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Peter Riley

Three Poems

from Snow Has Settled [....] Bury Me Here
(Shearsman Press)

Midsummer Common

What were the victory fireworks like in 1945
If you didn’t believe in the war but loved
The people and their victory? The sky
Scripted in hot lights, the sky full
And veiled rim to rim. Oh to escape
Under the edge of night, red hair streaming
In the wind like coals in a world fire, a fire
To heat the world’s best wishes to a red
Glowing ardour, the great ring on the bone
And purpose of love for the field is full
Of folk, firework, seedscape. And return
As a soldier returns, to what? There is something
Further out in the dark than the painted stars,
Something that also hates us and our wars.

S. Cecilia in Trastevere

What moves between bright thoughts and finished body?
Music’s Idea turns in the clouds and she
Lies on the floor, denied her time, face
Turned away so as not to view her own pain...
What moves between is all we live, heavy
And light banked in winged tiers, that we
Carve our eyes through day to day, kiss
The bed and back to the devastating sight again...
I believe in a centre to the wasted life
That is carried before the world and holds love
Through distance and strife to the end of a
Perfect reconciliation however many times
Occluded in failed responses finally standing
Whole and obvious, like an orchard in the rain.

Peter Riley

Peter Riley and friend, Cambridge (UK), 1997.
Photograph copyright © John Tranter, 1997

Château Musar

Everything inhabits the thinness
Of a plate of light. We are informed,
Twice crossed and helplessly
Empowered: it’s all for us,
We are why it moves, and it does,
With and against us, slowly
Turning the crystal. 0 Lebanon!
There is nowhere else. Virtue in battle,
Large white clouds sailing over the hills,
A forward thrust and a downward sigh,
Peaceful wine.

The poems are from the book Snow Has Settled [....] Bury Me Here (ISBN 0 907562 24 8) published by Shearsman Press in 1997. It is distributed by Oasis Books, 12 Stevenage Road, London SW6 6ES, United Kingdom.

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