Posted by: John Looker | 23 February, 2014

Homeward Bound

.

Homeward Bound

Somewhere during the homeward flight the mind
as though on a circus trapeze
swings clear away from the people and places that remained
to the coming days; the mind prepares.

At first they had sunk down into their seats with relief,
eyes glazed, glass in hand,
reliving the daily quest, the jousts with business rivals,
now drifting, drifting behind.

The clouds thicken
and soon cover over the sights they have had to leave:
the great city, its port, its river,
and the towers and domes they rapidly learnt to love.

The new-bought book
lies balanced on their knees; the buzz of voices ignored.
Looking back,
reliving the frenzy of recent days – that’s all they need.

And then, somewhere during the homeward flight,
they start to look ahead:
tentative thoughts of how to follow it up will float
in view; and rumours too of things at home they’ve heard …

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++… just so
when the mule trains came down at last to the sheer
expanse of the sea
and men transferred their goods to the ships with a sigh
and sails were raised with a cheer for the homeward shore

and thoughts would fly on ahead, flying home
to the anxious demeanour
of those who loved them, the smiles and dissembling manner
of those who wished them harm,

and the plans to be laid, and the gains
to be made with their merchandise proudly on show
in city and manor and shire …
++++++++++++then they would dream of home again,
of city … and manor … … and shire … … …    .

.

© John Stevens 2014

This completes the sequence of nine poems entitled “The Silk Road” which began with Frequent Flyers – see the post at:

https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/frequent-flyers/

If you feel interested in reading the poems in order, then start there and move forward using the ‘Next’ button on each page. I’m also producing the poems in pamphlet form which can be downloaded as a PDF file and printed at home – to follow shortly.

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Responses

  1. Not bad.

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  2. Hi John, ah, the journey back home after all adventures… It seems we are never there, where our thoughts want to be. It was a lovely series! 🙂

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    • Thanks Ina. And thanks for sticking with it.

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  3. Enjoying these dad, despite the fact I’m no poet! I liked the last one as it tailed off into a less formal visual format as the ending became more relaxed. Clever! Xx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • Hi Honey! The world needs nurses more than it does poets, so I’m really chuffed if some of these verses seem worth reading to you! Have a good day today. Dxx

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  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this sequence John

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  5. John, it strikes me that ‘they’ is the proper subject of these poems—a kind of amorphous mass of slightly described travelers moving uneasily around the globe, people who might equally be described as citizens of the world and people who are not really at home any place. Significant that they never actually land in this concluding poem, do they?
    then they would dream of home again,
    again .Again travel is a metaphor for modern man. Again the plane itself seems like a person with tiny selves inside it: Cartesian man fractured beyond recognition. Technology has fulfilled both the promises that it made and the threats made for it. And yet there are people—real flesh and blood humans—who survive to come home. I wonder what home is.The mind prepares. And prepares

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    • Thanks for sharing these thoughts Jim, and for giving the series such attentive reading. Seeing my own poems through your eyes seems to breathe new life into them.

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  6. A wonderfully satisfying poem which captured so well the thoughts of that place ‘in between’

    David

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    • Many thanks David. ‘In between’ indeed.

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  7. A brilliant capstone, John, to your silk road in the sky…eloquently closing down even as it opens out.

    You mention below that you are making up a pdf pamphlet of the nine poems. What about a chapbook of all 28 poems in the “work” series? I vote for that!

    Like

    • Hello Cynthia. That’s very generous. I wouldn’t know how to go about producing a chapbook but at least I can offer this pamphlet and find out if anyone is interested in that.
      Incidentally some of your comments on early poems in The Silk Road helped me to rewrite and improve drafts of the later ones and especially led me to significant changes in The Buzz and Homeward Bound.

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  8. I love the sense of “petering down” with this one – the gradual landing of the plane, as it were 🙂

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    • I like that way of looking at it Sarah. Thanks.

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  9. I think I’ve been where this last poem in the series describes. It describes that journey well too: The ennui at leaving, then the slow turn to what the business conducted all means and how you will have to follow up on this and that detail, then the even slower turn back to the reality of the life you are going back to that is different than the life you have lived, that has engaged you so ferociously, for a while. My profits are not the same as the profits dreamed about in the poem, I’m afraid, but I’ve also felt the tug of the dream that what you’ve done will go out into the world and make a real difference in different places. The series has been a rich, sensuous, coldly practical exploration, John. It was certainly worth writing.

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    • Thanks Thomas, and thank you for following the whole sequence. Some of your earlier comments – about the direction the poems could be heading – were partly the prompt that led me to redraft the final poem substantially. Comments can be very helpful.

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      • I like Cynthia’s idea about a chapbook.

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  10. Yes, these poems have been such an enjoyable journey. This one is quite a flight. I think it captures well that transition we make when on the way home after having had such a memorable experience away. It definitely brings me to that middle ground. Lovely!

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  11. The repeat of shire at the end is exquisite. The effect is both final, as if coming to an inevitable echo after all the unrepeatable unique events, but also interrogative, as a stutter can shift the interest from what us said to the conditions of the saying. Immense fatigue . . . Regret? Something unsaid . . . Quite remarkable!

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    • That’s very nice to read – thanks Tom. This final poem, and within it that final stanza, went through the greatest number of revisions. I was greatly stimulated into further amendments and refinements by comments from you and others on earlier poems in the sequence.

      Like


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