Poetry ~ James Sey
Season Poem (for Johannesburg)
Another Winter; each is different
Each is fringed with last year’s
Arthritic twigs and blackened grass,
But each denies the past’s nostalgia.
With half an eye on next year’s possibilities,
Each day pursues the driven linearity
Which brings each to an inevitable death.
Always the conclusion escapes.
The trees plan new strategies,
More melancholy configurations
Another suggestion of beauty.
Our measurements fail to capture
The logic of another season.
So we fail to understand;
There is no war between progress and regeneration.
Glass and concrete do not obscure the sun
And a warmer time brings no hope to silent pavements.
But a warmth returns –
The days stretch themselves, without anticipation.
Nor can we anticipate tomorrow
By homage to a dismembered or imagined past
Spring brings us no comfort.
We run out of names,
So one year becomes another.
The sun of summer flings shadows as seeds.
They bear fruit, become the darkness
By which we know the light.
The roads are shadowless and sticky-hot
And lead to suburbs full of silence.
There, leisure falls to those
Who claim it as a right.
Harsh is the fear which penetrates their calm.
Autumn draws together the myriad strands,
Forms a nexus;
As the days close they anticipate their deaths,
And so are like us, who give them names.
We fear the calling of the seasons to this point
Where nothing is inevitable.
For unlike theirs, the fading of another of our years
Is a presage of some ultimate conclusion;
Bloody or silent.
When I wake up
There's a moment
When I can hear
If I listen
There's no longer
An inside or an outside.
Nor even, it seems,
The faint but total
Susurration of white noise.
Is the pretence of silence
Have even the satellites
Then a dog barks
A distant caw.
I go back to sleep.
On the idea
Of a horizon.
It shapes our understanding,
Both of eye and mind.
With that finiteness
To bound us
We can make plans,
As long as nothing
Gets in the way.
We need the picture plane
To have its vanishing point
The landscape of our future
Needs to be empty.
We cannot write
Our dreams of time
On the proximate walls
That press in
James Sey is a Scottish poet, writer and multimedia artist, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has performed alongside rock bands and on spoken word platforms, often in performances incorporating video and sound art. His poetry has appeared in print journals and online, and his non-fiction, journalism and academic art writing is widely published.