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Death of a Friendship -- Harry Guest

Guest poem sent in by Simon Koppel
(Poem #1085) Death of a Friendship
 I mourn, now that your house contains
 such fractured shadows.
 This wine you’ve handed me
 tastes sour. I joke and you do not laugh.
 When you speak, assuming my approval,
 I stare into discoloured
 depths of my glass, longing
 to get away.

 Rain drives against your walls. The few
 shrubs you have planted shrink in the cold.
 Where there was amity, questions
 echo between us. Tufts of dark
 lilac branching from tall vases shed
 minute dry flowers like grief
 for a lost fragrance, leave
 on the smooth piano scattered omens
 neither of us can read.

 The past is empty of romance,
 its summers flecked with heartbreak
 and its negatives destroyed-.
 But weren’t there moments when
 the blue sea glittered, when the lithe
 curve of a diver forged another
 link between wave and cloud?
 I wonder, though, in fear
 were those young grinning faces always
 plague-marred, was the fun a lie,
 were dreams we’ve jettisoned
 mere husks about this dirt,
 dislike? One fiction may
 have replaced another for
 wherever I look with you I find,
 instead of light, a slyness.

 We could not name the truth. What used to brag
 lies in your cupboard under lock and key.
 You care no more
 for angels or the underdog,
 translating all the terms we used
 into intolerance. Your world
 now clusters round
 the emulation of the rich.

 I can’t feel glad about old times
 because I am afraid
 that what I see here I suspected then
 but shunned the knowing.
 The tarnish of this has rubbed off on me.
 The years we shared look counterfeit. If so,
 more than affection died today.
 What hurts perhaps the most
 is that in you as in a mirror shows
 not only what I could have been
 but what I was or am.
-- Harry Guest
The last guest poem, 'Sometimes it Happens', prompts me to send in another
on the way that friendships can end. It's one of the most moving poems I've
ever come across - there's something heartbreaking about the desperation of
"But weren't there moments when the blue sea glittered...?" and the
realisation that perhaps, truthfully, there weren't. I'd like to hope that
in the end it doesn't always have to be like this.


68 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

sjflyinhi said...

Very nice.

i must look for more by this poet.

How I wish I could create a mood in the reader that they have no idea i am trying to create. I wonder if he wrestled with the words as i so often do, or if his conviction was such that it rolled off of his pen and onto paper.
here is a place i have been before, many times, and he related it so simply yet clearly:

When you speak, assuming my approval,
I stare into discoloured
depths of my glass, longing
to get away.

That would have taken me three paragraphs to convey.

Thank you for sharing.

John Judge

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Alasdair Paterson said...

Saw Harry last week - still going strong and still wonderfully productive. One of my heroes.

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Anonymous said...

I found this sublime poem through serendipity. I find it resonant, it echoes exactly how I am feeling in this moment of time.
The final stanza says it all.

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