Conspiracy of Love

Whispering Angel
Whispering Angel by Agostino Carracci


Conspiracy of Love

Ev’ryone knows that love is real –
Ev’ryone knows it, cos ev’ryone says.
Ev’ryone knows how they’re meant to feel,
And if they don’t feel it – well, who’d dare confess ?
Ev’ryone’s doing it,
Ev’ryone’s wooing it,
Ev’ryone, pair-by-pair,
Couplets in rhyme.
Ev’ryone plays along,
Ev’ryone can’t be wrong,
Ev’ryone, ev’rywhere,
All of the time.
We’ve all seen the movies,
We’ve all sung the songs,
We know what succeeds and we know what belongs,
We’ve all of us wanted and wanted to be
So wanted and needed,
So giddy with glee.

Ev’ryone knows that love is true –
Ev’ryone knows it, cos that’s what they’re taught.
Ev’ryone knows the whole hullabaloo
And if they don’t know it – well, surely they ought !
Ev’ryone’s doing it,
Ev’ryone’s brewing it,
Evryone’s winning –
It’s all in the art.
Ev’ryone wants to shine,
Ev’ryone toes the line,
Ev’ryone’s in on it,
Playing their part.
And who wouldn’t want it ?
And who could rebel ?
And who’d be a heretic, breaking our spell ?
We all of us want it, we want it so bad
That all who foreswear it must surely be mad !



To the Love Unwritten

Priestess of Delphi
Priestess of Delphi by John Collier

To the Love Unwritten

The sweetest thing you ever said,
Of all the loving things you said,
Is when you murmured in our bed
That we were never meant to be.
No karmas chimed when first we met,
No stars were crossed, no fates were set,
No providence in gold and jet,
No single-hearted entity.

For no-one had foreseen us,
Nor our destinies fore-planned;
There was not a plot between us,
Nor an ever-guiding hand.
It is no spook, but just a fluke
Your years are spent with me.
For you and I, the augurs sigh,
Were never meant to be.

The sweetest thing you ever said,
Of all the loving things you said,
Is when you whispered through my head
That we are nothing more than chance.
For we are random in our bearing,
In a universe uncaring;
Kismet never kissed our pairing,
Nor the twists of Fortune’s dance.

For no-one had foreseen us,
We were never on the cards;
The statistics couldn’t glean us,
Nor the sibyls, nor the bards.
It’s only luck that we have struck:
You were not sent to me –
For you and I, the prophets cry,
Were never meant to be.

Queen of the Silk Road

Samarkand by Richard-Karl Karlovitch Zommer


Queen of the Silk Road

Since long before the Russians shook your walls,
And ere the Prophet’s prophets spread his word,
Or Alexander feasted in your halls
And found you even fairer than he’d heard –
Your golden domes upon your golden sand
Have tempted men and kings since Darius.
Who needs the Muses when we’ve Samarkand ?
What would ye, Ladies ?  It was ever thus !

I met a maiden from an ancient clan,
Who’s held a gaze was old as summertime,
She traded finest silks by caravan
Across the Steppes that only camels climb
I should have bid her health, and gone my way,
And never mind the henna on her hand,
But no, I had to make excuse to stay –
Men are unwise, and curiously planned.

She showed a little of her precious stock,
The bolts she brought from China to Tashkent:
She laid them out upon the desert rock,
And stroked the fibres of the Orient.
Countless caterpillars gave their lives for each,
In patterns joyfully superfluous –
Not that they care what moral they may teach:
They have their dreams and do not think of us.

We spent the chilly night beneath their thread,
As she unveiled the promise of the East –
But come the dawn, her cloths-of-heaven bed,
Like her, had fled – and I woke ached and creased.
I wonder if, in dehydrated spunk,
I’d summoned her mirage at my command –
We Englishmen, when we get hatless-drunk,
We take the golden road to Samarkand.



Two Ways to Samarkand

What wouldst thou, Flecker, it was ever thus:
Readers are wise and rhythmically planned.
They have their Road, so do not make a fuss.
They think your Journey never really scanned.



This is a sort-of rondeau redoublé, except that the first verse whose lines then get repeated as the final lines of the others is missing, and wasn’t written by me, but by James Elroy Flecker in his famous(ish) The Golden Journey to Samerkand.  From what I can gather, the poem appeared both ‘album length’ in the play, and cut down to a ‘single’ containing only the last part, both of which end with the four lines I’ve borrowed here.  However, different references seem to say either ‘Golden Road’ or ‘Golden Journey’ in the last line, hence my second poem.  ‘Darius’ is intended to be pronounced with the enphasis on the first syllable – I realise that some people place it on the second, but that just wrecks my rhythm.  Incidentally, by ‘hatless-drunk’, I mean sunstroke.




Contract of Contact

detail from Experiment with an Air Pump by Joseph Wright


Contract of Contact

My darling, do you not yet see
That you, and you alone,
Have access to my being
That to others is unknown ?
My body, dressed in nakedness,
This flesh in which I’m sewn
Is yours and mine exclusively,
With covers slipped and thrown.
For if another eyed me
Like I love to have you spy me,
Then I’d take offence most highly
At the violation shown.
And if another clutched me,
Like I love to have you touch me –
Then they importune me muchly
In my most forbidden zone.
But when that touch is yours, I shall not blush,
Nor hold you back, except to slow the rush –
Don’t fret you are rebuked if we sometimes must postpone.

No other gets a look-in
Once my modesty has flown;
To only one I’m willing,
And to only one condone.
And though it’s never yours to take,
But always mine to loan –
I choose to lease it full and free,
To weave into your own.
But should it prove unnerving
When my body’s joyful curving
Leaves you feeling undeserving,
Then allow me to atone:
Perhaps you need remindings
Of your fingers and their findings
As they slip my many bindings,
Be they button, lace or bone.
Besides, the sweetest part, in the event
Is not the act itself, but the consent.
And that I give you gladly – to you and you alone.



This is written with for a female voice, incase it wasn’t obvious.