The Tower Journal

Kevin Kiely

Travelling with The I Ching

On the morning train
the clear glass of the window

and there comes a line of water
like a crack along the glass

the line see-saws from one side to the other
everything is colder, intensifying the display

the line creates patterns, hoops and troughs
that suddenly fall out of sight―

the river and estuary below violent clouds
threaten like a plague of insects

while the reeds, lashed in rain
become peacocks
as if underwater
rising, their wing-span
with peering eyes
on the feather-vane green curtains

it is the ideogram of radiance and clinging fire:
an abundance of something is coming your way
use it wisely
early mornings
bring success

She becomes all of the landscape

You drive with a river on your left
through a valley and hills
to embrace another river on your right

high above what is happening
as your speck of life
with fire-edged beauty
burns through the senses

the foreground rolls into
an existing immensity
magnifying insight where this high
is boundless in the clear knowledge
that change itself does not abide

yet, change seems to preside over all
rules all, overcomes all
change is all between change
after change, and ever-changing

within the weakness of wanting
certain things to remain unchanged
but that is impossible

the songs must be true
because I love her to the point of madness

I must accept that what I will
is not always in my grasp, not always
what can be controlled

I can rise higher than the trees
their arms and limbs in choral forests
above the sea cliffs

the depths and deeps of oceans
are floating continental islands
and every country
swaying with the earth’s axis

and in rehearsal, I asked her:
is a blue flower seen
from outer spaces, strings…?

and her reply:
do you really need to ask


The sunflowers

And from a fixity of these flowers he became sunflowers
yellow on yellow on yellow

And a friend took action and painted him in a painting
painting the sunflowers

It was sunny Gauguin who put his sunflowers
in a carrier bag on a chair with a white shirt
across the back of it―

But Van Gogh returned to sunflower-paintings
wheels of petals, charcoal axels, wheels of fire
until taking revenge on himself.

The dying soldier in the infirmary
in the killing factories
asked Wiesenthal for forgiveness

dead soldiers were buried
according to regulations:
on each grave, a sunflower

showering perfume on the earth
the gold leaves, disc-plates
full of striped seeds nourishing
ripening the green stalks
of the flowery torches swaying
in homage to the sun

Wiesenthal could never forgive this
And became a professional hunter
exemplary in action
dedicated to revenge
for his fellow victims.

Artaud created a theory showing the artist
motivated by revenge
making art a dish warmed up to eat.

Be still and consider the sunflowers
taller than humans
below a mammoth golden Buddha
his down-gazing eyes
are not in time except for the smile
that is in shadow

I was not killing time in Pieterskerk: I wept for pure joy

This is the scenario in Leiden Centraal
the windows of the express train flash past
framing those who stand on the opposite platform
awaiting their trains

They who must sooner or later travel
caught in the shutter speed of a camera
with broken silver lines like old b&w movies
where they move and speak on the diaphanous screen
and by now are surely dead

It’s the same cough-mixture, grape juice and bananas in a bag
it’s the same everywhere, the music is floating joy
from the organ loft the silver pipes are faced in gold
the ingots shining above the black floor slabs
that resemble marble doors to the underworld
and the walls are red bricks rising with red bricks

The pillars bloom to the roof―
stressed beauty in sails and wings of stone
interlopers move from slab to slab or glower
at the inscriptions: Hier Leyt Begraven Adam Scholart
en syn docter Katryna Scholart

It’s the same astonishment astonishing eternally
it’s the same in every polished window
to write this on glass beholding the earth and sky
everything the same, streaming flooded with light
not the weeping angels but those with trumpets
towards the glazed showers of sunshine
milk-edged in gold mingling with yellow tinged cream
and the flaming searches of light through every diamond pane

The bridges of Amsterdam are the same
leading to the canals on a life journey
the streets of each day the windows of each hour
the bicycle-grotto as backdrop for the living populous
and cyclists make their hurdy-gurdy

Lady of my life carrying the sun, circling the moon
clearer than water with eyes of living light
more astonishing than all of this
for without you is to limp along the icy roads
where through the grimy glass floors are the swirls of snow
the sleet gales of the abyss
and knowing we approach the gates

Outdoors the rain glosses the cobbles
this gentle water drops jewels on the leaves
in public parks and falls in quick sketch lines
before me incomplete, gapped yet forging a finished work
suggestive of the now, of the everything
of the forces unbelievable, unimaginable that brought you
across the horizon burnished, heralding a golden dawn
to the seaview apartment, rotten wood and the walls
with zany maps of damp
until you visited in a high tide of light
the torn curtains erotically ripped as pins and buttons
metallic on the floorboards, the musical overture
the new stage set, the protagonists instantly akimbo in character

Ghosts rattling the windows threaten to time warp
through disasters of the past, our step-children stare
and are challenged by the script, enlivened
but the light beams more than anything are moving
propelling the narrative forwards, ending loneliness
in warm scented air and heat mist above the waterways
in the shimmering haze, the drugged senses narrow our eyes
as we breathe and meditate, our speech bubbles like smoke plumes

Chaos, confusion, only killing real time back there
in the no-go zone, stagnant without the exit keys
until everything opened and became centred towards this scenario
that calls the fumbling, stumbling arguing human up and out to action

I shall not fall through
as I race to meet you
I shall not fear fear
through this joy
I shall lose the abandonment
of abandonment
in the presence of this joy
which is everything
and everything I know of you

Copyright © 2015 Kevin Kiely

Kevin KielyKevin Kiely poet, novelist, literary critic, American Fulbright Scholar and PhD in modernist poetry – was born in County Down, Northern Ireland. Recent works include Breakfast with Sylvia, The Welkinn Complex and SOS Lusitania which has been chosen as the ‘One Book One Community’ title for the Lusitania Centenary year in 2015.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2015