You As Only I Know
a series of twelve poems
after the writings of Joan Miro

You Know Me Well Enough

Something like abundance,
neither superficial nor impenetrable;

an extra-pictorial reality,
spite of the poetry in what you say.

You know me well enough.

ready it's now
you must count all others absurd.

But, first, speak to me of myself
and you will see I am without guts,


You will see I am without the strength
to change the lie of human weakness

(into a compelling truth that has no end?)

But, you know me well enough.

A Poetry of Birth and Death

With interpretations
allude to narcissism,
your retreat into shadow

should be written of
in unearthly script,
though clear enough

to be certain of the moment as one.

And, as if music
fragile as night

ought to be testimony to your will,
ought to, at some point, mimic the dawn,
your humbling canto
whispers a rhythm
like tongues painting the face of history.

Yet, for all to see,
for all to know,
you are there, throughout time,
to ease
the magic from words
that fuse to become
an echo of the day still to arrive,
poetry of birth and death.

Too Late

In truth,
enough arrant haste and habit
still goads whatever it finds
never before explored,

yet, gently,

drawn to it
as a face drawn to the light.

Enough arrant haste.

Enough arrant habit.

All this
and I imagine a certain emotion
as incomprehensible
as the desire to let go of life.

always is too late.

Black and White

Black and white,
when the time comes,
when the time is right
to prepare
a sleight of hand
to unsettle the night
with magic.

if eyes must be
as lingering as a cloud
the view
far as the sea will allow,
I must be
soon as dust.

I must be
the embodiment of shadows,
yet, equally,
very flicker of light
that will
come to be
the cipher of infinite dreams.

The Fire You Squander

vacant places
through which reality can crawl,
increasingly blistered,
soon become places
I begin to fill
with the fire you squander
in emotionless abstention
from all that is pure.

And at the same time,
even like this,
I realise that, when you surrender
to the loss of the flames,
it is for me you submit
that I can stand,
against the weight
of the imperfect air
that meets me with every dawn.


For me,
I have discovered everything I am,
everything you set out to make me.

The winter in my words
was there from birth,
then thunderous as time went by,
vast in its implausible chaos
of noise.

For me,
the coldness was honest,
drawn on always to speak of life,
past, present and still to come.

To leave, to go, to be gone -
only now do I grasp the sense
of it all,
the need to stretch,
the need for the new,
to be forever in sight of the sun.

For me,
I have moved on,
while you have remained behind.


I think about when you told me
how you watched to see
where small things go,
some leaving like an arbitrary consonant
with no meaning at all,
and then the ones that touch the spirit,
and move on.

I think about it from time to time
and sense there is something of everything
in the words you painted,
stripped of doubt,
detached from routine,
words from which
a point of departure can be drawn
without us even knowing.

And, of the small things,
I, too,
now watch to see where each ends up,
my very being
dissociated from a world
where it would take too much to know
the advantage
of shame.


Empty paper -

a crust of bread -
no sentimentalism.
So very far from being
some echo of the ebb of time
I need only be close to you.
For what I am
is redolent of precedent exploited -
old likelihoods
my most fruitful possessions.
A pebble.
A blade of grass.
We are not
what we want to be
but who
what we are -
you with your eyes
combing the sea to find a new optimism -
I with my collection of verdicts on life -
as though
brushing the ground of all trace of being.


You are that dog
barking at the storm.

You are that signature
in black
I dread

You asked for simplic­ity,
a minimum of fuss,
and now want to be
at the heart of...


Whether you can change
as you like
is not for me to say.

I am
that storm
at which
you bark.

I am the pen
with which
you sign away my soul.


without a word
another day is sent
to meet the silence
played out
in the new light


these blemished circles
I see
all too well
to be parallel points
in a forgotten landscape

and so

that time is only
a copy of each moment
already shared
must allude to the dawn
as being an illusion without end


All the more
each and every day
I snatch pleasure
from your mention
of a distant sliver of good fortune
as if I had discovered
which palette of colours is cracked
though without tearing
at long last.

Which sliver it is
is not to worry too much about.

It is fortune.

And telling me
that I will be as a last way out
has for me
no ordinary meaning
other than
that this hint of providence
is all there is to be held in reserve
like a riddle
that has no answer.


...The only quarter is the present...


...this point in time
has been made in this way...

...Sim­plified as they are,
these things, for me,
are all the more human
in their detail...

...their appeal
in being nameless...

...I am convinced of it...

...The more confined,
the more complete... the same way as,
for you,
being means escaping... longer being... move no more.

          John Mingay 2010