Stephen Mead

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. You can read more on Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead


Blue Monday

In the evening birds would loom

over fields, cries accumulating

momentum, white wings sheet-wide.

 

To watch them one could hardly believe

we were a country at war.

 

At night I’d dream, frenetic stupor,

of torn limbs, blasted rocks

and flung flung seals—–

 

Upon some bluff—-

Was I a shepherd?

And trying to lead them

And toward a sea I discovered

did not exist.

 

The seals kept baying—–

And leather flippers

And through bent grey whiskers,

grateful eyes, grateful,

till they knew too.

 

One by one I’d lug them back,

bodies, living sandbags, and the meaning

taken: no enemy to blame.

 

Now we are at peace

but the dream still comes

with sleep or without—–

the seals,the lost coast, no ocean

available, and my sorrow that dry gulf

because those seals were really people

 

the sun dissolved


Incandescence

This vulnerability shows that much:

The glow of a soldier, an empath’s sheen

freeing shackles of spirit

just by acknowledgement.

 

Simplicity itself, teach me to do such,

to live this unmasked:

A stranger’s face becoming my own.

 

I know of so many friends, loves, family

also shifting through, translucence these eyes,

hands, lips, as we come round the bend of Hunger.

 

Dearest, being an envoy, did I fall as a page

to the sage of a man who was dying?

 

Like a crossing, his form filled my grasp.

Rowing, rowing, we became the others’

oarlocks, vessels

light with the voyage,

vessels of deepest fathoms…

 

Passing, how that transience lasts

as a garden to be tilled.


One Story of Reality

It’s simply complicated.

The future is behind you.

You are on an escalator standing backwards.

Beneath you is the present & the past has your eyes.

 

Seeing only these two, you feel the other

exactly where your hands aren’t.

 

I’ve forgotten the Greek phrase for this.

My tongue is of the Sphinx, that inscrutable mouth.

Perhaps it’s hieroglyphic from too much reading,

reading into & deeply.

 

Perhaps it’s a narrowing, that long view,

that historic, with some Egyptian fall

always shadowing one’s vision.

 

Do you know it too, the analyzed realism,

the so-reasonable cynicism, the parochial intellect

of hyper-tense sense?

 

World enough; the time/patience,

the faith/trust catching up for a minute clear

here where your world is still

a refugee’s postcards, the home

set about, the looking & the don’t look

 

back into a future simply colored by this knowledge.

 

Look, suddenly we take off our shirts

here on this escalator which could be

in Algeria or Iran, could be a film

on some flesh-resembling screen,

 

but I feel only the lines on your belly

while you feel the lines on my mouth.

 

This is asylum then, the future behind

& touch everywhere else.

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