It's not that they lack competence,
the drummers in the park, three of them
holding their weft of rhythm tightly,
ten or fifteen minutes at a stretch,
- it's just their air of seeming to
assume that all of us appreciate
the sound - that they contribute to
some quintessential atmosphere,
almost as if they see themselves
as bearers of tradition, maybe
even suppose that one or two
of us might try to figure out
the signature - five/eight, ten/seven
- or whatever subtle time
it is that underscores the structure
of their beat's monotony.
During the pauses we can hear
the waterfall, voices of children
at the playground, distant birdsong
as a pallid sun breaks through.
No one will comment.  Only a gull
out on the water looses a volley
of harsh shrieking - a primal impulse
happening to speak for all.

Here land falls over cliffs
of white impasto, spilling grey cobbles
for the constant working of the sea.
South, from his window,
farms spread across the plateau,
black crows gathering round the plough. 
Graved limestone, sculpted by wind,
flushwork of nave walls, root
into place, looking at long horizons;
squared stones cluster all round
clamouring to tell their various
tales of memory and forgetting.
Do they aspire to lawns
as smooth as billiard tables 
those houses set among the trees?
Things can be seen from many angles.  
Birds move between wide skies,
the chequered earth and shifting sea.
Spread wings rise on the up-draught.
Objects are only real
in their relation to each other.

Orange twilight settles on
the Thursday café as the sun
recedes in marbled cloud
behind blank building blocks
and shadows creep out from
beneath the pergola.
Silent on their metal chairs
the couple gaze beyond
an open menu, dappled walls,
toward tall cones of cypress.
They wait for dark to hide
their faces, entering that hiatus
where they never need to order
food, make any choice at all.

The exuberance of the People's Palace
has been boarded up, rain-water drips
on faded plush, brash proclamations of
graffiti blazon walls, rats have free run.
Those marbled foyers have been backdrop for
the swearing-in of presidents, for
operas sung, awards presented, children
who sang and danced to the delight of crowds.
Its grand hall also witnessed show-trials staged,
and this is where stiff colonels once corralled
their suspects, innovative minds were broken
and fine sensibilities were crushed.
The forgotten watchman is an old
disreputable scribbler, long unpublished,
shambling around deserted corridors,
sleeping on bundled rags beneath the stairs.
At times he will command the vacant stage,
ranting across its empty stalls, by night
dream of some condescending diva, of
her coming down to share his tattered bed.
In truth he would be happy if the drab
who works the alley would come in between
him and the dark, bring warmth enough to hold
at bay chill spectres lingering in his recall -
echoes of cheering, laughter, screams, that seem
caught in the weft of spider webs, dangled
from crumbling stucco, longing now only for
curt exorcism of the wrecker's ball.

Is it no more than the recollection
of those fractured elements of violins,
in long-familiar paintings, makes one
fancy that some cubist geometry
attaches to the action of massed strings?
Spirit of an age of discipline, relieved
by ribaldry - echoes through the organ's
pipework, redolent of lost architectural
order.  The austere ranks of spires
and steeplets triumphant in grey rain;
and, reassuring as the smallest lights
against residual forest, so warm smells
of candlewax assert themselves among
the pungency of fresh-cut fir.
A maestro rendered awkward by applause.
Something, now, drier, lighter, something
of the salon, of the painted cornice,
movement to the interior.  The search
is always for the same key, yet it can
never be the same door it will open.
Dust in red carpets,...conturbatus est...
petals whispering in a hall of mirrors; tenebrae...
a young head drawn
against the shoulder, tartan shirt, toying

with sleep, though this no lullaby
How gentle the trombones; lucem...
how imperturbable the even glow
of cool blue screens.   Do we, at last,
glimpse pastures?  green invitations
through the thickets of dry sound?

           Tony Lucas 2012