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like pan-men playing for love  in an empty room.

Light slaps us awake  - splash of sapphire


between black leaves. Clouds close in again

confusing the trees, the road runs for cover



                 from; Cloud Country by Sarah Beckett







HOMAGE A CAMUS - I wrote my name across a foreign sky

From Between Green and Blue









Homage a Camus


I should make it clear that these poems are strictly a homage.  I do not claim them as “my” poetry but rather as a form of Versioning -  similar to Don Paterson’s Orpheus inspired by Rilke’s Sonnet to Orpheus.


Although obviously I’ve used my imagination and phraseology in order to make the leap from prose to poetry, these poems remain firmly anchored in Camus thoughts and words, as anyone who knows his work will immediately recognize.


These poems are a response to what emerges so vividly from his Notebooks -  the inner man,  driven by his ardour for light, sea, sky , women….


I wrote my name across a foreign sky



I live in a nuance of earth between water and sky

travel, the absurd as my point of departure


from the ruins of Djemila towards a dance-hall

beautiful girls under the stars, empty scented streets -


from golden ruins to my wedding with a sea vast

as this avalanche of light falling over Mount Luberon.


Where is the absurd in so much memory of sun

this light heaped on my eyelids, this shining glory?


I don’t know what I am looking for  - I name it

withdraw, repeat myself. I refuse cliché, go backwards


forwards - recall how Alexander VI  burned fires

of tow to remind himself that all the glory of this world


vanishes like smoke – so why should I care

that shoddy articles about me lie around


in dentists’ waiting rooms? I ignore Parisian dinners

where only our shadows dance like grey versions


 of painted yellow tigers chasing sheiks

 across the wall in this empty café by the sea.


The lighthouse flashes green, red, white. Dark perfume

star-filled water -  and  my past, inseparable


from this dry-eyed exile, leads me backwards

to look directly at the kingdom before the sun seals my lips.




Face to face with the stones and silence

my mind dies among Djemila’s ruins


rising out of dried grass -  forest of bones

against a plateau drained of color, its skeleton


lacerated by wind rushing in from the east

to fill this arid splendor. Leaping among stones


and sunlight, the wind keens through the ruins                                

clasps each column with its breath and dies


 in a forum bare to the sky. Lashed like a mast,

 hollowed out, I’m a pebble polished smooth


between the violence of sun and wind. Drained of force

among these bleached  ravines -  mute ancestors


to our present ruin, tyranny  and war  

I can go no further. I think of flowers, and smiles


and desire for women. What does the rest matter?

Let me leave Djemila to its wasted sky, goats clattering


over stones and crumbling  altar where the horned god

stares out across a deafening silence.




We step off our buttercup bus

into a blue and yellow world, warm

stones summer earth, the sun’s heat

on one side of our faces  sea and sky

quivering in pollen- laden light.  


Gods inhabit these flower-covered ruins

in spring, speak in the scent of absinthe

travel  the silver- armoured sea, ramble

through countryside black with sunlight

at this meeting place of love and desire


where nothing matters but sunlight  kisses

and the wild scents of the earth. 

We are in a marriage of ruins

and springtime, matching our breath

to the tumultuous sighs of the world -                      


I can  only describe:  white, blue, yellow.

Here is sea, mountain, flowers– 

I don’t need  Dionysus to tell me that I love

to crush mastic-bowls under my  nose

to release their dizzying aroma -  although


I will never come close enough to the earth 

until my body returns to its dark dust.       

But naked in the sea the taste of salt on my lips -

to embrace a woman and hold in my arms

the joy that descends from sky to sea

is to find my deepest measure


 here, molded into hills among wallflowers

 growing old over graves; in this village of pink

 walls and small houses with green verandahs

we are shaped into the happiness hovering

in a multi -colored dazzle of white-hot sky. 


Then - the little café. Cool green welcome

iced mint-tea - peaches that collapse

with delight in our mouths. We bask

contented as cats in hyacinth shadows 

to watch the sky like a becalmed sail                         -

rest with all its tenderness  on the sea.





Wherever I turn I am breathing water, drinking air

in this city of summers, emptied of laughter.


One evening in a café I see in faces that I recognize

my age,  and see in mine the folly of return -


although I’d hoped - for liberty among the golden ruins

warm stones, remembering the scent of absinthe


when I slept with open eyes under skies flowered with stars.

Then I was alive. Now; a lonely rain-soaked countryside


bitter trees  my ruins behind barbed wire,  I learn again

 the world is what it is.  Distance between warm ruins


and barbed wire is also in myself. And after barbed wire

tyrannies war police revolt. We have come to terms with night,


 the beauty of the day is only memory grown dim

 in the furious light cast by flames, the world wrinkled


and wounded turned old in an instant, we with it.

I walk between drenched pillars in the footsteps


of someone I’ll never meet again thinking of the Spanish soldier -

the way the whole sky of his native country leaped into his eyes


when he said the word Espana – how we need a homeland - 

even here, where at night, life ebbs slowly backwards


through dark silent streets towards warm cafes and guitars

that matar la noche  until dawn. I long for the comfort


of a newspaper in my language. Never before                                                  

have I been taken so far from myself yet brought so near


 to slipping my chains as in these empty scented streets.

Somewhere along the alleyways between old palaces


and courtyards full of shadows, I become                                            

a flight of pigeons between amber pillars                                                            


in this delicate Gothic cloister with a well,

a long rusty spoon for travelers to drink from


after their journeys  past an abandoned grave

etched with the words Eternal Regrets


among my golden ruins beneath a distant

unconquerable sky.



There’s a narrow lane, fish market, café

on the corner. A shadow curved behind

a rain-smeared window, the sea close by.


Alone, Gauloise in hand, a glass of wine

hat on the bench beside him, he bends his head

to write about places far from rain, lonely footsteps,

empty desolate streets. He raises dark eyes,


gazing past his reflection as if through a porthole

to the land of his birth vivid as a mirage – how days

swayed between sky and water, the orange canoe

with its cargo of tawny gods satiated with sun and sea -


fruit-coloured oars paddling gently into port at evening;

roofless dance-hall under stars, a  glorious girl

in a necklace of jasmine, hair dark as  night…

the waitress passes, whispers something in his ear


he splutters with laughter- face translated,

the El Greco ascetic becomes a man made for light,

a stroll along a Corniche in the sun, sleeves rolled up

eyes shaded under the brim of his hat, on his way


to lunch with friends and laughter at a bistro by the sea

smiling at pretty cool-legged girls tick-tack past …

He bends once more to his book, face pale

 as a pencil sketch in smoke, men at the bar


down morning liqueurs, Piaf sings Il est Beau.

The door bursts open  -  clamour, salt-wind

sea  rain. He looks up, startled as a sailor

lost at sea, as if he heard me call his name





From Between Green and Blue



My Studio


Morning: palm trees green in blue

warm breeze,  a shaft of lemon light


across the wall. Rainbow palettes

canvases primed white,  old paint rags


on the floor. Brushes soaking in a jar

the smell of turpentine. A ground dove


waddles through the door flaps about

and settles, cooing on the rug.


Miles plays Blue in Green.

Fresh coffee in a crimson jug.






Think of the Water


Think of the water we crossed,

 three peaks and the equator

coming towards us


 from the West. Ever since

wherever water is between us

it goes on


heaving towards me

and leaving.



Winter in Caroni



Amethyst clouds push darkness

over the hills where a man walks his life 

through umber shadows. Nothing shines


except three plastic flowers - yellow flares

stuck in the ground by a roadside grave -

sweeter than any stone angel.


The sky drowns in a pond

white egrets stand quiet as a sigh.



In the bar men slump over tables,

sitar music sobs into their drinks.

The gas station is closed, weeds straggle


across tarmac. At the roadside parlour

there is little to buy    a few dasheen

some wilted baji, an onion or two.


The village is forgotten

there is no work.



The man walks on head bowed

through the heave and sough

of uncut cane, past the silent


Sugar Plant, making his way,

step by step round old landmarks,

 over the rise and fall of memory.


The land is orphaned.

The Mango trees are mute.







you hung up the phone


closed your book


shut the door



left the de Stael


     hanging slightly askew   



left me to live


with a Northern sea


framed in salt-wind  




on my Trini wall



the lighthouse


beams tristesse


across a hemisphere




Cloud Country


Clouds are walking over the hills

invisible birds palaver in the Banyan tree.


At dawn we are the only travelers

climbing  round ghost-mountains


 embroidered with Love-vines.  Ferns fan out like poems

 but can’t quite hide the blight of Coca Cola signs


 jammed between  the Poui and Bois Canot

on the road to Blanchisseuse,  rain trying out a tune


like pan-men playing for love  in an empty room.

Light slaps us awake  - splash of sapphire


between black leaves. Clouds close in again

confusing the trees, the road runs for cover


blurs blue up the hill to a door that opens to sky

a tree bends into the wind, rain coming in like a lover.


Quietness folds around us at this point of arrival

circling the past. Birdsong unseams the silence


fringed by the surf’s gruff undertow

pounding memory onto the rocks.


Clouds sidle in, steal the horizons

of our histories parachutes of fog


full-bellied with past griefs

collapse over boundaries,


shroud the trees, reduce geography

to the space between us


calm as a painting in tones of grey

at our table with two mugs of tea.



3 - Publishing History

My Studio: Poem of the Week PoetryKit 2012

Winter in Caroni : Hightly Commended. Seasons Competition 2012

Baker Street: Malaleuca Poetry Magazine  2014

The Traveler: Maco Caribbean Living Magazine  Volume 14


4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org    - if you would like to tell us what you think. 

We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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