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
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
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’
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.