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Hubert Witheford

4 A.M.

It is remarkably like hell
With thoughts I don't want at all
Chasing each other through me
While little black devils
Jive round the room.

At almost the same time
I recognize
Those thoughts are not mine
Any more
Than the prancing kittens could be
And I catch some smell
Of heaven.

Hubert Witheford

Curtain Call

My brash attempt
At doing a human life
Did not come off

(My fellow actors -
More particularly actresses -
Are sourly agreed).

I keep going on about the director
Who should have been in charge
Of the whole shambolic

But just suppose
It was meant all the time
To be played as farce

A matter of tripping over my trousers -
Not tragic at all -
I might not make such a pig's ear of the part
If they ask me to try it again.

Hubert Witheford

In one instant
I have crossed
the city
reached the top
of Mount Everest
across the bottom
of the seas...

No cracked walls
no pointed stones
no useless labyrinths
in a silence
which has been
for centuries
and makes me
my mouth
my eyes
my hands
away from me
and filling the spaces
with everything

Clouds in the sky -
And to the pure
Blue emptiness, I
Would be an obscuration
Had I ever been,
As I believe so desperately I am

Hubert Witheford

The Bazaar at Izmir

Could the right words for this
Do what I hope they might,
Abate magically
The raucousness
Of my own, my personal

Do the tonalities
Of the muezzin call
Help these people to wake up
To righteousness?

Smelling the spices
I know for certain
Our rituals will not help us
In the ways we want.
They are just reminders
Of an absolution
We need not ask for.

Hubert Witheford


We used to stick them on window-panes
Starting with butterflies.

We found more momentous scenes
Mandalas - ziggurats - Jesus.

The charm
Was you could look right through them
To the empty sky.

On an exceptionally good day
All tense immediacies
Seem like the butterflies
To be no matter.

The mundane
And opaque appearances
Break free occasionally
As if they were fragments
From a Burgundian Book of Hours

Where an impossibly definite crowd
Of peasants and seigneurs
Shine with an enamelled
From out?
From in?

Hubert Witheford

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