Entrance to Lane (1939)
Deep down amidst ill-omened shadow,
hauntingly, there is space to reflect
on what cannot be seen, can only be felt.
Plunged into being unwanting of life,
with neither rationale nor cause so clear,
just emptiness of both soul and strength.
Pitched into a bleakness of hours
that possess nothing of allure nor worth,
nothing to admit even a crack of light.
This, then, is the familiar, the revisited,
time after time, week in, week out,
as if in a secret world, perpetually taboo.
And there is only the waiting and the hiding,
with the recollection of each previous passage
as a signpost pointing towards lane’s end.
There is only this to be done, simply time
taken to heal, wordlessly travelling onwards
while the unseen corpse remains where it fell.

Thorn Head (1946)

your world has gone missing
replaced by thorns
and an empty frame
the oceans you swam
to fill the sky
and amidst it all
a mocking crow
ever-aware of the doubt
that harries you now
in your every move
only the sun
offers a shard of hope
Palm Palisade (1947)
that say
an oasis
of compassion
from a hostile
against the sun
the same
where everything
becomes possible
and never a dream
is left
to decay
Standing Form (1952)

in another world
carved into timber flesh
a narrative unfolds
vaguely at first
a past being laid to rest
an angel ascending
tablets of stone fissured
the bitten hand that fed
merges into landscapes
The Origins of the Land (1952)
I am dead-in-the-night
not even born
hacked from grey granite womb
your air graces the frame
above us
shelves strain with red herring
none showing signs
of direction
of this
there is always more
like dividing cells
cancelled our love
on a matter of principle
of trust
but there again really no change
Turning Form (1948)

Bridging places we have never been,
a distortion of truths
twists in burlesque arabesques,
feathered and furrowed,
so far from home.
The sallow sky above
is as jaundiced as belief,
as jaded as the ambition to continue,
no matter whether stark metaphor
for the need to change.
An unsmotherably recurring impulse
dances daily, hourly, across
the distant horizon
as though to keep us in our place,
as though to shackle with fear.
Then, finally, you are gone
and I am left only with an outlook
that promises nothing more
than a cycle of clouds,
from dark to darker to darker still.

* all titles taken from Graham Sutherland paintings

johnmingay has been managing editor of internationally acclaimed Raunchland Publications, since 1984 and now, following several years as Writer-in-Residence and Writer-in-the-Community in Darlington, lives in Scotland, working as a psychotherapist specialising in scriptotherapy.  In addition, he was editor of 3x4 magazine, 1989-95, and the Lung Gom Press, 1995-97, and has been widely published in literary magazines, anthologies, collaborative projects and in over forty individual collections.

back  forward