Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Saturday 20 June 2009

What do you fear? What do you hope for?

Hope and fear in one immense flash gone,
The switch tripped, the end lost in the beginning,
The question on the road, knocked down, unanswered.
Worst of all, I fear not to know what's going to happen
Next, or ever after in the story, when it won't matter
If Jack and Jill are drowned and love is lost for good,
And the dragon and St George fall down together in a heap,
And a straight white line and a single note declare
Every hope and speculation out of court.
Lips, I fear, closed tight to greet the question,
The blank page, the cold eye, the hollow fruit.
I fear the click as the clock springs tighten,
And hands, with nowhere else to go, go round and round,
Empty railways stations and the shudder of rock and roll.
I fear that no room may be left in the heart for fear.
Yet I can still hope in place of fear, on waking up, to hear
The cold song of blackbirds who know the sun will rise, and when.

Who do you think you are?

Tuesday 2 June 2009

What are you waiting for?

I'm waiting for the fire to catch, and for the freeze;
for the embers to fade and for the thaw.

I'm waiting for the drifting log to turn,
to feel the crunch of teeth shearing
through flesh and bone, to flail, limbless
haemorrhaging, sinking, lost.

I'm waiting for lunch, for the show to start,
I'm waiting for it all to be over.
I'm waiting for all good things
to come to an end, I'm waiting for all things
to come to those who wait.

I'm waiting for the warm south wind to blow
the scent of lemon flowers over silver
fish-scaled seas, and incense smoke
of smouldering phoenix feathers.

You may as well ask
'What do you fear?'
or equally
'What do you long for'?

You can take your pick...