Without glasses landscapes are hazy
the world unreadable your face

soft focus Mary Pickford mouthing
sweet nothings to the audience

spectacles compensate now I view
by refraction like seeing stars

through the lens of a telescope
so close they lose themselves

but there's a horn-rimmed frame
around my world and borders are

blurred exposures foreign land
the eye trespasses into when tired

at night before I go to sleep
I take my glasses off all the better

to see you with


                for Victor Jara

Explore the many mills and markets for
I have to write of horror. How hard it is to sing

I remember you Amanda / when the streets were wet

Even the headstrong general had to agree
your age is no excuse if you trespass

For your peace of mind before it's too late
we organised support concerts for the hands broke
in the stadium. Tell everyone to use the system

this notice is temporarily out of order as
our troops crowd in on democracy. Today
is bittersweet talk of a Chilean variation;
help us to ensure a safer environment

In our front room Chilean refugees made eyes
at my sister (He took his crimes to the grave


Sometimes you have to put on noise
to achieve a bit of peace, like now
when I play my Hildegaard of Bingen
to clear the mind. Or turn off the news,

put on a punk rock compilation
because the kids who rule the world
are playing with their toys again.
High voices sing the love of Christ

like a salve or balm, then I pick
at the scab of frustration with some
furious guitar. Which is better?
I donít know: but when a hole opens

in my prayer life and Iím morose
as a rainstorm at the zoo
my thoughts rumble like traffic
stuck at the lights. So:

Dame Hildegaard today: heaven
attached to the earth by a thread.

stevenwaling is the author of Calling Myself On The Phone (Smith/Doorstop 2003) and  Travelator (Salt 2007). He lives in Manchester, England, is a freelance writer, tutor and also works in a Quaker Peace organisation.  He has recently been appointed as Writer-in-Residence in HMP Whatton.

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