Wednesday, 23 March 2011

for the love of a Nazi tea service

For the love of a Nazi tea service
I hear he gave a large slice
Of his barrister’s fee

And suddenly I see him
Hastening his tailored step
To bring the rustling paper package home

At last, to place its treasured contents
On the table and unwrap an empire
Of porcelain, the most expensive thing he owns.

The elegance is simple
White, smooth, soft under the fingertips.
A small black circle holds each swastika intact

And after reverent lifting out and cleaning
Cup by cup so gently, breath held,
Not to mark or chip, or God forbid to drop
A single item of the perfect set,

He thinks, how could he have resisted
The silver teaspoon, tenderly engraved
Worth thousands since its lineage could be traced
Right back to Himmler’s breakfast tray?

But one day he assures himself
The spoon will find its way
Into his soft boiled egg

Till blackened with the sulphurous yolk
It can evoke his vision of the Volk

As uniformed in black like him
Their lips would close on branded rim
Where stands reversed the sign of life..
He reaches for the butterknife.

With tea, his toast becomes the host
His mind’s communion is engrossed
In bodies as the blood of millions
Surges under dark Dominions
Who have ruled both lives and fates
While resting cake forks on their plates.

For carnage is a primal vice.
But tastes much fuller
When it’s nice.

Part II

For the love of a Nazi tea service
I hear he gave a large slice
Of his barrister’s fee.

But here I see him
Labouring his step
To bring his bundled papers into court

On time, to share its dismal contents
At the bar and there unfold a history
Of subterfuge, the only thing he knows.

The argument is simple
Bright and smooth, upheld by fingerprints
The clear signs leave a trail of undisputed fact.

A gangland villain, stolen car and gun
Has been out robbing art and having fun
And in his garage Marilyn Monroe
And Superman in Glitter, in a row
Worth thousands for the prints can all be traced right back to Andy Warhol’s studio.

One day he’d overreached himself
And sits inside the dock
Attempting to disclaim all ownership

The barrister assures the court
The man will find his way
Into a nice safe cell

His antecedents marr his name too well.

The public need protection from such deeds
Such actions were not prompted by his needs.

It’s clear to see from his demeanour
He could not look any meaner

The casting person from the Bill
Could find no face
More apt to kill.

The judge and jury are agreed
The crime is proved and urged by greed
The defendant will be finally seen
On the day that follows
the birthday of the Queen.

Committal for sentence is duly set
And all is well and targets met.

For the love of a Nazi tea service
I hear he gave a large slice
Of his barrister’s fee.

Sarah de Nordwall May 5th 2004

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

the golden thread

Bring me the scissors and the golden thread
The pins of silver and white
And I will weave a cloth of stars
To wrap you in tonight.

For love creates a word in me
That breathes in empty rooms
And now the veil of absence blows
And here the iris blooms.

My tears distilled in Venetian glass
As deep as the midnight hour,
I wait to pour on your feet with joy
As you come in silent power.

Bring me the scissors and the golden thread
The pins of silver and white
And I will weave a cloth of stars
To wrap you in tonight.

Sarah de Nordwall April 9th 2005

because of reading John Betjeman

Last night I walked through Brixton Station dead on midnight.
The digital clock turned zero.

I waited just to watch the 1 appear..
The zeros didn’t budge.

The 4 noughts stood unmoving in a row.

The station strangely empty,
I suddenly looked round
And had a foolish and a horrid fear that maybe
This was it,
My time was up

4 zeros now the pin number
To heaven or to hell.

4 numbers I would never now forget
and never need a memory for again;

My chances over and my actions past,
no time left now for action or regret.

So, Brixton station was my unexpected getting off
from all the movement and the pain,
the fulsome possibility
life had been.

Beyond familiar station steps,
I would no longer find the Brixton road
But judgement and eternity ahead.

Sarah de Nordwall October 2005

Saturday, 19 March 2011

be my guest

Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, Justice.
My four strong sisters
Thank you for your aid.
But now, I ask you with a simple grace
To stop and sit down at the Sabbath Gate.

Put down your tools
And breathe before you enter
For something greater than yourselves is here.

And it is He who will refresh you
He who will provide
He who will require no payment
He who will preside.

Fortitude, courageous heart
Your rest is here prepared
And Prudence, all your careful plans
So wise, now let them ride.

Temperance, here is your command;
Three feasts you must enjoy, desire!
Then taste my gift for Justice
Which will draw us near the fire:
Mercy, vintage from the vine of grace
Within this ecstasy find your place.

Let me be the fresh creation
Let me now create in you
Let me be the Lord Sabaoth
Joy is all there is to do!

In this time, you feast in Holiness.
Work, Production, let them be
Here we are now at the Centre
I in You and you in Me.

Rest, Spontaneity, Festival, Mercy,
Kiss your sisters, lest they pine.
Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, Justice
We’ve revived you, just in Time.

Sarah de Nordwall
Jerusalem June 2010

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Poem Makers and Change Makers

The poem maker builds a world in her head
And in that world we dream
The change maker builds a world in her head
And in that world we live

The poem maker lives in the change makers world
But the change maker dreams in the poem makers world

The poem maker builds a world in her head
And in that world we dream.
But the change maker dreams in the poem makers world
And in that world she builds.

Sarah de Nordwall 2003

Tonight I've been commissioned by 'The Family Business' to perform some poems to contribute to the discussions of a group of business people in Reading, seeking to serve their community more potently through their calling to business, and to nurturing businesses.

Beauty, imagination, aspiration. We're all in this together.

Before the dawn - a haiku cluster in the Israeli airport

A pot of Black Death;
The Marmite is checked for bombs
In security.

The lime green seating
In the overpriced cafe
Resists aesthetics

But here come locals!
Man: in red feather boa
Woman: in gold horns.

Welcome to Israel
Where the door to Holiness
Swings on its hinges.

Sarah de Nordwall March 1st 2010

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wall to Wall

From the Hakotel*
To the wall of separation**
Is a distance of about 1 mile.

At the Western Wall
The Divine Presence never departs
And Adam himself was created.

Here, 9 metres of concrete
Stagger for 165 Kilometres
And the pain of powerless anguish
Stops the heart of humanity.

There is writing on the wall,
This time not emerging from an angel’s hand
Interpreted by Daniel
But rather from a spray can or two
To make of what you will.

“Mene Mene Tekel and Parsin”,
wrote the angel;
You have been weighed in the
Balance and found wanting,
Your kingdom will be given
To the Medes and the Persians.

“This wall is a shame on the
Jewish People, My People”
wrote the spray can;
A Kingdom divided against
itself cannot stand.

From the Wall of Lamentation
To the wall of lamentation
Is a distance of about 1 mile,
3000 years
And a second’s thought

Destroy this Temple
And I will rebuild it
In 3 days. The children will
Be restored to the fathers.

Destroy this wall
And fathers will be restored
To their children.
In how many days?

*The Western Wall
** The 165km of wall (twice as high as the Berlin wall) that the Israeli government has built in order to protect people from suicide bombers. The social implications have been immense and the wall is extremely contravertial. Some Israelis claim that the wall has brought an end to death through suicide bombings, whilst Palestinians and many Jews claim that the wall has brought unnecessary suffering to the Palestinian people and deprived many of them of a living and of access to work. Many have never been able to see the world beyond the wall.

After spending some time in Israel, I found it impossible to hold any opinion without hearing the opposite opinion clamouring for a hearing in my mind. I wrote poems that I could instantly contradict, but I've let them stand - to hold their own resonance.

Who can say when a defensive wall is the answer and when taking it down becomes not a risk but a necessity?

In my own life I've recently experienced various people putting up defensive walls in order to lock out pain.

But what one can't help noticing, is that those walls tend rather to lock the pain in, and shut life out.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Toe varnish is a political alternative

You come from Vietnam,
And you painted my toes
With indefatigable devotion.

You didn’t even take a lunch break.
I think you’re used to back breaking work
And you were willing to sacrifice your rest
For my relaxation.
But you made me think,

As I flicked through my copy of George Monbiot
And assessed the points he made on the urgent need for the democratisation of global governance.

And you asked me suddenly what colour I would like.

I was startled back into your reality..

'Ah yes! Gold or Red, which should it be?'

I turned my mind from the World Bank and the Marxist alternatives
And pondered the need for colourful toes.

We decided that the gold,
Although promising on the shelf,
Looked bland once applied
And that the red,
Although enticing in the bottle
Was in fact too fierce and made one look a little past it.

So we settle on a wonderful compromise;
A startling pink.

It looks great!

Just the thing in fact;
Youthful, vibrant, with a touch of classless oriental audacity.

Just out of an old habit, I check the name of the colour
And am stunned

'Indefatigable Devotion', by Jade

Indefatigable Devotion!
The colour in which I now stand,
The standard to which I now hold firm,
By toe-varnished anointing.

I put the George Monbiot and its critique of anarchy into my bag
And you give me a little smile, as I hand you the tip;
Nothing really as the price for my new shining stature.

I love shops, in which,
As if by magic,
The essential suddenly appears.

© Sarah de Nordwall July 2003

there is a moment

There is a moment
When we let go of the balloons
Those small and tugging desires
That we hope will lift us off the ground
And away from the earth
But are not quite
Up to the job.

But one day
The sky so blue
We want to see them colouring the heavens
Reflecting the Spring sun in the glistening air
And away they go..

And we are not marooned.

Though earth-bound
We enjoy delight
On the rich earth.

Sarah de Nordwall Lent 2011

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

You are so free

Jesus, you are so free
Freer than the whole universe
Freer than the multiverse
Through which you stroll before morning coffee
And in that part of the universe
That births 32 suns a second
You stretch and yawn and say "Nice work!..
I knew you'd like that" and we both smile.

Jesus, you are so free
That you can choose to be bound
Without reduction
And become a doorway.

For the sheer immensity of all your freedom,
Nothing can contain but by Your choice.
And so, like coal compressed to diamonds
Your smallness makes a window out of matter
And blackest darkness
Yields the light of heaven.

You are so free.

Sarah de Nordwall Lent 2011

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

an art for lent

You cannot utter something,
Speak or draw it,
Unless somewhere in your being
You have given your consent;
Allowed this now experience to enter
And come up through the doorway of your soul
Into the world of light.

But do not get me wrong
I don’t say that your conscious mind must know it
But somewhere in the musical menagerie of your soul
This tune has wound its way among the trees
And wishes to be welcomed to the band.

And so you speak, you sing, you draw, you sculpt
And into consciousness the wood comes singing,

But the tune is wild
What then becomes your work?

To tame the wood?
Flush out the flurry of the wild terrors?

To train the emerging creatures as they come into the light
Or let them dance and teach you what they know?

How wise can the wild things be?

Or yet to work oblivious of the tearings,
Deaf to the taunting,
Proud in the face of strangeness and disgust?
I think not.

Let them all come in!

Whoever they are.

The light is fit for battle
And is known by its power to love
To see though pain
Receiving it deep into itself
Until the wood and all its creatures
Come to meet the Spring.

Happy Lent!

Sarah de Nordwall Mardi Gras 2011

Friday, 4 March 2011

You make me

I like you because you make me feel liked
I don't like you because I know you
I don't know you
I don't see you
I see only that you like me
And that I like.

I like you because you make me feel pleasing
So I'll do what it takes to please you
Whether I like it or not
And I don't
In fact it hurts me
But not as much as the fact that you might not like me
If I don't.

I'm worried that you don't seem to talk to me
As much as you did.
I need to know what you need
I plead
Can't you see
How you make me
So unhappy.

Sarah de Nordwall 2002

Thursday, 3 March 2011

I must leave you

I must leave you
By the fountain
By the garden's inner wall
I shall close the door behind me
So I cannot hear you call.

I look towards the mountain
Though the mountain looks so far
You are so much further from me
Sitting where you are.

I must leave you
By the fountain
By the garden's inner wall
I shall close the door behind me
So I cannot hear you call.

I'm sorry if the jungle
Is the garden that I seek
I would bring exotic flowers
But I fear they would not keep.

You watch me
Unprotected, leave
To walk this vagrant course
And you sit beside the fountain
But I seek the fountain's source.

I must leave you
By the fountain
By the garden's inner wall
I shall close the door behind me
So I cannot hear you call.

I leave, but must I lose you:
You could follow, will you come?

But the door is locked behind me
And is silent
It is done.

I walk towards the mountain
Till I hear another cry.
The waterfall calls distantly
And I run beneath the sky.

Sarah de Nordwall