Thomas Hardy, The Sun on the Bookcase)

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I wandered to a crude coast
Like a ghost;
Upon the hills I saw fires –
Funeral pyres
Seemingly – and heard breaking
Waves like distant cannonades that set the land shaking.

And so I never once guessed
A Love-nest,
Bowered and candle-lit, lay
In my way,
Till I found a hid hollow,
Where I burst on her my heart could not but follow.

(Thomas Hardy, The Discovery)

Now that it is all over until next year (!) here is a Christmassy poem by Tess Kincaid

There’s a place for us,
an oasis between fruitcake
and watering the tree,
with hot-and-cold running kisses,
that stretch restless,
from the hearth
out to the snow,
where I push you back pink
and holiday-faced,
knowing this smiling garland
around our necks
links forever compatible.

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I am singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine
the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you and this

is what it is like or what it is like in words.

(Carol Ann Duffy, Words Wide Night)

Yet another goddamn poem by Tess Kincaid.

Somewhere along the line,
the big zero of time
was twisted at the waist,
to become an eight.

An hourglass of days,
slipping slow from the top,
then fast below the belt.

Is it providence,
or a lemniscate of fate?

I like to think of myself as verb
and not as object; chop-chop.

I wait the hours;
I empty my head of winter.

I am frightened
by other people’s fears,
but not of the eight,
an hourglass of days.

Why don’t people leave off being lovable
Or thinking they are lovable, or wanting to be lovable,
And be a bit elemental instead?

Since man is made up of the elements
Fire, and rain, and air, and live loam
And none of these is lovable
But elemental,
Man is lop-sided on the side of the angels.

I wish men would get back their balance among the elements
And be a bit more fiery, as incapable of telling lies
As fire is.
I wish they’d be true to their own variation, as water is,
Which goes through all the stages of steam and stream and ice
Without losing its head.

I am sick of lovable people,
Somehow they are a lie.

(D.H. Lawrence, Elemental)

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody, I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to the surgeons.

(Sylvia Plath, Tulips)

Between us now and here –
Two thrown together
Who are not wont to wear
Life’s flushest feather –
Who see the scenes slide past,
The daytimes dimming fast,
Let there be truth at last,
Even if despair.

So thoroughly and long
Have you now known me,
So real in faith and strong
Have I now shown me,
That nothing needs disguise
Further in any wise,
Or asks or justifies
A guarded tongue.

Face unto face, then, say,
Eyes mine own meeting,
Is your heart far away,
Or with mine beating?
When false things are brought low,
And swift things have grown slow,
Feigning like froth shall go,
Faith be for aye.

(Thomas Hardy, Between Us Now)

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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